When Prayer Gets Exciting
When I grew up in the Midwest, we did fishing with bobbers. I do not think there is much fishing with bobbers in this part of the country. Let me tell you that standing on the bank of a lake staring at a bobber isn’t very exciting. But as soon as that bobber begins to move a little bit, and then when it is pulled under the water, fishing gets very exciting. Sadly, I think that we are often guilty of treating prayer the same way. Our daily prayer life, if it is existent at all, consists of a time of reading a list, remembering needs, and asking for blessings with no real faith or fervency. Without faith, prayer is just a series of meaningless words uttered from the lips of a mediocre saint. Jesus taught His disciples of the importance of faith in the prayer live.
Matthew 21:21-22 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. If we would really consider the power that we possess in prayer, we might get more excited about praying. One preacher said, “Nothing is discussed more and practiced less than prayer.” This account of prayer in the Bible is a good lesson of what happens, “When Prayer Gets Exciting.” Many of you are thinking but my prayer life is already exciting. That’s wonderful if that is the case, but I believe that many of us need to be reminded that prayer can be a very exciting venture in the Christian’s life.
1. Prayer gets exciting when circumstances are severe. In our text this morning we are told of a ruler named Herod. Herod was a ruler that was concerned with having as many people on his side as possible. There were a lot more Jews than Christians at the time, there was definite strife between the two groups, and Herod became a friend of the Jews and a persecutor of the Christians. His first act of aggression was against James, the brother of John. He was killed with the sword, and Herod saw that it pleased the Jews. What can I do next? How about Peter? Maybe we can silence one of the prominent preachers, and cause this upstart sect to be scattered and discouraged into disbanding. So Peter is arrested, and Herod sets his execution date for just after the Passover. I would consider this to be a severe circumstance. A man is about to die at he hand of a godless ruler. Herod made arrangements to ensure Peter could not escape or that his friends could free him. Sixteen soldiers were charged with guarding him, and two of them were chained to him. The church began to pray for Peter. His circumstance was severe. Isn’t true that we are most often brought to our knees in times of severity? When terminal illness strikes, when financial ruin is on the horizon, when our children turn wayward. When you do not know what else to do, or who you can turn to, please turn to God, and ask Him for the answer.
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Just shortly after WW I, a recently widowed mother of three began to wonder how she would care for her three children. There was no income, no help from the War Dept., and no food in the house. The four of them were slowly starving to death. Christmas was coming, and the Mother asked God in prayer to give them a Christmas dinner. She wrote down a portion of her prayer in a piece of paper, and went to town looking for a miracle. She ventured into a market and began to plead her case to the store owner. The owner was not a believer and began to mock her and said, “Write your prayer on a piece of paper, and I will place that paper on my scales and give you the weight of the paper in food.” She pulled the paper with prayer from the purse, and placed it on the scales. The grocer began to place food on the scales and it would not budge. A crowd had gathered and heard his promise, and he placed more food on the scales—still no movement. Finally in his disgust he said, “that’s all you can have, box it yourself, and get of my store.” With tears in her eyes she packed up the food, went home and fed her hungry children. After the store had closed, the grocer examined the scales and discovered that they had been broken sometime that morning. He looked at the scrap of paper and read this simple words, “Give us this day our daily bread.” How guilty are we of expecting the supernatural when the simple often meets our needs?
2. Prayer gets exciting when there is unity of purpose (5,12). The people had come together for the purpose of praying, and their purpose was specific. This has really gotten hold of my heart, because I can think of two times that the church got together for prayer, and both times there was a specific purpose; Peter’s release, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. I think we come together for prayer, and its to offer our requests, and we are most concerned with our requests. Do you ever go home with hurt feelings on Wednesday night because no one remembered to pray for what you requested? That is not unity of purpose in prayer. Everyone was praying for the release of Peter. We ought to have prayer meetings with a specific need in mind. Jack Hyles used to say that we need to grab on to the horns of the altar and not let go until our prayer is answered. We need to pray specifically with unwavering fervency.
Luke 11:5-8 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
3. Prayer gets exciting when God answers in unimaginable ways. Then angel had to wake Peter up. Peter did not believe what he was experiencing. When he finally came to his senses and realized what the Lord had done, he had to go and tell God’s people. The praise report is just as important as the prayer request (Woody and Anna). When Peter knocked on the door, I believe that the people were expecting anyone BUT Peter to be standing there. Rhoda said who is it? It is Peter let me in. She got so excited that she forgot all about the door, and went to tell the people that Peter was outside. Watch what sets in here—skepticism. Yeah right. You were seeing things. Skepticism abounds because of we believe that God cannot do that which escapes the boundaries of our rational thinking. You cannot put God in a box.
Jeremiah 32:17 Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Jeremiah 33:3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
We should almost expect our Lord to do the miraculous.