Just lately I was reading Dr. Yonggi Cho’s book – “The Fourth Dimension – Part II”. In His Chapter, “The Holy Spirit and You”, Cho describes some lessons God taught him in prayer. Cho is the pastor of possibly the largest church in the world, in Seoul Korea. This does not mean his theology on prayer is to be unquestioningly accepted, but it does suggest that the man has learned something from God on how to get practical results and specifically “answers to prayer”. If Cho’s teaching is in line with the Scripture, and it seems to me that it is, then we ought to humble enough to learn from a man of God who has done such exploits in the name of Jesus. It is good, if possible, for us to gain UNDERSTANDING of how God generally makes things work. We should seek the knowledge of God and His ways. I think Cho has something of value to teach. I am putting the essential ideas in my own words, and expanding on them somewhat. So without further apology, I will outline what I can see in his teaching here – principles I believe will serve us well in so far as they are really pointing us to dependence on God through the Holy Spirit
1. God the Holy Spirit dwells in us, and should be our Senior Partner in Life and Ministry. The Holy Spirit is the administrator of God’s love and grace, and is in fact quite capable of speaking to people to effect a release of material resources to us also. As the Senior Partner in our lives, he brings the spiritual and material resources to the table. Our job, as Junior Partner, is to faithfully execute the instructions given by the God through the Holy Spirit, who is our Senior Partner. If this is the case, our success in Life and Ministry depends very much on the degree to which we truly do hear and obey the Holy Spirit. This is confirmed by Scripture which teaches us not to boast in our wisdom, strength or money, but in our personal knowledge of God (See Jeremiah 9:23). Clearly what God is after is someone who will hear and obey Him – and this should come about because we respond in love to God’s love for us.
2. We must trust God that He will give us a clear picture of exactly what He is wanting to do through us, in us and for us. This knowledge should come to us from God Himself by the Holy Spirit. The goals we have in Life and Ministry should be given by God. We should trust that God will give us the desires of our hearts. We can have desires for things we can use in God’s work or even just for our physical needs. But when we ask God for things, we must be SPECIFIC. We should have a clear image in our mind of exactly what we are asking God for. God also is capable of giving us good stuff. Cho specifically believed God for an American bicycle, even though they were hard to get at the time. He wanted one because he knew they were of better quality. He did in fact receive an American bicycle. By making His request SPECIFIC, he later knew it was God who answered him. I have seen this principle work for a friend in Romania who believed God for a truck. He actually had to be specific about what colour the truck was. I saw that truck after he received it and actually slept in it once. It was white, just the colour he prayed for.
3. Once we have a specific, clear cut picture and description of what we are asking for, we should meditate on this picture. We can hold this image up before our mind for however long it takes to really establish it strongly in our mind and imagination. Cho refers to this as “incubating” the thing asked for. Cho teaches that the Spirit of God also will brood over this thing we are imagining in our mind, to bring it to pass. A certain period of time needs to be put into this process of incubation. It seems we can’t just jump immediately to the confessing stage that we have received the answer.
Cho says that we should visualise the end result of our goal. Just as the hen dreams the chick out of the egg, so we should clearly see the end result of our goal, in our vision and dream.
Its true that God uses word pictures to encourage faith in His promises. He did this for Abraham, telling him to look up at the stars in the sky and realise that “so would his descendents be”. When he tells us in Isaiah 48 that if we obey him our spiritual descendents will be as the sand of the seashore, God is clearly encouraging the use of a mental picture to help us grasp what he wants us to believe for. When the Scripture tells us the Lord is a shield, a rock or a fortress, we should understand that these are word pictures, not literal descriptions of who the Lord is. Through these word pictures God communicates with us important things He wants us to know.
Some people have a stronger capacity than others for seeing mental pictures. I myself am not super strong in this area, but still I’ve seen evidence that God does work through even the weak pictures I can hold before my mind’s eye. I believe its a faculty of the soul that can be developed. Different people are wired differently. But it must be that we all have internal representations of what a thing looks like, even if we cannot call these to mind at will. If it were not so, then how could our brains recognise it when we see a certain thing? If we have no internal representation of what a “car” is, for example, how would we know if we are seeing one? Its well known that some people think more in terms of words and sounds, while others more in terms of touch. But to some extent, we can all have a mental picture of what it is that we are believing for. If its not through a clear picture, we could at least ask, “What would it FEEL like if the thing we desire came to pass?”.
The essential point is that we must meditate on what we are believing for. We need to engage our minds and imaginations as fully as possible in this process. The Holy Spirit seems to use this, and cutting out this step would seem in many cases to also cut out the prayer answers.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, according to Hebrews 11:1. If we don’t know what we are specifically hoping for, how can we have faith for it? Faith is not just a vague notion – it relates to specific assurances about specific things.
4. Once we have the clear cut picture strongly in our imagination, we should pray fervently with this in mind until we have “the assurance”. This is the certain inward knowing that true faith has. Its not based on sensory evidence, but evidence from within us given in fact by the Holy Spirit. Receiving this assurance and the accompanying peace could happen very quickly or it could take months. But we must be honest about when we truly have it. And before boldly confessing that we have what we prayed for, we need to have this assurance which comes from praying the specific thing through. Again, it must be very clear to us, and very deep in us, what we are asking God for. We should describe it to ourselves in as many ways as possible for as long as it takes to really have it in our spirits.
5. After the period of “incubation” and “receiving the assurance” we can and should confess with our mouths that we have the thing we have been believing and hoping for. At this point we can “call those things which be not as though they were” just as God does (see Romans 4:17). The things may not be physically manifest yet, but we are now certain that they will appear. We therefore confidently think, act and speak as if God had granted them already – even though we cannot see it yet with our natural eye. We can, however, see it with the eyes of our heart – that is what all the incubating and meditation was about! Clearly there is a co-operation between the spirit of man and the Spirit of God here.
Speaking out the desired change in circumstances is very important in the teaching of Jesus. He says to us:
“For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say to this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith”. (Mark 11:23)
In order that our HEARTS be ready for this kind of operation, having no doubt, we must meditate deeply on what we desire and we believe God also desires. This is where visualization and Christian meditation in all its forms becomes so important.
After speaking out boldly, we can thank God for the answers. We can continue to grow strong in faith by continually thanking God, and giving glory to God for the solution, not considering the natural circumstances. We can do this until God Himself manifests the answer, with a peace and confidence given by God, our spiritual enemies having been defeated through persevering, faithful, fervent prayer and the declaration of the Word of God.
For another teaching on prayer, click HERE.