Steven Furtick - Why Are You Waiting To Pray?
This is an excerpt from: God's Got Your Back - Part 1
"Why didn't you say something sooner? Why didn't you call me over here after four days? I would have been happy to help you if you had said something sooner". Or I'll tell Holly, "I've had a headache all day". That woman has a pharmacy in her purse. It comes out like an accordion file when she opens it. Unbelievable. She has all kinds of stuff…with caffeine, without caffeine…just all kinds of different things in her purse. I'll tell her my head has been hurting all day, and she'll say, "Why didn't you say something sooner"? That seems to be it with God. "Why didn't you say something sooner? Why did you run around all day long feeling like a loser and not talk to me so I could remind you who I am"? I know why we don't talk to God. Because it is easier to turn to something we can see for immediate relief than it is to trust in a Father we can't see so that he builds our faith.
That's the thing. You can't just talk to God when you come here on Sunday. You really can't just listen to a sermon a week, or God forbid you just listen to clips. I mean, some people won't even do the full sermon, just a clip. That's not going to cut it. When you really start facing the challenges of life, clips won't cut it. Cliches won't cut it. Little "Thank you, Lord. Help me as I go today, and bless me along my way…" You know, a little prayer over dinner is not going to cut it. I'm not saying God will not love you, but you're just not going to feel his love. You're not going to know it's there, and you're going to turn to things that will work for you for a little while, but they will not sustain you. I just want to talk to you about this before we get into the direct passage that we read, because I have to constantly talk with God.
The Lord was telling me pretty clearly before I came out today you don't talk to him enough. When you stop talking with God, the Enemy starts working on you. When you stop coming to him, I mean, in just that moment-by-moment way… It's great to come to church. Trust me. I have a lot invested in this. Imagine if we were sitting together in the morning, and you saw me breathing fast and hard. You let it go for a little while, but finally you get up the courage to ask, "What are you doing"? and I'm like, "Oh, I'm getting my breathing in. The average human takes 20,000 breaths a day. I don't really want to be bothered with breathing later in the day, because I'm really busy later today. I'm going to just get all 20,000 in right now".
I don't think it works like that, but we think worship works like that. Three songs. Three days later, you're going to be defeated. I love the language of Isaiah. He's talking to a king, a good king, Hezekiah. He's a good king. Israel had a lot of bad kings. Hezekiah was not one of them. He had a great heart. The Bible says his heart was turned to the Lord. It was committed to the Lord. But just because you're a good king doesn't mean you don't do dumb things. Just because you're a good parent, a good spouse, a good person doesn't mean you don't do dumb things. Hezekiah did something really dumb. I'll tell you what he did. He made an alliance with the king of Egypt because he was being attacked by the Assyrians.
Now, the Assyrians were fierce. So much so that when they went to attack the northern kingdom of Israel, they wiped them out. They laid siege on the city. Hezekiah, after seeing that, decides, "I need some help, so I'll go to Pharaoh". Pharaoh rings a bell for a lot of us who come to church because we remember hundreds of years earlier when Pharaoh was in charge of Egypt. That wasn't his name; that was his title. Pharaoh was the one who fed the children of Israel for a little while. Then something happened where they became enslaved in the system they had escaped to. Do you remember that? This is a different Pharaoh. This is several centuries later, but there is something in this moment of attack that causes Hezekiah to make an unwise alliance. Lean in. When you're under attack, you make unwise alliances. When you feel tired, when you feel tested, when you feel like you're in trouble, what do you turn to?
Just think about that for a moment. What do you turn to? What do you turn to when you're tired, when you're tested, when you're in trouble? What do you turn to? I'll see a lot of people who will go through something in life, and it'll get so bad, so out of control, so unmanageable… At the end of asking every other person they can think of, "What should I do? How should I do it? Can you help me"? After going through everybody on their phone, so many times that they start getting blocked… After all of that, they'll say, "Well, all we can do now is pray". Isn't that backward? "In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God". The Scripture says in Hebrews 11:3 that by faith we understand that everything which was visible was made by something that was invisible, the Word of God. The Word of God created the world and framed the world so that everything you step into in your life is something God spoke before you got to it.
So, everything I'm stepping into in this season of my life is something God has already spoken. If he doesn't speak it, I can't step into it. If he didn't speak it, there would not be ground beneath my feet. If he didn't speak it, there wouldn't be a next step for me to take. If he didn't speak it, it wouldn't be here, so everything I'm stepping into, God has already spoken. Why would I speak to others about something God spoke into existence before I spoke to the one who knows where my path leads? In the text, Isaiah says something very powerful. He says, "You will weep no more". Watch this. I love the time frame reference here, because this really gives me hope.
Sometimes I need God quickly. How many of you came here to church today, and you need God to do something quick in your life? You don't always have time. I know; wait on the Lord. I know; be of good courage. I know; he will strengthen your heart, but some things in your life you need God to do for you quickly. Well, this is your verse. Get ready to shout. If you need God to do it and do it quickly, watch this. This is verse 19. "How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as [you get your act together]…" As soon as you clean up your act. As soon as you learn these seven principles from the Word of God. As soon as you memorize Isaiah 30. As soon as you go back and repair every relationship you screwed up. As soon as we get through this recession. As soon as you get married. As soon as you get kids. No, it said, "As soon as he hears, he will help you".
Come quickly, Lord! You have to have those "Come quickly" prayers. "Come quickly, Lord. Come quickly, Holy Spirit. Come quickly before I slip. Come quickly before I fall. Come quickly before I lose my mind. Come quickly before I lose my testimony. Come quickly before I relapse. Come quickly before I backslide. Come quickly before I go off. Come quickly, Lord! I need you quick"! Why did he go to Egypt for help when he knew the God of Elijah? It's because we reach for what's immediate, not always what's helpful. One of the attendants of the Assyrian army came out and said, "You went to the king of Egypt"? This is in 2 Kings, around chapter 19. He said, "You went to that splintered staff? Everyone who leans on him gets pierced. This isn't going to work. This isn't going to work at all".
Where do you turn when you're tired? Where do you turn when you're in trouble, and why don't you do it sooner? Why didn't I go to God…? I know it's easier for us to go with what we can see. This is the challenge: to depend on an invisible God who you can't see when you're facing challenges that are so big they are all you can see. Come here, Ty. This is the one I told the story about a few months ago, but I need you to visualize it. Since he's here today, we're going to take our opportunity. He does so many things well. He's so gifted. He's so talented. Y'all see my fade every week? That's "Fly Ty" Jacobs, the one and only. I always tell him in my chair everything I'm going to preach before I preach it, and then I preach none of it, because God always changes it between Saturday and Sunday. He was going to give somebody a haircut recently.
You know this is, like, crazy sponsorship right here what I'm doing for you. Right? Oh man. I'm telling you. You owe me seven free haircuts off of this. There are a lot of people who watch. But this will be worth it for the illustration. He said, "I went to cut somebody's hair the other day, and when I was going in, I got intimidated because their house was crazy. I started thinking, first of all, about 'Why do they get this house and I don't get it?'" Because he's petty, so y'all pray for him. Secondly, he said, "It started to get in my head. I got distracted by how nice the house was. I started getting intimidated". He said, "But when I went in and started doing what I do, what God gifted me to do…" He said, "It was amazing, because when I left, I got a text from everybody who was in the house that said, 'Man! It changed our lives having you in our house today.'"
Did you make that up or is that true? He said this is a true story. I only have his word to go off of. He is an exaggerator, but I believe him. I looked at him and said, "It sounds like you got so distracted by what you were walking into that you forgot what you were walking in with". Won't that preach? Isn't that like the children of Israel going into Canaan to spy out the land, carrying the promise of a covenant-keeping God, talking about "The giants are big"? What happened? They got so distracted by what they were walking into they forgot the promise they were walking in with. I just wanted to use that illustration, because I saw him there and it came to my heart. I think it might be for somebody. When you are not in constant communication with God, and I mean just throughout the day… "God, there I go. I get offtrack. God, there I go. I get offtrack. God, there I go. I get offtrack".
You will be all the way through the whole bag of Fritos before you realize, "Oh, I need the Holy Spirit to fill me. These Fritos are filling me, but it doesn't feel very good now that they've filled me. I'm not less stressed. I just got three more pounds to carry when I get off this couch. Now I don't feel like doing anything, and now I'm going to take a nap, and now I'm going to miss my job, and now I'm going to get fired, and then my wife is going to leave me. Everything fell apart because I ate Fritos". What I'm saying is…say something sooner. Catch yourself quicker. Instead of running to pills, say something to God. Instead of running to porn, say something to God. Instead of running to pessimism, say something to God. Instead of crying out for help… Everybody has a different way they yell for help.
Some people yell for help through anger. They're really not mad. They're scared. So they get angry. It's a way of saying, "Help me. I'm afraid, but I don't know how to ask for help, so I get angry, because I'm yelling for help, because I never learned how to ask for help". If you would say something sooner, maybe it wouldn't get to this point. Maybe it wouldn't get this ridiculous. Maybe it wouldn't come to the point where you blow up. Maybe it wouldn't get to the point where it crushes you. Maybe it wouldn't get to the point where you're carrying it so long and the load weighs so much you don't see any other way out. Why didn't you say something sooner, when your God has medicines of all descriptions, when your God has healing for everything that hurts you, when your God says, "I'll answer you as soon as I hear you"? Not as soon as you hurt, but as soon as you pray about it. You can hurt a long time and not get help, because hurting does not attract help. Faith does. Prayer does. Praise does.
When you are prayerless, you are paralyzed. A lot of the paralysis in our lives… "Oh, I don't know what to do. Oh, I don't know how to handle it. Oh, I can't go forward". It's because prayerlessness leads to paralysis. It keeps you focused on what you're walking into. How many are walking into a season right now that you just don't see any way it's going to turn out okay? It may be 5 or it may be 500 or it may be 50,000, but raise your hand right now. "I'm walking into something". Okay. That isn't enough. Let me try another way in. How many of y'all are going back to school this week? Okay. Stand up. Look at me. God's got your back. Look at me. Stand up straight. God's got your back. Everybody say it out loud. "God's got my back".
I need you to go back to school knowing that God is behind you. You can't afford to go back to school alone. You're not ready to go back to school just because you got new shoes for it. We all get new shoes to go back to school. I got my Reebok Pumps, but my Reebok Pumps weren't enough. If God doesn't have my back, I can't make it through the temptation. If God doesn't have my back… But if God be for me, who can be against me? Come on. Slap yourself on the chest and say, "God's got my back". I'm telling you, you can call on God. Now don't call on God when you didn't study for the test and ask him to help you pass it. The Lord doesn't really work like that. You have to pray for God when you feel like playing video games instead of studying and involve him at that point. If you involve him sooner, maybe you won't get to the test sweating and having to wonder, "Am I going to make it"? If you will come to God sooner…