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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - Life-Changing Prayers - Part 1

Michael Youssef - Life-Changing Prayers - Part 1

Michael Youssef - Life-Changing Prayers - Part 1
Michael Youssef - Life-Changing Prayers - Part 1
TOPICS: Prayer, Daniel

Some of you remember when I shared with you the vision for asking a hundred thousand people to pray across the land, and you were the first ones to join the team, and to pray and prayed for our nation. And I heard so many incredibly encouraging stories of how God has worked across the land. And I really agonized in prayer over what would the Lord have us do from this point forward? And so, as I sought the mind of God again about this, I was led to this new series of messages, and we're gonna see how the great men and women of God of old prayed and use that as a prescription to revitalize our own prayer life.

Now, this is not a prescription like you see on television advertising a medicine that's supposed to take away your headache but it can kill you. You know what I'm talking about? Well, this is gonna really help your headache, but it is gonna give you liver disease, kidney disease, and all the side effects, and this prescription has no side effects, amen? And so, we're gonna examine the great prayers of the Bible so that we may be encouraged, that we may be challenged, that we may be motivated to stay on our knees in prayer, expecting great things from God, expecting a great move of God, expecting to see the power of God working in our helpless society, in our helpless world. Clearly seeing the light of Jesus shine in a dark world, to see the hand of God working in a lost generation.

Many years ago, a man by the name of John Allen made a statement and the statement went something like this, "What an individual is in secret on his knees before God, he is no more". And the first prayer that I've chosen to use this morning as we look at this different prayers in the Scripture of a man what became who he was because he was a man of prayer because of his knees of prayer. Many of you know the story as a teenager, young teenager, he was abducted from his house, snatched by foreign forces, taken into a foreign land. At the age of 14, he found himself serving a Godless king in a Godless kingdom in a Godless culture, found himself with incomprehensible pressure to compromise to this new situation and surroundings, and yet this man Daniel stood firm. In his teen years, he stood firm.

Turn with me please, if you haven't already, to Daniel chapter 9, Daniel's secret for his power was his prayer life. When you bend your knees to Christ alone, you will not bend to anybody else and because of that, Daniel's trials, which were many, never broke him. His crushing circumstances, which were many, never jaded his spirit. Here's later on when he was in a place of power, and authority, and wealth, never affected him. That power and authority, which he found himself to be in in the later days of his life, never led him astray from his love and his loyalty to the Lord. This man did not cry to God because he needed something from God and he wanted something so badly from God and as soon as God answered his prayer, he ran back into the land of compromise.

No, no, and a million noes. But his prayer was founded upon his love and his obedience to the Word of God. Nobody can be strong in prayer without time of intimacy with the Word of God. Let me repeat this, no one can stand strong in prayer without love and intimacy in the Word of God. The Bible makes it very clear the prayer of the righteous woman, the prayer of the righteous man availeth much. Let's examine that prayer together as we look at chapter 9. This prayer prescription for revitalizing our prayer life, there are four things here and they all start with the letter A. It's not in the Bible but I'm doing it that way so you can remember it.

First of all, Daniel's prayer was anchored on the promises of God. They were anchored on the promises of God. Secondly, they were affirming to the glory of God. And thirdly, they were assenting to the mercy of God. And fourthly, they were appealing on behalf of others. You see, effectual prayer has to be first and foremost firmly anchored in the promise of God. Every one of the great prayers of the Bible, they go back to the covenant, always going back to the covenant, and Daniel prayer was no exception. Look at verse 4, "O Lord, great and awesome God who keeps his covenant", recounting of God's past faithfulness, recounting of God's past salvation, recounting of God's past interventions, recounting of God's past graces is what make our prayer life to be an effectual prayer.

But there's something else I don't want you to miss here, very important. Claiming the promises of God includes an honest confession. Did you get that? It includes an honest confession. Oh, no, no, no, they were not covering up their sin. They said, "Well Lord, you know, everybody's do thing this and therefore, Lord, I think you understand. Oh Lord, I'm gonna rationalize it. I'll explain it away. I'm even gonna dismiss it altogether because what was sin in the Bible, might not be sin today". No, no, no, my beloved friend, that doesn't work with God. Verse 5, "We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and rebelled. We have turned away from your commandments and law".

Today, if you tell an average church-going person he or she is wicked, watch out they'll punch you. If you want to try it, be my guest. I tried it. "Wicked, what do you mean, wicked? We're church going folks, we're not wicked. God is fortunate even to have us on his side". I don't want to say it that way but that's how they think it, they really do. They would be horrified to think of themselves as wicked. Most church-going people think they're so good that God is just blessed to have them on his team. We've been telling generation after generation, it may be expensive but you are worth it, that we come to church and think we're worth it, that God loves us because we're worth it. What kind of a grace is that?

God promised in the Scripture that a broken and contrite heart, he will not despise. The Bible said that he despises the haughty, and the arrogant, and the self-righteous. In the New Testament, the Bible clearly promises that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us all our sins. Look at verse 9, Daniel 9:9, "The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving". Let me ask you this, do you know why the Lord delights in having this children remind him of his promises, do you know why, why he delights when we remind him of his promises? No, no, no, not because he forgets every now and again, like, getting older and said, "Oh, I'm glad you remind me I said that years ago. I really forgot about that".

Now, I do that, but not God. He doesn't have any cases of amnesia and therefore he needs us to remind him so he said, "Oh gosh, yeah, thank you for reminding me about this". No, no, no, no, the reason he loves it when we remind him of his promises because he love it when we remember his promises. Hear me out on this one, for effectual prayer, there can be no blame game. Don't say, "Well, you know, the devil made me do it, somebody did this and somebody did this. Oh Lord, you know, what a louse my husband is or Lord, you know how terrible my wife is, or Lord, you know how awful my boss is". No, that doesn't work. The blame game doesn't work with God. He knows all about them. He wants you, he wants me to confess our sin as we get hold of his promises. Anchored in God's promises. Secondly, affirming of his glory.

I know that most people become fervent in prayer when they want something from God, when they need something from God. They really become great prayer warriors and that's all right, but for effectual prayer, the glory of God has to be first and foremost in our life, not just even in our prayer life. When we know God like Daniel knew God, when we love God as Daniel loved God, when we care more about his glory than our needs, then we will pray first and foremost for God's glorification. And guess what, guess what, God wants his name to be glorified more than we do so what happens here is that when we seek first and foremost his glory, we are aligning our will with his will. We are aligning our purpose with his purpose. We are aligning our hearts with his heart. We are aligning our desires with his desire. Then and only then God delights in answering our prayers.

Look at verse 17, "For the sake of your glory, for the sake of your sanctuary that is desolate". Beloved, Daniel's bottom line is not that selfish gospel that is preached today. It wasn't his own wealth. It wasn't his own health. It wasn't his own success even. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but his first and foremost desire is for the glory of God. Verse 19, "Save your people, O Lord". Why, so that they might go back and do well in business in Jerusalem? No, for your sake, for your name, for your fame, for your glory, Lord. Anchored in his promises, affirming of his glory, ascending to his mercy. You know, there's some Christians when they pray and they want something from God, they remind God of how good they've been to God.

Not long ago, I was talking to a dear brother outside of this city and he was recounting, he said, "You know, I've done this, and I've done this, and I've done this. Why God is not answering me"? I said, you don't need a seminary degree to know that you're praying the wrong way. You don't remind God of how good you've been to him. That is a wrong way to pray. Our only plea when we pray is for his mercy, that's our only plea is his mercy.

And in Daniel's time after 68 years in this Babylonian and Persian exile, the younger generation knew nothing but Babylon. They were born there, many of them. They knew all about the Babylonian lifestyle. They knew all about the Babylonian culture. They knew all about the Babylonian food, they knew all the Babylonian way of life. They knew all about the Babylonian MTV. They knew all about how it is illegal to pray in school. They knew all about how illegal to have Bible studies in the schools. They know how the Babylonian talk about sexual preferences, almost like it's the norm. They all knew that abortion is a Constitutional right. Ah, the Promised Land, oh, it's only something they heard about in the by and by from the older generation.

And beloved, that is why our younger generation whom I love and I thank God for on a daily basis need to know that they are in a current spiritual exile. They need to be reminded that while we read about the move of God and the hand of God working is in history books and those who have written about it, those who have told us about it, we need to remind ourselves and them that God can move again, that God can do great things again in our lifetime. And that is why we need to remind them of God's past mercy, of God's past spiritual awakenings, of God's past interventions.

Look at verse 18, "We do not present our supplications before you because of our righteous deeds, but because of your great mercy". That's the only way you can come to God and be effectual in prayer. You see, mercy is one of God's great covenant characteristic, and God loves it when we are sent to his covenant character. How many times can you recount with details the mercies of God in the past to you, to you, and to you and your family? How many times can you sit there with details, say, "Lord, you did this, and you did this, and this is what you did".

Anchored in God's promises, affirming of God's glory, assenting to God's mercy. Finally, appealing to him for the needs of others. If you just read the Scripture casually, done a lot of in-depth study, it is so clear the people of God were oblivious to the danger around them. They were really. How oblivious they were to the terrible danger that was around the corner. And Daniel was so deeply troubled by their oblivion to reality. They cannot see what's coming.

And beloved, it is true today, it really is, the vast majority of people are oblivious to the desperate spiritual condition we're in. Many of them may know about our economics woes, they know because they see it, how fraying at the edges our social fabric is in society. They know the threat of terrorism because they see it in the news, but the average person doesn't have a clue that our most desperate need is spiritual in nature. Oh, they think that freedom is a freedom to murder babies in their mother's womb, that freedom is a freedom of sexual preferences, that freedom is abandoning of their families, that freedom is the abandoning of moral absolutes, that freedom is to do whatever you want.

That's why they think freedom is, and the vast majority of people are oblivious to abysmal spiritual condition that we're in, and that is why those of us who are spiritually minded need to appeal to the Lord on behalf of others, on behalf of the real needs that we have today. Listen, whether they see it or not, that's beside the point. People in Daniel's time didn't see it. Whether they know it or not, whether they realize it or not, that's beside the issue. They and we desperately need of a spiritual awakening, and God was so gracious to Daniel, not only that in two years' time from that moment, he answered his prayers.

And Nehemiah went back and Ezra went back and they began to build the wall. And the people of God began to go back and they had a spiritual awakening when Israel opened the Scripture and he begins to read, and people have not heard the Word of God for a long time. They were so stricken in their hearts that they had a truly spiritual awakening at that time. But not only that, that in itself would have been huge, huge privilege for an effectual prayer, but God did something else. Read on in the rest of the chapter when you go home. He privileged Daniel to actually give him and show him his timetable that in 450 years or so, God is gonna send his Messiah.

God is gonna intervene in the world once and for all and he's gonna send Jesus. It's right there, calculate the time. If your hope is anchored in a political party, if your hope is anchored in a political ideology, you will be disappointed. We will be disappointed, but if our hope is anchored in his promises, a prayer that is affirming to his glory, a prayer that is assenting to his mercy, a prayer that is on behalf of others, then we will see the hand of God working.
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