Title: Prayer

Bible Book: Matthew 17 : 14-17

Author: Jerry N. Watts

Subject: Prayer; Revival; Renewal; Harvest Time



In John 4, Jesus said, “Open your eyes and see the field, for they are ripe for harvest.” Today, the NAMB gives us the same call, “Open your eyes and see the fields, for they are ripe for harvest.”

Last Sunday evening, I shared how we live in a country which is asking all kinds of spiritual and religious questions but lamented that the people in this culture do not believe the church has or will have the answers to their questions. Sadly, today’s culture is being led down the road by “Agnostics, Atheists, Humanists, Scientology, Islam, New Age, and Secularism,” and is being drawn away from Jehovah God.

As a society, we need 2 things to happen:

1. The Church needs revival

We do not need another series of meetings, but rather, we need an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit like we have not experienced in our lifetime. As the church house goes, so goes the courthouse and the white house. When God’s people cease to be the spiritual conscience of the culture, then the culture has no conscience.

2. Our country needs regeneration and transformation.

Consider the recent revelations by David Letterman and the audience response to His admission of immoral and improper actions. Not being a Letterman fan, I was not watching but saw it later via the internet and was honestly sickened by the incessant laughter which was littered through his confession. Now, I pray for Mr. Letterman and his soul’s salvation, but I couldn’t help but think as I watched this fiasco unfold: “Have we sunk this low? Has it become laughable in our culture when sin becomes so public?” Understand, I am not casting stones at David Letterman, but I will say that his behavior and the audiences’ response shine spotlight on the reason this country is in a free fall.

Into this situation Jesus comes and He says, “The fields are ripe. The time is now. Don’t let the fruit rot in the fields.” From most of us comes the question, “What can we really do about things like this?”

Perhaps there are those “few” who might come to Christ, but how can we really make a difference? How can we do anything? Be reminded, none of this has surprised God; He has a plan to offer His grace to everyone in the world.

Let’s take the story which we have read today and draw a parallel to us and our nation today. In our journey we will simply mention the first three parts of this story because my prayer is for us to Grasp and Implement the last one.

I. The Dilemma

In our text we find the disciples in over their heads. They have been asked to heal a young man who has a seizure disorder and is a danger to himself and others. In the physical absence of Jesus, dad brought his son to find healing and help. Sadly, seemingly they could do nothing.

Quite likely, they looked around at each other waiting on someone else to do what they had seen Jesus do on numerous occasions.

Can you make this parallel? In the physical absence of Jesus today, we are called on to fulfill the same ministry which Jesus performed. He’s sent us, “As the Father sent me, so send I you.” Our culture is having seizures of a sort. When one has a seizure they lose their faculties, they lose control, memory, and even strength. Is this not a snapshot of our culture?

II. The Disappointment

When Jesus came down the mountain, the scripture tells us that He rebuked the demon which possessed the young man, but it is almost as if He rebukes the disciples. At the very least He is disappointed by their action, or their lack of action. Here they stood, having previously been taught and even empowered to face the difficulties they found in this world, they were impotent. You ask, “When did He give them this training and empowerment?” Turn to Matthew 10 (Read). Why did the disciples not still have the power and understanding to handle this situation, after all this was exactly what Jesus had sent them to do?

In our community, difficulties abound. People are searching for the answer just like this dad was searching for the answer. Jesus gives us the ability to handle every difficulty we face. I wonder if He does not express the same disappointment with us: “How long must I put up with you doing this?” “How long will you not believe?” “How long will you rebel?”

I can only imagine how it must have penetrated the hearts of some of the disciples to hear Jesus express this disappointment. Can you hear His voice asking us in America, “How long?”

III. The Desires

This question reveals to me the inner desire of the disciple’s heart. It is obvious to me that the disciples did not connect the dots to the earlier time of having the power over sickness and demons so they ask, “Why couldn’t we do it?” What a question to ask Jesus! However, to ask the Lord a question, as a general rule, is to receive a direct answer.

So today, the question we face might be, “why can’t we seem to make a difference in our culture, our county, our county, or even our community?” The answer is the same for us as it was for the disciples. Jesus simply says, “Because of your little (or lack of) faith.” Then He goes on to give the mustard seed principle which He caps off with, if you have this kind of faith, “Nothing will be impossible for you.”

This exposes our greatest problem: “We don’t believe this statement.” Remember, ‘belief is not belief until it leads to action.”

Why is it that our faith is so weak? Why did the disciples feel so impotent to meet the need of this boy? Why do we feel so useless in the battle for the lives of people and this culture? Does God actually have a plan? He does and the answers to all these questions are found here in the last part.

IV. The Discovery

It is this discovery that has led our NAMB to develop GPS like they have. Step one is “Prayer.” Jesus teaches us that we will never have power, faith, or success, without prayer and fasting. Could one of the reasons that we are so anemic as Baptists be that we have abandoned the ‘prayer and fasting’ directive. Possibly one of the reasons Paul tells us to pray without ceasing is so we won’t lose what we have already gained. This was the disciples’ predicament. They had previously been given the authority over demons and sickness, but now they had no such ability. Without prayer their faith was dwarfed, their vision shrank, and their ministry diminished. I suggest this is where we as Baptist are today. We boast of large numbers of members, yet we have little influence and are seemingly have made little difference in our culture. But I am here to place a challenge on us to change that fact in the next 12 months. We will overcome our impotence with a strong faith, birthed in prayer!

Dr. Ronnie Floyd suggest some talking points and listening points which will help us in our prayer time…

A. Confession

We will never be filled with God’s Holy Spirit and have the empowerment from on high until we confess our sins. Additionally, we need to confess Him as Lord and us as nothing without Him. This is a difficult admission for some, yet it is crucial. This Greek word literally means to “say the same as God says.” Confession is agreeing with God about your sin and your life which results in a change of life for you.

B. Praise

To truly praise God is not about what He has done, it is more about Who He is. In our prayer times, we should simply offer our praise to Him as the King of King, Lord of Lords, and the creator of the world. This is our time to adore Him for His holiness, His mercy, and His love.

C. Thanksgiving

The Bible says, “Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving” and this should be a personal, daily occurrence. To be thankful is to show your appreciation and acknowledge all the things He has done for you.

D. Petition

We are told in the Bible to “make your requests know.” This is the part of our prayer life where we ask God for the desires of our heart. To qualify this we must have already submitted our lives to His control, our heart to His touch, and our direction to His leading. Now, as a person intoxicated by the Holy Spirit, we are ready to ask.

D. Intercession

To intercede for someone is to “stand in the gap” or to plead for them. This is like Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father to make intercession for us.

During your prayer time, don’t do all of the talking. 3 suggestions…

Be Still before God. This is the “Be Still and Know that I am God”.
Don’t Rush. There is no quick fix for knowing God and growing faith.
Listen for His voice – Every one of us can know when we hear from Him.

Taking all that we have looked at today, the remaining 10 minutes are the most important because today is the day and now is the time.

First, pray for every believer. We truly need revival among God’s people.

Next, we need to pray for the North American missionaries who are on the front lines of missions and ministries. They need God’s favor.

Next, beginning in February, we will begin to officially “Prayer walk.” I say officially, because then we will have it planned to cover our community, however, there is nothing to stop you or you and a friend to drive or walk around this community and pray for households, businesses, and schools.

Presently, we need to pray for the leaders of our community and our nation, and we do this by continually reinforcing our 24-hour weekly prayer chain. This is something which everyone can do.

Next, we need to pray for lost people. Here is the intercession part of praying. Most of us know at least one person who is lost. Lee Thomas has taught us that “no one can or will get saved without someone praying for them.” He taught us the 5 ways to pray for the lost person. Some of you will remember that we pray for God to set the lost person apart, bless him, convict him, illuminate or open his mind to the truth, and then save him. The reason for this is, the lost person is a captive of the strong man, the enemy, Satan himself, and the only way to defeat the strong man’s strong holds is through prayer.

Then I submit to us that we must pray for ourselves. If God’s plan for Sharing becomes a reality it will be because God’s people have fulfilled the prophecy of 2 Chronicles 7 by getting right with God. This means coming clean before God. Nothing will happen until we come clean.

You have heard it say that “Prayer changes things” and this is true. Prayer changes communities, churches, lives, and you. It will change your relationships. It almost impossible to prayer for someone and retain ill will towards that person. It’ll change your perceptions. When you can’t see God at work, pray and He’ll show you where He is working. It’ll change your attitude. There is nothing like prayer to adjust an attitude.

Praying raises our awareness level. We become aware of the needs, the hurts, and the heartbreaks of other. Additionally, it is in prayer that God impacts our hearts to be more concerned about others than ourselves.

It was D.L. Moody who said it this way, “Every great move of God can be traced to a kneeling figure.” Will you be that kneeling figure?

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