This morning we will begin a new sermon series on prayer. It is based on a DVD led Bible-Study which was written by and features Jim Cymbala, the pastor of the famed Brooklyn Tabernacle. The series is called "When God’s People Pray".
We will incorporate the DVD’s and study materials from these lessons into a series of sermons which are intended to motivate us all to become more prayerful. Prayer is the key to our success as a church and as individual believers. There is nothing more important in our walk with God than prayer. NOTHING.
THE BROOKLYN TABERNACLE
The Brooklyn Tabernacle was established in 1847 as the Central Presbyterian Church. Over its 168 history, the building has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times due to fires and other causes. By the time Pastor Jim and Carol Cymbala took over the leadership in the autumn of 1971, the congregation had dwindled to just 30 people who met in a rundown building on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.
Over the past 44 years, the church has grown mightily. It was revitalized as a non-denominational congregation, and became well known as the home of the award-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. In recent years, the church purchased and renovated an old vaudeville theater to be used as a modern worship center. Currently the Brooklyn Tabernacle has over 16,000 members and is one of the largest churches in the Greater New York City Area.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, so He guided them to their desired haven. - Psalm 107:28-30
Whatever your "trouble" is, God is able to deliver you from it when you "cry out to Him". Not only will He rescue to from the storms of life, but He will also bring you to your "desired haven". This is a divine work that only God can do, and it happens only when we call out to Him in prayer.
Prayer unlocks the power of God. The things that He desires for us are so great that only He can accomplish them. What the LORD longs to do in and through us is so much more than we can even imagine. The only way for us to achieve His perfect will is through His almighty power, which demands that we become a people of prayer. There is no other alternative.
Watch this DVD TEACHING SEGMENT before you continue reading. The points below are based on the video.
I. GOD IS RICH IN MERCY TO ALL WHO CALL UPON HIM (Psalm 85:5-7)
It is heartbreaking to consider how many people suffer through the burdens of life in silence. It is equally devastating to think of the countless people who seek deliverance through other futile things. We must understand that when we are suffering under the weight of sin, or reeling from the pains of life, we must cry out to God for mercy.
I read a quote by Mark Hopkins who said, "Our prayer and God's mercy are like two buckets in a well; while the one ascends the other descends." The LORD responds to the prayers of those who cry out to Him with mercy.
II. PRAYER IS THE EVIDENCE OF TRUE FAITH (Genesis 4:29)
Seth was the son of Adam and Eve, and Enosh their grandson. These people lived long before Abraham and the advent of the Jewish nation. They lived centuries before Moses and the written Law of God. They even pre-dated Noah and the Great Flood. Their knowledge of God was scarce and limited, yet they intuitively began to call upon His name.
Seth named his son Enosh which in Hebrew means "sick" or "weak" - what a name. Unlike his prideful older brother Cain (who had murdered Abel), Seth understood that humanity was frail and broken and in desperate need of God. Seth realized that humanity was sick with sin. As such, he and his descendants began calling out to the LORD. Their prayerful cries served as the evidence of their faith.
III. GOD ANSWERS PRAYER (Jeremiah 33:2-3)
A prayer offered is a prayer answered. When we pray in accordance with His will, God delights to say "yes" to our petitions. Sometimes when we are out of step with Him, God’s answer may be "no" or "wait a while". Regardless of His response, we can be confident that His way is the best.
On the contrary, a prayer unoffered is a prayer unanswered. God is waiting to hear from you, and desiring to answer your cries with mercy and lovingkindness. Martin Luther once said, "Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness."
IV. LIFE’S PROBLEMS REMIND US TO CALL ON GOD (Psalm 46:1)
As human beings, we have a tendency to forget our own weaknesses and inabilities. When our lives are relatively problem-free we often become lax in our prayer life, sensing that God’s intervention is unnecessary. But when troubles come, they can serve as a valuable reminder that we do indeed need the LORD.
God is not necessarily the cause of our hardships, but He certainly uses those that do occur in order to drive us to our knees. When viewed from this perspective, life’s problems take on at least one positive aspect - they remind us and spur us to prayer.
V. NO PLACE TO GO BUT GOD (John 6:66-69)
There is no other place where we can go to receive the deliverance we seek. God alone, through the finished work of his son Jesus Christ, is the only one who can meet our every need and provide for our every care. There is no other source but Him.
Where else have you gone seeking answers that only God can deliver? Perhaps you have trusted in your own strength, or that of this world. While it may last for a while, such solutions will ultimately fail. Only God can provide the complete and perfect deliverance that you need.
As we wrap up this message - the first of many to come on the subject of prayer - it is my hope that you are beginning to see God’s heart for those who call upon His name. God earnestly longs to hear your prayers and to pour out His goodness upon you through His answers. He is willing, able, and patiently waiting to hear your voice…
The purpose of this series is not to teach us a particular model for how to pray. It is not to distinguish and differentiate the various types of prayer presented in Scripture. It is not to merely educate us about prayer and contribute to our Biblical knowledge on the subject. While we will certainly touch on the things, our purpose is much greater than some intellectual exercise...
The goal of these messages is to compel us to actually pray - to spend more time in authentic, heart-wrenching prayer before the throne of God. More than any other thing, we as God’s children need to become prayer warriors who call out to Him "without ceasing" in every circumstance of our lives.