Holy Shift in "Prayer"

Unanswered prayers can lead you to think did God abandon me?

James Greer
Sep 2, 2018    26m
In this sermon Pastor Greer discusses a shift in prayer that occurred between the Old and New Testaments. This shift has moved from prayers that were self centered, and only about improving a problem in your life. To prayers which may go unanswered, that are meant to bring honor and glory to God. He talks about how people may wonder did God abandon me when they face unanswered prayers. However these unanswered prayers are likely to lead you to a new strength and boldness to do things, and go through things, that will glorify God. Video recorded at Pineville, Louisiana.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

James Greer: 00:00 Good morning Journey church. Let's welcome to Alexandria campus. Man, they're rocking the house over there, and I'm so thankful how God's moving there, and how he's moving here.

James Greer: 00:11 I'll tell you, that was some testimony about the shift in prayer from Jeff and Danielle, but I want you to learn something about prayer. God answered their prayer even when they had the miscarriage. God answered their prayer when they had Lydia prior to that. [inaudible] And God answered their prayer when God gave them Isaac. Because the reason that God answered their prayer, it's because even when they went through, had the miscarriage. That God answered their prayer, because God gave them a strange amount of peace and power to walk through that time. That was almost supernatural, that it had to come from God. In fact, so much of what we're going to learn today, is so many times because we don't really understand the purpose of prayer, we missed the power of prayer. And we miss the purpose of the problem. I've done that in my life. I know when we lost our granddaughter, my only prayer was God heal her, and God chose not to. And he healed her, but he healed her in heaven. I knew that I really doubted the power in prayer at that time. I said, does God really even answer prayer? And it is because I didn't really understand the true intent of prayer, and the real purpose of prayer.

James Greer: 01:32 We've been studying Acts, and last week we talked about the boldness in Acts chapter four, verse 29. It says, "Now the Lord, he looked on the threats." And they had been threatened for preaching the Gospel. They said, listen, we're going to throw you in jail. Later on, they were thrown in jail, and they were beaten. But they said, Grant your servants with all boldness, that we might speak the word." That this unbelievable shift begins in prayer. It began to shift to be bold for God, not just for our benefits. Most of the time when I pray, I pray, God, give me the benefits. I'm pray, God, what do I want? See not them, they shifted. They began to preach to be bold for God, and then I'll tell you one of the results from really praying, and praying right, is you end up being bold for Jesus Christ.

James Greer: 02:19 I'm hearing people invite people to come and church, and they're bold like never before. Last Sunday, last week, we had something, if I'm right Rich? Almost six hundred plus people scattered all around, they were doing church. Some here, some in the small groups. That's a lot of people, that's boldness, Amen. Then he went on to say, by stretching out your hand to heal, and the word heal can mean to make whole, and the signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your Holy Servant. In other words, they said, listen, what I wanted to do, I want there to be such boldness. You know that when things are happening, they have to know they come from God. And when they had what? Prayed. When they had what? Prayed. The place where they were assembled together was shaken. Can I tell you something? When you pray, and you pray right, when a church prays, and the church prays right; it's and not only shaken, things begin to happen.

James Greer: 03:10 It's like today, we're going to baptize at least nine people, Amen. That's happening, man, that's a happening. I love to baptize people, man, and so things are happening at Journey Church. And they were filled with the holy spirit, and the result of being filled with the Holy Spirit, they spoke the word of God with boldness. Man, I want to have a church that's bold. Now I will tell you if they'd of thrown me in jail for preaching, sometimes when they make fun of me for preaching, it hurts my little feelings. But if threw them in jail, [inaudible] I'd have been saying, hey, how about my benefits? God, I've been preaching, and now you've got me in jail. First of all, would you get me out of jail? And then would you please let them stop hurting me? I mean, God, I was preaching. You know, why is this happening? Why am I in jail? And do you see the shift in prayer? We don't even see them praying that, in fact, you don't see them praying, oh God, please let me not be hurt, please let me get out of jail. No, no. You see them, God, after all the threats, give me boldness to be even bolder than I was before the pain, before the problems. I'm going to tell you, I want our church to shift in their prayer life. I want you to shift, I want you to be bold, and filled with the power and presence of God, Amen.

James Greer: 04:26 So let's look at the holy shift in prayer. Remember this, the longer something exists, the easier it is to miss, or shift away from, the original intent,or the meaning, or purpose. It's the same with the church is the same way with prayer. I mean the great shift in the church, the Holy Shift. We shifted from the Old Testament where we had sacrifices of animals, to the New Testament where Jesus Christ became the ultimate sacrifice. We shift from churches being in buildings, but I like to preach in buildings, Amen. But it shift to being the people. It's a gathering. It shifted to limited power. It said in the Old Testament, before they shift, it was limited power to priests and to prophets, and now it's unlimited power to everybody that accepts the gospel of Christ. It shifted from having to go through pastors, and priests, to a person, and that person being Jesus Christ. So man, it's been a great shift. Journey Church has been great since we started. God has just poured out his blessing. We got a movement of God going on here, and I thank God for it.

James Greer: 05:32 Let's look at Acts chapter three, starting in verse one, and we'll read from that. Now Peter, John, they went up to the temple. Hey man, even after the shift they still came to church. The difference was they came to church, to learn to be the church. And they went to the temple of prayer at the ninth hour. And there was a certain lame man from his mother's womb, was carried, for whom laid at the gate of the temple. Hey, hey, uh oh, this was outside the church by the way. You're going to find this was outside the church and they we fixing to have church. Which called beautiful. So he asked for alms from those who entered into the what? Temple. What I want you to know is that you can have church, outside of church, Amen. God can do a great work outside of church. He wants you to be so excited outside of church, you just bring it inside the church. So what this man wanted, and what he prayed for, what he thought he needed, was alms. I mean, so many people still think that. So many people think that's what they need, what he really needed is to be healed. He had been lame since his mother's womb. They had to carry him, and put him at the gate. Don't you know month after month, year after year, the discouragement set in. And some of y'all are here today, and you have prayed, and you've prayed, and you have prayed, and you're still fighting the same battles. And you say, God, are you going to come through? Listen, don't let that discourage you, let it encourage you. When you began to learn the purpose and true intent that God has for answered prayer, listen, you're here at the right time because God's go do a work in your life. When he sees Peter and John about to go into the temple, what did they do? They asked for alms? And they fixed their eyes on him, and Peter and John said look, look at us. So gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. I love this because when we get ready to go to the next verse...I hope every single Sunday when you come to church, I hope you come expecting to receive something, but I hope you come to expect it and receive it from Jesus Christ. I hope you come expecting the word to change your life. I hope you come expecting God to answer your prayer. I mean, I hope he came to church expecting, Amen. But Peter said silver and gold, I don't have any. Amen.

James Greer: 07:47 Anyway, he said, silver and gold I don't have, I have none. So many people don't understand, man, if I just had silver and gold, I could help somebody. If I just had silver and gold, my problems would be away. If I just had silver and gold, I could give it to my kids, my grand kids, my best friend. No, no, no, no, but he said, but what I do have...God says, listen, I'm not worried about what you don't have, I'm worried about you using what you do have, Amen. That's good Brother James, I just came up with that, thank you Jesus. But what I do have, I give you in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. What do you think he really needed? To rise up and walk? Isn't great? You may not have the silver and gold that you can give somebody, but wouldn't it be something, I can't do this for you. But in the name of Jesus Christ, you can have a new power, a new strength, that you've never had in your entire life, and you're able to deliver that message from God to them. Verse seven, "And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and his ankles and his bones, they were strengthened."

James Greer: 08:48 See God wants to use people. God's the one that has the power, God gets the honor, God gets the glory. But God uses people like me and you, just like he did with them, because the shift his on. God wants to use you in church, but God wants to use you outside the church, Amen. When you start seeing nine people baptized, nineteen people coming in, because you are being the church. You're coming to church, but you're leaving being the church. The shift is, hey, come to church, but you leave what? Being the church, and y'all are doing that. You're doing it on your jobs, you're doing it at school, you're doing it at your hobbies, you're doing it in all areas of your life.

James Greer: 09:21 Verse eight, "So he, leaping up, stood and walked; and entered into the temple with them, walking, and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking, and they did what? They praised God. I mean to tell you, when God's doing work, people start praising God. Verse ten, "And they knew that it was he, who had begged alms at the beautiful gate of the temple." And they were what? Filled with wonder and amazement, at what had happened to them.

James Greer: 09:51 Stop just a second right there. You should have been given a card today, and what it says inside of it, it says, God, if you would answer this prayer, it would honor and glory God, and it would amaze people. Wouldn't you like to have God answer a prayer that just so amazed people, that only God could get the honor and glory. Journey Church, you ought to be where I am. You ought to be praising God for the wonders, and the miracles, that God can do. Can you imagine that Journey Church, can you imagine last two Sundays we had one hundred first time visitors, no kidding, somebody, Amen. Man, one hundred. Do you understand, thirty seven of those people joined the church and everybody said, Amen. And out of those thirty seven, nineteen of them gave their heart to Jesus Christ. My goodness, if you can't say that wonder and amazement's are going on, there's something, I'm wondering about you. It's all about the holy shift, and God shifting his power. In verse 11, and it says, "And the lame man who was healed, held onto Peter and John, and all the people ran together to the porch, which was called Solomon, in great amazement." Man, I love amazement. You want God to answer your prayer, to bring amazement. You want to write somebody's name that brings amazement, write it down. Because he was healed.

James Greer: 11:17 Stop. Let's talk about healed a minute. He was healed physically, I believe. But that word means to make whole. If he was only healed physically, and he wasn't made whole spiritually, it just be a short time and he'd of died again physically. Because he was healed to make whole, which every single person here has the opportunity to come at the end of the service, and be made whole. To be healed, to be saved. Hey, it doesn't matter what happens one day if you die, you'll live like never before, because you'll be in Heaven. So you can never die, after you're made whole again. You can die here on earth, but you can't in heaven. So he was made whole. Verse twelve, "And so when Peter saw it, and he responded to the people, men of Israel, you know, why do you marvel at this? Why do you look so intensely at us like we have the power?" In other words, what Peter said was, listen, what's going on with y'all? Y'all come over here, and you're looking to us, and you know I'm just an instrument in the hand of almighty God. He said, that wasn't us that did that. He said listen, verse thirteen, he explains it. He says, listen, "The god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of your fathers, (what?) glorified his servant Jesus Christ." What was the point of the healing? To glorify his servant, Jesus Christ. Whom you delivered up, who deny, who you persecuted, who you determined to be put to death. And he said, hey, listen, it's not me that should be getting the honor and glory. It is God. God uses people, but God does the healing, God changes lives. And so what we have to do, is just lift up Jesus, Amen. So see the purpose of the man's healing was to bring honor and glory to God. The purpose of so many lives being changed at Journey Church, the purpose of we have nine, I think today, alone to be baptized, the purpose of that is to bring honor and glory to God.

James Greer: 13:09 See God wants to bring a message of healing this morning. Some of it is physically, but I guarantee he also wants to bring a spiritual message of healing to everybody. But when you start seeing lives change, it proves that God's still in the miracle working
business. He's still making people whole. And let me tell you what, you are never whole completely until you have Jesus Christ.

James Greer: 13:29 So what was the shift in prayer? What is prayer? Well it begin to shift from just me, to he, which is God. It began to shift from just my benefits, to being bold. When you hear the word prayer, I just wonder what you think. I know that I used to think, and I still do all the time, I think it's a way to get God to give me what I want. I mean you just think, that's why most of us go to prayer. God will take care of me, take care of my kids, take care of my family, take care of my job. And there's a few sick people, if I have time, I'll pray for one or two of those. I mean it's the benefits are all about me. It has very little to do with boldness. See prayer is getting God to give us what we need, not what we think we want. See if God just gave us what we need, it would be like the man that was born lame from his mother's womb. He thought what he needed was silver and gold, what he wanted with silver and gold. What he needed was to be in the name of Jesus Christ, stand up and walk, Amen. And that's what Jesus wants to do.

James Greer: 14:31 Are you ready? Prayers not always...This is a shocker, but it'll change your life, and you'll stop being so discouraged. If you're here today, every one of you has doubted your prayer life. You said man, God, I just don't know if you're going to answer my prayer, and you become discouraged. But listen really close, prayer is not always for God to remove our problems. It's not always remove our pain, it's not always to remove our suffering, it's not always to remove our sickness. But it is to give us the power during our problems, the results that bring honor and glory to God, during our problems. So we don't miss out on the power and the purpose. This is so important because listen, if you don't understand the real intent of prayer, you'll still have the problem, but you'll go through them without the power of God, and you'll miss the purpose of the problem. So it's not always to just simply remove the problem. See the longer something exists, the easier it is to shift or miss, the original intent of the meaning and purpose of something. See me. What's the original intent? What was the original meaning? What was original meaning and purpose of prayer? It was not to always remove the problem. It was not to remove the threats. It wasn't to remove the hurts, but it's to give them boldness, and peace, and power to talk about Jesus Christ no matter what the circumstances were.

James Greer: 15:53 Let me give you a couple of great examples. First one is Jesus himself. He's fixing to go the cross, so he's fixing to be tortured, he's fixing to be punished, and put the death. Jesus goes to the Gardens of Gethsemane, Matthew Twenty six, 39, and he does this, "He went a little ways further and he fell on his face, and he prayed." What did he do? He prayed. He prayed to God. He said, "Oh my father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but your will be done." In other words, God, listen, if I don't have to go to the cross, I don't want to go to the cross. I mean this is Jesus Christ himself praying to the father. He said, listen, I don't want to be persecuted, but God said, listen. God said, "Listen, Jesus, I'm going to give you the peace and the power to go through the persecution. You can't go around it, and I'm not going to remove it." Do you understand the reasons so many people miss the power of God? Because of trying to go around the power of God. They're trying to remove the power of God. Then God said, I want you to go through it.

James Greer: 16:55 He went a second time, did the same thing again. He said, Oh father, if this cup can pass away, remove it. Less that I drink it, but your will be done. Did you know that God gave him such a power and peace to do what he called him do, even though he didn't remove it. That if you read Hebrews 12:12, it said, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; for the joy that was set before him. He endured the cross." He didn't enjoy the punishment, he enjoyed the power and the results that came from it.

James Greer: 17:29 See what if you prayed, God, first of all, if it's possible, remove the problem. That's what I do. When I'm sick, when I'm hurting, when my family is in bad shape, the first thing I pray is God removed the problem. But what I don't do is God, if you don't remove the problem, please give me the power and peace to go through the problem that brings honor and glory to you. That's the real purpose of prayer. He did it a third time, and he said the same thing, and God answered. Did he answer Jesus' prayer? Yes and no. No God did not remove the problem, the pain. God did not remove him going to the Cross, and being crucified. But yes God did answer the prayer because he gave him the peace, and the power, to go through the greatest humiliation and the greatest problem, and he went through it in a way that brought honor and glory to God. Do you see the shift in prayer? The shift in prayer is understanding it's not always for God to remove the problem. It is not always for God to bring healing. It's not always for God to remove the hurt, while we're here on earth, but it's always for him to give us the power and the presence to bring honor and glory to him. Whether we understand it or not.

James Greer: 18:35 How about Paul? I mean Paul wrote three fourths of the New Testament. Second Corinthians 12:7. Paul speaking, "And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of my revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given me." That's great, a thorn in the flesh means a reoccurring problem, a reoccurring discouragement, a painful physical problem that God wouldn't remove. Some of you come every single Sunday, and you have the same problem over, and over, and over. It's sometimes a physical problems. Sometimes it's an emotional problem. And the first thing Paul did, the first thing I did, the first thing you should do, the first thing when we give an invitation. The first thing we should come and say, Oh God, would you remove the problem? Amen. "A thorn in the flesh was given me a messenger of Satan to buffet me. Lest I be exalted above measure. The next verse says, "And concerning this thing I pleaded (it means I begged) I prayed with the Lord three times that it would depart. Now Jesus prayed, Paul prayed, and he said, man, I got throw thorn. I got this reoccurring pain in my life. God answers him, and he says this, and he said to him, my grace is sufficient. My grace is sufficient? I want you to remove the thorn, Amen, brother. I don't want to go to the cross.

James Greer: 20:06 See some of y'all have come today, and you've got this unbelievable problem. Sometimes it's physical, sometimes it's emotional, sometimes it's family, sometimes it's your kid, and God says I may not remove, but my grace is sufficient for you. My grace is to give you the power and the ability to do what God called you to do, and do it with joy. He said this, for my strength is made perfect in your weakness. In other words, God said, Hey, I will most gladly rather boast of my infirmities, than the power of Christ rest up on me. Do you understand? No matter what you're going through, no matter what I'm going through, God says, listen, I will give you grace. I will give you power. I will give you the grace and power, and then the power of Christ will rest upon your life like never before. Verse ten, "Therefore, he took pleasure infirmities." There's a new insight. He took pleasure in suffering, in reproach, in needs, in persecution, in distress. Why? For Christ's sake, for when I am weak, then I am strong. When I am weak, I am what? I am strong. See, it's not always God's plan to remove the problem.

James Greer: 21:13 We've done a dis-justice. See, I would come to church, and I was just like, man, if I just had more faith. It's my faith life. I just thought if I was more holy, you know? If I was just more righteous before God, he would do it. And my righteousness, y'all ready? It's not been brother James, it was in the blood of Jesus Christ, so I'm right before God. And so the Satan and the devil were trying to discourage me, he had tried to defeat me, he tried to give me up. And see what I missed out, was the real purpose. intent of prayer. I go to pray. I say, Oh, God removed my problems. Oh God, if you don't, give me a new boldness to talk about you God. And God, if not, give me a new strength to talk about you. God, let the power of Christ rest upon me during suffering, where you get the honor and glory for it. Wow. New perspective on prayer now, Amen.

James Greer: 22:03 In Philippians 1:29, it says this, "For you have been given." I've not only been given only the privilege of trusting Christ, which is a privilege to trust Christ. If you're here today, and you've never trusted Christ, man it is a privilege, you should come in just a moment. [inaudible] in Christ, but also I got the privilege of suffering for him. He's talking about a shift, a shift in suffering? How it could be a privilege to suffer for Christ? Because when he was suffering, and everything he was going through, he was beaten, he was put in jail. They said, there's something different about this guy. There's something. The way he responds, the way he talks, that no matter what it is, we just can't beat Jesus out of him. The more we beat him, the more he talks about him. He said it became a privilege, because when I suffered, I drew people to Jesus Christ.

James Greer: 23:04 In closing, this is what I'd like to do. This is a tough, tough message if you don't listen to it, if you don't hear it right, if you don't receive it correct. First of all, if you don't know Jesus as your savior, you don't get to experience the grace of God. So if you're not sure that you've accepted Christ as your savior, you need to do that. Second, if you've accepted him, you need to make sure you follow through in public baptism. That was fun celebrating baptism, right? Amen. It's a picture of the death, burial, resurrection. Man, it's a picture of washing away the old sin. It's a picture of, I have available a new power. So some of you need to come and accept Jesus as your savior, where you get to experience the grace of God. Some of you have never been publicly, you ready, biblically baptized. The death, the burial and the resurrection? Well, when I give the invitation, quit looking for the excuses. If that's you, you just walk down, we'll work out everything else. Just say, hey, that's for me. Some of you need to come and say, God, would you please remove the problem? Would you remove the suffering? Would you remove the hurt? Would you remove the family problems? Would you remove the marriage problems? Would you remove the financial problems? Sometimes God does that, but he might not. Every one of us needs to come and say, God, I'd like for you to remove the problem, but if you don't, would you give me the grace, the power, the peace, and the strength to walk through this problem in a way that brings honor and glory to you? See Second Timothy 3:12 says, "Everybody that wants to love God, is going to suffer persecution." Living for the Lord, and being persecuted, go hand in hand. If you're really living for the Lord, and nobody's persecuting you, nobody's making fun of you, and nobody's saying anything, there's probably something wrong. God don't necessarily remove the prosecution, sometimes it confirms that you're living for God. I had somebody say, I made a commitment last week. I think it was last Sunday, to follow through in public baptism, and all hell broke through. Only they didn't say that, they just said it's one problem after another. I knew what it meant, all hell broke through. And they had problem, after problem, after problem, and they had to just keep poking, and they made it today, and they got baptized today, and they won, and they got a new victory. And see that's what God wants to do in your life, Amen. Don't give up. Don't give up. Did you know?

James Greer: 25:32 In closing, Acts 20:24 says, where we should be. It says, "I don't care about my own life anymore. The most important thing is that I complete my mission. The work that the Lord gave me is to tell people the good news." The good news is we got somebody that mend's broken relationships. About God's what? Grace. Every one of us need God's grace.

James Greer: 25:58 Would you stand and let me pray with you, and pray for you? God. you're a great God. God, I pray for every person here, God, that has a problem. And I know every one of us have a different problem. Some of them are so private, nobody knows about it. Some of them are personal, some of our financial, some of them are marriage, some of them are with our kids and grand kids. And God, first of all, we want to make sure that we know you as savior and we've got the grace of God. Second of all, God, we want to ask you to remove the problem oh God. And we will still give you the honor and glory. And third, God, we pray if you don't remove the problem, that I'll have a new strength, grace, and peace, and power of your presence that's with me, that when I walk through this problem, that is going to bring honor and glory to you. God that will honor you. That God, for those need to come and join the church, or follow through in baptism, or have somebody pray with them. God, I pray they come right now, in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

Recorded in Pineville, Louisiana.
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Journey Church
2900 Donahue Ferry Rd
Pineville, Louisiana 71360