Introduction: Dr. Wilbur Chapman often told of his experience when, as a young man, he went to become pastor of a church in Philadelphia. After his first sermon, an old gentleman said to him, "You're pretty young to be pastor of this church. But you preach the Gospel, and I'm going to help you all I can." Dr. Chapman thought, "Here's a crank." But the man continued: "I'm going to pray for you that you may have the Holy Spirit's power upon you. Two others have covenanted to join with me in prayer for you."
Dr. Chapman said, "I didn't feel so bad when I learned he was going to pray for me. The 3 became 10, the 10 became 20, and 20 became 50, the 50 became 200 who met before every service to pray that the Holy Spirit might come upon me. I always went into my pulpit feeling that I would have the anointing in answer to the prayers of those who had faithfully prayed for me. It was a joy to preach! The result was that we received 1,100 into our church by conversion in three years, 600 of whom were men. It was the fruit of the Holy spirit in answer to prayer!"
As we continue our series on I Am A Church Member, I want to encourage you today to make one of the most important commitments that you will ever make as a church member. I want you, from this day forward, to commit to praying for your church leadership team - myself included. I hope I don't come across as selfish when I ask you to make this commitment. I want you to understand that I ask for this commitment not out of selfishness, but out of need. I confess to you today that there are many times when I feel so inadequate for this position that God has called me to fulfill as your pastor. That is why praying for me and the rest of the leadership team here at BBC is so important. We need your prayers.
I. A POSITION OF GRAVE RESPONSIBILITY (v. 9)
a. You might think it a bit odd the instructions that Moses gave Joshua - "Choose for us men , and go out and fight with Amalek." and "I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand." (Give background on Amalek)
b. Before we start to think that this was like the generals sending out the privates to do battle, we need to understand how strategic and important Moses' role was. Moses took the role that God appointed for Him.
i. His position was one of intercession (Scholars, commentators all agree - Moses was praying)
ii. His position was inspirational (on the hill for all to see)
iii. His position was instrumental to their success
c. The primary roles of church leaders goes beyond the obvious
i. Intercession is the work of the ministry (Illus. Oswald Chambers Quote)
ii. Church leaders must inspire with their example as well as their words
1. "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness." James 3:1
2. Illus. "That was the sermon."
iii. Good leadership is instrumental in the success of the gospel
1. Good leaders know how to delegate and recruit other leaders
2. Good leaders know how to work within their boundaries
3. Good leaders see the bigger picture
d. As a pastor, I just want to take a moment and thank each and every one of you who have taken a leadership role at this church. You bear great responsibility to God and to your fellow church members and you have my prayers and gratitude!
II. A PRAYER THAT BROUGHT GOD-SIZED RESULTS (vv. 10-11)
a. There is a very simple, yet profound, lesson to be learned here in v. 11 - Prayer is crucial to victory. When Moses lifted his hands in intercession, the Israelites prevailed but when he grew weary and dropped his hands in prayer, they began to lose.
b. Illus. Leonard Ravenhill - “If weak in prayer, we are weak everywhere.”
c. We must understand how crucial the ministry of prayer is to the work of the church. When we lift our hands up we will see victory and when we let them drop, we will face the agony of defeat.
i. Illus. Great men of God learned that prayer was the key to opening the door of victory.
ii. "Satan laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray"
iii. "Let the fires go out in the boiler room of the church and the place will still look smart and clean, but it will be cold. The Prayer Room is the boiler room for its spiritual life." - Ravenhill
iv. To quote an evangelist that you and I have come to know and love, "The secret is the secret place."
d. We often convince ourselves that we only need to spend just a few minutes in prayer because we have hours of work to do but we have it all backwards. We ought to spend hours in prayer and minutes in the work. (Illus. D.L. Moody Quote)
III. A PEOPLE WHO FULFILLED A GREATER ROLE (v. 12)
a. As the battle raged on, Moses grew tired and his hands began to drop and his prayers began to falter. That is when Aaron and Hur came along side Moses to help.
b. This is a powerful picture of what it is like for believers to come along side of their leaders and bolster their prayer efforts with their own prayers. I would dare say that one of the greatest needs in church today is for people to pray for their church leadership.
i. If I had to ask what you thought was the most important role in our church, what would you say? I would say that those serve as prayer warriors and fulfilling the most important role.
ii. I am so very grateful for those of you that pray for me - for those that I know about and those that I do not know about. I need your prayers daily. (Sunday prayer at the altar)
iii. I want to encourage you though - every church leader needs prayer, not just me.
c. Other pastors need your prayers too. Listen to the startling statistics by the Schaeffer Institute:
i. 50% of the ministers starting out in ministry will not last 5 years.
ii. 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
iii. 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
iv. Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
v. Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause.
d. How can you better pray for me?
i. Pray for my family (1 Tim. 3:5) (80% of Pastors surveyed said they thought that ministry had affected their families negatively.)
ii. Pray for my physical and mental health (70% of pastors surveyed constantly fight depression)
iii. Pray for my spiritual protection and walk with God (illus. Put target around your neck)(1 Tim. 3:7)
Illus. “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” Oswald Chambers
Illus. As our pastor's sermon stretched on, my daughter grew impatient and started to talk. "Shhh," I whispered. "I want to hear the sermon." Later that week, we saw our pastor while shopping. We exchanged greetings, and as we walked away, I asked my daughter, "Do you know who that was?""Sure," she replied. "That was the Sermon." Helen Siml, Wheaton, IL. "Heart to Heart," Today's Christian Woman. Pastors and ministry leaders ought to all be recognized as walking sermons - not only preaching their messages but also practicing their messages.
Illus. James Duncan, preaching with great unction and power, was asked what was the secret of such powerful preaching. "The secret," he said, was "thirteen hours of consecutive prayer." When asked the secret of his spiritual power, Charles Spurgeon said: "Knee work! Knee work!" Livingston of Shotts, on two different occasions, preached with such power that in each service 500 were converted. Both sermons were preceded by a night of prayer. Charles Finney, after spending a day in the woods in prayer and fasting, preached that night in a phenomenally irreligious congregation. The sermon was accompanied by such divine power that the whole congregation, except one man, fell prostrate upon the floor, and voiced their agony under conviction of sin, in such loud outcries that the preacher was forced to stop.
Illus. “If you have so much business to attend to that you have no time to pray, depend upon it that you have more business on hand than God ever intended you should have.” - Dwight L. Moody