TRANSCRIPTION | Sunday, January 17, 2021 | How to Make a Difference 

 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Prayer changes things. Can I get a witness from somebody? Prayer changes things. You know, I read about a lady that was out hitting the local garage sales, and she came across an old needle point picture, and it had written in it, prayer changes things. She was so excited about her find that when she got home, she kind of started going through the house trying to find the perfect place to hang this new addition, this needlepoint, prayer changes things. She finally decided on the space of the wall right behind the dining room table. She positions it there. And then the next morning, she notices that it's gone. And so she starts looking for it, and she discovers that it is behind a bookshelf. She realized there's only one way this could have happened that this needlepoint prayer changes things has been removed from her wall. Her husband must have done it. So she waited for him to come home. And when he came home she said like what's up? Like why? Why did you take down my needlepoint? Did you not like the art? He said no, I thought the art was beautiful. So why did you take my needlepoint down? Like, did you not like the location? He thought no, I thought the location was perfect.  Well, did you not like the message? He's like, no, I think it's a great message. Well, why did you take it down? He said, I just don't like change. Tell somebody prayer changes things.  If you don't want change in your life, then you'd better be careful asking someone to pray who will really pray. Because prayer changes things. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Some of you may remember a number of years ago, there was a DC sniper. In Washington, DC, there was a sniper that was taking lives from far away. He was wrecking terror, he was wreaking havoc on that city. It reached a point where that he had killed over 10 people and wounded three more people. And so while the city is in this place of almost horror, people almost afraid to go outside because they don't know where the next shot is going to be fired, or whose life might be in the next, there were about 50 truck drivers that got together in a specific area there in DC, and they decided to pray. They decided to pray that God would bring an end to the terror of this DC sniper. And one of the guys who really wasn't even from that area, his name was Ron Lance, and he was a part of this programming, and he just spoke up and he said, I'm gonna believe that God is actually going to help me to be a part of bringing this man into custody and apprehending him. It was a couple weeks later, Ron was back in the area, and he was driving his truck through DC, and he just had this overwhelming sensation that he was supposed to pull over. As he's pulling over, he's listening to the radio, he's making his way into this rest stop, and they begin to describe a specific vehicle that they believe the DC sniper is in. They even gave out the license plate number. Ron was absolutely blown away that as he's pulling into the rest area right there in front of his truck, was the car that they were describing the DC sniper to be in. And he describes this nervous anxiety that came over him as he began to try to make out the license plate. And sure enough letter for letter number four number it was the sniper. He then proceeded to contact the authorities, and within 15 minutes, the DC sniper was apprehended and his reign of terror completely brought to a close. Why? Because 50 truckers decided to pull their trucks over and start praying and believing that God could change things and to make themselves available to that change. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, one of my favorite quotes on the subject of prayer is given by a preacher, Karl Barth. He is also known as a theologian. This is what he said, he said, to clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world. I want you to let that sink in for a minute. To clasp hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world. Prayer changes things. And when you start inviting the Kingdom of Heaven, to be made manifest in earth, and you do that with faith, believing prayer changes things. It's in Second Thessalonians chapter one verse one, that Paul is writing to the church at Thessalonica. And what he writes to them and says is this. “Therefore, we also pray always for you, that God would count you worthy of this calling and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness and the work of faith with power.” Watch what Paul says, “Therefore, we also pray, always.” What he's saying is that there is an attitude of continuous prayer. This is interesting, because this is in Second Thessalonians chapter one. But in First Thessalonians chapter five, verse number 17, Paul made this statement as well to the church at Thessalonica. He said, pray without ceasing. So I want you to notice, he ends the first the first letter by telling the church people to pray without ceasing. Then he starts the second letter by saying that he is exemplifying prayer without ceasing. In the first letter, he's saying you ought to all always be in a mindset of prayer. In the second letter, he’s saying I am always in a mindset of prayer on your behalf. But here's the question with all the traveling, all the preaching, getting beaten, being arrested, everything that Paul was going through, like, how could he possibly pray without ceasing? How could he pray, always?

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, there are ways that we can increase our prayer time. I talked a little bit about it on Wednesday night during our online Bible study, and I even talked more about it two weeks ago on Wednesday night during our online Bible study, and I talked about how that there are outlines that you can bring to your prayer life that will enhance and increase your prayer time, especially if you begin to pray out loud during those times. We even talked about this last Sunday, how that when you look at the Lord's Prayer, it is not intended to just be something that you recite, it is intended to be an outline that you move progressively through. I've always loved the subject of prayer, it's been something that has stuck out to a lot to me, because I'm very thankful I was actually raised in a home that exemplified prayerfulness. It was a regular occurrence for me to find my mother or my father kneeling beside their bed or kneeling in the living room couch with kind of everything turned off, or maybe just some worship music playing, and there they would be praying and inviting God to move in our family, to move in our community, to move in their lives. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And so I've seen that modeled in such a way that It started an appetite in me to want to be effective in prayer. And there's a guy named David Yonggi Cho; he is a pastor in Korea. I think he maybe has recently retired. But at one point, he pastored the world's largest church. It had over a million members in that church. And what they credit the growth of that church to is not just the systems, and not just all the things that you typically would associate with church growth, but rather prayer. That he taught his people how to take outlines of prayer throughout Scripture. Whether it was moving through promises, or moving through the Lord's Prayer, or maybe even taking the tabernacle of Moses and realizing what each of those things in that tabernacle mean. And just moving yourself through it and inviting God to move in your life in that way. He described it like running laps. He said, for me, it's not about trying to find something to pray, it's about trying to stop. Because it's like going out on a track. And if you've ever run track, or you've watched someone run track, they just make laps round and round they go. That when you learn an outline of prayer, you discover that you can just keep making laps, and I see Jesus, he looks at his disciples when he's about to go to the cross, and he tells them you should watch and you should pray. In other words, something bad is about to happen. Something really negative is about to transpire. And he tells them you should watch this and you should pray. He comes back and they're asleep. And he says to them, could you not tarry one hour? You know, the concept of praying an hour in prayer, like it freaks most of us out. We’re like, I just don't know how I could pray that long. But when I think about ways that we can enhance our prayer life, or to extend our prayer life, it really starts with just making the decision that first and foremost, you want to pray. But I'll tell you where I had my mind blown. I had my mind blown when I ran into a man that was trying to live out what the Apostle Paul said. The apostle Paul looked at that church in his first letter and said, pray without ceasing. And then he comes in that second letter, he says, this is something I'm doing, I'm praying always. So, I discovered there was this man, he was, I think, maybe reaching his mid 70s or early 70s at the time I met him and man when he would preach, it was like Heaven would come down. And when you would sit and you would talk with him, it just felt like there was a heavenly wisdom associated on the weight of every word that he spoke. And I found out that he ran a little prayer chapel in his spare time. And I thought, man, I want to know how to pray like that guy, because he's got something in his life that I longed for, and I want. And so I called him up one day, I found the courage to trace him down, and I got him on the phone. His name was Alva Wilson. And I said, Alva, could you tell me like when you get ready to spend extended time in prayer, like what kind of worship music do you listen to? And like, what kind of prayer list do you take in with you, and how is it that you really approach those extended times in prayer? Maybe the way you're starting your day or you're ending your day with prayer, and he just responded he said, oh, my dear son, hahahaha. You had to know him. I never stop praying. I said what? I never stop praying. He said, I've done my best throughout my life to develop the discipline that every thought is a prayer.  And it was in that moment that it kind of finally started to make sense to me what Paul was getting at, he wasn't taking away the fact that you should have moments where you go in and shut the door and you pray and secret and you believe that God's gonna reward you openly. Paul also was not trying to glorify vain repetition, or big, long, glorious prayers. In fact, Jesus rebuked vain repetition in prayer, when it's just repetitious for the sake of being vain.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

 I heard the story, it's historical in nature, that somewhere around about 1930, there was a church in Belfast. It was a church of about 200 people. And they decided they were sick and tired of being sick and tired. And they wanted to believe for revival to come to their community. And so what they decided that they were going to do is they were going to begin to have nightly services. But on top of having nightly services, they decided that they would have morning prayer meetings. And every morning, about 50 people came together in that little church, and they began to pray, you know, what happened? Every night five to 10, people were getting saved, and it started to turn that community upside down. And so people began to go there and try to study it and try to figure out like, what is the secret to this place experiencing revival, and they discovered it was directly connected to the morning prayer meetings. But when they went to the morning prayer meetings, they were absolutely shocked because it didn't resemble most prayer meetings. In fact, the way that the prayer meeting was unfolding, is that the 50 or so people would come together, and each person would just pray short, simple prayers. For instance, it might be like, Lord, I pray for that lady that I saw yesterday, who has the black dye, that you will set her free from the abuse. And then all across the room, people would say, Amen. Yes, Lord. And then someone else might follow and say, and Lord, I pray for the man that has abused her that you will touch his life and bring him to an altar of conviction. And folks would say, amen, yes, Lord. And it would just be sometimes one sentence, two-sentence prayers, just short, simple to the point, and then the collective body coming into agreement. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Well, one day, there was a seminary student who'd heard about the revival, and he wanted to go and experience it. So he went into the prayer meeting, and it was in the morning time, and as he goes in, this is his chance to shine. It's his chance to show these people who've got revival that he should maybe even be the next guy to speak for them. And the prayer starts our Heavenly Father, I beseech thee in the glorious name of Jesus Christ our Savior, I pray thee that thy kingdom would come down as our long lean Galilean savior slips his leg over the Safar seal of Heaven. Anybody ever been to that prayer meeting? He started in Genesis, he was making his way into 2 Kings, when finally the pastor of that church spoke up and said, stop! You're not praying, you'll preach in a sermon. And he called that church back to short, simple, prayers. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, Brazil, about the 1950s, that had a movement and awakening of sorts where they wanted to experience God move in their cities and in their nation, some of the pastors. So they decided to have prayer meetings, and they were having prayer and most of the prayer times were monopolized by two or three people who would just get up, and they were gonna pray without ceasing, but only so long as somebody was watching. I can't get no help on a Sunday morning. I give you one Don joke, okay. My dad, his name is Donnie Gilbert. We call him The Don, for those of you that are new to 3trees, okay. He don't say much, but when he says it. There was one time I was at a family reunion, and we were all ready to eat. And this one guy got up and he was praying over the meal. And five minutes later, our stomachs are growling and he's still going. And I and I looked over at my father and I said, I was just a young kid. I said, dad, why does that man pray so long? Because it's the only time he ever talks to God.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

So Brazil wants revival, 1950s. They're having prayer meetings, but it's not working. Nobody's getting saved. So they called a student of revival who had studied that revival in Ireland, and they had him come and just observe their prayer meetings. He said, I've seen the problem. Everybody's trying to show off. Everybody's trying to make something beautiful out of their prayer time. He said what they had in Ireland was they would just simply ask God to do it and believe that he would. And what happened, Brazil changed the way they were praying in those prayer meetings of collective churches coming together. And they just started praying in short bursts, and then the whole collection coming into amen, yes, Lord, let it be. You know what happened in five years, the Christian community grew from 2 million believers to 5 million believers, because somebody started praying. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

So here's my point to you. When we say pray without ceasing. When we say, always pray, it's not that you develop vain repetition, or you learn how to string 4,6,7,8 syllable words together, or you learn how to theologically decree and declare everything. It's just, it's just turning thoughts into prayer. Here's one way you might say it. You turn idle wishes, into active prayers, idle wishes into active prayers. We are all guilty of this. We tell someone that we will pray for them, and all we ever really do is think about it. And there's a difference between thinking about it and praying about it. When you think about it, you're saying, what can I do about this. But when you pray about it, it's in that moment that now you're saying, wait a second, God, I invite you to be a part of this. So there's a difference between just sitting and saying, I don't know what I'm going to do about this. I don't know how to help them. I don't know how to resolve this. I don't know how to bring order to this. I mean, I want to do something but I'm just not sure what to do. Versus, God, I invite you to be a part of bringing order to the disorder. God, I invite you to heal that body, God, I invite… There's a difference. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And so sometimes when you have that worry, you need to stop right where you're at, and instantly turn that worry over to God. And I know this stretches some of you and it's probably that's good for you sometimes, though. But when you think about being stretched a little bit, my wife and I have discovered this, we talk about it on a regular basis. It happened to us again last week. There is something that happens when you pray out loud. And Mandy and I have had multiple moments where we're just going about our own business, we're just going about stuff that we would normally be doing in day to day activity. And then something comes in, somebody shoots us a text or there's something that gets put in the prayer channel that the staff shares, or there's something that we are made aware of that's going on, and just to stop and out loud, one of us say what needs to happen and the other say amen. And to come into agreement, God, we're not just gonna think about this, we're not just gonna put this on a list, we believe, Father God, that you can move in that situation, and that you can do exactly what we are believing you to do. And it's not always about going and praying for an hour. It's sometimes just like God, I give it to you. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, when you have that moment of lust, maybe it would do you some good to immediately just stop where you're at and confess that to the Lord and repent right then and there. That in that moment where you're wringing your hands in anxiety, and you just don't know what to do, it might do you some real good to just stop right where you're at, and instantly turn that thought over to the Lord as a man thinketh so is he, as a man thinks so is he. There is something profound about taking your thought life and turning it over into a prayer life and beginning to say, God, I give it to you. Right here, right now, I give it to you. But you know, when we pray, most of the time, what we're praying for is some kind of personal benefit. We want a car, we want a spouse, we want a healing. We want a financial breakthrough. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with praying for those things. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I want you to notice what Paul says, when he makes the statement that he is praying always 2 Thessalonians chapter one, verse 11. “Therefore we also pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, that he would fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and he would fulfill the work of faith with power.” Notice, even the direction that Paul takes his prayer that he said when I have a thought about you, when I think about you, when I'm praying for you, but I'm taking these prayers a specific direction. specifically look at it again, that God would count you worthy of his calling. Man, what a prayer. When's the last time you prayed that over somebody? That God you would fulfill all the good pleasure of your goodness, and that you would fulfill the work of faith with power. What a prayer to bring into your thought life, when you're tossing those doubts and those worries and those concerns. Like, instead of trying to figure out how you're going to rant on social media, how about you just give the thought over to God and invite him to actually move? Instead of trying to figure out how you're going to vindictively get back at somebody for the way they've done you wrong. How about you give the thought over to God, and you actually pray blessings on the person whose despitefully used you, and it will heap coals of fire up on their head? Does anybody still read the Bible? What would happen if you allow God to have your thought life, and prayerfulness began to be something that you were saturated with from the time you got up till the time you went to bed.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

In 2 Thessalonians, chapter one, verse 11, we've read it already, but I want to share it with you from a different translation. It's just the way that one person interpreted that text, it said, because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time. We pray that our God will make you fit for what he has called you to be. We pray that he'll feel your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy, so that it all amounts to something. Can you just give God praise right there because I just think, man, I want it all to amount to something. And there's a lot of stuff going on right about now that ain't gonna amount to nothing. But if you bring, that's the way we say it where I come from, ain't gonna amount to…But I just feel like we all want that, like, we want it to amount to something, we want it to have eternal significance. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

One of the things about the millennial generation that is deep in your core is you want to make a difference. And so do everything that you can to make a difference. But in the process of that, don't forget to pray. It has to start with prayer, it has to end with prayer and in between, it needs to be completely and totally saturated with prayer. If you haven't prayed about it, it might not be worth saying. But when you begin to bring prayer into your thought life, and you begin to bring prayer into your life in general, and you begin to say, God, I want it to amount to something. Something of eternal significance, something of Kingdom good. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I want to ask you right now, whether you're an overflow church online are right here in this building, I want you just to bow your heads before God, I want you to take a moment and give some of those thoughts over to God. They're going to begin to play some music. They're going to play it softly. And as they do, I don't want you to be intimidated about talking to God. That is one of the things that the enemy does to suppress our prayer life. He puts a chokehold on us. He cuts us off from God because we thought we can't say it right. You talk to God, like you would talk to your very best friend. Yes, you are Reverent. And yes, you are respectful. And yes, you are honorable. But you just do it in a tone that says God, I'm grateful that you would talk to me. And Lord, there's some things I need to communicate to you right now. Maybe the number one thing on your agenda today is that you are far from God, and you need to be near. Just tell him where you're at in life. Tell him where you're at in your soul. Don't hold anything back. If there is sin in your life that you need to confess, then right here, right now, just start pouring it out before the Lord, don't hold back and invite the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on a cross of Calvary 2000 years ago to now be spiritually made real in your life in this room right there in your home to poor over you. Plead the blood over your life. Maybe there's stuff that's going on in your family, and you just need God to move. Maybe there's crazy stuff that's been going on in your community that maybe even other people aren't even aware of. But you're like, I know, there's some crazy stuff going on. And we need God to move. Maybe there's things where you've just whether it's been every time you go online, or you start to scroll through social media, or you try to watch the news, read the news, listen to the news. It's like you just start to be totally overwhelmed. Like instead of internally digesting all of that stuff that causes anxiety, cast all your cares on the Lord. Pray always.  Pray without ceasing. Don't just think about what you think about what you're going to do about it or what you wish somebody would do about it. Invite God to be a part of it. It transitions and transforms the situation. It brings God into your world. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Father God, we invite you to make us fit for your calling. We invite you, God, to put your energy in our work, the work you've called us to the work, you've commissioned us to the things that you've laid on our hearts. And God, we pray right here right now that everything that we do and everything that we're attempting to fulfill for the glory of your name, that it would amount to something. And that God, it would advance in the way that you have called and ordained us. That our feet would never stray to the left or the right for the path that you have for us. God take off the spirit of timidity from our prayer life. God, there's going to be moms, they're going to be cleaning the house, and they're going to start to just even while they're mopping the floor, picking up the dirty clothes, they're just going to pray, Lord, bless my children, bless them coming and going. Father, I remember watching my 80 year old grandma, going through the house, picking up stuff, cooking meals for 10, or 15 people to stop buying, eat. And she'd walked through and she called her family by name. And she'd simply say, Lord, bless them. Lord, bless him. God, let those kinds of prayers come to us. Where they were not intimidated to lay it at the throne of God. And I pray Father, that this would be a mile marker, a mile marker, in the spiritual journey of this church, and this community, that prayer is being activated in hundreds of people. I speak, decree, and declare God, that those that have been intimidated and those that have held back those that have thought it would be weird that now they will begin to allow idol wishes to become active prayers. I pray Father, that there would be a yes and an amen. A sobeit Lord, that you would build our lives in such a way that it brings Glory to you, glory to you, glory to you, glory to you. 

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