1 SOMEPLACE TO GO WHEN THERE S NO PLACE TO GO PART THREE: THE POWER OF PREVAILING PRAYER EXODUS 17: DR. LARRY L. THOMPSON Introduction Friends, the past two weeks we have directed our attention to situations that every one of us face in life. A situation where YOU NEED SOMEPLACE TO GO WHEN THERE S NO PLACE TO GO. Today, I want to help you discover the key to unlocking that door and discover the biblical principle necessary for you to find that place to go when you find yourself in what appears to be a hopeless situation. The key to this final message is designed to provide you a clear understanding of what I call PREVAILING PRAYER! Our need today is to experience powerful, persistent, passionate, prevailing prayer. The need for prevailing prayer is far greater than most of God s people realize. The moral fiber of our nation has crumbled. Real love and compassion have become almost non- existent. Confusion and upheaval have swept across this country like a tidal wave. Even our spiritual community is demonstrating alarming signs of spiritual ambiguity. According to Barna Research: As of 2013 only 44% of adult Christians and only 9% of Christian students believe in a biblical perspective of absolute moral truth. According to the survey c0nducted by the US News and World Report When asked: Do you pray every day? 61% of Christians said yes 36% of Jews said yes 92% of Muslims said yes 1 Here is the KEY ABOUT TRUTH: Our culture often says that truth is subjective and depends on your personal perspective. EXAMPLE: MH17 Malaysian Air: Russians claim Ukrainian Jets shot it down; Ukraine claims it was Russian loyalists who used weapons given to them by Russia. Loyalists say Malaysian Air was flying in restricted airspace and blames the pilot. Everyone has an opinion and they all say they have PROOF but there is only ONE REAL TRUTH. Our culture is quick to use subjective truth as foundational and it is not. Followers of Jesus Christ do not get the luxury of subjective TRUTH. We must hold to the conviction that Biblical truth does matter; it doesn t change with the culture, and it is especially dangerous when you re on the receiving end of a lie. THERE may have been ambiguity among those of us who watched the reports of MH17; but ultimately THERE WAS, AND IS, AN ABSOLUTE TRUTH REGARDING WHO SHOT DOWN THAT PLANE. 1 Tools/Meditation/2004/12/U- S- News- Beliefnet- Prayer- Survey- Results.aspx#
2 Every Christian who understands the inerrancy of God s Word, knows that WE ARE IN THE MIDST OF A SPIRITUAL WAR FOR TRUTH. God has given us power to overcome the enemy, but that power is only realized when we stand in truth and employ what I call, Prevailing Prayer. This series, SOMEPLACE TO GO WHEN THERE S NO PLACE TO GO implies that something supernatural must occur if we find ourselves in an impossible situation. We have spoken the past two weeks about the process, but today we talk about the key to victory. That key is prayer not just any prayer but PREVAILING PRAYER. James reminds us in 5:16: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. (James 5:16) James always provides us a powerful example of what he means. James has referenced Elijah in v Elijah was a man like us, serving God as best he could. However, there were times Elijah needed someplace to go when there was no place to go. He was subject to extreme bouts of depression due to the persistence of outside pressures on his faith. But look at the outcome of his prayer! Even in his darkest moments, Elijah never stopped praying. He understood prevailing prayer! He prayed with passion and honesty. Even when he felt most alone and with no place to go, he was heard by the Father and his needs were met. Never give up on prevailing prayer and never give up on prevailing prayer when praying for one another! There are two types of prayer which lead to dramatic and supernatural change. Prayer to influence individuals to receive God s truth. Prevailing prayer; a desperate prayer for desperate times to influence God. Scripture, coupled with prayer, is employed to influence men. However, prevailing prayer is necessary to move God. Clarify: When I speak of moving God, I do not mean that God's mind is changed by my prayer, or that His disposition or character is changed by my prayer. But prevailing prayer produces such a change in us as, that it prepares us to be in alignment spiritually with God in order to allow Him to release His power on our behalf. When a sinner repents, that changed heart is prepared for God to forgive him. God has always been ready to forgive him on that condition, so that when the sinner changes and repents, it requires no change of feeling in God to pardon him. IT WASN T GOD THAT CHANGED, IT WAS THE WE CHANGED OUR HEART TOWARD GOD.
3 So when Christians offer prevailing prayer, their heart is prepared for God to answer them and to receive how He answers them when they need someplace to go and there s no place to go. We have missed a very important truth about seeing God work in our lives. Prevailing prayer is the essential link to unlock revival, and to experience the supernatural power of God. However: The supernatural power that is a result of the prevailing prayer of God s saints can only be used for ONE PURPOSE: THE GLORY AND HONOR OF THE LORD. Essentially, there are two parts to understanding prevailing prayer: Personal preparation, and an uncompromising commitment to prayer. Even when you are sharing the gospel with someone we often fail to remember that just sharing the TRUTH of God s word alone will never be successful. It must be shared in the power of God s Spirit that is present as a result of our prevailing prayer for the soul of this person we care about. Sometimes those who are the most engaged in employing biblical truth are not the most engaged in prayer. This is always unfortunate. Charles Finney: For unless they have the spirit of prevailing prayer, or unless someone else is engaged in prevailing prayer on their behalf, the truth, by itself, will do nothing but harden the spiritual hearts of all who listen. Charles Finney Prevailing prayer is prayer which moves God in order that we might receive the blessing that we seek or move us to be more like Him. The very concept of prevailing prayer is that there is a supernatural impact on the person or object of the prayer. In order to provide you a word picture of Prevailing Prayer in God s word I want to take you back to the book of Exodus 17 and the Valley of Rephidim and demonstrate a time when the people of God needed SOMEPLACE TO GO WHEN THERE WAS NO PLACE TO GO. God can and will meet you in the place of your need if you are willing to commit to taking your place, not just in prayer but what we will talk about today prevailing prayer. THERE ARE THREE BIBLICAL KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING PREVAILING PRAYER. FIRST KEY I. YOU RE IN A BATTLE (Exodus 17:8; Deut. 25:17-18) Prevailing prayer always involves a battle and The Enemy s Attack is Always Calculated and almost always involves a surprise. While the people of Israel were still at Rephidim, the warriors of Amalek attacked them. Ex. 17:8 (NLT)
4 Here is some insight given to us regarding the fight after it had occurred: Never forget what the Amalekites did to you as you came from Egypt. 18 They attacked you when you were exhausted and weary, and they struck down those who were straggling behind. They had no fear of God. Deut. 25:17-18 (NLT) Historically, the Amalekites were a nomadic people; descendants of Esau, though they were not a part of the nation of Edom (Gen.36:12). The Amalekites carefully and calculatedly attacked Israel from the rear, rather than make a frontal assault. This was no doubt an attempt to catch the Israelites off guard and to hit them at their weakest point where they are most vulnerable making you think you need somewhere to go when there s no place to go. IF SATAN CAN T DEFEAT YOU, HE WILL DEFEAT SOMEONE YOU LOVE, SO THEIR DEFEAT TO WEAKEN YOU. Pastor Thompson NOTICE when and who the enemy attacked. They attacked you when you were exhausted and weary, and they struck down those who were straggling behind. Deut. 25:18 (NLT) It is imperative, that if you have a hope of not being destroyed in defeat, you must understand the importance of prevailing prayer. Peter reminds us: Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT) Paul also warned against trusting in our flesh and not in God s strength. If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12 (NLT) Be warned: Often it is those areas of our lives where we feel we are strongest that is most vulnerable to Satan s attack, because we don t think we have anything to worry about in those areas. Let me illustrate from a page in our nation s history why you NEVER DROP YOUR GUARD AND FORGET THAT THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS A BATTLE. During the Revolutionary War, a loyalist spy appeared at the headquarters of Hessian commander Colonel Johann Raul, carrying an urgent message. The Hessians were the 18th- century German auxiliaries contracted for military service by the British government. The note read: General George Washington and his Continental army have secretly crossed the Delaware River this morning and are advancing on Trenton, New Jersey to the Hessian s camp. However, the spy was denied an audience with the commander, and instead, and told to give the piece of paper to a porter. The porter took the note to the Colonel, but he was involved in a poker game, and stuffed the note into his pocket without reading it. When the Hessian guards started firing their muskets in an attempt to stop Washington's army, Raul was still playing poker. Without time to organize, the Hessian army was
5 captured. The battle occurred December 26, 1776, and was the colonist s first major victory of the war. It s not always an easy walk with God Satan will always attack at your weakest moment. They attacked you when you were exhausted and weary, and they struck down those who were straggling behind. Deut. 25:18 (NLT) Israel was walking through a dry, barren desert. Though they were headed to the Promised Land, and though God led them and sustained them, they still found the journey tiring. The same is true for all of us who remain God s present- day people. We are promised His presence, power, protection and provision of God as we make our way toward eternal life. HOWEVER, that doesn t mean that we won t find ourselves in the midst of problems, that cause us to be weary and faint at times. It is particularly important during these times of physical or spiritual weariness that we remain vigilant; for it is then that we are most vulnerable to the enemy. Satan is a sly adversary. He often attacks when we are weary, exhausted and frustrated, discouraged or defeated. It is for this reason that Paul urged us not to live in the power of the flesh, but by dependence upon God s power. A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Eph. 6:10 (NLT) THERE S A BATTLE AND SOMEONE HAS TO GO FIGHT THE BATTLE (Ex. 17:9) Moses commanded Joshua, Choose some men to go out and fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand. Exodus 17:9 (NLT) Church, when the enemy attacked, Moses and the children of Israel did not sit passively by hoping it would eventually turn out all right. Warriors were enlisted for the battle. We are also in the midst of a great spiritual warfare. Churches are cold, lost hearts are calloused, and Christians are becoming more and more casual about their faith. God is looking for men and women of faith, willing to stand in the gap through prayer. Pastor Charles Stanley said: Life s battles are won or lost in the place of prevailing prayer, not on the battlefield of everyday life. The real spiritual success or failure of a church does not depend on the talent of the pastor; or the size of the congregation; or the strength of the organization; nor the amount of their budget. Real spiritual success, from God s perspective, will only be won through prevailing prayer God s business, for the most part, must be accomplished on our knees. (Charles Stanley) II. OUR BATTLE PLAN: PREVAILING PRAYER A. PREVAILING PRAY IS OUR FIRST DEFENSE
6 After the victory, the LORD instructed Moses, Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Exodus 17:14 (NLT) When Moses ordered Joshua to put together an army to fight against Amalek, he was acting according to the revealed will of God. In fact, cooperation with the mind and will of God is inherent to spiritual victory through prevailing prayer. If you wait until the battle to start your prayer life then you have waited too long. The enemies of God cannot stand when God s people are committed to prevailing prayer for the sole purpose of accomplishing the perfect will of God. God will one day right every wrong done to His children, whether we see it in this life or not. Our battles begin B. PREVAILING PRAYER REQUIRES A COOPERATIVE COMMITMENT Moses commanded Joshua, Choose some men to go out and fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand. 10 So Joshua did what Moses had commanded and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill. Exodus 17:9-10 (NLT) This cooperation between Moses and his people is indicative of the keys to successful prevailing prayer. There are times when one needs to pray privately. But there are also times when the saints need to unite their energies and hearts in prayer for the common good. WATCHMAN PRAYER MINISTRY SATURDAY MORNING PRAYER TIME Listen to the words of Jesus: I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 20 For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them. Matt. 18:19-20 (NLT) Aaron and Hur joined Moses on the top of hill where two or three are gathered Historically, there has never been a spiritual awakening in a church, nation or people group that was not birthed with a commitment to prevailing prayer. Examine the cooperative effort involved in this process of prevailing prayer: So Joshua did what Moses had commanded and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill. 11 As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. 12 Moses arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. Ex 17:10-12 (NLT) Bible scholars are almost unanimous that this act of Moses in standing on the hill WITH THE ROD OF GOD RAISED is symbolic of the power of prevailing prayer.
7 However, it is not the act itself that I want you to focus on this morning, but the place of the act. Moses took up his position on a hill overlooking the valley where the battle was taking place, apart from the flurry of activity. Friends, that s what prayer permits the child of God to do. SPIRIT- LED PREVAILING PRAYER GIVES THE PEOPLE OF GOD A CLEAR VANTAGE POINT FROM WHICH TO VIEW THE CRISES OF LIFE. Prayer gives the believer a proper perspective of the battle. On the hill, Moses could see everything clearly. Perhaps if we, who are followers of Christ, would spend more time on the Mount Of Prevailing Prayer, we d see things from God s perspective. God told the prophet Jeremiah: Just ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come. Jeremiah 33:3 (MSG) Symbolic of prayer, Moses stands on the hill, lifting the rod of God over his head. The rod of God represented the presence and power of God. The rod of God symbolized the power of God being brought to bear in Israel s situation. IT WAS GOD S POWER THAT WOULD PRODUCE VICTORY, NOT ISRAEL S MILITARY STRENGTH OR STRATEGY. As long as the rod is raised, the children of Israel prevailed in battle. However, when Moses arms became weary, forcing him to lower the rod of God, Amalek s army prevailed over Israel. This illustrates one very important point: Prevailing prayer is our most effective weapon in the battles of life, for it brings the power of God into our circumstance. However, we must remember the value of a cooperative effort in prevailing prayer. NOTICE THE COOPERATION BETWEEN MOSES, AARON, AND HUR. The fact that Aaron and Hur held up Moses weary hands is indicative of intercessory prayer. There is strength in numbers. It is sometimes necessary for others not only to hold us up in prayer, but also to help us pray. Notice that Aaron and Hur didn t criticize Moses for getting weary. They didn t advise him on how to hold the rod differently. They were simply there to support him. PREVAILING PRAYER ALWAYS INVOLVES CONFRONTATION We must never forget that we are in the midst of a spiritual warfare. If you are seeking to live close to God, you can expect resistance from Satan. However, he can be overcome if we fight the right way. Paul said, For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds (II Cor.10: 4). It s a frightening fact that Satan s crowd takes spiritual warfare far more seriously than do God s children. PREVAILING PRAYER PUTS THE FOCUS ON THE FATHER NOT THE FAILURE So Joshua did what Moses had commanded and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill. 11 As long as Moses held up the
8 staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. (Ex. 17:10-11) Warfare is often a very frustrating endeavor. You don t win every skirmish. It s often as it was with Israel during this battle. They would win for a while, and then they would lose ground for a while. DON T FOCUS ON YOUR FAILURES OR FRUSTRATIONS STAY FOCUSED ON YOUR FATHER HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING! We must never forget that the power to overcome the enemy is not found in us, but in the Lord, through prayer. His power is available to us at all times. IF OUR FOCUS IS NOT ON THE FATHER WE WILL BECOME WEARY IN THE BATTLE. Weariness is something we all face. We must be especially careful during times of extreme weariness, for it is then that discouragement and attitudes of defeat easily attach themselves to us. When you feel you are about to give up the fight, call for reinforcements from the body. Let us pray with you; let us hold up your hands as we pray for you. A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back- to- back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple- braided cord is not easily broken. Ecc. 4:12 (NLT) This battle lasted all day, until the sun went down. Moses, Aaron, Hur, nor the army of Israel would have made it that long apart from their commitment to prevailing prayer in the presence of their God. Conclusion: As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle. Exodus 17:13 (NLT) The Hebrew word for overwhelmed means, mowed down; disabled, destroyed. It is the application of God s power by persistent, prevailing prayer that wins our battles. Prevailing prayer is still the course of victory and God is the ONE to receive the glory. Moses built an altar there and named it Jehovah- nissi (which means the LORD is my banner ). Exodus 17:15 (NLT) This term also speaks of God s name, His leadership, His provision, and His protection. To fight under God s banner is to be assured of victory. Folks, knowing that our victory over the enemy is in the Lord, will never be anything more than a theory, as long as we fail to take prevailing prayer seriously. We were reminded often in the 90 s by godly saints who were warning us that we were quickly forgetting that our strength is in Christ and not in our ability.
9 Jack Taylor issued a warning about a lack of urgency in the prayer life of most Christians. The majority of Christians in this generation tend to worship their work; work at their play; and to play at their worship. If this be the consistent pattern of their spiritual life, then I fear great losses in our next generation. Jack Taylor We must get serious about seeking God s face and the power that is our through prevailing prayer. THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOU NEED SOMEPLACE TO GO WHEN THERE S NO PLACE TO GO 1. IF YOU ARE IN A BATTLE TODAY, WE WANT TO JOIN YOU IN PREVAILING PRAYER 2. RENEW YOUR COMMITMENT AS A PRAYER PARTNER IN OUR MINISTRY 3. BECOME AN ENCOURAGER LIKE AARON & HUR! WRITE A NOTE TO FRIEND AND LET THEM KNOW YOU ARE PRAYING FOR THEM!