Summary: To see how our unremarkable prayers cause some remarkable things to happen
When Georges Vanier became our first francophone Canadian Governor General in 1959 he made two requests. First, he asked that the signage outside of Rideau Hall be bi-lingual. And second, he asked that they build a prayer chapel inside the official residence. Vanier said that he prayed every day and wanted a special place set aside for this purpose.
What a difference 60 years makes! Today our Governor General mocks persons of faith. She ridicules the idea that a person might believe in God and at the same time embrace science.
Obvious, Georges Vanier believed that prayer was important. And I hope all of us will feel the same way when this service is over. I want to speak to you on What Happens When We Pray from Revelation 8. There are three things (at least) that happen when we prayer.
I. When we Pray we confront the anti-Christ
I am aware that the term anti-Christ is not found in the book of Revelation. I am also aware that some Christians have made the anti-Christ and all things prophetic a cottage industry. They get all bent out of shape trying to discover who the anti-Christ is.
In the first century it was the Roman Emperor, at the time of the Reformation the Protestants thought the pope was the anti-Christ and the pope was sure Martin Luther was the anti-Christ. In the Twentieth Century Hitler made it to the list as well as Stalin. I saw Henry Kissinger on TV last week – an old man bent with the years. I remember when he was supposed to be the anti-Christ.
It seems that you haven’t really made it politically if you don’t end up on somebody’s anti-Christ list. For all his charisma and selfies Justin Trudeau has not really been successful because as far as I know nobody has yet to claim he is the anti-Christ.
But John the Beloved talked about anti-Christ, not in the Revelation but certainly in his letters. He says in 1
John 2:18 that there are now many antichrists. He even defines what he means by antichrist: a person who denies that Jesus is the Christ. A person who deceives. A person who does not believe that God has entered history in the person of Jesus Christ.
John teaches that there are many antichrists. There have been antichrists in every generation. And every time we go to prayer we confront those spirits that are opposed to everything Jesus stands for.
Let me show you how this worked in the life of John. It says in Revelation 1 that John was in prayer, he was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day. John says: I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.
Why didn’t he say Sunday? Because the pagan world had assigned every day of the week to one of their evil gods. The first day of the week was for the sun god - Sunday. The second day of the week was for the moon god. Lunar Day or as we say in French Lundi. There is a false god behind every day of the week. An antichrist.
And the old man on Patmos would have none of that. He called Sunday the Lord’s Day. The Day of Resurrection. The Day of New Beginnings. John confronted the evil culture of his day. He would not allow the world to squeeze him into its mold. This is not about what we call the days of the week. This is about buying into the values of our culture that are contrary to all that our Lord taught and did.
When we pray we go upstream against everything our culture believes. When a Christian prays he or she is saying I believe in the supernatural. I believe in God. I believe in another world, another rule of law, another set of values than those broadcast by our culture.
When you pray you confront the spirit of darkness, the antichrist in our world.
II. When We Pray God Listens
You will notice at the start of Revelation 8 there is silence in heaven for about half an hour. Before this point in the book there has been a cacophony of praise. Day and night the living creatures never stop saying: Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.
And this goes on and on and on until suddenly chapter 8. And then, like the very end of Handle’s Hallelujah Chorus this break, this moment of pregnant silence before the final burst of glory.
God shuts down all sound so that He can listen to our prayers. Every groan, every whisper, every stammering attempt we make at prayer He hears. God listens. When we pray God really listens.
God focuses on you. As if you are the only one praying. I have no idea how the infinite God can focus on many all at once but He does.