By Dr. Harold Sala

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24

Shortly after Dallas Seminary was founded in 1924, the world began slipping into a financial crisis which became known as The Great Depression.  Money was scarce, and it became evident that if God didn’t do something big, and soon, the creditors of the fledgling school were going to foreclose and take the property. And what do you do when there is a financial need?  Some would write letters of financial appeal.  Some would call their donors and hit the panic button. But not the leadership of this school, which placed a strong emphasis on the authority of the Word. They prayed. Nothing more?  No, but they didn’t just pray. They really prayed.

Gathering in the office of the president, Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, they asked God to undertake.  Present in that prayer meeting was a man who had memorized most of the New Testament while he was still a teenager, Harry Ironside, a kind of no-nonsense, get-straight-to-the-point sort of person. His prayers were no different.  “Lord,” he began, pausing somewhat like a locomotive when it emits the first great whoosh of steam, ready to start moving in great momentum. Continuing he said, “we know that the cattle on a thousand hills are Thine. Please sell some of them and send the money.”

They were still praying when a lanky cowboy, weathered from the outdoors, with callused hands, and wearing cowboy boots, walked into the business office of the school and announced, “I just sold two carloads of cattle….  I’ve been trying to make a business deal but it fell through, and I feel compelled to give the money to the seminary.  I don’t know if you need it or not, but here is the check!”

The young woman, knowing that a prayer meeting was going on at that very moment in the office of the president, took the check and gently knocked on the door where the group prayed.  Dr. Chafer took the check and immediately noticed that the amount of the check was exactly the amount which they needed—neither more nor less.  “Harry,” he said, “God sold the cattle!”

Long ago, the Psalmist recorded the words of the Creator, who said, “For all the animals of field and forest are mine! The cattle on a thousand hills! And all the birds upon the mountains!” (Psalm 50:10, Living Bible).  Question:  If God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, how do we, like the men who prayed in the office of Dr. Chafer, get God to send a few our way?

Five guidelines—all from Scripture—answer that question:

Guideline #1:  Pray specifically.

Take time to go back to Matthew 6 and study the passage we call “The Lord’s Prayer.”  Then study the prayers of Jesus and what He asked for.  He prayed for specifics.  If you need the hindquarter of beef, then ask the Lord specifically for that.  If you need $50,000, ask God for a specific amount.

Guideline #2:  Pray persistently.

Even Jesus in Gethsemane prayed the same thing three times.  Then, when the Spirit of God witnesses with your heart that God has heard you, thank Him in advance for your answer.

Guideline #3:  Pray biblically.

Knowing that God has given you many promises in His Word, and gently reminding Him of what He has promised, brings a connection between you and God’s goodness.

Guideline #4:  Pray in faith.

James says anyone who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person gets nothing from the Father.  (See James 1:6).

Guideline #5:  Pray earnestly.

James says, “The down-to-business prayer of a man who has been justified brings great gain” (James 5:16, personal translation).

A closing thought: When you ask God for one of the cattle on the hills, better fire up the barbecue or start looking for a buyer.

Resource reading: James 5.

Speaker, author and Bible teacher, Dr. Harold Sala founded Guidelines in 1963. Pioneering the five-minute commentary in Christian radio, Dr. Sala’s daily “Guidelines-A Five Minute Commentary on Living” is broadcast in 49 of the 50 states and is heard the world over in a variety of languages.

Sala, who holds a Ph.D. in biblical text, has authored over 60 books published in19 languages. He speaks and teaches frequently at conferences, seminars, and churches worldwide. Residing in Mission Viejo, California, Harold and his wife, Darlene, have three adult children and eight well-loved grandchildren.

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