17 April, 2024

THROWBACK THURSDAY: ‘Ask and It Shall Be Given’ (1954)

by | 29 February, 2024 | 0 comments

March 13, 1954; p. 5 
By Max Ward Randall 
Kimberly, C. P., South Africa 

When we pray we do not always get precisely what we ask for. What are some of the reasons? 

Too often, our prayers degenerate into a one-sided “Listen, Lord, Thy servant speaketh” instead of “Speak, Lord, Thy servant heareth.” This was the fault of the Pharisee who prayed, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are” (Luke 18:11). There is no sense of lack, no feeling of want, no expression of need, no petition, no asking, no seeking, and no knocking in the Pharisee’s prayer. Consequently, there was no receiving or finding or opening and the man was not satisfied. 

One does not lift his voice to ask without feeling a sense of genuine need. One does not exert bodily action to seek for an object unless he realizes a sense of tremendous loss without the possession of the desired object. One does not knock, does not make an effort to open and pass through to the object of his desire unless that object is shut up to him and only by his knocking and exerting every effort is the desired object presented to him. 

Too often, our prayers are not answered simply because we do not earnestly ask, seek, and knock. Jesus told of the poor, despised publican, who also was in the temple praying, and who would not so much as lift his eyes to heaven, when in anguish he petitioned a forgiving Lord “God be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). This man went down to his house justified, commented the Master. There was a reason for this. The publican humbled himself; he felt a tremendous need; he asked that it be supplied; he sought for it; he made every effort to obtain it; and he did obtain it. 

I have an acquaintance who met a young lady in South Africa. Several months later, when he was eleven thousand miles away from her, he decided he wanted her for his wife. He sent her a proposal of marriage by cablegram. She replied at once with a qualified “No,” but it was not definite, and my friend took hope and boarded the first ship for the Dark Continent. At every port of call, he sent another cablegram repeating his proposal. When he arrived at Cape Town he sent her a telegram, and as he progressed towards Durban he repeated the proposal of marriage at every whistle stop. When his train pulled up in the station in Durban, his young lady was waiting for him, and he proposed again. She put him off, and he declares that for a week he proposed regularly five times each day until she said “Yes.” 

How often we ask the Lord’s blessing and lose heart when our prayers are not answered at the first petition, at the first proposal. If Jesus’ admonition for us to ask, seek, and knock means anything at all it encourages us to be consistent and persistent. Paul exhorted the Thessalonians to pray without ceasing. I once knew a man whose wife prayed for his salvation for twenty years persistently before he became a Christian, and both she and her now Christian husband declare that his conversion is an answer to her prayers. Suppose she had quit praying for the one she loved dearly after her first prayer or after a year or five years. She most earnestly asked, sought, and knocked, and the Lord answered. 

SOMETHING BETTER IN STORE 

How often we hear it said that “The Lord just doesn’t answer my prayers,” and I confess that there was a time when it troubled me that the Lord did not answer my petitions. The time came, however, when I suddenly realized that the Lord was answering my prayer, but he was answering with a “No.” But that, too, bothered me. 

During the summer of 1934 I planned to go to the World’s Fair in Chicago. For six months I had thought of little else. I planned, saved, and dreamed of my first contemplated trip to the great city. At last the date was set. Then came the announcement from my minister that a Christian Youth Camp would be held the very week when I wanted to go to the fair. With the announcement came the word of my father that I would have to go to camp, that I could not go to the fair that week. I had asked if I could go to the fair; I had planned to go; I had saved my money to go, and I had set the date, when my father said “No.” Before my week was finished at the Christian Youth Camp, I had learned why my father had said “No” to my earnest request to go to the Chicago World’s Fair. It was not that he was selfish; it was not that he did not desire to please his son; it was not that he did not love me dearly; it was not that he had refused to hear my petition; it was because he had something better in store for me. I came home from camp and my parents had all the arrangements made for me to go to the fair. I went, but I would gladly have exchanged a whole summer at the fair for one more week at that Christian Service Camp. 

There are times when God does refuse our requests, but why? It is always because He has something better in store for us. 

I have known several persons who have asked for God’s blessing and guidance and their prayers did go unanswered. It is true that Jesus did say, “Every one that asketh, receiveth,” but [one] does not need a Doctor of Philosophy to see that Jesus was speaking of every one of a class. 

Jesus said, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” The unforgiving and unrepentant hearts of many so-called Christians would cause their prayers to God to fall from their lips unheard and unanswered. Our willingness, yea our eagerness, to forgive others is one of the conditions laid down for our forgiveness. 

It is obvious that when Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven,” that sonship is the condition. How can one admittedly not a Christian pray “Our Father”? 

The apostle John penned these words: “If we ask any thing according to his will [and there is the condition], he heareth us.” James admonishes us to ask in faith—there is the condition. And again he wrote that it is the prayer of faith that shall save the sick. 

DRAW NIGH TO GOD 

A lukewarm, pleasure-mad, worldly, indifferent and sinful church membership could well heed the solemn warning of James: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses [or those who break your marriage vow to God] know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” (James 4:3, 4). And what is his condition for answering prayer? James gives it here when he says: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8). 

Several times each day when I am in my study, I hear the two hall doors open and two starry-eyed baby boys—Morris, 3, and Dwight, 13 months, crawling on his hands and knees—come to my desk asking for a piece of candy. Morris, of course, is the spokesman, but the plea is in Dwight’s baby brown eyes and the joyful anticipation is written all over the faces of these two sons of mine They love their father, and he loves them. Their petition is dependent upon me for fulfillment, and I verily believe with these two trusting babies that the joy of anticipation is almost equal to the joy of realization. The same could be so with the Christian.  

There is a blessed joy in asking of a loving, kind, devoted, faithful, merciful, all-knowing, all-powerful heavenly Father, knowing that He will give better than we ask for and more abundantly than we can contemplate. 

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