Home > Brandenburg, Jack Schaap, Revival > The Prayer for Power

The Prayer for Power

May 4, 2009

In his day, probably no one was more well known for exhorting professing Christians to pray for power than the late Jack Hyles, the long time pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana and father-in-law of the present pastor there, Jack Schaap.  He influenced thousands of men toward this practice.   He wrote this in his book, The Fulness of the Spirit:

We prayed from 1:00 until 2:00; from 2:00 until 3:00; from 3:00 until 4:00; from 4:00 until 5:00 and sometime between 5:00 and 6:00 in the morning the sweet power of God settled upon us, and I knew that God had given me some fresh power, some fresh oil, as spoken of by the Psalmist in Psalm 92:10, “But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.”

Hyles said that prayer was the means of getting this power.  He explained:

The question immediately comes: How may this power be obtained? Of course, there are obvious steps such as separation from the world, faithfulness to the cause of Christ, hours of studying the Word, obedience to the commands of God and to the will God, etc., but the main thing is for a Christian to be so sincere that he pays the price in agonizing and pleading and tarrying, begging God for His power. Notice Luke 11:5-13, “And He said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, saying 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. 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. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 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 word “importunity” in verse 8 means “much begging.”

Because prayer was the means Hyles believed was how to get the power that was a necessity for success, he reported:

On my desk I see the words, “Pray for power.” Behind my desk I see the words, “Pray for power.” In the Bible that is in my lap I see the words, “Pray for power.” On the mirror where I shave I see the words, “Pray for power.” On the door leading from my office into the hallway I see the words, “Pray for power.” Hundreds of times a day I plead with God for His power. Then, of course, there are seasons of prayer when I go alone with God to plead for the power of God.

What else is Hyles’ basis for this? He didn’t invent the subject, even as he argued:

I read about John Wesley, who at three o’clock in the morning on October 3, 1738, after having prayed with a number of preachers for most of the night was filled with the Holy Spirit. His ministry was never the same. I read about George Fox, who went alone for two weeks begging for the power of God, and how his life was transformed. I read about Peter Cartwright, who had been filled with the Holy Spirit and mighty power came upon him. I read of George Whitefield, who on June 20, 1736, was ordained to preach. As he knelt at the altar, Bishop Benson laid his hands on the young preacher and George Whitefield knew then and there that he was filled with the Holy Spirit! I read about George Muller, who was filled with the Holy Spirit the first time he ever saw Christians on their knees in prayer. I read how Billy Sunday used to preach every sermon with his Bible open to Isaac 61:1 and how the Spirit of God came on him. My heart began to burn from within! “Was this for me as well as for them? Was that power that Moody had and Wesley had and Whitefield had and Billy Sunday had available for little Jack Hyles, a poor country preacher in east Texas?”

Hyles sought the same experience for himself. According to him, he got it.

I began to walk in the woods at night. Night after night I would walk and cry and pray an beg for power. My heart was hungry. I got a Cruden’s Concordance and looked up the terms, “Holy Ghost,” “Spirit of the Lord,” “Spirit of God,” etc. I looked up every Scripture in the Bible that had to do with the Holy Spirit. I read in Judges 6:34 that the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon and in Judges 14;6 how the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson and in 1 Samuel 11:6 how the Spirit of God came upon Saul. I read in 1 Samuel 16:13 how the Spirit of the Lord came upon David. I read in Acts 9:17 where Paul was filled with the Holy Ghost and in Luke 4:1 where Jesus was full of the Holy Ghost. My heart burned! I needed something. I needed the blessed power of God. I needed the fulness of the Holy Spirit. I didn’t understand all the Scriptures. I read in Luke 3:16 the words, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” I read in Acts 1:4 the mention of the “promise of the Father.” In Luke 24:49 I found the words, “be endued with power from on high.” In Acts 1:8, I found the words, “after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” In Acts 2:17, I learned of the “pouring out of the Spirit” and in Ephesians 5:18, I found the term, “filled with the Spirit.”

I was not seeking sinless perfection nor was I trying to name what I wanted God to give me. I had no desire to speak in tongues nor did I even desire to have some kind of an experience. I just wanted God to work in the hearts of the people while I preached and witnessed. Could it be for me? Yes, it was for Samson, for Gideon, for Torrey, for Moody, for Billy Sunday, for Jonathan Edwards, for Muller, for Whitefield, for George Fox, for Christmas Evans, for Savonarola, for Peter Cartwright, for John Rice, for Bob Jones, for Lee Roberson, but was it for me? I was just a country preacher. I can recall how my eyes fastened on Isaiah 40:31 and Acts 2:4 and Acts 4:31. I was hungry!

“I must have results. I must have power.” I can recall saying to God, “I’m not going to be a normal preacher. I’m not going to be a powerless preacher.”

Night after night I would walk through the pine thickets of east Texas, up and down the sand hills, begging God for His power. If you had driven down Highway 43 outside Marshall, Texas, on the way to Henderson, Texas, in the wee hours of the morning, you could have heard me praying, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” and begging God to give me power.

I was losing weight. I couldn’t eat. What I did eat came back up! My family was worried about me. My deacons got together and said to me, “Pastor, you’ve got to take care of yourself. You are going to get bad sick.”

Then came May 12, 1950. All night I prayed! Just about sunrise I fell to my face in some pine needles and told God I would pay the price, whatever it was, for the power of God! I did not know what I was saying. I did not know what that meant.

In less than four hours, my phone rang in our little country parsonage. The operator said that it was a long distance call for Reverend Jack Hyles. She put the call through and a voice said, “This is Mr. Smith. I work with your dad. Reverend Hyles, your dad just dropped dead with a heart attack.” I put the phone down. I could not believe what I had heard. . . . On May 13, 1950, Mother’s Day afternoon, we had a little service in the chapel. We then followed the hearse about 50 miles south to a little cemetery on the northeast corner of Italy, Texas, where two of my little sisters were buried. Down near the creek was a hole in the ground. They lowered my daddy’s body in the grave. Not long after, I returned to that grave and fell on my face and told God I was not going to be a powerless preacher any more and that I was not going to leave that grave until something happened to me. I don’t know how long I stayed. It may have been hours; it may have been days. I lost all consciousness and awareness of time. I did not become sinlessly perfect nor did I talk in another language nor was I completely sanctified, but my ministry was transformed!

Hyles regularly told the story of begging on his father’s grave.   What I noticed was that the details of the story often changed, especially how long he stayed at the grave.   I would have a couple of questions about the power that Jack Hyles claimed to have received from God.

  • Why didn’t the power work toward the raising of his son, Dave Hyles?  How did it selectively affect one area, how big his church got, but it circumvented where the power should have been having the greatest impact, on his son?  When Jack Hyles was disqualified from the office of the pastor, why didn’t the power take him the direction that the Bible takes disqualified pastors?
  • If someone has that kind of power, why do they also need gimmicks in order to get people to church?  Wouldn’t the power be a greater force for persuasion than a small toy or candy?  And then in the end, God would be glorified, because it was His power and not a gimmick, wouldn’t He?

Those are just two sets of questions that commonly come to my mind when I think about the power of Jack Hyles.  The Bible reveals the real manifestations of the power of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life.  We can be satisfied with those.   The late John R. Rice, who had a lot of impact on Jack Hyles, in We Can Have Revival Now! talked of the same experience:

Charles G. Finney would frequently feel some lack of power and blessing and would set apart a day of fasting and prayer “for a new baptism of the Holy Ghost,” as he was wont to say. Moody sought God unceasingly for two years, until he was mightily endued with power. Dr. R.A. Torrey started the prayer meeting in Moody Church in Chicago and there prayed for two years that God would send a great revival. Then suddenly a committee from Australia came and sought out Torrey, the Bible teacher who had never been much thought of as an evangelist, and Torrey began the mighty campaigns in Australia that led him finally around the world, with hundreds of thousands of souls saved under his great ministry. Torrey learned to pray, so he learned to have revivals.

Hyles and Rice and that branch of fundamentalism are not alone in talking about this practice.  In his article, “Philosophy of Evangelism,” the more recent Mark Herbster writes:

[The evangelist] must pray for power and liberty in his preaching. The evangelist must have this grace from God alone. He cannot and will not be able to carry on within his own strength and power. He must be filled with Holy Spirit fire.

You will find some of these same thoughts in some unlikely sources.  The late D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote:

The prayer for power is always in evidence in the history of the Church prior to revival.

Robert L. Thomas comments:

[Paul] climaxes his own prayer in [Ephesians] 1:15-23 by pleading God’s power for believers.  In 3:14-21, he commences his intercession with prayer for power.  He seeks power from God, for “power belongs to God” (Ps. 62:11). . . .  Such power from the God of power comes to prayer to Him.

DOES THE BIBLE TEACH CHRISTIANS TO PRAY FOR GOD’S POWER?

No.  Scripture doesn’t teach us anywhere to pray for God’s power.   I can understand people wanting a kind of power that can do the things that these men covet.   I believe it is akin to a generation of people that seeks after signs.  Of course, we know what Jesus said about that generation.    This teaching, which isn’t in the Bible, comes from three sources:  poor exegesis of the Scripture, personal experiences, and historical anecdotes.  Certain scriptural truths clear this up.

We Already Have All of God’s Power the Moment We Are Justified

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:  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.  2 Peter 1:3-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.  Ephesians 1:3

God’s divine power has given us believers  “all things that pertain unto life and godliness.”  Do you think that we need anything else to live the Christian life?   The Greek begins the sentence with “all things.”  That’s even the emphasis.   We’ve got everything we need for our entire life in the way of any and every resource we need right when we’re justified.   “Hath given” is a perfect passive participle in the Greek.    The perfect tense expresses that all those things that we’ve been given can’t be taken away.  They are ongoing for the believer.

God has also given us every spiritual blessing that there is.  Do we need more spiritual blessing than every spiritual blessing?  What are we saying to God when He says we have every spiritual blessing, but we come to Him in prayer as if we haven’t been given that.  One of the passages quoted in support for praying for power was Ephesians 1:15-23.   The pertinent section (vv. 17-19) reads:

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:  the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.

This was used by Robert Thomas from Master’s Seminary to back up a point to pray for power.   The prayer is for a spirit of wisdom and knowledge, so that your understanding is enlightened so that you will “know” what is the exceeding greatness of his power.  The prayer is not for power.  It prays for a kind of knowledge that would know the power that a Christian already possesses.  “Know” there is experiential knowledge.  Paul prays that the Ephesians believers will experience the power that they already have.  Our problem is not that we lack in power.  We have that.  Our problem is that we forget that we already have it so that we don’t use it.

The Holy Spirit is God, so He possesses all the power of the universe.  The Holy Spirit moved upon the face of the waters in Genesis 1:2 and created energy—gravitational force, electromagnetic force, and nuclear force.  The Holy Spirit indwells all believers.

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.  Romans 8:9-11

We don’t need to pray for power because we already have the power.   The prayer for power is actually a lack of faith.   We need to access the power we already possess.  We experience the power by yielding to the Holy Spirit.  We don’t need power.  We need yieldedness.  I feel sorry for people who are praying for power.  They feel like spiritual have-nots and they don’t have to.

Let me illustrate.  Fred gives you all his money, a million dollars.  You need ten dollars.  You don’t use the million that you already have.  Instead, you ask Fred, who has given you all of his dollars, to give you the ten.  It is absurd.  It questions the sufficiency of God’s provision at your justification.  It is not a prayer in God’s will.

Some may ask and rightly so, “Well, if these famous men prayed for power and they didn’t actually get anything out of that prayer, then why is it that they saw so many great things happen?”  This is where biblical discernment comes in.  I’m not responsible to explain everything that happens.   I’ve got to judge based on what God’s Word says.  Lots of false beliefs look like they’re working.  One amazing blessing about this particular branch of false doctrine is that now we have some history to see where a lot of these results ended.  We get the gift of hindsight to see that the extra-scriptural and unscriptural behavior didn’t have long-lasting results in many cases.  It even often hatched monstrosities.

Yes, many times the consequences do last and good things turn out.  God is a good God.  He will bless despite us.  That doesn’t justify unbiblical beliefs and activity.

The Holy Spirit Was Poured Out in the Book of Acts and Will Be Again Just Once in the Future

We don’t pray for the Holy Spirit because He’s already here.  We don’t pray for the Holy Spirit’s power because the Holy Spirit is God.  He already has unlimited power.  The outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which was prophesied by John the Baptist, was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.   For the next outpouring of the Holy Spirit to occur, He will have to leave, which He will (2 Thessalonians 2:7).   The Holy Spirit will be outpoured one more time, when He comes to indwell Jews saved in the tribulation period (Joel 2:28-29).

The reason the apostles were praying for the Holy Spirit in Luke 24:49 and taught to pray for Him in Luke 11:13 was because He hadn’t come yet.  Something similar is Jesus’ teaching that we should pray for His kingdom to come.  When we get into the kingdom, we won’t be praying to get into it anymore.  Even so, since we already received the Holy Spirit, we don’t need another outpouring of Him.  Saved Jews in God’s tribulation will get the second outpouring.  That is not for believers today who have already received the Holy Spirit the first time.

When you read Hyles’ teaching above from his book on the fulness of the Spirit, you see that he strung together a whole lot of verses from all over without context or explanation to come to the conclusion that he wanted people to make.  Usually he proceeded to stories from there and that was where Hyles real authority came from.  People were knocked over by his personal examples.  If you heard him enough times, you started to discern that parts to the stories would change and contradict.

If you pay attention to the verses and even look up their contexts, you would see that Hyles isn’t careful to differentiate between “filling” and “baptism.”  This is a common error for the revivalist.   The two do not mean the same thing.  Jesus had the disciples praying for the baptism of the Spirit.   In Luke 24:49 He instructed them to do so, that is, stay in Jerusalem and pray for that particular event or experience.  However, once the Holy Spirit had come, they were to be filled with the Spirit.  The baptism was an event.  The filling is ongoing.

I hear people pray for Holy Spirit filling.  I believe that many of them do so because they are mixing those two words around.  We don’t pray for baptism of the Spirit because that’s already over.  They prayed for that and then it was answered.  Filling isn’t something we pray for.  We are filled with the Spirit by yielding ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s control.  Then we are filled.  When I hear someone praying for Holy Spirit filling, I believe he is confused about his responsibility.  God commands us to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), so it isn’t something we pray for.  We just yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit, and He will fill us.  He wants to do that.

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  1. May 6, 2009 at 10:23 am

    I only skimmed through this article for a first reading, so you might have answered it and I missed it. I will give this a full reading when time permits. But the question that comes to mind is this… should we (a) not pray for God’s power/help at all, (b) pray for faith to access the power that God already gave us, or (c) pray for the ability to fully use the power that God has already given us.

    A friend of mine once argued that praying that “God would be with…” (fill in the blank) was silly, because God promises to be with us, and He is with us. So, we are asking God to do what He is already doing. It is a point, to be sure. However, I see the Psalmist praying such things. In fact, we are urged to pray for things that God has promised and in some cases has already done. For instance, God promises to supply all our needs. Yet we are told to pray for daily bread. God’s will is done, and yet we are taught to pray, “Thy will be done.” Why?

  2. May 6, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Dave,

    I’ll answer the questions and then comment. I will have at least one more article on this.
    (a) We have a basis to pray for help from God. There are things that we need from Him, which is why we ask for them.
    (b) I don’t know of a single passage that tells us to pray for faith. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail—that’s the closest, I think. And I believe that this is the intercessory work of Jesus that keeps us saved. Everything He asks of the Father is answered. I don’t think this is to say that we could lose our faith unless we keep praying for it.
    (c) I did answer this in my dealing with Ephesians 1. We pray that we might experience the power we already have. The word “experience” isn’t used, but it is an experiential knowledge.

    The second paragraph is a big subject that I have given quite a bit of thought to. I think it is a different subject as regards this point. This prayer for power is the essence of the second blessing theology. We receive Christ and are saved, but we still haven’t gotten everything we need to succeed in the Christian life until some other experience after that point. What is insidious about the prayer for power is the understanding that there are these degrees of power you can have. That’s not true. You either have all of it or you have none of it. In this system, some people are more powerful than others because they have prayed through, they have gone through enough prayer hoops to get the power. Others can’t seem to get that power, so they either don’t have enough faith (in their minds) or they haven’t sacrificed enough to get it (like Hyles on his dad’s grave). Hyles just wanted it more than us, so that the success comes from power, but not really—really it comes because of Hyles’ greater desire or seeking for power.

    We are told to pray for His will, yes. We are told to pray for daily bread, yes. We are to pray for HIs kingdom, yes. Some of His will hasn’t happened yet, some of the bread hasn’t happened, and His kingdom hasn’t happened. Will they? Yes. But the power, we already have. The Holy Spirit we already have.

    God is justifying you. Should you keep praying for your justification every day? No. Should we pray for the joy and peace that we are to experience through our justification? Yes.

  3. May 6, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    I see your point. I would say that the disciples prayed for an increase of faith (Luke 17:5). I think that Christ’s answer would also be relevant. I think that what you are saying is that we should ask God to help us to make a right use of the power He has given — whether that is wisdom or faith or help.

    But the major premise here I am in agreement with. Much of Hyles teaching on the Holy Spirit was a matter of self-promotion, that we might be wowed with his special connection to the pipeline of God’s power. Much of the special power that men like Hyles and Finney had was more of a powerful personality, a powerful gift of oratory, than a special endowment of God’s power. On the other hand, there are men that God magnifies (not in a sensual way, but in the sense that God elevates their ministry and gives them a voice that others do not have). Does this mean that they have more power than others? I don’t believe so. What it means is that God uses them, pots of clay though they may be, differently than he uses other. Some vessels are to honor, some to dishonor. I use some dishes every day. Some on the weekends only, and some once a year when I eat shrimp.

  4. May 6, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Increase our faith. Good. Yes. My train of mind wasn’t on an increase of ours, but a getting of something different and new from him, that would be akin to the power issue. I also thought of add to our faith virtue, to virtue, etc. And I think that is a good prayer as well. Help him to add to His faith.

    I think we’re on the same page though. I would wonder though. Was this something that you struggled with before? It was always a conflict for me in m heart and mind in those days when I would hear this kind of preaching regularly. This really is the sanctification subject again. I’m guessing that this is a big deal with a lot of people that read Jackhammer. They hear that someone had this after salvation experience that all Christians should expect.

  5. May 6, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Jesus’ answer when the disciples wanted their faith increased was to bring up the mustard seed–the point being that we don’t need “more” faith, we need to act on the faith we have, because even a tiny lit bit goes a very long way.

  6. May 6, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Thanks Watchman for looking at that more closely. I didn’t look at it at all, but I know that Jesus’ answer was where we would get the doctrine on the subject. Thanks.

  7. May 7, 2009 at 7:47 am

    You are right, Watchman. I didn’t say it clearly, but that is what I meant when I said that Jesus’ answer is relevant. He didn’t rebuke them for praying for an increase in faith, but told them that with the smallest amount of faith, they could do great things. So, I think that what Kent is saying is correct — we don’t need new doses, we just need to learn to trust God and what He has already given us, and we need to learn to put to use the faith that we already have. My understanding would be that when the disciples asked the Lord to increase their faith, Christ replied that they needed to increase their use of their faith.

    Would that relate to the prayer for power? I think so. Kent, you obviously recognize that this is something that I used to struggle with. I grew up in a Hyles church, and this was preached constantly. I now realize that it really was about power, but not God’s power. What these men called God’s power turned out to be personal power, the power to impress the multitudes.

    Nevertheless, I spent an aweful lot of time as a teenager trying to “get the power of God.” I am not really ashamed of this (maybe I should be?), but I spent many, many hours praying for the Holy Spirit to fall on me like he did on Moody or Finney or Wesley or even Hyles. Of course, if I would have seen unbelievable results, I would have thought that God answered my prayers. In other words, if I would have seen thousands come to Christ, I would have thought that God filled me with the Holy Spirit.

    So, here is the kicker — I am so thankful that God didn’t give me great personal success. Maybe I should put that in all caps. I feel like shouting it. Here is why. I was a teenager. I was still wrestling with sanctification in a big way — like it was a life and death struggle. Probably no different than any teen boy. But if God would have given me personal success at that time, I would have felt that it was all okay, and would have gone the way of all the Hylots before and since.

    Through the study of the word, I learned that the Spirit baptizes us at salvation. The command to be filled with the Spirit I began to understand is in the same sense as being filled (drunk) with wine… the wine controls you, the Spirit controls you. The more the Spirit controls, the more I am filled. As one of my books said, when I am baptized with the Spirit, I have the Spirit. When I am filled with the Spirit, the Spirit has me.

    Simultaneously, I began to understand that I do not put away my own flesh in the power of my own flesh. In other words, having trusted Christ for my justification, I do not then take on the task of my sanctification in the power of my own flesh. Having begun in the Spirit, I am not made perfect in the flesh. God has already freed me from my sin, and I am made free from sin. My flesh cannot defeat my flesh. But I am more than a conqueror through Him that loved me. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world… the faith that was given me as a fruit of God’s Holy Spirit.

    So, yes, this is something that I struggled with for a long time, and am still somewhat sorting through. But I thank God for the clarity of His Word.

  8. Don Johnson
    May 7, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Hi Kent

    It seems that Pentecostalism/Second Blessingism is everywhere present. Wherever the emphasis is on experience, it is in fact evidence of a weakness of faith. Piper for example.

    I was in a church service last night (I am on the road) where I heard an excellent message on the things to add to faith from 2 Pt 1, virtue, knowledge, godliness, etc. In an American church the service would have been a lot noisier (Amens, shouting, etc). Some of that is just culture. Some of it is an over-emphasis on experience, I think.

    In other words, no one is immune to this. I often find it easier to preach to American audiences because they ‘stroke me’ with their verbal approval.

    And that is not to say we don’t have those seeking experience up here as well. I’m not trying to start the fight of 1776 all over again!

    Maranatha!
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  9. May 7, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Thanks for the testimony, Dave. I just want to repeat that this was a big struggle for me too, but a I relief to me as I began studying God’s Word and reading. It took me several years to get through it. I wasn’t convinced by Hyles ever, but I was regularly bothered deep down, that maybe I didn’t have what other people had. 2 Peter 1:1-4 is a great passage on this. Peter there says that we all have the same faith, no one has anything different than anyone else. It really is a matter of submission. I’ll talk more about this as we discuss revival.

    Don,

    Thanks for your note. I agree with you. That’s why I added the various evangelicals in those passages. I would be interested in what others have written about this that are not evangelicals. I would like some things about PIper, because I have been thinking about his position on our foundational purpose for awhile. I’ve been all over Canada and in Alberta several times. I understand how you could love it. I was in many Canadian churches—maybe 10-15 when I was in college and graduate school. The people were different and it is true that we can’t judge by those cultural criteria in the area of sanctification.

  10. May 7, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Wasn’t the church baptized with the Spirit at Pentecost once and for all?

    I believe Jesus prayed for God’s will to be done because he wanted to want God’s will while he was wanting it. Prayer is as much a struggle of surrender of ourselves as it is communication with God. I don’t pray to have more of the Spirit, but I do pray the Spirit would have more of me. And, as I pray the Spirit does get more of me. I do pray that God will increase the faith that I have and increase the joy and peace that I have. I wouldn’t pray for peace in order to have access to it. I would pray for peace in order to learn how to maintain and experience more of the peace God has already given me.

    What I am saying it that it is not accurate to say you already have faith so you don’t have to pray for it. It is by praying itself and asking for it specifically, as well as Bible study, that our faith will grow, or our peace or our Spirit-filling.

    Paul strove to experience the power of Christ’s resurrection more fully in his life. Do you think he prayed for that power? I do. What was that power for? I believe firstly so that he personally would have greater victory in his own life, but I can’t help but think he wanted that power to affect others as well. It does affect others too. And, I think Paul prayed for that to happen.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but in reading this post, I almost got the impression that we shouldn’t pray for these things. Or at least that we are silly Christians if we pray a lot for these things because the Bible says we have them. We are sanctified and being sanctified, and part of the santification process involved prayer for more sanctification, as well as surrender to the sanctification that God has already provided and wants to work in us.

  11. May 7, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Don Heinz,

    If the disciples prayed, Increase our faith, and Jesus said that faith wasn’t to be increased, then there’s a lesson about prayer there. We’ve got enough faith. WE just need to exercise it. We’re to pray in God’s will. How do we know what isn’t in God’s will to pray? We look at Scripture. I’m open to correction. Show the “pray for power” text. And what is this power that we receive that affects others? How does it affect them? I’m open to you showing me in scripture.

    As it regards Philippians 3, Paul wanted salvation because by knowing Jesus, which is salvation, He would know the power of His resurrection. He wanted it so much that He was willing to call all His own efforts as loss. But by winning Christ, by being found in Him, we get the power. Why the power of the resurrection? Because that power shows the extent of the power that Christ has. By knowing Him, I have the power of the resurrection already. I know I’ll resurrect. I’m not there already, that is, to that resurrection, but I know that I will be, so I keep pressing forward until He calls me to the prize of being with Him.

    What will have the affect on others is what? Look at Scripture. We can find that out. Our good example. Our biblical teaching, the oracles of God. Our bearing each others burdens. Does that require power? Yes. But I have it all in the Holy Spirit if I submit to Him. I pray for what I see Paul and Peter and John and others pray for. I’m open to be shown what is His will to pray for.

    What I see in Scripture most of the time is about the exercise of what we already have—to be filled with the knowledge of His will, to be given discernment, for my love to abound, for wisdom.

  12. May 8, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Let me be clear first that I am not in favor of self-serving prayers for power that will result in personal glory. I think that is what motivates the Hyles crowd.

    However, is praying for strengthening with might different than praying for power?

    “For this cause we also, since the day we heard [it], do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;” (Colossians 1:9-11)

    Paul prayed for the Colossians to be strengthened (empowered) with might (dunamis). Can we not assume that we might desire to pray that for ourselves? I’m not talking about a fixation on it, but it IS a topic of Paul’s prayers.

    Also,

    “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of [this] calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of [his] goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)”

    Paul also prayed that the work of faith would be fulfilled in them with power (dunamis). Can a Christian pray that for himself?

    I think these are prayers for power. Obviously these are not the kinds of power that many of the people you mentioned in your post were looking for. That power may be better seen in Acts 8:19. But, I think we can pray for God’s power to be effectual in us and others.

  13. May 8, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Hey, there’s proof of Hyles problems, he thought Billy Sunday preached out of the book of Isaac. 😉

  14. May 8, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Don,

    I have no goal of throwing cold water on legitimate prayer. What I’m talking about has A LOT to do with the subject of revival. It was one of the greatest revelations to me up to that point when I understood from Scripture that I already had all the power of the universe.

    With regards to the passages you provided—first Col 1:9-11. Paul prayed for something. What was it? That’s in the first section. After the word “That,” we get the result or the purpose of receiving what he did pray for. There actually no “that” there in the Greek, but it is an infinitive of purpose or result that expresses the purpose or result of being filled with the knowledge of His will. I think that someone will be strengthened by the Lord when he is controlled by the knowledge of God’s will, so I pray for that.

    It’s similar in 2 Thessalonians 2. He prays for what? That they would fulfill God’s pleasure and work. Will they need faith and power for that? Yes. But that isn’t praying for power. He’s praying for a fulfillment of work.

    Consider 1 Peter 4:10-11: “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.” When we minister we do it with the gift of grace that we have already been given. We minister in the ability that God continuously supplies. It’s not a matter of getting something we don’t already have, but ministering as stewards of the grace of God.

    What I do believe is that we can ask God to strengthen us from His Spirit that we already have. We look to Him for strength from His Spirit. That kind of thing. I was planning on writing about that in part two (or three if I need more room).

  15. May 8, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Kent:

    I took the initiative of rereading the post, and I think I better see your point. Hyles and Co. seemed to be looking for something they didn’t seem to think they had. And, I agree with you, it IS a powerful thought to know that we already have all the power or faith that we need. It just seemed to me a first glance that you were poo-pooing actively seeking to have God’s power or grace flow through us in prayer or in ministry of the word to affect other people’s lives.

    Sorry, gotta go.

  16. May 8, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    There can be “little faith” and “strong faith,” and faith can “abound,” and “grow exceedingly,” so faith can increase in amount. It seems to me to be very right, therefore, to pray “Lord, increase our faith.”

    Little faith can fear:
    Mt 8:26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
    On the other hand, being “strong in faith” (Romans 4:20) will produce confidence without fear. Thus, we should, by exercise of faith, seek that it will grow and abound—faith grows in the same way that knowledge, love, or other graces given saints by the Spirit do (2 Cor 8:7: Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.). May it be said of us, as of the saints at Thessalonica (2 Thess 1:3), “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth”

    I believe that John Owen is correct when he says that spiritual graces such as faith grow by being exercised.

    Furthermore, I don’t know if we can simply say that because we are to, say, surrender to God, it is inappropriate to pray for surrender, or that because we are to be filled with the Spirit, and we are filled by surrendering to His control, that we are therefore not to pray for this. Sanctification affects the whole spirit, soul, and body, 1 Thess 5:23-24:

    And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

    Is not the will part of the whole man which is to be renewed more and more into the image of God in progressive sanctification? God works in us both to “will” and to “do” of His good pleasure; so why can we not pray for Him to work in us so that we do surrender? We do not autonomously surrender to God without the working of His Spirit in us to bring us to surrender. So why can we not pray for this?

    We certainly are to be sanctified—it is a command. Yet does this mean that we are not to pray for God to sanctify us, or for us to be sanctified? Paul in 1 Thess 5:23-24, at the least, did not say, “you can be sanctified if you will—so I am not going to pray for this.”

    I also don’t believe in doing weird things on people’s graves. However, if “prayer for power” means that we want God to work in us to be more like Christ, to both will and do more of His will, to have the body of sin progressively destroyed in us, so that we progressively serve sin the less as the sin principle within us as believers is weakened and mortified (Romans 6:6), what is wrong with it? Certainly God will use us more if we are more in this way yielded to Him and will see more of His power working in us.

    I think an example of growth in faith can be seen 2 Kings 13:17-19:
    17* And he said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the LORD’S deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them.
    18* And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed.
    19* And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.

    The king had enough faith to smite three times, but not to smite five or six times. Thus, he had fewer victories against the Syrians. Why can we not say that an increase of faith in us will lead us to greater levels of victory over spiritual principalities and powers? If we cannot have faith increase, I don’t know what to do with 2 Cor 8:7 or 2 Thess 1:3.

    Also, I believe that Scripture is quite clear that the Holy Spirit has never baptized anyone, and Christ baptized with the Spirit on Pentecost, and that was it (see “Spirit Baptism—The Historic Baptist View” at http://thross7.googlepages.com). Nobody is baptized today with the Holy Spirit, whether at the moment of regeneration or later in some sort of post-conversion special power experience. If someone who believes that Spirit baptism takes place at regeneration, or that it is a post-conversion phenomenon that still takes place today, is willing to read and critique my paper, I would be interested to hear the critique. Generally advocates of the universal church dispensational view, and of the post-conversion power view of Spirit baptism, simply ignore the historic Baptist view, and since they control the large parachurch schools such as Bob Jones University, Pensacola Christian College, Maranatha, Northland, etc. they are able to spread their views in Baptist churches without ever having to deal with the Baptist position on the doctrine.

  17. May 9, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Thomas,

    Thanks for coming over and interacting here once again. Of course, we have a goal of submitting to God and His Word. I’m not going to point out what we agree with. If I don’t mention it, then it means that I agree with what you wrote.

    I think your “strong” and “little” faith is important to bring up. At one time, I thought that these two terms meant that we could get various amounts of faith. Jesus seemed to measure “faith” when he said “faith as a grain of mustard seed.” However, I don’t believe you are correct in this.

    The understanding of “strong” and “little” and “great” is that they are not quantitative words. They are qualitative. Strong and great faith is long-termed, that is, a kind of faith that keeps enduring through difficulty. Little faith is faith that is prone not to persevere in hard times. The whole “grain of mustard seed” teaching says that amount doesn’t matter. That’s the point. We are not going to grow in our amount of faith, but our faith in quality can grow.

    In these comments, it seems, that people are indicating that they don’t know what I’m talking about, as if this pray for power position is one that actually is in scripture and that God will pour out special power and more of His Spirit. It also seems that you might be encouraging the second blessing people, Thomas, with your comments. They grow in their belief in a second blessing by your comments, I believe. And you’re arguing a straw man.

    You are making a very tenuous connection between sanctification of the whole man and praying for power, etc. At the same time, I don’t think there is a problem with praying for a believer to be controlled or more controlled by God. That is the essence of what growth is. I think that people who pray for Spirit filling are thinking of the Holy Spirit doing something despite us. I am surprised that you didn’t know about that. Perhaps you will strengthen those endeavoring to receive something more than what God has already given them.

    I’m also surprised with your “prayer for power means” kind of Bible interpretation. In other words, as long as something means something other than what it actually means, then it might be acceptable. However, that isn’t how we interpret scripture. If someone by “prayer for power” means “read your Bible more,” then I can support “prayer for power,” of course. But if prayer for power means actually, well, pray for power, it might be another thing.

    Ditto on your 2 Cor 8:7 and 2 Thess 1:3. It isn’t a matter of growing in amount of faith, that we are given more faith. We all have the same faith, which is what 2 Peter 1:1, “like precious faith” says, but yes, the practice of our faith, the consistency of it, can grow. Abounding in any of these things is not to say that we don’t have it available to us, but growth in the faith that we already have.

  18. May 10, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Dear Pastor Brandenburg,

    Thanks for your comments. I am hoping that the discussion will help us to hash everything through. It seems to me that these comments by J. C. Ryle (absolutely not a second-blessing perfectionist) are right on about growth in grace, but he says that abounding in faith, just like abounding in love, would be an increase in amount. If you have the chance, I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on this. Thank you very much. This is from his book Holiness, which is on my website.

    6. Growth
    “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord
    and Saviour Jesus Christ.”—2 Peter 3:18

    THE subject of the text which heads this page is one which I dare not omit in this volume about Holiness. It is one that ought to
    be deeply interesting to every true Christian. It naturally raises the questions, Do we grow in grace? Do we get on in our religion?
    Do we make progress?

    To a mere formal Christian I cannot expect the inquiry to seem worth attention. The man who has nothing more than a kind of
    Sunday religion—whose Christianity is like his Sunday clothes; put on once a week, and then laid aside—such a man cannot, of
    course, be expected to care about “growth in grace.” He knows nothing about such matters. “They are foolishness to him” (1Co
    2:14). But to every one who is in downright earnest about his soul, and hungers and thirsts after spiritual life, the question ought
    to come home with searching power. Do we make progress in our religion? Do we grow?

    The question is one that is always useful, but especially so at certain seasons. A Saturday night, a Communion Sunday, the return of a birthday, the end of a year—all these are seasons that ought to set us thinking, and make us look within. Time is fast
    flying. Life is fast ebbing away. The hour is daily drawing nearer when the reality of our Christianity will be tested, and it will be
    seen whether we have built on “the rock” or on “the sand.” Surely it becomes us from time to time to examine ourselves, and take
    account of our souls. Do we get on in spiritual things? Do we grow?

    The question is one that is of special importance in the present day. Crude and strange opinions are floating in men’s minds on
    some points of doctrine, and among others on the point of “growth in grace,” as an essential part of true holiness. By some it is
    totally denied. By others it is explained away, and pared down to nothing. By thousands it is misunderstood, and consequently neglected. In a day like this it is useful to look fairly in the face the whole subject of Christian growth.

    In considering this subject there are three things which I wish to bring forward and establish:

    I. The reality of religious growth. There is such a thing as “growth in grace.”
    II. The marks of religious growth. There are marks by which “growth in grace” may be known.
    III. The means of religious growth. There are means that must be used by those who desire “growth in grace.”
    42

    I know not who you are, into whose hands this paper may have fallen. But I am not ashamed to ask your best attention to its
    contents. Believe me, the subject is no mere matter of speculation and controversy. It is an eminently practical subject, if any is in
    religion. It is intimately and inseparably connected with the whole question of “sanctification.” It is a leading mark of true saints
    that they grow. The spiritual health and prosperity, the spiritual happiness and comfort of every true-hearted and holy Christian,
    are intimately connected with the subject of spiritual growth.

    I. The Reality of Growth in Grace
    The first point I propose to establish is this: There it such a thing as growth in grace.

    That any Christian should deny this proposition is at first sight a strange and melancholy thing. But it is fair to remember that
    man’s understanding is fallen no less than his will. Disagreements about doctrines are often nothing more than disagreements
    about the meaning of words. I try to hope that it is so in the present case. I try to believe that when I speak of “growth in grace”
    and maintain it, I mean one thing, while my brethren who deny it mean quite another. Let me therefore clear the way by explaining what I mean.

    The Definition of “Growing in Grace”

    (a) When I speak of “growth in grace,” I do not for a moment mean that a believer’s interest in Christ can grow. I do not mean
    that he can grow in safety, acceptance with God, or security. I do not mean that he can ever be more justified, more pardoned,
    more forgiven, more at peace with God, than he is the first moment that he believes. I hold firmly that the justification of a believer is a finished, perfect, and complete work; and that the weakest saint, though he may not know and feel it, is as completely
    justified as the strongest. I hold firmly that our election, calling, and standing in Christ admit of no degrees, increase, or diminution. If any one dreams that by “growth in grace” I mean growth in justification he is utterly wide of the mark, and utterly
    mistaken about the whole point I am considering. I would go to the stake, God helping me, for the glorious truth, that in the matter of justification before God every believer is “complete in Christ” (Col 2:10). Nothing can be added to his justification from the
    moment he believes, and nothing taken away.
    (b) When I speak of “growth in grace” I only mean increase in the degree, size, strength, vigour, and power of the graces
    which the Holy Spirit plants in a believer’s heart. I hold that every one of those graces admits of growth, progress, and increase. I
    hold that repentance, faith, hope, love, humility, zeal, courage, and the like, may be little or great, strong or weak, vigorous or feeble, and may vary greatly in the same man at different periods of his life. When I speak of a man “growing in grace,” I mean simply
    this, that his sense of sin is becoming deeper, his faith stronger, his hope brighter, his love more extensive, his spiritualmindedness more marked. He feels more of the power of godliness in his own heart. He manifests more of it in his life. He is going
    on from strength to strength, from faith to faith, and from grace to grace. I leave it to others to describe such a man’s condition by
    any words they please. For myself I think the truest and best account of him is this, he is “growing in grace.”
    Ground to Build On

    (1) One principal ground on which I build this doctrine of “growth in grace,” is the plain language of Scripture. If words in the
    Bible mean anything, there is such a thing as “growth,” and believers ought to be exhorted to “grow.” What says Paul? “Your faith
    groweth exceedingly” (2Th 1:3). “We beseech you that ye increase more and more” (1Th 4:10). “Increasing in the knowledge of
    God” (Col 1:10). “Having hope, when your faith is increased” (2Co 10:15). “The Lord make you to increase in love” (1Th 3:12).
    “That ye may grow up into him in all things” (Eph 4:15). “I pray that your love may abound more and more (Phi 1:9). “We beseech
    you, as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more” (1Th 4:1). What says
    Peter? “Desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1Pe 2:2). “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord
    and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2Pe 3:18). I know not what others think of such texts. To me they seem to establish the doctrine for
    which I contend, and to be incapable of any other explanation. Growth in grace is taught in the Bible. I might stop here and say no
    more.
    (2) The other ground, however, on which I build the doctrine of “growth in grace,” is the ground of fact and experience. I ask
    any honest reader of the New Testament whether he cannot see degrees of grace in the New Testament saints whose histories are
    recorded, as plainly as the sun at noon-day? I ask him whether he cannot see in the very same persons as great a difference between their faith and knowledge at one time and at another, as between the same man’s strength when he is an infant and when he
    is a grownup man? I ask him whether the Scripture does not distinctly recognise this in the language it uses, when it speaks of
    “weak” faith and “strong” faith, and of Christians as “newborn babes,” “little children,” “young men,” and “fathers”? (1Pe 2:2; 1Jo
    2:12-14.) I ask him, above all, whether his own observation of believers, now-a-days, does not bring him to the same conclusion?
    What true Christian would not confess that there is as much difference between the degree of his own faith and knowledge when
    he was first converted, and his present attainments, as there is between a sapling and a full-grown tree? His graces are the same in
    principle; but they have grown. I know not how these facts strike others: to my eyes they seem to prove, most unanswerably, that
    “growth in grace” is a real thing.
    I feel almost ashamed to dwell so long upon this part of my subject. In fact, if any man means to say that the faith, and hope,
    and knowledge, and holiness of a newly converted person, are as strong as those of an old established believer, and need no increase, it is a waste of time to argue further. No doubt they are as real, but not so strong—as true, but not so vigorous—as much

    43

    seeds of the Spirit’s planting, but not yet so fruitful. And if any one asks how they are to become stronger, I say it must be by the
    same process by which all things having life increase. They must grow. And this is what I mean by “growth in grace.”

  19. May 10, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Thomas,

    I didn’t say anything about growth in grace in any of my comments, but Ryle also talks about growth in faith, so it is worth commenting on.

    I believe in Christian growth. I believe that God keeps giving us grace. There is not doubt about that. Notice that Ryle himself says in your quote above:

    “When I speak of “growth in grace” I only mean increase in the degree, size, strength, vigour, and power of the graces which the Holy Spirit plants in a believer’s heart. I hold that every one of those graces admits of growth, progress, and increase. I hold that repentance, faith, hope, love, humility, zeal, courage, and the like, may be little or great, strong or weak, vigorous or feeble, and may vary greatly in the same man at different periods of his life. When I speak of a man “growing in grace,” I mean simply this, that his sense of sin is becoming deeper, his faith stronger, his hope brighter, his love more extensive, his spiritualmindedness more marked. He feels more of the power of godliness in his own heart. He manifests more of it in his life.”

    Notice that he says that the Holy Spirit plants in a believer’s heart these things. When we are justified, we receive the Holy Spirit, Who possesses all grace. Notice also that he says that his faith is stronger. Notice that he says that he “feels more of the power of godliness in his own heart.” And, “He manifests more of it in His life.”

    All of those things are consistent with what I have said.

    Of course, we are far afield from where I started. This whole tangent started in the comment section, and I think it is a distraction from what I wrote in the post.

    We have everything that we need the moment we are justified in order to grow as much as a person can grow in His Christian life.

    Thomas,

    When 2 Peter 1 says that we have all things that pertain unto life and godliness, what is it that is missing there that we need to still receive?

    Please answer the question, because you said nothing about my answer on strong and weak faith.

  20. May 11, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Dear Pastor Brandenburg,

    I have replied below in ALL CAPS. I thought that the section from Ryle would be helpful because I think there are elements of us saying the same thing, but from somewhat different points of view. Perhaps we can have the sort of convergence that the homoousians and the homoiousians had in church history, where they realized that much of what they were saying was the same thing in somewhat different ways. I do believe there is a sort of already/not yet distinction that is important to keep in mind here, and that the fact of the already does not mean we should not pray for the not yet—indeed, the already would be a motivation for the not yet. Since we are positionally already dead to sin, we pray for strength to put sin to death/mortify it. Since we put off the old man at conversion and put on the new man (Col 3:9-10), we put off and put on the new man in practice and in areas such as lying/truth telling, stealing/laboring, etc. (Ephesians 4:22ff.). It seems to me (although I am very open for correction, I hope) that we are to pray for the not yet that is based on the already in these matters. On these lines, if prayer for power means that we pray that we will be able to hypnotize people into getting saved because of a postconversion baptism of the Spirit that we get by standing on our father’s graves, the idea is not Biblical, since it is not anything God ever promised us at all—there is no “already” to it. If praying for power means that we ask God to strenthen us to gain victory over a sin that is fighting within us, and seeking to reign (Romans 6:12), or if it means that we ask God to empower us by His grace to, “so sp[eak], that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed . . . [being] filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost,” as far as I can see, this is Scriptural. I think you would probably agree with me on this, but if not, I welcome your thoughts (I welcome them in any case). In relation to the specifics below, you had commented:

    I believe in Christian growth. I believe that God keeps giving us grace. There is not doubt about that. Notice that Ryle himself says in your quote above:

    “When I speak of “growth in grace” I only mean increase in the degree, size, strength, vigour, and power of the graces which the Holy Spirit plants in a believer’s heart. I hold that every one of those graces admits of growth, progress, and increase. I hold that repentance, faith, hope, love, humility, zeal, courage, and the like, may be little or great, strong or weak, vigorous or feeble, and may vary greatly in the same man at different periods of his life. When I speak of a man “growing in grace,” I mean simply this, that his sense of sin is becoming deeper, his faith stronger, his hope brighter, his love more extensive, his spiritualmindedness more marked. He feels more of the power of godliness in his own heart. He manifests more of it in his life.”

    Notice that he says that the Holy Spirit plants in a believer’s heart these things. When we are justified, we receive the Holy Spirit, Who possesses all grace. Notice also that he says that his faith is stronger. Notice that he says that he “feels more of the power of godliness in his own heart.” And, “He manifests more of it in His life.”
    All of those things are consistent with what I have said.

    I THOUGHT THIS QUOTE FROM RYLE WOULD BE GOOD BECAUSE I THOUGHT WE WOULD BOTH AGREE ON IT. WE HAVE ALL THE SEEDS OF IT ALL IN US AT THE MOMENT OF REGENERATION, BUT THE THINGS DO THEMSELVES GROW. NEITHER RYLE NOR I AM TRYING TO ADVOCATE A SECOND BLESSING. I THINK WE AGREE ON THIS.

    We have everything that we need the moment we are justified in order to grow as much as a person can grow in His Christian life.

    YES, IN THE “ALREADY” SENSE, NO, IN THE “NOT YET” SENSE. I BELIEVE YOU WOULD AGREE THAT WE NEED TO RECEIVE CONTINUAL STRENGTH FROM GOD BY THE SPIRIT TO MORTIFY SIN, TO ENABLE US TO CONTINUE TO WILL AND DO OF HIS GOOD PLEASURE, AND IF HE DID NOT DO SO, WE WILL BE IN TROUBLE, AS HEZEKIAH WAS:
    2Ch 32:31* Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.
    WHEN GOD LEFT HIM, ALTHOUGH HEZEKIAH WAS REGENERATE, HE FAILED, BECAUSE OF WHAT WAS IN HIS HEART.

    I BELIEVE WE WOULD BOTH AGREE ON THIS. I CONCLUDE FROM THIS THAT WE ARE TO PRAY FOR THE THINGS THAT WE ALREADY HAVE, IN THE “NOT YET” SENSE, AND THAT THIS DOES NOT DENIGRATE THE “ALREADY” ASPECT.

    Thomas,

    When 2 Peter 1 says that we have all things that pertain unto life and godliness, what is it that is missing there that we need to still receive?

    2 PETER 1:1-11 STATES:

    1:1* ¶ Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
    2* Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
    3* According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
    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.
    5* ¶ And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
    6* And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
    7* And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
    8* For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    9* But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
    10* Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
    11* For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

    WE ALREADY HAVE ALL THINGS, V. 3, ABSOLUTELY. THIS IS THE “ALREADY.” BASED ON THE “ALREADY,” PETER PRAYED THAT GRACE AND PEACE WOULD INCREASE, V. 2, AND THE RECIPIENTS OF THE EPISTLE WERE TO GROW MORE AND MORE IN THEIR PARTAKING OF THE DIVINE NATURE, V. 4, AND WERE TO BE DILIGENT AND ADD TO FAITH VIRTUE, KNOWLEDGE, CHARITY, ETC. V. 5-7, AND ALL THESE GRACES (WHICH, NOTE, INCLUDES “FAITH,” AND THUS FAITH CAN “ABOUND,” V. 8, JUST LIKE LOVE, VIRTUE, KNOWLEDGE, ETC. THAT IS, GROW IN QUANTITY). BECAUSE THEY ALREADY HAD FAITH, V. 1, THEY WERE TO GIVE ALL DILIGENCE THAT THEIR FAITH MIGHT ABOUND, V. 5-8. IT SEEMS TO ME LIKE WE ARE VERY RIGHT TO PRAY FOR THE V. 5-8 PART, JUST LIKE IN THE PSALMS AND ELSEWHERE THE SAINTS REGULARLY PRAYED THAT GOD WOULD DO WHAT HE ALREADY SAID HE WOULD DO AND WHAT HE HAD COMMITTED HIMSELF TO DOING.

    Please answer the question, because you said nothing about my answer on strong and weak faith.

    IF YOU AGREED WITH WHAT RYLE SAID, THEN WE AGREE, AND I DON’T NEED TO SAY MORE. WE HAVE THE SEEDS OF ALL THESE GRACES IN US WHEN WE ARE RENEGERATED, BUT THEY ARE STILL TO GROW AND ABOUND, AND INCREASE EXCEEDINGLY, ETC. AS THE VERSES SAY. SO I DON’T THINK THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH SAYING THAT OUR FAITH SHOULD INCREASE. AS I SAID, IF YOU AGREED WITH RYLE, WE ARE IN AGREEMENT. IF YOU WERE DISAGREEING WITH RYLE, I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND HOW YOU SHOWED HE WAS IN ERROR WHEN HE CONCLUDED FAITH WAS TO GROW, BASED ON VERSES LIKE 2 THESS 1:3:
    We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;
    FURTHERMORE, WHILE IT IS TRUE THAT THE WORD “LITTLE” IN “LITTLE FAITH” MATTHEW 6:30, ETC. CAN, OF ITSELF, MEAN LITTLE IN TIME AS WELL AS LITTLE IN QUANTITY, I DON’T SEE HOW WE CAN POSSIBLY SAY THAT THE WORD PROVES THAT “LITTLE” ONLY REFERS TO SHORT IN DURATION, RATHER THAN SMALL IN QUANTITY, SINCE THE GREEK WORD OLIGOS CAN UNQUESTIONABLY REFER TO SMALLNESS IN AMOUNT, AS BDAG STATES IT CAN MEAN: “3. relatively low on a scale of extent or existing only to a small degree, little, slight.” AS IN EPH 3:3, ACTS 12:18, 19:23, ETC. NOR DO I SEE BY A STUDY OF THE WORD “STRONG” IN ROMANS 4:20 ANYTHING WHATEVER THAT SHOWS THAT THE WORD REFERS ONLY TO ENDURING FAITH OVER TIME, RATHER THAN FAITH THAT WAS STRONG IN AMOUNT. THE OTHER REFERENCES IN THE NT ARE: Acts 9:22; Rom 4:20; Eph 6:10; Phil 4:13; 1Tim 1:12; 2Tim 2:1; 4:17; Heb 11:34. WHEN “SAUL INCREASED THE MORE IN STRENGTH,” ACTS 9:22, FOR EXAMPLE, IT SURE LOOKS LIKE “AMOUNT” TO ME.
    SO, IF WE ARE BOTH AGREEING WITH RYLE, WE ARE IN AGREEMENT. IF WE ARE NOT BOTH AGREEING WITH RYLE, THEN I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT WE DO WITH VERSES LIKE THE ONES HE CITED ABOUT FAITH GROWING EXCEEDINGLY, ETC. IT SEEMS TO ME LIKE A DISTINCTION IN QUANTITY OF FAITH IS SEEN IN THE EXAMPLE I GAVE ABOVE OF THE KING SMITING THE GROUND THREE TIMES (MORE FAITH THAN IF HE HAD NOT SMITTEN THE GROUND AT ALL) BUT FEWER THAN SIX OR SEVEN TIMES (MORE FAITH THAN HE HAD, WHICH WOULD HAVE RESULTED IN THE SYRIANS BEING UTTERLY CONSUMED, INSTEAD OF ONLY BEING SMITTEN THREE TIMES).

    IN TERMS, THEN, OF WHAT WE SHOULD PRAY FOR, ASSUMING THAT RYLE REPRESENTS THE CORRECT POSITION, WE CAN PRAY FOR AN INCREASE IN STRENGTH IN THE GRACES THAT WE ALREADY HAVE, AND IF “PRAY FOR POWER” MEANS THIS, THEN IT IS FINE. HOWEVER, I BELIEVE THAT THE DEFINITE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE WHO ARE INTO THIS, CERTAINLY THOSE IN THE HYLES CAMP, ETC. DO NOT USUALLY THINK THIS WAY, BUT INSTEAD ARE PRAYING FOR THINGS THAT ARE NOT IN SCRIPTURE. DEFINED THAT WAY, I AM, WITH YOU, PASTOR BRANDENBURG, AGREED THAT WE SHOULD NOT PRAY FOR POWER.

    PERHAPS, SINCE WE ARE TALKING ABOUT THE POWER OF GOD, IF YOU HAVE TIME, YOU COULD EXPLAIN THE SENSE OF SOME OF THE VERSES WHICH ACTUALLY CONTAIN THE PHRASE, AND COULD THUS RELATE TO WHAT IS APPROPRIATE OR INAPPROPRIATE IN CONNECTION WITH PRAYING FOR POWER. IF IT IS CONSIDERED OFF TOPIC, THAT IS FINE; I WILL THEM SIMPLY REPRODUCE THIS LIST SO WE CAN MEDIATE ON THEM.

    Ge 32:28* And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. (NOTE THE HOSEA TEXT BELOW AS WELL; HERE JACOB WAS PRAYING AND HE HAD POWER IN SOME SORT, ALTHOUGH THAT DOESN’T MEAN IT IS WHAT HYLES SAID.)
    2Sa 22:33* God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.
    2Ch 14:11* And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.
    2Ch 20:6* And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?
    2Ch 25:8* But if thou wilt go, do it, be strong for the battle: God shall make thee fall before the enemy: for God hath power to help, and to cast down.
    Ezr 8:22* For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.
    Job 36:22* Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him?
    Ps 49:15* But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.
    Ps 62:11* God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.
    Ps 66:3* Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.
    Ps 68:35* O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.
    Ps 71:18* Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.
    Ps 150:1* Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
    Ec 5:19* Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.
    Ec 6:2* A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease.
    Jer 32:17* Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
    Eze 17:9* Say thou, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Shall it prosper? shall he not pull up the roots thereof, and cut off the fruit thereof, that it wither? it shall wither in all the leaves of her spring, even without great power or many people to pluck it up by the roots thereof.
    Eze 30:6* Thus saith the LORD; They also that uphold Egypt shall fall; and the pride of her power shall come down: from the tower of Syene shall they fall in it by the sword, saith the Lord GOD.
    Da 2:37* Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
    Ho 12:3* He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:
    Hab 1:11* Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god.
    Mt 9:8* But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.
    Mt 22:29* Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
    Mr 9:1* And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.
    Mr 12:24* And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?
    Lu 1:35* And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
    Lu 9:43* And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples,
    Lu 22:69* Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.
    Joh 1:12* But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
    Ac 5:4* Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
    Ac 8:10* To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
    Ac 10:38* How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
    Ac 26:18* To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
    Ro 1:4* And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
    Ro 1:16* For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
    Ro 9:22* What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
    Ro 13:1* Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
    Ro 13:2* Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
    Ro 15:13* Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (HERE IT WOULD SEEM APPROPRIATE TO ASK FOR THE POWER FROM THE HOLY GHOST TO FILL US WITH ALL JOY AND PEACE IN BELIEVING, SO THAT WE MAY ABOUND IN HOPE).
    Ro 15:19* Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
    1Co 1:18* For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
    1Co 1:24* But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
    1Co 2:5* That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
    1Co 4:20* For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
    1Co 6:14* And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.
    1Co 15:24* Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
    2Co 4:7* But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
    2Co 6:7* By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
    2Co 13:4* For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.
    Eph 3:7* Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
    2Th 1:11* Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: HERE WE HAVE ANOTHER CONNECTION BETWEEN PRAYER, GOD, AND POWER, WHICH MIGHT BE WORTH COMMENTING ON. (YOU HAVE PREACHED THROUGH 2 THESSALONIANS; I HAVEN’T.)
    2Ti 1:7* For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
    2Ti 1:8* Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
    1Pe 1:5* Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
    Jude 25* To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
    Re 7:12* Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
    Re 11:17* Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
    Re 12:10* And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
    Re 15:8* And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.
    Re 16:9* And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.
    Re 19:1* And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:
    Re 20:6* Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

  21. May 11, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Thomas,

    We’re on the same page. Again, I think what got us going a different direction was in the comment section, not in my post. I was dealing with one particular problem that could be called “second blessing theology.” I believe we need strength, but the strength is within us. We need to appropriate it by faith. Prayer is a part of the appropriation. I see this, for instance, in Philippians 4, when Paul says that the peace that we need, and thus the lack of anxiety, comes in part because of prayer and supplication.

    The increase of power comes from the source that is already within us, so that we are not praying for more power to “come down.” I am going to say more about this in my next post.

    We’re not differing on this. I think my qualitative point did not apply to everything I’m saying, just to the strong faith, weak faith point. You didn’t really comment on that. You also didn’t comment on the “like precious faith” from 2 Peter, which I thought would be appropriate for you to differentiate yourself from something that I knew you didn’t believe—second blessing theology. And when it comes to quantitative, I was visualizing us not having all of it, and therefore we needed to pray it down to get—that’s what I heard you saying. When you quoted Ryle, I knew that you weren’t.

    I might comment again on some of the detail, but I also may not because I don’t need to. I agree with you.

  22. May 12, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Kent:

    If you agree with Thomas and he agrees with Ryle, then you agree with me, and I agree with you. Agreed? I don’t agree with myself, until I make my final decision a couple of times. So this is pretty good. 😉

    Seriously, I get your point. If Christ is in us, and He is almighty, you can’t get any more powerful than that. This must be true for peace, joy, grace, etc. So, prayer is useful for the appropriation of the resources we have in Him. How exactly that works, we won’t know until maybe heaven. However, we do know that much of it is connected to knowledge of God and His Word. His Word is powerful. He framed the worlds with it. So the knowledge actually puts in place or connects his resources to our being for our use. Prayer must help the process in two ways; prayer is meditation that unlocks the knowledge for us as we consciously come to understand principles, but also invokes the raw power of God to make changes in our lives. Are you saying that you only believe the former is true? Or do you believe prayer is also a “direct-line” to change in our lives in a way that is stricly supernatural and unintelligible, but real (i.e. God acting in us without our understanding)?

  23. May 12, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    So we’re agreeing to agree. I don’t mind it getting a little touch and go sometimes, Don. Even blood vessels appearing in your neck. I think it is both of your descriptions. We pray to God and He works through the Spirit Who is in us. Besides that, I liked the way you put everything else.

  24. reglerjoe
    May 13, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Thanks for this, Kent. For many years I begged and begged for power. Hyles prayed for power hundreds of times a day, so I did. Hyles recommended all preachers pray for at least 1 hour a week for nothing but God’s power (preferably after the midnight hour – an allusion to a parable), so I did. I never saw the results I thought I would. That was really discouraging. i was afraid to tell God that i was willing to pay the price (like Hyles did) because i didn’t want to lose a loved one (like Hyles did). I almost felt like God wouldn’t give me power unless I “let” him take a family member.

    I came to the conclusion that either God didn’t want to give me this power because something was wrong with me, or this “prayer for power” thing was bunk. Thanks partly to you, I have been set free from this very discouraging, unbiblical doctrine.

    Perhaps the worst thing about pray-for-powerism (new ism!) is that it creates a results-based caste system amongst pastors. The pastors who run less than 100 are in the lowest caste. Those between 100 and 300 in another, and so on. if you happen to have the biggest Sunday School in the world, well, then you have really arrived.

    Pastors of small churches are subtly ridiculed in the Hyles circles (something vociferously denied): “Their churches would be bigger if they just got the power. They don’t get the power cause the won’t pay the price. they won’t pay the price because they’re selfish and lazy.” You won’t hear that verbatim, but if you distill enough of their conference sermons down, the message is loud and clear.

    Thanks again, Kent.

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