Prayer and the Way of Man


August 24, 1996 ~ Ivanhoe Holiness Camp


Proverbs 3:6 - In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.


Proverbs 16:9 - In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his path.


The verses which we have just read together came suddenly real to me a few weeks ago as I was driving to work. Sometimes we just get so caught up in the living of life that we forget about the God who guides it - and who takes an interest in all that we do - so that we may be drawn closer to Him.


I was driving along Highway 401 on the way to my office in Toronto when I heard a sound behind me like a tire blowing. Looking in my rear view mirror I saw billows of blue smoke coming from the driver's side rear tire. A few days earlier I had noticed some trouble with my brakes and had taken the car to the garage for a check-up, and I was actually on my way to the garage to have the problem fixed when the popping sound happened so it seemed obvious that I had lost half of my brakes. Slowly I moved the car over to the right lane, slowing down so that I could stop safely when the shoulder became wide enough. After about a kilometre I was finally able to pull over and ponder my options. I figured that I could do one of the following:


1/ I could wait for rush hour to end in about half an hour and drive carefully to the garage using my parking brake to slow down, since the garage had already diagnosed the brake problem and it had apparently gotten worse more rapidly than they had thought.


2/ I could wait for the inevitable tow-truck to arrive on the scene and ask the driver to tow me to the garage and minimize the risk to other drivers.


It was a hard choice because I was quite certain that the only problem was that one brake line had burst and a car has two of these anyway so I thought that I would be able to drive the car to the garage. Yet having lost half the brakes would undoubtedly make the car more difficult to control and so I really wanted a tow to the garage but I was concerned about the charge. After debating back and forth for ten to fifteen minutes I decided to ask God for His advice. I asked God to help me to decide whether to drive to the garage myself or to wait for a tow-truck. Then as I said "Amen" I opened my eyes to see a tow-truck just pulling over. I quickly said thanks to God for His prompt answer.


I told the driver my problem and asked his charge to take me to the garage, a quite reasonable amount as it turned out. So he hooked up to my car and off we went. Twenty minutes later, after a nerve wracking drive in a truck towing your own vehicle at expressway speeds, we pulled into the garage and began to unhook the car. The truck operator noticed some smoke still coming from the tire and put his hand on it to feel it if it was hot (he thought that the brakes had been rubbing the duration of the nine km trip). Much to our surprise the tire fell off of the car. I had driven the car at highway speeds for more than a kilometre and had been towed on a non to gentle nine km drive to the garage all on a tire that was not attached to the car! Both the mechanic and the truck operator were amazed that we had arrived at the garage without incident, believing that we could not have gone another block . I told the truck operator that he was an answer to prayer and that God had guided things and I believe that He did because if after my emergency prayer I had not seen the tow truck I would have driven to the garage myself on a car with only three tires, thinking all the time that it was only a brake problem. When talking about this with Christians at my office we realized that God had directed everything, and He had saved my life yet again that morning.


There are several lessons that I learned from my little adventure:

1/ God does hear and He does answer prayer

2/ Even though these earthly days are numbered He does care for them

3/ When we pray we should expect an answer

4/ When we receive an answer we should act on it

5/ We should tell people what our God has done for us


1/ God does hear and He does answer prayer


- God is compared to a human father by Jesus


Luke 11:8-13 - I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. 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. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!


- The sinfulness of mankind set forth by Job


Job 15:14-16 - What is man, that he could be pure, or one born of woman, that he could be righteous? If God places no trust in his holy ones, if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes, how much less man, who is vile and corrupt, who drinks up evil like water!


Those among us who are parents, and those who have been children, can give many examples of the concern that parents have for the well being of the children entrusted to their care. I am a father too and I would not willingly allow my children to do without anything that they need to live as well as many things they want in order to enjoy this life.


Jesus said in our passage here that if human parents, who are by no means perfect, know how to "give goood gifts to our children" how much more will our perfect Father in heaven give even greater gifts to us.


2/ Even though these earthly days are numbered He does care for them


- Solomon compared to the flowers of the field


Matthew 6:25-34 - Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


We who are Christians here today know that this life is only temporary, a preparation for the eternal life to come - either for good or for bad. And the bible teaches us not to be so concerned about the things of this life so that we do not miss out on the joys of eternal life with God. Yet in the comparison of Solomon to the wild flowers Jesus shows us that even this life on earth is important to God and that if He gave the flowers and grass such glory though their lives end in a season how much more will He consider our needs and supply them.


3/ When we pray we should expect an answer


- James and the prayer of faith


My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into various temptations; {temptation: or, trials} Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given to him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing from the Lord. James 1:2-7


All of has have no doubt have experienced at one time or another the unanswered prayer. I believe that there is no such thing as an unanswered prayer. There may be prayer that God does not acknowledge due to some cherished sin in our lives (the sin of the Israelites: Jeremiah 7:16), or prayer that is directed to a god other than our God (the competition between Elijah and the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel: 1 Kings 18:17-40), but I believe that every prayer uttered to our God is both heard and answered; although the answer we get may not always be the one we expect. The reason that I say this is that when we ask God for help we should expect Him to give it to us, just as our children expect us to give what they ask for. The bible is filled with accounts of God dealing with people in a manner that proves beyond doubt that He takes their requests even more seriously than earthly parents take the requests of their children.


4/ When we receive an answer we should act on it


- Abraham's servant was looking for a wife for his son Isaac:


Genesis 24:10-27 - Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and left, taking with him all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor. He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water. Then he prayed, "O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’— let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master."


Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. The girl was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever lain with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again. The servant hurried to meet her and said, "Please give me a little water from your jar."


"Drink, my lord," she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. After she had given him a drink, she said, "I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking." So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful.


When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels. Then he asked, "Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?"


She answered him, "I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milcah bore to Nahor." And she added, "We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night."


Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD, saying, "Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives."


Just like the servant in this passage we must act on the answer we receive. If we expect God to continue to answer our prayers we must take each answer seriously.