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Cowboy Poetry and Prayer Life

 

John Baugh

November 25, 2008

 

 

 

Let's begin this study with some poetry, courtesy
of a cowboy:

 

Jake's Prayer
by Bill Jones

Jake, the rancher, went one day
to fix a distant fence.
The wind was cold and gusty
and the clouds rolled gray and dense.

As he pounded the last staples in
and gathered tools to go,
The temperature had fallen, and
the snow began to blow.

When he finally reached his pickup truck,
he felt a heavy heart.
From the sound of that ignition,
he knew it wouldn't start.

So Jake did what most of us
would do if we had been there.
He humbly bowed his balding head
and sent aloft a prayer.

As he turned the key one last time,
he softly cursed his luck.
They found him three days later,
frozen stiff in that old truck.

Now Jake had been around in life
and done his share of roaming.
But when he saw Heaven, he was shocked --
it looked just like Wyoming!

Of all the saints in Heaven,
his favorite was St. Peter.
(Now, this line ain't needed
but it helps with rhyme and meter)

So they set and talked a minute or two,
or maybe it was three.
Nobody was a’keeping' score --
in Heaven time is free.

"I've always heard," Jake said to Pete,
"that God would answer prayer,
But the one time I asked for help,
well, he just plain wasn't there."

"Does God answer prayers of some,
and ignore the prayers of others?
That don't seem exactly square --
I know all men are brothers."

"Or does He randomly reply,
without good rhyme or reason?
Maybe, based on time of day,
the weather or the season."

"Now I ain't trying to act smart,
it's just the way I feel.
And I was wondering', could you tell me, Pete --
what exactly is the deal?!"

Peter listened very patiently
and when old Jake was done,
There were smiles of recognition,
and he said, "So, you're the one!!"

"That day your truck, it wouldn't start,
and you sent your prayer a flying,
You gave us all a real bad time,
with hundreds of us trying."

"A thousand angels rushed,
to check the status of your file,
But you know, Jake, we hadn't heard
from you in quite a while."

"Rest assured all prayers are answered,
and God ain't got no quota,
but, He didn't recognize your voice,
and started some guy’s truck in Minnesota."

 

The sad truth is, some folks pray and some folks don’t!

 

So, what does scripture say about prayer?

 

Is any one of you in trouble?

He should pray.

Is anyone happy?

Let him sing songs of praise.

(James 5:13)

 

Be joyful always;

pray continually;

give thanks in all circumstances,

for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

 

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions

with all kinds of prayers and requests.

With this in mind, be alert

and always keep on praying for all the saints.

(Ephesians 6:18)

 

David’s Words on Prayer:

 

I lift up my eyes to the hills-
where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the LORD ,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

(Psalm 121:1-2)

 

I cry aloud to the LORD ;
I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy.
I pour out my complaint before him;
before him I tell my trouble.

(Psalm 142: 1-2)

 

Let the morning bring me word

of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,

for to you I lift up my soul.

(Psalm 143:8)

 

 

 From Luke's Gospel, Chapter 11 "Lord, Teach us to Pray":

 

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."
(Luke 11: 1 NIV)

 

Jesus said, Ask, Seek, Knock

 

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
(Luke 11:9-10)

 

Looking at Prayer in Terms of Christ’s words
(Ask, Seek, Knock)

 

The simplest and easiest level of prayer is to ask.

 

What Jesus means here is that there are certain needs which require a mere asking to be immediately and invariably met.

 

The range of these needs is far wider than we usually give credit for. For instance, reading through the New Testament, it becomes clear that our need for Christ-like attributes lies in this category. We need to possess love, courage, wisdom, power and patience if we are to be like Christ. All of these Christ like attributes are things that we only need to ask for and we will get an immediate answer.

 

Koos Basson a missionary friend from South Africa:

 

Several years back, a South African friend in the missionary ministry, Koos Basson, began traveling to Zambia. These are Koos' words concerning the first visit he made to Zambia.

 

"Zambia was a hot, dry, dirty country, full of nothing."

 

I remember seeing a presentation Koos made one time. During his address, he showed a slide of twin animal trails leaving the pavement going off a main highway out into the bush.

 

I remember Koos saying this was a road in Zambia (I have since verified his words to be true) - Koos stated that day that he initially hated the country, but in his heart he knew the Lord wanted him in Zambia. In his depression, Koos prayed for the Holy Spirit to give him a love for Zambia. God answered this prayer immediately. On his next trip to Zambia, he began to see things in Zambia to love specifically the people of Zambia! God gave him a contentment that has brought him to hundreds of villages to share Jesus Christ with the people in the Zambian Bush country, the worker settlements in Zambia's copper mining districts and the remote swamps of Northern Zambia.

 

With God given wisdom, Koos showed me better than most that there are things we need only to ask for and God will give them to us.

 

Do you remember what James said?

 

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

(James 1:5)

 

Seek:

 

A second level of prayer is denoted by the word "seek" that Jesus used.

 

Seeking involves an element of time. Seeking is not a simple act. It is a process, a series of acts.

 

One day, a while back, we realized that Cindy’s car and house keys were missing. Initially, she came to me, asking if I had them. Unfortunately, my answer was “No”. At that point, we began to seek out her lost keys. Over the next few days, our seeking carried us all through our house, the storage room, Cindy’s car, and as far as a church 90 miles away in Birmingham, Alabama where a Christian brother and disciple maker, Robert Marcus and I had been teaching Disciple Making for several weeks.

 

All of our attempts proved futile. And then in the briefest of moments and for no good reason Cindy moved a footrest on the floor of my truck, and there her keys were. Finding the keys was no easy matter. Her process of seeking them out was long and required quite a bit of effort before she was successful.

 

Seeking - Searching involves a process. And Jesus says there are areas of life that require more than asking. There must be seeking, searching.

 

When something is lost or hidden from us, our prayers then become a search; a plea for insight, wisdom and understanding, for an unraveling of the mystery with which we are confronted. Again, Jesus' answer for this type of prayer is absolutely certain. Seek, and you will find!

 

Scripture provides a solid example of seeking through prayer in the well-known incident in the life of the Apostle Paul. Specifically, it involves his suffering from that excruciating, painful thing that he called "a thorn in the flesh" which he mentions in 2 Corinthians 12:7.

 

Paul had some physical disability which hounded and buffeted and limited him. He tells us “three times” he asked to have this problem taken away. And God did not do it – there was no answer. In his seeking relief through prayer, Paul began to understand the thorn was not the kind of thing that is removed by asking. It required a search. The words of Jesus, when He said “Seek and you shall find” came into play.

 

So, What happened?

 

Paul tells us that God gave him his answer after he searched. In 2 Corinthians 13:9 Paul writes what God Told him:

 

"My grace is sufficient for thee,"

(2 Corinthians 13:9 KJV)

 

Pastor Ray Stedman served the Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, CA for many years. Ray was an incredible Man of God who was discipled by Dawson Trotman, who led the Navigator Discipling organization for many years.

 

Let me use Ray Stedman’s words when he rephrased what God told Paul.

 

Ray said God might have said it this way:

 

"It is better this way, Paul. I have allowed this deliberately to come into your life and I will not remove it, for my grace is sufficient for you. I can give you all that it takes to stand this thing, for what it is doing to you is of far more value than anything that would come by its removal."

 

So, what was Paul’s response when God answered his seeking in a different way than he expected?

 

Paul said: "I have learned, therefore, to glory in my infirmities,

my weaknesses, because then the power of Christ rests upon me,"

(2 Corinthians 12:9)

 

What happened when Paul asked, then sought out God’s answer to his prayers concerning the thorn in his side?

 

Paul’s prayers broke through the mysterious barrier; the wall of God’s silence that met the apostle when asked to have this thing removed. As he prayed about it his mind was illuminated, he began to see something more in this silence. Behind the silence, he saw God's purposes.

 

Paul said: "I have learned, therefore, to glory in my infirmities,

my weaknesses, because then the power of Christ rests upon me,"

(2 Corinthians 12:9)

 

So, Paul’s searching prayer was answered.

 

Asking and Seeking:

 

For some of our problems, the answer is a prayer that asks. For other problems, the answer lies in the word seek: "Seek and ye shall find."

 

Knocking:

 

From Christ's words in the scripture, we obviously know there is a third level of prayer, which involves knocking.

 

The word “Knocking” indicates both time and repetition are involved.

 

So, What is Knocking?

 

Knocking is not a single rap; it is a series of raps. Knocking is a request for admittance, repeated if necessary, and it suggests situations where we earnestly seek an entrance or an opportunity as many times as are required to achieve what we seek. These are situations like:

 

- Where someone has perhaps erected a barrier against our witness or against our friendship and we are seeking to get past the obstacle, to get behind the wall of resistance and to have an opportunity freely and openly to speak, or to share, or to enter into a life. Success here requires knocking, often more than once.

 

- Perhaps we have an unshakable desire to begin a certain type of work or ministry from which we are now excluded. We long to move into that area, we feel God leading us, calling us, to be this or do that. That requires knocking.

 

- We may have an unsatisfied hunger, perhaps, after Knowledge or Growth. You may recall Matthew in Chapter 5, writing about:

 

"Hungering and thirsting after righteousness,"

(Matt 5:6).

 

- We may be seeking the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit in the life of a lost son, or daughter, a family member or a friend, or a miracle healing for which there seems no hope other than direct intervention from the all powerful God. In these cases, we are seeking (begging for) His involvement. We are seeking his entrance into areas of the heart that have been restricted to us or for actions that are beyond human accomplishment. Achieving success in this type of desire often requires knocking on our part – sometimes for years.

 

And so we come before God and boldly and repeatedly ask. We knock each time making an endeavor to enter in. Why do we knock? It is because we are resting on the solid assurance that what Jesus says here is true:

 

"Knock and it shall be opened."

 

There is a remarkable and clear-cut example of this knocking type of prayer in the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans. As he writes to these dear friends, many of whom he had never met but knew by reputation only, he says in Verses 9 – 10 of Chapter 1:

 

"God, whom I serve with my whole heart

in preaching the gospel of his Son,

is my witness how constantly

I remember you in my prayers at all times;
(Romans 1:9-10)

Here we see Paul is praying for the people in Rome – Constantly. In the King James Version the scripture says he is praying - Without Ceasing! Paul is knocking in the hope that that this door might be opened to him, he knocks without ceasing.

 

Let me finish Paul's passage in Romans:

and I pray that now at last by God's will

the way may be opened for me to come to you.

With all of his heart, Paul wanted to enter the Roman ministry, but he was frustrated again and again. But Paul kept trying. He knocked away in his prayers because he knew what Jesus said,

 

“Knock and it shall be opened.”

 

The book of Acts tells us that Paul did finally come to Rome. He came to Rome as a prisoner in chains. I am certain he had not thought he would come to the seat of Roman influence and power in that way but he did come. God eventually brought him to Rome, and from this prison cell in Rome there came the greatest letters the apostle ever wrote, which we call his "Prison Epistles."

 

Rome remained in Paul’s thoughts and prayers after his eventual release from his time as an “Ambassador in Chains” and his departure. He continued to knock in his prayers to our Heavenly Father and eventually traveled - a second time - to Rome - once again in chains – this time under exceedingly grave conditions.

 

What was the result of this second visit to Rome? From the cold, dark, damp confinement of the hovel that served as his cell in the Mamertine Prison, Paul penned what to me is the greatest (certainly the most personal) of his letters – 2nd Timothy.

 

When we read this second letter to Timothy, Paul’s beloved son in the faith, we see his willingness to serve in whatever circumstance he found himself and to continue to ask, seek and knock in prayer.

 

Paul’s prayers from the mission field and finally from death row in Mamertine Prison began with the necessity of seeking his master’s intervention in those things over which the apostle had no control. Then through his faith in our Lord’s promise to answer our prayers, Paul’s prayers moved on to certainty.

 

We must remember - Prayer is not simply asking. Prayer is also seeking and knocking. But the answer is invariably the same.

 

"Every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."

 

Asking, Seeking and Knocking – These are the foundations of a productive prayer life. It should be the same with each of us.

 

What is the status of your prayer life?

 

If you called God on your spiritual telephone right now, would he recognize your voice? Or would he need to look at his spiritual telephone call identifier box to see who the voice was coming from. Of course he would recognize your voice. Bill Jones Poem was a good hearted poke, but I find it filled with pointed wisdom in a Cowboy sort 'a way.

 

Our father in Heaven wants to have a full relationship with all of us. It is his desire to hear all of our prayer petitions and provide for our needs. The problems of an unfulfilled prayer life are usually related to a silence on our part.

 

Have you asked God’s to provide you with your daily needs yet today?

 

Have you prayed for Christ's Church today, asking God to give us wisdom and strength for the work to be done?

 

Have you knocked in prayer for that lost person you know, seeking the intervention of the Holy Spirit in that person’s life and asking God to open the door for you to witness to them?

 

If that lost person is you, have you prayed the most simple of prayers, asking Christ Jesus to come into your life and be your Lord? Do you know if you do that, no seeking or knocking will be required only the simple asking for forgiveness of sin?

 

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