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					                                         Prayer: Moving Beyond the Bless You’s
                                                     Acts 4:23–31

When you‟ve been married to someone for a while you start to learn what annoys you. I guess Veronica and I are ornery
people because we have all kinds of little things that annoy us. Here‟s a list of some of the things that annoy us… not
about each other, but about life.
    Restaurants with indistinct figures, like a rooster and a chicken, indicating which restrooms are for men and which
        are for women
    Having to make that face to people in the hallway at work that implies „Hey.‟
    In the grocery store, walking by the same person you‟ve already walked by in the dairy, produce, and frozen-food
        sections.
    That Valentine‟s day was placed in February, just in case single people have recovered from the loneliness that
        Christmas and New Year‟s Eve induced.
    The moment between dry heaves when you realize another heave is coming
    That people who say, “I‟ll let you go” on the phone really mean, “I‟m desperate to end this phone call.”
    People who exaggerate the danger of picking up a piece of broken glass1

Here‟s something I want you to consider today. That there are things that annoy God. Malachi 2:17 “You have wearied
me with your words.” I thought God liked words. Jesus said in Matthew, “When you pray, don‟t be like the pagans, who
think they will be heard for their much speaking.” There is a way to pray that annoys God: When people pray, here are the
things we always say (after you‟ve been around us for a while, these are what you‟ll say)

         “Bless me.” Always looking for spots to increase your blessing. Bless them in what? If someone sneezes we say
          “bless you” because theoretically during a sneeze your heart stops, or at least it‟s what we‟ve all heard, and so we
          say “bless you” because you came so near death, but it seems to me that once you say “bless you” the danger has
          passed, your heart has stopped and you‟re still alive, so you should probably say “you‟re blessed.”
         “Be with us”
         “Watch over us” (does this conflict with be with me: if you‟re in the car and you ask God to be with you) and
          protect us: Traveling mercies: like God is a big traffic controller
         “Forgive me for all my many sins:” they are too many to list, I‟m too lazy: (like looking at your cell phone list)
         “In Jesus name” (we don‟t know what that means: kind of like the Christian way of saying “bye” to God)
         (Don‟t become the police: I say them too). But there may be more to it than phrases.
         Prayer for many of us is just a means of getting the things we think we want and need. Illus. My neighbors‟
          intercom. The coolest invention until it was used to summon me: “it‟s probably more trouble to go and get him
          than it is get him and do it.” Could you bring me up some chips? That‟s how we are with God. God, I need this,
          and God I need that. Domestic intercom. Rather, it is a wartime radio.

Prayer in the early church:

Ac4:23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to
them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who
made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: „Why
did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were
gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.‟ 27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You
anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do
whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to
Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and
wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they
were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with
boldness.



1
    738 Annoying Things by Scott Cohen
                                                                                                                             1
       They acknowledged some things about God: (v. 24) “You made,” (v. 25) “You spoke,” (v. 27) “You determined
        before”
            o The word they used for God is “despotes” “ruler.” You‟re the grand controller of all.
       From this, they were able to pray according to two things:
            o (4:28) We do not need to fear what is happening. Nothing is outside of your control. You told us life
                wasn‟t going to be easy… we were going to have tribulation. You told us we would overcome the world.
                      Psalm 76:10, “Even the wrath of man shall praise You.”
                      But, some of you are like, Well, if you can‟t pray and have God deliver you from a jam, then
                        what is the purpose of praying? (Great question: We’ll answer it today)
            o (4:29–30) We can partner with God in what He is doing… they saw their lives as part of a much bigger
                story. They were partners with God in the divine drama, with one small part to play, or one instrument in
                the divine symphony

Do you have those two? Now let‟s look at what they did not pray:
    Be with us: the Holy Spirit!
    Bless us or forgive us:
           o *They understood who they are in Christ
           o Gen 12:2–3: “I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing… in you all the
               families of the earth will be blessed.”
                    If your cup is running over…
           o Eph1:3, 7: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with
               every spiritual blessing … In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins…

You say, “There are times in the Bible when they ask for these things.” Yes, there are examples of asking for these things
in the Bible. But when you have Jesus, it is different. You don’t pray for them as if they’re not yours, you ask for them
because they are yours. Receive Jesus, and pray in faith.

       Keep us safe:
           o What if God has a bigger goal than to keep you safe?
           o Peter is threatened, they pray. He goes back to preaching. They throw him in prison. God delivers him.
               He goes back to preaching. The Sadducees can‟t figure out what to do, when a guy named Gamaliel steps
               up and says, “I suggest we leave them alone.” (Illus. Pak Azhari)
           o Ahhh… good guys win! No, not so: Peter ends his life in prison and crucified. Disturbing observation: In
               the OT, deliverance! In the NT, all the good guys died.

Illus.: small play if you are the main character. Or a play where you are a minor character? (David said it like this: Ps.
84:10, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my
God than to do anything anywhere else”). When the applause is over, it‟s over!

            o   Acts 16: Tapping foot; goes back to witness; Jailor celebrates his life, helps him get out of prison.
                (parallel with Peter). Paul is beheaded. No burial, no service.
            o   2 Co11:23 (I’ve had)… countless beatings, and often (been) near death. 24 Five times I received at the
                hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned.
                Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger
                from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city,
                danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through
                many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from
                other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. (you people are driving
                me crazy).
            o   Paul dies with no burial, no service… It‟s OK
            o   When your prayers bounce back off the ceiling of your house, it‟s ok, because God is in room with you

What they did pray
   “Stretch forth your hand”
           o “Stretch forth your hand!”
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           o   They understood the concept of “blessed to be a blessing.” (Genesis 12)
           o   How do you interpret God’s hand being on you? Joel Olsteen: “parking spaces”; They interpreted it as the
               Gospel going forward.
          o Get rich! Use it for God. Get poor! Use it for God! The point is not living and dying, or getting rich or
               being poor, but in all things giving glory to God!
          o Nothing wrong with praying bless me, keep me safe… nothing wrong with making money or doing well
               in school, as long as your focus is doing the will of God!
          o Illus. Bumper sticker: “America bless God.” Why would God bless America if America does not intend
               to bless God, or to bless the world through the Gospel?
          o Illus.: Jean: Doesn‟t matter how hard you dunk the ball if it‟s in the wrong goal.
      (Key): In the name of Jesus
          o John 14:13: “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do…”
          o What it doesn‟t mean: “access code to heaven”
          o What it does mean:
                    Satisfaction (Cassie Bernall):
                    Authority: “For this is what you‟ve said!” –See how this ties in to “made,” “said,” “determined
                        before”
                    Representative: Partnering, praying as His representative: what would he do? He has an agenda
                        for everyone. Prayer is listening and obeying.
                    For that reason, when you pray, pray with a pen and paper. 2 reasons. Make a list of what God
                        says to you while you pray. The other is that my mind wanders.

When I pray… I am Jesus representative. The renown of His name is my goal
Illus:

       Jan 19, 2000 A courageous act of forgiveness stunned the predominantly Hindu nation of India and catapulted the wife of a
       murdered missionary into the limelight she never sought. But in the years since missionary Graham Stains, 57, and sons
       Phillip, 10 and Timothy, 6 burned to death outside a home for lepers in a remote village 600 miles south of Delhi, Gladys
       Stains has discovered that the powerful act of forgiving the killers continues to reverberate through this nation of 1 billion
       people.

       Graham had served in India for 34 years, giving his life for poor and marginalized of India. Served in Aryssa, serving 60
       villages. 60,000 people, only 30 kids went to the school. His heartbeat was to build a hospital to care for the lepers in these
       villages. 23 rd Jan 1999 Graham and sons were out at a village, nowhere to sleep, so they spent their night in the car.
       (ministering, love)

       Mob of militant Hindus surrounded their car, trapped them inside, set fire to the car and burned them alive. When the fire
       finally cooled, they found the charred body of Graham Stains with his arms around his sons. His wife, Gladys, became the
       most well known person in India overnight.

       The response of Gladys and daughter Esther (13 years old) was on the front page of every newspaper in India (1 billion
       who‟ve never heard). “I have only one message, one prayer, one desire. I am not bitter or angry, I have only one great desire.
       That each citizen of this country should gain a relationship with Jesus Christ, who gave his life for their sins. Let us burn
       hatred and spread the flame of Christ‟s love.

       Esther Stains (13 years old) I praise the Lord He found my father worthy to die for him.

       Four years went by before anyone was even prosecuted. When a memorial service as finally held, the president of India
       spoke. People flooded churches all over India (Muslims, Hindus) to honor this man who has given his life. The president
       said, “Someone who spent years caring for patients of leprosy, instead of being thanked and appreciated as a role model,
       should be done to death in this manner is a crime that belongs to the world‟s inventory of black deeds.

       Gladys shocked everyone, because people assumed they would go home, because she said God had called them to India and
       she would not leave. She said, No, my husband and sons sacrificed their lives for India. India is my home. I hope to continue
       live here and serve the needy, and to continue the dream of a hospital in Barapoda to serve the marginalized and vulnerable
       and those bypassed by development in tribal villages in the Khumjar district of India.



                                                                                                                                         3
        You may have missed this, but on July 8, 2004, 5 ½ years after the brutal killing of Graham. His dream of a hospital was
        inaugurated in Barapoda, India.

                                                                              - from Louie Giglio, Prayer: Remix, part 3 (Audio CD)


So What Do I Do?
1. Set a time to pray, with pad and pencil
2. Don‟t ask God for what you already have!
        When your prayers hit the ceiling
3. Pray as Jesus‟ partner
   o “If Jesus could spend a day at UNC-CH, what would you have him do? “Miracles, that would be pretty cool…”
       His disciples would have him pray: “Lord, teach us to pray.” Imagine what it would look like next week after He
       prayed for a day! You have the same power!
4. Come on Wednesdays, we‟ll teach you. Puritans: prayer is everything!



Thesis: Praying in the name of Jesus means praying as his representative, realizing that we are part of his divine drama!




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      Where do you turn? “Spiritual batteries are fading”
      When you need help: Kharis: help, help!
      When you feel powerless:
        Prayer is like a poorly equipped solar panel calculator: multiple times. Puritans: prayer is everything
        Mario Bros.



TO DO:
      Acts work (Begg)

NOTES:
   (How do you react when you meet obstacles? Their response was not to see how many people they
    could get elected, but instead, they prayed.
   Obstacles are canvasses on which God paints His majesty
   Prayer is like a poorly equipped solar panel calculator: multiple times. Puritans: prayer is everything
   Everybody wants a God-sized miracle, no one wants to need one!)


Tony Evans Psalm 67: God wants His larger market share!

You‟ve got all the presents already!

Prayer for the great name

Alistair Begg: Acts 2
            Mario Bros: like hitting your head on a rock
            Acts 4: God “made”, “spoke”, “directed”
            The place was shaken. Not them, but the place (some people try to claim Toronto is a repeat, but
               it was the place that was shaken).
            Acts 16, „Hey brother, you awake?‟ Sound ascended to heaven, God taps foot
            Peter in prison: Acts 12 and Acts 5:17–32

When I Don‟t Desire God: 10 things the early church prayed for


Topics: They prayed in persecution; God is sovereign in trials; Peter and Rhoda: Acts 12; Paul and Silas;

      Praying for us four and no more
      America bless God; spiritual myopia
      Bless us to bless the church worldwide!

      Believing, as a squirrel looks directly into your eyes, that it is peering into your soul, when in fact it is
       trying to determine whether you have any nuts to give it
      Guests who use your shower and don‟t towel-dry themselves when they‟re done, drenching the little rug
      When your nieces and nephews reach the age where they can distinguish a cheap gift from a valuable
       one
      The feeling you get when you clip your nail too far

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   Being unable to forget someone you spent 3 minutes with 11 years ago
   Trying to trick the public by waiting and waiting, and then wiping your wet palms on your pants after a
    sneeze
   Wondering if the appetizer you‟re sharing with a friend is being divided evenly
   That the majority of restaurant tables you will ever sit at wobble




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