Title: Open Ears
Foundational Keys to Opening the Gates of Heaven
Introduction: In a book entitled, The Circle Maker, we read, "The Bible is a promise book and a prayer book. And while reading is reactive, prayer is proactive. Reading is the way you get through the Bible; prayer is the way you get the Bible through you. As you pray, the Holy Spirit will quicken certain promises to your spirit." In the Bible we have one of those promises, made by Jesus Christ, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 'Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:7-11)
Proposition: I would propose to you that God has open ears and is longing to have His children call Him day or night. When your children call to let you know what they are up to, most parents get excited. When your children have a real need, parents' want to know about it, and they wish their children would had called them before things have gotten difficult. It is like that with God.
Interrogative Sentence: Just what does it take for us to understand that God, our Father wants us to call upon Him in all circumstances, trials, and needs of this life? One of the keys to opening the gates of heaven is understanding the imperative of prayer - God wants to answer our prayers. "Christians, by the millions, the world over, can and do testify to the fact that God both hears and answers prayer." (Evans, W., & Coder, S. M. (1974). The great doctrines of the Bible (Enl. ed., p. 174). Chicago: Moody Press) You, and I can give personal testimony of specific prayers that have been answered.
However, there is a danger that can attack the heart of prayer. It is that religious aura - it takes us over easier than you think. It's that spiritual thing you are say - but there is no real heart-felt, Holy Spirit revelation that God wants to hear our prayers, He will answer it in a way that brings true peace and joy.
Years ago, a young man with the heart to be an evangelist and preacher of God's Word, attended his organization's yearly convention. He excitingly shared his vision and handed out material for all to read just what His vision was, he requested prayer, of which the leadership said they would pray. Years later, when the truth was revealed, the leadership had disregarded the young man's material - they could not give an accounting when they prayed or what they prayed for. The leadership had no interest, only saying that spiritual cliché, "Will Pray."
Did God let the young man down? By know means - clinging to the truths in this message. The faithful preacher saw the Lord raise up ministries who prayed for him and opened up doors of opportunities, which are still blessing him and others for many years now. Just what are those Biblical truths that quickened his heart to keep him, keeping on with His Lord?
Transitional Sentence: Psalm 65:2 says, "...You who hear prayers..." God in His Word often speaks to us in short phrases, "God is Love" (1 John 4:16) Here, the psalmist is encouraging us to pray because of God's readiness to hear. (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 366). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) It is His natural attribute to hear prayer. Calvin rightly observed, “God can no more [disrobe] Himself of His attribute of hearing prayer than of being." (Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Psalms (Vol. 2, p. 29). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company) In other words, as God is, it is character to hear prayer.
It is like the couple who has the heart desire to please and protect their lover and partner in life. They want to be informed what their spouse wants, needs, and expectations are. It gives them great joy to know that their partner in life will express their longings to them. There are woman who have discovered the joy of protecting, providing daily needs and comfort to their God given mate. A man who has such a woman knows that he has received favor from God. (Proverbs 18:22)
Christians who understand that in Christ Name they have a God who wants to know their longings, are a people who pray. Even if those whom they may have entrusted to pray for them, have failed, they pray because they know the truth written in the Book of Ephesians, "Now all glory is to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." (Ephesians 3:20)
Transitional Sentence: Christians who grasp God's longing to hear their prayers, pray because they know what God's Word says about prayer. 1 Thessalonians tells us to, "Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18) Christians crave pure spiritual milk... grow up in [their] salvation... they taste that the Lord is good." (1 Peter 2:2-3)
They grasp these truths: God commands us to pray. (1 Samuel 12:23; Romans 12:12; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Timothy 2:8) Christ example in prayer. (Hebrews 5:7; John 17) The example of the early church. (Acts 1:14; 2:42; 6:4; 2:5) The example of the Apostle Paul. (Acts 9:10-11; 16:25; 20:36; Romans 10:1) Prayer defeats the devil. (Luke 22:32; 1 Peter 4:7) Prayer saves the sinner. (Luke 18:13) Prayer restore the backslider. (James 5:16) Prayer strengthens the saints. (Jude 20) Prayer sends forth laborers. (Matthew 9:38; Acts 3:2-3) Prayer heals the sick (James 5:13-15) Prayer glorifies God's name. (Revelations 5:8; 8:2-4) Prayer opens the door to good things. (Psalm 102:17; Matthew 7:7-11) Prayer imparts wisdom. (James 1:5) Prayer bestows peace. (Philippians 4:5-7) Prayer keeps one from sin (Matthew 26:41) Prayer opens the door to God's intervention. (Luke 11:9-10) (Willmington, H. L. (1987). Willmington’s book of Bible lists (p. 251). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale)
Christians who truly understand that God hears prayer mature like King David. King David asks God to lead him. (Psalm 61;1-5) King David praise God for protecting him. (Psalm 61:1-2) King David thanked God for being his refuge and fortress. (Psalm 61:3) King David wrote, "God, heard my vows..." (Psalm 61:5) King David asked God to watch over him and add many years to his life. (Psalm 61:6-8) (Willmington, H. L. (1999). The Outline Bible (Ps 61). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers)
Transitional Sentence: Mature Christians pray because the Bible tells them to pray and they trust in the truth of Proverbs 15:29, "The Lord ...hears the prayer of the righteous." We are assured in Scripture that God is personal, living, active, all knowing, all-wise and all powerful. A confident prayer life is built on the confidence in the truths of God's Word and we have seen Him answer prayer.
It has been well said, "Prayer can be a steering wheel or a life vest." (unknown) I recently read, "The shortest distance between a problem and solution is the distance between your knees and the floor. The one who kneels to pray to God can stand up to anything." I also read, "Sometime prayer does not change the situation, but it changes our attitude towards the situation. It gives us hope which changes our entire life. A busy life makes prayers harder. But prayer makes a hard busy life easier." (Prayer SMS Messages)
It is true that God has raised up great men of God who have spent hours in prayer each day. Men like Billy Graham, David Wilkerson, and John Piper. Men and woman of long hours of prayer have powerful useful ministries.
It is also true that the Lord has shown Himself to be active in the ordinary lives of those who call to him. Many have seen God intervene in the life of a pet, livestock, finances and many ordinary needs of daily living.
George Mueller saw the Lord raise millions of dollars for the ministry he had for children. Orphanages that housed thousand of children who lost their parents. He never made a need know to anyone on this earth, only to God. Pennie and I are very thankful to the Lord, He answered yes to our prayer for a kitten we rescued. That kitten is a reminder to us that God wants us to be involved in every part of our lives. Many have seen the Lord guide them in their jobs, careers, family affairs and direction in their lives.
In Closing: We can go on and on about answered prayers which can encourage us to pray. The Holy Spirit wants us to grasp and cling to, the Lord wants to hear our prayers. 1 John 5:13-15, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him."
What the beloved John is saying, "God here is my life, I have lived long enough to know that You know more about what is good for me than I do, and Your priorities need to be my priorities. I want You sovereign over my life as a person, sovereign over my marriage as a partner, sovereign over my children as a parent, sovereign over my workplace as a provider, and sovereign over everything I do." (Jeremiah, D. (1997). Prayer: the great adventure (pp. 186–187). Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers) That is what it means to pray according to God's will.
We must understand that Christians may not always hear, always read the Bible or always communicate, but they may continually pray. Psalm 50:15 has one of those short phrases from God, "Call on Me..." "Meaning we in Christ's Name we have access to God in all circumstances, at all times, and in all places." (The Pulpit Commentary) Every Christian is a temple of the Lord, taking every thought captive to Christ make us a temple of prayer.
I think of the testimony of Keith A. Longtin of College Park, Maryland.
"He had to wait on the Lord to fight for him. On October 4, 1999 his wife was brutally murdered, of which he was picked up on October 5, 1999, then charged for his wife's murder. He was questioned for 33 hours straight. The Prince George's County Police twisted his words and even saw fit to try to get the death penalty.
Keith writes, 'I continually prayed that Jesus would lead the police to the real culprit of this crime. I also prayed for strength to endure this trial'
Finally by June 12, 2000. He was set free. On November 17, 2000 the State of Maryland had dropped all charges against him. DNA evidence against another person had led to an arrest.
Keith writes, 'All I had was the Word of God and through His grace I stood on it.'" (Testimonies of Answered Prayers)
God has open ears, wanting to hear our longings and needs. Let us pray!