Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Benefit of Scripture and Prayer

The Benefit of Scripture and Prayer
Mohammed Mussa (Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash.; Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011; notes are mine, I pray they are helpful to you)

The Bible is a letter from God to us. 

Our strength comes from the Word of God. And prayer makes it that much stronger.

Psalm 25 - David:
In you, LORD my God,
I put my trust.
I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.

No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.
Show me your ways, LORD,
teach me your paths.

Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
The Lord has heard my prayer and accepted my supplication. Prayer is not delegating to God, but rather committing yourself, so you are ready and prepared to do God's work.

Romans 12:12 - if your desire is an unceasing relationship with God, then your prayer life will be unceasing - you will always have a reason to pray. Thanksgiving (God, what a beautiful blue sky! Thanks for letting me see it.) or intercession (God, I pray for the driver pulled to the side of the road, that they'll be safe and receive assistance quickly.) or comfort (God, imjust read of the servicemen who died. I pray for comfort for their family.)

Fellowship/relationship - we do talk about things we've talked about before. That's fine, that's an important part about continuity.

"Draw me after You." Song of Songs 1:4

Years ago, a well-known evangelical preacher was invited to speak with the British queen. A reporter asked him, "Are you nervous?"  He replied "I was just speaking to the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Why should I be nervous to speak to a queen?"

When I pray, I am not talking to my employer, my family, I am talking to God. That's a big privilege.

Before we pray, we need to look at what's in our lives. Like pipes, clogged or dirty pipes means impure results. But, we don't need to wait until we're pristine first, we can also ask for help in getting our lives right at the same time. God has forgiven our sins, past, present and future.

We need to believe He is who He is. If we pray, but are doubtful He will answer, that's a huge block - not showing faith or trust. And trust is important - we need to trust that God knows what is best and if we allow Him to work in our lives, He will lead us in a way that will be to our benefit and to the benefit of His kingdom.

Does God answer every question? Every prayer request? He answers, yes - grants, not always. Think of our children - we do not grant every request they make of us. Often times the children do not know what is best for them.

Quoting Bill Hybel quoting someone else (?)

- If the request is wrong, God says "No.". If you ask God for protection while you're robbing a bank, good luck with that. There are things that will kill us and we don't know it. Like your 10-year-old asking for the car keys.

- If the timing is wrong, God says "Slow.". not yet. Keep praying. Abraham and Sarah's desire to have a child. Delaying does not mean "no" but it may be to show who God is.

- If you are wrong, God will say "Grow up" Spend more time in the Bible, spend more time examining your life, look for unconfessed sin.

- If the request is right, the timing is right and you are right, God will say "Go"

Why do we come to God for our needs?

* We know He loves us. If you have two neighbors, one who is always frowning and keeps to himself, and another who greets you and stops to talk, if you find yourself needing a favor, who do you go to?
* He has given us life, forgiven our sins.

As good as doing good works is - as important as it is - it should not replace prayer.

Prayer is not some spooky mystical thing.

Some people think only a holy man can go to God. But that's not in the Bible. Everyone can go to God and the Bible gives us examples.

God speaks to us through His Word and we in turn speak to Him though prayer and that should give us confidence. But that doesn't mean we should call God, talk about ourselves for awhile and then hang up. We need to shut up before God and let him speak.

We have seen Him answer our prayers and the prayers of others. He's told us He's with us if we come to Him.

It's fine to pray for our needs, as long as they are legit. If we're not getting the answers we want, we're not making the right requests. If we're not asking the right things, we're not studying the Bible enough.

We should also ask us to pray for the needs of other people, even our enemies. If you keep praying for them, they will cease to be your enemies.

Bam. There are times when God answers prayers just like that.

2 Chron. - King Jehoshaphat - 3 armies were approaching. That's a problem. He was terrified by the news, but he pulled himself together and began to pray. He ordered everyone in the country to fast. He called people from every city back to Jerusalem. And we see that God responded and destroyed those armies.

What about situations that are impossible? It's already done. God has the ability, but only when He has a purpose.

The speaker had a friend who was a strong Muslim, became a vibrant Christian, after a few years, his brother died. He went to the graveyard and prayed God would raise his brother. But he heard God saying "What would the purpose be?".

What if two people have the same prayed but God only answers one? (Like two brothers on opposing soccer teams.) God has already given strength, energy, creativity and talent to both, but it isn't equal.

Another reason - God will not answer if there is sin in our life or unforgiveness of others that you still need to do. The guilt and grudge needs to go away. If you don't forgive, God will keep bringing you back to the issue until you figure it out and forgive - because God, who has forgiven you, will have a difficult time reaching you if you're holding fast to an unforgiving spirit because you're blocking Him.

Don't focus on your problem when you pray, focus on God when you pray.
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