E. M. Bounds
Wonders of Answered Prayer
"Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offering and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people." Isa. 56:7
Prayer is asking God for something, and for something which he has promised. Prayer is using the divinely appointed means for obtaining what we need and for accomplishing what God proposes to do on earth.
Prayer is appointed to convey
The blessings God designs to give;
Long as they live should Christians pray,
They learn to pray when first they live.
And prayer brings to us blessings which we need, and which only God can give, and which prayer can alone convey to us.
In their broadest fullness, the possibilities of prayer are to be found in the very nature of prayer. This service of prayer is not a mere rite, a ceremony through which we go, a sort of performance. Prayer is going to God for something needed and desired. Prayer is simply asking God to do for us what he has promised us he will do if we ask him. The answer is a part of prayer, and is God's part of it. God's doing the thing asked for is as much a part of the prayer as the asking of the thing is prayer. Asking is man's part. Giving is God's part. The praying belongs to us. The answer belongs to God.
Man makes the plea and God makes the answer. The plea and the answer compose the prayer. God is more ready, more willing and more anxious to give the answer than man is to give the asking. The possibilities of prayer lie in the ability of man to ask large things and in the ability of God to give large things.
God's only condition and limitation of prayer is found in the character of the one who prays. The measure of our faith and praying is the measure of his giving. As our Lord said to the blind man, "according to your faith be it unto you," so it is the same in praying, "According to the measure of your asking, be it unto you." God measures the answer according to the prayer. He is limited by the law of prayer in the measure of the answers he gives to prayer. As is the measure of prayer, so will be the answer.
If the person praying has the characteristics which warrant praying, then the possibilities are unlimited. They are declared to be "all things whatsoever." Here is no limitation in character or kind, in circumference or condition. The man who prays can pray for anything and for everything, and God will give everything and anything. If we limit God in the asking, he will be limited in the giving.
Looking ahead, God declares in his Word that the wonder of wonders will be so great in the last days that everything animate and inanimate will be excited by his power:
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered nor come to mind. But be ye glad and rejoice, forever, in that which I create; for behold I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.
But these days of God's mighty working, the days of his magnificent and wonder-creating power, will be days of magnificent praying.
And it shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
It has ever been so. God's marvelous, miracle-working times have been times of marvelous, miracle-working praying. The greatest thing in God's worship by his own estimate is praying. Its chief service and its distinguishing feature is prayer: