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PRAYING THROUGH

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.,
Pastor Emeritus

A lesson given at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, August 30, 2020

Hymn Sung Before the Lesson:
     “Teach Me to Pray” (by Albert S. Reitz, 1879-1966).


Let us turn in our Bible to Luke 18:1-8 (p. 1100 Scofield). Please stand as I read it to you.

“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.

These verses show the power of persistent prayer. I am lifting out verse eight as our main text, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

Dr. Timothy Lin said, “The context of this verse clearly [shows] that the word “faith” here refers to faith in prayer…Christ laments that His church will lose the faith of prayer on the eve of His second coming. The churches today often cancel their prayer meetings altogether [or replace their prayer meetings with a sermon or Bible study]. It is truly a sign that the Lord’s second coming is [near].” “The period before Christ’s return will be marked by persecution, apostasy and unbelief” (MacArthur).

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Dr. Timothy Lin said that the churches of the last days will have little desire for prayer meetings for two reasons:

(1) The restraints of Satan.

    Satan knows he must work hard to keep members from prayer meetings to keep them helpless and prolong his evil reign. The Scripture says, “The devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelation 12:12; p. 1341).

(2) The deceits of the flesh.

    The Bible says, “The carnal mind is [hostile] toward God” (Romans 8:7; p. 1201). “Dear brothers and sisters, please [remember] that [praying] in church prayer meetings is a condition for maintaining God’s presence… negligence in prayer meetings will cost us God’s presence, and thus all efforts put forth will either be striving after the wind or grasping for shadows. In the end there is nothing” (The Secret of Church Growth, page 99).

Does our passage in Luke 18 refer to prayer meetings? Yes, it does. See verse seven.

“And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” (Luke 18:7; p. 1101).

Why did the early Christians have such power? The answer is given in Acts 4:24, “they lifted up their voice to God with one accord” (p. 1154). Dr. Lin said, “There is only one difference between a symphony and a prayer meeting…that has God’s presence. The [symphony] desires the harmony of sounds, while the prayer meeting desires the harmony of hearts.” The Chinese Bible translates “in one accord” as “with the same heart and the same mind.” (ibid., pp. 93, 94).

Turn to Matthew 18:19-20. Stand and read these two verses out loud (p. 1024).

“Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:19-20).

You may be seated.

These verses show that we must have “one accord” to have God answer our prayers together.

That is why we must be more careful to let only those who are truly converted join our church. Turn to II Corinthians 6:14 (p. 1234). Stand and read verse 14 together,

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (II Corinthians 6:14).

You may be seated. “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.”

We cannot pray together “with one accord” if we allow unconverted people to join our church – unless we want more church splits!

God gives a list of the kind of people He hates. It is found in Proverbs 6:16-19 (p. 676). Please stand as I read it.

“These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Here is one more verse, Proverbs 22:10 (p. 688).

“Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease” (Proverbs 22:10).

Where I went wrong

I developed a plan based on Luke 14:23, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in…” But our people read on and said, “that my house may be filled.” This led our people to work hard to bring people into our church without being willing to become true disciples of Jesus. Thus, our church became full of people who were unwilling to repent and become disciples of Jesus.

Dr. Lin said, “If a church wants to have a bright and meaningful future, her standard for accepting new members ought to be very strict. Before baptizing or accepting a person as part of the body of Christ, the church should first investigate thoroughly the following: Has he been truly born again? Have his priorities, thoughts and values been changed? Does he trust in God’s Word in his Christian [life]? Negligence of a thorough investigation will put us in the same category as the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ time, who travelled about on land and sea to make one proselyte. When the proselyte was made, they made him a ‘son of hell.’” Jesus said,

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte [one Gentile convert to Judaism], and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matthew 23:15; p. 1031).

By not being strict enough in accepting new people, our church became filled with lost people, and even demonized people. Thus, the new people coming into our church were not disciples of Jesus. No wonder they caused one church split after the other!

What is the answer to this problem? It is given to us in the Great Commission. Turn to Matthew 28:18-20 (p. 1044). Turn to it and stand as I read it.

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20).

You may be seated.

Dr. Timothy Lin said that the precise translation should be:

“Going therefore, you must make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Dr. Lin said, “make disciples is a command; it is also the main theme of the Great Commission” (The Secret of Church Growth, pp. 57-63).

My goal is not to transfer our old church to the new church. If I did that we would have a church full of undiscipled people. Chan thinks he can remedy the situation of rebellion in the church people he stole from us in one quick paragraph. Here it is, taken from his lesson, “The Subtilty of Evil,” given by Chan on July 12, 2020; page 7 of his manuscript,

There are some here that have given their heart over to open rebellion and will not talk to the pastor over their sinful condition but instead seek the comfort of the company of their friends. Others live in secret sin thinking that simply coming to church will eventually save you. But you are dealing with God whose eyes “are in every place beholding the evil.” Some of you think you are a Christian yet you never have thoughts of God, Heaven, or even really winning a soul. Some of you think you are a Christian yet you never have thoughts about God, Heaven, or really even winning a soul. All of your conversations with others show that you only have thoughts of this temporal world and the world of the spirit is not real to you at all. Be honest about your life. Do not lie to yourself. The Bible says that you are “wise to do evil, but to do good [you] have no knowledge.” You will not humble yourself and admit your sin. Why not? Because in your pride you derive some much pleasure in doing what you want to do. But in the end you are the big-time loser. You think you are wise but you just got [tricked] by the “deceitfulness of sin.” If you do not repent of your sins your heart will become so hardened that it will be beyond all hope of recovery.

Most of the people he stole from our church are not disciples of Jesus. That is clear. The paragraph above will not change anyone who heard it. He is trying to disciple people with one paragraph! It will not work!!!

Therefore I will start a pastor’s class for all newer people, with the goal of making them true disciples of our Lord. They will remain in my class for as long as it takes for them to internalize “all things that [Christ] has commanded.” This must be done before they are baptized, and continued afterwards. “Make disciples” comes before baptism in the Great Commission. I will personally decide when they should be baptized and join our church. Thus, with God’s help, I will try as hard as I can to make true disciples who will not rebel and cause yet another church split.

It is painful to have to obey the Bible, and “put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (I Corinthians 5:13; p. 1216). I am asking you to pray through on this. Start now by praying through for me to start this discipleship group for all the newer people in our new church.

Stand and listen as I read again Luke 18:1-8 (p. 1100).

“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).

Dr. John R. Rice, a great man of prayer, said, “Oh, may God’s people be encouraged to pray – may they be encouraged to pray through!

Keep on praying
    Till you pray it through,
Keep on praying
     Till you pray it through.
God’s great promises
     Are always true
Keep on praying
     Till you pray it through!”

(John R. Rice, Prayer: Asking and Receiving, p. 310).

Please take this lesson home with you and pray every day for God to help us do what has been written here.

Please stand and sing our hymn again, “Teach Me to Pray.”

Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray;
    This is my heart cry, day unto day;
I long to know Thy will and Thy way;
     Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray.

Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer,
     Here ‘mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care;
Men lost and dying, souls in despair;
     O give me power, power in prayer!

My weakened will, Lord, Thou canst renew;
     My sinful nature Thou canst subdue;
Fill me just now with power anew,
     Power to pray and power to do!

Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray;
     Thou art my Pattern, day unto day;
Thou art my Surety, now and for aye;
     Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray.
(“Teach Me to Pray” by Albert S. Reitz, 1879-1966).