Don’t Stop Praying

We are called to pray and do so without ceasing. So, let us pray!

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Download audio: November 13, 2016 – Don’t Stop Praying

Notes

I breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday morning… the election is over!

I don’t know about you, but all the election coverage was almost getting to be too much… with the mud-slinging, the name calling, the biased news reports, scandals, protests, violence, emails, tapes, and… need I go on?

Ugh. And as the night of the election began, I didn’t want listen out of concern that I wouldn’t like the result.

But, when I stepped back and thought about where my hope, peace, and self-worth comes from… all the stress melted away. My peace doesn’t come from a political victory. My hope doesn’t come from the polls. My eternal life doesn’t depend on the direction of this country.

It’s rather freeing to refocus your attention on what really matters.

Philippians 4:6 – Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

So, how do we get in touch with God? How do we come to know him more?

One way is through his Word, and the other is through prayer… simply, it’s conversation with God. Just talking to him. Whether it’s speaking out loud, with a group, or silently to yourself, prayer draws you close and rekindles that relationship with him that you’ve been missing.

Personally, it’s tough since I’m typically quiet and reserved and enjoy alone time. I like working away at my desk with the world shut out and distant, no distractions… just progress. I also struggle because most times I don’t hear much in return.

There are various reasons for avoiding prayer time, and each of us may fall into one or more of these traps. Perhaps the idea of speaking with God is frightening. Maybe there’s something that you’ve done that makes it difficult to look Him in the face. Or, you could just let the hectic pace of life keep you preoccupied.

Regardless of the reason, there is something to maintaining that relationship with God that keeps you in tune with the Holy Spirit and focusing on the right track.

You are Loved

Sometimes we fear speaking to God. We think he’s going to club us over what we’ve done wrong. Perhaps there’s something in your life right now that you know isn’t right and you don’t want to approach Him out of some dread that means he won’t listen or will punish us in some way.

That’s where the beauty of forgiveness comes in. We’ve been granted forgiveness through Jesus. But, we still have to approach God to receive it. Besides, you can’t hide it. He already knows about it. And if it’s something that’s ongoing… then you need to repent. Lay it down at his feet and turn away from it and ask forgiveness.

No matter how you go to God… you still need to go to him. Perhaps we forget that God is a loving, kind, and gentle father who is slow to anger? Do you remember how Jesus approached God?

Mark 14:36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things [are] possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

This passage comes from the time that Jesus sat praying in the garden over the coming trial and suffering he would endure, the very same thing that brought us forgiveness and eternal life.

It’s easy to read through this and say, “Yeah, he’s having a really bad day.” He certainly was. He was facing crucifixion and death at the hands of the religious leaders. No one wants to deal with that. But did you notice how he addressed God? He said, “Abba, Father.”

Abba is the Greek word for “Daddy.” In this passage we see a man who is 33 years old, fully grown and capable of managing an entire ministry with disciples, finances, and more now facing the horror of going to the cross. He said, “Daddy.” He did not call out to a disciplinarian or a dictator, cowering and shaking, but to his loving “Daddy,” someone who loved him dearly, someone who brought him comfort and safety. This grown man called out to the one that could surround him with big, strong arms, with love and tenderness, and with safety and protection. He sought refuge in that relationship.

As a father myself, I have come to understand this more and more. While I have to be the voice of reason and justice, I also have the incredible responsibility of ensuring that those two girls are protected, cared for, and that they come to understand what love is. And when they have nowhere to turn because the world is too much for them to handle, they know they have a safe place to run to… a place of safety and comfort.

Unfortunately, it’s something that many in our society don’t know… the knowledge of a loving, caring father that they can call, “Daddy.” Regardless of this, God was still there, ready to draw close and hear Jesus’ call for help.

But wait, wasn’t that just for Jesus, his own Son who was sinless? Sure, he could call out to God and find those things, but what about us? The Word speaks to us as well in the epistles.

Romans 8:15 – For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

While we are not without sin, we still get to call him, “Abba.” He becomes our daddy through adoption into his kingdom. The really cool thing is that, in Christ, we are treated the same as his own Son, Jesus.

So, in this same way that God was willing to hear the cry of Jesus, He wants your presence and he wants to hear from you and talk with you. We can run to him as if he was our very own “Daddy,” the one who crouches down and waits for us to arrive with open arms ready to give us a big hug and tell us everything is going to be OK… even when the world seems to be falling in around us.

But that’s not even the end of it. Not only do we call out for ourselves, but there is more.

Galatians 4:6 – And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

And, when you accept Christ as your Savior, the Holy Spirit lives inside, calling out to “Daddy” in prayer for you. Do you doubt in any small way that he will ignore that call?

How Much More?

I try to be a good father, but I find it hard sometimes to balance my family with my own interests and involvements. My problem is I suffer from selfishness. I like to do the things I like to do. Unfortunately, following work, church, side business, and so on… I find that I have to make a choice between myself and my family… and sometimes I get it wrong. If it wasn’t for my wonderful wife, I don’t know where I’d be. She demonstrates grace and forgiveness to me all the time.

Now, if a guy like me, with all my faults can still find it in himself to do nice things for my family, how much better is God at it than I am?

Luke 11:10-13 – For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if [he ask] a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

It’s easy to see that God can and will give above and beyond what we even ask of him. Why then do we not take the time to pray? Why do we find excuses, or allow ourselves to be too busy to engage in conversation with the very One who gives us so much?

Always in Prayer

What if we could keep praying all the time? How much could we ask of Him? How much could He deliver? Not only that, but we would be hard pressed to get into trouble if we were praying all the time.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 – Pray without ceasing.

It’s hard to wrong someone when you’re deep in conversation with them, and it’s difficult to sin when you’re constantly in prayer. If we would spend more time talking to God, we’d have less time to get into trouble, and it keeps our thoughts on him instead of on something else.

The next time you’re in conversation with a group of friends, imagine Jesus sitting there among you. How would you speak then? Would you curtail some of your more flowery language? Would you address different topics instead of those that capture your attention? Why not do that at all times?

Why not invite God into every conversation? After all that’s what prayer is, right?

What Can It Do?

With all of this talk about prayer, what can it do? What is the benefit? If you aren’t aware of what it can do you’ll never use it to its full potential.

James 5:15 – And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

Healing is a powerful faith builder. It of course restores health, but those who witness the miracle will be strengthened in their faith.

Forgiveness is probably the most powerful tool for emotional recovery. It washes away guilt, restores relationships with other people, and brings us into a right relationship with God.

But there is more to prayer. God can move mountains in your life, change the outcome of your day, your job, or your career. He can deal with tough situations, anguish and grief. And he can change the direction of entire countries. Large or small, prayer is powerful and God listens to it all.

On election night as I was working on a build project, I lost three small pieces in my office. A spring and two small metal pieces went flying. At first I shook my head, knowing that one was buried deep behind a shelf under a pile of stuff, and that the other two hit the ceiling and disappeared, I knew not where. My first reaction was frustration. I went upstairs to see if Julie was still watching election results. When I came downstairs, I prayed, “Lord, I know that the direction of this country is of much greater importance than these small pieces, but I would really appreciate your assistance in finding them.” All three pieces were no more than 8” apart right near my feet.

James 5:16 – Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Don’t you want to avail much when you pray? Doesn’t the title of “prayer warrior” have a nice ring to it? Why not get some practice in and get started? Be bubbly with your prayer and see what happens.

From great and mighty things to the minutia we have a hotline to the man upstairs who will listen and act.

Standing in the Gap

Then there are those who do not know Christ. There are those who choose lives that reflect that of the world. It is sad to see the hopelessness and emptiness they face, especially when it’s someone in your own family. They are not aware of his sacrifice, of God’s forgiveness, and of the gift of eternal life or they’ve turned them down. What about them? Who will pray for them?

That duty falls on our shoulders, it’s part of our mission and we are to reach out to them. We are called to be salt and light in a dark, and dying world. How are we to know the right way to approach them without being in touch with God? Prayer is a powerful ally in this struggle, because without God’s involvement, how are we to know the best approach? How will we know how to share the glorious gift of Jesus?

We are called to pray, even when the result does not come in our time. Countless mothers, fathers, and siblings have passed without seeing the fruit of their prayers in the lives of their loved ones. But, thanks to their determination and the loving hand of God himself that will see that individual come to Christ.

No prayer is ever wasted, just answers that are slow in coming, and even sometimes unanswered.

Unanswered Prayers

Does anyone remember that Garth Brooks song “Unanswered Prayers?” He sings about going to a football game with his wife where he meets an old girlfriend. After looking back on the past and then to the present, he is thankful that God specifically didn’t answer his prayers when he was interested in the other woman.

Isn’t it amazing when you open your eyes one day and realize that the prayer you had been praying was something that God denied for a really good reason? It may be hard for us to deal with a “no” at the time we ask, but later that answer can be the best outcome.

I for one am thankful that God has blessed me the way he did. I went through some struggles when I was young, and at times it seemed as if God wasn’t listening when he was actually protecting me for a better future. It was tough then, but it’s made me who I am today and I am certain that my life is better because of it.

Praying for Our Leaders

While it’s easy to pray for yourself and those you love, you may find it a little more difficult to want the best for someone that you don’t agree with. Yes, I’m talking about politicians. It seems very few folks speak well of them. But God makes no distinction on their political affiliation… we are to pray for them all.

There are local officials such as county commissioners, city council members. There are those at the state level such as senators, congressmen, and a governor. And, finally, there are the leaders at the national level, including the supreme court and the president.

Have you been praying for them? Until last month when my family and I did the month of prayer, I admit that I hadn’t been doing it very often. It was hard for me to pray for the president or our governor because I don’t agree with their policies. But we’ve not been asked to pray when things aren’t going our way, but just to pray for them in general. How is God going to move when we have given up?

They say voter apathy may very well have led to the outcome of Tuesday’s presidential election. Perhaps the apathy was because they didn’t care for their candidate, or perhaps it was because they thought their candidate would win and didn’t need their vote. Had a larger number of those people gone to the polls and cast their ballot, we may have had a different result. Is your apathy in your attitude of prayer changing the outcome of the direction of this country, of this state, this city, your own family, or even your own life?

When we’ve been asked to pray without ceasing not much time remains for not praying, is there?

1 Timothy 2:1-3 – I exhort, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the site of God our Saviour;

We are called simply to pray for all men, kings and all in authority. It is through our prayers that the hand of God that will change their hearts. But only if we cry out to him and ask him. If we are silent then why should he respond?

Praying for our Country

While we are called to pray for our leaders, there are millions of people out there who still need God. With the political inclinations of this country, God is forced out or prevented from coming into the process. People are allowed to hear the religions of atheism, humanism, and even other religions but prevented from hearing about Christianity.

With abortion, violent protests, the crime rates, the smut on TV, and on and on… we need to be seeking God and his healing touch on this land.

Don’t Stop Praying!

Perhaps you liked the results of this election. Don’t stop and say, “Whew, that was a close one, I guess we’re good for the next four years.” That is in no way an excuse to stop praying. Stay on task and keep that relationship strong.

Maybe you didn’t like the results of this election. Whether it was a particular candidate, or maybe you saw that there were several ballot initiatives that passed that were disturbing. It’s simply a new call to pray. Get on your knees and call out to God so He can make a difference!

I will be refocusing my prayer life. Will you join me?

Invitation

But perhaps you don’t have that life line. Maybe you don’t know God. Maybe you don’t understand the gift he made available through Jesus Christ his Son so that you might receive life and live it abundantly.

Don’t you want to know what it’s like to just call out to God and have him listen? Or even answer?

Don’t you want to have a “Daddy” that kneels down with love and compassion in his eyes, with outstretched arms and can’t wait for your embrace? He can be that and so much more if you only let him in.

Are you scared of what might change, scared of the unknown? Not to worry, you’ll have someone holding your hand as soon as you do, and he’ll walk beside you from now until forever. Don’t you want that?

If you’ve never asked Jesus to be lord of your life, now is the time. Don’t go another day not knowing who Jesus is and the peace, hope, and joy that is waiting.

I am offering not what I have to offer, but what was offered to me through Jesus Christ. It’s forgiveness, it’s eternal life, and it’s freedom… freedom from sin, freedom from guilt, freedom to live the life God has planned for you.

If you’d like to know that today, then I want you to pray this prayer with me:

Jesus, I invite you to be the Lord of my life. I believe that you died and were raised for my sake. I know I am a sinner, but I ask for your forgiveness, and ask that You cleanse me from all sin. I put my faith and trust in You, and You alone for my salvation. Thank you for being my Savior, I invite you into my heart. Change me and make me yours. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer today for the first time, please share that with someone. Romans 10:9 says that when you confess with your mouth these things, you will be saved. And as an added bonus, your prayer life can now begin in earnest.

Don’t stop praying!