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Prayer and a Forgotten Pair of Air Jordans

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
July 18, 2021 6:00 am

Prayer and a Forgotten Pair of Air Jordans

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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July 18, 2021 6:00 am

As we continue our walk through the book of Daniel, Pastor J.D. highlights the most undervalued resource of the church—prayer. Discarded by many, prayer is the vehicle through which the blessings of God are released and the promises of God are enacted. In Daniel 9, we not only see five principles that make for effective prayer; we also get a one-of-a-kind glimpse into what happens in heaven as we pray.

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Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
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James Banks

Well, good morning Summit Church. Listen, before we get started this weekend, I just wanted to take a moment and update you and thank God with you that all of our campuses are back to meeting in person this weekend, all of them, which is worth celebrating. However, two of our campuses, specifically our Chapel Hill campus and our North Durham campuses are still unable to meet on Sunday morning.

The venues that we have been in for years have not opened back up yet. To us, and so a couple of local churches in those areas have graciously allowed us to use their space on Sunday evenings, which is incredibly generous. And we are just amazed and thankful for their spirit of generosity. But not being able to meet on Sunday morning makes some that makes a big difference in their ability, our ability to reach people. And so we just want to ask God together that God would restore those opportunities to them soon, believing that it's better for us to be able to meet on Sunday morning. We just want to say, God, would you give us this provision there? So I just want us to pray together. And Chapel Hill campus and North Durham campus want you to know that we love you guys.

And just keep hanging in there. Okay, we know that God is faithful. One more thing before we pray, we continue to have more than 10,000 people engage our church online each weekend. By the way, that is a real number, not just a total number of clicks where people watch for two minutes. That's the actual number of people who are engaging, engaging for the entire service. And we record that on our website.

And we record that online service live on Thursdays here at the Capitol Hills campus. And here's my request to any of you that are hearing this. It may be hard for you to understand this, but it really helps me preach when I've got a congregation here responding to me. You tend to develop a rapport with people.

It helps when they, you know, laugh at your jokes, and they respond to what you're saying. It helps me get more into what what I'm what I'm preaching about helps me really embody it. I love Thursday nights, the group that comes is awesome. I really feel like it might be my favorite service of the weekend. The music is fantastic.

I love the time of week that it is. It's got the potential, I think, to be our best service. The point is, I want to ask a lot of you to consider coming.

I know it's a little out of the box, but I think you would love it. And it would be a big help to me personally, as well as others who teach here at the church. Okay, one more.

I said one more thing, I meant two more things. I want you to pray, if you will, also for Pastor Curtis and me, as we are going with about 600 or so of our teenagers. This week to student camp. And you can pray whatever you want. But what I would love for you to pray is pray for God to open their hearts and God to fill the mouths of me, Curtis and the worship leaders and our student leaders that are going to be leading during that time for this to be a life changing, life defining week, the majority of people who become Christians in the world do so during that window of time that they are teenagers. So we pray that God will give us an incredible, incredible week.

Would you do that? Let's pray together. I'll voice our prayer. Father, we come with a couple things that we need from you and we worship you as we begin just as the God who tells us to lean into him as our strength and our shield and our provider. I pray God for faith in this room, God to trust you in all of these areas where we are insufficient and you are so incredibly sufficient. Father, we ask that you provide the venues that we need to be able to hold our services on Sunday morning as a way to reach out to people.

We ask that you provide those in ways that only you can. God, we're asking that you enlarge our ability to impact our community and give us everything we need for that. God, we're asking specifically for this weekend, for this week coming up, that you speak, God, to our high school and middle school students. I pray that, God, there would be faith. I pray that there would be repentance. I pray that there would be clarity. God, I pray that you would anoint Pastor Curtis, me, our worship leaders, our student leaders, the counselors. God, I pray that you would put your words in our mouths and put faith, God, and humility in the hearts of our high school and middle school students. God, we worship you. We believe that you want to give us this as you've told us to pray and ask for these things.

So we pray it in Jesus' name. And if you agree with this, say amen. Amen. Amen. All right. Well, if you've got your Bibles, I want you to take them out this weekend and open them to Daniel, Chapter 9. I hope that you have your Bible or turn it on and scroll down to Daniel 9, if that's where you are.

I want to talk with you today about what I believe is the most undervalued resource in the church. Larry Awe, who was a maintenance worker at Milwaukee's Capitol Court Mall, was cleaning up a storage facility in that mall right before the mall was set to be demolished when Larry found in a trash pile a pair of sneakers that were buried underneath some old boxes. They were obviously used. They showed obvious signs of wear. But as Larry looked more closely at them, he recognized on the side Michael Jordan's signature on the side of one of the size 13 shoes with the inscription below it written in hand, my very best.

In fact, I have a picture of those here for you. Turns out they were authentic. They were a pair of the original Air Jordans, Air Jordan 1s that Michael Jordan himself had worn for a while. Nike had then loaned them to this store in Milwaukee to display in the store window as a way of attracting people in to buy Air Jordans.

I guess everybody eventually forgot about them. And so for 20 years they've been sitting in a storage closet and now they were discarded on a trash heap ready to be thrown away. They were valued at over $20,000. By the way, some of you notice I have on a new pair of Air Jordans. I want to assure you they did not cost $20,000. They were a gift given to me by a pastor out in western North Carolina who just said, Hey, hey, thank you for leading the SBC.

Some of you say, Hey, did you get paid for leading the SBC? You're looking at it. Okay.

Three years of work right there. Prayer. Prayer is the most undervalued resource of the church. It is neglected by many.

It is completely discarded by a lot of others. Scripture tells us, however, that many, I might even say most of the blessings that God wants to give us are activated in our lives through prayer. You find a promise and then you pray it into existence in your life.

It is always true as a promise, but it's not true for you until you embrace it. So I've heard it said that rather than just read your way through the Bible in the course of a year, you should pray your way through the Bible because the Bible is a book of promises. It contains more than 3,000 of them if you're counting, many of them sitting dormant until we claim them personally by prayer, until we appropriate them. So my question as we begin is how many blessings are there for your life or for your family that remain simply unactivated because you've never asked for them in prayer? It seems that whenever I hear older saints, older Christians talking about what they would do differently in life if they could go backwards, these are people whose lives you would already want to emulate. Most of them say looking back that if the one thing they could do more of or differently is they would pray more. Billy Graham, for example, he said, and I quote, Prayer is the most important thing that we could ever do, and if I could do my ministry over again, I would pray more than I preached. Isn't it significant that the most successful preacher of I would say Christian history in terms of just number of people that heard him and responded to him, the most significant and successful preacher of Christian history at the end of his remarkable life is convinced that prayer is the place where real power resides. With all that to say, it is not surprising to me that at the end of Daniel's book, Daniel circles around one more time back to the power of prayer.

This has been a running theme of his life. We've seen it already in the book of Daniel. And so in the midst of all these final prophecies, which we're going to finish up next time, Daniel gives us four action steps that we should build our prayer lives around. Let me just warn you, this passage is amazing. I mean, it is a one of a kind passage because it pulls back the curtains and shows us the inner workings of prayer. You better buckle up, especially if you're not, you're new to church and not familiar with the Bible.

This passage is just, I mean, you're about to jump into the deep end of the pool, okay? In chapter nine, verse one, Daniel says, in the first year of King Darius, about 538 BC, I, Daniel, understood from the books, according to the word of the Lord, to the prophet Jeremiah, that the number of years for the desolation of Jerusalem would be 70. Okay, get this, Daniel's reading the Bible and he comes to the book of Jeremiah, which was written right before him, and Jeremiah had said that the number of years that God would send Israel into captivity for sin was going to be 70. Well, Daniel and his friends were taken into captivity around 605 BC.

The first year of King Darius that he refers to was 538 BC, and so if you do the math real quick in your head, that means that he's been there for around 70 years. So Daniel was like, hey, God, I promise, in fact, God, you said in Jeremiah that 70 years of desolation were appointed for Israel, only 70, so I'm here to ask you to take us home like you promised, I'm asking you to make good on your word. So I turned my attention to the Lord God to seek him by prayer and petitions and with fasting and sackcloth and ashes, I prayed to the Lord my God and I confessed, I Lord, the great and awe inspiring God who keeps his gracious covenant with those who love him and keep his commands. God, we have sinned. We have done wrong. We've acted wickedly rebelled and turned away from your commands and ordinances.

We have not listened to your prophets who spoke in your name to our kings and our leaders and our ancestors and all the people of the land. Now really quickly because this is not the main point for today but I want you to notice something about Daniel as a leader because it shapes the attitude he brings into prayer. Daniel confesses all of those things.

But let me ask you, having been now in Daniel for several weeks, based on what you know about Daniel's life, is that how you would describe Daniel's life? Verse five, again, look at it. I've sinned. We've done wrong. I've acted wickedly. I have rebelled.

I have turned away from your commands and ordinances. I've not listened to your prophets who spoke in your name to our kings and leaders and ancestors. Honestly, that seems a little bit out of sync from what we read about Daniel, especially since the prophet Ezekiel describes Daniel as one of the three most righteous people ever to live. Furthermore, in verse six, Daniel confesses the sin of his ancestors, which clearly he could not have been guilty of since he was not even born yet. Now, let me be clear. On one level, we cannot inherit guilt from our ancestors.

The prophet Ezekiel makes that clear that the sons will not be held guilty of the sins of the fathers. But here's the thing. Listen, a leader makes a problem their responsibility even when it's not their fault.

Let me say that again. A leader makes a problem their responsibility even when it's not their fault. My kids' mistakes may not be my fault, but as their leader, I take responsibility to help them correct them. Men, do you sit around blaming your wife for all your marital issues? Listen, I'm sure some of y'all's issues are her fault. I mean, she's a sinner too, after all, but a real leader does not deflect blame. He or she takes responsibility. Isn't that what Jesus did?

Our sin was clearly not his fault, but he took responsibility and he entered our world to fix it. That's what Daniel's doing. That's what leaders always do. Listen, this church has got problems and some of those problems may not be your fault, but only a Pharisee sits around and talks about how bad everybody is.

Well, those people do this and they are like that. A leader owns the problem even if it's not their fault and brings the problem personally to God with we language, not they language. The same thing is true with how we see our community and how we sing our nation. We've got enough self-righteous Pharisees talking about the problems with those people and we need to have a lot of leaders talking about the problems with us people, all right? All right, back to Daniel's prayer. Verse 7, Lord, righteousness belongs to you and this day public shame belongs to us. All Israel has broken your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. And so just as it is written in the law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we still have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquities and paying attention to your truth, which again was probably more true of the rest of Israel than it was of Daniel. Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a strong hand, made your name renowned as it is this day in keeping with all your righteous acts, may your anger and wrath turn away from your city, Jerusalem, your holy mountain, again, because you promised that would happen. Verse 17, therefore our God, hear the prayer and the petitions of your servant. Make your face shine upon your desolate sanctuary for the Lord's sake, for your sake.

By the way, that's a direct quote from number 6. Daniel is praying God's promises back to him in his own words. Do it for your sake, God. Verse 18, listen closely, my God, and hear.

Open your eyes and see our desolations in the city that bearish your name. In other words, God, your reputation is at stake. You said, God, that when your children called on you, that you would hear them and you would forgive them and you would come to their help. And God, that's me right now.

I'm doing it like you said I should do and I'm asking you to do what you said you would do when I did what I was supposed to do. For we are not presenting our petitions before you based on our righteous acts but based on your abundant compassion. By the way, that's one of the most important things you could ever learn about prayer.

I'm going to come back to that. Verse 19, Lord, hear. Lord, forgive. Lord, listen and act. By the way, that's a direct quote from Deuteronomy 30 where God promised to respond to his people if in the midst of judgment they prayed to him for help and forgiveness. Again, Daniel was taking these words from God and praying them back to God.

My God, for your own sake, because now this is about your reputation, for your own sake, do not delay because your city and your people bear your name. In verse 20, while I was speaking, praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, Gabriel, the man that I had seen in my first vision, he reached me in my extreme weariness and he gave me this explanation. Daniel, at the beginning of your petitions, an answer went out and I have come to give that answer. When Daniel began his prayer, God issued an answer and Gabriel was sent to deliver it. When Daniel was praying, Gabriel was flying and he showed up right as Daniel finished up. Y'all, I have so many questions. How fast does an angel fly? Why didn't God just beam him straight there? Right? I mean, what kind of equipment do they use to fly?

Do they fly on their own? But sadly, we're not given any of those answers. So let's instead focus on what we do now. Notice how Gabriel starts the answer from God. You are greatly loved by God. Some translations say treasured by God.

Now, how amazing is that? First, think about Daniel's life. He has been kidnapped, enslaved, castrated, he's lived under oppression, he's been betrayed by his co-workers, he has lived under constant danger, he has survived several regime changes. How many of you looking at his life would say, that's a man who's been loved by God?

Yeah, that is exactly how Gabriel started this. You are greatly loved. Do you understand that God's love for you is not measured by your life's ease? Daniel's life was by no stretch easy, yet he was greatly loved and treasured by God because what God gave to Daniel is greater than earthly ease. You see, just because you go through hard times does not mean that God has abandoned you or forgotten you. In fact, God might allow you to go through those things so that he can teach you about the things that are truly valuable. Some of you come in here interpreting God's love for you based on your circumstances.

I would tell you the cross and resurrection of Jesus is a better basis for how you understand God's thoughts about you. If you think God has abandoned you, if you were to look at Daniel, you'd say, well, I think God might have abandoned you, but Gabriel says, you're loved by God. And before I jump into Daniel's four prayer principles, I want you to understand, this is very important, that this confidence, this confidence that he was greatly loved, that he was treasured by God, that confidence was the secret to Daniel's consistency in prayer. You see, sometimes we think our failure to pray is a failure of self-discipline and that today what you're going to do is you're going to learn four magical principles and you're going to go home and master them like some action list. But prayerlessness at its root is the result of failing to grasp how much God loves you, how tender he is towards you, and how much he wants to hear from you. Many of you think prayer is the way to get close to God.

No, prayer is the result of knowing how close God has made himself to you. Jen Wilkin, one of her favorite Bible teachers right here, explained that for her, learning to pray was a little bit like her losing her desire to eat Cheetos. Cheetos, she says, has always been her favorite snack. As a young woman, she said, I would eat them nonstop every day until, in her words, they got sharp and started cutting into my tongue.

But that was okay with me, she said, a small sacrifice for a great reward. She said, then one day I made the mistake of looking at the Cheetos label. She said, two problems. She said, one, I literally could not even pronounce one of the chemicals that went into my favorite food. Second, she said, I realized that my Cheetos were missing, well, geez. She said, and that knowledge created a change in me. Prior to this revelation, it would have taken, she says, a Navy Seal to quell my yearning for Cheetos.

But after I understood what Cheetos actually were or weren't, my heart stopped craving them as much. A change in belief is what changed the desire. In the same way, she said, when we learn the truth about God, when we believe that God listens to us, that he loves us and desires to work through our prayers, we instinctively begin to do what all the self-discipline in the world hadn't been able to coerce us to do. We pray when we know we are greatly loved, when we know we are treasured by God, we will pray when we're happy, we will pray when we're anxious, we will pray when we see God at work, and we will pray when we don't see God at work.

See, this is very important. As we work through this message, the point is not pray more or pray like Daniel or do these four things and you're going to be fine. The point of this is that if you understand that you're greatly loved like Daniel was and you learn to trust him like Daniel trusted him, then you'll pray naturally and instinctively like Daniel did. So before we go any farther, I just need your promise that you're going to interpret these four prayer principles not as a to-do list of getting close to God, but as the reflection of somebody who understands how close God has made himself to you. Deal? Okay, deal.

Here we go. Number one, Daniel's four prayer principles. Number one, root your prayers in God's promises. Daniel would say first and foremost, most importantly, root your prayers in God's promises like I noted. Daniel's prayer was inspired by discovering a promise of God in Jeremiah and some other promises that were embedded in Deuteronomy in the book of Numbers, and Daniel was praying these promises of God back to God. I love Martin Luther, the great reformer. I love his definition of powerful prayer.

Ready? Here it is. He explained it to his barber. He wrote a famous book to his barber on prayer, puts all the cookies on the bottom shelf.

This is one of them. Power in prayer, he said, is simply catching God in his words. You want power in prayer?

You're just catching God in his words. Parents, your kids do this with you? Not the kids do this with me all the time. My 11-year-old son, Adam, never lets me forget a promise, no matter when or how offhandedly it was made.

Shoot, it doesn't even need to be a promise. Just a casual implication. We drove by Frankie's Fun Park a couple months ago, and he said, Dad, we should go back there sometime. And apparently, I don't even remember, but apparently I said, sure, son, we'll do that one day. Now, you parents know exactly what that means.

That doesn't mean anything. It means I don't really want to talk about that right now. I promise you, that kid brings that up every week on the week, and I feel like I got to do it now because I don't want him to lose confidence in me. Veronica, my wife, has been redecorating one of our girls' rooms, and he said, hey, Mom, are you ever going to redecorate my room?

And she said, again, like, I'm sure we'll do that sometime. Now, it's like every time we go in there to tuck him in for the night, he says, hey, have you ordered that new furniture yet that you promised to me? Now, of course, we parents sometimes, right?

All parents make casual statements they don't really mean. But the point is, God never does. He means everything he's ever said, and he wants us to find every promise that he's ever made and claim it for our own. This book is your book. It is a book of promises given to you. You have to read it, and you have to find them, and you have to pray them into existence in your life. Notice specifically how Daniel ties God's own glory to his faithfulness to his promises.

He's like, God, you're the one. You're the one who said this. You said you would be merciful to us when we prayed and restore us when we called. So now it's your reputation that's on the line.

So here's my question. What has God said to you that you can pray back to him and put his reputation on the line? I'll give you just a few as an example that I'm praying right now in my own life.

Here's one. Jesus said, I'm praying this for this church. Jesus said, all authority is given to me in heaven and on earth, so go and make disciples of all the nations. Psalm 280 says, ask of me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance.

So when I pray for this church, I'm like, God, this is what you said? I'm here asking, and all the craziness that is going on with COVID and lockdown and all the confusion and we're trying to figure out what in the world is next, I'm asking you to build your church like you promised you would. You promised that you would make your name known in our generation if we asked, so I'm here asking you to do what you said you would do. Your reputation's on the line. God, make your name known in this generation as we think about the triangle and the nations.

God, do it now because you said you wanted to do it. Here's another one that I read in the Summit Bible reading plan recently, and I wrote it down. Psalm 112, blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land. The generation of the upright will be blessed.

And then Psalm 11, verse 21. The children of the righteous will be delivered. And my Lord, I want you to do this with my kids. I need you to make them, I want you to make them mighty in the word, in the land. Let your faithfulness extend to them as my children.

I pray that they would be delivered. And God, do this with all the kids in our church. May this generation who is delighting and feared in your word, God save our kids. Now, these are a couple very personal promises to me right now that I'm praying.

And some of you, you're looking at me going, well, those don't know exactly apply to my situation and where I'm at right now. I want to say this as nicely to you as possible, but read the Bible for yourself. I cannot mind all of these promises for you. I love teaching you the Bible every weekend, but I cannot spoonfeed all this to you. This book is here for you.

And you've got to search it like for a pair of $20,000 Air Jordans in your closet. There are promises about forgiveness and restoration after sin, about joy and suffering, putting purpose in your life, having healed bodies and godly marriages and parenting and provision in time of need. Read it for yourself. I can't do it all. I could just guide you to it. That's it.

Okay. Let me give you another great definition of prayer while we're talking about this. Effective prayer perceives the gap between where something is, where God wants it to be. Effective prayer perceives the gap between where something is and where God wants it to be. And where do you learn how God wants something to be?

The Bible. Again, the Bible is a book of promises. It's our job to find them and claim them in the model prayer that people often sometimes refer to as the Lord's prayer. The second phrase Jesus taught us to say, right, as we pray, your will be done on earth like it is in heaven. I want to know what heaven wants here because I know it's going to be good. And when I pray, God, let your will be done in heaven here. I know that it's going to get the power of heaven behind it. So I pray, for example, let it be in the Summit Church like it's desired in heaven.

Let it be in the Greer family as you want it in heaven. Let it be in my marriage as it is in heaven. Now, of course, that's got to be said with humility because we don't always know exactly what the full will of God is. But see, his word tells us a lot of it. Effective prayer perceives the gap between where something is and what God says he wants it to be. What this means practically is that the quality of your prayer life will be directly related to the quality of your knowledge of the Bible because the prayers that start in heaven are the ones that are heard by heaven.

That's why when we read the Bible, we encourage you here to use what we call the HEAR method. H-E-A-R. H stands for highlight. E stands for examine. A stands for apply.

R stands for respond. When I read the Bible, I see a promise or something that God indicates that he desires, and I highlight it. And then I pray it back to God. That's how you should pray also. It's the real secret, the power in prayer, catching God in his words.

Truly amazing things happen when you do this. John Patton was rereading this biography recently. John Patton was a young Scottish pastor in the 19th century who was leading a very successful church. But he grew increasingly burdened about a group of islands that he'd heard about out in the Pacific that was inhabited by people who had never even heard the gospel. The problem was that these islands named the New Hebrides were filled with cannibals. Patton recorded in his diary, he said, I knew, though, that God had said in his word that he desired all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

I knew that had to include the people of the New Hebrides. And I knew that he, therefore, would make me successful over any opposition. And I was confident that if I went, no matter how bad the dangers were, that God would help me because he'd said he wanted that in his word. So Patton went. He resigned his church. He went. His ministry there.

You should read the biography. It was grueling. I mean, his wife, whom he loved dearly, died burying their first child there on that island. He had to sleep on their graves, he said, for three to four nights to keep the cannibals from digging them up and eating them. He was under constant siege day and night, always on the lookout for his life. Eventually, though, because of his faithfulness and because of his prayer, after years of prayer, he saw a breakthrough. And a couple of the tribal leaders came to Christ, and that was followed by person after person. They say that when Patton arrived on that island of the New Hebrides in 1858, there was not a single Christian. When he died 35 years later on that same island, there was not a single islander who had not professed faith in Jesus Christ.

One of my favorite stories from his biography, though, is this one. It was right after one of the chiefs, the tribal leaders, came to Christ. The tribal leader asked him, he said, hey, one question I've been meaning to ask you. When you first got here, who was that army, that army of men that guarded your hut every single night?

And where did they go? You see, apparently, as he prayed each night, the angels of God surrounded his family to preserve this gospel witness. My point is, when you figure out something that God wants and you start to pray it, amazing things begin to happen when you take his purposes and you pray them into reality. The prayers that start in heaven are the ones that are heard by heaven and helped by heaven.

So again, where do you perceive a gap in what God's word says he wants and where it is right now? Where do you need to say, end blank, end my family, end my life in this community as it is in heaven? Number two. Number two, Daniel would say, make it a daily habit.

Make it a daily habit. This is going to be really the whole book of Daniel. We saw in Daniel 6 that for Daniel, prayer was a daily discipline. It was a routine. Daniel prayed three times a day, every day, for 70 years. I've told you that Daniel's remarkable life all goes back to a couple of rather mundane decisions that he made as a young man. By the way, if you're younger and you're starting out your life, listen, we think that becoming something in life is dreaming these great dreams. It's a couple of small decisions that you make early on.

That's what it goes back to. Daniel's two big decisions were, first, he resolved not to defile himself in the king's palace by eating the things that God had forbidden. He determined that he would not compromise his convictions to get ahead in the palace. At several points, that resolve threatened his future career, but his refusal to compromise was the very place where God came through for him. The second of those decisions was his decision to pray daily, every day. No matter what was going on, three times a day, he opened his window toward Jerusalem and he prayed. From that daily time with God, he drew an enormous amount of wisdom and strength.

This discipline characterizes all great men and women of God, even Jesus. The Gospels tell us that whenever Jesus needed strength or wisdom, he retreated off by himself to pray. For example, Luke 6 tells us that before Jesus chose any of the 12 disciples, he spent all night praying to God.

Now, friend, I would suggest to you that if there were ever anyone who was a capable judge of character, anyone who was wise enough to choose his own co-workers, it would have been Jesus. Yeah, before he chose a single one. Before he chose a single one, he spent all night in prayer to God.

How many big decisions have you rushed into without taking time to seek God's direction? You think you're just more wise than Jesus and he needed it, but you don't? Or to come at it from another way, on the night before Jesus went to the crucifixion, he went out in the Garden of Gethsemane by himself to what? To pray, to seek strength from God before this hour of trial.

He took with him, he said, three of his closest disciples, at least on the first part, Peter, James, and John. He left them in a section of the garden and told them they should what? Pray, pray, why?

Pray lest you fall into temptation. What did they do? They fell asleep, right? And I'm sure they felt like they had a good excuse, like, hey, in order to go through this, we're going to have to have our strength and the best thing we can do is get some sleep. And I'm also sure when Jesus woke them up, they gave some lame excuse like, oh, no, I was just resting my eyes or, no, no, no, I really was praying. I've told you, if you ever get caught sleeping in church when somebody wakes you up, just say, in Jesus' name, or yes, Lord, let it be into me according to your word, or whatever, and they will think you are so spiritual, okay? But Jesus wasn't fooled. He's like, hey, could you not even watch and pray with me for an hour? Jesus prayed, they slept. Later that night, what happened? All three of them caved in the hour of trial.

So here's my question. What if they had stayed awake for that hour of prayer? Jesus told them, pray that you would not enter into temptation.

Had they done that, maybe they wouldn't have crumbled and made the greatest mistake of their lives that night. I fear that some of you may fall into temptation and make some terrible mistakes because you don't develop the habit of daily meeting with God. And so when the hour of trial comes upon you, which usually doesn't announce itself, you're not going to be prepared, and you are going to make a humongous mistake. Be clear, this prayer time is not just for you to check a box or a chance for you to dump information on God on things that he already knows. The point of this time is that you be with him, that you commune with him, that you have his spirit fill your mind and your heart with his wisdom and his strength. Strength for God, you see, comes only from time with God.

There's no other way. The biggest practical difference between success and failure in some of your lives might be setting your alarm clock 30 minutes earlier so you can read the Bible and pray before the day. You say, well, I don't know how to pray.

Then I got three really quick practical suggestions for you. First, start with the Summit Bible reading app that's on the plan that's on the app. That's what I do. Read the passage and pray back to God whatever promises or warnings that you see. That's my first suggestion. Second suggestion is when you get a chance, if it would help you, pick up a copy of this book that I'm just releasing.

It's called Just Ask. It's a very simple how-to book that I wrote on very practical tips on how to pray. I wrote it for you.

That's why I don't feel bad telling you about it. I tried to make it as practical as I could. For example, one thing I do when I pray is I pray back the phrases of the Lord's prayer and I just riff on them. When I pray for daily bread, for example, I think about the myriad places in my life that I need God's provision and his power. Explain how I've got little cards made for each day of the week that tell me different sets of things to pray for.

I've got a set on Monday and a Tuesday request, et cetera. Then I pray through my daily schedule. That's all in that book. It just explains the promises and prayer and what to do with them. Now, I don't have any copies yet because it's not officially out yet, but you can already order it on Amazon, that kind of thing. By the way, you understand that we told you anything we ever sell here from a pastor here, we don't make money on here.

That money goes back into the church. But I wrote it for you as a way of being a help and so when it comes out, it might be a help to you. Finally, here's your third one. Text the word pray. Just the word pray to 33933 and we will send you some prayer resources that you can start to use daily right now. Okay? Here's my challenge.

Try it. Set aside 10 minutes a day, either morning or night, for 21 days to pray. You say why 21? Because they say after you do something for 21 days, it's harder to stop than it was to start. 21 days, wake up 10 minutes earlier or 10 minutes before you go to bed, watch 10 minutes less of the latest Marvel movie episode, which by the way, the credits are like 19 minutes anyway, so just turn those off and spend that time praying.

Or for that matter, do it in your car on your way to work. Pray about your life, your family, your kids, your job, your school, your neighbors. Some of you can pray about your prayer life. Tell God that you just want to know him. Start with 10 minutes a day and let's just cover our lives in prayer, okay?

Let's do it. Number three, number three, quickly, don't give up in year 69. Don't give up in year 69. Do you notice verse 21 says that when Gabriel arrived, Daniel was weary from praying. Weary.

Of course he was. He'd been praying these requests faithfully for 70 years. Here's a question, would you pray for something for that long?

How many years before you gave up and lost faith? Throughout the scriptures, God teaches us that some answers to prayer only come through persistence in asking. Jesus compared it to a neighbor who shows up at your house to borrow pop tarts from you at 3 a.m. And the only reason you get up and help them is because you know they're not going to leave you alone. And they're going to keep banging on the door. Or he compares effective praying to a woman who gets a settlement from a judge only because he knows that she is never going to stop coming. She's going to come unrelentingly day and night until he responds to her request. And Jesus said that's how you should pray.

Persist in asking. Let me show you one other angle on this from Daniel's life that's even more fascinating. In the next chapter, chapter 10, flip over one page. Daniel was praying about something else. And this time he prayed for 21 days with no answer. And then, on day 21, verse 10, chapter 10, verse 10, suddenly, while I'm praying, a hand touched me and set me shaking on my hands and knees. He said to me, Daniel, you are a man greatly loved by God.

There it is again. On the first day that you set your heart to humble yourself before God, your words were heard. And I have come because of your words. But the Prince of Persia withstood me 21 days and then Michael, one of the chief princes, had to come and help me. I have so many questions. So on the day that Daniel started to pray, God again dispatched an angel with an answer, probably Gabriel. But as Gabriel is flying through the air, he gets tangled up with the Prince of Persia, who is evidently a frisky demon who is up to no good in the Persian Empire, who is trying to thwart God's purposes. So Gabriel and this Prince of Persia demon basically get into a cage match for about 21 days. All this time, Daniel keeps praying, thinking that he's not getting an answer. So God dispatches another angel, Michael, who I guess is like the Chuck Norris of angels, who comes in and opens up a can of whooptail on this demon, the Prince of Persia. You see, evidently, Gabriel is like the Nicholas cage of angels, silver tongued and savvy, but in need of some help for a true extraterrestrial tumble.

So God sends in Michael, the Chuck Norris of angels, and just takes care of business. Again, I have so many questions. But the only point is, who knows what's happening up there as you pray. So you pray for 20 days. No answer. Keep praying.

Help is on the way. You pray for 69 years. No answer.

Keep praying. Because God gives certain things only in response to persistence and asking. You say, well, why does he do it that way? I don't know.

I don't know. Maybe it's to test our resolve. Maybe it's to see how much we actually trust him or to see how quickly we'll turn away from him and pursue some other means.

Martin Luther, again, he compared it right into his barber to the father who has something his kid wants. And he's got it in his hand. He won't let it go at first to test his child's resolve to see how bad his kid wants it. Maybe God, he says, is doing that with us, saying, hey, do you really trust me? How quickly are you going to turn away from me to some other source? How much do you trust that I'm actually here and that I'm good? Don't give up. He promises never to turn you away. I can't help but think here of the story of Joan and Tommy Swain in our church.

Most of you don't know them, sadly. But Joan really got on fire for God here about 30 years ago, before I got here. But her husband, Tommy, didn't want any part of it. So she came.

He stayed at home. So Joan prayed for him. And she prayed.

Any time you ask Joan, hey, what's going on in your life, she'd say, pray for Tommy. And she stayed with him. Eventually, he moved out on her.

He left her for 20 years. But she kept praying. And then, in February of 2009, through some pretty remarkable circumstances, God saved him. God brought him back. We baptized him here in the spring of 2009.

I can still remember the joy of that moment. And now, they are reunited to God, reunited to each other. And they served in our church every weekend from the spring of 2009 until they were medically unable. All this because a woman prayed faithfully for him for 20 years and did not give up.

Do not give up on year 69. Who knows what's happening up there? Number four, number four, finally, Daniel would say, hope in God's mercy, not your goodness. Hope in God's mercy, not your goodness. What Daniel says in verse 18 might be one of the most significant secrets, if you will, of prayer. We're not presenting our petitions to you, God, because of our righteous acts.

Well, no. I'm presenting them based on your abundant compassion. God, I'm not asking you to give this because I'm worthy of it.

I'm asking you to supply this out of the rich storehouse of your grace. So, my church, listen, the longer that I walk with Jesus personally, the less confident I grow in my abilities to change people, the less confident I grow in my worthiness to demand anything from God. You know, when I first started out in ministry, I was pretty confident. I'm like, you know what, if I just explain to this, to these people the right way, and then with the force of my personality and, you know, apply it right and illustrate it right, I can change these people. You know, I cannot even keep myself on the path of righteousness, much less get somebody else there. I'm extremely kind, man. I don't ever say anymore to God like, hey, God, I've done my work, now you bless it.

Because, oh my God, it's all like filthy rags. So, usually, when I pray now, I'm saying things like, God, I'm not asking you to work in this person's life or this kid's life or these people's lives because of my abilities. I'm certainly not asking you to reward me because of my righteousness because I don't really have any.

On my best of days, I'm still an unprofitable servant. No, I need you to give to them and to me according to the abundant riches of Christ's mercy, according to the abundance of his capabilities, because that's a well that will never run dry. I've often told you, I use as my example the story of the Syrophoenician woman in the Gospels who comes to Jesus to ask for healing for her daughter. She was a Gentile, right? Not a Jew. Jesus said to her when she asked for a miracle, he said, woman, it's not proper to take the food intended for the children, the Jews, and give it to the dogs, Gentiles.

Now, first, that sounds a little bit like a racial slur, but it's not. Jesus was testing this woman. The woman perceives that not to be a racial slur, but a description of her own personal unworthiness. You see, when it comes to demanding anything of God, none of us is any more worthy than a dog. And so she responds, she says, yes, Lord, but in a really wealthy man's house, there's so much food on the table that even the little dogs get to eat the stuff that just falls off. In other words, I do acknowledge that when it comes to worthiness, I'm a dog, but I believe there is so much grace abounding on your table.

The table can't contain it, and it just falls off, and that means there's enough for even an unworthy person like me. And Jesus stopped, and he turned, and he said, I've never seen faith like this in Israel, because her hope was not in the abundance of her goodness. Her hope was in the abundance of his mercy. Friend, that is a well that never runs dry.

That is something you can never hope too much in. You may have nothing to bring to God, and that's okay, because he has got so much grace on his table. It just flows off so that every dog in the universe could feast until they were full. This is what we mean when we pray in Jesus' name. You understand that's not just a little verbal clue to God that we're about done. That's what many Christians think. You just kind of say, like, in conclusion, you say, in Jesus' name.

That's not what it's there for. When you say, in Jesus' name, what you're actually saying is, I know that I don't have the worthiness to demand this, so I'm asking, based on your compassion, not my worthiness. My hope is not in my righteousness or ability, so I bring this prayer not in my name. I'm bringing it in your grace and power in your name.

I'm asking you to hear it because of how much worthiness is in your heart, not how much worthiness is in my life. Summit Church, let me ask you, over what area of your life do you need to just come and throw yourself down at the mercy of Jesus? Where are you weary?

Where are you exhausted? Where do you need to say, I don't need to demand this anymore of God like I'm worthy? I just need to say, God, this is what you said. This is the grace on your table, and I need help. Y'all, teaching on prayer is great.

Reading about it is great. But the most important thing we can do is act on it. So that's what we're going to do right now at all of our campuses, those meeting in homes. Yeah, I hope you'll take the challenge for the next 21 days to pray for at least 10 minutes a day. But right now, at all of our locations, we're going to turn the Summit Church into a literal house of prayer. At all of our locations, I'm going to have prayer teams come right now. You guys come right now.

They're going to make their way forward. Here's what we're going to do. In fact, let's everybody stand to your feet if you would. Stand up right now, wherever you're at, whatever location.

Stand up. Our prayer teams are coming, they're making their way down here right now. Some of you have a request. I want you to come forward and pray with one of these brothers or sisters down here.

You don't have to tell them your name. You say, pray with me. Pray for me. Some of you have provisions that you need God to supply. Some of you have a body that needs to be healed. Some of you need a job. Some of you have a marriage that is about to fall apart.

Maybe you're here with your spouse or maybe you're not. You just need to come down and grab the hand of one of these people and say, we need God's help. So if you need to pray for a prodigal to come home, I just want you to come and pray with them.

Others of you need to grab the person you came with. Maybe the two of you, three of you, just come down to the altar at your campus. Yep, I called it an altar.

I get it looks like a stage, but we're going to call it an altar. And posture yourself before the Lord and just cry out to him with that group of two or three. It's fine if you want to just turn your chair into a prayer altar.

Get on your knees by your chair. The best prayers are desperate prayers and so put yourself in a desperate posture. Or for some of you, maybe pray there with your family or with those around you.

Maybe you're sitting with people from your small group. Whatever it is, every single person should be approaching God right now. They should be praying out loud. You say, I'm embarrassed to pray out loud. What do you think the church is?

It's supposed to be a place where people call out on God, a house of prayer, a belief summit. This is what God is calling us to do in this season, to seek him. That if we're going to be a church known for anything, then Lord, let it be known as a church that seeks you. Friend, listen to me. You are greatly loved.

You know that? You are greatly treasured by God. I know that because Jesus came to die on a cross for you, to save you out of your sin, if you're willing to receive that. So stop trying to make yourself worthy and just receive that as a gift in Jesus. It's ready for you. Once you do, God is ready for your burdens and when you pray, the angels move. You ready to bring that request to God? Let's bombard heaven with our requests and prayer and praise. And again, in just a minute, I'm going to ask you to just come down and take one of those three or four options that I gave you, praying down here with somebody, praying around the altar, praying there at your chair with somebody in your small group. But we're going to do it and then somebody from your campus is going to come and close out and lead you. So our prayer teams are in place, okay? Our worship teams, you're going to play quietly as you pray. I want you right now at all of our campuses, I want you to take one of those four action steps. Come, come right now to one of these people there at one of your campuses and let's spend the next few minutes as a tabernacle of prayer.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-07 21:51:51 / 2023-09-07 22:12:40 / 21

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