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PRAYING THROUGH – ‘TILL YOU GET WHAT YOU ASK FOR!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, December 30, 2007


In the Gospel of Luke Jesus emphasized “praying through” – that is, praying for a certain thing until you get it, even if you have to pray a long time before the answer comes. That is what it means to “pray through.” Dr. John R. Rice said,

When we speak of “praying through” we are speaking of a Christian taking his [problem] to God and waiting on God until he gets the answer to his prayers…We may never get the assurance of God’s will, that He will give us certain things, unless we wait on God…Note some Bible examples of persistent prayer…Nehemiah prayed through about the sad condition of the desolate city of Jerusalem under captivity by its enemies. He said, “I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4)…He pled with God…His prayer was [finally answered]. The heart of the king was touched, and God sent Nehemiah back to build the walls of the city…because he prayed through…
       The Jews fasted and prayed that God would spare their lives [when they were about to be exterminated] during the time of Queen Esther in Persia, and in three days and nights they prayed through and the Jews had salvation and then vengeance on their enemies.
       The people of Nineveh fasted and prayed, and God [spared] their great city, and [did not destroy it, but sent a great revival instead].
       In the New Testament it [was] the same way. [Before] Pentecost…the disciples prayed through [in a room together. And God heard their prayers, and answered them. After several days of praying God sent them the mighty revival of Pentecost, when three thousand lost Jews were miraculously converted, recorded in Acts 1 and 2, a remarkable example of praying through for something, until God gave what was asked]…
       In the twelfth chapter of Acts, verses 1 to 17, we see how a group of Christians gathered at the home of Mary…and prayed through until the Apostle Peter was released from jail by an angel. [They prayed through until Peter was miraculously released from prison]. That was long-continued, heart-searching, broken-hearted praying. And that is the example of New Testament Christians everywhere (John R. Rice, D.D., Prayer – Asking and Receiving, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1981 reprint, pp. 203, 206-209, Dr. Hymers’ comments in brackets).

Jesus gave two examples of praying through in the Gospel of Luke. The first one is recorded in Luke 11:5-8. Please stand and read these four verses aloud.

“And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth” (Luke 11:5-8).

You may be seated. Notice verse 8. This is the key verse,

“Because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth” (Luke 11:8).

The word “importunity” is no longer used or understood in modern language. It means “pressing insistence.” Dr. Rice said, “The passage evidently refers to a [Christian] wanting power [so his friend would be converted]. A Christian has a right to go to God and beg for the bread of life [for] others…Bread for sinners is only given to those who learn the secret of ‘importunity’ [to pray through until God gives converting grace to his lost friend]…A Christian who wants the supernatural, miracle-working power of the Holy Spirit [to convert his friend] has a right to wait on God, [to pray through until his friend is saved]” (Rice, ibid., p. 209).

“Because of his [pressing insistence, pressuring] he will rise and give him as many as he needeth” (Luke 11:8).

Again, Jesus taught us to pray through in Luke 18:1-8. Please stand and read those eight verses aloud.

“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8).

You may be seated. The main point of this parable is praying through. That point is given in verse one,

“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1).

We are “always to pray, and not to faint.” “Faint” means “give up,” “quit.” We are always to pray and not give up and quit. That means when we start to pray for something, we should keep on praying for it until we receive it. Don’t quit, don’t give up, until you get the very thing you are praying for.

I received several Christmas cards this year from men and women who were my Sunday School students many years ago at the Chinese Baptist Church. I clearly remember praying for each one of them until they were converted. It gives me great joy to see that they are good Christians nearly forty years later. 

During those years at that church, during the 1960s, I became troubled about the need for revival. Dr. Murphy Lum reminded me a few months ago that every time I prayed publicly at the church, I prayed for revival. Even when I was sometimes called on to pray before a church meal, I would pray for God to send a revival there. And I often prayed for a church revival in my private prayers. Others were praying for this as well, but I can honestly say that I was really overwhelmed, even consumed, with the need for revival. I prayed deeply and long for God to move in that way. And in the summer of 1969 God began to give a revival that continued, on and off, for about three years. In one meeting at that church forty young people came forward with tears, sobbing, after I preached in an evangelistic service on August 29, 1970 ("To God Be the Glory," 20th Anniversary booklet, FCBC, March 1972, p. 28). For a church of about 150 people to have 40 respond was enough of an event to be listed as one of the "highlights" of the first twenty years of that church.  I see, from the church record, that all forty of them were baptized in a short time, in two great baptism services ("To God Be the Glory," p. 29). Their names are listed in the record. Nearly all of them are Christians today. God answered persistent prayer, when we prayed through for the powerful revival that came to the First Chinese Baptist Church in the late 1960s and early 70s.

In a Caucasian church on the East Coast in the 1990s I again felt deeply the need for revival. I fasted and prayed for two days. I went trembling to the pulpit and preached a simple salvation message. The pastor’s own son, the associate pastor of the church, came forward with tears, saying he was lost and needed to be converted. The invitation went on until after 11:00 PM. Over 75 people came crying to the altar. One old man crawled on his hands and knees crying out, “I need to be saved! I need to be saved!” Teenagers who had been in church all their lives came forward, and broke down in tears. Dr. Ian Paisley’s son, Kyle, was standing near my wife and sons. He whispered to them, “I’ve never seen anything like it!” Over the next three months over five hundred people came, all of them very seriously, many weeping, some even crying out. The pastor later baptized hundreds of them over a short period of time. I recently heard a famous fundamental Baptist preacher say that he has never seen a revival like that. I thank God that I have seen revival twice – in answer to persistent prayer. If we prayed big prayers, and gave up the tomfoolery of “decisionism,” I believe God would send revival again – as He did in olden times.

I know God answers us when we pray through. My own mother was 80 years old and still not saved. She had a stroke that could have killed her. She would have gone to Hell. But I had prayed for her salvation for forty years, literally every day. Finally, one day, I knew in my heart that I had prayed through. I was preaching in New York. I phoned my associate, Dr. Cagan, and asked him to go over and lead her to Christ. He was afraid to go because she had made it very clear to him before that she didn’t even want to talk about “being saved.” But I told Dr. Cagan that I had prayed through, and I knew in my heart she would be saved that day. Dr. Cagan went to her room that afternoon – and, why it was so easy! Mother was converted instantly. I baptized her that year on the 4th of July at Dr. Waldrip’s church, in a combined baptism service. Mother was a new creature in Christ Jesus from that moment on, converted at the age of 80. I know you can pray through for individuals to be saved! I know you can pray through for revival, and get what you ask for, in a local church. I know you can pray through for a lost friend in the church. And you will know it too – if you begin to pray for some lost soul who comes here, and keep on praying for that person, and not faint, until God gives you what you ask for! Amen!

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 18:1-8.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Teach Me To Pray” (by Albert S. Reitz, 1879-1966).