Sunday, April 9, 2017

Connect 2017 -- Jim Cymbala -- Brooklyn Tabernacle -- Prayer

If it wasn’t for Jesus we wouldn’t have met each other, but here we are brothers and sisters.  I’m going to tell a story from the book of Acts when the church almost lost one of their leaders, Peter.

Acts 12 – Peter was kept in prison but the church of God was earnestly praying for him. 

The early church under that stress practiced one of the first principles Jesus gave them—ask and you shall receive.  Jesus said, “My Father’s house shall be called a house of prayer.” 

Paul says to Timothy, “First I want people to hold up holy hands and pray.”  In Genesis 3 men began to call upon the name of the Lord.  With no Bible to read, something told people to call out to God.  The first people of God were “those who call on the name of the Lord.”  David said, “He will hear when we call to Him.”  Moses said, “Who has a God like us who answers when we call?”  We don’t need the same weapons or strategic plans of the world when we have prayer.  The church was born in a prayer meeting as they waited for the Spirit. 

The early church now has no influence. James has been called and Peter arrested so what do they do?  They have no money.  They have nothing yet they have everything because they have God.  “In the day of trouble call upon Me,” God said.  We have a living God who answers us. 

My wife and I in these decades since we came to rundown Brooklyn have seen God start a prayer ministry that now has over 1,000 people coming to pray on a Tuesday night.  God answers prayer!

What would happen if churches shut down and just prayed?  Every revival has started that way.  God comes when we humble ourselves and pray..  The early church shut things down and started to pray.

Nothing happened right away but they kept praying.  And they kept praying.  Just before it looked like Peter would be killed, God stepped in.  Peter is sleeping in chains and an angel appears and an unnatural light shines.  That’s what has happened and will always happen when we give ourselves to prayer.  God will send something to happen.

We don’t need more computers or more cleverness or higher IQ; at the heart of everything what the church of Christ needs is something fresh from heaven.  Tozer said, “If you can explain a church something is wrong.”  When God comes you can’t explain it. 

What we need today is more of something from heaven—a supernatural visitation.  The devil is strong and moving on the earth but our God is greater.  That’s why the worse epitaph would be “You have not because you asked not.”  Maybe you were running and busy—but what I would have done if you would have just asked. 

When God enters into what we’re dong there’s an impact you can’t explain.  How many times did we watch Billy Graham on TV. No one ever claimed he was a fancy speaker or a complicated theologian—he just preached the good news.  But why did he bear so much fruit?  Prayer.

How many want something fresh in your ministry?  The Bible says as Peter slept an angel woke him up.  That’s what God does in answer to prayer.  God wakes people up when we pray.  What’s the first great revival that shaped our country?  The Great Awakening.  What caused that?  It was God.  When God comes He begins to wake people up.  It’s like scales fall off their eyes. 

When my daughter was in her late teens we went through 2.5 year nightmare when she was a prodigal.  I tried everything and one night on a Tuesday night at a prayer meeting someone sent up a note and said they thought we should pray for our daughter.  I took the note and felt it was of the Lord and asked our associate pastor to pray.  They began to pray like those in labor.  Some of us think that’s fanaticism but it’s travail like a mother giving birth.  They called on God and I went home and told my wife, “It’s over.  Chrissy is coming home.”  The next morning Chrissy was back on the floor in my kitchen on her hands and knees and she said, “Daddy, I’ve sinned against God.  I’ve sinned against you” and as she wept she asked “who was praying for me last night?”  That didn’t come from my cleverness.  When the Holy Spirit comes people get awake.   And the chains fell off.

I’ve seen male prostitutes and cross dressers come into church.  One named Ricardo went by Sara on the streets and I saw God change that man and chains fell off.  God changed him and years later he got married.  We rented Madison Square Garden to do an outreach  and the couple walked out on the stage and people were so happy.

Lastly, as they were leaving the prison compound the Bible says as they approached the gate opened by itself.  When people pray, God opens doors.  Sometimes we try to force doors open, but when God opens them…  I want more open doors from God! 

Samaritan’s Purse is about open doors.  When we say we’re going to call on God we will get a battle royal because Satan knows he is defeated when we pray. 

God opens doors…I don’t want to preach anymore.  I want to pray with you.  There’s way better preachers than me.  We don’t need preaching so much.  God is listening.  His ear is open right now.   

**This was followed by a moving time of prayer as Jim prayed over hundreds of people who filled the area in front of the stage and flowed up the aisles.  God heard.  

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