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Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door Part One

July 20, 2014 | PB | From the series: Knockin' On Heaven's Door

This message is the first in a series called “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.” It’s all about prayer, but not the dull, boring type. It’s all about how prayer is by nature, passionate. There’s one key phrase that marks today’s message in particular and it’s this: prayer alone has the power to change destinies.

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Sermon Notes

Prayer Alone has the Power to Change Destinies

Job 42:7-10

Prayer alone has the power to change destinies.

What is your destiny, what does that word mean?

Some unbelievers attribute the things that happen in life to destiny, like fate, a force that makes the outcomes of your life unavoidable.  That’s not what we’re talking about here.

There are two ways to think about destiny.

  • One, the will and purpose of God in your life, and the gifts and opportunities to get there. We often say that the will and plan of God is His destiny for you.
  • Two, the end result of the path you’ve chosen. You arrive at the end of your path unless you do something to avoid it, if you can.

Prayer alone has the power to change destinies.

When Job went through his suffering and difficulties, he had some long and difficult interactions with some so-called friends.  And when God came in at the end of the book to right the wrongs and bring the truth to bear on the situation, yes, He had some choice words for Job, but He was angry with the three friends for what they had said especially.

Job 42:7-10

And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord commanded them; for the Lord had accepted Job. And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Job’s friends were headed for whatever the wrath of God was going to bring.  It was in response to their “folly” and wasn’t going to be good and pleasant.  It would be devastating and difficult.

God could have said nothing except “My wrath is aroused against you” and that would have been it.  But God says something from His mercy that should make us sit up and take notice.  He said, first of all, humble yourselves and bring an offering for your sin, your wrongs.  It would take that first humbling to be prepared for the second one.  Then my servant Job will pray for you, said God.  And I’ll hear him and answer on your behalf.

So what changed their destiny?  God providing the possibility and Job providing the praying.  Yes, praying.  The destiny of these men and their families hinged upon Job’s prayers.  Would they have been in trouble if Job didn’t pray?  Absolutely!  But what happened to Job in this?  He was also humbled and needed to forgive his friends, but what happened when Job prayed?

The Lord restored Job’s losses and gave him twice as much as he had before.  Job’s path was one of loss, loss of possessions, loss of family and loss of health.  It looked like he was going to spend the rest of his life not really recovered from those losses but crawling upward from them.  But prayer, not prayer for himself necessarily, but from a prayer relationship with God, his life was restored beyond his former life.

Prayer alone has the power to change destinies.

In example after example in the Bible and in life, it has been prayer that has changed the future.

Isaiah 38:1-8

In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.'” Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, and said, “Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, saying, “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city.”‘ And this is the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing which He has spoken: “Behold, I will bring the shadow on the sundial, which has gone down with the sun on the sundial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward.” So the sun returned ten degrees on the dial by which it had gone down.

God said, Hezekiah, you’re going to die, so get your affairs in order.  That was a “thus saith the Lord” through Isaiah.  He was on track to die of the sickness he was already experiencing.  That was his “destiny.”  Could it have been any clearer?

But what did Hezekiah do?  He began to pray.  Not quiet, soft prayers.  Deeply felt, from the gut prayers to the Lord that ended with him weeping bitterly.  Humanity touching deity.  It happens in prayer.  And God answered with a change in timing.  He added 15 years to his life.  Hezekiah wasn’t asking specifics.  He was asking that the destiny would be changed.

Did Hezekiah twist God’s arm?  Did Hezekiah have a more mature position and brought God around to doing the right thing?  Both of those thoughts are ridiculous.  But here it is: God has decreed that the one way for destinies to be changed is through prayer.

Would God have given Hezekiah 15 more years anyway?  No, apparently not.  He would have just died from that sickness and it would have been all over.  It was Hezekiah getting the ear of the Almighty by faith and passion and abandoned, humble prayer.

You might say that there are other things involved in a change of destiny, and you’d be right. Faith, planning, self discipline, knowledge of the Bible, good relationships, steps of action are just some examples.  But you can have all those things in your life and not see your destiny change.

I was meeting with Tim O’Keefe in Henrietta a month or so ago.  I was really excited about the meeting, as we were going to propose an Adoption Fair with a couple of folks from Hillside. So I arrived a couple of minutes early and Tim came up alongside the van and I opened the door, we kept chatting and I locked up the van and we went inside.  When I came out of the meeting, still talking to Tim, as I got closer to the van I realized that I did something I never do.  I locked the keys inside the van.  I restrained the embarrassment and the panic and started to weigh my options, including crying out to God.  The van had gasoline in it.  It had tires, a working engine and transmission.  Everything was there for me to be on my way.  But I was missing the one thing that would make it all work.  It had to be the Lord; He reminded me that years previous, when I first bought the van, that I had an extra key made and put it in a magnetic, sealed container under the van.  Was it still there?  I reached around and found it.  I opened the van.  And I drove back to Brockport.

I’ve been reading and studying my Bible.  Great!  I’ve been tithing. Great!  I’ve learned to trust leadership and to get wisdom and direction from those more mature than me.  Great!  But if you haven’t prayed effectively, you and yours will not find that your destiny will change. How you walk the path may change, but your destiny will not; until you pray.

What is your prayer life like?  Next week we’ll talk about what real prayer looks like, but how about examining your overall prayer life now?  Do you have other areas of your life in good order?  That’s great, but prayer, where it that at.

If you were going to change one thing in your life that would have the greatest impact for good, what would it be?  Prayer.  Improve it, deepen it, develop it, take steps to increase it, but don’t just give it talk, actually make margin in your life and do it.  And the destiny of your life and the world around you will begin to change.