“Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee;
which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men”! 
Psalm 31:19.   

The greatest goodness of God spoken of in our text, “which thou hast laid up for
them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before
the sons of men,” is found in Ephesians 1:4: “According as he hath chosen us in
him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame
before him in love.” 

Do you see that blessed electing love? Now, how should our hearts melt in awe
and wonder before Him. Why do you and I differ if we differ? Why do we desire to
serve the Lord? It is because He has chosen us before the foundation of the
world. It is because He has loved us with an everlasting love.

What did He choose us to? I want you to think about this carefully. He chose us
to be holy. That is accomplished by the work of His grace in our souls. He has
changed our desires, and we now desire to live holy. Now we have new hearts. Now
our desires and our priorities are straightened out. Our affections are set on
things above. Is this because you or I are smarter than the other man? No. It is
by the grace of God that He has given us to differ. It is only by the work of
the new birth wrought in the heart by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit that
you and I have that new desire.
Continuing in verse 5 we read: “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of
children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his

We are not better than our fellow man. It is because He has loved us from
eternity, and He has worked in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.
As we see this godly fear, and as we see this work of regeneration in our
hearts, this becomes our evidence that He has loved us. It is that new man of
the heart. It is that new desire. It is not something we have done, but it is
that which the Lord has wrought in the heart by the work of regeneration.
Those who have learned the plague of their own hearts can relate so well to what
Asaph said in Psalm 73:2-3: “But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps
had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the
prosperity of the wicked.”
As you and I learn to understand the plague of our own hearts, then we learn to
understand that our steps would have slipped. Our steps would have been no
different than the ungodly. By nature our hearts are no different than the

Asaph gives us such a beautiful illustration of what goes on in the heart of
man, and how old Satan comes in and he wants to reason with us, and the next
thing you know we have a dialogue with the devil, and we start reasoning with
human reasoning.
As Asaph continued his dialogue with the devil, see how he reasoned in Psalm
73:12-14: “Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they
increase in riches. Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands
in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every
Asaph was looking at the prosperity of this world, and he was measuring that as
success, and he was measuring that as the means of how much the Lord had
blessed. See how human reasoning comes against the will of God.
Now we see how the Lord takes it in hand, and this is what we have to
understand. It is all from the Lord’s side from the beginning to the end.

When Asaph’s eyes were fixed on Christ, he saw his foolishness. We see that in
Psalm 73:17: “Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their
The sanctuary was but a type of Christ. It is a place of safety. It is a place
of refuge. Then he saw that God had placed the evil ones in slippery places.
Then he saw the foolishness of the wicked. 

See how Asaph acknowledges that it was God’s longsuffering restraining grace
that spared him from serving the prince of this world. In Psalm 73:22-23 we
read: “So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.
Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.”
What did Asaph have to boast about? Why could he boast above his fellow man who
had been left over to himself to destroy himself in the things of this life?
Where was his boasting? Asaph boasted in the sanctuary. He could only boast in
the blessed redemption he had in the Lord Jesus Christ.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I
will deliver him, and honour him (Psalm 91:15). 

The shalls and the wills in God’s Word are not synonymous with the word maybe.
When the Word of God says shall, it is as firm as the foundation of the earth,
and when the Word of God says, I will, there is no variableness nor shadow of
turning in the will of God. What God wills, He has willed from eternity, and He
will to eternity.
Who is this man the Lord is speaking of in this verse? It is the man spoken
about in verse 14: “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I
deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.”

This man shall call upon the Lord, and the Lord will deliver him. I want you to
see all the “I wills” in verse 15: “I willanswer him: I will be with him in
trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.” Verse 16 says: “With long life
will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.”
If we have the witness of the Spirit in our hearts, that we understand what it
is to set our love upon God, that He is our first love, the foundations of
eternity are no more secure than what we read in our text: “He shall call upon
me, and I will answer him.”
I want you to notice as we go through this that the ungodly are not so. Those
who have not set their love upon the Lord, and whose hearts are set upon the
things of the flesh, do not have this promise.
The Psalm before us is overflowing with the exceeding great and precious
promises we read of in 2 Peter 1:4: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great
and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature,
having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
That man who has set his love upon the Lord shall be a partaker of the divine
nature, because setting one’s heart upon the Lord is to hate all evil. These are
those who have been delivered from the power of sin. We do not live in sin and
then have the spirit of prayer. We do not live in sin and then have the Lord
answer our prayers.
The first two promises of our text, rightly understood, are so precious that the
human tongue fails for words to express their beauty, “He shall call upon me,
and I will answer him.” Do you understand this? There is no maybe about it.
Those who have set their love upon the Lord shall call upon Him, and He will
answer. As I have explained, those who set their love upon the Lord do so
because God first loved them.
The love of God is eternal love. The love of God began before the world was
created. He loved His own in the Lord Jesus Christ before the foundation of the
Let me read that to you in Ephesians 1:4-6: “According as he hath chosen us in
him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame
before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by
Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the
praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the

This shows us that the love of God did not begin in time. It did not begin
because He saw something good in us. This is eternal love. He made us accepted
in the beloved by giving us that new man of the heart, by giving us those new
desires, by giving us that Spirit of Christ. He makes us accepted in the beloved
by working grace in our hearts, and by giving us to be Christlike.
It is through making God our refuge through prayer that we receive the
blessedness spoken of in Psalm 91:9-11: “Because thou hast made the LORD, which
is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall
thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his
angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” 

The Lord is so pleased when He looks upon His own who have placed their love
upon Him. It is because we have made Him our habitation no evil shall befall us,
and no plague shall come near our dwelling.
Study Psalm 91 carefully and see the words because and therefore. Verse 14 says:
“Becausehe hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set
him on high, because he hath known my name.”

Psalm 91:9-11 is synonymous with what we read in Psalm 34:7: “The angel of the
LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”
That fear of God is so pleasing in the eyes of the Lord, and it is through God’s
fulfilling of the next two promises of our text that we see His answer to our
prayers, “I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him.”
Sometimes when we pray, the Lord answers us a whole lot differently than we
thought He would. I have expressed this before and I will say it again, how that
one time my brother said he was praying for our father, pleading that He would
give our father a deeper spiritual walk with God. The next thing he heard was
that our father was sick and in the hospital. The doctors thought they had
diagnosed cancer and that he would not live much longer. Then my brother started
praying that the Lord would heal him. The Lord said: No. Now, you are praying
against what you prayed for the first time. I am doing this to answer your first
prayer. I am now sending these calamities to bring his heart near to me.
Notice: “I will be with him in trouble.” This tells us that the Lord uses
trouble to bring us to Him. As long as we are prospering in the things of this
life, we will never be drawn to the Lord. That is against our human nature. The
Lord sends trouble, and in this trouble we cry out to the Lord.
Read Psalm 107 and see how often it says: “Then they cried unto the Lord in
their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.”
It is so against our human nature to praise God in the fire, that is, to praise
Him for the many troubles He uses to keep us near His side. The Lord is talking
about those who have set their love upon Him.

The Lord says in Luke 14:26: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father,
and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own
life also, he cannot be my disciple.”
If you look this up in the original it means to love them less by comparison.
What will the Lord do? He will put you and me in a trial to prove that we have
set our love upon Him. We are going to be brought into trouble, and we will
praise Him for the trouble He sends to keep us near His side.
Psalm 73, which was written by Asaph, is so powerful if you really learn to
understand what I am saying here, when we learn to understand that the Lord
sends us trouble as a blessing.
We read in verse 1: “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean
heart.” These are those who have had the working of sanctification in their

Continuing in verses 2 to 5 we read: “But as for me, my feet were almost gone;
my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the
prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their
strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued
like other men.” 

Asaph was jealous of those who did not have problems and had prosperity. The
other men he speaks of are those who fear God. They have plagues, they have
troubles, they have perplexities on every side.
Watch what it says in verse 6: “Therefore pride compasseth them about as a
chain; violence covereth them as a garment.” Their prosperity causes this pride.
When we have trouble, and when the Lord brings things into our lives that draw
us closer to Him and cause our hearts to go out to the Lord, how often can we
thank Him for those problems?
Sometimes we have to understand what the Apostle Paul said when he talked about
the thorn in the flesh and the messenger of Satan sent to buffet him. How often
does the Lord send some person to us, and it seems that Satan is in them
harassing us. Can we thank the Lord for this, or does it make us bitter? We
should be thankful that the Lord is doing this because it causes us to draw near
to Him. It causes us to set our hearts and love upon Him, and it separates us
and weans us from the things of this flesh.
Those who do not know God do not know peace because they prosper in their
violence. They prosper in their pride. What is the fear of the Lord? To hate all
evil, to hate pride, and to hate arrogance. The fear of the Lord is what brings
us to place our love upon God.
Our text says: “He shall call upon me.” This means that the Lord has sent these
troubles. He will send enough weight upon our backs that we will call upon Him.
That is one of His promises. That is one of the blessed promises we have when we
have set our love upon the Lord.
God was with Asaph in his trouble. He had lots of trouble, but the Lord was with
him in his troubles, and delivered him. I want you to see how the Lord delivered
him in the following verses. Therefore Asaph could say in Psalm 73:22: “So
foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.”
Do you see what the Lord did? He used this trouble to open Asaph’s eyes to see
what a fool he was by nature. You and I by nature are such fools. We will work
out our own destruction, but the Lord loved us before we loved Him, and in His
love for us He works in us to will and do of His good pleasure. He does this by
putting trouble in our way.
Continuing in verses 23 to 25 we read: “Nevertheless I am continually with thee:
thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and
afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none
upon earth that I desire beside thee.”
Do you see how Asaph’s love was set upon the Lord? It was set upon the Lord by
the trouble he was in. He envied the proud until he was brought into the
sanctuary, until his eyes were fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ. The sanctuary is
Christ. He envied them until his eyes were fixed upon Christ. He saw how Christ
had suffered outside the camp, and how Christ had suffered shame. He was now
walking in the footsteps of his Saviour. He saw how he had been put out of their
company for Christ’s sake, for the sake of his God.  

We read in verse 26: “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of
my heart, and my portion for ever.” This is what we do not see by nature. Until
the Lord opens our eyes to see it, we do not accept the fact that these troubles
the Lord sends upon us were of His sending for our good.
Our text says: “I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour
him.” Was Asaph not honored? See the honor that God had now bestowed upon him. 

As with Job, many are forsaken of their friends in their trouble. Have you ever
known that? You would think that your true friends would do everything to help
you when you are in trouble, but that is not true. When the Lord sends trouble,
the first thing that happens is that your friends will desert you. I have often
said this about my one brother. Every time I would get into trouble, and it
would seem that I would sink to the ground and totally collapse, my brother
would be notified. I would think, he will get his shoulder under my burden and
help me carry it, but I would just end up with another 220 pounds on my
shoulders. I am not saying this to put my brother down. The Lord teaches us to
run to Him.

In my trouble I was not to run to my brother. The Lord showed me this so often.
The Lord wants me to come to Him in my troubles. When I come to the Lord in my
troubles, His word says: “He shall call.” It is not maybe. The weight will get
so heavy we will cry out of despair. The trouble the Lord sends will include
that every friend will forsake you.
Watch what happened in the last chapter of the book of Job. We read in Job
42:11: “Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all
they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his
house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD
had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an
earring of gold.”
Now they were ready to comfort him, after the Lord had delivered him. In his
trouble, though, every one of them came against him. Now we start to understand
what it means to be in trouble.
Then you get to where you are like Hezekiah. You can turn your face to the wall
because no one is left who you can turn to. Even you closest friends, who would
try to and desire to help you, are unable to. The Lord puts you in a place where
you have no place left to go.

Job said in Job 5:6-7: “Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust,
neither doth trouble spring out of the ground; Yet man is born unto trouble, as
the sparks fly upward.”
Job is saying that his affliction did not just come up out of the ground. It was
sent by the Lord.  He said in verses 8 and 9: “I would seek unto God, and unto
God would I commit my cause: Which doeth great things and unsearchable;
marvellous things without number.” No longer was Job able to find strength in
any other place. “He shall call upon me.” There is no maybe about it. The Lord
will remove every other support we have. Now we start to understand what it is
for the Lord to deliver us out of our troubles. We understand what it means that
the Lord becomes our God.
Prayer is encouraged throughout all Scripture, and the prayer of faith is
answered. Prayers not of faith do not get answered. We read in James 1:5: “If
any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally,
and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” See the shall in this verse. 

Verses 6 and 7 say: “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 of the Lord.” Do you know what it
means to ask in faith? It is in a way of submission, in a way of obedience to
the Lord. That means we are going to come to Him according to His will.  

You do not come to the Lord and ask for an answer and waver. You are trying to
serve God and mammon. You are going to serve the Lord a little, and you are
going to serve Baal a little. To ask in faith means to ask in total surrender to
the will of God, asking according to His will.
Our text not only says, “He shall call upon me [but it speaks of effectual
prayer, our text goes on to say], and I will answer him: I will be with him in
trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.” There is a difference between
prayer and effectual prayer, which is prayer that is answered. If we are
wavering, that prayer will not be answered.
The Apostle James speaks of effectual prayer in James 5:14-16: “Is any sick
among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over
him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 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. Confess your faults one to another, and pray
one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a
righteous man availeth much.”
Verses 17 and 18 say: “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. And he prayed again, and the heaven
gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”

What is effectual prayer? How powerful is the effectual prayer of the righteous?
Effectual prayer says what we must do. We must confess our sins one to another.
We must confess our faults one to another, and pray one for another that you may
be healed. This is talking about the law of love. Will we walk in the law of
love? Will we admit when we are wrong, and will we confess to our brother that
we are wrong?
Some people, who are those some people? I look in the mirror sometimes and I
find them so quickly. It is so easy to be defensive and blame others. How often
can we come and confess our sins, confess our faults? When we have a dispute
with someone, can say: I was wrong? I should not have been so sharp. I should
have been more forgiving. I should have been more loving. I was selfish. I was
proud. How often can we do this?

We should not pray in a selfish sense, but we should pray for others. How does
the Lord teach us to pray in the Lord’s prayer? “Our Father,” not “my Father.”
It is a prayer of unity. It is not only praying for me, but praying for us. Now
we start to understand what it takes to have effectual prayer.
Jesus taught the key to effectual prayer in Matthew 21:22: “And all things,
whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Under what
terms will He answer? 

It is so easy to take a word that seems so simple and take it for granted what
it means and still misunderstand what Christ was saying. What is the exercise of
saving faith? What does it mean to believe?
To rightly understand this word believing, we must see how Jesus explained the
exercise of saving faith in 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.” 

This is believing. If we say we are asking believing that means we will abide in
His will and that His words will abide in us, that we will hear what He says and
do what He says. That is putting faith into exercise. That is the exercise of
saving faith. If you do that, you will ask what you will and it shall be done
unto you.
It is so important to remember what Jesus said in Matthew 22:40: “On these two
commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” What two commandments were
they? To love God above all and our neighbors as ourselves. It is to love God
with our heart, soul and mind. That word prophets refers to all inspired
teaching. All inspired preaching of the gospel hangs on those two commandments.

“He shall call upon me, and I will answer him,” means in conjunction with those
two commandments.
We read in Psalm 91:14: “Because he hath set his love upon me.” This is loving
God with our heart, soul and mind. “Therefore will I deliver him.” Can you say
that you have set your heart, your love, upon God while you have a grudge
against your neighbor? No.

Are you going to be successful in prayer? All success in prayer depends upon
that commandment of love. We see in Isaiah 58:9-11 that the law of love is a
commandment that is a prerequisite to having the Lord hear you in prayer: “Then
shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say,
Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth
of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry,
and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy
darkness be as the noon day: And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and
satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a
watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” 

I am not just speaking what I believe. I am telling you what the Word of God
says. Do you want to have effectual prayer? Do you want to have the Lord say of
you, “He shall call and I will answer.” The recipe right here in these verses.

I want to show you another one. Isaiah 65 sets forth how God separates between
those who serve Him and those who serve Him not. We read in verses 11 and 12:
“But ye are they that forsake the LORD, that forget my holy mountain, that
prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that
number. Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to
the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did
not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted

I want to ask you a question. Does it seem right that you and I should call unto
the Lord and He should answer like a bellboy, but when he calls you or me, we do
not answer.
That is what the Lord is saying here: Because I called and you did not answer.
How does He call? With His word. With His gospel. He calls to us to repent and
return unto Him.

Continuing in verse 13 we read: “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, my
servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but
ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be
What does He mean by “my servants shall eat”? These are those who serve the
Lord. That does not necessarily just mean natural food. That means spiritual
food. That means you are going to be spiritually impoverished because when I
speak you do not answer. You do not hear when I speak, and now you are going to
call, and I am not going to answer either. The Lord is teaching us that there is
a reward in serving Him.
We read in verses 14 and 15: “Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart,
but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit. And
ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen: for the Lord GOD shall slay
thee, and call his servants by another name. The servants of the Lord shall have
blessings and shall have everything. And when they call, the Lord will answer.
But those who refuse to serve the Lord, those who will not walk according to His
ways, the Lord will not answer.”

Now our text says, “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with
him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him." 

So who is that? Those who serve the Lord with a holy fear have effectual prayer.
When they pray, He will answer.

We see this in Isaiah 65:24: “And it shall come to pass, that before they call,
I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”

When those who do not serve the Lord come into trouble and cry aloud, the Lord
says: “I will not hear. I will close my ears to your cry because you refuse to
serve me.”

I am not a stranger to that. At times when I was in deep despair and while I was
on my way down on my knees, the Lord spoke to me, and He spoke to me so
powerfully, I could not move a muscle in my body. He came with such power and He
spoke to me with such precious promises. When we are walking in the way of the
Lord, then the Lord answers before we call.
We see this in the history recorded in the New Testament how the Lord answered
while Cornelius was “yet speaking.” Cornelius was a man who served God. We see
that in Acts 10:30: “And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this
hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood
before me in bright clothing.”
The Lord sent His angel, and the angel came to speak to him while he was yet
praying, while he was yet speaking. 

Continuing in verse 31 we read: “And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and
thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.”
What does that word alms mean? The compassion you have shown your fellow man. I
searched that out in the original. And that word alms means the compassion
Cornelius' had been showing his fellow man. In other words, those who were in
need. The love he had shown to his fellowman. In other words, it  was his
observation of the second table of the law. And He says, “Your alms are
remembered in the sight of God.”
We do not realize how the Lord is so pleased when we observe His two tables of
the law, upon which the gospel and the law hang. Cornelius’ compassion to his
fellowman had been had in remembrance before the Lord.
The Lord brought it to remembrance, and the Lord not only answered Cornelius’
prayer, but as our text says, “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I
will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.”
Cornelius was highly honored of the Lord. The Lord honored him greatly. The
compassion you have had upon your fellowman is now brought in remembrance before
heaven, and I have sent this message for you.
God honored him greatly by sending one of His apostles to minister to him.
Cornelius was a Gentile. The gospel at that point had not yet gone to the
Gentiles. The Lord sent Peter, one of his apostles, to minister unto him.

We read in Acts 10:44: “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell
on all them which heard the word.” 

The Lord honored him, and He recorded this as the everlasting word of God.
Continuing in verse 45 we read: “And they of the circumcision which believed
were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also
was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.” 

This was where the gospel first began to be preached to the gentiles.
Receiving an answer to our prayers has always been contingent upon an
unconditional surrender to God’s will throughout the Old and the New Testaments.
You will never come before the Lord successful in prayer while your heart is in
rebellion to His revealed truth. The Lord wants you and me in unconditional
surrender to His will.
You will see this in 2 Chronicles 7:14, and I want you to see how the verse
begins with the word if. It is contingent upon. “If my people, which are called
by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from
their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and
will heal their land.” 

What does it mean to humble yourself? In Philippians 2:8 Paul writes, speaking
of the Lord Jesus Christ: “He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death,
even the death of the cross.”

If you and I really humble ourselves, we become obedient unto death. We can
write death on everything of this life. We can write death on the old man of
sin, on everything of our pride, on everything of this life. We humble ourselves
unto death. Death to the flesh. Death to sin. Death to the world. Death to
everything of this life. In other words, the Lord comes in first place.
Our text says he shall call upon Him. If you are one of God’s loved ones, you
will humble yourself. It is not a matter of maybe.

I have raised eight children, and just because a child does what I tell him does
not make him a child. He was a child already, but because he is a child, his
will is going to be broken, because he is a child, his rebellion is going to be
broken. I do this because I love him. That is the way the Lord deals with His
Now we can see the blessedness of Hebrew 12:11: “Now no chastening seems to be
joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the
peaceable fruit of righteousness to unto them which are exercised thereby.”
Do you know what that peaceable fruit of righteousness is? It is when that
little child has been disciplined and that little child can put her arms around
your neck and say, “Daddy, I want love.” It is when they can come and confess
that they were wrong and ask Daddy to forgive. That is the peaceable fruit of
righteousness. It is the fruit of chastening love.

If you are one of God’s people, it is not a matter of whether or not you are
going to humble yourself. It is just a matter of how much strapping it takes you
to do it. If you are one of the Lord’s, you will humble yourself. The Lord will
bring you that point, and if it takes much chastening, that is what it will
Now the Lord’s family is just like mine. One child needs many stripes to bring
them in subjection, and the other one, all they need is a frown. Some children
only need to know that they have done something to displease you, and their
heart is broken. All the Lord wants is that you humble yourself. That is what He
is saying, and if you humble yourself, then when you pray, I will hear you.
This is synonymous with 1 John 3:22-24: “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of
him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in
his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of
his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he
that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know
that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” 

I want you to see the blessedness of those who keep that commandment of love.
They are in the Spirit of Christ and keep His commandments. We dwell in Christ
and He dwells in us. Then if we call, He answers. He says, “Here I am.” That is
effectual prayer. Effectual prayer does not take place in a state of rebellion.
That Spirit is a mental disposition. It is the mental attitude we have. We know
that He dwells in us because we have that Spirit of Christ. We have His mind. We
have His thinking. We have that mental disposition. He has given us that spirit
of absolute unconditional surrender to the will of God.
Our chapter overflows with such rich promises: even like we see here in Ezekiel
36:25-27: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean:
from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new
heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will
take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of
flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my
statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”
All these promises will be held in reserve until God gives that Spirit of prayer
and supplication to ask for them. We are not going to receive them until we ask.
We are not going to ask until He brings us to where we will ask. He does that by
humbling us.

We read in Ezekiel 36:37: “Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be
enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with
men like a flock.” 

He has already stated all these promises, but now He says: I will yet be
inquired. He does not say: I might be if you decide to. No, “I will be.” How
does He know? He will bring us to where we will ask. The Lord will bring us as a
tender, loving father, and He will take us by the right hand of His
righteousness, and He will lead us in the way whereof a fool can make no
Our text says, “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him.” He does not grant
those precious promises to those who have not been given a hunger and thirst
after righteousness. He does not save us in our sin. He saves us from our sin.

In Proverbs 27:7 it says, “The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the
hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” 

That is the same thing as Asaph pointed out in Psalm 73. He talks about the
pride of those who have never been humbled.

The Lord gives us that true spiritual hunger and thirst by working His work of
grace in the heart. Those things that are so bitter to the flesh become so
sweet. We see that there is honey on the rod. That rod whereby He chastised us,
whereby He brought us into subjection to His will was His token of love. He
loved us as a tender father and He used His chastening hand to break our
rebellion and to bring us to where we are now in subjection to Him to humble us.
The Lord sends trouble to cause us to draw near Him with a hungry soul.
Jesus teaches the need for importunity in prayer. The Lord does not just want us
to recite a bunch of words that do not mean anything. A sigh, a groan that comes
from the soul, means a whole lot more than repetitious prayer that can go on for
hours and does not come from the heart.

The Lord wants the heart. He wants us to set our hearts upon Him. We see this in
Luke 11:5-8: “And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall
go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a
friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before
him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now
shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.

I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend,
yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.”

Then He says in verse 9: “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you;
seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” 

What does this mean? It means asking with a hungry heart, with a hungry soul,
asking with the true desire of the heart. There are no maybes about this. It is
absolute. “He shall call upon me, and I will answer.”
After His parable about the need for importunity in prayer, Jesus proceeds to
reason with our logic in Luke 11:11-13: “If a son shall ask bread of any of you
that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a
fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a
scorpion?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your
children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them
that ask him?” 

The Lord God of heaven condescends so low. He comes down to our level of
thinking to reason with us. He wants our logic to understand the logic of what
He is telling us. He is comparing the Father of heaven and earth with you and me
as human fathers. Would a natural father not be more tender and loving than the
father in these verses?
How much more will the Father of heaven and earth give you that Spirit of
Christ, that spirit of humility, that spirit of meekness, if you ask Him, but He
wants to be asked. He will not take the precious things of Christ and throw them
before our feet for us to trample upon them. He will not give these things to us
until our hearts and appetites have first been excited to receive them.
We must sink in wonder and admiration at the promises found in our chapter when
we see how pleased the God who rules the universe is with those who love Him.
I talked to a man who said he was the one who invented the atomic bomb. He said,
if you understood the universe like we do scientifically and then try to tell me
there was a God who created all that, such a God would have never taken thought
of a human being.
I told him: That is what David saw too. That is what David said in the book of
Psalm 8:3-4: “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and
the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”

He not only took knowledge of man, but He took His own Son and let Him come down
from His throne and become man to save enemies, to save those who have willfully
and deliberately sinned against Him.
We read in Psalm 91:14-16: “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will
I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall
call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will
deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my
That is such a precious promise. He will show us that salvation, which is “I
will deliver, I will answer, and I will deliver him in trouble.” All of these
things in this life pertain to our salvation here as well as our salvation in

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