BECAUSE SOMEONE PRAYED
May 12,2002 PM
Building a house is difficult work that requires great skill. (Concrete, wood, brick, stone, etc.) When it comes to filling the house, where do you turn?
Open in your Bibles to Proverbs 24
1. JC Penney, Wal-Mart, perhaps an antique shop, etc.
2. I guess it depends upon your situation.
Many homes are furnished with Early American childhood. The pictures on the wall are surrounded by fingerprints. Art pieces decorate the refrigerator. I guess anyone can build a house, and anyone can fill it with beautiful things.
Yet, the Bible describes something far more important, far more valuable than constructing a house.
God’s Word tells how to build a home.
(As a single, newlywed, married couple for years, how do you build your home?) Look at Solomon’s words in Proverbs 24, beginning in verse 1:
Do not envy wicked men, do not desire their company; For their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble. By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established. Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. Proverbs 24:1-4
BUILD YOUR HOME WITH WISDOM
The Hebrew word for “wisdom” means skill. As a contractor must have the skill to build a house, you need the skill to build your home.Solomon says the skill you need to build your home comes from God.*From knowing God, respecting God, loving God, listening to God through His Word . . . talking to God.
Solomon understood the need for prayer (his prayer for wisdom in 1st Kings 3:5-15). In the book of Proverbs he writes:
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight (Proverbs 15:8).The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous. Proverbs 15:29
Of course, different materials are used in building a house: concrete, wood, brick, stone, etc. Different qualities are used in building a home. Solomon warns against building your home with envy (Prov. 24:1). You’re dissatisfied with what you have. You want what someone else has. “If I just had what they had, then I would be happy."
There is a difference between happiness that depends on what you have, and, joy that comes from godly wisdom.
Praying to God (sharing with Him, depending upon Him, leads you to the wisdom needed to build your home).
Prayer enables you to . . .
ESTABLISH YOUR HOME WITH UNDERSTANDING
Praying to God enables you “to look at the heart of an issue & determine what is at stake in the choices being weighed.”
1. Just as a carpenter needs the proper tools to set a straight line, so also we need the proper tools to keep our homes straight.
2. If you allow the standards of the world to dictate how your home is or will be built, it will eventually topple.
3. Praying to God, Solomon says, can give you the understanding to discern between good & evil. . . to make the crucial choice between that which is good & that which is best.
4. Prayer enables you to . . .
FURNISH YOUR HOME WITH KNOWLEDGE
Where do you turn for answers? People, internet, books, radio, videos, television? Numerous sources of knowledge. They are also sources of temptation.Through these media our homes can be blessed or cursed.
Go back to Proverbs 24:1. Solomon teaches:
Do not desire to be with evil men. Proverbs 24:1
This refers to what you do outside your home, & to what comes into your home. What knowledge do you furnish your home with? Take great care with the internet, books, videos, etc.
5. Solomon writes that through knowledge which comes from God the rooms in your home can be filled with rare & beautiful treasures.*A small boy was working with his father in the yard. The boy decided to move a large rock. The father watched his son struggle with the rock, yet it would not budge. Finally, the man asked the boy, “Son, are you using all your strength?” “Yes, Daddy,” he said gasping, “I’m using all my strength.” “No, you’re not,” the father answered. “You’re not using all your strength – because you haven’t asked me to help.”
Many times we try, on our own, to remove obstacles in our life. Like the little boy, we struggle, thinking we have done everything we can. Yet, like the boy, we often fail to ask our heavenly Father for help. The Apostle Paul wrote:
The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. (What requests do you have for God?) And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7
When you have done all you know to do, turn the matter over to God. Better yet, before you have done all you know to do, turn the matter over to God.
Prayer is not merely an occasional impulse to which we respond when we are in trouble: prayer is a life attitude.
Prayer is an upward leap of the heart, an untroubled glance toward heaven, a cry of gratitude & love which I utter from the depths of sorrow as well as from the heights of joy.
Walter A. Mueller
Prayer crowns God with the honor & glory due to His Name, and God crowns prayer with assurance and comfort. The most praying souls are the most assured souls.
Thomas Benton Brooks
1. Building your home begins & ends with prayer. It enables you to build it with wisdom . . . establish it with understanding . . . and, furnish it with knowledge.
2. Because you pray, great things happen.
Turn to John 11.
A. Let’s meet someone who went to Jesus on behalf of a friend. His name is not important. His looks are immaterial. This person’s gender is of no concern. His title is irrelevant.“We need someone who will tell Jesus that my brother is sick.
1.What mattered was his friend was sick, and Jesus could help, so he went to get Him.2. He went because he was asked to go. An appeal came from the family of the afflicted:
We need someone to ask Him to come. Will you go?”
B. The question came from two sisters. They would have gone themselves, but they couldn’t leave their brother’s bedside.So Mary and Martha sent someone to tell Jesus, “Lord, the one You love is sick” (John 11:3).
1. They needed someone else to go for them.
2. Some were too busy. Others didn’t know the way. Not everyone could go. And not everyone would go. This was no small request the sisters were making. They needed a diligent ambassador, someone who knew how to find Jesus. Someone who wouldn’t quit mid-journey.Someone who would make sure the message was delivered. They knew of a trustworthy person, and to that person they went. They entrusted their needs to someone, and that someone took those needs to Jesus.
C. Someone carried the request. Someone walked the trail. Someone went to Jesus on behalf of Lazarus. And because someone went, Jesus responded.How important was this person in the healing of Lazarus?
How essential was his role?
Some might regard it is secondary. After all, didn’t Jesus know everything? Certainly He knew that Lazarus was sick.True. But Jesus didn’t respond to the need until someone came to Him with the message: When Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness will not end in death. It is for the glory of God to bring glory to the son of God” (John 11:4). When was Lazarus healed? After someone made the request.
I know the healing wouldn’t unfold for several days, but the timer was set when the appeal was made. Would Jesus have responded if the messenger had not spoken?
Perhaps, but we have no guarantee.
We do, however, have an example: The power of God was triggered by prayer. Jesus looked down the very throat of death’s cavern & called Lazarus back to life . . . all because someone prayed.
B. When he told Jesus of the illness he said:Lord, the one you love is sick. (John 11:3)
He doesn’t base his appeal on the imperfect love of the one in need, but on the perfect love of the Savior. The power of the prayer, in other words, does not depend on the one who makes the prayer, but on the One who hears the prayer.
C. You might pray: “The one you love is tired, sad, lonely, afraid, depressed, etc.”
The words of the prayer vary, but the response never changes.1. The Savior hears the prayer. Remember the phrase from John’s gospel?When Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness will not end in death . . .”
The Master heard the request. Jesus stopped whatever He was doing & took note of the man’s words. We live in a loud world. To get someone’s attention is no easy task. He must be willing to set everything aside to listen: turn down the radio, turn away from the monitor, put down the book, etc. When someone is willing to silence everything else so he can hear us clearly, it is a privilege.
John’s message is critical.1.You can talk to God because God listens. Your voice matters in heaven.
2. Even if you stammer or stumble, even if what you have to say impresses no one, it impresses God . . . and He listens.
3. Actions in heaven begin when someone prays on earth.
John goes on to write what Jesus told His disciples:I will do whatever you ask in My Name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask Me for anything in My Name, and I will do it.The Father will give you whatever you ask in My Name.
John 14:13-14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him (1st John 5:14-15).John 15:16
Don’t let anyone tell you that prayer is an out-of-date check that expired somewhere around A.D. 70.
God is just as alive today as ever. We sing about it don’t we?
“There is beyond the azure blue, a God concealed from human sight . . .”
Yet, too many people have plunged into prayer while thinking of God as the great Coca-cola machine in the sky. They put in their quarter-hour of prayer & expect the good stuff to drop out below. That’s not what Jesus meant, nor is it what even the apostles found. Indeed, Paul described times when God did not take away the “thorn” in his flesh or “open a door” of opportunity despite the apostle’s pleas (2nd Corinthians 12:7-9).3. It is clear that prayer is not a blank check from Jehovah. Prayer requires both the countersignature of Christ & the Father’s stamp of agreement before it can be cashed. So how do we access the great blessings that prayer brings?*After a lesson on sin & confession, a Sunday-school teacher asked her 2nd grade class, “What must we do before we can be forgiven?”“IF YOU ASK”
One bright-eyed boy blurted out, “You gotta sin! Although it sounds simplistic, Jesus reminds us of something no more complex than this child’s response. We gotta ask!
The question is not, “Does God have the power to meet our needs?” Rather, it is, “Do we have the faith & presence of mind to ask?”
3. Unfortunately, the simplicity of prayer has led many people into complacency. It strikes them as too easy, too childish, just to bow their heads & pray. They want to exhaust their own resources before turning to God.“Wouldn’t the time be better spent by doing something about the problem?” the modern thinker asks.1. Satan loves that kind of thinking, doesn’t he! If he can keep you from turning to the Father with your needs, he can keep you frustrated & frantic.*Remember the old Superman television show?
Every plot led to virtually the same dilemma: Jimmy Olsen & Lois Lane would be captured by criminals & tied up in a basement. In that same basement, a huge bomb would be set to destroy the city in minutes. The criminals would leave the two, hapless reporters to watch their last seconds of life tick away. For some reason known only to the writers of the show, the bad guys always forgot one little detail. They managed to leave Jimmy & Lois tied up in a room that had a phone! Would they get their hands free & call for help? Could they reach Superman in time? Notice that the question is not, “Can Superman stop a bomb?” Any six year old knows that dynamite is no match for the Man of Steel. The only question is, “Will they get to the phone in time?”
B. Our battle against Satan is no different. God’s ability to meet our needs is never in question. He can soften hearts & change lives. He has done it before & He will do it again. The only uncertainty is whether we will ask.C. Many ask God for only the simple. Yet, Jesus’ language to the disciples was astonishingly broad.“WHATEVER YOU ASK”
“Whatever you ask . . .” (John 14:13).
God has much more to give than we are normally willing to ask. What a faith challenge that is!*Imagine the scene. We come into God’s storehouse where every wondrous blessing of joy unknown & peace without limits is stored. The Lord has called the angels to attention, and they have prepared a huge chariot to transport the blessings His children will request. And for what will many ask? They look around longingly at all of these treasures & then quietly beg God for a small pack of dry crackers & a glass of water! They give us the tiny things we request, and after we trudge out they ask the King, “Why do they pray such small prayers?”
The Father replies, “They have a hard time asking as big as I can give.” Perhaps we listened too well to our mothers who, when we ate at someone else’s home, warned, “If it’s not on the table, don’t ask for it.” With all due respect to moms, God says, “Go ahead & ask for it.”
Throughout the Old & New Testaments, God’s people were willing to ask for amazing things. At their requests,
He stopped the sun (Joshua 10).
Parted the sea (Exodus 14).When they prayed, He shook buildings, dropped walls, & destroyed armies.
Just about the time we think we have hit the Lord’s limit for giving, Paul reminds us that God “is able to immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).
As we pray, we need to make sure we pray in the right name.
“IN MY NAME” Jesus’ instruction to ask in His name is no minor add on.
In His day, a messenger would often come “in the name of“ his lord or ruler. As a result, the message he carried was to be received as if it were given personally by that powerful person.
3. If the messenger was mistreated, as in Jesus’ parable of the unjust tenants, it was as if the cruel act had been done to the master himself.
Also, the messenger was to behave in a way befitting his master. If the messenger’s actions were rude or inappropriate, he would bring shame on his master’s name & punishment on himself. We are taught to ask in Jesus’ Name.Our requests, then, must be presented both with faith in our Master & in accordance with His nature.
Prayers with a selfish lists of “gimmes,” for example, can hardly be offered in Jesus’ holy name.
Before uttering that precious & powerful phrase, we must be sure that the things for which we are asking will bring glory to His name.“THE FATHER WILL GIVE YOU”
D. Do we always receive just what we ask for?
No. Parents don’t give their children everything they ask for.
A. Jesus assured us:
Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:9-11.
God in His sovereignty, knows what will best meet your needs & fit into His divine plan. And He will work His will in ways you might never imagine.*Consider the older, Christian woman whose unbelieving neighbor mocked her prayers for daily needs. One evening, overhearing her requests to God for some specific items, he rushed to the store & bought those very things. After placing them on her porch, he rang the doorbell & hid in the bushes. When the woman saw the food she had prayed for waiting on the porch, she began to praise God for it. The atheist sprang from his hiding place to expose her error.
“Look here,” he stated. “God didn’t get you those groceries. I did, and I have the receipt to prove it! What do you think of your God now?”
“Oh my,” she exclaimed, “He’s even smarter than I imagined. Not only did He get me my groceries, but He made the devil pay the bill.” In some ways, it’s just that simple.Our task is to ask. God’s task is to answer. And when He does provide for our needs, it is our joy to give thanks & tell others of His kindness. Our world needs to hear us telling stories of God’s faithfulness.
*Just when I think I have mastered it & things are going well, I stumble, but, “He is there.”
Just when I feel I can go no more & I fall on my knees, “He is there.” Just when I feel the whole world has the best of me, “He is there,” tugging at my heart. Life is so good if we just remember, “He is there.”INVITATION