The unexpected power of prayer. A supernatural strength. God is at work all the time. Prayer makes us aware. Prayer changes us. Prayer gives us a mindset of expectation. Prayer gives us a boldness. Prayer creates in us an attitude to not give up….
Jesus is NOT politically correct! Jesus describes the disciples as evil, which means, by extension, so are we.
This chapter is how to overcome evil with good. It is about overcoming me. Today: overcoming evil with prayer. Until I see my natural selfish, fearful, sinful, resisting self as part of the problem, I am not going to see the fullness of the power of prayer. The power of prayer is always unexpected the power is from outside of myself. God is the source of the power.
Last week one of you called me and wanted to know if we could find a way to help another one of you with a particular need. The problem was that the person mentioned is stubborn and doesn’t like to accept help. I liked the thinking and said let’s see if we can make it happen. I thought about it. I prayed about it. A day later I saw the person and thought I would sneakily ask about the need. There were half a dozen of us there. And one of the other people piped up with an offer to solve the problem. Boom. Prayer answered. Unexpected. Nobody in the group noticed my jaw hit the floor.
After the model prayer, Jesus tells stories to emphasize how to make prayer a way of life. The story of the friend asking for food is a contrast ~ Jesus is a comedian as he gets the disciples to imagine a friend going to a friend at midnight for food to feed another man that has dropped in unexpectedly. Hospitality was very important in those days. The disciples could relate because this undoubtedly happened ~ travelers often traveled at night to avoid the hot days. Imagine you are the host and you have no food. Imagine you are the neighbor who gets woken up to provide a meal for a stranger he doesn’t even know. It is annoying /inconvenient. Jesus is NOT saying God needs to be woken up (although many people feel that way), Jesus is NOT saying if you are a big enough pain God will grease the squeaky wheel, he is saying if you can get food on the table for a guest late at night even though it is inconvenient, how much more will God answer those who ASK.
The wonderful ASK principle is outlined in Luke 9:10-11. READ. The first three letters of Ask, Seek and Knock spell out the word ASK. Last week the C-H-R-I-S-T was the contents of prayer, this week A-S-K is the attitude. Add this week to last week: ASK CHRIST. God gives willingly, without fail, to every child who comes.
The stories Jesus tells in these verses are examples of the ASK principle: Persistence is emphasized because God will always answer. ASK and He will answer his way in his timing. Persistence transforms us.
This story of the midnight friend also shows boldness and confidence in prayer. Fear stifles us. Confidence emboldens us. You don’t need to pray for confidence, but rather, as you ASK God in prayer you build confidence. As strength is the reward of a weightlifter, so confidence is the reward of a praying person.
Similar to confidence is expectancy. I expect good things to happen when I ask because God is good. This is how I overcome the evil within me by praying to the Lord Jesus Christ expecting His goodness to overshadow my evilness.
ASK in prayer with boldness, confidence, persistence and expectancy. Ask, Seek and Knock are three situations of prayer ~ sometimes a simple ask is enough, other times searching and looking are needed, other times you knock and knock because you know in your heart it is a God thing but God says wait so you keep knocking.
Ask and it will be giving to you is the first situation: pray for immediate needs/graces.
Friday I drove to Canada to meet Phil Dufrene and visit a cargo ship with Port of Hope ministries. I got the slowest line ~ 45 minutes. When I get to the front, the man asks me detailed questions about the ships, then he sends me into the station. More questions: Why did I have an extra card reader in my pocket for the camera? Why did I have a camera? When did I buy my truck? Who did I buy it from? What does she do for a living? Then they told me about guns and narcotics and asked if I used narcotics. No. Are you ever around people who use narcotics?.... The more I’m listening to my story the more I’m suspicious of me. Am I around people who use narcotics? So I take a deep breath and say yes, as a pastor in Sumas I see people all the time who use narcotics. They took 10 minutes to search the truck. Finally, they let me go. I felt like an escaped criminal. Only half an hour late! Great time on the ship!!!
Then the return trip. the slowest lane. 45 minutes in line. I’m nervous. My prayer is a simple ASK. I just want to go home God, let me go through. Finally it’s my turn. Where are you from? Nooksack. What were you doing in Canada? Ummmm…. I stumble over my words: Visiting the crew on a cargo ship with a friend, Phil, Port of Hope, Fraser-Surry Docks…. the customs agent stares at me. I don’t know whether to shut up or keep explaining. After what seemed a half hour but was probably 10 seconds it is time for the officer to pronounce judgment. I’m sure he’s going to send me in for more questioning. I am forming a vow in my head to never go to the ships again! He finally speaks, “My kids go to the Nooksack Elementary School.” I said to myself, “Thank you Lord.” Instantly all is right with the world and I slip into my natural role of me asking him questions: “What are there names…” I saw his name on his shirt, Visser, and asked if he was related to Sandy and Jerry… Another reminder God is good.
May asking God be a way of life!
SEEK and you will find. If I misplace my keys, wallet, cell phone and cannot find it, soon I enlist Sally to help me search, when at last the lost item is at last found, I think it is so clever of me to pronounce, “I knew it would be in the last place we look.” It’s all part of my ritual. I think it was a week ago I could not find the keys to the truck. We looked everywhere. Finally there it was at the bottom of the steps in the garage. I had only looked there 3-4 times prior to Sally finding it.
Seeking prayer means you are not sure how it will end. We saw an answer for Myrna Wood this week as she has started dialysis and is on this side of surgery. God is good. Mark and Myrna have had blessing along the way. I watched Mark go through normal emotions but come out with the conviction of a supernatural strength in God. The Stenovich’s, the Mitchells, the Stokes family are all searching for a new normal, and each one of them is finding God’s blessings along the way. God is good. Nobody would write their story to include sickness and ill health, but to seek God is to know he will give a resolution, he will give peace. There is an unexpected power of prayer.
Searching involves a process. Jesus says there are areas of life that require more than asking; there must be seeking, searching. Something is lost, hidden from us, and prayer then becomes a search, a plea for insight, for understanding, for an unraveling of the mystery with which we are confronted, and finding a renewed appreciation. Many of you who have lost long time spouses, who have lost children to death, and now you have come out the other side as strong people of faith, you are my heroes. You have searched and you have found. Some of you are right now going through struggles, you are feeling lost. Perhaps the most profound seeking prayer is a plea for God to find you.
Knock and the door shall be open. A knock is a desire for admittance, repeated if necessary, boldness before God in situations where we seek opportunity.
The knock may be to repair a broken relationship; you want to overcome the wall of resistance and seek reconciliation. You keep knocking, refusing to give up, until the door opens. It may be a different answer than what you expect, but that is the unexpected nature of the power of prayer.
The knock may be a certain work, a ministry, an unshakable desire to enter something new. We long to move into that area, we feel God leading us, calling us, to be this or do that. That requires knocking.
You knock on a door for a reason. What dream/vision has God placed on your heart? Keep knocking, keep believing, keep expecting. Mt. 5:6 says blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness. That’s another way of saying keep knocking. The knocking, the waiting, the perseverance is a strengthening time as we wait upon the Lord to answer.
There is unexpected power in prayer. You will find strength to face the day. The life of prayer gives you an assurance and hope, an expectation and a future. Ask for daily graces, God’s intervention, and you will see God’s fingerprints all over the place. Seek when you are lost, out of sorts, desiring God to renew your life. Keep knocking when God has placed in your heart a vision, a dream, a new day. The unexpected power of prayer: A-S-K-C-H-R-I-S-T. Ask Christ. Amen.