Monday, July 5, 2021

Prayer Makes a Difference

 James 5:16-18
2 Chron. 7:11-14
1 Tim. 2:1-4
Prayer makes a difference  (M.A.D.) - (1)  in individuals  (2)  in governments!!

Example of this - in a story from Nehemiah
Background:  Israel/Judah in exile and return under Cyrus (538 BC)  but ... many stayed in Babylon.  Back in Jerusalem, the temple was rebuilt, sacrifices restored ...  BUT ... Nehemiah = 100 years after the return .. and the walls still not rebuilt!  

Meanwhile - Nehemiah is in Susa (winter palace of Cyrus, Susa of Esther)

So.... Neh. 1:1-2:8

On one hand, we don't always see our prayers answered.  (ie:  God sees, hears, responds BUT not necessarily as we wish!!
However, the Bible declares "Prayer MAD" and we occasionally see remarkable examples of this!!


#1.  Nehemiah prayed!
Point:  prayer M.A.D. ... not your belief, philosophy, stance on Prayer, BUT ACTIVITY of prayer, not the attitude toward prayer.  - James 5:17 - "he prayed ..." - the action!!

#2.  Nehemiah prayed hard!!!
He wept, mourned, fasted .... Dec. thru April (4 months) -  labored in prayer.
This - "wrestling in prayer" - Examples:  Abraham and Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18), Jacob's Angel, Moses and the 1st generation.

Compare:  persistent widow - Luke 18:1, 6-8
Note:  Isa. 62:1, 6-7 - don't give up

#3.  Nehemiah prayed to the God he KNEW - "your servant..."
ie:  they were on personal terms with one another!

And, he recognized God as (1) the Sovereign God - "ALL-mighty"
                                          (2) the God of Covenant ... ie promise keeper
                                          (3) the God of Israel ... who established the nation!!!   Who brought back the nation, who is the Keeper of nations!!!  (parallel application to the USA??)

#4.  Nehemiah prayed confessing - Neh. 1:6-7
Compare:  Dan. 9:3-8 
Note:  the confession not just "them" ... = "ME"

God blesses those who recognize their inadequacy!!
"Blessed are the poor in spirit
"blessed ... are those who mourn
"blessed... are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness...

#5.  Nehemiah prayed BEFORE he went to the King!! 
Because ... what he wanted was bigger than the King!!   He wanted more than walls ... he wanted revival, renewal, reform

King can change policy ... can't change hearts!
         can build hospitals ... can't heal nation....
         can offer education ....can't confer wisdom...
Point:  don't depend on government to do what only GOD can do!!!
Psm. 127:1

So.... Nehemiah prayed before he went to the King ....
BUT, #6. He still wnt tot he King!!!
Point = prayer is more the heart and mouth ... = hands and feet!!

Example:  Gen. William Booth (Salvation Army) - quote:  "Pray as if everything depended on your prayers ... Work as if everything depended on your labors!!!"

Note:  "those who are BOLD for God have the greatest need for prayer"

Result:  God moved the heart of a pagan King!!!

2 Notes:  (1)  this was the same king that had halted the work on the walls a few years before!!!  (Ezra 4)

               (2)  Nehemiah now becomes the official governor of Jerusalem!!  Appointed BY the King!!

Prayer makes a difference - in both individuals and in governments!! 

Objection: "I'll never be a Nehemiah"
Answer:  "Probably true" - On one hand, you are not responsible for the world.  However, you are responsible for your (little) corner of the world!! -  be salt and light

AND ... changing that corner begins with changing You!! - You are responsible for you!!!


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