This is the sermon for Sunday morning, August 17th, 2008.
PRAYER IT DOES THE BODY GOOD
We are continuing our Sunday morning series, “Prayer – it does the body good.” When we say, “body,” we are not talking about individual’s bodies, but we are talking about a community of believers, the local body of Christ.
Here is our theme verse for this series.
James 5:16b HCSB – The intense prayer of the righteous is very powerful.
Many years ago I was the Associate Pastor/Youth Pastor in a church in West Texas. The Pastor and I went to this Pastor’s conference in Phoenix Arizona. The church that was hosting the conference was built up along these mountain sides. The tallest peak they called, “Prayer Mountain.” They would have prayer meetings upon that mountain. People would write their prayer request and leave them somewhere on the mountain. The last night of the conference, everyone meet and started climbing the mountain with lighted candles. I wanted to reach the top, but it was too difficult for me. So I stopped at a section, prayed, and just dropped my prayer request paper on the mountain. But for some reason, that was not enough for me. I somehow felt guilty that I had given up so easily and didn’t try to climb that mountain. So I asked the Pastor if we had time before our flight to go back. He said sure. While he got a tour of the church, it was huge, I went up to the mountain and climbed. My heart was racing in pain; my breathe was heavy; my legs felt like spaghetti. I was worn out, but I made it to the top of that mountain. Once I reached the peak, I fell down, trying to catch my breath. When I had enough strength, I found the tallest point of that mountain peak and placed my new prayer request at the spot, under a rock, and after looking at the wonderful view, I climbed back down. Six months later, every prayer request that I had written had been answered.
This taught me a lesson. It was a struggle to climb that mountain. And sometimes prayer can be a struggle.
How many of you know what I’m talking about this morning? You have prayed and asked the Lord for certain things for years, and yet it seems that there is either no answer, or maybe the Lord is seemingly not listening. Have you felt this way? Have you been praying for lost relatives and friends for years and you are wondering, will the Lord every save them?
Before we really get into the sermon this morning, I want to encourage you to continue in your prayers for the lost, the sick and the hurting. Ask the Lord to bring His healing rain.
I hope that video really brought to focus our series theme:
Ordinary people praying to an extraordinary God produces powerful results.
We are going to look at three more prayer points this morning. But before we do, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to bring insight into His Holy Word and speak to each of our hearts.
1. A prayer for boldness in the proclamation of the word.
Ephesians 6:18-19 ESV – 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.
Acts 4:29 ESV – And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.
A. Both Paul and the Apostles in Acts have something in common.
They both wanted to proclaim the gospel with boldness.
B. In the case of Paul, he asked the Ephesians to pray for him so that he may boldly proclaim the gospel.
You see, he was in chains for the proclamation of the gospel. He was determined to continue preaching this message, even while in chains.
C. In the case of the Apostles, they sought the Lord for more boldness in their proclamation of the gospel.
They were tormented, arrested, tortured and then released and told not to preach in the name of Jesus anymore. But in spite of all of this, they knew that persecution would come, and they needed the Lord’s help to boldly proclaim the message.
D. Not only should you pray for me, and any teacher and leader here within the church for God to give us boldness in preaching the word, you should also pray for yourself, that God would give you boldness in sharing your faith with those who do not know Jesus Christ.
Also pray that discouragement would not set in. That God Almighty would rain down His healing rain to strengthen and encourage.
E. Let’s look at another prayer point.
This prayer point is not just for a church service setting, but it is also for those in the world who need the healing rain of God.
2. A prayer for signs and wonders.
Acts 4:30 ESV – while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.
A. Not only did the Apostles desire boldness in the proclamation of the gospel, they also desired God to visibly move and heal, and show forth His power over the enemy.
God moving in signs and wonders was His way of confirming the gospel message.
B. We live in a day when people chase after signs and wonders and thereby are being deceived.
Should we just not ask for signs because we don’t want to chase after them? No! You see, the gospel message is still important for this lost world. We still need to see God to move and confirm the gospel message to the world.
C. Let me ask a question this morning.
How many of you pray and ask the Lord for Him to perform signs and wonders within this church? How many of you desire to see Him move supernaturally, touching hearts, touching lives? Not to impress people, but to show that His Word is true and He loves His children. How many of you want to see God move supernaturally outside of the walls of this building? To see Him rain down in the marketplace, in our schools, in our homes, in our jobs, at the stores, in the parks, at city hall, etc… Well, that is my desire, to see God move on our behalf, to touch lives, saves souls, heal bodies, spirits and emotions. Can we see it? Yes, if we will seek His face and ask for Him to do it.
D. The final prayer point is similar, but it’s focus is not outside the wall, but inside these walls.
3. A prayer for healing for fellow believers.
James 5:14-15 ESV – 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
A. James left us a method of praying for the needs of fellow believers during our assemblies.
Calling the Elders of the church to pray, anointing the sick and hurting with oil and praying over them in the name of the Lord. This isn’t some ritual that we do, and I don’t know why the Lord chose this method. We just need to be obedient to what the Lord said here in James.
B. You see, within this church body, and others, there are many sick, hurting people.
They don’t need our judgments, they don’t need us to question their faith and look down upon them, they need us to pray for them and reach out a hand of help to them.
While we shouldn’t view God has a being who is at our beck and call to answer our every need and whim, understand this – He longs for us to seek His face. He longs for us to call out to Him, so that the gospel might go forth boldly, so that signs and wonders may be done to confirm the gospel message, and so that believers who are sick and hurting may be healed as the body of Christ lifts up their burdens. I challenge each of you to take these three prayer points and pray them over your Pastor and leaders, this church, and over yourself as well. Pray that God would send His healing rain amongst us.
Imagine with me if you will a church within this community taking the gospel and His healing rain to the poor and the lost in the public squares and events. Imagine with me a church within this community that sees God touch people outside of a church event. Finally imagine with me a church that doesn’t tear down members of its body, but loves them, encourages them, and prays for them that they may be healed.
You may ask, I would love to know of a church like this. Well, instead of looking outside these walls, let’s look at each other. Let’s be this type of church in our community.
What will it take? Change: which is good news. Our God is in the people changing business.