Prayer Changes Things
Begin in prayer, asking God to speak through you, asking God to teach these students the gospel through your words
I’m not very good at praying. I’m really not. Now that doesn’t mean you can ignore the rest of my message on prayer, but I just want to share honestly that praying is a struggle for me. There’s other things that we’re called to do as followers of Christ that comes easy for me. I love learning, I geek out over books, and so I love studying the Bible. I love learning about different passages, different words, different aspects of the gospel. I enjoy memorizing Scriptures. I have a unique brain, I memorize things incredibly fast. Except for names. I’m not too good at those. Anyway, I enjoy memorizing Scripture. I actually almost always have Scripture memory index cards on me. I enjoy worship. I enjoy coming to church on Wednesdays and Sundays. All this comes easy for me. But praying? That’s tough.
When I was in Phoenix, I had a job as an early morning security guard. 4-8 AM every day. It was the worst, and I only lasted a month. If you can do that, you have my utmost respect and awe. Anyway, the store I worked at didn’t open until 9 AM, so I asked if I could wear headphones. The manager said I couldn’t. I was annoyed and frustrated. I was like “I’m the only one here”. But she wouldn’t relent. So for four hours every day I would sweep, buff, and vacuum. Let me tell you, the vacuuming was the best, because it was one of those Ghostbusters vacuums. And when I say the best, I really mean the worst. Because the cord would get caught on the racks in the clothes section and I would find myself tangled up in the middle of the boys clothing. If you looked at the security feed you’d probably see me losing my mind at a couple points because of this. Anyway, to why I actually told you this. There was one morning when I was like, here we go, I’m going to try and pray this whole shift. I wrote out a list of prayer needs on a card and got ready to go. I clocked in and started sweeping. I prayed everything I could think of and looked at my watch. It was 4:06. It had been a whopping six minutes since I started praying. I kept trying to find my groove but I would get distracted. I was not very good at praying
What we’re going to see tonight is that even if you’re like me and prayer is tough and doesn’t seem to make a difference in your life, we can without a doubt come to understand that prayer changes things.
THAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE.
PRAYER CHANGES THINGS.
We’ve been looking at a few Psalms here and there. Tonight we’re going to look at Psalm chapter 3 together. Let me set the scene for you. This is a psalm written bt David. David was that dude who killed the giant Goliath, and a myriad of other things. Basically he’s like the most well known king of God’s people in the Bible. In this chapter however, he is being chased by his own son who wants to kill him. Now you and I may go through some tough seasons and trials in our lives, but I hope none of us are being chased by our own son who wants to kill us. David’s son’s name was Absalom. And Absalom wanted to be king of Israel. So he chased his father out of the palace and was now trying to find him and kill him. Did I get your attention with this? I hope so. The Bible truly is an exciting book.
Read slowly, emphasizing David’s need, confidence, and prayer
Alright, cool. So tonight we’re going to talk about David’s need, confidence, and prayer. First let’s look at what David’s need was. Let’s see why he was praying to God in the first place.
Ask someone to read
David is praying to the Lord. He’s fleeing not only from his son, but his son’s army. Very crazy stuff. David had a problem. He had a need that he brought before God. David needed to be saved from the foes, the enemies, the very bad dudes that were chasing him and trying to kill him. It is in that we see the story of Absalom chasing David, and historically people have attributed this Psalm to David during this episode. Not only are the people that are chasing him evil men, they also are taunting his faith. They are telling each other aloud that there is no salvation for David in God. David will not be saved by God. There is a lot at stake here. Not only is David’s life at stake, but the glory of God is at stake as well. These wicked men are proclaiming that God will not save David. The enemies of David taunt him for trusting in God. The psalmist points this out in hopes that God will act and prove them wrong. David’s prayer is built upon the hope that the enemies’ taunts are wholly untrue, that God will truly and surely save David from this episode.
What’s even more crazy is that in , the psalm we looked at last week, the enemies described were foreign leaders. Here in this psalm, the enemies that David speaks of are Israelites, his own people, the people that God had chosen. Yet here they are backing Absalom’s attack upon David.
Not only is there the fear of physical death, David is dealing with the fear of God’s abandonment.
If we combined every earthly trial and tribulation, it would pale in comparison to the nastiness and bleakness of what this tribulation was for David. There is nothing more terrifying than believing that God has abandoned you.
Have you ever felt that way?
Have you ever felt like God had abandoned you?
Have you ever felt like He didn’t care?
When your family member dies, when your friends betray you, when you’re bullied, when your grades plummet, when you feel all alone. There are moments where we like David can begin to doubt and lack faith. I can’t say for certain whether or not David started to believe what the people that backed Absalom were saying, but I imagine he struggled. I imagine he doubted. I imagine he wondered. We see in the next section of this Psalm however that David placed his confidence in God to provide for and protect him.
Ask someone to read Psalm 3:3-6
This section we see that David is confident in God, and we see why. Look at verse three. David says three things about God, he describes God in three different ways.
First, David calls God his shield. This term of God being a shield is used all throughout the book of Psalms. So this was a familiar term for God for the people of God during this time. The taunts of David’s enemies had not led him to completely doubt God. David trusts God to protect him like a shield, to protect him.
It’s like in dodgeball, I would always stand behind the biggest guy on the court for protection.
Seriously though guys, our protection, our ability to live and move and be alive comes only because God protects you and I.
Secondly, David calls God his glory. What this means is that David was confident that God had blessed his kingship and would continue to bless his kingship. David was confident that he would be placed back on the throne, that David would be glorified in Israel yet again.
Lastly, David calls God the lifter of his head. This probably had a double-meaning. When it says that God lifted the head of David, it meant that God would renew David’s confidence. This also meant that God would restore him to his previous position as king.
You may be lost. You may be clueless as to how this applies to you and me. Here’s how it does. In those crazy dark moments in our lives, we can remember God’s character. The reality is that when crap hits the fan in our lives, we can remember that God is our shield. We are protected, we are safe. We can remember that God is our glory. We are in our position, only because God put us there.
This illustration is pretty over-used, but maybe you guys aren’t familiar with it. You and me, we’re like a turtle on a fencepost. If you saw a turtle on a fencepost, you would know that somebody else put it there. That’s us. That’s understanding humility. Every single thing we have is a gift. You and I deserve absolutely nothing.
We can remember that God will lift up our heads. When you’re discouraged or depressed, we tend to have our heads down. But God lifts them back up. I don’t know what you’re going through, but please please please understand that God loves you, that God will restore faith and joy to you.
Let’s keep going.
Verse four tells us that David cried out to God, and that God answered him from his holy hill. One thing we need to remember is that God is holy and we are not. We must come before God in prayer through reverence and respect. Here’s the crazy part. Here’s the crazy crazy part. God answered David! God answered his prayer! You see, this Psalm is split kind of up, we’re getting this story in hindsight from David.
God answered David’s prayer. David was a murderer, and an adulterer. Do you understand that? David slept with another man’s wife. TBH sometimes I have to remind myself that David didn’t steal a rubber ducky. He stole a woman. Not only did he do that, but he murdered her husband. WHAT. This is not the kind of guy that you’d think God would answer the prayer of. But he does. We’re just as bad as him, but we’ll get to that later.
What happens next is nuts. David is being pursued by this enemy army that wants to chop off his head.
AND HE GOES TO SLEEP.
This is the craziest decision of all time.
I was an RA at OBU my Senior year of college. And there was a guy in our dorm who played XBOX alllllll the time. I mean all the time. He would come to the lobby tv and play it all night. We eventually had to put rules in place where we kicked him out at 1 AM. The dude was nuts. Anywho, one day, he’s walking to class. Now let me tell you, he had one on those Nintendo 3DS dohickeys, so he never took a moment off from his video gaming. He was one of those guys. Even if you like video games I know you’re not as bad as him, because, well, you’re not playing them right now. Anyway, one day somebody comes to the desk and says ‘yo, Cameron is asleep in the road’. Now I had only been an RA for about a month, there wasn’t really a protocol in place for this moment. I go out there, and sure enough, Cameron is asleep in the road..... he had been so tired due to not sleeping that he crashed in the middle of the road.
I tell you that crazy story to tell you that David’s decision to sleep is an even more unsafe decision. Thankfully Cameron had people looking out for him so that when he took a nap in the road he was rescued so to speak. David, if he took a nap here, it was likely that he’d wake up with Jesus. There would be no more David.
Something that may be lost on us as twenty-first century readers of this Psalm is that David was running for his life. So when in verse four it says that he laid down and slept, that’s crazy talk. He left himself completely defenseless and vulnerable to the attack of his son Absalom and company, because he was that assured of God’s ability to protect and provide for him. May we have that same confidence in God’s protection and provision.
David asked God for protection, and then went to bed!
The second half of verse five tells us that the Lord woke him up the next morning, safe and sound.
God answered David’s prayer!
Amazingly, God gave David a good night’s sleep. David woke up encouraged that God was in control, would protect him, and would destroy his enemies.
David woke up with so much confidence and courage. He was able to proclaim that he was not afraid even if thousands of people set themselves against him. So we saw David’s need, we saw David’s confidence, now we will see David’s prayer. Don’t worry this part will be short.
Have someone read
David prays that God would rise up and defeat the wicked. David prays that God will strike all his enemies and break the teeth of the wicked. David has confidence in God to protect him, and so now he encourages God to take action and come to his complete rescue.
This is a weird prayer. It doesn’t exactly feel like a prayer that we should pray. The prayers in this book don’t mean that we are supposed to pray like this. Don’t get your theology out of the book of Psalm. For instance, Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. Regardless as to that reality, we see David praying with confidence.
Here’s the reality. Here’s the bottom line.
God hears our prayers and answers them. Prayer is vitally important. We don’t like to do it because it’s foreign and makes us slow down. But it is no less important. Because of Jesus’ death in our place, we can know God personally.
LET THIS SINK IN.
We can talk with God, we can share our lives and our worries with him. There is no prayer too big or too small for us to share with Him. We can ask for his help. We can give him the praise He deserves.
Tell God your worries.
Remind yourself how powerful and in control he is.
Ask God to help you.
Get some sleep.
We can rest in God’s provision and protection.
Now back to the murderer and adulterer. David. You and I are like him. In the book of Matthew Jesus gives us a new standard. He says this.
Have you ever thought a hateful thought about someone? You murdered them in your heart?
Have you ever lusted after someone with your thoughts? You committed adultery.
You and I are murderers and adulterers in God’s eyes.
BUT THE GOSPEL IS THIS.
God sent His Son Jesus to live the perfect life we couldn’t and die the death you and I deserved. He rose from the grave so that we could have communion with Him. Wow.
Pray this week. Just for five minutes a day. You can do it. Tell him EVERYTHING. He can take it.
Close in prayer