â€œNothing Fails Like Prayerâ€
It is time that Christians reexamined Prayer, especially pray in public settings.
I started my car and hurried out the parking lot before getting caught again on a very busy day. I needed to get to the bank to get a wire off to Guatemala, and I had been caught in person or by phone a half-dozen times between my desk and the car. My radio comes on automatically; I get my information from reading and radio. Our TV has not been switched on for over six months. I was watching for big trucks and fast moving autos as I merged into Highway 70, West Picacho. Then I heard it, a catchy tune, with clear, well-sung words, â€œnothing fails like prayer.â€ I checked at once; had someone moved my radio from one of the four Christian stations I have programmed? No, it was on KELP Christian radio. The singer went on with following the â€œwords of Mark Twain, check the weather forecast if you are going to pray for rain.â€ Just then Jay Sekulow with ACLJ came on and explained this was a song that the people with the Freedom From Religion Foundation had financed and was getting air play on secular radio in as many places as they could. This group has just lost some major lawsuits in trying to force Christians into a monastery and out of the public square. These folks finance this very well done and catchy song for their rallies and to promote their secularist views against Jehovah God, and in their case, all religions. Their big push right now is against Governor Sonny Perdue of the state of Georgia.
You may know that Georgia is going through a serious drought right now. Their reservoirs have less than two monthâ€™s water supply for their cities such as Atlanta. Crops are dying in the field, water is on ration everywhere. We have lived with news like this in the southwest for centuries, but Georgia? Governor Sonny, doesnâ€™t that sound like a good olâ€™ southern boy, or Bubba as they would say in South Texas, not only has called for prayer, he has lead the state in one of the most public and dynamic prayer services of our time. Without doubt, he has put his governorship, and public reputation, on the line. He has called out in repentance, honesty, and in faith to the God of the ages and the God of weather to come to the aid of Georgia. At a time when many ministers of mega churches and seeker friendly churches are stating that public prayer is too private a matter to be a part of the, and I will use their term here, â€œWorshipâ€ service. Besides, they can use that time for more rockinâ€™ music or â€œdynamicâ€ soft peddling the Word. Here at Agape, we have a different point of view. Jesus said, â€œMy Fatherâ€™s house shall be called a house of prayerâ€ (Matthew 21:13). Now I know he was talking about the Solomonâ€™s Temple on Moriah and Zion in Jerusalem. But, we are now the temple of God, and just as the gigantic temple was called by Jesus the house of God, the place where the God-images that have been redeemed and the prospects meet to study and praise is the house of God. It should be a house of Prayer. We at Agape now, after years of trying to get it right, have rockinâ€™ music, we have sermons with dialog, not sermonettes to entertain and get you out to beat the Methodists to Golden Corral. We have time of personal testimony and fellowship, we laugh with each other and sometimes at each other in a Christian way, we have a time of meditation and reflection with the Lordâ€™s Supper that is never hurried, but we have on average 10 to 15 minutes of prayer. We believe and live by prayer. When a special need comes up, we stop right then and pray. We are not wealthy enough to buy all of what we need; we can not afford lawyers and business advisors; we stand or fall by the grace of our Heavenly Father, and we can count on Him. We believe in prayer.
Having said that, letâ€™s return to the red clay hills of Georgia and Governor Sonny Perdue. He prayed a beautiful prayer of repentance, for himself and the people of Georgia; the repentance in the prayer came across as real. I have heard some ministers pray about repentance and it made me want to puke. At the same time he did not try to put God in a box. He was just a little boy coming to his father with his hand out for a blessing for the whole family. He is being mocked, lawsuits are being threatened, jokes are everywhere, paid for songs, (we used to call this â€˜payolaâ€™) are on Georgiaâ€™ radio stations, and the governor is still on his knees. Last night, at Bible Study, we took time to come alongside of Governor Sonny, and come in agreement for Georgiaâ€™s need for rain. I would like to challenge every Bible- believing person in America and around the world that will be reading this to take time daily to come in agreement with Sonny and the Georgia Christians, and pray for them. Letâ€™s stand as a family, and count on God. If you donâ€™t believe that God can and that he will hear, then you for sure need the rest of this essay; hang on.
This week, as the truth wars continue in our study of 2 Timothy, we are being warned about the folly of following those â€œalways learning but never able to come to the knowledge of truth.â€ Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, there are court jesters in churches, and in society, that will stand up as â€œChristianâ€ or Religious leaders that will in folly seek to lead us astray. The greatest single protective weapon in our arsenal, and in our personal armor, is the full armor of God as found in Ephesians 6 that includes â€œpray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and petitions. With this in mind, be alert, and always keep on praying for all the saintsâ€ (Ephesians 6:13-18). Sonny, we are going to hang with you!
When You Pray for Rain, bring your Umbrella
I send a great amount of e-mails into the air everyday. I donâ€™t see them again when I punch the send button. Oh, yes, I can go to sent folder and see a record of what I sent. But, I have faith in the system of the Internet that my message will get to where I have directed it. If I didnâ€™t have faith in the very human and at times faulty system of electronic mail, I would not spend the time each day deleting, answering, and creating what is known as e-mails. This breaks down when I push the analogy of prayer and e-mail very far. That system is human design, fallible, designed by fallen man, and has fraud, lies, and needs a great amount of discernment to respond. Prayer on the other hand appears to the non-believer as speaking into the air, and you canâ€™t see the words or where they are going. They think, as a teacher told me in high school, it accomplishes about the same as counting to ten. It gives you time to think, and solve the problem on your own. I claim that prayer is a partnership, and it takes belief in the one hearing as well as belief in our relationship. Now, I know God hears the prayers of non-Christians; ask Peter about that gentile Roman army officer. But, for the Christian, prayer is a partnership with God. We in faith, believing, ask, and God hears and responds as a loving father that knows what is best for us. Come with me to a hillside in a country far away, and a time long ago.
The current Freedom From Jehovah Religion Foundation is having a field day laughing at the Israeli forces. Now, we are used to Israeli forces being tough on the mark and a precision fighting group, you know, Entebbe, Iraqi atomic development sites. This day, the whole of the special forces are shaking in their boots; the commander-in-chief is hiding in his command tent. The unbelievers are shouting out slurs, derogatory statements, and a slam against Israeliâ€™s God and nothing is being done. They refuse the challenge that is being broadcast day by day, and all day long.
Into this melee dilly bops a young teen farm boy with supplies for his brothers. He is shocked that these non-believers are cutting down his God and no one is doing anything about it. His brothers are mad at him for butting into their business; â€œThe commander is in charge; get back to your few scrawny sheep.â€ The commander heard that the boy was stupid enough to accept the challenge and go hand to hand in combat with the max-warrior of the non-believers. He wants to help the teen, but has no idea how. The kid goes at the problem in faith believing that God, that had delivered him from a bear and a lion, can deliver him from a max-warrior as well.
From this point on nothing makes sense. The max-warrior is armed with the best super steel sword available, a very sharp spear, coved from head to foot with the finest armor that is protecting this max-warrior from head to toe. He is a mature and very experienced fighting man, with years of experience. Our very confident, yet inexperienced, teenager is wearing a shepherdâ€™s skirt and blouse, wearing sandals on his feet, with a hiking stick in his hand and a sling shot. On the way to the arena, he picks up five old river rocks and puts four in his fanny pack and slings one, ready for the fray.
On the mountainsides, both sides of the arena, experienced soldiers are holding their breath or laughing out loud. It will be a slaughter, if you can call chopping up a small teen a slaughter. The max-warrior nearly chokes on his laughter, and if he had known that this teen had called on His God to give him the victory, the max-warrior would have been crying out, â€œNothing Fails Like Prayer.â€ Everyone is sure the kid is doomed; they are expressing pity for him and his family, and the Israeli army that is about to suffer one more disgrace. Then suddenly, as the teen walks confidently down the mountainside, and across the dry river bed, those with god-eyes notices that stride for stride with the teen is walking the Holy Spirit of God; the stone, the sling, the arm of the teen, the eye of the teen and the sighting of the perfect bullsâ€™ eye are all now in control of the Spirit to whom the boy was praying. Now it is time to pity the max-warrior as one stone goes into the air, hits a perfect bulls eye and the max-warrior tumbles to the ground and the teen rushes up to finish answering his prayer as he rips the sword of Max-warrior from the sheath and finishes the job. Praise and fear breaks out, and all the sudden, with one small teenâ€™s victory a whole army came alive. I know that you recognize the account of David and Goliath. Davidâ€™s confidence and prayer to God was activated by his full trust and confidence in God, and willingness to put his all on the line for God.
I perceive that is the kind of faith that Governor Sonny Perdue acted on this past week in Atlanta, Georgia. Can we logically expect victory like that today?
I want to look next at James the half brother of Jesus the Christ, Chap.4:2, 3: â€œYou want something, but you donâ€™t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your own pleasure.â€ James sees two problems with Christians praying for something. They want something but donâ€™t get it. Reason? You covet, kill, fight and donâ€™t get what you want; you do not ask rights. You were planning to use it for your own good and you ask with the wrong motives. This covers a multitude of prayer requests. James gives us a lesson in praying so that we will receive. Make sure your motives are right and your style is one God can bless. You are not to pray for things that will be just for your own pleasure.
My favorite scripture on asking God is Ephesians 3:20,21, â€œNow to him that is able to do immeasurably more than all that we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.â€ Now for all those that believe that Godâ€™s answering prayer in a miraculous way stopped at the end of the age of the Apostles, what do you call immeasurably more than you ask or imagine? I call that a God-sized response to all that we ask, or imagine. I can tell you, I am a big asker, and I have a fantastic imagination as to where we need to go to to accomplish the vision that God has given me. Next we see that the power that is at work in us to do these miracles is Jesus Christ acting through the church throughout all generations, even forever and ever. That is now, and that is â€œusen,â€ baby. Again, to tie in here, you need to believe that God is and that he exists and that he is a rewarder of those that believe in him and earnestly seek him (Hebrews 1:6)
Jesus on the night he was betrayed addressed this asking in Jesusâ€™ name. John 16:23, 24: â€œIn that day (speaking of the day that he will be gone back to heaven and we are left here alone to do his will) you will no longer ask me (In person while I am with you) anything. I tell you the truth, my father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.â€ In just a few hours Jesus will be praying that â€œthis cup will pass from me.â€ And it didnâ€™t pass from him. He showed us the secret during his prayer time in the garden, â€œNot my will but thine be done.â€ Praying in Jesusâ€™ name is praying in harmony with his will and plans. If I prayed, â€œGod please give me a new Rolls Royce; it would be a great witnessing tool for those living above Telshor,â€ I donâ€™t believe Jesus is obligated to provide me with a ride from Crew, England, even if I asked in His name. I do believe it is his will that we pick up and bring to church as many as possible, and when I prayed for a few hundred dollars extra to buy and install a Chevy V8 in the donated van, he came right through with the money. Now, I am praying for the man power to pull an engine and install it in our van or a mechanic that can do it for our budget.
Three Sundays ago, Tony and Trish came into church without their grandkids, Adriana, April and Daniel; they had sent them home to Oklahoma. There was not that normal smile on their face. They had to take the kids back to Oklahoma, and Tony had very bad news. He had a very serious stomach cancer; an operation was eminent. We stopped the service regular program at the time of the opening prayer, and Alvin and I laid hands on Tony and Trish and we prayed. We prayed again during the morning prayer time and many times since. Tony has been back and forth to the hospital for tests since. We have been in contact and prayed; they are listed on the prayer wall. Today, I took a break and called Trish; she had marvelous news. The operation is on hold, depending on one more result that will be back last Friday, it seems that the doctors were all wrong or God has changed the cancer. It seems to be a type B that is slow growing and awaiting one more report, it just may be the kind that can be treated with antibiotics; at worst, some chemo. You can say, â€œIt was just doctor errorâ€ if you want; I believe that whatever the case, the Good Lord answered our prayers, and we will continue to pray. Trish and I went into an immediate time of praise this morning.
As I said, we are a church that lives on prayer. We have been planning the celebration of Eliâ€™s adoption by his Grandmother Nancy. Everything, after months of prayer and working, was coming together. We were told he would be adopted on November 19th at a very special service at the Court- house in honor of national adoption day. I had planned my schedule around being there, sending Daniel and Melba to another meeting that day for me. This Monday, Nancy got word that Child protection, after months of autopsy on Nancy and her past, decided to appoint a lawyer for Eli to make sure grandma was a safe bet for him to be adopted to, and now the lawyer is reevaluating all of Nancyâ€™s life. Nancy and all of us have accepted that is just the government, but we are praying double hard for things to go good and we still can have the adoption done on the 19th. If we do, the following Sunday, we are having a very special service of praise and Grandmother dedication for Nancy, Elijah, Janice, and Amber. It will be a day to remember. He still does more than we ask or imagine; and are, in faith, believing, asking in Jesusâ€™ name for Nancy and Elijah. If the state and their hired gun causes it to be postponed a week or more, we will change our program to accommodate this intrusion into normal family life.
Back to Governor Perdue, I believe if we ask in faith, believing that God is, and that he rewards those that believe in Him, we will be hearing of a rainy night in Georgia and days as well. Maybe we can pray up such a storm that New Mexico will get wet from the cusp of the storm. Anyway let the heathen rage, when they sing that nothing fails like prayer, for we know by experience that nothing works like prayer. Heathen, watch out for that shepherdâ€™s stone.