Cause and Effect Part 3

No Power without Prayer

Matthew 15:29-39

29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”

34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”

35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.

Two weeks ago we began a new series entitled cause and effect.  Cause and effect is the understanding that certain actions or events result in other actions or events.  For example…

If you don’t exercise you will be out of shape.

If you exercise you will get in shape.

If you don’t eat right you will gain weight.

If you eat right you will maintain your weight or lose weight.

If you drink too much alcohol you will get drunk.

If you’re pulled over for speeding you will get a ticket or a warning.

If you point a loaded gun at someone and pull the trigger they will get shot.

If you put your knee on someone’s neck for 9 minutes and kill them you will go to jail.

If people would wear their mask, wash their hands, and social distance we might just get through this pandemic.

Someone say cause and effect.

I explained to you that we would be talking about a couple different cause and effect scenarios throughout the month of April.  The first week we looked at the life of Sampson.  One of the physically strongest men in the Bible.   We discovered that there is no strength without struggle.  I shared with you that I believed that Sampson’s true strength did not come from his hair, but from his faith.  Sampson was able to gain strength in the midst of his struggle because he belonged, he behaved, and he believed.  Last week we looked at a different cause and effect scenario.  There is no repentance without remorse.  We talked about Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth.  I explained to you that in order to be lead to repentance through remorse we need to be confronted.  We need to be convicted.  We need to be converted.  

Today, now that we understand there is no strength without struggle.  Now that we understand that there is no repentance without remorse.  I want you to know that there is no power without prayer.  Even in that last moment before Sampson destroyed the temple, he prayed to God, and he receive power to accomplish what he intended to accomplish.  We must come to a point when we pray before we do anything else.  I know I have said this time and time again but prayer must be our first response and not our last resort.  And if we are ever going to move forward we must do so on our knees.  That is what I love about our text, because Jesus, God in the flesh always made prayer his first response and not his last resort.  Because of his attitude towards prayer he always had power.  Let’s look at the text.

29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”

34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”

35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.  

He saw all the people that had been following him the last few days and had pity on them because he knew they were hungry.  He knew if they tried to go home they may not make it.  He knew the only reason they were there in the first place was because of him.  So he wanted to give them some food.  Here is the crazy thing about this story.  After all the disciples had seen Jesus do they still doubted.  They still lacked the faith to do what needed to be done.  They had already seen Jesus feed 5,000 with little to nothing.  So why on earth would they ask, “where are we going to get enough food in this remote place to feed this crowd?”  I tell you why because they had know faith.  And because they had no faith they were not praying.  Therefore they had no power.  Jesus knew what he had to do, but before he did anything he prayed.  The Bible says that he gave thanks. He said his grace.  He blessed the food.  He prayed over the meal.  And I believe he received the power to perform this miracle because he prayed. 

Do remember when I shared with you about Jesus in the wilderness fasting for forty days and forty nights?  How the devil waited until Jesus was at his weakest point before he attempted to tempt him.  Every single time the devil made an offer Jesus rebutdtaled the offer with the word of God.  I expressed to you that if the word needed the word how much more do we need the word.  In this text we have a very similar situation.  Jesus was praying, and it was not the first or the last time that Jesus prayed in the Bible.  So if Jesus the son of God, God in the flesh needed to pray to receive power.  How much more do we as mere mortals need to pray to receive power.  Look at your neighbor and say there is no power without prayer.  In order to receive power from prayer the following three things must happen.

Prayer must be a priority.  Priority is defined as something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives.  A priority is something that you have to do before you do anything else.  A priority is something that is important to you.  When something is a priority in your life you make sure that it is taken care of.  For example, if your family is your priority you will take care of them.  One thing I have never understood is men that do not take care of their children…  I know every situation is different, but real men take care of their children regardless of what’s happened between them and their children’s mother.  That is why the postal service has priority mail.  You have to pay a little extra for priority mail, but the extra cost is worth the piece of mind that sending something through priority mail give you. The postal service does everything in its power to make sure that your package arrives to its destination on time.  They give you insurance.  They give you tracking information.  They give you confirmation emails.  They provide a signature option for the recipient to make sure the right person receives the package.  Because it is a priority for them.  Now if the United Stated Postal Service can be this way about a letter and or a package how much more should prayer be a priority in our lives.  The truth of the matter is beloved if we prayed the way that we know that we should when the storms of life hit us we will be more prepared.  The winds won’t shake us.  The rains won’t break us.  The thunder and lightning won’t take us.  We may bend this way and that way but at the end of the day we will still be standing because we made prayer a priority.

Prayer must not be a production.  What are you saying Pastor Brian?  I am saying that prayer is not a show.  

Prayer is not a preaching audition.  

Prayer is not an opportunity to sneak a preach.  

I have heard people compliment others on how they pray.  When the truth of the matter is, that is not why we pray.  

We don’t pray to get compliments.  

We don’t pray so that people clap their hands.  

We don’t pray for the approval of the pew.  

We pray to talk to our father.  

We pray to talk to our God.  

We pray to lay our burdens down.  

We pray to place our petitions.  

We pray to get our break through.  

We pray just to make it through. 

We pray to hear a word from the Lord.  

But to hear from the Lord that requires us to be quiet.  The problem with being quiet is that we are too busy putting on the production of prayer instead of actually praying.  Jesus does not do this.  He gets right to the point.  The Bible says he gave thanks and then he broke the bread.  Some of us need to save the drama for our momma, give thanks and break some bread.  

Prayer must not be a production.

Prayer must be practical.  Practical means relating to, or manifested in practice or action.  Not theoretical or ideal. To be actively engaged in some course of action or occupation.  Capable of being put to use or account.  In other words, prayer is something that you do.  Prayer is not something that you talk about doing.  Have you ever told somebody that you would pray for them, but you didn’t.  Not because you did not want to, but because you simply forgot.  That is why I try my best to pray for people the moment I think about it.  If I tell somebody I am going to pray for them or that I am praying for them I am usually praying for them at that moment.  That way if I get distracted, busy, or something else comes up I have already prayed.  But here is where the rubber meets the road.  If prayer is a priority in your life and you are not in the habit of making prayer a production than your prayer life will be practical.  Your prayers will mean something and they will achieve their purpose.  Prayer must be practical.

Now I know I said three things you need to do to receive power from prayer.  But I have a bonus point for you today.  Prayer must be a priority.  Prayer must not be a production.  Pray must be practical.  And your bonus point for the the day is prayer must be filled with praise.  Jesus gave thanks.  Giving thanks is the same as giving praise.  We must begin our prayers with praise and we must end our prayers with praise.  We must sprinkle some praise throughout our prayers.  Now normally we do not say thank you to someone until the do something for us.  We normally don’t thank someone until the job, the task, the favor, or the whatever is complete.  But we can give God praise for what he has already done.  We can give God praise for what he’s doing right now.  And we can give God praise for what he’s going to do.  Our prayers must be filled with praise.

When we make prayer a priority.  When our prayers are not a production.  When our prayers are practical.  And when our prayers are filled with praise we receive power.  Just like Jesus did every time he prayed.  He was able to feed 4,000 men and women and children with seven loaves of bread and two fish because he prayed.  Because he gave thanks.  And this was not the only time Jesus prayed.

Luke 3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened,

Matthew 14:23 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.

Mark 6:46 After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.

Luke 6:12 It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.

Luke 11:1 It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.”

Matthew 26:39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”

John 14:16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;

Have you ever felt the urge to pray for someone and then just put it on a list and said, “I’ll pray for them later?” Or has anyone ever called you and said, “I need you to pray for me, I have this need?”

Read the following story that was sent to me and may it change the way that you may think about prayer and also the way you pray. You will be blessed by this one. It is said that a missionary on furlough told this true story while visiting his home church in Michigan.

Upon arrival in the city, I observed two men fighting, one of whom had been seriously injured. I treated him for his injuries and at the same time talked to him about the Lord Jesus Christ. I then traveled two days, camping overnight, and arrived home without incident. Two weeks later I repeated my journey.Upon arriving in the city, I was approached by the young man I had treated.

He told me that he had known I carried money and medicines. He said,”Some friends and I followed you into the jungle, knowing you would camp overnight. We planned to kill you and take your money and drugs.But, just as we were about to move into your camp, we saw that you were surrounded by 26 armed guards.” 

At this I laughed and said that I was certainly all alone out in that jungle campsite.The young man pressed the point, however, and said “No sir, I was not the only person to see the guards. My five friends also saw them and we all counted them. It was because of those guards that we were afraid and left you alone.”

At this point in the sermon, one of the men in the congregation jumped to his feet and interrupted the missionary and asked if he could tell him the exact day that this happened. The missionary told the congregation the date, and the man who interrupted told him this story:

“On the night of your incident in Africa, it was morning here and I was preparing to go play golf. I was about to putt when I felt the urge to pray for you. In fact, the urging of the Lord was so strong, I called men in this church to meet with me here in the sanctuary to pray for you. Would all of those men who met with me on that day stand up?”

The men who had met together to pray that day stood up. The missionary wasn’t concerned with who they were – he was too busy counting how many men he saw. There were 26.

This story is an incredible example of how the Spirit of the Lord moves in mysterious ways. And the power of prayer If you ever hear or feel such prodding, go along with it.  Because there is power in prayer

If you want the power, you have to pray.

If you want the power, fall to your knees.

If you want the power, go into your prayer closet.

If you want the power, fall on your face.

If you want the power, humble yourself before his throne.

If you want the power, lay your burdens down.

If you want the power, cast all your cares on him.

If you want the power, have a little talk with Jesus.

If you want the power, tell him about your troubles.

If you want the power, make prayer a priority.

If you want the power, don’t make prayer a production.

If you want the power, make prayer practical.

If you want the power, fill your prayers with praise.

There is no power without prayer.  


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