Participants: Floyd Bresee
Series Code: FC
Program Code: FC000366
00:30 Hi, I'm Pastor Floyd Bresee
00:34 and I've been thinking, it seems to me
00:36 there would be a lot more Christians,
00:39 if Christians were a lot more Christ like.
00:42 Let's pray about it.
00:45 Loving Father, please teach us
00:50 something today that will help us become
00:54 more Christ like Christians,
00:57 in Jesus name, Amen.
01:02 Our emphasis, our focus today
01:04 will be on prayer, what really is prayer,
01:08 and what is praying all about.
01:11 Let's leave our Bibles open to Psalm 103 and I
01:15 will be using the new international version.
01:20 I must confess that I don't totally
01:23 understand prayer, it's been a somewhat
01:26 puzzling subject to me and I'm not alone.
01:31 On a website poll of 678 responded and only
01:35 23 replied that they were satisfied with
01:39 the time that they spend in prayer.
01:42 In a gallop poll 3 out of 4 say that they
01:44 pray everyday and yet they see prayer
01:48 quite often as more a burden than a blessing
01:52 and a pleasure, they feel it's
01:54 important but they feel guilty because
01:56 they neglect prayer. Why do we neglect
02:02 prayer? Let me suggest three reasons,
02:06 first of all I think one reason is because
02:09 of advances in science and technology.
02:13 In drought, the farmer used to lift his face
02:16 toward heaven and pray for rain,
02:20 now he programs this computer so that the
02:24 irrigation system will automatically come on.
02:28 I think another reason that we neglect
02:30 prayer is because of prosperity,
02:34 it's pretty hard to pray in sincerity,
02:39 give us this day our daily bread when we
02:41 already have a month supply in the pantry.
02:46 The third reason why I think we neglect
02:49 prayer is because we've become disillusioned
02:53 with prayer and the fact that so many
02:55 of our prayers seem to go unanswered.
02:59 My wife's first husband was diagnosed with a
03:03 brain tumor and my first wife was
03:09 diagnosed with breast cancer.
03:13 And when the doctor came out of surgery
03:16 and told me that the cancer had
03:18 metastasized. I confess, I went into
03:25 the back area in the hospital
03:28 where they were doing some remodeling
03:30 and there was nobody there and I
03:32 slipped in behind the, the plastic sheet
03:35 covering the door and I paced back
03:36 and forth and I cried. Why? It wasn't fair,
03:43 she was such a good person.
03:48 Both of our friends, my present wife
03:51 and my friends, they prayed.
03:55 People around the world prayed and yet both
03:59 of our spouses died, it's easy to become
04:04 skeptical when prayers don't seem
04:07 to be answered. Well, why do we pray?
04:14 One of the strongest arguments for prayer
04:18 is simply the fact that Jesus prayed,
04:22 it must be worthwhile even if we don't totally
04:25 understand all about prayer.
04:27 If Jesus prayed then as Christians
04:30 we want to pray too, in fact we're not
04:32 Christ like until we learn to enjoy prayer
04:35 as Jesus did. Maybe we just
04:40 don't understand what prayer really is,
04:43 I want to suggest a definition today
04:47 and there are lots of them but try this.
04:50 Prayer is friendship, ownership and
04:56 partnership. Friendship, ownership and
05:02 partnership. There is a well known
05:04 definition of prayer. Prayer is the opening
05:07 of the heart to God as to a friend.
05:12 Prayer is friendship, but it's,
05:15 friendship with a friend who is vastly
05:18 different from us. We have a God who
05:25 wants to be our friend and yet we have a God
05:28 who is a God of, of such majesty and
05:32 prayer must balance intimacy and majesty.
05:40 At sometimes throughout history,
05:41 emphasis been on the majesty of God,
05:44 emphasis in our society today is on intimacy,
05:47 but in proper prayer we must balance
05:49 majesty and intimacy. Psalm 103 and verse 1.
05:54 Praise the Lord, O my soul;
05:57 all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
06:03 Holy, he is Holy and when I pray I
06:06 come into presence of a Holy God.
06:09 Now, I know is verse 19 and Psalm 103:
06:12 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
06:15 and his kingdom rules over all.
06:21 Our verse says that we have a God
06:23 who is a holy God, his throne is in heaven,
06:28 he rules over all. He's the creator
06:32 and the sustainer of the universe,
06:34 we have a majestic God.
06:37 But we have also an intimate God.
06:40 Notice Psalm 103 and verse 11:
06:44 For as high as the heavens are
06:46 above the earth, so great is his love
06:50 for those who fear him. His love is just as
06:54 deep as the heaven is high,
06:58 in fact the whole reason why our great
07:01 God bothered to create and sustain
07:04 mankind is intimacy, he longs to be close
07:09 to his children. He created us because
07:12 he needed someone to love and someone
07:15 to love him. Jesus taught the
07:19 intimacy of prayer, he called God, Abba,
07:25 which his intimate father it,
07:28 it's kind of daddy. Nobody in the Old
07:32 Testament called God father,
07:35 but Jesus did a hundred and seventy times.
07:40 And so unfortunately our selfishness
07:45 turns the relational, the intimacy that
07:48 God longs for, turns the relational
07:51 into transactional. You go to the clerk and,
07:58 and give the clerk some money and the
08:01 clerk gives you groceries.
08:04 We go to God and we give our lives
08:09 to him and we expect him then to give us
08:12 whatever we ask for. Please understand,
08:17 we need God himself a whole lot more than
08:20 we need anything that he could
08:23 possibly give us. Our God rejoices
08:29 over every intimacy that we express to Him,
08:35 it's like a, a loving parent,
08:39 here's the little baby in the crib.
08:43 Oh how it thrills the parents heart when
08:48 the baby reaches out his arms to
08:51 mamma or daddy. And the baby lies
08:57 there and just cueing or what are absolutely
09:00 nonsensical words, oh how it thrills
09:05 the parent, that's the way God is.
09:08 Prayer is reaching out to God and although
09:13 what we say in our prayers may seem
09:16 really to be nonsensical cueing,
09:18 our reaching out and out approaching
09:21 God with a longing for intimacy
09:24 is pleasing to our heavenly Father.
09:29 Now friendship requires dialogue
09:31 not monologue, Mother Teresa was
09:34 well known for her prayers and she said,
09:39 here's the way it works, she was asked,
09:41 what the secret of your prayer power?
09:44 She said it's simple, he speaks and we listen,
09:48 we speak and he listens.
09:52 When I go on a trip with my wife,
09:55 I normally call her at least once everyday
10:00 and I tell her about my day and she tells
10:03 me about her day. Intimacy requires
10:10 dialogue and if we don't listen there isn't
10:14 going to be any intimacy, you may have notice
10:17 that people who are not very good listeners
10:19 don't get very close to other people.
10:21 Because intimacy requires dialogue
10:24 and the friendship with God includes intimacy.
10:29 Morning prayer's an excellent tim
10:31 to commit our day to God, evening prayers,
10:33 a wonderful time to review the day with God,
10:36 how did we do there, thank you for that one,
10:39 forgive me for what I did under
10:41 this circumstance. How can I do
10:43 better tomorrow. So, prayer is friendship,
10:48 it's a balancing of majesty and intimacy
10:53 and prayer is dialogue. So, that's our first
10:58 word, prayer is friendship,
11:00 now our second word, prayer is ownership.
11:04 Prayer is admitting ownership of our need,
11:07 Psalm 103 and verse 4, verse 4 of Psalm 103:
11:14 Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns
11:19 you with love and compassion,
11:23 who redeems your life from the pit.
11:28 Now, if you wanna get out of a pit,
11:32 the first requirement is that you know
11:34 you're in one and the second requirement
11:36 is that you wanna get out off it. We,
11:39 all of us are in a pit of sin and of death,
11:44 unfortunately our short sightedness just
11:48 wants to be entertained in the pit,
11:50 to live luxuriously in the pit.
11:53 God is the only way out, we have no future
11:57 outside him and we must admit our need
12:00 that we're helpless with that,
12:02 we're living in sin and looking forward to
12:04 nothing but death except he helps us
12:07 out of the pit. Now we all of us
12:10 have a second self. My granddaughter
12:15 Katy is the student of the Japanese language
12:20 and the Japanese have two words for self.
12:24 There's the self that we let people see
12:26 and then there's the self that we hide
12:29 hoping they cannot see. And we do that too,
12:32 there's a self that people see and there's
12:35 a self that we hope even God won't see.
12:39 We hide that second self for fear that
12:41 God will be displeased if he finds out what
12:43 we really are like, so in fact the hiding
12:46 maybe the very thing that displeases
12:49 God the most. Prayer maybe hardest for men,
12:58 it breaks the male code of traditional
13:01 masculinity, macho, in control,
13:04 not asking for help. That's what prayer is,
13:08 it's asking for help, in prayer we seek God's
13:11 help in routing out hidden offenses like
13:14 selfishness and pride and pretense and lack
13:18 of compassion. Now, a denial of our need
13:23 can be disastrous, in the presence of the
13:27 great physician, our most appropriate
13:29 contribution maybe our wounds.
13:33 I have or did have a friend who was
13:35 an alcoholic. One night we rushed
13:38 her to the hospital and I stood by her bedside
13:43 as the doctor stood over her and he
13:46 asked her if she had been drinking,
13:48 she denied no, I don't drink.
13:51 She denied the secret of which the physician
13:55 was already aware and my friend died
14:00 of psoriasis of the liver.
14:03 The doctor might have saved her if she had
14:05 just confronted her problem and admitted
14:08 her need and the great physician can
14:11 heal us and save us and gave us eternal life,
14:15 but only if we admit our need,
14:19 so prayer is claiming ownership also
14:22 of God's grace. First of all of our
14:25 need but it doesn't end there,
14:26 it's also claiming ownership
14:29 of God's grace. We pray gratefully
14:32 Psalm 103 and let's pick it up
14:35 with verse 10, verses 10 to 14:
14:37 He does not treat us as our sins deserve
14:41 or repay us according to our iniquities.
14:45 For as high as the heavens are
14:48 above the earth, high as the heavens
14:54 are above the earth, so great is his love
14:57 for those who fear him; as far as the east
15:01 is from the west, so far as he removed
15:03 our transgressions from us.
15:05 As a father has compassion
15:06 on his children, so the Lord has
15:09 compassion on those who fear him;
15:12 for he knows how we are formed,
15:14 he remembers that we are dust.
15:19 Possibly the most important purpose of
15:23 prayer is to simply let our true sinful
15:28 selves be loved by God. When we admit what
15:33 we are then God's grace accepts
15:37 us just as we are, but that same grace
15:41 that covers our sins also strengthens us,
15:44 it shows us what we can become.
15:48 Twice I've had the privilege of going
15:50 to Rome, to see the Sistine Chapel.
15:54 And the first time I went and looked
15:57 at that beautiful ceiling,
16:00 the paintings didn't come through very
16:02 well because they were all covered with grime
16:06 and then if you remember your history,
16:08 you will know that they closed the chapel
16:11 down and they got up there and they
16:12 worked and they worked and they worked
16:14 and they worked, it took a whole lot of
16:16 time to finally get rid of that grime
16:19 and the second time that I had the
16:21 privilege of going to the Sistine Chapel,
16:23 it was absolutely beautiful,
16:26 but it took someone to restore it
16:29 and it took time. We need somebody
16:33 to restore us and we should be patient
16:36 if it takes God himself sometime to get
16:40 the job done. Those paintings
16:43 became what they were meant to be
16:46 and though God and his grace we can become
16:51 what we were meant to be.
16:53 Angry honesty I believe is better than
16:57 pious pretense. God's grace is not afraid,
17:01 God is not frightened by your anger,
17:06 I've never preached very much
17:08 from the Psalms, I'll have to confess
17:12 that they frustrate me. When David wrote
17:16 the 23rd Psalm, the Shepherd Psalm,
17:19 or the 103rd Psalm that we're looking at today,
17:22 the song of praise, beautiful but other
17:26 Psalms are angry and whiny and sometimes
17:29 downright vengeful. David was not afraid
17:32 to confront God, but maybe that's
17:35 how he became a man after God's own heart.
17:39 God is not turned off by our doubts,
17:43 Jesus prayed his doubt, "My God, My God,
17:47 why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
17:50 We should pray grateful prayers,
17:53 they're important, repentant prayers,
17:54 they're most important. But maybe sometimes
17:58 it's proper to pray doubting and angry
18:00 and confrontational prayers because
18:03 they're important too. Remember our
18:06 relationship with God requires intimacy
18:09 and intimacy requires the pain
18:11 of confrontation. I know of a husband
18:15 who said we never fight, my wife and I,
18:17 I just put on my hat and walk out.
18:18 It's called avoidance fighting.
18:20 And if we don't confront one and other
18:22 when we have differences,
18:23 when we feel pain we never get very
18:26 close together, that marriage hasn't
18:28 much chance of intimacy. So, prayer is ownership
18:34 of our need and ownership of God's
18:37 grace to answer that need.
18:40 And then our third word,
18:41 prayer is partnership, prayer is not just
18:46 giving assignments to God.
18:49 This really is an awful picture of God,
18:51 a God who cares about other people
18:54 only if we beg him to. Jesus said,
18:57 the Father knows what you need before
18:59 you ask, he already cares,
19:01 he already loves, he's just waiting
19:03 for you to care enough to work with him.
19:07 As matter of fact I think that prayer
19:08 is many times spiritual laziness.
19:11 We pray, bless my family and bless that
19:13 hurting lady down the street and then
19:15 our conscious relaxes because we put
19:17 God to work and we can spend our
19:19 time on ourselves. Oh no,
19:21 prayer is partnering, prayer is partnering
19:24 with God in the assignments that
19:26 he gives us. Psalm 103 and verse 21:
19:31 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
19:34 you his servants, you his servants,
19:40 who do his will. We are his servants,
19:43 we are not his bosses, we are committed
19:46 not to having him do our will,
19:48 but our doing his will.
19:51 Prayer is partnering with God,
19:54 we trust him to do the right thing,
19:59 prayer is reporting for duty.
20:03 And we ask God how can you and I
20:06 work together to help my family,
20:08 to help that hurting lady down the street.
20:11 Prayer is partnering with God,
20:14 and partnering with God we can trust him
20:16 to give right answers at the right time.
20:21 Now, I hope I don't offend anyone,
20:27 but it sometimes concerns me,
20:30 I think we train our children to
20:33 disbelieve in prayer. The typical children's
20:38 story in Bible school goes
20:41 something like this, little Johnny is,
20:43 is walking and running through the tall grass,
20:46 tossing the key that his folks have
20:49 entrusted him with, tossing it in the air
20:51 and all of a sudden it comes down he doesn't
20:53 catch it and he looks around and he can't
20:56 find it and then he, he kneels and he prays.
20:59 And he opens one eye sure enough there
21:02 it is, it's found. Well, it does happen,
21:07 it can happen, but as that boy grows older,
21:10 he finds that sure doesn't happen
21:13 very often, there's either
21:14 something wrong with prayer or something
21:15 wrong with God or something wrong
21:17 with me. Now, God works miracles but
21:21 not often to upset human carelessness
21:25 and never to override the human will.
21:29 The God who created natural law is always
21:33 able but sometimes reluctant to suspend
21:36 it in what we call miracles at least
21:39 not unless we have a very good reason.
21:43 So, to put it all together,
21:48 I think we must confess that to totally
21:51 understand prayer we'd have to
21:53 understand God and out brains are just
21:57 simply not big enough to manage that.
22:01 We've learned that prayer is friendship,
22:04 intimacy, requiring dialogue
22:06 we speak to him, he speaks to us.
22:09 Prayer is ownership of our sins;
22:12 ownership of God's grace,
22:15 prayer is partnership, working with God
22:18 to answer our prayers. We have learned to pray,
22:24 when we have learned to trust God
22:26 for the right answers at the right time.
22:30 And I've learned through life that my
22:32 skepticism about unanswered prayer
22:35 has often been the result of simply
22:39 a short memory. Remembering God's
22:42 no's and forgetting God's yes',
22:49 my wife Ellen prayed four basic prayers
22:57 after she was afflicted with cancer.
23:03 Her first prayer was that she might be
23:06 able to finish her ministry with her
23:08 husband we were working together
23:09 at the General Conference of
23:11 the Seventh-day Adventist Church,
23:12 the World Headquarters.
23:16 And we were traveling together and
23:20 I was teaching ministers and she was
23:23 teaching minister's wives and she wanted
23:26 to continue our ministry together
23:29 until our retirement. That was her
23:33 first prayer, God said yes,
23:35 she lived five years beyond retirement,
23:38 second prayer was that she not have
23:40 to die with some unbearable pain
23:45 and she been told that death from cancer
23:49 can be terribly painful it can go to the brain
23:56 or, or to the, the lungs or to the
23:59 bones which can be a very painful death.
24:04 She asked the Lord if it were necessary
24:07 for her to die could she die without
24:11 unbearable pain. And the cancer
24:15 went to her liver, it was a painless death,
24:19 she was doing her housework just
24:21 eight days before she died.
24:23 God said yes, her third prayer was
24:27 that she be able to die at home with her
24:29 husband by her side. Hospice brought in a
24:35 hospital bed and we set a cot up along
24:41 side her bed. And I slept beside her,
24:46 rubbing her fuzzy head that was just
24:49 recovering from chemotherapy until
24:55 we hours of the morning she quietly
24:59 went to sleep. God said yes,
25:04 and she had a forth prayer and the forth
25:07 prayer was for healing. And God said
25:13 later Ellen, later, how forgetful and how
25:20 ungrateful of me to say that God
25:22 didn't answer prayer. Beside all of that
25:27 by the way, he eventually sent me
25:29 a wonderful dilemma, who loves me
25:33 and whom I love with all my heart.
25:35 You see we learn to pray when we have
25:39 learned to remember the yes',
25:42 when we have learned to trust God for
25:45 the right answers at the right time.
25:50 And may I suggest if you have
25:54 questions about answered prayer,
25:57 if you think that God is all the time
25:59 turning you down. Won't you create
26:02 a book of remembrance;
26:04 write it down if you must,
26:05 put it into your computer.
26:08 Write down the times that God says yes
26:10 and God says yes and God says yes
26:14 and then when it seems like God says no,
26:16 you can open that book and you can look
26:18 at all of the yes'. And having received
26:22 so many yes', you be able to trust
26:25 God with the no's. To give you the
26:30 right answer at the right time, let's pray.
26:38 Father, we pray today as your disciples
26:44 did that you will truly teach us to pray,
26:51 help us to form our own book of remembrance.
26:57 So, that we can remember the yes'
26:59 that will help us trust the no's.
27:03 And may we trust you for the right answer
27:08 at the right time is our prayer,
27:12 in Jesus name, amen.
27:17 Thank you for your time with
27:19 Faith Chapel today, try that book of
27:23 remembrance if you're having serious
27:25 doubts about answered prayer.
27:30 Remember, prayer is friendship with God,
27:36 prayer is ownership both of our needs
27:41 and of God's grace answering those needs
27:45 and prayer is partnership,
27:48 partnership, let as be partners with God.