Summary: This sermon is going to focus on the benefits of prayer and the fact that God is willing and able to help us navigate life far better than we can!
Being Called into His Presence
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
If you got invited to meet and have exclusive access for a day to an influential evangelist like Rick Warren, James Dobson, Franklin Graham, Bill Hybels, J. D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer or J.I. Packer; would you accept the invite? Since it would be an honor to “pick” the brains of the some of the most influential Christian leaders of our time, we would likely say “YES” with great joy in our hearts! And yet when God, who is infinitely more powerful, influential, knowledgeable, holy, and wiser than all of humanity combined; we rarely spend any time talking to Him. He who is indivisibly present always, knows your heart and future far better than you do, is always willing to not only give advice but also the power to accomplish His will! And yet if we are honest with ourselves we often see prayer as either an annoying interruption to our busy lives, the means to manipulate God into giving us our “wants” or the means to bail us out of the depths of despair! This sermon is going to focus on the benefits of prayer and the fact that God is willing and able to help us navigate life far better than we can!
Benefits of Prayer
While listing all the benefits of prayer goes beyond the scope of this sermon, I would like to mention a just few of them starting with the most important benefit: a closer walk with God! Since prayer flies in the face of the self-reliant, independent attitude of today’s lukewarm Christians by challenging the thought that each person is the master of their own destiny; prayer has become alien and misunderstood by many. Prayer is not the vehicle in which one gets to treat God like a “genie” in the bottle, rub and get everything one desires. Nor is prayer to be done to merely “check off” an item on your spiritual to do list! Prayer is the central avenue in which God chooses to transform and deepen our relationship with Him! Prayer is to be a time in which “substantial soul-searching conversations” happen that not only helps one identify and confess the planks in one’s own eye (Matthew 7:5) but also a time of having God renew one’s mind (Romans 12:1-2) by His love, power and word! It is through prayer that the anxieties of this world are drowned in the peace of God that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7)!
While the central focus of prayer is to deepen one’s relationship with God, the by-product of prayer is experiencing the power of God. In response to having seen and heard the cries (prayers) of His people (Exodus 3:7), God demonstrated His power over their slave master, Pharaoh, by performing the Ten Plagues of Egypt. After Hezekiah prayed for deliverance from the Assyrian army that vastly outnumbered them, God demonstrated His power by sending an angel of the Lord to put to death 185,000 Assyrian warriors (2 Kings 19:14-35)! When faced with a hostile king and 450 prophets of Baal, Elijah prayed, and God demonstrated His power by burning up the wood, stones, soil and water of his sacrifice (1 Kings 18:38). While facing execution the next day at the hands of King Herod, people prayed for Peter, and God demonstrated His power by sending an angel to free him from Herod’s heavily fortified prison without anyone noticing (Acts 12:1-18). And even though Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days, after Jesus prayed to God the Father Lazarus came back to life (John 11:38-44)!
For the most part however, God does not answer prayers that are not given! Those who receive healing of physical and psychological problems, the removal of marital obstructions, the meeting of financial needs, the wisdom, courage and ability to persevere through the most difficult of life circumstances; are for the most part the ones who pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Matthew 7:7). For example, when the Amalekites threatened to wipe out Israel through war, Moses got on the top of a hill overlooking the battlefield and whenever his hands were raised in prayer the Israelites started to win the war but as soon as his hands fell the Amalekites started to win (Exodus 17:8-15). In contrast, God rarely demonstrates His power through “pocket stuffers” who refuse to pray because they feel they are in control. Such people tend to go through life “feeling overwhelmed, overrun, beaten down and pushed around” by life circumstances that happen beyond their control. God chooses to demonstrate His power through people like Moses because they see God as the source of life and are willing to give Him the glory for the great things He has done (Matthew 5:16)!
God is Willing