“What Prayer Is”, by O. Hallesby Ph.D (Hearts to God, See Jesus, Healed)

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What Prayer Is, by O Hallesby,  Ph.D. from the book, “Prayer”

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” —REVELATION 3:20.

I doubt that I know of a passage in the whole Bible which throws greater light upon prayer than this one does. It is, it seems to me, the key which opens the door into the holy and blessed realm of prayer.

To pray is to let Jesus come into our hearts.

This teaches us, in the first place, that it is not our prayer which moves the Lord Jesus. It is Jesus who moves us to pray. He knocks. Thereby He makes known His desire to come in to us. Our prayers are always a result of Jesus’ knocking at our hearts’ doors.

This throws new light upon the old prophetic passages: “Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24). Yea, verily, before we call, He graciously makes known to us what gift He has decided to impart to us. He knocks in order to move us by prayer to open the door and accept the gift which He has already appointed for us.

From time immemorial prayer has been spoken of as the breath of the soul. And the figure is an excellent one indeed. The air which our body requires envelopes us on every hand. The air of itself seeks to enter our bodies and, for this reason, exerts pressure upon us. It is well known that it is more difficult to hold one’s breath than it is to breathe. We need but exercise our organs of respiration, and air will enter forthwith into our lungs and perform its life-giving function to the entire body.

The air which our souls need also envelopes all of us at all times and on all sides. God is round about us in Christ on every hand, with His many-sided and all-sufficient grace. All we need to do is to open our hearts. Prayer is the breath of the soul, the organ by which we receive Christ into our parched and withered hearts.

He says, “If any man open the door, I will come in to him.” Notice carefully every word here. It is not our prayer which draws Jesus into our hearts. Nor is it our prayer which moves Jesus to come in to us.

All He needs is access.

He enters in of His own accord, because He desires to come in. And He enters in wherever He is not denied admittance. As air enters in quietly when we breathe, and does its normal work in our lungs, so Jesus enters quietly into our hearts and does His blessed work there.

He calls it to “sup with us.” In Biblical language the common meal is symbolical of intimate and joyous fellowship. This affords a new glimpse into the nature of prayer, showing us that God has designed prayer as a means of intimate and joyous fellowship between God and man.

Notice how graciously prayer has been designed. To pray is nothing more involved than to let Jesus into our needs. To pray is to give Jesus permission to employ His powers in the alleviation of our distress. To pray is to let Jesus glorify His name in the midst of our needs. The results of prayer are, therefore, not dependent upon the powers of the one who prays. His intense will, his fervent emotions, or his clear comprehension of what he is praying for are not the reasons why his prayers will be heard and answered. Nay, God be praised, the results of prayer are not dependent upon these things!

To pray is nothing more involved than to open the door, giving Jesus access to our needs and permitting Him to exercise His own power in dealing with them.

He who gave us the privilege of prayer knows us very well. He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. That is why He designed prayer in such a way that the most impotent can make use of it. For to pray is to open the door unto Jesus. And that requires no strength. It is only a question of our wills. Will we give Jesus access to our needs? That is the one great and fundamental question in connection with prayer.

When Israel had sinned against the Lord in the wilderness, He sent among them exceedingly fiery serpents. In their distress the people humbled themselves and cried to God for mercy. And the Lord had mercy upon His rebellious people. But He did not take away the serpents. What He did was to tell Moses to raise up a serpent of brass in the midst of the camp, that all might see it. And He ordained it so in His  mercy that they who had been bitten by the serpents needed but to turn and look unto the serpent of brass, and they would be given the power which would heal them from the death-dealing poison of the serpents’ bites.

This was indeed a gracious ordinance. By this all could be saved if they so willed. If the Lord had ordained that those who had been bitten by the serpents must drag themselves over to the serpent of brass and touch it, most of them would never have been saved, because the poison took effect almost immediately, and those who had been poisoned were unable to walk more than a few steps. All that was required of them was to turn their heads, look unto the serpent of brass, and they would be healed!

Just so has the Lord in mercy ordained help also for the serpent-bitten Israel of the New Covenant: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

No matter in what distress we may be, distress of body or of soul, we need but look unto Him who is always near with that healing power which can immediately overcome the death-dealing poison of sin and its terrible consequences both to body and soul.

To pray is nothing more involved than to lift the eye -of prayer unto the Savior who stands and knocks, yea knocks through our very need, in order to gain access to our distress, sup with us and glorify His name.

Let us think of patients who are ill with tuberculosis. The physicians put them out in the sunlight and fresh air, both in summer and in winter. There they lie until a cure is gradually effected by the rays of the sun. The recovery of these patients is not dependent upon their thinking, in the sense of understanding the effect of the sun’s rays or how these rays work. Neither does their recovery depend upon the feelings they experience during the rest cure. Nor does it depend upon their wills in the sense of exerting themselves to will to become well.

On the contrary, the treatment is most successful if the patients lie very quietly and are passive, exerting neither their intellects nor their wills. It is the sun which effects the cure. All the patients need to do is to be in the sun.

Prayer is just as simple.

We are all saturated with the pernicious virus of sin; every one of us is a tubercular patient doomed to die! But “the sun of righteousness with healing in its wings has arisen.”

All that is required of us, if we desire to be healed both for time and for eternity, is to let the Son of righteousness reach us, and then to abide in the sunlight of His righteousness. To pray is nothing more involved than to lie in the sunshine of His grace, to expose our distress of body and soul to those healing rays which can in a wonderful way counteract and render ineffective the bacteria of sin. To be a man or woman of prayer is to take this sun-cure, to give Jesus, with His wonder-working power, access to our distress night and day. To be a Christian is in truth to have gained a place in the sun!

Permit me to use still another illustration to show how simple the Lord has made prayer. The man sick of the palsy, mentioned in the second chapter of Mark, had some very good friends. They knew that Jesus could help him. So they carried him to the house where Jesus was. But they could not get in because of the multitude. Undaunted, they lifted the sick man to the roof, made a hole in it and lowered him to the very feet of Jesus.

There these good friends undoubtedly stood and waited for the authoritative word from Jesus by which their sick friend would immediately become well. But, strange enough, no such word was forthcoming from Jesus. Instead they heard these words spoken with authority: “Son, thy sins are forgiven!”

Another prayer had been crying louder to Jesus. It was the sick man’s plea for the forgiveness of sins. And yet he had not spoken one word to Jesus. He was lying quietly on his bed. It is easy for me to think that he lay there looking to Jesus, only looking to Jesus. And Jesus heard the unuttered prayer for the forgiveness of sins which arose from the sick man’s heart. And He answered this prayer first.

Afterward He answered the other prayer also and restored the man to physical health. This helps us to get a little deeper insight into the secret of prayer. Prayer is something deeper than words. It is present in the soul before it has been formulated in words. And it abides in the soul after the last words of prayer have passed over our lips. Prayer is an attitude of our hearts, an attitude of mind. Prayer is a definite attitude of our hearts toward God, an attitude which He in heaven immediately recognizes as prayer, as an appeal to His heart. Whether it takes the form of words or not, does not mean anything to God, only to ourselves.

O. Hallesby Ph.D. from the Book, “Prayer”

“Behold, Hear His Voice, Open the Door”, Charles H. Spurgeon on Revelation 3:20 (See Jesus, Receive His Love, Believe)

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Revelation 3:20
“0 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

Charles H. Spurgeon, Sermon on Revelation 3:20

(July 26, 1874, delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington)

‘Behold,’ saith he, ‘I stand at the door and knock.’ I have known this text preached upon to sinners numbers of times as though Christ knocked at their door and they had to open it, and so on. The preacher has never managed to keep to free grace for this reason, that the text was not meant to be so used, and if men will ride a text the wrong way, it will not go. This text belongs to the church of God, not to the unconverted. It is addressed to the Laodicean church.

There is Christ outside the church, driven there by her unkindness, but he has not gone far away, he loves his church too much to leave her altogether, he longs to come back, and therefore he waits at the doorpost. He knows that the church will never be restored till he comes back, and he desires to bless her, and so he stands waiting, knocking and knocking, again and again; he does not merely knock once, but he stands knocking by earnest sermons, by providences, by impressions upon the conscience, by the quickenings of his Holy Spirit; and while he knocks he speaks, he uses all means to awaken his church.

Most condescendingly and graciously does he do this, for having threatened to spue her out of his mouth, he might have said, ‘I will get me gone; and I will never come back again to thee,’ that would have been natural and just; but how gracious he is when, having expressed his disgust he says, ‘Disgusted as I am with your condition, I do not wish to leave you; I have taken my presence from you, but I love you, and therefore I knock at your door, and wish to be received into your heart.

I will not force myself upon you, I want you voluntarily to open the door to me.’ Christ’s presence in a church is always a very tender thing. He never is there against the will of the church, it cannot be, for he lives in his people’s wills and hearts, and ‘worketh in them to will and to do of his own good pleasure.’

He does not break bolt and bar and come in as he often does into a sinner’s heart, carrying the soul by storm, because the man is dead in sin, and Christ must do it all, or the sinner will perish; but he is here speaking to living men and women, who ought also to be loving men and women, and he says, ‘I wish to be among you, open the door to me.’ We ought to open the door at once, and say, ‘Come in, good Lord, we grieve to think we should ever have put thee outside that door at all.’

And then see what promises he gives. He says he will come and sup with us. Now, in the East, the supper was the best meal of the day, it was the same as our dinner; so that we may say that Christ will come and dine with us. He will give us a rich feast, for he himself is the daintiest and most plenteous of all feasts for perishing souls. He will come and sup with us, that is, we shall be the host and entertain him: but then he adds, ‘and he with me,’ that is, he will be the host and guest by turns.

We will give him of our best, but poor fare is that, too poor for him, and yet he will partake of it. Then he shall be host, and we will be guest, and oh, how we will feast on what he gives! Christ comes, and brings the supper with him, and all we do is to find the room. The Master says to us, ‘Where is the guest chamber?’ and then he makes ready and spreads his royal table.

Now, if these be the terms on which we are to have a feast together, we will most willingly fling open the doors of our hearts and say, ‘Come in, good Lord.’ He says to you, ‘Children, have you any meat?’ and if you are obliged to say, ‘No, Lord,’ he will come in unto you none the less readily, for there are the fish, the net is ready to break, it is so full, and here are more upon the coals ready. I warrant you, if we sup with him, we shall be lukewarm no longer. The men who live where Jesus is soon feel their hearts burning.

It is said of a piece of scented clay by the old Persian moralist that the clay was taken up and questioned. ‘How camest thou to smell so sweetly, being nothing but common clay?’ and it replied, ‘I laid for many a year in the sweet society of a rose, until at last I drank in its perfume’; and we may say to every warm-hearted Christian, ‘How camest thou so warm?’ and his answer will be, ‘My heart bubbleth up with a good matter, for I speak of the things which I have made touching the King. I have been with Jesus, and I have learned of him.’

Now, brethren and sisters, what can I say to move you to take this last medicine? I can only say, take it, not only because of the good it will do you, but because of the sweetness of it. I have heard say of some persons that they were pledged not to take wine except as a medicine, but then they were very pleased when they were ill: and so if this be the medicine, ‘I will come and sup with him, and he with me,’ we may willingly confess our need of so delicious a remedy. Need I press it on you? May I not rather urge each brother as soon as he gets home today to see whether he cannot enter into fellowship with Jesus? and may the Spirit of God help him!

This is my closing word, there is something for us to do in this matter. We must examine ourselves, and we must confess the fault if we have declined in grace. An then we must not talk about setting the church right, we must pray for grace each one for himself, for the text does not say, ‘If the church will open the door,’ but ‘If any man hear my voice and open the door.’ It must be done by individuals: the church will only get right by each man getting right. Oh, that we might get back into an earnest zeal for our Lord’s love and service, and we shall only do so by listening to his rebukes, and then falling into his arms, clasping him once again, and saying, ‘My Lord and my God.’

That healed Thomas, did it not? Putting his fingers into the print of the nails, putting his hand into the side, that cured him. Poor, unbelieving, staggering Thomas only had to do that and he became one of the strongest of believers, and said, ‘My Lord and my God.’ You will love your Lord till your soul is as coals of juniper if you will daily commune with him. Come close to him, and once getting close to him, never go away from him anymore.

The Lord bless you, dear brethren, the Lord bless you in this thing.

PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON’ Revelation 3.

Charles H. Spurgeon

Spurgeons Sermon on Revelation 3:20 (entire) link to Rev. 3:14-21

“Tomorrow Can See”, a worship poem from L.Willows (See Jesus, the Altar of God, the Glory)

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Tomorrow Can See

Here in the Gift
is a newness that breaks
known as God’s Calling,
in the Dawn of His wake.

Burdens born then,
come round to the fore,
lifted like children they’ve
gone through the Door.

Here in all hearts
are the rooms, coming more-
Altars that pray,
they worship, they pour.

Tomorrow can see,
Love will be throughout time.
Given, our living,
forever, as Thine.

© 2019 Linda Willows

Exodus 17:15 –“And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner.”

Isaiah 41:40 –“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with … nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Revelation 6:9 –“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.”