Summary: The cause and effect of fervent prayer.
Let’s start this morning by looking at Prayer in America. I pulled these statistics from the Barna Research Group.
4 out of 5 Americans believe that "prayer can change what happens in a person’s life." (1994)
9 ot of 10 adults agree "there is a god who watches over you and answers your prayers." (1991)
The average prayer lasts under five minutes (1993)
1 out of 5 adults have a time of extended prayer with members of their household during the course of a typical week.
Our background passage today will be 2 Chronicles 7:14
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)
Let’s first talk about the issue of "If My people..." We need to determine who are God’s people. The first qualification is those people who are called by God.
Now this is wha the Lord says. He created you, people of Jacob; He formed you, people of Israel. He says, "Don’t be afraid, because I have saved you. I have called you by name, and you are mine..."
Isaiah 43:1 (NCV)
God’s people are those made righteous by faith. Those who have not experienced justification in Jesus Christ have not been made righteous.
But we know that God accepts only those who have faith in Jesus Christ. No one can please God by simply obeying the Law. So we put our faith in Christ Jesus, and God accepted us because of our faith.
Galatians 2:16 (CEV)
The next part of this verse talks about those who are "Called by My name..." As children of the Father we have been given the family name. We are adopted sons and daughters. Jesus paid the price of admission into the family.
For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we will share his treasures - for everything God gives to his Son, Christ, is ours, too. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
Romans 8:16-17 (NLT)
Not all people are part of the family.
Think how much the Father loves us. He loves us so much that he lets us be called his children, as we truly are. But since the people of this world did not know who Christ is, they don’t know who we are.
1 John 3:1 (CEV)
The first thing that God asks of "His people" is that they humbles themselves. Throughout scripture we see that God rescues the humble.
You rescue those who are humble, but your eyes are on the proud to humiliate them.
2 Samuel 22:28 (NLT)
Not only does God rescue the humble, but he also directs their paths.
He leads the humble in what is right, teaching them his way.
Psalm 25:9 (NLT)
God responds to humility.
The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help live in joy.
Psalm 69:32 (NLT)
By humbling ourselves we recognize our need for God. We put our relationship to God in proper perspective.
I have made everything; that’s how it all came to be. I, the Lord, have spoken. The people I treasure most are the humble - they depend only on me and tremble when I speak.
Isaiah 66:2 (CEV)
With a humble spirit we are asked to pray and seek. Prayer is our communication link with God.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Philippians 4:6 (NLT)
Prayer is meant to be continual. Too many people pray far too little. Admittedly many people give no thought to prayer beyond their weekly attendance at church.
Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people.
Ephesians 6:18 (CEV)
Think about the idea of seeking. I think about dropping a contact lens. You get down on your hands and knees searching and groping. To me this is how we should be searching God’s will for our lives.
His purpose in all of this was that the nations should seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him - though he is not far from any one of us.
Acts 17:27 (NLT)
In addition to praying and seeking we need to have a pure heart. Turning from your wicked ways means more than just saying "I’m sorry!" True repentance is a change of heart that brings about a change of action.
For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow. But sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death.