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Summary: Through prayer, God will open a window of opportunity for us to work past our stresses, our conflicted feelings, and even our sins and shortcomings.

Life is tough. Am I going to get any argument about that?

The philosopher Thomas Hobbes said that human life was

solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Wow! Not the kind

of stuff we expect on Sunday morning. Supposed to be all,

“Praise the Lord”! But deep down, lots of people do feel that

life is tough -- solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Now most of us have tried to make something of our lives

anyway. We’ve tried to accomplish a few things. We’ve

gone to school and paid our dues, we’ve worked at our

professions and built our resumes. We think we might be on

the way. But have you noticed that whenever you try to

accomplish something, life gets even tougher? Have you

found out that when you push forward, something pushes

back at you all the harder? Just when it feels like you might

be getting ahead, something undercuts all you have done.

With your one step forward you take one or two or even

three steps backward. Isn’t that right?

Tough multiplies tenfold and nastiness comes in a

nanosecond. And yet, I am here this morning to proclaim

that when you get to that point – when you are fed up to here

– when you are consumed with how tough life is – that

is the moment when, through prayer, God will open a

window of opportunity. When the barriers are

insurmountable and it feels like you are a captive of

everything, God will open for you a window of


The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian church, is in the

mature phase of his life. He is able to look back over a

number of years of missionary service. He has

accomplished a few things along the way. But in this church

at Corinth he is up against a wall. He is facing something

that could blow away all that he has done. He is facing a

factious, contentious, argumentative crowd who have gotten

bent out of shape. They have spent their days worrying

about who gets to lead and whether tongue-speakers are

better Christians than others. Yet they have casually looked

the other way while one member was in a sexual dalliance

and other members gorged themselves at the church’s picnic

platters! Sound like any church you know about?

Paul had worked and worked with this crowd. At one point

he sent them a severe letter, a strong reprimand, but it had

done no good. Paul saw all his hard work going down the

tubes. But thanks be to God, Paul remembered that one day

he had discovered that through prayer, no matter how strong

the walls, God will open a window of opportunity.

Paul remembered that years before, right after the Lord

Jesus had confronted him on the Damascus Road, Paul had

found himself trapped in the city of Damascus. He had not

even gotten started on what the Lord wanted him to do with

his life, but here he was, trapped in a locked-down town, with

no way to get out. But – Paul remembers now when he is

dealing with these crazy Corinthians – Paul remembers that

at the very moment when things looked the worst, and the

barriers seemed impassable, at that very moment, his friends

put Paul into a basket, shoved him through a window in the

city wall, and he escaped. His extremity, bathed in prayer,

became God’s window of opportunity.

It has been well said that prayer may not always change

things, but in prayer God changes people, who in turn

change things. When life is truly tough, and the walls

seem to be closing in, through prayer God will open a

window of opportunity.

Do you feel trapped? Explore with me the ways we get

ourselves trapped. Find out with me how God will open a

window of opportunity for us.


Some of us feel trapped by the accumulation of

stresses. Things have piled up on us, one after another,

and we feel worn out, burdened down. It’s not only what we

have to deal with right now; it’s what we have been dealing

with, all along, and it feels like it’s still here, right on our

shoulders, all of it. Stress accumulates. Did you know that?

Have you ever taken one of those stress inventories that

asks you to report what has happened to you in the last

twelve months, and it gives a certain number of points to

each item, then you add them up to determine your stress

level? The stress inventory wants to know if in the last year

you changed jobs, a family member died, you had a health

problem, you made a major financial decision, you took a

course of study ... on and on. Every one of those things is a

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