Summary: Spiritual lifelessness is bound up in faithlessness which is exhibited in powerless prayer.
(some material from Bill Hybels)
SERIES: “THE CHALLENGE TO THE CHURCH FOR 2005”
TEXT: MATTHEW 21:18-22
TITLE: “UNLEASHING THE POWER OF PRAYER”
INTRODUCTION: A. Prayer has been called “communicating with God”
--Here are some prayers from kids written as Letters to God:
1. Dear GOD, Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don’t
you just keep the ones you have? -Jane
2. Dear GOD, Maybe Cain and Abel wouldn’t kill each other so much if they had their
own rooms. It works with my brother. -Larry
3. Dear GOD, If You watch me in church on Sunday, I’ll show you my new shoes. –
4. Dear GOD, I bet it is very hard for you to love all of everybody in the whole world.
There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it. -Nan
5. Dear GOD, In Sunday school they told us what you do. Who does it when you are
on vacation? -Jane
6. Dear GOD, I read the Bible. What does "beget" mean? Nobody will tell me. -Love,
7. Dear GOD, Are you really invisible or is it just a trick? -Lucy
8. Dear GOD, Is it true my father won’t get in Heaven if he uses his bowling words in
the house? -Anita
9. Dear GOD, Did You mean for the giraffe to look like that or was it an accident? –
10. Dear GOD, Who draws the lines around the countries? -Nan
11. Dear GOD, I went to this wedding and they kissed right in church. Is that okay? –
12. Dear GOD, Did you really mean "do unto others as they do unto you"? Because if
you did, then I’m going to fix my brother. -Darla
13. Dear GOD, Thank you for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy. –
14. Dear GOD, Please send me a pony. I never asked for anything before. You can
look it up. -Bruce
15. Dear GOD, If you give me a genie like Aladdin, I will give you anything you
want, except my money or my chess set. -Raphael
16. Dear GOD, I think about you sometimes even when I’m not praying. –Elliott
17. Dear GOD, I would like to live 900 years like the guy in the Bible. -Love, Chris
18. Dear GOD, We read Thomas Edison made light. But in Sunday school they said
you did it. So I bet he stole your idea. -Sincerely, Donna
19. Dear GOD, The bad people laughed at Noah - "You made an ark on dry land you
fool." But he was smart, he stuck with you. That’s what I would do. -Eddie
20. Dear GOD, I didn’t think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made
on Tuesday. That was cool. –Eugene
B. How do you see prayer?
1. Some see it as asking for something that couldn’t possibly happen anyway.
2. Others see it as their personal vending machine: put in the right combination of
currency, push the right buttons, and get what you want.
3. There are those who see prayer as a religious exercise.
4. There are those who don’t think prayer is effective at all.
C. In the middle of a somewhat puzzling event, Jesus makes a startling statement
1. Jesus had made His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on a Sunday.
2. He cleansed the Temple for a second time declaring that it was His house and that it
should be called a place of prayer.
3. During the week that proceeded His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus stayed in
Bethany and traveled to Jerusalem on a daily basis
4. It’s during one of these trips between Jerusalem and Bethany that the event
described in our Scripture passage this morning occurs
5. Matt. 21:18-22 – “Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he
was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it
except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately
the tree withered. When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the
fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked. Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you
have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but
also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be
done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
D. Preceding the events of the final week of His life, Jesus had tried to prepare His
followers for what was going to happen
1. The disciples are confused, excited, and afraid all at the same time