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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, January 13, 2008

“What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24).

I am giving you a few words on prayer from Dr. John R. Rice, a man who knew a great deal about prayer from personal experience. Concerning Mark 11:24, Dr. Rice said,

There are many marvelous truths in this promise, but note that Jesus certainly meant that a Christian ought to have definite desires in his mind when he prays and then ought to be able to trust God and get exactly those things from God that he requests. Prayer, in the Bible sense, is getting down to brass tacks and asking God for exactly what you want. Prayer is not only asking, but it is asking something. It is [not real] prayer if it is not definite (John R. Rice, D.D., Prayer: Asking and Receiving, Sword of the Lord, 1970 reprint of the 1942 classic, p. 147).

In the Bible, Gideon prayed definitely. He asked for God to make the fleece of wool he put on the floor dry, and that it be wet on the ground around the fleece. God answered him definitely by doing exactly what he asked in that definite prayer. This is a clear picture in the Bible of Gideon praying very specifically and God answering him very pointedly by giving him exactly what he asked for.

The Bible is full of examples of men who knew exactly what they wanted, and [were] in such agreement with God that they demanded and got exactly what they had in mind, to the last detail! That is definite praying.

Dr. Rice said,

Blessed is the Christian who is so in the will of God, who knows the mind of God, who has such definite desires that concerning the work of God, he can command God and have exactly what he wants (ibid., p. 149).

Indefinite prayer is often only a mere formality, and insincere. Many people pray day after day for things that they really don’t desire. But Mark 11:24 stipulates “what things soever ye desire, when ye pray…” How could God answer prayers that do not represent a sincere desire?

Some people pray to be heard [by others]. Think how many of these prayers are indefinite, not asking anything of God and not getting anything.

Indefinite prayer usually reveals that there is no burden, no special urgency in prayer.

Dr. Rice told about a woman who had a fine sixteen year old son who was unsaved. “But,” she said, “I am sure he will be saved one of these days.” She had no urgency or burden for her son’s immediate conversion. Then one night he was bitten by a black widow spider. They thought he would die. She called the doctor at once, and Dr. Rice said that as soon as the boy was cared for, “She called for me, at 11:00 PM at night. I rushed across town to the boy’s bedside.” The woman was crying when she told Dr. Rice, “I’ll never sleep until I know he’s saved. And I have just waked up to see that he might die and go to Hell at any moment!” With the distressed mother standing at his bedside pleading with him, the boy was quickly convicted of his sins and was soon led to trust Christ as Saviour.

I say, when there is no definiteness in prayer, it is because there is no real burden, no heart [felt] desire [for the prayer to be answered].  

When I see a neighbor who says, “Come over and see me sometime,” I may answer, “Yes, I will come and see you sometime.” [But] both of us are only being polite. “Sometime” never comes.

I say that a study of the Word of God will help us to be definite in our prayers…When we read the Bible and see how much [God] longs to give us and how freely He offers to answer our prayers…So be more bold in praying for definite objects, at definite times.

Definite prayer does not mean that you try to make God come to your viewpoint. Rather, it means finding out what God wants to give you, and then praying the prayer that God lays on your heart.

Another way to be definite is to write it down. I sometimes keep a list, and write down prayer requests I want God to answer. I number them 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. on a piece of paper, and then put the paper in my Bible. 

So I often write down definite requests. And, then, in another column, I write the date that the prayer was answered. That is definite praying for God to give definite things, in answer to prayer.

This is particularly important when you are praying for lost people in the church. Put a slip of paper in your Bible with the names of a few people you are praying for to be saved. Put the name and date you started praying for them in one column (numbered one, two, three, etc.). Then in another column, across from their name, leave a blank, so you can fill in the name and date when they got saved. This will result in a growth of your faith in prayer, and it will certainly be used by God to convert those you are systematically and regularly praying for to be saved.

“What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24).

I hope many of you will start such a prayer list and keep it in your Bible. Then mark down the date across from the columns of names you have been praying for in regard to salvation. Let me know when God answers your definite, continuing prayer for this individual, and the answer comes. Come to me privately and let me know when God answers your persistent, continued prayer for that individual and he or she is finally saved. Do that so we can rejoice and praise God together. I may let you give a public testimony of how you prayed for that person and they got converted. 

As we move toward the evangelistic meetings in the next few weeks, start at once to keep such a prayer list in your Bible, and pray for the salvation of these people every day until God answers you and they are saved. May God help you on this matter of persistent prayer for definite people to be saved. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Let us stand and read Mark 11:24 aloud.

“What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24).

If several of you will do this now, I believe a number of people will be converted in the evangelistic meetings in the weeks to come.

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The Exposition Before the Sermon by the Pastor:
James 5:14-15; Mark 11:22-24; Mark 9:23-29.
The Prayer Before the Sermon: Dr. Kreighton L. Chan.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“I Am Praying for You” (by S. O’Malley Clough, 1837-1910).