Robert Morris — The Power of Prayer
I want you to turn in your Bibles to two passages of Scripture, Jeremiah 32 and Jonah 3. Jeremiah 32 and Jonah 3, and I want to share a message with you called, "The Power of Prayer". All right, let me tell you how this message got stirred up in me. We should be praying. That is our responsibility. And, yes, part of what's happened in this country is because we did not get involved, and we haven't let our voice be heard, but the majority of what has happened in this country that's bad has been because the church has not prayed.
And if we really believed that prayer makes a difference, we would pray more. We'd pray for our country. We'd pray for our family. We'd pray for our friends. But, I read this Scripture as I'm reading through the Bible, and this is where we're gonna start. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 says, "Therefore I exhort", this is Paul speaking to Timothy, his spiritual son. "First of all", first, "first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings" - now, in our governmental system, that would be presidents. For presidents, "and all who are in authority". That'd be all elected officials - congressmen and congresswomen, and mayors, and governors, and things like that. "For all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence".
So, our first responsibility is to pray. My question is, why don't we pray more? Since prayer changes things, why don't we pray more? And I really believe it's because of a misunderstanding of theology that we don't pray more. You know, you've heard the old saying, I know just enough about that to be dangerous, you know? Well, unfortunately, I believe many times the church knows just enough about theology to be dangerous, and my goal is to help you understand theology and doctrine, because when we really understand God, it changes everything in our lives. So, there are two attributes of God that I believe we have misunderstood. And because we've misunderstood them, they've caused us to pray less, but they actually should cause us to pray more. Does everyone follow me?
So, I only have two points today. I'm gonna cover two of the attributes of God, that because of a misunderstanding in the body of Christ, cause people to pray less, but these should cause people to pray more. All right? So, here's number one - the sovereignty of God. Now, there's a huge misunderstanding about the sovereignty of God, and here's what happens. People actually blame tragedies on this attribute. They say, well, we just have to trust the sovereignty of God. Well, I believe in trusting the sovereignty of God, but you're misusing that right there. That's not what that means at all. In other words, we're blaming God for a lot of things that are happening in this world that God's not doing. And so, the sovereignty of God, if you want to understand it, it doesn't mean that God does whatever He wants to. That's not what it means at all. What it means, again, you can break the word down.
So, look at the word "sovereignty". I'm gonna put it up so you can see it, "sovereignty", or "sovereign". Just the word, "sovereign", all right? Then you break it apart. You've got S-O-V-E, and the word, "reign". Now, just so you know, the second word means exactly what it says, "reign". The S-O-V-E though, means supreme - supreme reign. Supreme reign. In other words, God has supreme reign. He also is the supreme ruler of the universe. So to understand this, it doesn't mean that God does whatever He wants. It means that He is in complete charge and authority. But, He gave stewardship of the earth to us, and the problem is He gave it to Adam and Eve, and Adam and Eve lost it.
So, let me show you something that happened in Jeremiah 32. I'll give you the historical exegesis of this passage, but then I'm gonna give you the messianic exegesis. The word "exegete" comes from a Greek word which means "to draw out", like you draw water out of a well. So when you look at a passage of Scripture, you look at the historical exegesis of it, you look at if there's a messianic exegesis, you look at the geographical exegesis, and you look at what many have discounted, and that's the revelational exegesis. In other words, what's God saying to me out of this passage? All right?
So, let me show you this in Jeremiah 32:8. It says, "Then Hanamel, my uncle's son", in other words, his cousin, "came to me", that's Jeremiah, "in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord". In other words, the Lord had already told Jeremiah this would happen. "And said to me, "Please buy my field that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin, for the right of inheritance is yours", notice "right of inheritance", "and the redemption yours. Buy it for yourself". Then I knew this was the word of the Lord. So I bought the field from Hanamel, the son of my uncle who was in Anathoth, and weighed out to him the money - seventeen shekels of silver. And I signed the deed"... I signed it. "I signed the deed and sealed it, took witnesses, and weighed the money on the scales". Verse 11, "So I took the purchase deed", watch, "both"..". both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open".
Okay, so Jeremiah speaks of two deeds here. He speaks of a sealed deed and an open deed. He also speaks of two rights - a right of inheritance and a right of redemption. So, let me explain those to you, all right? He said, "My uncle's son came to me" and said buy this field back. What that means is his uncle had bought that field from his mother. Probably what had happened is that Jeremiah's father had died, and so the brother, the father's brother, the uncle, bought the field so the family would have money to live on. Because it was in the family of Jeremiah, Jeremiah then would have been the first born son, because he had the right of redemption.
So, the cousin comes to him and says, hey, buy the field back, now you're old enough. It probably happened, his father probably passed away when he was young, so they couldn't work the field, so they needed money. Now that he's grown up, they can work the field and make a living. So, he said, buy it back. And this is what he said, "For the right of inheritance is yours". That means he's the first born son. So that means when the uncle dies, he's gonna get it back anyway. The field would go back to him. "The right of inheritance is yours, and the right of redemption is yours". In other words, you're the nearest first born male. You're the nearest kinsman. You're the first born. You can buy it back. So, you have the right of inheritance and the right of redemption.
Okay, hold onto those, all right? Then you have a sealed deed and open deed. The sealed deed was the family that it belonged to, and that land always went back to the original family, the bloodline of that family, always went back to them when someone would pass away. But, there was an open deed, so that if they needed to sell the land for money, they could take that deed and they could write on it whose name it was, like Hanamel, the uncle, but that sealed deed always was with the original family.
Okay, you say, well, what does all of this mean? Well, historically it was that they were being taken out of the land for 70 years to be in captivity to Babylon, and God was saying, I want you to do this because I want to say to My people, you will again be brought back to this land, and you will own land again. That's what it meant historically. But, what does it mean messianically? It is a type and a shadow of Jesus Christ Himself, because Jesus is the first born Son. God gave the open deed to Adam and Eve, to the earth - the open deed. But, God kept the sealed deed. But, He gives the open deed to Adam and Eve. They lost it to Satan. Satan actually said to Jesus, when he was tempting Him, remember this? "All of these", all of the kingdoms of the world, "have been given to me". They've been given to me. They were given by Adam and Eve. But, Jesus, who's the first born Son, who has the right of inheritance, it's all coming back to Him anyway, decides to exercise His option and redeem it, and buy it back, and Jesus bought the authority and the dominion of this world back, 2.000 years ago.
It's a great read when you read Revelation 5. John says, "And I looked and I saw in the hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll, sealed". I think that's the sealed deed. And he said, and one of the elders said, "A strong angel said, who is worthy to take the seal, the scroll, and to break its seal, or to loose its seal"? And he says, "I wept much because no one in heaven and earth was found worthy, and then one of the elders said to me, do not weep, for behold, the lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed". And it says "He came forth and took the seal and opened it, and then they sang, worthy are You to receive glory and honor, and riches and power, because You have redeemed us". He had the inheritance and He had the right of redemption. "You have redeemed us to God out of every tribe, tongue, and nation, out of every ethnicity. You have redeemed us back to God and made us kings and priests".
Now, listen to me. Here is the reason the sovereignty of God is a reason to pray, not to pray. People say, well, you've just got to trust God's sovereignty. Whatever's gonna happen, God's gonna do it anyway. No. God gave us authority. We lost that authority to Satan. Jesus, the first born Son, came and got it back, and then gave it back to us, because this is what He said. When He said, "I will build My church". "I will build My church", He said, "and I give you the keys to the kingdom, so that whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven... bound in heaven will be bound on earth, and whatever you loose in heaven will be loosed on earth".
The reason to pray is because we are praying to the supreme ruler of the universe, who can do something about it, who can hear from heaven and forgive our sin, and heal our land. "If My people will pray". "If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land". So, the reason to pray is the sovereignty of God, because we're praying to the One who's in charge. We're praying to the One who has the power to do something about it.
George Mueller was a great missionary, and the thing that's most known probably about him is prayer. He lived a very sinful life until he was about 30 years old, and came to Christ, and then he goes to missionary school, because he wants to be a missionary. Then after he completes missionary school, he goes in front of a missionary board, and they turned him down to be a missionary because he had led too sinful of a life before he got saved. And so, he said, Lord, what do I do? The Lord said, pray. So, he prayed for one year - one year, and then the Lord said, now go to this city.
So, he went to a city. He'd been saving for that year. Went to a city, walked to the only church in that city and said, I'd like to speak to the pastor. And they said, well, our pastor resigned last Sunday. He said, well, I graduated from missionary school, and God called me to be a missionary to this city. They said, you're hired. He got there on the exact day that he should tell them that. He becomes the pastor, then they start orphanages. All the time, all he would do is pray. By the way, the first thing that he did was he implemented tithing, because people were buying seats. That's how the church was making their money. People would buy seats and sit where they wanted to sit. Now, we're not gonna talk about if you ever bought a seat, so. All right, so.
And so he implemented tithing, and he said, we're not gonna pass a plate, because I want people to give out of a free will. He put boxes beside the doors. I actually thought that I invented that, until I read his story. And then, they started orphanages, and in the late 1800s, listen to this. Their mission giving from this little church was $7.5 million. They started more orphanages than any missionary organization before or since, and all out of prayer. When he got saved, he had five friends, very close friends. He prayed for them. Three of them got saved in ten years. It took ten years. He said he prayed every day for 'em. The fourth one got saved 25 years later.
The fifth one... George Mueller lived 52 years after he got saved. He died... right before his death, his friend heard him praying for this person he'd been praying for for 52 years. He died, and the person he was praying for came and knelt at his graveside and gave his life to Christ, 'cause God answers prayer. We pray to the supreme ruler of the universe.
Well, here's the second doctrine that's misunderstood - the immutability of God. Again, look at the word for a moment, "immutability". "Mutable", in the middle of the word, means "change". So, something that is mutable can mutate, it can change. You put the I-M on the front, it can't change. The immutability of God means it can't change, God can't change. Malachi 3:6, "For I am the Lord, I do not change". James 1:17, "Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning".
Let me read that to you in the New Living Translation, that last phrase - "He never changes". "He never changes or casts a shifting shadow". So, He never changes, so here's the problem. People misunderstand this doctrine and say, well, God never changes, so why pray? You need to understand. What this means is God never changes His character. It doesn't mean that He never changes His mind. And we have instance after instance... if this was a three hour seminary class, I could take you through - the whole three hours I could spend showing you where God changed His mind in Scripture when His people prayed. But, I'll give you two examples of it, all right?
One is when Moses went up on the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. He goes up on the mountain, and God says to him, get down. Get down off this mountain. The people have already sinned. They've already sinned. They've made golden calves. They're saying that those golden calves are their gods and those golden calves brought 'em out of Egypt. And then, God said it. I am going to destroy all of them and start over with you. So you think if God said it, then it's going to happen. Here's what happened. Moses prays and says, God, please don't destroy them. Give them another chance. And then, look at this verse, Exodus 32:14. "So the Lord relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people". The Lord relented.
Now, I want you to look at the word, "relented", just for a moment. If you change one letter in that word, it's another word. "Relented", take the L out and put a P in, and what do you have? "Repented". Okay, now you'd say, well, God couldn't repent. Okay, listen to me. That's 'cause you don't know the definition of the word, "repent". Many, many preachers have said repent means to turn from your sin. It doesn't mean turn from your sin. Sin is nowhere in the word. When you go to the actual word, it's not in there. It's not what it means. It says, "God relented". It's the same as the word, "repented".
Now, you say, well, but it says, "relented", you can't say, "repented". Well, it's in the Old Testament 108 times; 41 of those times, it's translated, "repented". 38% of the time that it's in there, it's translated, "repented". Okay? So, God repented. Okay, you say, well, how could God repent, because we think repent means to turn from your sin. It doesn't mean that. It means to change your mind. God said, I am going to destroy them all and start over with you. Moses prayed, and God relented. God changed His mind because a believer prayed. So, the immutability of God's a reason to pray.
Let me show you another instance, because God's character can't change. This will really illustrate it. Jonah 3:10 says, "Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way, and God relented". Same word that's translated "repented" many times. "Relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it". Now, you would think that Jonah would be happy about this. But the very next verse, it's Chapter 4, but it's the very next verse, Verse 1, "But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the Lord and said, "Ah, Lord", watch this. "Was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore"... anytime you see the word, "therefore", it means "this is the reason". You can put "this is the reason". This is the reason that "I fled previously to Tarshish, for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, One who relents from doing harm".
Okay, many people don't know this. They say, I don't know why Jonah went. I guess he just rebelled, or he didn't want to preach. Maybe he feared for his life. No, he didn't fear for his life. He went the other way, and he says it right here. He says, "Was not this what I said"? I told You this would happen. I knew I would come and preach judgment, and they would repent, and then You'd change Your mind, because You're slow to anger, and gracious, and merciful, and compassionate. And in essence, he's saying, and You can't change. That's who You are. You're a gracious God. If people repent, then You... now, listen, don't get hung up on this word. Then You repent. You relent. You change Your mind. If people will change their mind, then You'll change Your mind.
It's also funny, a great story - so God, He's Jonah now. He's sitting out in the heat of the day, and He says what all prophets say when their prophecy doesn't come true - might as well just die. Might as well just die. By the way, all words from the Lord are submitted to the Lord of the Word. All words from God are submitted to the God of the Word. In other words, God can tell you to say somethin' to get a person to repent, and then God can have mercy on that person. So, God causes a plant to grow up in one day. A plant grows up in one day, to give Jonah shade. Then God creates a worm to eat the plant in one day. And Jonah gets mad because the plant dies, because the worm eats the plant.
And here's what God said. Don't ever forget this. God said, you're upset because a plant that you didn't make died, and you don't think I would be upset over 120.000 people that I made dying? Speaking of Nineveh, it was 120.000 population. So, please hear me. When we talk about the immutability of God, this is not a reason not to pray, this is a reason to pray, because we're praying to the God who can't change. He can change His mind, but He can't change His character, and He's a loving, and He's a compassionate, and He's a merciful, and He's a gracious God, and He wants to have mercy on us, if He can get one person to agree with Him.
Here's what He said to Ezekiel. I wanted one... I looked, I looked, I looked, I looked for one man, just one man, who would stand in the gap and make up the heads that I would not destroy them, but I found no one. I just needed one believer to stand in agreement with Me. You've got to understand. God can do anything. He's the supreme ruler of the universe, and He never changes. So, why is our nation in such a fix? Because we, the church, have not prayed. What about the fix that you're in, your family?
I was in a prophetic Presbytery meeting one time at Clark Whitney's church. Clark's been here many times. And there was an older lady by herself, and I got this word. I said, you know how to pray. You know how to pray, and I said, you're gonna teach younger ladies how to pray. And this was the prophetic word that the Lord gave me. You are going to teach younger ladies how to pray for their unbelieving husbands to come to Christ. So, after the prophecy, and the congregation started clapping, because they knew her story. Afterwards, Clark said... after the service, he said, I want her to come and tell you why everyone knew what you were saying was true.
So, she came up, and here's what she told me. Her husband, she'd been married to him for 42 years, and he was an unbeliever. She prayed every day for 42 years for him to come to Christ. One day, he was on a business trip in Florida and he was killed in a car accident. About a month after he was killed, her phone rang and this man on the phone said, is so-and-so there, asked for her husband. She said, no, I'm sorry to tell you, he's passed away. He died in a car accident about a month ago in Florida. And the guy got kind of quiet, and he said, did you say he died about a month ago in a car accident in Florida? She said, yes. He said, was it on this day? And he said the date, and she said, yes, it was. He said, did you get to talk to him that day? She said, no, I did not. He would always call me at night when he got to the hotel room.
He said, ma'am, I have good news for you. He said, I'm a businessman. I wear a suit and tie to work. I work downtown in an office building. And God would not leave me alone that morning, and God spoke to me to go out to the highway and park my car, and put my phone out. And your husband came by, and I shared Christ with your husband, and your husband accepted Christ before he was killed in that car accident.I met this lady. Clark Whitney can verify this story. She prayed, and you know who she prayed to? She prayed to the supreme ruler of the universe, who is a merciful and compassionate God.
I love to hear testimonies of God answering prayer, and every one of us have heard testimonies and we have testimonies. I believe that you watched this program today because there's something in your life that you need to be encouraged to continue to pray about, and I want to encourage you that God is the supreme ruler of the universe, and He can't change. That means that He has the power to answer our prayers and He has the desire to answer our prayers, because we know He is a loving and compassionate God. So, whatever you're praying for, continue to pray, because God really does answer prayer.