1. Series Review -- Close Encounter of the Holy Kind
a. We have a universal longing for God -- Ecclesiastes 3.11
b. His singular provision is his glory/presence within and among us
c. We have a common access to that glory in and through the church
d. The Epic Failure of Many Churches -- Loss of that Presence
e. The Process to Reclaim the Glory of God
* Unapologetic preaching of God's Word
* The Unashamed Adoration of His Son
* The Unceasing Prayers of His People (1 Thessalonians 5.17)
2. Prayer Illustrations
* When Jim Carrey starred in his movie "Bruce Almighty" the writers of the script gave God a phone number that Carrey could dial to talk with the Almighty. But instead of using the 555 prefix that movie makers and TV shows generally give phone numbers -- they gave God a 776 prefix. People who saw the movie wrote the number down and started dialing it. One lady in St. Petersburg, FL received 20 calls an hour from people who wanted to talk to God.
* In one small church, the minister called the children to come down front every Sunday and then he'd tell them a story. Once he brought a telephone to better illustrate the idea of prayer.
"You talk to people on the telephone and don't see them on the other end of the line, right?" he began. The children nodded yes.
"Well, talking to God is like talking on the telephone. He's on the other end, but you can't see him. He's listening, though."
Just then a little boy piped up and asked, "What's his number?"
3. God's Phone Number: Jeremiah 33.3 (Read verses1-3)
I. God Initially Makes Contact With Us . . .
A. God Often Shows Up in Dire Circumstances
1. Jeremiah in Prison
2. Moses Hiding in the Wilderness
3. Israel in Egyptian Slavery
4. Adam and Eve (as You and I) -- Hiding in Sin
B. God Uses Impeccable Timing -- Galatians 4.4
At the beginning of the twentieth century, women began wearing wristwatches, but not men. World War I changed that, for it's hard to use a pocket watch in a battle zone. Now a hundred years later, our timepieces have become small computers giving us total access to all our electronic needs. Still, for the Christian, our best sense of timing isn't found on our wrists or in our pockets but on our knees.
1. Just when we need an answer, God comes through -- Birth of Isaac in Genesis 18:14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.
2. Jeremiah in prison receives word from God -- just when he needed it.
3. It is not coincidence -- It is for His Glory
II. God Initially Makes Contact with Us So We Will Humbly Contact Him . . . "Call to me."
A. God Invites
* Matthew 11.28-30
* Psalm 34.8a Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
* Jeremiah 33.3
B. God Directs
* Personal importance -- uses his Covenantal Name
* More than a title -- Elohim or Adonai; Titles create barriers --[If you and I were to meet, there are several titles you could attach to me: Preacher; Dr.; Brother; Mr. but if you call me by name we have a different kind of relationship
* Danger of treating God lightly -- apparently he was willing to risk it to be close to us -- Romans 8.15; Galatians 4.6 -- "Abba Father" via HS
C. God Receives
1. Matter of Priority and Order
Tendency to talk to family/friends when faced with issues and then MAYBE God
God first -- his track record on keeping his promises -- Romans 8.28
2. Matter of Passion and Fervency -- "Call" or "Cry out" --
Psalm 57.2 I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
a. Apparently God loves to answer our passionate prayers
b. Maybe lack of passion brings a lack of answer to our prayers
* James 5.16b-18 The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
* Psalm 34.15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.
III. God Initially Makes Contact with Us; So We Will Humbly Contact Him; So That He Can Answer Us
A. Based on Faith
Mark 11.23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
1. Give selves an "out" by "If it is your will. . ."
2. Often we don't believe God will answer us -- Don't go there, he promises answers
B. God's Answers:
1. YES! -- His favorite answer if we are in harmony with him
* Won't he say YES if we ask for Strength; Wisdom; Peace?
* Sometimes delayed because of spiritual conflicts (Daniel 9)
2. NO! Out of Harmony with Him -- James 4.2b-3
You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
* See as God sees; ask as God would have us ask
* It is not about our convenience or ease, but his glory -- James 1.2
3. WAIT or WAIT and SEE
* [10 Year Old Child -- "May I drive?" -- "Yes, but not yet."
* When we ask in faith, believing, it WILL be done
* Sometimes prayers are answered in years, not in seconds.
C. God Answers Now and Later -- Jeremiah 33.1-3; 10-13; Ephesians 3.20-21
1. Captivity of the Nation
2. Return in 70 Years
1. DC Sniper and Prayer
Do you remember the sniper incident that terrorized the Washington area for a while? Before they caught the snipers, they managed to kill 10 people and wounded 3. What you may not know is, prayer played a vital role in bringing that situation to an end. 50 Christian truckers got together to pray that somehow the sniper terrorizing the Washington area would be caught. Ron Lantz was scheduled to retire in a few days and didn't even live in the area, but he felt sure that God would answer their prayers. In fact, he told the others attending the prayer meeting that God was going to use him to catch the sniper.
A few days after they began to pray Ron was listening to the radio as he was driving through the region and he felt compelled to pull off the highway to a rest stop. It was just a couple of miles from where the initial prayer meeting had taken place. As he pulled in, he was shocked to see a car similar to what was being described on the radio. Carefully trying to read the license plate, a chill went up his back as the numbers matched. He quickly called 911 and stayed there for what he said were the longest 15 minutes of his life, until the police arrived. He pulled his truck across the exit, so there would be no escape for these murderers. The rest is history- the snipers were taken into custody without incident and the horrifying ordeal was over. I heard that Ron Nantz was a small group leader in his church. I'm sure most people would look that and say that it was a coincidence... But, I guess I'm not most people...
I believe that God heard the prayer of that group of truckers.... and many others who cried out to God...
I believe that God directed the mind of Ron Nantz...
And, I believe that God will direct us as well...
If we will humble ourselves before God in prayer... and if we will listen to God's voice when He speaks to us... and, if we will obey, and do what God tells us to do.
2. Many Hidden Things Can be Revealed in Prayer
3. How do we learn to pray?
4. If we want to heal our land; families; marriages; church -- cry out, call to God
5. Exodus 3.7 Then the LORD said, "I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey,