Summary: Understanding prayer as a dialogue rather than a monologue.
17, March 2002
Dakota Community Church
II. Statistics on Prayer
According to a poll on prayer for Newsweek (3/31/97), the following percentage said:
They ask for health or success for a child or family member when they pray -- 82
They ask for strength to overcome a personal weakness -- 75
They never ask for financial or career success -- 36
God answers prayers -- 87
God doesn’t answer prayers -- 51
They believe God does not play favorites in answering prayers -- 82
God answers prayers for healing someone with an incurable disease -- 79
Prayers for help in finding a job are answered -- 73
They believe that when God doesn’t answer their prayers, it means it wasn’t God’s will to answer -- 54
They don’t turn away from God when prayers go unanswered – 82
When you pray do you expect God to speak?
If prayer is boring maybe it’s because you are having one-way conversations.
How often do you listen for His voice?
Hourly? Daily? In crisis times? For difficult situations?
Does God speak to all believers or only a chosen few?
14"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-- 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father--and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
15He who has ears, let him hear.
- If the capacity is there the ability must be developed.
4Jesus answered, "It is written: ’Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Have you heard the Story of the Doctor who comes to a split in the road on a Vermont back country lane? The road sign at the fork points both directions for the same town. Seeing a farmer beside the road he asked him, “does it matter which road I take to get to town?” The Farmer replies, “Not to me it don’t.”
It only really matters to you!
THREE IMPORTANT TRUTHES ABOUT HEARING GOD
1. Hearing God is your responsibility.
But now, why should we die? This great fire will consume us, and we will die if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer. 26 For what mortal man has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? 27 Go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord our God tells you. We will listen and obey."
- Don’t fall into paralysis of analysis. Pick out your own pants.
- Don’t settle for substitutes like books tapes etc.
- We learn what matters to us.
- You don’t need to pray about clear Word issues. (Let this cup pass.) (I feel I should get a younger wife.)
Before refrigerators, people used icehouses to preserve their food. Icehouses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door. In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the icehouses, and covered with sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer.
One man lost a valuable watch while working in an icehouse. He searched diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn’t find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile. A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the icehouse during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch.
Amazed, the men asked him how he found it.
"I closed the door," the boy replied, "lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking."
Often the question is not whether God is speaking, but whether we are being still enough, and quiet enough, to hear.
-- Phillip Gunter in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.
20Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
God cannot violate human freedom
He has created a race of persons with freedom to make choices
He did not create fleshly robots
Mechanical beings over which he has complete control.
He created human personalities made in many ways like himself
In His own image
With a spirit akin to His own
Beings with self-consciousness and self-determination
Why doesn’t God just make me good?
But that wouldn’t be goodness. It would be slavery
And God is not interested in slaves, but sons and daughters!