VN520414 9-20-2015 Prayer Meetings
Let’s start this way. Do you guys remember a couple weeks ago it was brought to the church’s attention to pray for the country of Chile? Evidently on Wednesday they had a major earthquake, 8.3, and I had been given information that it was a bad situation. They did call for tsunamis and they said maybe it would hit Hawaii and all this kind of stuff, but it turns out, the last I heard, which I believe was yesterday, there had actually been no deaths or injuries. There had been a lot of destruction and so there were problems there and the highest tsunami wave was like 15 feet high and nothing hit Hawaii. So, it’s interesting that a week or so before there was an earthquake that God led this church to pray for the country of Chile and He brought them through and it looks like unscathed.
Numerically it’s going to cost them probably a nice penny to rebuild all of what was devastated, but 8.3. The last time I remember here was what, 3.4, and I didn’t like it. I can’t imagine what an 8.3 would feel like. So, I just wanted to tell you that God does hear and answer the prayers of Glenwood church. It amazes me whenever God uses a little church in Southern Illinois to pray for a little country in Southern America, you know? I say little because if you look on a map it’s not that wide. It’s real long but it’s not very wide, so I’ve always thought it was an interesting country to read about and to understand. Anyway, the Lord laid it on our hearts. We prayed for it and the Lord has evidently done a merciful thing down there.
Now, before I get started on this I would like to say thank you to Jim Cymbala? I don’t know. I was reading a devotion and this sermon is based on that a lot. When I read it several months ago I was like wow, and evidently today is the day you guys get to hear it. So, thank you Jim wherever and whoever you are, and at the bottom of it, it said feel free to use this so I feel free to use it. Anyway, when you start to think about the beginning of the church, not Glenwood, but the church of Jesus Christ that was established in Jerusalem and you say when was the church started?
Most people, myself included, will automatically say Acts chapter 2 and what happened when it was started? What was the beginning of it and they’ll say suddenly there was a sound, a great mighty rushing wind and then tongues of fire came down out of heaven and it landed up on all the disciples and the people in the upper room. Then the Holy Spirit came down and they spoke in multiple languages, and then Peter got up and preached and the church was started. Buddy, yeah, that’s the way it started, but actually that is phase 2 of the beginning of the church of Jesus Christ. If you read before that like the end of the other gospels, and then the first chapter of Acts, you’ll find out what phase 1 was.
Phase 1 was waiting and praying. Granted, they threw in an election of an apostle to fill Judas Iscariot’s place, but for the most par,t it was waiting and prayer, and then after 10 days of waiting and praye,r then the power fell, then the tongues of fire came down, then the Holy Spirit filled them, then they spoke in different languages, then Peter got up and preached and yeah, buddy, there are a lot of things that happened, but it began with prayer. This whole prayer thing, we as evangelicals, we all get up and rant and rave and say things like they took prayer out of the schools and that’s the worst thing that happened. If they would put prayer back in school things would be different. We need to have prayer in school, and the interesting thing is yes, yes, but truth be known prayer meetings are almost a thing of the past in evangelical churches. It’s almost extinct.
Churches themselves are ranting about putting prayer in school when they can’t put prayer in their own church, any length of time anyway. You don’t have services really dedicated. They still call them Wednesday night prayer meeting, but what usually happens by and large if they have a Wednesday night service, which most churches don’t anymore, nor do they usually have a Sunday night anymore, if they happen to have it, they will have a humungous dinner to try to lure people in. Then they will have video programs, a show to watch. They’ll do some workshops. They might go out and buy some literature and then they’ll read these books. You know, they’ll be assigned a chapter and then after they discuss what was in that chapter they’ll ask questions about it. It’s more like a Sunday School Class they go through, but they’ll buy them like through a Christian book store and the like.
But, when you say let’s have a prayer meeting the basic idea is oh pshaw. That’s so passe. That’s 100 years ago. That is so not trendy. That so doesn’t work. That’s not exciting, and prayer meetings will not bring people in. Really? The church started with one big 10-day prayer meeting and it brought 3000 people into salvation. You know, evangelicals also, that’s us and the people that believe the Bible literally too. Now, I’ve got to point this out. There are people, there are denominations and churches that stick the word evangelical on the front of their churches, their denomination, and they do not believe the Bible to be true. I was even reading about some guy who claimed to be Christian but he was not a follower of Christ. He didn’t believe the Bible was true and he didn’t attend church, but he was a Christian and I’m going how can you be a Christian when the word Christian means like Christ or little Christ? How can you deny Him and say I am a Christian when you deny everything he stands for?
But there are people out there who are saying I’m evangelical. I believe in the evangel, the proclamation of the good news of Christ and evangelicals believe in that. We stand around and we talk about all the other problems, and it’s not just prayer in school. Here’s a big one. It’s our government is so corrupt, it’s bungling, it’s mismanaged, it’s overpaid, it’s overextended itself, and you guys know all the oh my gosh because I’m standing right there with you and saying we’ve got to do something about our government. Let’s go back to Acts, and honest people, I do not have it quarterly. I don’t know what anybody is going to talk about on Sunday Schools, but let’s go back to what was discussed. The early Christians weren’t really that concerned about what their governments, what their leaders, or what their church elders were saying. If it did not line up with the truth of God and the revelation of Jesus Christ they really didn’t concern themselves about those problems.
They didn’t stand around and wring their hands out and say oh, the emperors are so unjust and the governmental rules are bad. The emperors they had were Nero, the guy that was burning people at the stakes, Caligula which we’ll talk about in just a little bit, and Claudius. These were not good people. There were a few other people who supposedly converted to Christianity and then became heretics and all this kind of stuff, and Hadrian was a bad guy too, but they weren’t so concerned about those people. They went ahead and did what God told them to do. Did they wring their hands because their government wasn’t up to what they considered snuff? Did they say things like “Oh, what are we going to do, what are we going to do?”
Caligula, Emperor Caligula, and this is true, he was bisexual. He married his sister. He murdered that sister, and then he appointed a horse as a senator. They didn’t run around going “What are we going to do? Well, I’ll tell you what let’s do. How do we respond to this? Well, let’s have an organizational meeting. Let’s march on the capital. Let’s have a petition drive. Let’s call up all the politicians and tell them we don’t like this.” What they did was something a little bit different. When they were arrested, when Nero and Caligula were lining them all up and executing them, they prayed. They honestly prayed. They didn’t pray sweet little prayers. They prayed and prayed and sought God with such faith that time and time again, we read it in the Book of Acts, that the place was actually shaken.
They place that they were jailed was shaken, and sometimes the doors were opened and the people were let out. Sometimes they were really nervy people. The doors were open and they said come on out and Paul said no. You’re not weaseling me out like this. You’re not going to take me out. I deserve an apology and they had to give him one. You know, times have changed so much in all the churches. Jesus says I hope, this is my paraphrase of it, but will the Son of God find faith on the earth when He returns? When He comes back will there be people actually there trusting and believing and expecting something to be transformed in their life because they have actually had a prayer meeting and God, they expect God to intervene? They actually had a prayer.
The effectual fervent prayer of a man availeth much. The effectual fervent payer of a righteous man, or a just man, availeth much. All Christians who believe in Christ, they are righteous. Most of our problem is we’re not fervent. We’re not having those effectual prayers because eh, it’s alright. Things are cool. I can get along with this. No problems really. I can deal. It’s not me they’re bothering. No, it’s not right and I don’t like what’s going on, but it’s not going to drive me to my knees either. Then some people come to me and actually say Doyle, I’m just overwhelmed. It’s not just the government, it’s not just the schools and the prayers, it’s not just that stuff but my whole life is overwhelming me. I’ve got so much that just is driving me and just pushing me, and I can’t hardly take it anymore, and I don’t know what to do. What should I do when I’m overwhelmed? A Christian is not supposed to be overwhelmed.
Really? Mark 14:34. Jesus says, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” What did this guy do? He called some friends together and He said here, pray. Stay awhile and wait with Me and He went off and He started praying. Granted, this is the Garden of Gethsemane, but He was overwhelmed, He was pushed and He was shoved. In another place it says, and this is Luke 5:16, but Jesus oftentimes withdrew to a deserted or a lonely or a wilderness place and He prayed, and it’s actually places. This is not just something that He did once, but something that He did continually. When He was overwhelmed, or He was pushed by a crowd and He was exhausted He actually would tell His disciples you guys, get in that boat and head across the sea. I’ll catch up with you later, and when they were going across the sea He would go up into a deserted lonely place and there He would pray, and there He would seek God, and there He would find victory.
If you read in the Gospels about Lazarus and really read and pay attention to what Jesus says, when He got to the tomb of Lazarus He did not pray but what He said was God, I know that You have heard Me. He has already done His praying. He is already up to snuff when He gets there and He’s not worrying like everybody else. Oh, Lazarus is dead, Lazarus is dead beating His chest. He’s sad and He weeps because this is not the way God had intended it, and His heart is broken because the two sisters are having such a rough time, and they’re having a rough time also accepting the fact that He is the way, the truth, the light and the resurrection and all that stuff that He has been teaching them and He is like here it is, I’m getting close to the time that I am going to be offered up as a sacrifice and some of my most devoted people are not quite grasping all the things that I have been trying to teach them. Yes, He was brokenhearted over that, but He said Father, I am glad that You have already heard me, but I say this, I pray this, I’m speaking out loud because I want them to know that You have heard me.
He wanted the people to know that it wasn’t just He had the power to raise up Lazarus from the dead, but His power came from God Himself and He had the power to raise him because of Jesus Christ. Oftentimes He would be feeding 5000, 4000, you’ll read afterwards, and He sent the people away and He went off to a place by Himself. He went off alone. What are we supposed to do when we’re overwhelmed? What are we supposed to do when there’s just too much going on? One of the first things you should do is send everybody away, and if you can’t make them leave, you get up and go. I mean, one lady, she had climbed, she called it a hill. I was down in Tennessee at the time going to Bible college down there and she says oh, sometimes I just got to get out of this house and I climb that hill and there is a little rocky place up there and I’ll sit there and me and the Lord will have a long discussion. I looked out at her hill and I’m going lady that is a mountain. She would climb that mountain, and she was old, every bit of 45, and I was like how do you get up there? She would go up on that mountain. 45. I thought that was old.
Anyway, not that I look a day over 45 do I? She would go up there and be by herself and the Lord, and she would get away from all the stuff, and she would sit there and pray and talk to Him in a desolate, deserted place, her and God. Prayer would come first, and then after spiritual prayer would happen then the reality of the victory would come through into reality. First the prayer which is a spiritual thing will happen and then the victory of that prayer will be presented in reality. Now, this is what bothers me about prayer. I have been to so many prayer meetings and they’re going Doyle, we’d like for you to come to our prayer meeting. We get together and we have a prayer meeting. So, you know, okay, sure, I’ll go. You get there and what they have is a coffee clutch, coffee, you know, gossip session. We all get together and we share concerns about the neighbors and what is going on in their lives and sit around and eat donuts. I have no problem with donuts because I’m usually back here at donut time, right?
No problem with donuts, no problem with coffee, and no problem with getting together, but when they build it, it’s we’re having a prayer meeting and then they’ll say oh, well, we better get to praying or we’re not going to get there so they’ll all grab hands and this is the part that just kills me. They all grab hands and then they make like they’re spiritually constipated and they’re God, please hear us now as we pray, and it’s like if I can just make an ugly little face and talk to God in that voice He will know how sincere I am. Well, God is not impressed with our face making. God wants to hear from our heart. I have no problem with people getting together for coffee and donuts. I’m all for it. Yes, coffee and donuts. I like them, but there comes a time when a church really needs to have prayer meeting. There comes a time when individuals really need to have prayer time just them and God.
You know, we are at the place now that we need to get really serious about prayer, really serious about prayer. Get in touch with God and I mean just right there. We need to not just make those ugly little faces and say oh God, and not to use the big flowery language but just to say God, here’s a problem and I really mean it. I see it as a problem and then He is liable to say yeah, you’re overwhelmed, and yes there really are problems, and here is one of the big things you can do in your life. Repeat after me the word no. So, when people start trying to pile things onto you and guilt you into doing things, no. Make a list of things that are important, really, really important, and don’t let people wheedle you into doing things that are not so important because you’ve got to do the important things and then they just keep piling on because the devil does not want you to have time to stop and think about what does God want and I need to be in His presence.
If Jesus Christ Himself who was healing people and had hundreds and thousands of people demanding His time, wanting to touch Him and paw over Him, if it was so important and it was that He would actually tell people get away and leave Me alone. Don’t touch me, don’t talk to me, walk away, I’m going over there, and I’m not going to tell you where I’m going. I’m going over there and then He would walk up this other hill over here and He would be by Himself and spend time with God, and if we are a Christian, meaning little Christ or like Christ, then we need to do what He does. When it gets really shoved in on us, shut it down for awhile and take a walk. I don’t go places. For one thing I don’t take walks and pray a whole lot because as Doris Jean can testify, if she ever sees me walking down that (anglin) road past her place. I’ll be out there going God, this is the way it ought to be. How come? Where are you? Why aren’t You doing something? And people will think I’m having a fit out there because I talk with my hands all the time.
When I want to be alone with God I’ll get in my car and I will take a long drive. I mean, it could be hours. Just a long drive not really to go someplace, but because I know if I’m walking I’m going to stop and talk to people. Every car that goes by, I’m from Southern Illinois, you’ve got to wave at them. Hi, how are you? I wonder who that was. Oh, there’s another one. To get alone with God sometime, someplace and make it a habit.
Jesus made it a habit, and here is something else I would challenge you all to do, is to find somebody that you can be totally honest in front of and say let’s have a prayer meeting. Just me and you. Where two or more are gathered God is in their midst and He hears and answers their prayers. Say, let’s get together and not have coffee and donuts and just set a time. We’re going to start here, and we’re going to finish here, and we are going to pray about, and just pick like two subjects or three subjects and say we’re going to do this every, pick a day of the week, at this time and do it for six weeks. The reason six is the magic number is they have found out through studies that most people will do anything including a diet for six weeks, but Katy, bar the door on week seven. They are nowhere around it. They don’t want to do it. They have had their fill.
Week six we’re right at our edge, and I have found that to be true, and usually that’s why you have Bible studies and stuff that only go for six weeks, and then you shut it down for a while and then you start it up again a little later. That’s why I say six weeks, but pick a number that is good for you. Something greater than one and no greater than six, and pick somebody and say will you meet with me for one purpose and that is to really get down and pray to our God that certain things will happen, that He will help the country of Chile when it has an earthquake, that He will lead us to those situations or to those subjects that need to have prayer, or that He will raise up the answer of how we should approach what’s going on in our country. What should we do God? How should be approach this? What should I say, and wait for those 10 days.
Do it for 10 days, I don’t care, but pick a time slot, pick a friend and really get in the presence of God and don’t rush it. Say we’re going to start here and block off a good chunk of time. Not 30 minutes, but say 2 hours. You don’t have to use the full 2 hours, but block it off and say this is what we’re going to block off and we’re going to have plenty of time to really seek the presence of God, and then stay right there even when you get bored. Stay right there and say God, we’re here for You because we are in a situation and our country, our church, my life, my family, my friends have certain needs that really need to be dealt with and only You can do it. Only You can shake this place and cause us to be delivered. That is my challenge this week.
Shall we pray? Father, in the name of Jesus cause us to get down on our knees before you, or stand before you, however You want us to be, but to be alert and to really seek Your guidance and seek Your face knowing that You can deliver us from our problems. Help us to learn to say no if that’s the answer to the deliverance we need, help us to say yes to the things that You would like us to do, but Father, also lead us out to those deserted places where it’s just mono and God, you know, just me and God out there and hear our prayers at those points. Father, lead us to somebody that we can pray with for at least a few weeks, a day a week or some such time, and then You will hear and answer that prayer. God, when You hear those prayers do it in such a way that the people will know that it is You that intervened so that they will know how great and powerful You are and the truth and the power of prayer. All glory and honor to You. In Jesus name I pray. Amen