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Wed, Aug 05, 1998

12 - Doctrine of Prayer

James 1:6 by Robert Dean
Series:James (1998)
Duration:56 mins 12 secs

Doctrine of Prayer
James 1:6

When James says to count it all Joy in the first few verses he is setting up the tone for the entire epistle where he is basically going to tell us in the rest of the epistle all of the doctrinal skills and techniques that we need in order to fulfil this opening mandate. He is going to continually come back to this theme of endurance and testing and joy over and again. We have seen the concept of the soul fortress. The psalmist continually talks about how the Lord is the strength of our soul. He is our rock, our fortress, the bulwark of our souls. In our soul is our volition where we make our choices. Our life is the product of our choices. Whatever we do, whatever we become in life is the consequence of our volition. Right now we are determining what we will be in 15 or 20 years from now. Our life is the product and the outcome of all of our choices.

We live in an era when we try to disavow personal responsibility for everything. If somebody does something that is very heinous we immediately jump to the excuse that they are somehow insane. The problem is that these decisions that eventually culminate in a person becoming mentally deranged is the product of years and years and years of negative decisions, whether they are mental or overt. No child is born schizophrenic, he gets that way because of his response to the external adversities of life. This is the very point that James is going to make when we get down to the end of verse 6. He says that there are only two ways that you are going to deal with this. Number one is in faith, by going to God in prayer and utilizing the problem-solving devices, and the faith-rest drill is the foundation for all of the stress-busters. NASB "But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind." So we have this image of instability. We either have stability because we are walking by means of the Holy Spirit and applying doctrine and using the stress-busters to deal with adversity in our life, or we are in instability. We might think we are stable because we are handling life's adversities through this technique or that technique but eventually that will crash. Verses 7 and 8 say, NASB "For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, {being} a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." We will see that the term "double-minded" is the Greek word DIPSUCHOS [diyuxoj]. PSUCHOS is the word for soul; DI is two: two-souled. This is the person who is at war within himself, he is completely unstable and eventually he becomes psychotic. That is the result of how they have handled the adversities in life. So insanity should never be a defence for any criminal activity. They wanted to make each of these decisions they made over a period of years and they did it. Because they wanted to make those decisions they should be held accountable for every decision and its cumulative effect, which is their own mental derangement. They are accountable and responsible for that under the teaching of the Word of God.

How can we as believers avoid this kind of soul instability? There are ten stress-busters. Adversity is the outside pressure on the soul, it is inevitable; but stress is optional. Stress is the inside pressure on the soul that if not handled by the stress-busters and by building this spiritual fortification around the soul to prevent adversity from penetrating the soul, then the result is that the soul begins to fragment and come apart. That ends up in the DIPSUCHOS believer, the psychotic. The ten stress-busters are God's tool that he has revealed to us as believers so that we can handle any and every situation in life. God knew every situation in our lives in eternity past and he made complete and total provision for that so that we could handle it and He would receive the glory. That is why grace orientation is fundamental and basic in the problem-solving devices, because we have to understand grace, that it is God and not us; it is not what we do, it is what God has already done for us and learning to rely upon that in trusting Him.

James 1:5 NASB "But if any of you lacks wisdom." We saw that wisdom is the divine viewpoint of Scripture, what the Bible calls EPIGNOSIS [e)pignwsij] in the Greek, chokmah in the Hebrew. It is usable doctrine. When the pastor or evangelist or teacher communicates the Word of God under the filling of the Holy Spirit that goes into the mentality of the soul. The Bible talks about two arenas within the mentality of the soul, the left lobe of the mentality of the soul or the NOUS, and this the Bible calls the mind. Information comes in as GNOSIS, academic knowledge. This is simply a staging area. A lot of believers accumulate a tremendous amount of academic knowledge about the Bible but they never convert it to EPIGNOSIS. Just because they have a lot of GNOSIS doesn't mean they have a lot of EPIGNOSIS. Under the filling of the Holy Spirit and the exercise of positive volition GNOSIS is transferred, when you believe it, into the right lobe and it becomes EPIGNOSIS. When it becomes EPIGNOSIS, this is usable doctrine. When you come top Bible class you hear a tremendous amount of information about the Bible and about doctrine. When you leave you get about twenty or thirty per cent of that notes and you can remember about ten per cent of it tomorrow. Probably only one or two per cent really gets over here as EPIGNOSIS because you really don't understand it yet. Before GNOSIS can be transferred into EPIGNOSIS you have to understand it, there has to be real cognition there, you have to fully comprehend it. The Holy Spirit makes it understandable to you under the term PNEUMATIKOS or spiritual phenomena. That means that you can comprehend it, not that you do comprehend it, because we learn doctrine like we do everything else in life and that is line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little. It comes incrementally. The first time you hear something you have an overview. The next time you hear it you can start plugging in some details. Under this concept, the Holy Spirit making it understandable, it means that you have the capacity to comprehend what is being taught in terms of doctrine. With the unbeliever it just goes right over the head. But you have the capacity to understand it, though you may not understand it and probably won't understand a lot of these things the first time you hear them. A lot of times people have heard these things so much they think they understand them. Just because they can repeat things back the way the pastor taught it, using his verbiage and terminology, people think they understand the concept. But they don't understand the concept, they can just give it back by rote. You have to learn it line upon line, and as you do, as you begin to comprehend it and believe it, it is transferred over to the right lobe as EPIGNOSIS.

This is all done under the filling of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit is the result of confession of sin. We recover the filling of the Holy Spirit, we are restored to fellowship with God, and we can start moving forward in the spiritual life. All confession does is get you to a point where you can go forward. The Holy Spirit is not going to violate your volition. He is not going to come in and tweak you to positive when you hit that test. The test is designed to determine if your positive volition will carry through in the midst of that test so that you will reach into that doctrine that you have stored in your soul, pull out the right doctrine and apply it to that situation. That is what promotes spiritual growth. It is the Holy Spirit who helps you remember where you have stored that in your soul and how you apply it to the situation. The Holy Spirit does not do it for you. Confession does not move you anywhere, it just puts you in the place where under the filling ministry of the Holy Spirit you can move forward, but you move forward by means of the filling of the Holy Spirit and the doctrine that is in your soul—the two power options—and you positive volition. When you exercise that positive volition you move forward. Then you have spiritual growth. It is not something that is automatic.

The faith-rest drill, doctrinal orientation and grace orientation are the problem-solving devices that underlie what James is talking about in verses 5 and 6. He says, "But if any of you lacks wisdom." So immediately you realize that if you are going to solve the problem of stress and adversity in your life, if you think you lack something, and what you lack is the doctrine necessary to apply to the situation, then that is brining in problem-solving device # 4, doctrinal orientation. You have to have wisdom, you have to have that doctrinal orientation, that EPIGNOSIS in the right lobe of your soul. "Let him ask of God." This is the prayer, "Lord, I need this," and God in His righteousness and justice will provide the Bible teaching necessary to give the information needed so that it can be applied to those tests and the believer move forward:  "…let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." 

This brings in the fifth problem-solving device which is grace orientation. We have to understand that we don't bargain with God (God, I'll do this if you just help me get through this problem), that is not grace orientation, it is legalism. Legalism is always the enemy of grace. The issue is that if you are in fellowship under the filling of the Holy Sprit and you pray, God will generously and without reproach, provide the solution for you. This is the point of verse 6.

James 1:6 NASB "But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind." This begins with the Greek word AITEO [a)itew]. His is a present active imperative, a command, a mandate to ask by means of faith—EN [e)n] plus the dative of PISTEUO [pisteuw], the noun for faith. EN plus the dative has various nuances and meanings, but one of its primary ones is that of means or instrumentality. The solution here is that if you are going to use prayer to apply these problem-solving devices or stress-busters then it needs to follow a certain protocol. A protocol involves the rules and regulations laid down in any type of procedure. This protocol here is that we are to ask by means of faith.

Prayer

1)  They key word here is AITEO, which means to ask, to request, to petition. It is the key word used in the New Testament for intercessory prayer. Supplication prayer involves two categories: a) intercessory prayer, which is prayer for others; b) petition, which involves requests for one's self. AITEO is used five times by James, so we are going to see that prayer is a key aspect in applying the stress-busters to the problems of life.

2)  Prayer is a grace provision. That means we did nothing to deserve it, God gave it to us so that we would have access to His presence. Prayer is that grace provision of the royal priesthood. In the Old Testament they could pray but they had to pray through the priest, through the Levitical priesthood, whereas in the church age as a royal priest we have the privilege of direct access to God at any time. The purpose of this communication is to acknowledge our sins, express our adoration and praise to God, giving thanks in every situation and for everything, interceding for others, conveying our own personal needs in petitions, and just conducting intimate conversation with God.

3)  You do not pray to be spiritual, you pray because you are spiritual. That is a vital point that most people miss today. Most are so concerned about going out and doing something for God, wether it is evangelism, or giving or prayer, or going to church, because they thing that promotes spirituality, but you do those things because you are spiritual. They are the consequence of your growth and maturity, they do not cause or bring about growth and maturity. Your prayer life is no stronger than your spiritual life.

4)  Prayer is for believers only. Unbelievers do not have a relationship with God. Prayer is intimate family communication; unbelievers are not in the family. The only prayer that the unbeliever can get heard is the prayer of salvation: "Father I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins."

5)  Prayer demands concentration and thought. The prayers of the Old Testament and New Testament was so that these people would sit down and craft their prayers, think about them; they built a foundation for what they were getting ready to say. Prayer relies on doctrine, on fact, not on subjectivity.

6)  Prayer should be the highest priority in life after learning Bible doctrine because it is part of our family intimate relationship with God the Father. If intercession is the highest priority of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, then it should also be the highest priority in the believer's life. This is specifically stated several times in Scripture, that one of the primary roles of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is interceding continually for the church age believer.

7)  As believers our prayers fail because we fail in our spiritual lives. We do not understand the will and plan of God. We can't take passages out of context, we have to understand the will and plan of God or our prayers will fail.

8)  Every believer is commanded to pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NASB "pray without ceasing"; Colossians 4:2 NASB "Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with {an attitude of} thanksgiving"; Romans 12:12 NASB "rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer." Prayer should be a habit that you cultivate in your life. The word for "devote" is the Greek word PROSKARTEREO [proskarterew] and it means to continue to do something with an intense effort. There is intensity behind this, there is purpose, thought and concentration. It has the implication in many cases of doing something despite difficulty, overcoming the obstacle, overcoming our natural inclination not to pray, to persist in something, to keep on despite any obstacles.

9)  Prayer changes things. James 4:2 NASB "You do not have because you do not ask."

10)  Prayer consists of four basic elements. C= confession, simply acknowledging sins to God the Father; A= Adoration, the praise function of prayer. We see this again and again in some of the adoration/praise psalms in the Old Testament; T= Thanksgiving, expressing our gratitude to God in every situation and for every circumstance; S= Supplication, the expression of our requests. Two categories: intercession for others and petition for ourselves. Prayer may involve any one or any mix of those categories. But to be sure that our prayers are heard we have to be in fellowship. If we keep short accounts that is not a problem.

11)  Prayer is addressed to God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus Christ. Why is that? When Jesus taught the disciples to pray He addressed the prayer to God the Father. If the role of Jesus Christ in the church age is to be our advocate and our intercessor, and He is continually making intercession for us, then why are we going to Him with our prayers. He is interceding with the Father for us, so we do not go to Him in prayer. We go to the Father. He is the one Jesus Christ is addressing in His prayers for us on a daily, moment-by-moment basis. Both Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit continually go to the Father on our behalf, and we address our prayers to God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in the name of Jesus Christ.

[Gap in tape]

Prayer is not a stress-buster per se but is the means by which we implement the faith-rest drill, grace orientation, or doctrinal orientation, express our personal love for God the Father in many different ways.

This passage says, "But he must ask in [by means of] faith…" This brings us to the third of the problem-solving devices/stress-busters, the faith-rest drill. The faith-rest drill under girds all of the subsequent stress-busters. If you don't understand the dynamics of the faith-rest drill, then you are going to have problems moving past that stage in your spiritual growth.

The doctrine of the faith-rest drill

Introduction

a)   The faith-rest drill is one of the ten stress-busters of God's plan for the church. The beginning point of the faith-rest drill is to believe God when He makes promises to us. For example, Proverbs 3:5, 6 NASB "Trust in the LORD with all your heart [mentality of the soul]. And do not lean on your own understanding [human viewpoint]. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." To "make your paths straight" doesn't mean that God is going to send off lights. But if we are trusting God, operating on the faith-rest drill and applying doctrine in our life, as we move forward going is going to straighten out that path in front of us. At the time we may think we are in a maze and we don't know which way to turn, but when we get done we are going to look back, and if we are walking moment-by-moment with the Lord we will see that is a straight line. Another passage we may claim is Psalm 4:8 NASB "In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety." Psalm 34:19 NASB "Many are the afflictions [all kinds of adversity] of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all." Psalm 55:22 NASB "Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken." Psalm 56:11 NASB "In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?" 1 Peter 5:7 NASB "casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you."

b)  When we are filled with the Spirit we tend to learn some basic promises about God, and we begin to grasp on to those promises, and in our spiritual infancy we begin to grow as we claim those promises and apply the doctrine. It is called mixing the promises of God with faith.

c)  The faith-rest drill is the stress buster used by believers in all dispensations. It is referred to in Ephesians chapter six under the metaphor of the shield of faith. Once again, it is the shield metaphor, the fortress, the bulwark, the rock that protects our soul.

d)  The faith-rest drill is the glue that holds all of the stress-busters together, the foundation, the cornerstone.

e)  In the church age God the Father has provided this as part of our portfolio of invisible assets. We have an incredible number of spiritual assets. 

f)  These are designed by God for ever believer to use to handle any adversity, any suffering, any difficulty in life.  

g)  Believers have choices every time any adversity, any prosperity, or any situation arises in their life. It is at that time that you make the choice whether you are going to apply these stress-busters to the adversity or the prosperity situation.