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PRAYING FOR GOD’S PRESENCE IN SOUL WINNING

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, October 21, 2012

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!” (Isaiah 64:1-2).


This is Isaiah’s prayer for God to manifest Himself among His people. It is a prayer for the presence of God. My long-time pastor at the Chinese Baptist Church was Dr. Timothy Lin. Dr. Lin said, “In the Old Testament times, the prerequisite for God’s people to be blessed was to have God’s presence. [This] principle is clearly demonstrated through the lives of various Old Testament spiritual giants” (Timothy Lin, Ph.D., The Secret of Church Growth, First Chinese Baptist Church, 1992, p. 2).

Then Dr. Lin gave the examples of Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Joshua. Isaac went to the land of the Philistines during a time of famine. Even in the midst of these heathen people, Isaac prospered greatly because of God’s presence with him. God said to him, “I will be with thee, and will bless thee” (Genesis 26:3).

“And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great” (Genesis 26:13).

In spite of racial discrimination and persecution, Isaac grew “very great” because of God’s presence with him.

When Abimelech, the king of the Philistines, came to see him with two other men, Isaac said,

“Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you?” (Genesis 26:27).

Then these heathen men said to him, “We saw certainly that the Lord was with thee” (Genesis 26:28). They knew that Isaac prospered because of God’s presence.

Another example is Jacob. While he was living with his uncle Laban at Haran he was repeatedly exploited, and his wages were changed ten times. Yet God’s presence was with him. God had said to him,

“Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest” (Genesis 28:15).

Later Jacob said to Laban,

“Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty” (Genesis 31:42).

I experienced some of what Isaac and Jacob went through three times when I was young. I can say for certain that the only reason I was blessed was because of God’s presence with me. There was no other explanation. God was with me.

The same was true of Joseph. He was sold as a slave and sent to a foreign land. He was falsely accused and unjustly sent to prison. Yet he went on to become the ruler of the whole land of Egypt. The only reason for this unexpected change was that God’s presence was with him.

“And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man”
       (Genesis 39:2).

“And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper” (Genesis 39:20-23).

That was true of Joshua as well. Joshua conquered all the kings in Canaan because God’s presence was with him. God said to him,

“There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Joshua 1:5).

Also, Samuel received the special blessing that “none of his words [would] fall” because of God’s presence with him,

“And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground” (I Samuel 3:19).

Then too, King David behaved wisely and prospered in all of his ways because of God’s presence,

“And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him” (I Samuel 18:14).

The prosperity of all these spiritual giants was the result of them having God’s presence!

Isaiah also knew the importance of God’s presence. That is why he prayed,

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence” (Isaiah 64:1).

When the Temple was destroyed, God showed Ezekiel that His presence was leaving them. The Scofield note on Ezekiel 9:3 shows how God’s presence slowly departed from them. The Scofield note says,

      Ezekiel the priest was given the vision of the glory of the Lord (1) departing from the Cherubim to the threshold of the temple (Ezekiel 9:3; 10:4); (2) from the threshold (Ezekiel 10:18); (3) from the temple and city to the mountain on the East of Jerusalem (Olivet, Ezekiel 11:23)... (Scofield Study Bible, note on Ezekiel 9:3).

The prophet Hosea had predicted the departure of the Lord’s presence. He said,

“They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the Lord but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself from them” (Hosea 5:6).

During the period between the close of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament, many Jewish people were grieved because they sensed the absence of God’s presence. Their grief had been experienced by the Psalmist, who said,

“My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?” (Psalm 42:3).

And the prophet Isaiah prayed this mournful prayer,

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence” (Isaiah 64:1).

Then, at the Day of Pentecost, God suddenly answered the prayers that the Jewish people had prayed for so long,

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost...” (Acts 2:1-4a).

During all the excitement a great crowd of people gathered. Peter preached the Gospel under the power of the Holy Spirit. Three thousand people became Christians that day. God was now present with them through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. A lame man was healed. Peter preached again and five thousand men were converted. More miracles happened, and “believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women” (Acts 5:14). God’s presence was with them continually. Even when these Christians were persecuted, and had to flee from Jerusalem, God’s presence followed them wherever they went,

“And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord” (Acts 11:21).

Thus we learn that the soul-winning efforts of these early Christians were effective because “the hand of the Lord was with them” (Acts 11:21). God’s presence made it possible for them to lead thousands to Christ in real conversions.

Speaking of our own time, Dr. Lin said, “The Church of the last days must have the presence of God if she wants to grow, or all efforts will be futile” (Lin, ibid., p. 6). We may add a group of lost people to the church, but we will not be able to add real converts without God’s presence.

Dr. Lin then gave six conditions that must be met for us to have the presence of God among us.


1.  First, we must be careful to follow the Bible, not our own thoughts.

2.  Second, pastors must be called and sent by God.

3.  Third, Christians must love one another.

4.  Fourth, the church must be holy.

5.  Fifth, the church must be a training center.

6.  Sixth, the church must pray in one accord (Lin, ibid., p. vii).


It is the last point that we are emphasizing at this time. I cannot go into this in detail tonight. But I will come back to it again. We cannot add real converts to our church without God’s presence. And we cannot have God’s presence with us without prayer. Every detail of our evangelism must be brought before God in prayer. Our text says,

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence” (Isaiah 64:1).

The end of this prayer shows why we need God’s presence, “that the mountains might flow down at thy presence.” The original Hebrew text shows that Isaiah was praying for an earthquake to shake the mountains down. There are many mountains that stand in the way, keeping lost souls from being converted. These “mountains” can only be made to “flow down” by God’s presence. “That the mountains might flow down at thy presence.” Unbelievers can only be converted if these mountains flow down by God’s presence.

There is the mountain of unbelief. Only the presence of God can shake it and bring it down.

There is the mountain of pride. Only the presence of God can shake it and bring it down.

There is the mountain of worldliness. Only the presence of God can shake it and bring it down.

There is the mountain of materialism. Only the presence of God can shake it and bring it down.

These are only a few of the “mountains” that stand in the way, keeping unbelievers from coming into the church and being converted. We have absolutely no power in ourselves to shake these mountains and bring them down. Only the presence of the Spirit of God can do that! Therefore, I am asking you to pray constantly, and in detail, for God’s presence in our evangelistic efforts.

This prayer of Isaiah is a prayer for God to come down and remove all these obstacles or mountains. Why does the prophet ask God to do this? The next verse, in Isaiah 64:2, gives the answer, “to make thy name known to thine adversaries.” The mountains must be shaken down or lost sinners will never come to know Christ in a real conversion. And so, we must pray for God to come down, and do what we ourselves cannot do, by being present with us to convert lost sinners.

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!” (Isaiah 64:1-2).

The Lord Jesus Christ told us to pray a similar prayer in Luke 11:13,

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).

You may be seated.

This verse comes at the end of the Parable of the Importunate Friend. He said that a friend came to him and he had nothing to set before him. So he begged for three loaves, which symbolize the Holy Spirit. Jesus then told us why He gave the parable, to show us that we need to ask for the Holy Spirit, or we will have nothing to set before our lost friends. Jesus said,

“How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).

So this is a prayer for the Holy Spirit to come down to minister to our lost friends. And it is really quite similar to Isaiah’s prayer for God’s presence, “to make thy name known to thine adversaries.” We must pray constantly for the presence of God’s Spirit among the lost people we bring to church,


1.  To take away their unbelief.

2.  To overcome their pride.

3.  To make them see the vanity of living only for material things.

4.  To show them that this world has nothing to offer them.

5.  “To make thy name known to thine adversaries.”


They will never trust Christ unless they feel the presence of God among us!

Dear lost friend, do you have unbelief in Jesus? Are you too proud to trust Jesus? Do you still think the material things of this world can satisfy you? Are you still rejecting Jesus, whose very name means “salvation” for sinners? He died on the Cross in your place, to save you from eternal punishment. He rose from the dead to give you eternal life. Will you come to Jesus and be saved? We pray for God’s presence to be manifested to you, to break down your unbelief and draw you to Jesus for cleansing from sin by His precious Blood! Amen.

Mr. Lee, please come and pray for God’s presence, by His Holy Spirit, in our evangelistic efforts (prayer).

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Isaiah 64:1-7.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove” (by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748).