Monday, July 24, 2017

Thoughts on Prayer

Making His Name Glorious
Blessed be His glorious name forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen. (Ps 72:19)

Video of earth
"Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created." (Rev 4:11)

How do we make God’s Name Glorious: recognizing who He is.

Categories of God:                                                   We are:
·         Creator                                                                      Created – DNA proves
·         Sustainer of life                                                        Consumers of life
·         Beginning and end                                                   Somewhere in the middle
·         Owns the plan                                                          Are included in that plan

·         Omnipresent                         Can only be where we are
·         Omniscient                           Can only know what we’ve been taught, seen or exp.
·         Omnipotent                          Micropotent
·         Infinite                                  Finite
·         Full perspective                    Limited perspective (fence) – Here, God, use my insight...

El Elyon – God Most High – not only is there no one higher but there is also no possibility of being higher.
El Shaddai God-Almighty – all authority – all-sufficient One, One who can accomplish all He wills, the sovereign One

To say God is sovereign is to say that He is Supreme, does everything according to His will, fulfills His purpose, is ruler over all things, maintains His plan that no one can ruin.

Ancients thought they could have some measure of control over their gods. That’s what made idolatry so attractive. They thought that by ritual activity they could manipulate their god to do their will. We need rain, we need sunshine, we need fertility.

Then they took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, "O Baal, answer us." But there was no voice and no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they made…So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them. When midday was past, they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention. (1 Kings 18:26-29)

Ever felt that way, trying to get God’s attention to a matter in your life? Then Elijah prayed and God brought fire from Heaven.

Ever feel your prayers aren't getting through either? Other than the fact that the priests of Baal weren’t praying to God Almighty, why would God answer some prayers and not others? What is His criteria for answering?
·         I like them better.
·         She’s more spiritual.
·         They prayed standing up, the others were sitting down.
·         What they’re asking makes better sense than what I had in mind.
·         They’re bugging me to death with their requests so I’m giving in to what they ask.
·         They think they’re asking for a fish but I know better. I’ll give them what they’re really asking for and it will be a snake.

God’s single criteria: I am willing.

While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately the leprosy left him. (Luke 5:12-13)

God says yes when what we are asking:
·         Fits His plans
·         Agrees with His intentions
·         Compliments His will.

Wouldn’t you think Paul would get whatever he asked?

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:7-10)

Paul asked three times for God to heal him of this thorn, remove his suffering. God said, no, this thorn will help accomplish greater things in your life than if I remove it.

Paul accepted, rather than challenged, God’s right to be God.

What do we do when God doesn’t answer as we ask?
·         Become angry
·         Lose confidence in God
·         Become hopeless
·         Doubt His love.
       Are we saying God made a mistake?
Are we saying because God didn’t do what we asked He has failed us?
Are we challenging His goodness?
Are we disputing His wisdom to know what’s best?
Are we justified in our displeasure?

1986 a film came out Children of a Lesser God – about a school for deaf children. Title was a statement: God had let them down because of their deafness. When we feel God has let us down, we sense we are lesser children in God’s family.

Is that our opinion in prayer?  We can’t focus on one outcome and say it’s this or nothing. This is the only thing I will accept.

When we serve a Sovereign God we have to realize there is purpose in stuff I may want to change. And if God doesn’t change our circumstances, He’s failing us. No, He’s accomplishing things greater than we ask.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." (Dan 3:16-18)

Habakkuk: Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. (Hab 3:17-18)

God gave us prayer so we wouldn’t feel hopeless, helpless and would look to Him as an outlet for our faith. To get our eyes on Him so we can agree with His highest good.  We cannot only honor Him when/if He does what we want.

Randy Alcorn wrote: We should pray for ourselves and our suffering loved ones, not simply try to pray away suffering. “God, please heal this cancer” is appropriate, but it is equally appropriate to pray: “God, please use this cancer for your glory, for as long as they have it.”

We are having a Prayer for Healing Service tonight. Healing is a broad term. What may be healing to us isn’t what healing means to God. And what healing means to God may not be what it means to us. We’ll begin by praying for wisdom as to how to pray.

If all we have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail and every solution is to pound the nail away.

If we think every disease has to be removed, we’ll miss out on the blessings God intends for us and the ones we’re praying for. If we put all our prayers into one basket, we may find God isn’t in that basket but over here doing a greater work.

Disease may not be the enemy we think it is. But the true enemy may be taking advantage of the disease to kill, steal and destroy a person’s faith, joy, peace, confidence.

We don’t want to think this way but if the disease has God’s purpose attached to it, we may be praying against God’s will to have Him remove it.

What if I have a disease that God will use to end my life on earth? What do I need? Not healing that takes the disease away, but healing that invigorates my faith. I will need you to pray for my endurance, my patience, my hope in tomorrow, peace in my darkness, courage for what I face and courage for my family to grieve in the hope of Heaven, relief from my pain and misery, defeat of my fears? Pray I might see God working in my life even though death is working in my body. Pray that my love for Him will grow. Pray for the victory He will accomplish through my life that makes His name glorious.

Lois didn’t ask us to pray for healing from her cancer but for wisdom to make right decisions.

We pray within context of who we’re talking to: Almighty, Most High God. When we pray to a God like that, our prayers start with believing His will is best. We then ask whatever we want Him to do, yet rest in promise that He will accomplish whatever concerns us. He will do what is according to His greater purpose.

We have a group of ladies that pray here every Monday. We have another group of prayer warriors that pray here each Wednesday night. If I have any need, I want those two groups praying for me.
·         They know God hears them.
·         They know God can do the miraculous.
·         They pray expecting God’s best.
·         They pray in faith to a faithful God.
·         They trust God with the outcome.
·         They see God’s love in whatever happens.

Jody surprised his kids with a trip to Disneyworld a few weeks ago. When they were walking down Main Street toward the castle, Oliver asked his dad, “Daddy, did you do this because you loved us?”

In all that’s going on in our lives or the lives of our loved ones, we have one constant we can know for sure: what He does, He does because He loves us.

1.       Fortunately, God doesn’t need our input to know what to do in any situation.
2.      But He gives us permission to ask, believing—not believing in what we ask, but believing in who He is to do what’s best.
3.      So even though we may not know His intentions, we can ask expectantly, because we are trusting Him to do beyond what we ask.

4.      Then, we trust Him with the outcome.

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