Summary: Often we cripple our prayers even before we pray them. This sermon deals with ways we make our own prayers less effective.
Our focus for this month is on revival and I want to suggest to you today that the main reason that our church is not growing as rapidly as we would like is because WE are not growing. We have to understand that the Christian life is a life marked by constant spiritual growth… in fact, if we stop growing spiritually then, by default, we began the process of dying spiritually. Brothers and sisters, whether we acknowledge it or not, that’s where many of us are right now…. We have forsaken the careful and frequent study of God’s word and we have neglected to spend quality time with Him in prayer. That’s very dangerous because we should all know by now that prayer and bible study are critical elements that sustain our relationship with Christ and stimulate spiritual growth. I’m not talking about everyone, but as a church, I think that we have just about flatlined. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will see the critical nature of our condition, pull out those defibrillator paddles and shock us back to life!
Would you agree with me that we need to be revived—that each and every one of us need to experience our own personal spiritual revival? The question that begs to be answered is, how do we go about actually being revived? Listen closely to what I am about to tell you. The single most important thing we can do to usher in a true spiritual revival is PRAY. That being said, please understand that prayer is much more involved than even most Christians realize…what I mean is, everybody can pray but not everybody will be heard.
Imagine that I need to send an urgent correspondence. The only way to do this is by homing pigeon. I write out a detailed message, role it up and tie it to one of the pigeon’s legs—careful not to tie it too tightly and hurt the little bird. After I’m certain my message is secure, I tie a brick to his other leg and throw the bird off the ledge. Do you think my message will get to where it’s needs to go?
Did you know that we do the same thing with many of our prayers? It’s true. We tend to harbor certain “carnal baggage” in our lives that actually weighs down our prayers much like that brick weighed down the pigeon rendering our prayers as flightless as that poor bird.
We would like to believe that every single one of our prayers are being heard by God and that He wants nothing more to give us all of our heart’s desires. We even make symbolic gestures like writing out a special prayer request and tying it to a helium balloon and letting it float up into heaven. Such a beautiful symbol…and quite fitting actually. Because like those balloons which, by the way, end up deflated or tangled up in trees or power lines, many of our prayers never even make it out of our atmosphere..
I know it may seem strange considering how I have preached sermon after sermon about the importance and power of prayer and now I’m telling you that perhaps many of your prayers are essentially useless but trust me, this is something that we all need to be aware of. Many prayers are offered up to God that simply go unanswered.
How much confidence do you have that YOUR prayers are being heard and, more importantly, answered by God? While you’re thinking about that, allow me to interject this fact. The bible indicates that the effectiveness of our prayers is directly affected by the quality of our relationship with the Lord and vice versa...Today I want to share with you seven ways that we tend to sabotage our own prayers.
I. Lack of Faith
A. James 1:5-8 (Read)
B. Mark 9:22-25 records the account of when Jesus, Peter, James and John came back down from the Mount of Transfiguration….. “If you can do anything…I believe—help my unbelief!”
C. Matthew 9:27-29. Two blind men said to Jesus, son of David have mercy on us! “Do you believe that I am able to do this?—according to your faith it will be done unto you..”
D. When’s the last time you prayed for something so big that only God could do it? Mark 11:22-24 (READ) move mountains
E. One Sabbath at church, this godly but grumpy older lady overheard someone she thought was her friend asking someone else to join them on a picnic later that afternoon. As the day went on she noticed a couple of other people were being ask to join the picnic. She became more and more upset that she hadn’t been asked.. and finally, as she was about to leave her friend realized that she had forgotten to invite this lady so she hurried up to catch her before she got in her car said, a few of us are going on a picnic later, would you like to join us? The old lady looked at her and said, that’s sweet of you to finally ask but it’s too late, I’ve already prayed for rain..” This lady really had faith that her prayer was going to be answered!