Summary: An apologetic for the effectiveness of prayer, based on all the Scriptures where it is evident that prayer made a difference. Inductive in nature.
Have you noticed this morning that, so far, we haven’t prayed much. We prayed once. One prayer. ____ seconds long.
I wonder how many of you here this morning, (except for being in SS), realized at that point that you hadn’t prayed yet today. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever gotten well into the day and suddenly it dawns on you that you haven’t directed one ordered thought to God?
If I had to make a set of mugs that contained my life mottos, one of them would say, “I don’t do mornings.” Some mornings it just takes me a while to think a coherent thought. I have to admit that there have been mornings where my first thoughts aren’t directed to God. Sometimes I wake up thinking about the solution to some challenge I was facing the day before. Sometimes I think about something that’s bothering me. Sometimes, my mind just wanders around like the ball in a pinball machine, bouncing from one place to another. If I’m not deliberate about it, I find myself starting my day without a prayer.
Think about that phrase – without a prayer. It sounds like the ultimate country western song, doesn’t it? It describes the absolute, bare minimum in human standards. When you’ve lost everything else, when every potential help or comfort in life gets stripped away, what’s the last, most minimal, most almost-not-anything-at-all that you have? Prayer. Just the way we talk about being “without a prayer” ought to alert us to the fact that there’s a problem here! There is, and we’re going to give it some attention this morning.
Some years ago, there was a movement to put together a “bloodless Bible.” It was for people who don’t believe in blood atonement and who didn’t want all that icky “blood talk” in their Bible. I guess you could say they were “plasma impaired” or they had “hemoglobiphobia.” So they worked all the blood talk out of the Bible. 10 years ago, I read about the “Good as New Bible,” produce by John Henson, a former Baptist preacher in England. They called it a “new, fresh, and adventurous” translation of the Scriptures. It was even endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who called it a work of “extraordinary power.” This Bible had all the condemnation of sexual sins worked out of it. I guess that’s a Bible for the “sexually-impaired.”
Well, I’ve started work on a Bible for the “prayer-impaired.” That’s right – a new, revised Bible with prayer removed. The Bible Without Prayer. It’s going to take a while, but when I’m offering such an important help to the prayer-impaired, I guess it will be worth it. Here are a few of the things I’ll have to adjust for this to work out…
I’m going to have to change the end of the book of Job. The original says
[God said] "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job's prayer.
In the prayerless Bible, Job doesn’t pray, of course, and God doesn’t tell him to. So, his 3 friends who spoke wrongly about God, just get zapped and there’s nothing left of them but 3 burnt spots on the ground. Also, the Lord doesn’t make Job prosperous again like it says in v.10.
(After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before)
I’m going to have to change the story of Abraham’s servant who was sent to find a wife for Isaac. There was no E-harmony.com. So, what was he to do? He prayed, and God helped him. I’m going to have to come up with some other way to fit Rebekah into the picture.
The Plagues and the Exodus
I’m going to need to do some work on Exodus – You know, Moses and the 10 plagues. At least 4 of the plagues stopped when Moses prayed they would stop. So, in the Bible without Prayer, there will still be a lot of frogs, flies, hail, and locusts. In fact, I’m going to have to change a bunch of the life of Moses because it seems like he was constantly talking with God. That just won’t be a part of the Bible Without a Prayer.