This morning we are continuing our short series on being bold for our faith, so we title this morning study as “Bold Prayers”.
But I want to start out with a little story on what not to pray for!
God may not answer every prayer, no matter how bold or important it may to you. This is a story about a group of college students taking a final. One student had just finished his test and was about to hand it in, but the professor told him that before he handed it in, the student had to sign a form stating that you did not receive any outside help. This student thought “I do not think I can sign this.” So, he went up to the professor and confessed that he went to God in prayer asking for all the correct answers, so he knew that he aced this test! The professor stated “Let me review your answers first.” The professor checked his answers, handed the paper back” You can sign the form with a clear conscience. God did not help you with the test!”
We continue our study in Acts 4 with following Peter and John after their release from custody by the Jewish leaders. The disciples go back to their own people and discussed with them all that had happened. The immediate reactions from the early Christians were to go into prayer to God for the circumstances they found themselves in.
I like to start this morning with some insight from Pastor Andrew Murray, a South African missionary around the turn of the century. He found the state of affairs back then much as I think we find today. The ministers’ conference of 1912 he attended had a round table discussion concerning the low spiritual state of the nations and churches at that time in Europe. The state of the church called for a deep searching of the heart of each of the ministers. The leader of the conference, Pastor de Vos, suggested we come together in God’s presence and, with all sincerity, we must acknowledge our own lack of confidence in prayer to solve our issues. That very day over 400 ministers and seminary students boldly prayed, which led to realization of their own prayerlessness. Their continued prayers spread through Europe that year in a new revival.
Pastor Murry goes on to state: “That the lack of prayer is a reproach to God. The holy and most glorious God invites us to come to him, to converse with him, to ask him for the things we need, and to experience the depth of blessing there is in fellowship with him. He has created us in his own image and has redeemed us by his own Son Jesus so that in conversation with him we should find our greatest delight! “
Prayer is to bridge the gap from here to eternal heaven. Prayer is important. How important? The bible has over 10 different categories for prayer. That is how important God the Father places on our communication to him. It is a privilege that is given freely to us to be able to ask and seek our Lord in prayer - Bold prayer.
But what use do we make of this heavenly privilege to boldly come to him in prayer? Five fast minutes on the way to work, once a week on Sunday morning?
The main excuse is we just do not have the time to talk and pray with our Lord. Our lives are just too busy right now, sorry. The reality is that our hearts’ desire is lacking for prayer. To think of spending 30 minutes a day in prayer and study of scripture is out of the question. We have time for what genuinely interests us, but time is scarce to practice fellowship with God. This seems to be the norm today and look where we are…
It is time to get bold in prayer, to first recognize our own shortcomings, and then go back to God. He is there waiting for us to spend time with Him daily. Your Father would be overjoyed to have a conversation with you. Yes - You, right now and every day forward.
For you see. life is short and as the days, months and years pass without this fellowship. we lose so much. We lose our own joy and peace, the ability to deal with bad news. We are rooted in the world’s customs of self-preservation and selfish desires. The devil would like you to believe that you are wasting your time praying and going to God, that He is not there for you like you are told. This is just one of many of the devil’s lies.
Pastor Murry goes on: “ So most Christians-even though they may have been born again through the Spirit and have received the life of God- still continue to live their lives not according to the Spirit but to the flesh.” Now this was back in 1920, so this is not a new phenomenon since we are human, and the flesh can rule over what we know is wrong.
Paul in Galatians 3:3
Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?
Bold prayer begins with first acknowledging our past failures by not seeking Jesus first, to reach out to our Father on our knees after receiving bad news from the doctor, or a pink slip for HR, or the other million issues that we are facing with this Pandemic.
But it is never ever too late to start learning bold prayer. Stop and look at where you are in your own prayer life. How you pray and what you pray for reflects what you believe about God. If you pray selfish prayers, you believe God exists only for you. If you pray small prayers, you may lack faith in a great God. If you rarely pray, you may not believe God answers prayer at all. But if you have the true and strong faith that God can get us through these times, pray boldly and watch what happens to your own life.
Jesus is with us. You only need to just stop on your own, take a deep breath, and take Him into your soul. He came down from Heaven for us.
I have a short story about a 14-year-old boy named Jake. Jake had decided to skip his math class three days in a row. His teacher called thinking he was home ill and asked if Jake was feeling better. Of course his parents were quite surprised and sadly disappointed with their son.
That afternoon when Jake came home from school, they asked why he would lie to them and skip math class for the last three days. Jake had no explanation and admitted to skipping the classes. His parents were brokenhearted and stated that to lie and be known to lie means they could not trust him at all. His parents knew they had to punish him, so his Dad told him that he would have to stay in the basement guest room for the next three days after school. The TV was coming out and he was to study there and take his meals and sleep there for the next three days and nights. That evening both of his parents paced the floors and were restless knowing their son was downstairs with no dinner conversation and evening TV time. Jake’s Mom and Dad went to bed, but neither of them could sleep knowing their son was not in his own room.
At about midnight, Jake’s dad took his pillow and blanket and went down to the basement guest room. As he entered, he could hear Jake softly sobbing in his bed. Moved to tears, his father laid down beside him. He said “Son, I am sorry, but this is the punishment that you must deal with, but I will stay with you through the night and for the next three. Jake looked at him and said “Thanks Dad, just for the fact that you came down to be with me! I love you too! - A father’s love for his Son!
A father’s love for his children. Just as Jake’s father comforted his son, so does our heavenly Father come down to comfort us in our own trials. His Love is of such greater power than we can imagine.
God so loved the world that he sent his Son down to earth to be our abba Father!
Jake’s Dad knew that the punishment had to be carried out, but his Dad went through it with him. Our Lord does the same for His children, through our trials, He is always steadfastly with us when we boldly reach out and ask through prayer.
11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
Hear what Jesus stated. “My joy” “your joy”, not the happiness that the world craves as fleeting pleasures, but the deep and abiding joy of being loved by God through Jesus Christ. This the steadfast anchor we need in these days, and the rock of sound foundation to build our homes and families, to be able to deal with anything and everything that is throw at us!
Listen - this is not Deacon Al trying to cheer you up. This is God’s true message to us all. Jesus continued to hammer this in when he would repeat over and over “Truly – Truly I tell you these things” in His messages throughout His teachings.
So, pray and pray boldly. Start a new habit to pray daily with your family. My prayer this morning is, as you listen to these passages of scripture, you will find in your heart a new hunger, a new desire to seek Jesus, the Son of God, for He seeks you!
In closing, I want to go back to the book of John.
John 17:13-26 New International Version (NIV)