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The Garden and the Gospel

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“…whatsoever we ask, we receive of him…” 1 John 3:22


Furthermore, having looked at the  basis upon which a child of God stands before Him and gives service to Him, ‘How does a child of God approach Him in prayer and hope to obtain an answer?’ We know that God is not obligated to anyone, neither is He restricted from hearing the prayers of anyone. He may hear the prayers of His children or even of those of whom He has no relationship with. He heard the cries of Sodom and the prayers of the heathen Cornelius, as well as the prayers of Israel and the prophet Elijah. Even the plants and animals, rocks and dirt cry out to Him, and He hears them. However, to those who are in Christ, He leads them to a special place, a higher plane of intercession, prayer, and petitions.

Gen 18:20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

Ex 3:9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.

Acts 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him,
Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

James 5:17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

Because the old man—our self-life—has now died in Christ, we do not come to Him with bribes of self-works, nor are we refused because of our sins, faults, and failures. We come to Him purely in the name, righteousness, and person of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ—“in Whom all the promises of God are ye and amen.” Even if we feel condemned and unworthy because of our sin, we still have the blessed hope of being heard, when we come only in Jesus name. This is what is called “the prayer of faith”; and because it is “of faith” we have the promise that we “shall” be heard by our Heavenly Father. Just as we are saved through faith and we walk by faith, so we must pray in, by, and through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Just as we come to God, owning nothing of ourselves, but our righteousness is all of Christ, even thus we pray. Woe to them who come to God in prayer presenting their own goodness and works—because “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Woe to them who beseeches God in their own name and person, thinking the name of Jesus Christ to be just some meaningless formality—“for let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” Those who approach God in their own name and righteousness shall receive nothing, but more chastening until they see and acknowledge the truth. Our iniquities can separate us from God, and our sins can hide His face from us that He will not hear—when we come before God in our own person and works. However, the only sin that can truly separate a child of God from his Father, and cause his Father not to hear him, is not coming in the faith and name of Jesus.

2 Cor 1:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

Jam 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

John 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

Rom 14:23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Isa 59:1 Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

However, this is not—as some would try to make it to be—a blank check that allows us to ask and receive anything from God that we would lust after. God is not going to feed our flesh by giving to us anything we want of the things of the world—for that would only turn our hearts away from Him. To pray in the name of Jesus means also to pray in the spirit of how Jesus prayed. Jesus came to do the Father’s will, and He always prayed for the Father’s will to be done. He could have prayed for, and received all of the glory and riches the world had to offer—but that was not the will of God for Him. In His examination before Pilate, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world”; and He was not enamored by anything that this world had to offer Him.

James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

Even in the Garden, as He faced the agony of all that was about to happen, He prayed for the cup of that hour to pass, but He added, “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” Even in this prayer however, He was not asking to be delivered from the cross—for He knew that was His great purpose in coming. Jesus prayed thusly because the suffering of that hour was so great—“his sweat was as it were great drops of blood.” He feared He was not going to survive the physiological stress of that hour, and live to be crucified. Therefore, because He so yielded Himself to whatever the Father’s will might be—He “was heard in that he feared”; and “an angel” came “unto him from heaven, strengthening him.”

John 12:27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

Luke 22:41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Heb 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

If we are truly in Christ, abiding in Christ, and walking in His Spirit, the desires of our hearts should be the same as His—for the Father’s will to be done. Thus He taught his disciples, in the model prayer, to say, “Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.” When we walk by faith, and are filled with the Spirit of Christ, our desires will not be for the things of this world, but for the things that will glorify Christ—that which will bring about His kingdom and the Father’s will. We will not be always praying for things that satisfy our sensual desires and bring glory to the flesh—things that we want only for our own earthly pleasure and enjoyment in this life. When those kinds of requests dominate our prayer life, we have a problem, because we are not walking in the Spirit. This is not to say we should not pray for our earthly needs, for Jesus also taught us to pray “Give us this day our daily bread.” Those needs include many things besides just food: they include clothing, shelter, money to pay our bills, have vacations, take our family to a restaurant, send our children to Christian schools, and etc. The Apostle John wrote to his friend Gaius, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” However, he could say this because he had also heard about Gaius, that “thou walkest in the truth.”

Luke 11:1 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

2 Cor 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Matt 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.

3 John 1:1 The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.

Matt 6:31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

‘How then,’ some may ask, ‘do we know what to pray for that is according to the will of God?’ Again, Jesus told His disciples, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” To know what to pray for is to know the Father’s will, and to know the Father’s will is to know His Word. We must have His Word abiding in us so that the Holy Spirit might lead us to the things we should pray for. Knowing His Word is vital because there are so many spiritual forces at work in our lives; therefore, we must discern between their voices and the voice of the Spirit of Christ in knowing what to pray about. The Holy Spirit will never lead us to desire, or to pray for something that is contrary to the Word of God. The more we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, the more our senses will be “exercised to discern both good and evil.”

John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

Jude 1:20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

Heb 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

There will still be, however, many times in our lives when we are faced with situations that are indeed perplexing to us. Even after we have meditated upon God’s Word, prayed for His will to be done, and waited upon Him to lead us—we still do not know what to specifically pray for. It is in these times that “the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities,” and He “maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” We do not always know the will of God, and we do not always know what we truly have need of; but, “He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Furthermore, our High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, is in heaven making intercession for us. Still more, God the Father knows what we have need of better than we do, and has promised, “before they call, I will answer.”

Psa 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Psa 119:15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.

Psa 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Rom 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit,
because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Heb 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Isa 65:24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

But others may still ask, ‘How can I be sure that God will answer my prayer?’ As we have already said, God is never obligated to answer anyone’s prayer; but if we honor Him by obeying the truth, He will honor us by granting our petitions. Every prayer that Jesus ever prayed was answered by the Father, because He honored the Father in all that He did. As believers, we have the Spirit of Christ within us, transforming us to be like Jesus in everything we do; so that our lives, through Christ, may honor God also. So then if, first of all, we have seen Christ as our Saviour, we must also abide in Him and be filled with His Spirit. Furthermore, we must know His will through the Spirit leading us in His Word; we must pray for His will to be done; and we must make our requests only in the name and righteousness of Jesus Christ. When we are thus lead to pray we can be sure of an answer from the Father. Remember, that repentance, salvation, sanctification, understanding God’s will, and having a desire to pray, are all brought about because “it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” No one is more eager to see our prayers answered than God Himself. He wills for us to pray; He delights in our prayers; and He delights to answer our prayers. “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

John 12:26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

John 11:41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always:
but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

Gal 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

2 Cor 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Rom 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Mark 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Phil 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Matt 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children,
how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Matt 14:31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

The simplest way to look at prayer is that we are coming before the Father as if we were Jesus—because He truly is in us and we are in Him. When we approach Him in prayer, God does not see us, but He sees only His Son. We are given a beautiful picture of this in the story of Jacob stealing his brother Esau’s blessing. We can view the story as an allegory about prayer, with Isaac, Jacob and Esau’s father, representing God the Father; Esau representing Christ, who deserves the blessing of the Father; Jacob, who represents the sinner coming to the Father; and Rebekah, a type of the Holy Spirit, who is leading us to the Father. The Biblical account says that Rebekah “put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his (Jacob’s) hands, and upon the smooth of his (Jacob’s) neck”; then she clothed Jacob in the garments of his brother Esau, and prepared  “savoury meat” for him to give to Isaac—so that Jacob might receive Isaac’s blessing intended for Esau. The elderly Isaac discerned that it was Jacob’s voice who requested the blessing, but the smell of Esau’s clothes, the hairy skin, and the food offering made Rebekah’s deception effective in stealing the blessing. Even so, the Holy Spirit does the same thing for poor, undeserving sinners, who are in Christ. When we bring the proper offering, the “savoury meat,” to the Father—which is the sacrifice of the innocent Lamb of God; and we put on the “goodly raiment” of Christ our brother—His robe of righteousness—“we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ.” Now, God is not an aged father who cannot see well, and is fooled by our trickery; contra-wise, He is the one who made a way for us to come before Him. The prayer we pray may be the voice of a sinner, but God accounts it as coming from His Son, and grants us the blessing that we seek.

1 Cor 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Gen 27:1 And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I.
2 And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:
3 Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison;
4 And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.
5 And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it.
6 And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying,
7 Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the LORD before my death.
8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee.
9 Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth:
10 And thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death.

11 And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man:
12 My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing.
13 And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them.
14 And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother: and his mother made savoury meat, such as his father loved.
15 And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son:
16 And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck:
17 And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.
18 And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I; who art thou, my son?
19 And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.
20 And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the LORD thy God brought it to me.
21 And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not.
22 And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.
23 And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau's hands: so he blessed him.
24 And he said, Art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am.
25 And he said, Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son's venison, that my soul may bless thee. And he brought it near to him, and he did eat: and he brought him wine, and he drank.
26 And his father Isaac said unto him, Come near now, and kiss me, my son.
27 And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed:
28 Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine:
29 Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee. 

1 Cor 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

2 Cor 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Eph 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Eph 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

2 Cor 2:15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:

Phil 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.



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