Sunday Sermon: Core Value 6
Here is a summary of the sermon to be preached on Sunday, October 6. It is an brief exposition of Daniel 10.
Last week, Kim and I received a card from a family in the church. It was very positive and encouraging. The most encouraging line in the card said this: “Every week our Bible Study Group prays for you.”
WOW! Let me tell you - to be prayed for - that means the world to us. First because of the kindness of that group. But also because … Those prayers unleash the power and promises of God in our lives. Kim and I are blessed!
Today, we conclude our series on the Cornerstone core values. Our sixth value is this: CULTURE OF PRAYER. Here’s what we mean by culture of prayer:
Our church is committed to integrating prayer into every aspect of our ministry because we know that we need the Lord's direction and enabling power in everything we do. We want the Cornerstone to be a house of prayer and we envision a time when every person, every need, every ministry, and every decision connected to our ministry is soaked in prayer. We also believe that God has ordained our prayers as a means of achieving his purposes in the world, especially to bring the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ to all nations. “Never stop praying.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Daniel had some of our same concerns: he worried about the church and nation. He worried that God had turned his back and was not going to keep his promises about restoration and rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple. And we have similar worries: Maybe the Lord has finished with the United Sates. Maybe he’s moved on from the church here too. We feel like strangers and exiles here (1 Peter 2:11). This is the context in which we are called to prayer.
Daniel 10: gives us 2 compelling reasons to make our church a house of prayer.
A. WE PRAY BECAUSE SPIRITUAL WARFARE IS REAL.
“The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me (Gabriel - 9:21) twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, 14 and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. - Daniel 10:13-14
This is a rare behind-the-scenes look at the unseen spiritual realm. And it is war. Between God and his holy angels on one side and Satan and his fallen angels on the other. Gabriel and Michael vs. the Prince of Persia - an unnamed demonic spirit who opposed the work of God in Persia.
Here’s what God wants us to know about living in exile: The war in the invisible realm is impacting our lives in the visible realm. And that means: Life is not always what it seems on the surface.
Have you ever thought: our problem may not be THE problem? It’s not our neighbor. It’s not the Supreme Court. It’s not the economy. It’s not liberals. Here’s our real problem: There’s an unseen war for our souls, for our neighborhoods, for our nation. And that war cannot be won with Facebook or slogans or votes.
Prayer is effective. Because it unleashes God’s power in the unseen war. Gabriel was sent out as soon as the prayer was made - verse 12. He was delayed. But he was not defeated. And God’s purpose was accomplished.
We want to create a culture of prayer at the Cornerstone because we want God to help us endure in faith. We want God to work in us, in our church, in our nation.
The Bible teaches us that prayer is a key weapon in spiritual warfare, a crucial help in standing firm under demonic attack:
“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” - Ephesians 6:18 NLT
B. WE PRAY BECAUSE GOD WILL RESPOND.
“Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.”” - Daniel 10:12
When Daniel prayed, God said: “your words have been heard.” That’s also a New Testament promise to the church:
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” - 1 John 5:14
The true power of prayer is this: The Lord hears and answers.
God’s message to us is: be confident and bold in prayer. Pray audacious prayers.
Ask for hundreds of souls to be saved through your witness: We can all learn from the prayer of John Knox: “Give me Scotland or I die.”
Ask for supernatural love for the unlovely.
Ask for a national revival.
Here’s how you know your prayers are audacious enough: only God can answer.
If we’re going to move forward. If the Cornerstone is ever to reach its full potential for God. We’ll need a culture of prayer. The Bible tells us that God’s greatest work is done in us when we pray big, bold, worthy prayers:
“… if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and PRAY and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” - 2 Chronicles 7:14
HOW TO PRAY
1. Pray with desperation: because of the PLANS God.
In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. 3 I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks. - verses 2-3
Daniel was broken. Why? Because he could not see the signs of God at work - keeping his promises about a return from exile. It looked as though God was finished with his nation - the Jews and Jerusalem. That crushed Daniel’s spirit. And so he prayed in desperation.
So should we. HB Charles once preached, “Your prayers will mean nothing to God until they mean everything to you.” (in his sermon A Glimpse Behind the Scenes) There is so much the Lord wants to do in us and through us. His plans are so big and we are so feeble. We must pray … with groanings. Ask the Lord to burden you.
2. Pray with confidence - because of the PRIEST of God.
“On April 23, as I was standing on the bank of the great Tigris River, 5 I looked up and saw a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist. 6 His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning, and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people.” - verses 4-6 NLT
This may be a revelation of the second person of the Godhead - long before his incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth. (see Revelation 1:9-17 in which the description is nearly identical) He’s revealed as Priest - the linen clothes and gold sash. A priest in Israel offered sacrifices for sins and interceded on behalf of the people. In the same way, the Lord Jesus has restored us to God through his sacrifice on the cross and now he intercedes for us. Therefore, we can and should pray with confidence that God hears and answers.
“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” - James 5:16 NLT
I am asking you to make prayer an integral part of your life. Build in specific, fixed, times to talk to God. Pray specifically for the Cornerstone. Claim every promise God puts on your mind.
We have our weekly prayer meeting on Wednesday evenings. You are welcome to join. Pray in your families. Pray in Bible study groups. For the Cornerstone.
Pray creatively. Here are some ideas:
Pray on the phone with a prayer partner.
Start a text prayer group.
Or a Facebook prayer group.
Start a prayer group in your home.
We want to be a church in which we work as though it all depends on us. - 100% effort. And we pray as though it all depends on God. - because it does: John Wesley wrote, "God does nothing except in response to believing prayer."