The Promise of Prayer

Scripture: Psalm 55:17
Date: 03/10/2012 
Lesson: 10
Prayer is a very important component of our relationship and our walk with God. "There are a lot of things about prayer that we don't grasp. But those who pray do know one thing for sure: prayer will change your life, and for the better." Sabbath School lesson
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Welcome to Sacramento central seventh day adventist church. We are so glad that you have joined us to study God's Word together. A special welcome to you that have joined us in the studio today and a very special welcome also to those of you that are joining us across the country of the United States of America and around the world. We are so thrilled that you want to study God's Word to a deeper level with us. We're going to start with singing today - hymn #159 - 'the old rugged cross'.

And this comes as a request from jizelle in antigua and barbuda, andrew, greg, kathy, isabel, annie, Elijah, and warren in ArKansas, jessica, ariel, Mark, denisa, bob, elaine, jade, alex, ica, ovi, ray, merle, shelley, liam and chantal in australia, nicola in barbados, rumen in bulgaria, sherle, brandon, bob, and adrianna in California, lee, leon, betty and brent also in California, bob in Canada, leslie in Connecticut, theodore and laurel in florida, camille in France, dustin and annie in honduras, mr. Joy and family in india, tom in Michigan, tina and katharine in Montana, laurie in norfolk island, meaghen in south carolina, grace in tennessee, bhing in the united kingdom, jerry in Washington, kelly in Wisconsin, and Esther in Wyoming. 'The old rugged cross' - we'll sing all three verses of hymn #159. If you have a special song, a special hymn that you would like to sing with us on a coming presentation, I invite you to go to our website, there you click on the contact us link and you can request any hymn in our hymnal and we'd love to sing that with you. Our next hymn is hymn #198 - 'And Can It Be?'.

This comes as a request from jizelle in antigua and barbuda, jessica, ariel, don, and betty in australia, kevron and aarde in barbados, marlene in California, ann and dory in Canada, gracie in florida, hermie and sol in grenada, andre, sylvena, norman, claudine, rodney, nickie-ann, delroy, leon, nadine, shakarah, and ornella in jamaica, the wongs family in malaysia, chris in Michigan, Luke and rina in netherlands antilles, rudy in North Carolina, racquel in Pennsylvania, James in the Philippines, julianne in rwanda, courine, and chelsea in saint vincent and the grenadines, geoffrey in south africa, jamille, marva, lyris, and krista in trinidad and tobago, and sharon in zimbabwe. Hymn #198 - 'and can it be?' And we'll sing the first, the second, and the last verse. Let's pray. Dear Father in Heaven, we are so grateful this morning for your amazing love, for your amazing grace, for your amazing mercy. We just can't thank you enough, but in our smallest way Lord, we come before you this morning on your holy day and we just thank you for what you did on the cross for us that we can be restored to you.

We just thank you and ask that you just live in our hearts - live who we are so that we can glorify you in the things that we say and do to others so that you will be lifted up and that more people will be saved for your soon to come kingdom. Please be with pastor white as he brings us your message Lord - help us just to apply it to our hearts that we can be victorious over sin and that we can be great, great representatives of who you are. Just bless us Lord and keep us close to you until that final day when you come. We can hardly wait. Amen.

Our study today will be brought to us by pastor harold white who is the administrative pastor here at Sacramento central. Okay, thank you very much. Good morning everybody. Welcome. Happy Sabbath.

It's wonderful to be here in the house of the Lord, what do you say? We are studying the glimpses of our God this quarter and this morning we are on the chapter 10 - the promise of prayer. So much can be said about prayer, can it not? Today's special offer is 'determining the will of God' and that goes hand-in-hand with prayer, doesn't it? Quite often we pray we want to know what God's will is. 'Determining the will of God' by Doug Batchelor - it's offer #778. All you have to do is call -study-more or it's 866-788-3966 and they'll send it out to you free. You can't beat that.

Okay, let's turn to our quarterly if you have it with you and I'd like to have you join me in reading our memory text - it's taken from Psalms 55:17 in the new king James version. Would you join me? "Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and he shall hear my voice." The enemy of God and the enemy of man works hard every week and I know that all of you know that. I know it - this past week - I know it so much that it didn't cross my mind 'Lord, how in the world am I the one to stand up here and teach about prayer because this very week I prayed to you, God, two very - I thought - two very important prayers. And I was very sincere and I prayed with all my heart and what I prayed for didn't happen. And so I thought, you know, the devil would love for me to stand before God's people on Sabbath morning right here in Sacramento and all over the world, whoever is listening, and he would love for me to say prayer doesn't work.

But I know better than that. Do you know better than that? It does work. We sometimes have to wait awhile. Shadrach and meshach and abednego were placed in that fiery furnace ten times hotter than normal - I guess it was - I think it was - and they had kind of had this prayer - spoke to the King 'you know the Lord is able to save us, we know he can - we have no doubt about that - but if he doesn't, that's okay also.' And so God, in that particular instance stepped in and saved them so that not one hair was singed or did they even smell like smoke. But we know many other cases, in fact, hundreds and thousands of cases where people were burned at the stake after praying.

I have actually asked some people to come up here and help me with a minute or two - what is most important to them about prayer. Now, we didn't rehearse this, so they may - all four of them - come up here one after another and say the exact same thing, I don't know. But if they do, you better know that God wants us to understand that point, right? So, first of all we're asking richard anger - where is richard at? Richard, over here, richard is a familiar face around here. Do you have a - yeah you have a - he's our - one of our elders and also head of our finance committee. And you know, years ago, when he took this position over his hair was jet black.

Not really, not really. But we know that a chairman of a finance committee prays often and I'm very anxious to hear from you richard, what is one of the most important aspects for you in prayer? To me, I think the most important aspect is intercessory prayer. God has called, I believe, pastors to preach and teach the good news and to teach the message of salvation, but he has caused - or caused and created each and every one of us to intercede on behalf of one another. While the pastors have their job, we have our job. We are to pray for one another and pray for those who are down and out or those who are struggling and we are to pray ceaselessly - that means that we are to pray time and time and time again for that individual or that situation.

Not because God has to hear it over and over again, because God knows what we're praying about - because we need to push the powers of darkness back away from us. Intercessory prayer works. We have a group here at central that meets every Sabbath at the end of the church service and they pray for this church and they pray for God's people wherever they may be on this planet and it works. And as pastor white alluded to when he started out - that sometimes our prayers aren't answered right away - we need to become patient because God knows what's best for us and God will answer our prayer in due time, in the way that he feels is in our best interest so be patient. God will be patient with us, we need to be patient with God.

And the other thing I want to mention is I have people come to me a lot and say, 'I pray and my prayer isn't answered. How come my prayer hasn't been answered?' My comment is 'have you gone in and taken care of your own house?' We need to make sure that when we come to God - the Bible tells us - that we need to make sure that we have put aside any issues that we may be dealing with so that God can hear our prayers. So make sure you take out the two-by-four out of your eye if you go to take the splinter out of your neighbor's eye, you know, make sure that your house is in order before you sit down and pray. And Ellen white has made a comment and I wish I could think of where I found that comment at, but she made a comment that said, you know, we pray for the outpouring of the latter rain all the time and she has said that the latter rain will be poured out upon God's church when God's people are on their knees in prayer. So, if you want to pray for the outpouring of the latter rain, which we need, make sure you're on your knees and praying.

God left us a phone booth when he went up to heaven. He left us a means of communication when that face-to-face communication was severed and that means of communication is prayer. That's our connection between us and our Savior. Amen. Thank you.

Thank you very much richard. Stole a lot of my thunder in my class, but that's great because I think we'll have a - a lot of things that you mentioned are very important and the next person is going to be coming forward is mike grace and he's our head deacon. With a name like mike grace you can't go wrong, right? When you know that grace is heading up your board of deacons, you know you've got a good thing going. Mike, I'm very anxious to hear what you have to say about prayer. Thank you pastor.

the Lord's prayer has played a major role in my life - throughout my life - especially when I was young. Matthew 6:9 and 10 reads, "in this manner, therefore, pray. Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Now it's only recently that I've come to understand the true meaning of this section of the prayer. It was alan redpath, a well-known british evangelist and pastor who said, "before we can pray 'Lord, thy kingdom come, we must be willing to pray 'my kingdom go.' And I used to pray to change God and now I pray to change me. We have Christ as our example and he was constantly in communion with God and spent many hours each day in prayer and Matthew 14:36 teaches us that when Christ was facing his darkest hour in the garden at Gethsemane, he prayed, 'abba father, all things are possible for you.

Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.' Now, when I pray, I ask God to only consider my supplications that conform to his will and to help me to understand his will. So the more I pray, the more I see how much I need prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit to work in my life so that I can reflect Christ. Now it was a.b. Simpson, a canadian preacher and theologian that said, "we cannot ask on behalf of Christ what Christ would not ask if he were praying.

" And margaret gibb - I'm not sure who margaret gibb is, but this quote is hers "we must move from asking God to take care of the things that are breaking our hearts to praying about the things that are breaking his heart." So, may his will be done on earth as it is in heaven and may we all be one with his will. Thank you for the opportunity. Thank you very much mike, I enjoyed that very much. Very good thoughts in there. Our third person this morning is going to be debbie - very familiar to all of you.

She worked for maranatha for awhile you know, she came home one time with a little bug and we were all praying for her, so we know that she knows about prayer. What is your - one of your most important aspects when it comes to prayer? I picked a text that has meant a lot to me throughout my life so far and it's Proverbs 3:5-7. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes but fear the Lord and depart from evil.

" What's meaningful to me in my life is remembering that God loves me more than I can even comprehend. And he wants me to be with him forever. And trusting him - whatever it is in life - raising small children now, that's a whole new adventure for me - knowing that I can just go to him and say, 'we're having problems, jack isn't behaving' or, you know, 'help. Give me wisdom.' And he does. And it's exciting to see that, you know, you can talk to him as a friend and he is - he's always there and you give your life to him, you give your dreams, your career, your goals to God and you trust them with him and he does, he directs your paths and makes you a very happy person.

Thank you. Thank you debbie, very much. Our fourth person is jennifer koo and she just increased her prayer life too because she also had a baby. Cutest little girl in the world, right? Oh, thank you, I think so. Jennifer, what's one of the most important aspects in prayer? One of the most important aspects to prayer for me is to claim the promises of God.

I like to think of it as a little child and when children are given a promise or if you even make a promise in their hearing, they do not let you forget it. I can't wait 'til tyra's at that age where she'll start saying, 'um mom, you promised this' or 'you promised that.' And I like to think of it that way. And God gave us many precious promises - 2 Peter 1:4 "whereby are given unto us many great and precious promises that by these we may become partakers of the divine nature." I want to become a partaker of the divine nature. And I remember when I was praying whether to be a Bible worker or not and I was giving God all these reasons why I was not adequate for the position, and I opened my devotions that morning and right there he gave me a promise to claim. "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit says the Lord.

" Zechariah 4:6, I believe. And so I claim that promise when I go out and serve God - that it's by his spirit that I'm going to go and do something. It's not my power, it's his. And whenever I have something that I'm seeking the Lord for, I look for a promise that I can claim and say, 'but you said this' - and you know what? God cannot lie and he's good on his promises. Amen.

Thank you. Take that over there. Wow, that's very inspiring. Thank you so much, all four of you to help out this morning in this most important subject of prayer. And I know you all have your own stories and your own emphasis.

Prayer is such a thing that we must be in tune with. You know, the opening quotation is taken from 'steps to Christ' in our quarterly this week and it says, 'it is our privilege to drink largely at the fountain of boundless love.' But then it asks this most potent question. 'What a wonder it is that we pray so little.' What a wonder it is that we pray so little. How much of a given day - how many minutes in a day are given to prayer by us in this room today? I mean, how can you have a talk with God if you're not willing to lay everything on the line? Wouldn't that be a waste of your time? If you're not willing to lay everything on the line, wouldn't it be a waste of time to talk to God and say, 'Lord, I need this, I want this, I hope for this, I pray for this.' Hmmm, what a wonder it is that we pray so little. Is it because, perhaps, God is not actually our best friend? Do you have trouble speaking to your best friend? I doubt it.

If he's really or she is really a best friend, it's easy to talk to our best friend. Prayer is talking to God but it's also listening to him. It's a two-way conversation and since God isn't really in the - he isn't really into talking to us audibly so much these days, maybe once in awhile people hear God's voice, but how are we going to fulfill that part of the prayer? Sometimes God speaks to us - we know it's him - when we're praying. You know in your mind 'God, you just gave me a thought that I know I needed.' And sometimes he talks to us very much though as we read His Word. And I suspect that's how it was for Christ.

Christ, I think, probably almost had a mind of - a photographic mind. I think he almost knew the old testament Scriptures verbatim. And when he was out there in the wilderness for 40 days, I don't picture Jesus doing all the talking. I picture Jesus focusing on passages of Scripture and especially about his mission and things would come to his mind and he'd talk to his father about it and he'd hear back from his father from another passage of Scripture. That's really what prayer is all about.

And we need to go to Sunday's lesson though, it's talking about the power of prayer and it shares a story about a young man and former coworker and how badly they had gotten along. And years later, as the story goes in the quarterly, that the one man got convicted how badly he had treated his fellow worker so he wrote a letter asking forgiveness. And this is illustrating the power of prayer, as the lesson says, not so much to move mountains, as to change our hearts. And we heard that from some of our speakers this morning. Not - pray not so much to change God, but to change ourselves.

Would somebody read for us this morning 1 Thessalonians 5:17? I didn't hand out that this morning. Does somebody want to read that for us? Raise your hand will you? I have one right here. While you're looking that up, I'm going to read Matthew 26:41. That other one that you're looking up is 1 Thessalonians :17 and I'm going to read Matthew 26 and verse 41, where it says, "watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. the Spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

" How many of us understand that text? Very thoroughly, I'm sure. Also, let's hear now Thessalonians 5:17. "Pray without ceasing." That was an easy one, wasn't it? You probably could have told me that without even looking it up. Pray without ceasing. The concept of praying without ceasing kind of boggles some people's minds because when we think of prayer we think of people on their knees with their hands like this and their eyes closed.

And that's a good position to be in, we are told that we should be in that position to pray often, but we can't do that hours a day. But we can be in the presence of God all day, can we not? When we work, when we drive, we can be in the presence of God talking to him. So that's what that really means. We probably get a good idea why power seems to be lacking in our lives if we don't really have this concept of prayer. It would be much like carrying around one of these very expensive new phones that do everything for you.

I mean, these phones are amazing, are they not? They are amazing. But, you have the latest - I mean you have the latest technology and you carry it around with you everywhere you go but with a dead battery. How good's that going to be for you? Not so good, right? I don't need to ask you how you feel when you leave your telephone at home. It's like you lost somebody in life, right. I mean, you can stop any place, almost, in this world - in this United States - and call almost anybody else anywhere in the world today.

It is amazing these wonderful gadgets of technology today. The phone is a good object lesson in regards to prayer, actually. A long time ago, about 6,000 years ago, adam and eve had caller id and God came calling and they didn't want to pick up. They were trying to hide from God, of course, because they sinned. God comes calling us every day and our instinctive caller id sometimes says, 'Lord, I'm too busy for you now' or 'I've got other things on my mind right now, I can't pick up.

' Or 'I don't want to pick up' sometimes, must make God mighty sad. Isaiah 66:4 records God's thoughts, actually, on this. It says, "when I called, none did answer. When I spake, they did not hear." Then God placed the ultimate call. Hebrews 1:1 and 2 says "God who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in times past unto The Fathers by the prophets, has in these last days, spoken unto us by his son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.

" And still people refuse to pick up and listen and intelligently converse with God. Jesus was heaven's singing telegram you might say, taking on a form lower than the angels so that man could look upon him, they could hear him, they could feel him, they could touch him and people say, 'yeah, that's great for those people ,000 years ago. Well, Jesus made it possible for each one of us to see him, to hear him, to touch him, because he actually gave us His Word. Do you know how closely this word is to Jesus Christ? It's a fax of Christ. Do you no what a fax is? It's a facs - sending facsimile - is that how you say that? Facsimile.

Thank you. Accent on the right word. And so it's a fax of Christ. In John 1:1 he says, "in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was" - what? "God." So, you can touch God, you can feel Jesus, you can hear him every time you pick up the word. It's amazing what God has done for us.

We're talking about the power of prayer on Sunday, but if we don't take advantage of prayer then we can't expect to have much power. A little prayer, a little power. Much prayer, much power. But let's make it very clear - the power is not in the prayer. If I had a box here with a button on it and some electrical wire hooked up to that button and the wire went on out back to the parking lot and I hooked up the wire back there to some dynamite, it doesn't take hardly any power, whatsoever for me to push that button.

And there's extremely small amounts of power going from that button through the wire back to the dynamite. The power is in the recipient of the little bit of effort we put forth. And when we think about God, we send up our prayers like incense. It goes up to God and when it reaches him, it reaches ultimate power. Isn't that a wonderful thought, really? So, we can never begin thinking that our prayers are powerful.

They are puny at best. But praise God they reach up to a power that is unlimited. Listen, a car traveling 100 miles per hour would take more than 29 million years to reach the closest star. And there are between 100 billion and 1 trillion stars in just a normal galaxy. And the power of God - by his word all that came into existence - and why is it that we would think to pray so little to tap into that power? It is really mind-boggling - it should be to us.

Are you praying to God that you know - have that kind of power? I mentioned a phrase I'm sure you've heard before. Little prayer, little power. Much prayer, much power. But even we have to be careful with that. A man by the name of David martin lloyd jones - he was a rather famous preacher.

He lived from 1895 to 1981. He gave a sermon on prayer once and this little aspect he said - had in his sermon. He said, 'great saints, for instance, have always spent much time in prayer and in the presence of God. Therefore, we tend to think the way to be a saint is to spend much time in prayer and in the presence of God. But the important point about the great saint is not that he spent much time in prayer, he did not keep his eye on the clock.

He knew he was in the presence of God - he entered into eternity, as it were. Prayer was his life - he could not live without it. He was not concerned about remembering the length of time - the moment we begin to do that it becomes mechanical and we have ruined everything. It's good to be organized, it's good to have a set time of prayer, but don't ever let it become mechanical or you're wasting your time, right? A mechanical prayer doesn't get any higher than - it doesn't even reach the top of this ceiling, I don't think. Somebody read for us James 5:16 - somebody want to read that for us on this side? James 5:16.

Okay, right back here, jonathan - James 5:16 is one of my favorite texts. James is a wonderful little book. He's such a logical writer - new testament writer - James 5:16 - and this particular verse, especially the last part, well, this whole chapter is about prayer - it's the part of the Bible that talks - tells us about bringing somebody who is sick for an anointing service, so read 5:16 for us, would you jonathan? Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Thank you very much. I love that last sentence - 'the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

' When we pray that's what we want, isn't it? We want much to happen. We want something to happen. We want power - we want to tap into power so that some good can result from it. It says it has to be fervent. One time we were in Nebraska early in our ministry and we were driving down the road on one Sabbath morning - where we lived - to one of our churches.

We had three churches - one was miles away - and we had gotten up early and were traveling down the road. It was a snowy, snowy winter's day - awful day out. We were getting close to the city where we were going and we were going around the corner and there were ruts in the road because they had become snow-packed and all of a sudden the car was going down the road sideways. Well, I grew up in that country and I wasn't too - I knew I could steer out of a thing like that - I could steer out of it, but the problem was I didn't have too much time because there was an oncoming car - I mean, not a car, an oncoming big truck and that was a pretty frightening moment and in that frightening moment my wife, she hollered out 'God! Help us!' There wasn't anything eloquent about that prayer, but I can tell you it was very fervent. And it wasn't the time for a prayer like this: 'oh, our most kind and loving, long-suffering, everlasting, gracious and merciful Heavenly Father, wouldst thou in thine infinite wisdom look down on with divine favor on your erring, straying, at the moment sliding out of control children.

Dispatch at the command of your melodious voice, one of your bright and shining cherubim to take, from the hand of thine servant, the steering wheel to direct the path of our misguided automobile.' That would have been a good elaborate prayer to pray, but that wasn't the kind of prayer that was needed - fervent. So, fervent is a very important part of prayer. Bible commentary though, 939, volume 7 says, "he who strives for eloquent language in praying is entirely out of place." So we must be sincere but - and fervent - but not try to be eloquent. Well, when we get to Thursday's lesson we can touch on more about that verse if we have time, but now let's turn to Monday where we are encouraged to think on Jesus the praying Messiah. Would somebody look up Luke 3:21 and 22? Luke 3:21 and 22? Do we have somebody that volunteered to do that? Luke 3 - do we have somebody? Okay, right over here - Luke 3:21 and 22.

While you're looking that up, I'm going to look up Hebrews the fifth chapter and verse 7. I'm going to read that while they're looking that up. Hebrews 5, verse 7 says, "who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death,and was heard in that he feared." Okay, are we ready now for Luke 3:21, 22. Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while he prayed, the heaven was opened. And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven which said, 'you are my beloved son; in you I am well pleased.

'" Okay. Thank you. When we think about Jesus praying, we often think he prayed and almost instantaneously something wonderful and positive happened and quite often that's true. But there were other times when he prayed 'take this cup from me, nevertheless thy will be done.' And that cup wasn't removed. Did he pray for Judas? Yes he prayed for Judas.

Did Judas respond to his prayers positively? No. Did he pray for God's people? He wept over Jerusalem, he prayed over them. Did they all respond positively to his prayer? No. But there was an intensity in his praying and this text in Hebrews seems to indicate, of course, going back to, oh I think what mike brought up was his prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. When you pray do you ever weep? If you weep when you are praying, I bet it was for somebody - you were praying for somebody that needed your prayer very significantly.

I certainly have cried in prayer. Is that how we must pray to get results? I know a person years ago, he said, 'I pray once for something and that's it. I believe if I pray again, it's a lack of faith.' Is it a lack of faith to pray twice? I say just the opposite. I believe it is a faith-building experience to pray again and again. You pray once - nothing happens - at least no tangible results.

Well, you could give up but that would be a lack of faith so I believe it is faith that drives you to the throne of grace again and again and again. I often refer to baseball. If you were really wanting to be a good baseball player, a good hitter, and you had one of the best hitters of all time - he could come and give you some tips - and he gave you one very important tip, would you try and do that? Of course. If you were really trying to be a good baseball player, you would try and do exactly as he said. And if it didn't work the first time, would you give up? If you thought he was really one of baseball's greats you wouldn't give up, you would go back and try and try again what he told you.

And it is God, who is the greatest of all, who told us to pray without ceasing. So we go back to him again and again and again and what happens when we're there - there are often side dishes of blessings to such prayers, for our own lives. Isn't that true? Don't you get some blessings - side dishes of blessings when you pray again and again? Oh you learned something new this time, you prayed about the situation, you learned something about yourself. Now, we've moved into Tuesday's lessons but it is impossible to talk about a praying Messiah without talking about prayer of faith, because Jesus only prayed prayers of faith. I don't picture Jesus ever praying or saying the thing that one man said to him when he came to him.

He said, 'Jesus, I believe. Help thou mine unbelief.' Jesus never had unbelief. When he was in the garden, he did say, 'if it be possible take this cup from me but, nevertheless' - so it wasn't a lack of faith, it was a good question - a good honest question - but I think he knew the answer. That's why he added very quickly, 'thy will be done.' I sometimes think he said that more for our benefit even perhaps, than his own. But it was the biggest test that he was going through in his life there in the garden.

While we're in Hebrews, I'd like to read Hebrews 11:6 and it says, in Hebrews 11:6, "but without faith it is impossible to please him, for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Children often fulfill the essence of this text more than adults. Children teach us to believe, quite often. I suspect that's one of the reasons that Christ told us to become as little children. They don't have problems in believing. I love what jennifer and debbie had to say about children.

In fact, children believe so much sometimes, that we have to tell them 'don't be so trustful. Don't trust a stranger. Don't even trust some people in our families.' That's a sad thing to say, but quite often bad things happen from people within their own families - an uncle, a grandfather, things like that, so don't even trust - that's the sad commentary of our world but it's a fact. Now, a tale is told about a small town that had historically been dry - you know what that means, right? There was no alcohol served in this town. But then, a guy came to town - a businessman - he wanted to build a tavern.

So a group of Christians in the local church nearby were concerned and planned an all-night prayer meeting asking God to intervene. It just so happened that shortly thereafter, lightning struck the bar and burned it to the ground. Well, guess what? The owner of the bar took the church people to court and sued them because they were responsible for burning down his bar so they hired a lawyer and said, 'no, no, we're not responsible for your bar burning to the ground.' And the judge had this to say after the initial review of the case, he stated that 'no matter how this case comes out, one thing is clear, the tavern owner believes in prayer and the Christians do not.' They prayed for God to intervene - he burned it to the ground or allowed it to be burned to the ground and then they said, 'no! No!' You know why? Because it cost them something. When we pray and we pray in faith, we've got to be ready for the cost. When Jesus prayed, he was ready for the cost of his own life and we may come to that too.

Hopefully not through crucifixion - that's not a very pleasant way to go - but we must be willing if that's what happens where God leads. Jesus prayed, 'nevertheless thy will be done.' The ultimate cost in answered prayer. Have you ever known a people who pray for blessing - let's say money - and they're praying and they say, 'Lord, if you give me this money I'll do this for the church and I'll do that for the church, and I'll help out these people and I'll do this and that? Quite often, when people actually are then blessed with money, guess what they do with it? They use it for selfish purposes. Over and over and over again, people who win these large jackpots end up in utter destruction. They spend it all, they blow it all on a wild and tumultuous life, so I don't believe God would answer a prayer, 'Lord, bless me with a billion dollars.

' Because, you know what? God knows me better than I know myself. No, I kind of know myself - if I had a billion dollars, I'd probably start spending it foolishly. I hope I wouldn't, I pray I wouldn't, but it just seems to happen over and over again. Now, what about perseverance and prayer. We've talked about that a little bit.

If it doesn't happen should we keep on? There's a good Bible reference for this, it's found in Luke - do you want to turn with me in Luke 18 and we'll read this one together? Look at this one together - Luke and it's talking about a woman that had some petitions - very interesting prayer - section of the Bible. Luke 18 and verse 2 - beginning with verse 2. It says, there was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him saying, 'avenge me of mine adversary.' And he would not for awhile: but afterward he said within himself, 'though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her lest by her continual coming she weary me.'" Well, the lesson of that little passage, of course, is not that God is a begrudging God, the lesson, of course, is that we must be very persevering in our petitions before the Lord. And if we begin to take shortcuts or give up - taking shortcuts, that's an easy thing to do. Bad things are not going to - bad things are going to happen if we begin to take shortcuts in just about anything.

I decided one time to try my hand at baking bread. I'd seen my wife do it and we had this little bread making thing where you turned and turned. She said, 'the important thing about bread rising is that you knead it a lot and that kneading is an important thing.' So she was gone for a week to visit her sister and I thought this is a good time - she left all the recipe there and the instructions so I mixed all that up and I had a good idea. I thought, 'you know, kneading the dough is the most important - I'm going to bring my drill press in here.' I brought it in the kitchen and yes, that hook fit right up in there where the drill bit goes and I put it into the pan, I put it on the lowest gear possible and I turned that baby on and I had flour all over the ceiling. I mean, that flour was flying everywhere.

I was trying to take a short cut and, ah - I tell you what though, the bread did rise pretty good, but I had a mess. Taking shortcuts in prayer is not a good thing either. Well, Thursday's lesson - or Wednesday's lesson is entitled 'because you do not ask'. If we have a need why in the world wouldn't we ask? Well, there's lots of reasons why people would refrain from asking God - maybe they know there's something going on in their own life that it would be kind of a waste of time so, of course people wouldn't ask. But there may be other things in our lives.

In a very famous passage or text I've always enjoyed - Chronicles 7:14 - it says, "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves" - well, there it is - that part of praying that maybe cause people not to ask. 'You mean, God, I have to humble myself?' We don't like to humble ourselves sometimes. So we need to humble ourselves. If he does - if we do then he is willing to hear from heaven and answer our prayers and he keeps things in order for - he says, first he will forgive our sins and then he will heal our land. `Forgiveness of sin is the first point.

If you don't have that, you know it's always the right thing to do to pray for forgiveness of sin, especially if you mean it - I guess only if you mean it. Somebody read for us Proverbs :9 - does somebody have that? Over here. :9. Somebody want to read that for us real quick, please? Somebody have it? Okay, well, if not, I will turn back there myself, I guess. We've got a bunch of bashful people this morning and I understand I should have done my homework and gotten those texts handed out like I normally do, but I didn't.

Proverbs 28:9 says "he that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination." And this is what Thursday's lesson is all about. There are conditions that we have to comply with when it comes to praying and this probably is the most important, wouldn't you say? If we are in - regarding iniquity - if we've got plans of sinning, well God says that's an abomination? No, he says our prayers, then would be an abomination. So, why pray? If we've got that in our mind. But, we know there are some things that we definitely can pray for. Now, getting back to Thursday's effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much - there's three conditions in this one little text.

First, it must be fervent and we already covered that, but it must be effective and we just touched on that - to be effective you've got to be right with the Lord, first, and that's a very important part, but then we come to that third part and we say, 'well, yeah, but praying prayers to God from the lips of a righteous man - that leaves me out because I know that I'm a sinner. I'm the chief of sinners like Paul is and I'm like Isaiah, 'woe is me I'm undone' and etcetera, etcetera. But, as you begin to study it out you realize that righteousness by faith plays in here. You accept Christ and his righteousness then it's I that - like Paul - it is I - Christ that lives in me, not i, but Christ who prays through me so, it doesn't become just our prayer then because we unite with Christ who is righteousness. We put on his righteousness then our prayers ascend to God as from the lips of a righteous person.

Is that right? Is that good theology? It is, isn't it? So those three conditions: it must be fervent, it must be effectual, and it must be from a person who believes in the righteousness of Christ and prays in his name. That's what it really means to pray in the name of Jesus - not just saying the words but really praying in his righteousness. That's even a good thing to say - 'I pray in your righteousness' or say, 'I pray in your shed blood' - it's the only thing that will make this prayer even something that you will listen to. Anyway, yes we can claim that our prayers will be coming from righteous lips, because it is Christ who is doing it. But another point the lesson doesn't bring out - and we have just a moment to touch on this - I think our prayers should be intelligent prayers.

I mean, I think they should be thought through. I think God likes to hear from somebody that's not just rambling on and on. I think, first of all, to be intelligent we have to be honest with ourselves. Have you ever looked into an exhaustive concordance? Strong's exhaustive concordance - it tells you every word in the Bible and where it's listed. Have you ever noticed in those Bibles - in those concordances - how many times the word 'the' is listed? Or the word 'a' is listed? They list them all.

It's into the thousands. Now, if you were wanting to look up the text - 'the fruits - the fruits of the Spirit are...' Would you go to the word 'the' to find the text you wanted to find? That would be stupid, wouldn't it? Sometimes I think God must have to deal with us that way - I shouldn't use that word - that's a bad - that's not smart - I don't like that word. God deals with us sometimes. We offer prayers that are kind of meaningless sometimes. We aren't thinking about what we're saying.

God wants to hear from the deep recesses of our hearts and our minds. And when conditions are complied with, we can expect great things to happen. That's the best part of prayer. Effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man - ding, ding, ding, ding, dong - availeth much - much happens - many good things will take place if God's people will pray. Do you all believe that? Amen.

So should we be praying people? We all should be praying people because God is anxious and longing to hear from we, his people. Let me remind you of our special offer again this morning, it's written by our own very pastor, Pastor Doug Batchelor. It's called 'determining the will of God' and that's offer # 778 and you can get this free book by just dialing -866-study-more or that number is 1-866-788-3966. Thank you everyone who has joined us from wherever you joined us around the world. We'll look forward to seeing you again next week.

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