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JP teaches from Acts 12:1–19, a powerful passage on prayer mightily demonstrated in the early church surrounding Peter's escape from prison. When God's people pray, 1) there is an incomprehensible peace, 2) we participate in God’s power, and 3) the impossible is possible. What if more than we talked, complained, vented, posted, wrote... what if we prayed?
The Myth of Herod’s Power and the Fact of His Existence
3 Things that Happen When God's People Pray
The Good Infection: Christianity
Humility in Men and Prejudice in the Church: Something to Be Praised and Something to Be Purged
The Conversion of Cornelius AND Peter
How the Saints Go Marching Out
Saul: The Second Most Important Conversion in History
Extraordinary Living Marked by Ordinary Obedience
The “Illusion” of a False Faith and How to Deal With It. Simon Magus and Tares Among the Wheat
Tale of Two Adams: A Strategy to Change the World
Watermark, how are we doing? We're starting Acts, chapter 12, today. I'll start with kind of a heavy question I want you to consider. Have you ever been in an utterly desperate situation? Yes. I hear the murmurings of the crowd. When is a desperate situation you've been in that you just have hoped and needed God to desperately move in? I was in one for about a year. Just sat in it for about a year, an utterly desperate situation. It was called Algebra 2.
I had managed to take Algebra 1 and break it up over two years, get through it somehow, someway, and I'm in Algebra 2. Basic math? I've got it. I'm good. And the alphabet? Killing it on the alphabet. I've got that. When those two worlds collide, I'm really struggling. I'm just pulling my hair out a little bit. I can remember being in Algebra 2, just sitting there at my desk listening to everything the teacher was saying. It wasn't him. He wasn't the problem, but it just was not sinking in. It was not making sense.
He had this poster on the wall. You know, teachers have crazy posters on the wall. He had this one that said something along the lines of, "The simplest prayer anyone can say is 'Help.'" I resonated deeply with that kitten right there. I would just sit there at my desk, and I would pray that prayer over and over and over every single day. "God, help me somehow make a 70 in this class."
I don't know what your desperate situation is, but that's what we want to talk about today as we move into Acts, chapter 12: God's people asking God for help. To put one word on that, that would be prayer. Who here, by show of hands, wishes they prayed more? Okay, a lot of you wish you prayed more. If you didn't raise your hand just now, feel free to excuse yourself and go have a meal early, and the rest of us will dive in on a message I think we need.
We often need help, but for whatever reason, we don't spend enough time asking God, pleading with God. The veil was torn at Jesus' death. We get to commune with the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and for whatever reason, we don't spend enough time asking him to help us, to move into our situation. I want everyone here and everyone listening to think of something right now.
What is it that you wish, hope, and pray God would move in right now? What is something in your life, as you came in here today, that you desperately would love to see God move in? I want you to think about that, whether it's a marriage. Maybe it's for a child. Maybe it's a healing. Maybe someone is sick, and maybe it's hope you need for a specific situation. Maybe it's your job. Maybe you need a job or you have this really difficult work situation.
Maybe it's a sin struggle you keep falling back into, keep choosing to go back to. Maybe it's someone you know who doesn't know God, and you're praying for their salvation. Maybe it's just anxiety. Maybe you just feel the panic attacks. You feel the weight of this world, and you can't always pinpoint what it is. Here's what I want you to do right now. I want you to either write a sentence or a word. I want you to write it down right now.
This is where everyone starts moving for a pen and a piece of paper or their phone. I'm serious. Everyone here, unanimous participation. I'm talking to you. If you're like, "I wonder if he's talking to me," yeah, I'm talking to you. If you would grab a pen, a piece of paper, or your phone, type in a word. I want you to pick one thing, one situation you want to see God move in.
You can do this. We have this. If you have a relationship with God right now, you know there's a situation in your life you'd love to see him move in, and I'd like you to identify that situation with either a word or a sentence. I'm going to give you a minute to do it. Please write it down or put it in your phone right now.
What if God is ready and willing to work in your situation and he's just waiting for you to cry out to him? As we move into Acts, chapter 12, you're going to see God move in a situation in a pretty incredible way. As we dive into the Scripture, we're going to look at when God's people pray, how we see an incomprehensible peace, how we participate in God's power, and how we see the impossible become possible.
Acts 12:1: "It was about this time…" The time of the famine, the time that the church in Antioch was growing like crazy. "…that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword." Probably beheaded. "When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread."
So we know what happened and we know when it happened. This is King Herod Agrippa I. This is the grandson of King Herod the Great. His son is Herod Agrippa II whom Paul goes on trial before in Acts 25-26. You're not going to leave here and remember that, probably. The reason I tell you that is because this sits in history. These kings were really kings we see in history books. Other people wrote about them.
This event sits right in the middle of history. It's true. It's a real event. What I'm about to tell you today is not a fairy tale. It happened. Herod Agrippa I beheads James. The Jews like it. Herod is part Jew, so the Jews actually like King Herod Agrippa I. He sees that he gets their approval, so he goes ahead and seizes Peter too. We see what makes this man tick. He's hungry for power, he's persecuting Christians, and he's seeking the approval of men. He wants people to like him. That's this king.
"After arresting [Peter] , he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover." He put 16 soldiers around Peter. Why? Because Christians had a habit of walking out of prison. Remember Acts, chapter 5? He knows this, and he's like, "Not this time." So he's going to kill Peter at Passover. Who else died at Passover? Jesus.
Chapter 12 starts with Herod killing James and ends with God killing Herod. Today we're going to focus on the events that happen between those two deaths: Herod arresting Peter. "So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him." Praying for his release, praying for his comfort, praying for his evangelism. We don't know. It doesn't say. We just know they're praying for him.
Here's what we do know about the church. It's a group of people that now has been identified as Christians (Acts 11). These people are identified by their habits. They have distinguished themselves. Different races, different creeds, different backgrounds, but they have something in common to be identified as an organization.
The Jewish people don't like them. The government is persecuting them, and amidst these people coming against them, somehow they're growing like crazy. This message that seems like it would not be popular is becoming more and more popular. Here, they've gathered to pray, and the object of their prayers is Peter.
"The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance." Can you see this? There's Peter. He's in this dark prison cell. He has a soldier chained to this side and a soldier chained to this side and 14 other soldiers guarding this dark cell. He's basically a soldier sandwich right now.
He just saw his friend beheaded, or at least heard that his buddy has lost his head. He knows that his fate is the same, so he has to be worried. He has to be anxious. He has to be sitting there like, "What's going to happen to me?" No, he's sleeping. He's taking a little nap. Thursday night I had indigestion. It kept me up all night long. This dude is sandwiched between two guards in chains, and he's sleeping like a baby. What is going on?
1.When God's people pray, we see an incomprehensible peace. What is prayer? Prayer is just you talking with God. That's all it is. Here, the people of God are earnestly talking with God about Peter. As a result, the text goes out of its way to show us, Peter is at peace. He's sleeping. It's like Paul writes in Philippians 4:6-7. "Do not be anxious about anything, do not worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. In exchange, by presenting your requests to God with thanksgiving, you get the peace of God, which guards your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Peter here has more peace than Herod does. Herod has all the power in the land, but he needs people to like him, and he's hungry for more power. There's no peace in being hungry for more power. There's peace in knowing the one who controls all the power. It's God. So Peter, who's after God, gets to experience his peace and his power.
I've heard it said that a clear conscience is the softest pillow. Said otherwise in a more theologically accurate way, living in the will of God is the softest pillow. When you go to bed at night and you know God controls all things and that he loves you and that you're right in the fairway of what he wants you to do, at least in his revealed will, then you can leave all the unknown stuff up to him, the one who holds tomorrow, and you can sleep like a baby.
For us, our mind races at night around our to-do list or getting the house cleaned or lice at school, kids getting hurt, kids getting sick, your health, a work project, what the boss thinks about you, that possible promotion, replaying conversations in your head ("Do they like me? Why don't they like me?"), marriage fights, or "How long will I be single?"
These thoughts run around our heads, and for some reason (I don't know why other than the Enemy), we would rather worry than pray. We would rather have those thoughts spin around our minds than actually go to God with them. Have you ever heard it said, "Give it to God"? It's like a Christian cliché. "Give it to God."
In fairness, he tells us to. First Peter 5:7: "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." I liken God to a really, really good boss. A really good boss comes around his employees and says, "Hey, what barricades are you running into? What can I remove for you? How can I use my power to help you be successful? Hey, what problems are you running into that I can take away?"
God is like that in the most supernatural way. "Hey, what do you need help in? I'm right here. What are things you'd like to see me move into? What would you like to see me participate in?" The way we give things to God… Christians have this supernatural ability to take our worries and turn them into prayers. That's what we do.
When you pray, you're going to see that it's really easy for your prayers to become thoughts. Do you know what I mean by that? Like, I'm praying for Weston. "God, would you save him? Where is he? Did he bring that ball back in from outside? I wonder what he's doing right now. Where is that boy? Oh, wait, wait. Would you save…?" Our prayers become thoughts.
The application today is the opposite of that. You turn your thoughts into prayers. Don't waste time just thinking or worrying about something. That's a faithless waste of time. Instead of worrying, turn that worry into prayer. It's that simple. You can do that. Everybody can do that. Every believer, every follower of Christ, has that supernatural ability to turn your worries into prayers right there, at a moment's notice.
You're reading this and thinking about James. "What about James? You're talking about Peter's peace. What about James?" Make no mistake about it. James has more peace than anybody else in this passage. He's not up there frustrated. He's not like, "Dude, the head? Really? Why?" He's like, "This place is amazing. Thanks for expediting my trip here, by the way. Appreciate that." God is sovereign over James' death too.
But I get it. If I'm in prison and have a guard chained here and a guard chained here and I just saw my boy lose his head and am like, "Man, I'm going to die," I'm going to be like, "God, are you sleeping? Do you see me down here? Are you paying attention?" Let me say this. I think we struggle to believe that God is good in that situation. When we're in prison and chained to soldiers and about to lose our head, I think we struggle to believe God is good.
All Peter needs to do to remember that God is good is two things we can do right now. It's look backward and look forward. Looking backward, he sees the cross. That's God giving his only Son Jesus Christ as a payment for his debt. Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, felt every whip, every lash, every beating, every nail driven through his hands and feet. The thorns on the bushes he made that now puncture his forehead he felt, and God did that for Peter.
You can think, "Well, yeah, but he's God, so he could just raise him back to life. I mean, he knew he could do that. How do I know he's good through that?" That's exactly right. He can just raise him back to life, just like he can you. That's the looking forward part. He can raise you to life to heaven forever and ever and ever. Heaven is the great equalizer of anything that would happen to you on earth.
When earth becomes less than a second in comparison to eternity, it equalizes everything. There's nothing that can happen to you down here that you're going to get up there in all of the glory you don't deserve and be like, "That wasn't fair." James isn't like, "That wasn't fair." He's like, "This place is awesome. You're awesome." Look backward and look forward, and remember God is good.
Do you experience peace in prison? How's your prayer life? How are you doing at asking people to partner with you in prayer? It's a humbling thing. It's essentially saying we're not God. Herod thinks he is God. Christians at this time know they're not God by going to God. It's such a humbling thing. "Hey, would you pray for me?" When I say, "Would you pray for me?" what I mean is, "I'm not God, and I need God to move. I need God. You know God and I know God and we know God, so can we pray and go to God, acknowledging that we're not God but we need God?"
God desires us to pray not so he can know what we need but so that we know we need him. This side of a ministry of this size… I've seen this church grow like crazy. Now we have these two other campuses that are gathering this morning in Fort Worth and Plano, thousands and thousands of people. This side of ministry, you see a lot of problems. Every week, infertility, miscarriages, family members dying, children dying, people getting sick, job loss. Just the way people are worried, the different things they're thinking about, financial hardships and sickness…
So much of ministry is pattern recognition. It's just seeing the way that different people endure those things. I've sat with people who have prayed for peace and not found it. I've sat with people who are in this situation and are reaching out to God for peace, and it's almost like it's not there. They can't find it, and they leave as anxious as they came in. I've sat with people who have a peace that transcends all understanding, and I've realized the difference.
People who pray for peace don't always find it, but people who always pray have peace. People who pray in prison might not find peace in prison, but people who pray out of prison and all the time are talking with God and learning to trust God, when they land themselves in prison, it's just another day of trusting God. It's what they've been doing all their days. "Hey, God, it's me again, except this time I'm in prison. You've got me, though. You've got me like you had me yesterday when I was at home." The key to praying in prison is praying out of prison.
So recap. Peter is sleeping between two guards, surrounded by 14 other soldiers, in prison, about to lose his head. Verse 7: "Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up." He was sleeping soundly, evidently. The lights didn't wake him up. "'Quick, get up!' he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists." Awesome.
"Then the angel said to him, 'Put on your clothes and sandals.' And Peter did so." Watch the detail here. "'Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,' the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision.
They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself…" Awesome. "…and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street…" Look at the detail. It's like it happened. "…suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter came to himself and said, 'Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod's clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.'"
What do you see here? Do you see God in his sovereignty stacking the cards against himself and just flexing? It's not like he's like, "Oh man! Not Herod Agrippa. Man! Sixteen soldiers. Whatever will I do?" He's like, "I'm going to send the angel of narcolepsy, and we're going to walk right out. That's what I'm going to do. It's not going to be hard. Watch how easy this is. It's just what I do." Because he's God.
2.When God's people pray, we participate in God's power. I think one of the biggest "aha" moments in heaven is the realization that prayer actually works, that prayer is literally inviting the power of God into your situation. Why wouldn't we do that a lot more? I know if you're here and you're in a Community Group (I hope you are), I believe, I hope, it's assumed that something you do every single time you gather is pray.
If you don't, please be the one who champions that effort, that every single time you gather, that you would spend time together praying. If that's not incredibly obvious, please do that. I know that a part of community is accountability. "Hey, what did you read in God's Word? How much time did you spend with God? How was praying this week? How was your prayer life?" There's a part of accountability that none of us like. The more down that sanctification process we are…
Maybe we've learned to appreciate it, but there's still something in us in our fallen state that's like, "Oh, why are you asking me these questions that are so uncomfortable to me?" You have to remember it's for no other reason… It's not a scorecard. It's not a measuring contest of any kind. It's just so that you would have more of God, that your relationship with God would grow deeper, and that you would experience more of him in that relationship.
This week I met with the elders, and they asked me two questions. "Between 1 and 10, with 10 being the best, how's your marriage, and between 1 and 10, how are you doing at abiding with Christ?" I said, "Well, my marriage is a 9. It's my wife's fault. I married way out of my league." If you know her, you know it's true. "My relationship with Jesus I'd have to say is an 8, because I have the study time in this season, but in my prayer life I'm cutting corners."
I can look back and remember a time when I would create time and space to spend time with God, and right now it's more often in the truck, on the way to meetings, in addition to reading something. That time where I'm blocking out time and space and it's just him and me and I'm just talking with him is suffering in this season, which means I'm literally closing out the power of God in my life, and it's foolishness. It's ignorant.
Here, Herod killed James, and Peter escapes. Herod might be tempted to think the score is one point Herod, one point God, but God is sovereign over the death of James. He's working in that too. The score is actually God two, Herod zero. It's about to be God three, you'll see next week. My point in saying that is that God wins. God always wins, and prayer is an invitation for you to participate, to partner in his winning. God wins.
I liken it to wrestling with my 4-year-old. He loves to wrestle, so we'll get on the bed and go to town. He'll put me in a choke hold, and he has no regard for his daddy's safety. He will just squeeze as hard as he possibly can. I'll go along for a minute, like, "Oh, you got me. I'm about to tap." Then I will flex 250 pounds of sovereignty over his 32-pound self. Usually he ends up hanging by an ankle, and I'm looking at him. That's important to do right now. One day I might not be able to.
That's like God. I don't mean God is just amused by not moving in the situation. I don't know that he's amused by anything, but what I know is he's not struggling. It's not difficult for him. He's not having to sit back, meet with the Holy Spirit and the Son, and go, "All right, what's our strategy? What are we going to do? He has 16 soldiers out there, man. This is going to be a tough one." He's not struggling. It's simple. Effortless, even.
Second Peter 3:9 tells us he's not slow in dealing with evil; he's patient. He has a plan. Those same kids I wrestle with, I watch as they struggle in frustration when I'm right there. Instead of asking me for help, sometimes it seems like they'd rather be frustrated. That's fine when you're 4. It's not when you're 40. Why would we rather struggle and wrestle with something instead of asking God into it?
Think about if this church just walked around and vented their anger. "Man, can you believe Peter got arrested? Herod…that guy is crazy, man. I mean, James is gone. What's he going to do to Peter? What shall we do? Man, I don't know. Why don't we go on Facebook and write our feelings about it, and then we can maybe take all of those feelings and turn them into 140 characters and tweet about it, and then maybe make a meme on Instagram or something. We could do that. Maybe a kitten hanging there, like, 'This is James.' I don't know."
What if they did that? What if we more than we talked, complained, vented, posted, wrote… What if we prayed a lot more? What if we took all of that time and turned it into prayers? What would change? John Piper said, "One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the last day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time." So we took our problems with politics and secularization and news and frustrations, and rather than just venting them and talking about them and telling the world what we think about them, we turned them into prayers.
I almost think that should be a mandate before you post anything. "Hey, this is how long I spent praying about this, so now you can listen to me." You know, that kind of thing. Make no mistake about it. This is absolutely a miracle what we see in this text. When you need a miracle, pray for a miracle. Just know that the miracle you might get is God giving you the peace in your situation that we saw in the first point.
God, rather than changing your situation, may change you in your situation. He may say, "I'm going to leave you in that a little bit longer so that you can have a peace that doesn't make sense to the world so that others come to know me in a greater way." That may be the miracle you get in exchange for your prayer. I don't know, but I'm certain that the right first step is prayer. Peter is walking around the streets of Jerusalem like he just woke up from a dream, realizing that God broke him out of jail. Verse 12:
"When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, 'Peter is at the door!'"
Imagine that's your biblical legacy. "Remember Rhoda, the one who forgot to open the door?" "Peter is here! Peter is here! Oh, I left him out there." Peter is like, "Hey, man. Herod is after me. Would you open this thing? What are you doing? Do you need to see an ID? What's the deal?" She goes back and says, "Peter is at the door!"
Verse 15: "'You're out of your mind,' they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, 'It must be his angel.'" Which is hilarious, because here's what's happening. They're praying for Peter, and she's like, "God answered your prayers," and they're like, "Certainly not. Maybe it's his angel. It can't be him. There's no way it's that." "But Peter kept on knocking…" Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7. "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."
"…and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. 'Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,' he said, and then he left for another place." He's on the run. Herod is after him.
"In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed." Because he's crazy, and crazy men do crazy things. I love in this text that they're asking for something, and God gives it to them, and they can't believe it. We can relate to this.
3.When God's people pray, the impossible is possible. Have you ever missed an answered prayer? Like, God answers the prayer and you don't see it. This has happened to me a few times. I'll give you some examples. When I was growing up, I would pray every night that my dad would quit smoking, which seemed like an impossible feat. Then one day he did, just cold turkey stopped. I would continue to pray every night, "Lord, would you please help Dad to quit smoking? I mean, oh, you did that. Thank you."
I did that for a year. I just kept praying out of habit this thing that the Lord had answered. I remember when God called me into vocational ministry. It was this undeniable call in my life, and I prayed, "God, would you give me a job?" I never considered the church. When the church called and said, "Hey, we'd like to bring you in for an interview," I thought I was being pranked. I'm like, "There's no way that's what this is. That's a bigger miracle than Peter getting out of prison, me going into ministry."
Then I remember praying for a guy who hated Christians. "Lord, would you save him? As if you're going to do that. God, would you save him? Yeah right." Then he did. He became a Christian, and his whole family became Christians. God hears our prayers. It's like we pray faithlessly, and we pray so small, and then we explain the answers away. Do you ever do this? Why do we do this?
My kids really struggle to ask God for things. In prayer, they have the "thank you" part. They struggle with the ask. At night we gather in the girls' room and go around and pray. Their prayers look like, "Thank you, God, that we got to eat there and that we got to play with our cousins and we got to do that." Then the next one will go, "Thank you, God, that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead. Thank you for this." The next one will go, "Thank you that I got a present."
At the end of it, I'm like, "Hey, guys, you know…" This was about six months ago. I'm like, "Hey, guys, you know you can ask God for stuff. You know you can ask him for things." My oldest is like, "Daddy, what do we ask him for?" I'm like, "Ask him for whatever you want. Just be open to what he wants." Like say, "God, this is what I want, and would you give me the desire that you want? Would you change that in my heart? If this isn't what you want, would you show me what you want so I can ask you for what you want so I can pray according to your will?"
I said, "But ask him for whatever you want." She's like, "Okay." A couple of weeks ago, she comes into my room, and she's down. I sense it. "What's wrong?" She said, "Daddy, I've been praying, but God hasn't answered my prayer." I said, "Baby girl, what have you been praying for?" She said, "I've been praying to fly." I'm like, "Man, we have a real predicament now. What am I going to do about this?"
Immediately, I jumped to… I'm like, "Remember when we went to California? You know how we got there, right? We flew." She's like, "Daddy, I mean, like, not attached to anything." I'm like, "Oh, okay. Well, listen. You know, if God wanted to do that for his glory, you would, but you may not do that till you get to heaven. I think we might fly in heaven. I don't know, but just keep praying." I felt like such a failure as a father. I didn't know what to say. I mean, I've dealt with heavy, hard pastoral situations. My daughter wants to fly and I'm struggling.
It's funny. This past week we were on a staycation. (That's a thing, by the way. I said it like you should know what that is.) I taught last week and this week, and everybody else was going somewhere beautiful, so we went to Frisco and got a motel for the night, because I found this deal on a motel with an indoor pool. I'm like, "That'll be great." So we went to Frisco. I went on Google Maps. I'm like, "What's around where we're staying?"
Across the street is this thing called iFLY, indoor skydiving. I went on Groupon and saw they had a deal for a family of five. I'm like, "This is providential. We're a family of five." So I get it. I don't think anything. I totally forgot about my conversation with Presley. We're getting ready to go to this iFLY, and it dawned on me what she had been praying. I said, "Presley, the Lord has heard your prayer." She didn't even miss a beat. She looked at me and she goes, "I'm going to fly." So we went. In case you don't know what I'm talking about, watch this. This is Presley.
I know that's not what she had in mind when she was praying. I don't know what God is doing. I mean, it wouldn't surprise me if he's like, "Hey, I just want to let this 10-year-old know that I hear her, so I'm going to ordain some things, move some things around, make them stay at this hotel in Frisco across the street from this deal and put a Groupon." I don't know. I know that if it would glorify him, if it would make him famous or accomplish his will, she may be in the other room flying right now, for all I know. I don't know. I know he can do that.
I know that regardless of what I'm asking for, I can trust him. Sometimes Peter gets out of prison, and sometimes James dies, but all the time God is good. He loves you, and he desires you to talk with him, to learn to trust him here. If you pray anything and ask it according to his will, it will be done. Sometimes through prayer what he's doing is showing you his will. He's changing your heart according to the things he desires.
I love how Todd says, "Pray for heaven's will on earth, not earth's will in heaven." There's a trusting there, even as Jesus modeled for us in the garden. Right now, as we're in this room, there's a group of people praying in the South Community Room. They're here every Sunday. It's called the "Engine Room." They're praying for your hearts and your minds and this message, that the supernatural power of God would intercede with the tasks of humans right now.
They do it every week, and you can join them. If you are looking for a place to serve, you don't have a place to serve, I'd encourage you strongly. Is there any more simple of an ask than to sit in a room and pray during a service? We also have our "Click and Pray" ministry here this week that you can sign up for and get the prayers and pray throughout the week.
This week I prayed for someone to be free from an addiction, a knee surgery, a marriage to be healed, a new job for somebody. Someone had pneumonia. I prayed for a prodigal child to come back. I prayed for kidney surgery, a child with depression, a short-term discipleship trip in Haiti, and for someone's parents to come to know Christ. You could pray with me and all of the rest of us who are on the Click and Pray just by signing up at watermark.org.
In summary, when God's people pray, we see an incomprehensible peace; when God's people pray, we participate in God's power; and when God's people pray, we witness the impossible. I'll share this story with you. What I love as a dad in a way I can't even fully explain to you… If you're here and you're a dad, I know this is going to resonate with you. I love when my kids turn to me and say, "Daddy, will you help me?"
There's this humbling that happens in this moment. They're sitting there, they're wrestling with something, they can't figure it out, and they just turn and say, "But you can, Dad. Will you come over here and help us?" It just wells up in my heart. Do you know what else does? There are these different times where I talk to my kids.
There are times in the car and times at the dinner table, and there are these fly-by conversations, but every now and then I find myself with them, and it's different. It's a different kind of talking, especially the ages they're at. They're like, "Oh, I'm going to talk to Daddy right now." They're like, "Daddy, you won't believe at school this thing that happened. Oh my gosh! Then we went there, and then he said, and then we, and then this. Oh, Daddy, can I tell you something else?"
"Yes, baby girl. Tell me anything. I'm listening. Hey, let me put my phone away. Let me close my computer. What?"
"Oh, and Daddy, I was just thinking the other day, and this, and then this happened, and you know Mommy, and we as a family, and this, and you know what? And this is what I want right now, and this is going on." I'm like, "Keep going. I'm just listening. Keep going." It's just different. My heart is about to explode in those moments that are far too rare, where they're like, "Right now it's just you and me. I'm just going to talk to you."
I don't presume to know the heart of God outside of what is in his Word, but I imagine the heart of a perfect Father is about to explode when we're like, "I just have to talk to you, tell you about some stuff, ask you for some things, thank you for some other things." So right now that's what we're going to do for just a few minutes, right where you are. You don't have to move or turn to anybody.
Right where you are, for just a few minutes, I want you to pull out that thing that you said, "Hey, I want God to move into this," the thing you wrote down on the front end, and I want you to fight to stay right there. The Enemy is real. He's going to try to take you and distract you and make you think about what's happening up here or in the room or the person next to you. I want you to fight with all of your might to stay right there and take it to God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
Lord, will you help us do that? Father, as we sit right where we are and begin to lift these requests to you, Father, would you hear our prayers and would you answer them and would you stir our faith and would you show us how you're moving and the things you're doing and how we can trust you?
Father, speak to us and help us to hear you in our hearts, your Holy Spirit through community and your Word, and however you would, show us what it is that you're doing and how we can trust you. Father, right now protect us. Focus our minds to the things we are asking of you. Lord, we thank you for the example of the first-century church, the example of your power, the example of the peace you give and the way you make the impossible possible. Would you do that now? In Jesus' name, amen.
Stay right where you are and focus your heart and your mind on prayer.
Go to him like he is your one defense. If that felt like a long time, it was about four minutes. If it felt like a long time, it's a reminder we're not doing it enough. Do you see what I mean, how easy it is for your prayers to become thoughts, how easy it is to go to God and begin talking to him and then just start thinking? The application is the opposite. Let it be easy for your thoughts to become prayers, over and over and over; to create time and space to learn the discipline of turning those thoughts into prayers through the power of the Holy Spirit, God at work in our lives.
If you wrote something down on the front end that we can partner with you in praying, we'd love to. You write it in the Watermark News, you turn it in as you leave, and our staff prays for you this week throughout the week. It would be our joy to do that. If we can serve you in any way, feel free to come up here, and we'll do that.
I'd ask that you guys do pray with us for this church leader's conference, as churches come here from all over the world, that we would do something that would be excellent and inspire them toward a deeper understanding of what it means to be the church and that we would give them things that would be helpful. Would you pray that for us and our staff? I love you guys. Have a great week of worship.