Summary: "Wrong doing" (sin) can block our prayers... but so can "wrong thinking". What kinds of attitudes could undermine our prayer time and create "bad reception" between us and God?
OPEN: Charlie Brown. Lucy. Schroeder. Snoopy.
Where do we know those characters from?
(The cartoon series: Peanuts)
And who was the artist who created “Peanuts”?
Charles Shultz was something of a theologian. He tried to communicate his view of God through his cartoons. And he gained much of his inspiration from those around him… especially his family.
One day, his younger daughter Jill explained to him her theory of how prayer worked:
“If you fold your hands upside down, you get the opposite of what you pray for.”
APPLY: Children often pick up their theology about God from us.
It’s only natural that this little girl would think that there was a formula behind how prayer worked, because there are people who think that there is a formula for powerful prayer that has to do with:
How they speak (mostly “Thees” and “Thous” in KJV language)
How they hold their hands
Or how they stand
ILLUS: How many of you have cell phones?
I’ve had mine now for about 3 years and I have found it very useful. But every once in a while I find it’s difficult to get good reception. I’ll find that I need to move to another part of a building, or turn my head just so in order to avoid breaking up and loosing a connection.
When Larry (one of my friends in our quartet) calls me from Grissom Air force base, he’ll often encounter bad reception and have to move just a little to clear up our connection. When that happens I tell him that what he ought to do is stand on one foot while tipping his head to the side and flapping his free arm wildly to one side. (acted it out)
I tell him it works for me!
Throughout the Bible we’re told of different way that people “held” themselves while praying.
· Some kneeled
· Some lifted their hands in praise
· Some sat with their heads between their knees
· And some lay prostrate on the ground.
And I’ve tried most of those of those positions in prayer and they do help. I found that helped me focus more on what I was wanting to pray.
But – does how I STAND and how I SAY my prayer have an impact on whether God hears me or not?
The past three weeks, we’ve been dealing with prayer.
The first week we dealt with Outgoing calls – how to pray TO God.
The 2nd week we talked about Incoming calls – how to rec’ answers FROM God.
And last week we discussed “The Dead Zone” - the negative effect sin can have on our prayers. We discovered that sin (doing wrong) can cause God not to hear our prayers.
This week, we’re going to talk about another reason our prayers may not be heard.
Unlike last weeks sermon that dwelt on wrong doing, this week we’re focusing on wrong thinking.
In fact, when it comes to whether or not God will hear me when I pray:
“How I position my body is far less important than how I position my mind”
Wrong thinking can “interfere” with my prayers.
It create “bad reception” between me and God.
What kind of wrong thinking could hurt us like that?
The 1st kind of wrong thinking is this:
Not being earnest in our prayers.
Many people pray almost lackadaisically.
It’s not that they don’t understand the power of prayer
It’s just that they just don’t approach with much intensity.
ILLUS: Charles Spurgeon once said,
"Prayer pulls the rope down below and the great bell rings above in the ears of God.
Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly;
others give only an occasional jerk at the rope.
But he who communicates with heaven is the man who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously with all his might."
ILLUS: Larry Davies once asked one of his classes:
"Does God answer prayers?"
A lot of enthusiastic voices spoke up:
"Of course.” “Yes.” “Always,".
Then Davies asked:
"Then, why don’t we pray more frequently?"
There was a long uncomfortable silence for the next few moments. Finally, the excuses began pouring out:
"I’m too busy."
"God’s too busy to listen to me."
"I don’t know what to say."
"I’m not worthy."
"I don’t know how."
(Heartlight Magazine - online)
These were folks that believed in prayer – but who didn’t want to spend the effort to use it
Now, by contrast, in Psalm 28 David prayed:
“To you I call, O LORD my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.” Ps 28: 1
David was praying as one who understood what is at stake.