Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together….Before they call I will answer; While they are yet speaking I will hear. (Psalm 34:3; Isaiah 65:24)
This post continues to look at amazing ways the Lord answers prayer. You may also like Magnify the Lord: Sometimes He Answers Before We Pray
One night, a mother prayed with her young daughter before bedtime. The child asks, “Jesus, please lock the doors if they haven’t been locked.” The Mom smiles at this and forgets about it. The next morning, she opens the front door to find her keys outside in the lock! She’s amazed at how the Lord led her little girl to pray and then the Lord answered so wonderfully. This happy mom praised God for His personal protection and told all her friends what the Lord had done!
What a loving, sympathetic Heavenly Father we have, dear Christians! His general rule for us in prayer is, “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”1 God even required Jesus, His Incarnate Son to pray, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”2
In Isaiah the Lord promises, “While they are yet speaking I will hear.” That reminds us of Nehemiah shooting up a flare prayer (a brief, spontaneous prayer) to the Lord in the middle of his conversation with King Artaxerxes of Persia.3 On that occasion God turned this pagan king’s heart around on the spot and granted a favorable answer! The Lord caused the ruler to allow and even pay for the building of Israel’s second temple! It is similar to the Hebrews receiving reparations from the Egyptians near the time of the Exodus, symbolizing their move from slavery to freedom.4 The Egyptians were probably happy to get rid of these pesty people and their God after suffering the ruin of the ten plagues that the Lord had sent. God used Egyptian gold, silver, and bronze for the building of the Tabernacle. Nehemiah often took his problems to God with petitions and so should we.5
Remember a similar story in Daniel chapter 9. Daniel was reading the Scripture prophecy which God gave through Jeremiah, saying that the Exile would last seventy years. Daniel turned the Bible promise into prayer and petition, asking the Lord to fulfill His promises for the people’s return to Jerusalem. Then God sent an immediate answer:
While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for His holy hill—while I was still in prayer, Gabriel (the angel) came to me in swift flight….He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you….Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision….6
It was a fulfillment of Isaiah 65:24. The Lord says: “Before they call I will answer; While they are yet speaking I will hear.” Daniel prayed the Bible back to God and the Lord sent a rapid reply. God does not always do that, but He can do it. So we always ought to pray and not lose heart.
Jesus in Gethsemene
Remember also our Lord’s prayer in the Garden, committing to and composing Himself for the cross.7 The Son of God prays, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Jesus is not shrinking from His eternal mission for our salvation, but He is letting us see that it cost Him dearly to redeem us. Christ was made the sin bearer for us, a curse for us, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.8 He was going to the cross to be forsaken by His Father for us.9 So Christ offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to God and Jesus submitted to God His Father, completely and without qualification.10 Luke records, “Then an angel appeared to Christ from heaven, strengthening Him.” While Jesus was praying God sent the angel to strengthen, help, comfort His Son for His cross work, but not to eliminate the agony and horror of the cross to ransom us and pay our sin debt.
Gethsemene is similar to God’s provision for Jesus at the outset of His Messianic work when He was fasting and praying in the wilderness forty days and the angels came and ministered to Him.11 Sometimes God answers speedily. Bless Him. So, dear Christians, why do we neglect prayer?
Like Isaiah, R. A. Torrey rebukes us, “We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little; many services, but few conversions; much machinery, but few results.”12
The Flow of Isaiah’s Prophecy
The Lord’s tone in Isaiah chapter 65 is comforting and encouraging to repenting sinners saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, urging us to pray and receive the Lord’s bounties. Remember how the book of Isaiah unfolds:
|Chapters 1-39||God’s Judgment on the World’s Sin|
|Chapters 40-48||God’s Promise of Deliverance through His Servant|
|Chapters 49-57||Messiah’s Suffering Sacrifice and Glory|
|Chapters 58-66||God’s People Reconciled and Restored|
We are now living in the last section of Isaiah’s prophecy, beloved! Jesus has already come the first time save His people from our sins. To live obediently for us, to die the cursed death we deserve, to be raised from the grave for us, and to put His Holy Spirit in us as a permanent resident!
That’s already a done deal! Now God the Spirit helps us here on earth to pray prayers we ought to and to re-shape our selfish supplications into acceptable ones. God the Son sits at His Father’s right hand interceding for us, pleading that the everlasting merits of His blood be continually re-applied to us. God the Father hears our prayers, helped by the Spirit and the Son, and He answers!
No wonder the Savior commands us not to worry about food, drink, clothing, shelter, and our other needs. “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”13
Notes (various translations): 1 James 4:2-3. 2 Psalm 2:8. 3 Neh 2:1-9. 4 Exodus 12:36. 5 See Neh 1:4; 4:4,9; 5:19; 6:9,14; 13:14,22,29, 31. 6 Daniel 9:20-23. 7 Luke 22:39-46. 8 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13; John 1:29. 9 Psalm 22:1; Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34. 10 Heb 5:7. 11 Mark 1:13. 12 How to Obtain Fullness of Power, p. 58. 13 Matt 6:32-33.