Inter-Community Church of God
March 6, 2022 Service
      • Psalm 91:1–2HCSB

      • Psalm 91:9–16HCSB

  • PRAYER CHANGES THINGS

    You have probably heard me tell a tale of someone bringing a plaque home from Hobby Lobby that says, “Prayer Changes Things”. She proudly hung it on the wall by her dining table, so that every day it would be a reminder that God is at work when we pray.
    Well, the next morning she got up and the plaque was turned around and facing the wall. Well, she though maybe she had hung it poorly and something caused it to turn around. So she turned it back and admired that plaque and said to herself, yes, prayer changes things.
    She left it that way, and then when she got up the next morning, and went into the dining room some time after her husband, the plaque was turned around again. So she quizzed her husband. “Honey, did you see my new plaque on the wall?” “Well sure I did.” “Well, do you know why it’s turned around?” “Sure. I did that.”
    Well, amazed at that confession, she asked him if he turned it around because he didn’t believe in prayer.
    “Of course I believe in prayer,” he said. “I just don’t like change.”
    The truth is, many of us don’t truly believe in prayer so much that we really believe our prayers will change anything.
    But if we walk with Jesus, we need to know what Jesus taught us about prayer, so we will pray more like Jesus prayed, and then see the answers come.
    An important place to start in a study of prayer would be the Lord’s Prayer, as we call it, where Jesus taught his disciples how to prayer. Our Wednesday evening group just finished a study on that prayer, which took us about three months. Barry L. Callen, one of our most prolific Church of God author, wrote a wonderful book to help us study that prayer, named “The Prayer of Holiness-Hungry People.”
    So we aren’t going to start there. You need to study that prayer, it is rich and important and can make your every day a little different.
    But we are not going to talk about the prayer Jesus taught both to the disciples and the crowds. We are going to focus on what Jesus taught his Called Apostles—that is, the eleven who where left after Judas Iscariot went to finish his betrayal plans against Jesus.
    We are still listening in to the conversations that John recorded about what Jesus was teaching after the last supper, before they went to the Garden of Gethsemane. And we are going to find out how Jesus meant us to understand some verses that are misused and abused by many because they are taken out of context way too often.
    >>>The first part of the context that we nee is the context of faith—a sure and certain belief in the persons of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In the Gospel of John, chapters 14-16. We are just visiting a few of those verses today.

    The Primary Importance of Faith

    is made clear in John 14:11:
    John 14:11 CSB
    11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves.

    First, Believe Jesus.

    We have a funny way of showing that we belief Jesus. Now, I didn’t say “believe in Jesus.” When we believe in Jesus, we are moving from the position of standing outside the circle of salvation that God has provided, and stepped inside that circle by believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the author of our salvation from sin.
    Paul said this in Romans:
    Romans 10:9 CSB
    9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
    That’s straightforward. That’s the basic message of the Gospel. We have to believe in Jesus and testify that we believe Jesus is Lord, and believe in the reality of the resurrection of Jesus. Two cornerstones of Christian faith and confession.
    And Paul goes on to explain why these steps are important.
    Romans 10:10 CSB
    10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.
    Aha. When we believe, God makes righteousness a matter of the heart, not of the rule book. Right behavior can only come from a right heart: a heart that believes in Jesus, and that’s where right behavior, right actions come from. But only if Jesus is the focus of belief.
    In our confession of Jesus as Lord, we are telling ourselves and the world that we want him to be our master and the director of our lives, and not the sin we have given into in our past. Our confession puts our display of righteousness under under the authority of the scripture; and it puts us under the accountability of all who have heard us, including being accountable to the unbelieving world around us. Remember, we are representing Jesus Christ and his work in our lives.
    That’s what salvation looks like.
    And that salvation is promised to us:
    Romans 10:11 CSB
    11 For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on him will not be put to shame,
    Romans 10:13 CSB
    13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
    Believing in and confessing our faith in Jesus is our salvation. Who Jesus is, what he has done for us, that’s how to enter into the circle of the saved.
    But of course, that is not all. There is so much more to Christian Life than just being saved.

    Because we need to do the works Jesus does

    John 14:12 CSB
    12 “Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.
    Jesus is not unaware of his future; he knows that his path to the cross and through the tomb will make him fit for heaven but no longer the prime motivator of what happens to and for those who call upon His name.
    He must leave that to his Apostles, his disciples, and yes, to us.
    That’s only going to happen with the help of God.
    And that is why prayer’s promises are given to us: So that we can do the work of Jesus, and even more.
    >>>The Intent of our entreaties of God must fit what God desires. Which means:

    Prayer is Most Powerful When Our Prayer Meet God’s Purpose.

    Praying God’s Priorities Will Prove We Trust God’s Plans for our Lives MORE than We Trust Our Own Ideas of What We Want.
    Does that mean that private, personal please for God’s intervention are beside the point?
    >>>No, because God loves us and he listens to our hearts and cares for our needs. But I want you to understand that in very words of Jesus we have...

    The Purposeful Promise of Prayer

    You see, Jesus, after his last supper before he will dine with his disciples in resurrected glory, was truly in tune with sharing the true promises that are from God when it comes to the purpose and plan of prayer.
    His words are recorded for us in verses 13 and 14 of the 14th chapter of John’s Gospel:
    John 14:13-14
    John 14:13–14 CSB
    13 Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
    Here is a powerful promise of Jesus. So powerful that it means we can rock the earth with the purposes of prayer.
    Jesus, in verse 13, blows us away with his promise:
    “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it...”
    And whenever such power is promised to people, there must be boundaries that God designs. Otherwise we all might be driving a Rolls Royce, living in mansions in the perfect places we prefer, with weather that always suits what we want, toys that we love to play with and vacations instead of vocations, none of our loved ones ever dying, never a want for food or safety or personal pleasure.
    Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, says Jesus. And he repeats the promise in verse 14, “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.”
    As a preacher, I could dig in and tell you the deep meanings of the words that Jesus used, and I could let you know that “whatever you ask” really does mean “whatever you ask,” word for word. And I can do a word study for you that also will tell you that verse 14 means exactly what the words imply:
    Jesus says he will do whatever we ask.
    Isn’t that the point of prayer and I should just stop here?
    ABSOLUTELY NOT! Because I just did what too many preachers have done, and what too many authorities have told us that makes these words a lie: I let these promises of prayer stand for a truth that is outside of God’s will.
    Here’s the key to the Purpose of the Promise of Prayer: In John 14:13, Jesus says...

    “So that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

    What Jesus says about prayer is that the promises he is making to His disciples are wrapped up on the purposes of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, “so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
    Jesus will do whatever we ask ONLY if the result will glorify the Father because of what the Son does for us, his disciples. Even when Jesus says, in verse 14,
    “If you ask me anything” it is qualified and limited by His own purposes:

    “If you ask...in my name”

    and we have to remember that Jesus is telling us on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane, where the Son of God is placing himself in the hands of the Father God for the plans of God to be met as Jesus is about to be nailed to the Cross. That’s where Jesus agonized in his prayer to the Father so that he would be able to fulfil the Father’s future for all the Father’s children.
    The qualifying limit to what Jesus will do for us when we pray is this: Is this something Jesus would ask the Father to give us? Is the name of Jesus our magic means of managing God?
    Well, Jesus never tried to do that. Jesus focused on the first purpose of prayer, on what would happen as Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins: “so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” and we need to pay attention here:
    That is what praying in the name of Jesus is all about.
    We end every prayer we pronounce with “in the name of Jesus we ask these things, Amen.” and we wonder why the answers we receive don’t meet our personal plans.
    Was Jesus lying about prayer? NO. Of course not. But laying in our laps the lessons of leading us into the very heart of God is not for our personal pleasure but is for the purposes of God as revealed in His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God.
    >>>And that same Christ of God reminds us that the next promise of prayer is bound up in this:

    The Purpose of Prayer is to Produce Fruit

    This is the message of the next promise of prayer that Jesus teaches us in John 15. In that chapter, Jesus gives us the metaphor of the vine and the branches, telling us that we need to dwell in Him, get our sustenance from Him, and then produce fruit for Him.
    Here’s a clue:
    John 15:5 CSB
    5 I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.
    We can be fruitful as long as we remember that we can’t do it on our own. “You can do nothing without me.”
    Let’s go on:
    John 15:7 CSB
    7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.
    Here we go. Here is the If-Then part of the promises of prayer. The promises are not about what we want but about what God wants. The purposes of prayer are not about our focus but about God’s focus that we find when we dwell in his Son Jesus Christ.
    The “then” that follows the “If” is dependent on the very Word of God taking root in our hearts.

    If you remain in me and my words remain in you...

    If you are full of the word of God through Jesus Christ, and what Jesus came for and is accomplishing in you, and what Jesus came to accomplish in the world, if your heart is aligned with his heart and your prayers are aligned with His prayers,

    ...ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.

    Another verse that we pulverize if our purposes are not God’s purposes, for Jesus says this next:
    John 15:8 CSB
    8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.
    So the purpose of prayer’s promises, as we saw in John 14:13 “I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
    is made even more clear right here, “My Father is glorified by this: that you

    Produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.

    If the Father is to be glorified by the Son, and we are to be recognized as the disciples of Jesus Christ, then our prayers that result in Kingdom Fruit will be answered.
    The Purpose of Prayer is to Produce Fruit for God’s kingdom, the saving of souls, the discipling of believers, and the renewal of God’s reign in the hearts of humanity.
    John 15:16 CSB
    16 You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.
    Is it becoming more clear? The apparently limitless promises of the Son of God for the answers to our prayer have there limits because they cannot be selfish prayers if they fit into the promises of prayer that God gives us:
    They must glorify the father
    They must produce fruit for the kingdom
    They must prove we are His disciples
    and so Jesus says,
    John 15:17 CSB
    17 “This is what I command you: Love one another.

    The fruit of the kingdom is proved in our Love for one another.

    This is a repetition of John 13:35
    John 13:35 CSB
    35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
    I was going to go on about the power of prayer being the Spirit of Truth, but I will save those thoughts for next week when I speak of the Spirit of God that Jesus sends for us.
    But I want you to know that God loves you and wants to answer the prayers you make to him, YOU JUST HAVE TO PRAY THAT JESUS’ OWN PURPOSES ARE MET.
    God’s wants to answer our prayers.
    John 16:23 CSB
    23 “In that day you will not ask me anything. Truly I tell you, anything you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.
    John 16:24 CSB
    24 Until now you have asked for nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.
    John 16:26 CSB
    26 On that day you will ask in my name, and I am not telling you that I will ask the Father on your behalf.
    John 16:27 CSB
    27 For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

    Our Prayers Must Match God’s Agenda

      • John 14:11HCSB

      • Romans 10:9HCSB

      • Romans 10:10HCSB

      • Romans 10:11HCSB

      • Romans 10:13HCSB

      • John 14:12HCSB

      • John 14:13–14HCSB

      • John 15:5HCSB

      • John 15:7HCSB

      • John 15:8HCSB

      • John 15:16HCSB

      • John 15:17HCSB

      • John 13:35HCSB

      • John 16:23HCSB

      • John 16:24HCSB

      • John 16:26HCSB

      • John 16:27HCSB

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