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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - National Day of Prayer - Part 2

Allen Jackson - National Day of Prayer - Part 2

Allen Jackson - National Day of Prayer - Part 2
TOPICS: Prayer

Hey, prayer changes everything. Well, this session today was built out of a service we did a couple of weeks ago around the National Day of Prayer. I wanted to give the congregation some tools to take prayer to their workplace, or their homes, or their neighborhoods, wherever they happen to go. Well, it was so important, I want to share it with you today. I wanna give you permission to begin to pray in some new ways. You can do it with a sentence. You can do it with the Lord's Prayer. You can do it with an expression of thanksgiving. When we pray, God responds. When we fail to pray, we leave that door closed. Grab your Bible and a notepad and get prepared to pray.

But some of you know people, I know people, they've been mad at God for years. Because something happened, pain touched their life, evil touched their life. Circumstances they didn't want touched their life, and it kind of froze them at a point in time. See, the devil wants to do that. If he can't keep you out of the kingdom of God, then he will do everything in his power to keep you from growing and maturing. He'll try to distract you. He'll try to entice you. He'll try to make you angry. He'll try to make you resent Christians. He'll point out to you, he'll do whatever he can do to impede you, hinder you. He'll cause the road in front of the church to be under construction for year, after year, after year, after year.

So it's hard to get the church with the joy of the Lord. I had to go someplace, I don't leave a lot, and I had to leave today to go someplace else. I'd left just enough time, I thought, so I wasn't gonna be late. And I get to the road I turn on to, there's orange barrels. And I'm thinking, okay God, is this like a joke? Every place I go, you send somebody with orange barrels? Sentence, prayers of Thanksgiving. How do you think you could manage that? Have something you're grateful for. You can be grateful tomorrow night that you don't have to listen to me preach. Be happy for that all day tomorrow. Then there's some prayers for our nation. On National Day of Prayer, that feels appropriate.

1 Timothy chapter 2, and verse 1 says, "I urge you, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth". That's a wonderful, we are directed by scripture to pray for those in authority. And the objective that's given to us is very clear. The objective of our prayer is that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in godliness and holiness. God is in favor of governments that promote godliness and holiness. We have been in the church, we have been so influenced by secularism, and by the condemnation of people who don't pray, and don't believe in a God, and don't want us to pray, that somehow God's not interested in godliness and holiness as a result of government.

I differ. I think God is very pleased when the organizations of human beings promote godliness and holiness. And we're directed as a first priority to pray for that. Good government will promote godliness and holiness, and government that doesn't promote that, by definition, is bad government. Well, our faith is needed to provide moral direction and authority to our government. The Christian church has a role to play. The best expressions throughout our history, the best expressions of our nation's progress have come when the faith of God's people has been on display. That was true in the Civil Rights Movement. The moral authority for the Civil Rights Movement in the 50s and 60s in this nation was not some government initiative. It came from the Word of God being expressed on the lips of people. The protection of children in the history of our nation when they've been mistreated has come when the church found its voice.

You know, we talk about how the church failed for far too long on the issue of slavery. And it's true, we did, and we wanna talk about, you know, how we're not gonna make that mistake again. And that's okay with me. I'm not opposed to that, but folks, we have been stunningly silent on some issues like abortion. The church is the conscience of our culture, and the best parts of our history has been when the church had the courage to speak up. If we remove the Christian faith from the public arena, we will forfeit our freedoms, and we will live with tyranny. That's just true.

So I brought you a prayer for those in authority. I guess we better stand up for this one too. This one's more than a sentence. Alright, this is probably not an easy on ramp prayer for somebody you've never met before. Right? I wouldn't encourage that, like, if you're getting gas tomorrow and you're at the gas pump, and you're waiting, and you go over and look at the person next to you, and you whip out your notes, be sure and tell him you go to First Presbyterian Church. I'm kidding, I have some friends there. So do you understand the difference? You say it's National Day of Prayer. I'm so thankful we have gas to put in our cars. Have a great day. Or maybe I'm so thankful we have electricity to put in our car. I don't know what you're driving. Let's read this together. It's a prayer for those in authority.

Heavenly Father, we pray for our leaders, for all those in authority, our president, our governors, the leaders of our cities and towns, give them wisdom and understanding from You. Direct their decisions that we might live peaceful lives in godliness and holiness. Grant us a spirit of unity and cooperation. Silence the voices of division and hate. We are a land in need of healing. We have accepted Your great blessings and enjoyed Your protection but in our pride, we have declared ourselves the source of these divine gifts. Forgive us of our pride, our arrogance, and our idolatry. As Your people we know You are a god of justice but also a God of great mercy and forgiveness. We come today in humility to acknowledge our sin and to repent before You. May Your name be exalted, and Your Word honored across our nation, in Jesus' name, amen.

Hallelujah. Bunch of prayer warriors. You may have a seat. I would point out the assignment to pray for those in authority over you doesn't say if you voted for them. You know, sometimes we get this goofy idea that well, that's not my candidate, folks, they're our leaders. And godliness and holiness shouldn't have to wait for the next election cycle. We should be diligently praying every day that the leaders over us will make decisions that bring God's blessings to us and not his judgment. Amen? Sometimes we get a little confused.

This final section I think is, again, probably another step forward, and recognizing that we have a role to play in this spiritual conflict. When I say armor up, I'm not talking about physical armor. I'm talking about being spiritually prepared for a world that's in conflict where we're sacrificing children, where we're preying on children, where they're trying to reorder a family, where there's all sorts of destructive things happening. And I don't think it's an overstatement to say that we are walking through a time when there's an undeclared revolution whose roots are spiritual. An attempt to throw off the mantle of our Judeo-Christian heritage, and to redefine family morality, our social contract. Does that sound like the world we're living in.

And we have some choices to make. We can retreat, we can be frightened, we can be threatened, we can try to avoid being given any labels, so we just won't talk about it. We don't talk about faith or politics. Weapons are being utilized, which we have not imagined previously. In our nation, I never thought we would see things like censorship and propaganda on the scale that we currently experience them. Or intimidation and threats. We're watching it at College campuses right now. Forty-five of the fifty major college campuses in our nation as of the beginning of this day, have had protests and demonstrations on behalf of Hamas, a murderous, terrorist organization who are committed in their charter to the genocide of the Jewish people. It's unimaginable. Violence attempts to dismantle authority. All of them are on full display. You don't have to be discerning. You don't have to search for them.

Well, I have submitted and I will continue to suggest to you that our response has to change. We have been content to occupy our place in a worship service and imagine others were standing guard over the spiritual fabric of our lives. It wasn't our problem. We were far more interested in our next vacation, but I'm not opposed to that, that we have to be awakened to the necessity to use our voices and our influence to stand for our faith, and for the Lord. Now I believe in the significance of being born again. I've spent enormous time and energy doing everything I know to encourage people to make those decisions. But once you have made that decision, you're not finished, you've simply been initiated. And now it's time to grow up and take your place in the kingdom.

Ephesians 6 is a rather long passage, is familiar to you. This is Paul's culmination of this letter. He wrote to his friends in Ephesus, "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power". And if he's telling them to be strong in the Lord, they don't feel that way. "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes". We've rewritten that. Find a pastor who put on the armor of God so he can take his stand for you against the devil schemes. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood". The old English says, "We struggle not," and some of us like to repunctuate there, just drop a period. But that isn't what it says is that "our struggle isn't with flesh and blood, it isn't with people, but it's against rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore," because of that struggle with unseen spiritual forces, "put on the full armor of God. So that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you've done everything to stand. Stand firm then..."

The presupposition is that a day of evil will present in your life, nobody gets through without struggle. Now, here's the good news every day isn't necessarily a struggle. Hallelujah. There seem to be times and seasons in our lives when those challenges emerge and recede. Does that feel like your experience? And that's the beauty of being in community. If you happen to be in a time that is more triumphant, then stand closer to those people who will benefit from your encouragement, and your strength, and your voice. If you're in a time where the the battle is more intense, you want people around you that know how to pray, to believe God still moves, that God delivers us from evil. This notion that we're an island unto ourselves, that we don't need community.

"I don't have to go to church to be saved". You're right. You don't. You just have to go to grow up. I could meddle but I won't. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist. Well, we need to belt the truth back, don't we? "With the breastplate of righteousness in place, with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one". Again, it's an admission that the enemy will besiege you. He's going to launch arrows at you. I didn't expect this. I thought if I became a Christ follower, things would get easier.

My experience is quite the opposite, that the more determined you are to seek the Lord, the more determined you are to serve the Lord. The more willingness you are to stand up on his behalf, the more prominent the resistance. Well, then why would I stand up? Because you really don't wanna present yourself to the Lord and say, you know, I was an undercover operative. I mean, Jesus addressed it. He said, if you deny me before people, I'll deny you before the Father. And then he told us all these parables like the "Parable of the Talents" where the the one came, he had one talent. Remember what he said? He said, I knew you were a hard man. I knew you had really high standards and I didn't wanna lose anything. I didn't wanna forfeit anything. So I took what you gave me and I buried it here it is, its yours.

Remember what Jesus said? Remember in the parable? He said, "You wicked lazy servant". Yeah, I brought it back. "You wicked lazy servant". Take what he has. Give it to the other ones and cast him into outer darkness. You see that there's all this messaging that encourages us to put on our armor and take our place. But somehow the message that it looks like to me that has been imbibed by the contemporary church and our culture is, you know, hear no evil, see no evil, do no evil. I don't want to be in that category of the wicked, lazy people. "Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of The Spirit, it's the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and request".

Did you know there's more than one kind of prayer? Prayer is a general term, like vegetable. We know there's more than one vegetable. That's why you know, God created the heavens and the earth. If the government had created vegetables, we'd have one, it'd be gray and squishy. God made fruit, all kinds of colors and shapes and flavors. Well, there are kinds of prayer. There are healing prayers. There are prayers of repentance. There are prayers of thanksgiving. There are prayers of deliverance. There are prayers of worship. And they have different guidelines, different scriptures that you would attach to them. It's like sports, there are different kinds of sports.

If you said, you know, let's go play sports. And you say great, I like sports. And you put on your pastels and bring your clubs. And the other person puts on shoulder pads and cleats. It's going to be an awkward afternoon of sporting. The rules are different, the equipment's different. And when I say, we have to learn to pray, when Jesus said, we could learn to pray. We have to learn to intercede for our nation, to intercede for our families. We haven't had the imagination. We've just thought, you know, prayer was how you ended a worship service, or maybe how you begin a worship service. Or maybe prayer is something you do after the ball game, if you wanna make a declaration that you're a Christian. I'm not opposed to any of those things, but we've had such a shallow, small, simplistic approach to prayer.

It's as simple as saying, oh, I love to play sports. We have no idea what you're talking about. You might like cross country skiing or cricket. And in Middle Tennessee, neither of those are going to help you make very many friends. And we've had that same level of disengagement when it comes to the topic of prayer. When people come to me that are relocating and they asked me for advice on finding a church. I've given the same answer for quite a while now. I say, what I would suggest, is that when you go to the new community, you visit two or three churches. And you need to go to the same one for two or three weeks, because churches have good days and bad days just like you do. But at the end of the day, it isn't about architecture, or style of worship, or the color of the seats, or even the size of the congregation.

You want a group of people that if you ever got news that you never wanted to receive, you would trust them to pray for you. Become one of those people. Become that person at work, become that person in your neighborhood. Become a person who values prayer, all kinds of prayers. Put your mind to it. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. You see, we're reluctant to engage in things that we haven't experienced before. We're not comfortable with. We closed the conference on Saturday by anointing everybody that was here that was willing to receive an anointing with oil and a prayer. And I knew for some of those people, that was a very uncomfortable moment. But I thought it would be unfortunate to bring them to talk about our need for Christianity in the midst of our culture without showing them a way to do that. And I encourage them to go home and pray for their families that way. But for some of their families, that'll be like lunatic fringe stuff. But we've marginalized all of this stuff. We've got to grow up a little bit church.

You see, we want God to respond in new ways, and we want to stay the same, and that has not been my experience. 1 Kings 18, last scripture. I gotta wrap up. It's Elijah. He's standing in the midst of a nation that is drifted far from God. In all of Israel, even by God's head count. When God counts, he said there's 7000 people allegedly.

Well in the nation of Israel, that's not a huge group, and they're being hunted and persecuted. And finally God says to Elijah, I'm gonna use you to make a difference. We're going to bring economic disaster on this nation. You pray and it's not gonna rain. It's an agricultural society. Everybody is about to be starved and bankrupt. You pray, they're gonna know you did it. They're gonna know you broke the economy. That will not make you popular. Well, couldn't I just say something kind? Elijah prayed that it didn't rain for three years. And then Elijah presents himself to the king, and he said, okay, it's time for a little confrontation. Confrontation on Mount Carmel. You bring your prophets and I'll be there. We're gonna build an altar, we're gonna pray that God will send, you know the story. Then God sends fire when Elijah prays.

And I put just one verse in your notes, "Elijah went before the people and he said, 'How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; If Baal is God, follow him". In one of the more telling verses in all the Bible, the people said nothing. I'm tired of the church saying nothing. I'm saved. Don't say anything. We're the covenant people of God, but we're not entering into this Q and A Elijah. Now, when the fire falls and everything's done, it says they all fell on their faces. Said the Lord, he is God. Yeah, when judgment breaks through, let's not wait for that. Let's begin to say the Lord is God.

We're gonna pray. I brought you a closing prayer. So you've got three or four prayers and a couple of ideas. Can you travel with that tomorrow? You got sentence prayers of thanksgiving. You got the Lord's Prayer. You got two or three other prayers, if you're with some believers who are a little more mature. Stand with me for this and remain standing while we worship with the crew.

Heavenly Father, look upon us with mercy and grace. Forgive our sins and the hardness of our hearts. You have opened the windows of heaven and showered great blessings upon us. In our stubbornness and pride, we imagined we made ourselves successful and turned away from You. We have tolerated immorality, greed, and wickedness. We have sought the approval of the ungodly more than we longed to please You. Forgive us, once again look upon us in mercy. Do not let your judgment overwhelm us. You're a great God, we have no hope apart from you. Allow us to proclaim the goodness of God in the land of the living, in Jesus's name, amen.

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