Working Prayer

Working Prayer

PROBLEM

  • Prayer as a wedge into our busy schedules vs the life we are already living
  • Prayer is about how God welcomes us into what He is doing and how we welcome God into what we are doing.
  • Our response to life: You can pray
  • Illustration: Billy “Graham started praying when he got up this morning, he prayed while eating breakfast, he prayed on the way over here in the car they sent for us, and he’ll probably be praying all through the interview.”

GOD

Acts 12:6-16
The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.
Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.
Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”
When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”
“You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”
But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.
  • This story teaches us something important about prayer. Not a single adult in the story had the faith to believe their prayers for Peter’s deliverance had been answered.
  • 1) Our prayers carry more authority than we’ve been led to believe.
  • 2) There is a time to take action.

George Muller was a man who really believed that God whatever God’s will was, God would provide for it to happen if somebody prayed. Once as he was crossing the Atlantic, his ship encountered a deep fog. The captain of the ship later told this story: We had a man of God on board, George Müller of Bristol. I had been on the bridge for twenty-two hours and never left it. I was startled by someone tapping me on the shoulder. It was Müller. “Captain, I have come to tell you I must be in Quebec on Saturday afternoon.” “Impossible!” I exclaimed.

“I have never broken an engagement in fifty years,” he replied. I answered, “I am willing, but I am helpless. We are in a fog—” “Let us go down to the chart room and pray,” said George Müller. I looked at him, and I thought to myself, what lunatic asylum could the man have come from? I’d never heard of such a thing. I said, “Mr. Müller, do you know how dense the fog is?” “No,” he replied, “my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God who controls every circumstance of my life.” He got down on his knees and prayed a most simple prayer. “Lord, if it is consistent with your will, please remove this fog in five minutes. You know the engagement you made for me in Quebec for Saturday. I believe it is your will.” When he finished, I was going to pray, but he put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to pray. “First, you do not believe He will; and second, I believe He has, and there is no need to pray.” According to the ship captain, the fog lifted just as Müller had requested. But the weather wasn’t the only thing that cleared up that day. The captain also reported that that experience “completely revolutionized the whole of my life.”

  • 3) The critical issue is not whether we pray or act, but whether we pray or act in faith. Be confident.

APPLICATION

  • Upward prayer – we lift our desires, concerns, needs, and confessions to God.
    Downward prayer- calling upon the resources available to us in the heavens.
  • Through Christ we stand as a conduit or a bridge between a broken, hurting world and the Lord who is actively redeeming it (money is not the solution).
  • Greatest commandment: We actively love the person we are praying for by carrying him into God’s presence, which is the greatest good we can ever do for another.

VISION

  • Story of homeless friend who asked for too little
  • The story of every building project. When our Lord says no to our desires, it is because He wants to give us something far more valuable. He offers us Himself. 

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