Summary: The Bible teaches that prayer affects God & that prayer can affect circumstances.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
A. I want to read a passage of scripture that you have probably heard many times, but I’m afraid we have generally failed to focus on what it is saying.
Listen as I read Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart & lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, & He will make your paths straight."
That’s a great passage. But I have a question for you. Is it possible we have become so self-sufficient that we think we don’t need God anymore?
Surely not! But I’m afraid that when things are going well, we act as if we don’t need God.
You see, if we get sick, we can call the doctor or go to the emergency room. If a natural calamity destroys our property, we can fill out an insurance claim. If company comes unexpectedly & we’re short on food, we can go to the supermarket. If our clothes wear out, we can go to a clothing store.
If we run out of money, we can use plastic. If we don’t have enough to make ends meet, we can get food stamps or a loan. If we’re having relational difficulties, we can go to a counselor. So with all of this, who needs God?
B. Now most of us here obviously don’t think that way. I mean, we know that we need Him! Each week we gather in His name. We sing songs of praise, & worship Him. We join together in study of His Word. And we pray, believing in the power & importance of prayer.
Or do we pray? When we’re asked during the worship service or in our Bible classes to pray for people on the Prayer List, are we really interested & involved enough to pray for them during the week? Or do we believe that everyone else is going to be praying, so God doesn’t need our prayers?
Do we really believe that God is a prayer-hearing & a prayer-answering God? Or have we become Christian humanists who believe that we humans can do anything if we take the time to plan carefully & implement the plan - & that God no longer has the power He had in Bible times?
ILL. In Woody Allen’s Love and Death, Napoleon walked by his lady’s room & heard voices. "I was praying," the lady explained. "But I heard two voices," Napoleon said. "I do both parts," she replied.
Is that what we do - both parts? We talk to God & then tell Him what His answer should be? Then, if He doesn’t do what we ask, we just don’t pray?
C. But wait a minute! We don’t pray because we believe in prayer. We pray because we believe in God. If we do believe that He is the all-powerful God of the Bible, who has not put His power on hold - then we will pray.
You see, the power of prayer is the power of God. Psalm 115:3 declares, "Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him." God does whatever He pleases, & He doesn’t need our vote - nor does He wait for our veto.
ILL. Even King Nebuchadnezzar knew that the God of Israel had that kind of power, for he declared, "He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven & the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: `What have you done?’" [Daniel 4:35]
PROP. So if we’re going to talk about prayer, the first thing we need is to realize the awesomeness of God. Some have been taught that the only reason we pray is to change ourselves. But the Bible does not teach that as a reason to pray. Instead, the Bible teaches that prayer affects God & that prayer can affect circumstances.
I. PRAYER AFFECTS GOD
A. Aren’t you affected when your kids talk with you? Of course you are. So is God. He is the perfect parent as well as the powerful creator. And the Bible teaches that God is affected when His people pray.
ILL. For instance, remember when God brought His people out of Egypt through those great miracles? After coming through the sea, they stopped at Mt. Sinai for a time.
While Moses was having a long talk with God on the mountain, the people got impatient. They took off their jewelry, melted it down, poured the liquid into a mold shaped like a calf - & guess what resulted? A golden calf!
They worshiped that calf, sang hymns to that calf, brought offerings, & declared that the calf was the god who had brought them out of Egypt.
God was not pleased! He said to Moses, "I have seen these people...& they are a stiff-necked people." Then God gave Moses a command: "Now leave me alone..." (Have you ever said anything like that to your kids?) God continued, "...so that my anger may burn against them & that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation" [Exodus 32:9,10].