Summary: Some people think that the only reason to pray is to cause a change in our own thinking. But the Bible teaches that prayer can make a difference in what God does, and that prayer can also have an effect on our circumstances. (PowerPoint available - #147
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(The PowerPoints used with this message are available at no charge. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #147.)
A. The apostle Paul is praying. He is praying for the Christians in Ephesus, & he is also praying for us, for all those down through the ages who come to know Jesus as Savior & Lord. Listen as I read his prayer, found in Ephesians 3:14-21.
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven & on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
“And I pray that you, being rooted & established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide & long & high & deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church & in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever & ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21)
That’s a beautiful, touching, wonderful prayer! But I have a question for you. Is it possible we have become so self-sufficient that we think we don't really need God anymore?
Surely not! But I'm afraid that when things are going well, we oftentimes act as if we really 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 super-market.
If we run out of cash, we can use plastic. If we're having relational difficulties, we can go to a counselor. So with all 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 to pray for people by name, are we really interested & involved enough to pray for them during the rest of the week? Or do we believe that everyone else is going to be praying for them, so we don’t need to add our prayers, too?
Do we really believe that God is a prayer-hearing & a prayer-answering God? Or do we think that God no longer wants to use His power the way He did back in Bible times? Has He just turned our lives over to us & expects us to do the best we can with what we have – to plan carefully & then to implement our plans?
ILL. In Woody Allen's play, “Love and Death”, Napoleon walked by his lady's room & heard voices. Suspicious of her faithfulness to him, he questioned her.
"I was praying," the lady explained. "But I heard two voices," Napoleon said. "I do both parts," she replied.
Well, we may smile at her answer. But is that what we do with God - both parts? Do we talk to God & then tell Him what His answer should be? And if He doesn't do what we ask, we just don't pray any more?
C. But wait a minute! The reason we pray is not because we believe in the power of prayer. We pray because we believe in the power of God. We believe that He is the all-powerful God of the Bible, who has not put His power on hold.
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.
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 to pray is to change ourselves. But the Bible does not teach that as a reason to pray.
Instead, the Bible teaches that prayer can make a difference in what God does, & that prayer can also have an effect on our circumstances.