May 19, 2019 - Why Pray?
So as we come now to this second week on this topic of Prayer...
Last week you remember that we focused on the “WHAT” of prayer...
…in asking the question - WHAT is PRAYER?
And what we saw last week is that PRAYER is:
a privilege bought with blood
personal communion with God
That on the one hand - it’s a PRIVILEGE...
a privilege - PURCHASED for us!
What was the cost of this purchase?
the life of the SON of GOD...
It took God Himself - coming in the flesh - to PURCHASE for us…this thing called PRAYER...
in that NOW - (IF) we believe and TRUST in Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross..
THEN we have God’s EAR in prayer...
We have the PRIVILEGE of speaking directly with the Creator of ALL things...
And we saw that SINCE this privilege is based on FAITH - individual FAITH in Jesus Christ...
Then THAT means that PRAYER itself - is - Personal Communion with God!
BLESSING US in that prayer HELPS US TO:
confess our sins
we ask Him to meet our needs
we align our will with His
All of this we saw last week - THE WHAT of PRAYER -
and NOW this week - We’ll look at the “WHY” of prayer...
Why do we pray? Why should we pray?
I think most of you at least - know that I love listening to Pastor John Piper...
He has influenced my walk in many ways...
Well - in 2006 - John Piper preached a sermon on prayer, with this same title as you see today...
AND it was such a powerful message on WHY we should pray...
I have no qualms in telling you that this sermon today is a REHASHING of that sermon.
It’s a truth that needs to BE KNOWN and so hopefully we’ll all walk away from this today...
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What we need to understand as Christians, and always remember...
..is that THE VICTORY of GOD - is coming!
And the point of this sermon is to help us see - that it’s coming BY MEANS of OUR prayers!
SO - let’s start by looking at - the COMING VICTORY of God...
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
This is the Victory of God - that is coming!
Jesus Christ is coming back -
to punish all those who have rejected His grace!
To gather to Himself his elect...
…and to establish justice, righteousness, peace, and joy...
…on the new earth....FOREVER!
Paul speaks of ALL of this in Titus 2
13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
SO - we know and we hopefully believe that ALL that we just read is - TRUE...
That this VICTORY is coming...
SEE - i think more often than not - our prayer lives CONSIST of us:
asking God to help us in the DETAILS of our lives...
The smallest of details...
Maybe we pray about:
our kids health
possessions / lack thereof
THESE and MORE - fill up our CUPS as we offer them to God.
NOW - not a bad thing.
Is it bad or wrong to pray for our kids… NO
Wrong to pray for our finances… NO
wrong to pray for relationships …or health…NO
BUT - the hope for this sermon is that we’ll catch of BIGGER GLIMPSE of the IMPACT of our prayers...
SPECIFICALLY in what we pray for...
And i get it - some of us are like - LISTEN - I’m just trying to get through TODAY...
I just want my marriage to survive - TODAY...
I just want my kids to LOVE Jesus - today!
I get it, but at the same time, what we’re looking at today - WON’T ROB you of FAITH...
BUT INSTEAD - will FREE you...
Liberate you as you now SEE all of your consuming problems in CONNECTION to God’s GLOBAL Victory!
SO YES - God cares about the DETAILS of your life...
He cares about your sick kid...
He cares about your marriage...
BUT ALL of those things ONLY have their GREATEST MEANING in relation to the Victory of God.
*If you think of World War I and World War II - ALL of the widows that resulted
All of the loneliness and heartache - FINDS it’s DEEPEST meaning in the great, larger purposes of the WAR...
And so it’s no different with OUR SUFFERINGS - under the larger banner of God’s Global Victory!
And so TODAY - I hope we see the CONNECTION between our lives and the coming Victory of God - Being PRAYER!
We need to know - that OUR PRAYERS are the means that God uses to accomplish the Victory of Christ over this world...
And I know for most of us - we usually don’t pray about these things...
And so I think God wants to help us with this...
That we would get to a point of PRAYING for the victory of God in this world
And if our response to this is - “Well, I’m too insignificant....I’m not educated....i don’t know the lingo....I’m not a good candidate...”
God chose a simple, peasant virgin, to bear His Son!
God uses the SIMPLE to confound the WISE...
What an amazing CALLING we have in Christ!
SO - let’s walk through some scriptures now that will show you the connection between our PRAYERS and the coming Victory of God...
and then we’ll close with a passage in Isaiah 37.
(PRAY) - that God would awaken in us a passion to PARTICIPATE in the coming of God’s victory!!
In Matthew 6 Jesus teaches us HOW to pray...
9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
The coming of God’s kingdom and the DOING of His will on earth - the way the angels do it in heaven - IS the VICTORY of GOD...
THIS is what everything is moving toward!
And Jesus says here -
PRAY FOR IT!!
Ask God to hallow his name.
Ask him to bring in his kingdom.
Ask him to make his will be done.
Therefore prayer is God’s way of winning His victory - through you. Pray for this He says!
In Matthew 24 Jesus said this...
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
So what is this saying?
It’s saying - The good news of Jesus will SPREAD to ALL NATIONS…and then what?
“and then the END will come”
and then the final VICTORY will take place!
But how does the good news of Jesus SPREAD throughout the world?
How has it SPREAD throughout the world up until THIS POINT?
Answer: witnesses, missionaries, evangelists...
This is how it has always happened...
So listen then to what Jesus said in Matt 9
(read 37 - STOP - well, we need laborers to spread the good news, in order that the FINAL victory will come!)
37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Will Jesus one day RETURN when the last soul is saved on this earth?
YES - but listen...
That WILL come to pass - but by means of - PRAYER...
YOUR Prayer is God’s way of winning His victory
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Jesus once told a parable about an unrighteous judge.
The point of the parable was that we “ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1).
And so part of the story was that a widow kept coming to the judge and saying, “Give me justice against my adversary.”
And FINALLY, he does it because of her persistence.
And then Jesus makes this point:
6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Think it thru - God’s purpose is to give JUSTICE to His elect...
And we see here that a PART OF THAT PURPOSE - is that He would accomplish this by their PRAYERS to Him...
…day and night - as they seek VINDICATION!
This is prayer for the victory of God...
Therefore prayer is God’s way of winning his victory through you.
THINK of ALL of the battles that have taken place and will take place - UNTIL the coming Victory of God in Jesus Christ...
All of those battles PREPARING people for the coming of Christ...
And ALL of those battles MOVE FORWARD by prayer...
Listen to this from Acts 4
31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
When they HAD PRAYED - they spoke with boldness!
THIS is how - the kingdom of God - advances on the EARTH!!
Through BOLD proclamation of Jesus Christ!
PRAYER brings DOWN - BOLD, holy spirit-filled WITNESS of Jesus!
Therefore prayer is God’s way of winning his victory through you.
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Think about the apostle Paul...
The apostle Paul was probably the greatest missionary witness to the victory of God that ever lived.
God used him for tremendous breakthroughs for the spread of the gospel.
Listen to his repeated plea for prayer as a means to his gospel-spreading ministry:
(2 Thessalonians 3:1)
“Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you” .
The word runs and triumphs by means of prayer.
“[Pray] for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” .
- Paul’s boldness in the gospel came from God by the prayers of simple Christian believers.
“I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf” .
- The wrestling of Paul to be faithful in all his sufferings was sustained by a wrestling in prayer by the brothers in Rome.
“Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison.”
- Open doors for the spread of the gospel come in answer to prayer.
- Therefore, in the life of Paul, it is plain that prayer is God’s way of gospel victory.
Now before we get to our final passage in Isaiah, let’s see how the final Victory of God in Christ will be executed in the world...
3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, 4 and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. 5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.
The altar here was burning with MILLIONS of prayers…ALL the saints prayers…STORED UP
“thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!”
ALL of our prayers...
Burned before the Lord…and thrown down upon the earth!!
The prayers of the saints USHER in the Victory of God!
And not ONE CRY for the coming of Christ and the victory of God will EVER be wasted!!
AND SO - let’s close now with Isaiah 37… a stunning example of the connection between prayer and the Victory of God...
Let’s set the stage:
Sennacherib was the terrifying king of the great nation of Assyria.
And Isaiah 36:1 tells us this..
1 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them.
So this Sennacherib King of Assyria, was a bad dude...
And so - from a human perspective - Jerusalem didn’t stand a chance!!
So Sennacherib sends one of his GENERALS to warn Jerusalem - to surrender!
And this GENERAL mocks God and says to Jerusalem - that NO ONE can deliver them from this...
And Sennacherib sends a letter to Hezekiah with a new threat...
10 “Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.
Sennacherib’s saying - Don’t think for a second…don’t let your God fool you into thinking that Jerusalem will be saved...
And here now is Hezekiah’s response...
14 Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: 16 “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 17 Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 18 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 19 and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. 20 So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord.”
What is this?
This is a PRAYER for the victory of God and the salvation of His helpless people before a GREAT enemy!
And so let’s look to what happens… next verse...
21 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria,
God says - - BECAUSE you have PRAYED to me…concerning this…THIS is my response!!
Let’s jump to verse 33 for God’s response!!
33 “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 34 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. 35 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”
WOW - WHY PRAY??
the Victory of God HERE - brought about BECAUSE of PRAYER!!
But God wasn’t done....How did God defend the city?
36 And the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.
One man prays for the salvation of God’s people and the victory of God, and God responds by killing 185,000 soldiers and rescuing his people.
Today the enemies of the church of Jesus Christ are not political or national or ethnic.
Paul said, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Until our King comes from heaven, we wish the destruction of no man.
As Christians we do not kill our enemies, we pray for our enemies, as Jesus taught us to do (Matthew 5:44).
The great battle today is fought not with swords, but with the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and risen.
It is fought for the souls of men.
It is fought in the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is fought with words of truth and deeds of love and justice.
And all of that backed by prayer.
The victory of God will come, and it will come by prayer.
So - AFBC…what does this truth do to you?
Pray for the Victory of God
Our Father who art in Heaven...
Hallowed be your name...
They kingdom come…thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!
Send forth laborers - that You might USHER in your VICTORY!
Give Boldness to your people...
Save the lost...
And vindicate Your people LORD who cry to You day and night!
Because the Victory of God is coming…and we can PARTICIPATE in making it happen!