Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Thursday, September 29th. Jesus spent much of His time praying. Today, you'll be encouraged to follow His example. Let's get a better understanding of how prayer connects believers to the wisdom and power of God. As a follower of Jesus Christ, what is your most powerful asset? What is your greatest privilege?
And what is the most practical gift God has ever given you? Well, the answer to all three of those questions is prayer. So what I'd like to do in this message is I want to deal with this whole issue of this. Does prayer influence God?
Does it or does it not? So I want you to turn, if you will, to a very familiar passage in the Sermon on the Mount, seventh chapter of Matthew and beginning in the seventh verse, some of the simplest things that Jesus ever said about prayer. And oftentimes people have the idea, well, all I have to do is just ask and I'll get it. But what you have to remember is this, that the purity of our heart affects the response of God through our petitions.
Listen to what He says. Verse seven of Matthew seven, ask and will be given to you. Seek and you will find, knock and it will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be open. Then He asks the question, On what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will they give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him? That's the kind of God He is. He is a good God who desires to give His children good things.
Now, with that in mind, let's ask a question. That is, why does God bid us to pray in the first place? Well, one of the first reasons He bids us to pray is because prayer honors God.
I want you to turn to Isaiah chapter fifty-seven, and I want you to notice just a couple of verses here, because in this passage, Isaiah describes God as you and I ought to see Him. When we pray, we honor God. We honor Him for being the God He is, the sovereign ruler of this universe, the one who rules and reigns over everything and everybody. Listen to what he says, beginning in verse fifteen, But thus says the high and exalted one, who lives forever, whose name is holy, I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit, in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. God says, I am high and exalted above all and beyond all.
He says, My name is holy, I dwell on a high and holy place, but also He includes all of us who have a contrite heart. God is interested in hearing our prayers. A second reason that He bids us to pray is because it is a primary means of our spiritual growth.
You show me a person who doesn't pray, and I'll show you someone who's not growing in their spiritual life, no matter who they are. One of the most important aspects of our spiritual life is our prayer life. And this is why I do believe that you and I should, listen, wake up every morning and begin talking to God. We should talk to Him all during the day.
We should go to bed at night, and probably the last thing I think we ought to do is to talk to Him. Listen, the Bible says we're to pray always. Does that mean I'm to get on my knees always? No, but it does mean this, that in my spirit, I am available at any moment to talk to Him. Something may prick my mind to pray for a particular person or some situation or circumstance.
I need wisdom and direction and guidance in this situation in life. Prayer ought to be a vital part of every believer's life. If it is not, you're not going to grow in your Christian life. You can memorize all the Scriptures you want to memorize, go to church, be baptized, have communion. You can talk to people about Jesus.
You can do anything you want to do. You neglect prayer in your life. Prayerlessness is a sure sign, listen, that you're on the road to ultimate spiritual defeat because God made it. Listen, He gave us this awesome privilege in order to do what? To develop this intimate relationship with Him.
You can't develop an intimate relationship with anybody if you don't talk to them and you don't listen to them. Because there's something about listening and talking and learning who the other person is. And in prayer, what does God do? He reveals Himself. Somebody says, well, I want to know what God's like. You spend enough time with Him in prayer, listening to Him, reading His Word, talking back to Him. He will reveal Himself to you to the degree to which you give yourself to Him, to listen to Him. Listen, and not just listen, but obey what He tells you.
The greatest privilege is to be able to spend time talking to Him. A third reason He talks to us about prayer and business to pray is this. This is the way, one of the primary ways He gets you and me involved in His Word. Now, how many times have I heard people say, well, you know what, what difference do my little old prayers make? Well, first of all, what makes your prayer little? What makes somebody else's prayer big? Don't judge your prayer by somebody else's reputation or somebody else's position. When you as a child of God come to your Heavenly Father with a pure heart, seeking the mind of God, you want the will of God in this situation. You want what He wants.
You desire what He desires. That prayer is as powerful as anybody else's prayer. And what we do is this, we discredit ourselves. And we say, well, you know, what difference does my prayer make? Well, think about this. This is one of the primary ways, one of the most awesome, effective, powerful ways that God involves you, listen, in ministry all over the world.
Because no matter who you are and what the situation is, when you talk to God, you can talk to God about anybody anywhere on this globe. Now, I like to think of it in terms of a triangle. That's like this, that God is at the head of the triangle.
He's at the top. Here I am over here. Here's God and here is my Partitional as somebody that I'm praying for. And so what happens is God sees this person's need. He then in turn lays their need upon my heart. And so God helps me to see what that need is.
Then what do I do? I talk to the Father about this person's need and the Father responds to my petition in their behalf, answers their prayer. I see what happens and so what happens? I get blessed, that person gets blessed and God gets glorified. There's not a single person on the face of the earth you cannot touch if you're willing to touch them through prayer.
That's the awesome thing about it. God is willing to listen. When you come to Him, that's how He involves you in the work. And oftentimes people say, well, but I'm not a preacher and I'm not a missionary and I'm not this and I'm not that. And they give God all these excuses about what they're not. Why don't you talk about what you are? Talk about your gifts, your asset. And somebody says, well, I can't sing.
A lot of people can't sing the way you think they ought to. Well, I can't preach and I can't teach and I can't do this and I can't do that. Let me ask you a question. Can you pray? Well, I don't know whether I can or not. Well, it's not a matter whether you can or not. It's a matter whether you will or not. You get right with God. Come before Him, listen, with an open heart and a pure heart and a pure mind. You know what happens?
God makes you an awesome, powerful tool in the kingdom of God. And I can think of some people who have greatly impressed my own life who are what I would call prayer warriors who've given themselves to prayer. And nobody will ever know their names. Their face is not on the TV or listen to them on radio and they're not in the newspapers or the magazines. You know what?
They're God's awesome saints. And when I think about so many people who are retired and they say, well, I'm just going to retire and just sort of take it easy. Listen, if you're going to retire, do something profitable. You're the most profitable thing. You don't even have to leave home. Listen, you don't need any money.
You don't even have to leave home. Get on your knees. Get on your face before God and begin to cry out to God for needs, not just your own personal needs. What a shame on our part that we do not exercise this awesome gift of God to see people's lives change, to help them when they're sick and to help them when they go into difficulty and to help them when they're in financial need, when the most powerful thing we can do for anybody is to bring their name before the living God who controls everything and saying to them, Father, my brother is in need.
My sister is in need. I'm beseeching you. I'm interceding in their behalf. I know you know their need.
You're the one who placed them upon my heart. I'm crying out to you, dear God, to do something in their behalf. Do you think God's going to ignore that?
No, He's not. He's not going to ignore it. If you have needs that are unmet, the question is, have you asked God to meet them? If you've got friends and loved ones who are in trouble or going through suffering and sorrow and heartache or maybe sick or whatever it might be, what are you saying to God about them? You see, oftentimes we just trust the medical field to do what only God can do. And there's some things that only God can do. And there's some things, listen, He's not going to do. If it's something that we can do, listen, as we cooperate with Him. I want you to think about this.
There's not a single spot on this globe or in space. You cannot touch with your life by talking to the Heavenly Father who owns it all, who's created it all, no matter where it is. Then, of course, one of the reasons He bids us to pray is because that's the way our needs are met. Go back one chapter, the sixth chapter of Matthew, and notice what He says. He's talking about how to pray and so forth and not to pray like hypocrites. And then He says in verse eight, So do not be like them, those who are praying to be seen, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. You see, we don't have to inform God about anything. He wants us to pray because He, listen, He desires that you come to Him asking for your needs and your desires because what's happening? You honor God in that fashion. You say, well, how does that honor God? Because you are acknowledging that He is the source of your need and your desires, that He is a loving Father who's promised to meet your needs. My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. That's who He is. You see, the reason we don't pray is we don't know who He is.
We forget who He is. We forget what the privilege is, what the awesome petition is in the hand of a living God who controls all things. So, He says in James chapter four, verse two, He says you're in need.
You don't have it. It's because you don't ask for it. And it's amazing to me how many times we think we're asking God. But you see, prayer is serious business because we're talking to the God of all creation. We're talking to the God who loves us so much He sent His only begotten Son to die on our behalf.
We're talking serious business. Prayer isn't something we just sort of flip along. Well, the Lord blessed me.
And I think about sometimes how people pray. Well, Lord, bless Him. Bless me. Bless my family. Bless my finances. Bless my job. Bless my vocation.
Bless my future. Bless my kids in college and protect them and all these things. In Jesus' name, amen.
Hop in the bed. I don't even think God pays much attention to that. And I'll tell you why. Because so many people pray the same thing all the time. All they have to say is, God, remember what I said last night?
Yes, ditto. And then to make it worse, they say, in Jesus' name, amen. You say, are you making fun of prayer? No, I'm making fun of the way people pray because it is not right. We're talking to a holy God. We're talking to the one who controls everything. Sometimes you may have to pray a hurried prayer.
And oftentimes people will ask me, well, I want to know what you think about so-and-so. I always say, God, grant me wisdom quickly because I know I need it quickly. That's, then God answers prayer?
Yes, He does. But you see, quick prayers are only as effective as the time we spend when they're prolonged, when we're not in a hurry, when He has our absolute total focus, when we sit or kneel a lie before Him and He's listening and we're talking and we're listening, God's up to something awesome. He desires to meet your needs. But if you only come to Him only when you have needs, what about one of our primary purposes, and that is to build an intimate relationship with Him?
Here's what you're going to find out. I've lived long enough and prayed long enough to know this. The longer I live, the less I ask for about myself. But the simple reason, I know He's going to take care of me.
I think about all the people who need me to pray for them, the circumstances and the situations of life. And I know in that intimate relationship with Him, it is so easy for me to ask Him about things and people, for myself as well as others, without any doubting, without any floundering about it, and no hope so, because you see, I've got enough years to understand and look back and see, He is absolutely faithful. You don't have to wonder about Him.
There's no hope so. There's no hope so when you're talking to God. He is the God, He gives you His absolute attention. He never says to you, well now wait a minute, I've got something else I've got to talk to over here. I'm listening to so and so right now.
I'll get back to you later. None of that. Our friends do us that way. They can't help it. We understand that. But what about God?
You have His undivided attention, and you have the awesome potential of touching anywhere in the world. Then why don't you pray? Is it because, as we said a few moments ago, you've asked the question, but my little old prayer, there's no such thing. I'm thinking about a lady right now who's been in Heaven a long time, and when I was a kid growing up, I'd walk down the street next to her house, I could hear this woman praying. I mean, she was crying out to God. I don't remember anything she said, but I just heard her voice crying out to God.
I'll never forget the kind of impression that made on me. I know her name. I've never forgotten her name. The only thing I know about her is that woman, when I walked by her house and she was praying, I felt this awesome sense of, as a kid I didn't understand what it was, but I'm sure it was the presence of God reminding me that I was walking through holy atmosphere. This woman knew how to talk to God. Do you realize that you don't have any earthly idea and that you never will have an idea of how much it's going on in your life that's good because somebody else prayed for you?
None of us have ever figured that out. It's so foolish for anybody to take credit for anything God does in their life. But the simple reason that so much of what God does has nothing to do with what we did or what we do. It has to do with the people who've prayed for you and prayed for you and prayed for you. Think about, for example, your grandparents who prayed for you, your parents who prayed for you, your friends who prayed for you. Do you realize the greatest asset you have with your friendships and life is that you've got people who call you a name before the Lord? Now, so many times we say, Now, Lord, bless all my friends. What in the world does that mean? But if I call you a name and I say, Lord, here's what I want you to do for Gerald.
Specific. Here's what I want you to do for Mary. Here's what I want you to do for John.
Here's what I'm asking on their behalf. Do you just think about the privilege you have? So the question is, do our prayers influence God? If we mean by that, does it invoke Him to respond? Yes. If it means, can I persuade God to do something against His will?
No. Never, never, never. But listen to some of the exhortations to pray.
And we take them for granted. For example, He says beginning in Luke, that sixth chapter and the twenty-eighth verse. Now, watch what He says in these. He says, and I know we don't have time to turn to all these, but listen. He says, Pray for those who persecute you. He would never tell me to pray for someone who was abusing me or misusing me in some fashion if God didn't intend to do something about it. The Lord's prayer says, Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses. He would not ask you to pray that prayer if He did not intend to do what? Provide you bread and forgive your sin. He said to the disciples in the garden that night before His crucifixion, He told them to pray, to pray because He knew they were going to be tempted and to pray about it. Why? Because He knew they needed it and He knew the Father would hear their prayer.
Why would He make such requests? Then I think about the ninth chapter of Matthew. Since we're close to that, turn if you will. Ninth chapter of Matthew and the thirty-seventh verse. Now, here's what Jesus said. He said, chapter nine of Matthew, verse thirty-seven, Then He said to His disciples, The harvest that is souls are plentiful, but the work is a few. Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest, that is, pray to God to send out workers into His harvest. He would never tell us to pray for God to call people in the ministry, to call people to these Sunday school teachers, play in the orchestras, sing in the choir, work on the parking lot. In other words, He would not ask us, He said the harvest is so awesome, the people everywhere who need the gospel.
Therefore, pray that the Lord of the harvest will call them. If He was a God who ignores your prayers, He would never have said that. Why did He say it? Because that's the way He gets His work done. He involves you in His work by doing what? Laying a burden upon our heart. We cry out to Him and He answers our prayer. He says, pray the Lord of the harvest that He'll send forth laborers. Paul said in Ephesians chapter one, he was praying the prayer that God would open the hearts and minds of His readers that they may understand who they were in their relationship to God. He said, for example, in Colossians chapter four, he said to the Colossian Christians, he says, pray that God will give me an open door and also, listen, open door to preach the gospel and also that He said that I may say it clearly, speak it clearly. Why would He ask them to pray that if He did not believe that God would hear what they said and answer their prayer?
And then I think, for example, in James chapter five, speaking of healing, He said, are there people among you who are sick? Let them call for the elders of the church. Let them anoint them with oil.
Lay hands upon them. Let there be confession of sin and pray the prayer of faith and the prayer of faith will heal the sick. There are so many exhortations to prayer. Why does God exhort us to pray like that? Because He's given us this privilege.
He knows the power of it and His willingness to answer. Listen, the truth is that most of what God does, other than His decrees, which we'll come to, He doesn't answer the prayer. Why is the church weak? Because the church oftentimes is prayerless. Why are individuals weak in their Christian life?
Because they're prayerless. There's just something about that relationship, that connection, that audible, listen, but quiet connection between you and God that makes an eternal difference in people's lives and makes a daily difference in your life. Thank you for listening to Does Your Prayer Influence God? If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-31 21:20:34 / 2022-12-31 21:29:58 / 9