PERSISTENT PRAYER

By: ALEX SEELEY

I want to teach you a little bit about prayer, because I think so many of us don't pray because, number one, we don't know how to pray and we don't actually believe that prayer is effective and it works. Some of us have prayed for things for our personal lives, and they're all good things, but perhaps they've not come to pass. And so we think God doesn't answer our prayers. I'm here to tell you tonight that God always answers your prayer. It's always yes, no, or wait. He's always answered it. But sometimes we don't like the answer in which it comes. We don't want that particular answer. But I'm telling you, prayer shifts things, prayer changes things.

FERVENT PRAYERS

Effective prayer is when you understand who you're praying to. The effect of prayer is not about your effectiveness. It's about God's effectiveness to come through. It's about looking at the scripture and going, well you did it here. You did it here and you did it here. Therefore, I'm going to appeal to you again. Do it here now, Lord. There's this effectiveness that takes place when we are fervent. What does fervent mean? It's a passionate prayer. Absolutely passionate. Someone said to me once, you know, Pastor Alex, you don't have to pray so loud. Jesus isn't deaf. Like you don't need to be. They weren't being mean, they were saying, why do you pray so loud all the time? You know, you don't have to pray loud prayers for God to hear them. I said, you're absolutely right. I said, I pray prayers in my heart. I pray in the spirit as a whisper. Oh, but when I'm passionate about praying into something, I'm a passionate Italian anyway, I'm going to be loud, sorry. And if I'm passionate about fashion and design like I am, I'm going to be passionate about Jesus. And if I'm praying, I'm going to be fervent. You're more passionate at football games than you are in church. What is that? For all you Patriots fans, go Patriots. I'm not even a football person, so if you know me, that is hilarious. But the only reason I like the Patriots is because I like Gisele, who's married to Tom Brady. So anyway, good to keep it in the family, you know. So anyway, getting off track. So fervency, oh, there's a tenacity that needs to come in. And I remember coming to Nashville and you can ask anyone, you can ask honestly, anyone on this front row that was in our basement the early days, everyone we would worship, Henry and Mia, would be leading and everyone was like this [head down]. And I kid you not, I'm like this [worships passionately.] Even my back's spent. And then one day I remember feeling very foolish and I was like, am I going to let the atmosphere dictate me or am I going to dictate the atmosphere? So I got everybody doing this, but I didn't make them. All right, guys, I'm very passionate about my worship, but I'm very passionate. And I'll never forget this. There was always one guy, Ian, and I love him to death. He's not here tonight, is he? And so he would always just stand there. And I thought he hated being there, but he would come back week after week after week. And I felt like the Lord saying it's all happening internally. Just wait, just wait. And he's still with us six years later, he's the best. And honestly, it was beautiful. But I'm telling you, I could have let that dead Nashville dictate. But I was like, no, God requires my highest praise. He requires my fervent prayer. He requires all the passion that I have. And guess what? You're either going to come with me or leave. No problem. But I will not ever stop being passionate about my Lord Jesus. Amen? Never, never, never. And that's why you come to a passionate praise and worship in church. And I want to encourage you guys. Maybe you're new here and you're just spectating. I tell you, it's far better getting involved than just spectating. When you start loosening yourself and just enjoying the presence of God. I couldn't care if you stood on your head. Just do you. But just be free to be you, because this is what prayer is about. It shouldn't be staunch, it shouldn't be "oh, but it's a requirement. But it should be out of a passionate fervency. This is what gets God's attention. Effective prayer. Prayer is not about getting what you want. Prayer is not going to God. Who is the big spiritual ATM. You don't go to God and go, doot doot doot, I'll have that, thanks. That'd be great. Prayer is not a consumer tool, church.

Prayer is a refining tool. It grows us. You know, when you have to pray a little bit longer, what does that do? It does something to you. It builds trust. It builds consistency. It builds something inside of you. We've got a generation that is so microwaved that if it's not done in two minutes, we're over it. We need to understand that prayer is not instant. Sometimes in prayer there's a hold up and we'll talk about that in a minute.

But if there is effective prayer that avails much, what's the ineffective prayer? I really believe that ineffective prayer is when our belief about who God is is incorrect. When we come to him not really knowing that he can and that he will. He is a big God and he can do all things. And when our belief of who God is is incorrect, when you think God is a harsh taskmaster, guess what? You will come to him tentatively. You will not pray bold prayers. You'll be insecure, perhaps. I don't know how you view God. And if you had a bad earthly father, I'm sorry for that. But God is nothing like your earthly father. God is so way beyond even the best father of the year award. He is so good that he says I need you to come as my child. And when we have an incorrect view of who he is, we need to believe that he is the God of the impossible that does the possible. There is no limit to God. He is awesome. He's amazing. When we come to him, another reason why we have ineffective praise is because of the way we see ourselves. We come in and we like unworthy and we're just fallen and we just broken and and God's like "no, that's not the position I need you to be and I need you to be in the position that says that I am justified, that I am free, that I am seated with Christ, and that I can boldly come and approach you.". And also, when you don't understand your authority, I need you to know the whole reason why Jesus Christ died on a cross was to restore us back to our original design. And what was our original design in the garden? To have dominion and authority over the Earth. Isn't that crazy? But yet most of us think we're nothing. Most of us think we don't have enough. We're not good enough. We're not righteous. You'll never be righteous in your own works. But you are righteous because Jesus made you righteous. And we need to know that we carry on authority. Therefore, you have a responsibility to shift atmosphere. Do you realize so many people go, oh, well, if it be God's will is just going to happen, you know, it's just God's will. The people changed God's mind in scripture. If it was just God's will, why would he ask us to pray if he just was in control of everything? He would have fixed it all by now. Because there's free will, guess what? We get to partner with God and our authority and dominion to take down the enemy while he's still roaming the earth. So just a heads up, he's not in hell yet. He still roams the earth. And we get to have authority and dominion over him through our prayers. But if you don't understand that, you won't pray. And if you just pray in a crisis or you pray when something bad happens or you just pray for blessing, then that's ineffective prayer. We can't just be praying these limited prayers. We've got to have a responsibility to pray into things. I want my children's children to live in a world where they are not in the absolute demise and corruption of the world. We get to pray into that. We get to pray into what our children will go to school with, and do, and live, and what the laws of the land will be. We get to pray into that. Instead of criticizing our current president right now on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, pray for him. The amount that you just spent criticizing him, you've just partnered with the enemy. Why don't we partner with heaven and pray for him? Whatever your political persuasion is and how ever do you think he is? It doesn't matter. You are to pray for him. Pray for your leaders, pray for the church, pray, stop talking about it, the same words you're using to pull down, you could be building up and you could be shifting atmospheres with your prayer. And if you don't know how to pray, pray in the spirit. This is what we need to do. You see Jesus taught the disciples how to pray and we all know that wonderful scripture. Matthew six through nine, and he talks about "our Father who art in heaven." I'm not not going to read all of this but I love how he says to them, "when you pray, don't go out into the open. Don't be pharisaical. Don't just pray when it's required. Don't, just pray when you're saying because I reward those that diligently seek me in the secret place." Shut the door, get behind closed doors. We don't need to Instagram every time we've read the Bible. Let that be between you and Jesus. There's some things that need to be sacred, just like when a husband and wife are intimate together, they don't put that out there for everybody to see, thank God. No, but you see the fruit of their intimacy when they have children. You should be able to see the fruit. We don't need to see the act because that's weird. But God wants there to be an intimacy that's just between you and him. In fact, Ian, who I was just talking about, was saying to me on Sunday, he goes, you know, there was a season a couple of years ago that God asked me to fast and pray. And he said "and I fasted three days, just water. And I was waiting for this big breakthrough. And I was waiting for God to speak to me. And I was waiting for this big crescendo moment. And it was the third day. And I was just hangry and I was just like "what's happening? God I did this [fast]." And he got in the car and he's driving home. And as clear as a bell, he felt the audible voice of God say, "Son, I just wanted to be with you." He falls to his face and just weeps and weeps and weeps. Oh, Jesus wants to be with you. And Ian goes "it was the most profound thing that has happened to me." Imagine that, we're not always needing to get something from him. Jesus goes: "I just want to hang. I just want you to steal away. Just spend time with me because I actually love you. I want to get to know you." Do you realize that when you get into that secret place, into that intimate place, He will speak so deeply and clearly to you that you walk out of that prayer room feeling like nine feet tall and you feel something has shifted inside of you. But the enemy loves to keep you away from that sacred place because he understands the power. When you make a connection with God on that intimate level, you will be unstoppable. So he'll throw all the distractions and all the excuses and all the wrong theology of why you shouldn't pray, should pray, who cares? Maybe pray. It doesn't work. I don't know. And so what it does is it deadens the body of Christ. But I just want to read that first part of it, because this is what I want to know about intimacy. "Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." I want us to actually go to Romans 8:14. I was reading over again today. I alluded to it on the weekend and want to -- it's not on the screen so just listen. Says "for those who are led by the spirit of God are the children of God. The spirit you receive does not make you slaves so that you live in fear again. Rather, the spirit you receive brought about your adoption to sonship and by him we cry Abba father, the spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now, if we are children, then we are heirs, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. If indeed we share in His sufferings, we may also share in his glory." So this point when Jesus is saying "Our Father," he has just caused us to become part of this family and this spirit has enabled us to be adopted as sons and daughters. And so we can come into that throne room as daddy, as Abba father, as Dada. That most instinctive moment of when a child, their first word most likely is going to be Dada. I don't know why it's probably easiest to say on the palate, but the first word my both my children said was Dada. In fact, [for] Holly it was no. And then it was Dada. She was a feisty little thing, that thing she still is. And I love her to bits for it, but anyway. Dada. And the minute that happened, I even remember where it was, where Holly was, we were actually in Adelaide and we were doing a conference and we were staying in a hotel. We just moved to Melbourne and she was in a little cotton crib and she stood up and she went "Dada." It was the first time and we just flipped it. But you should have seen Henry. He literally grabbed her, ran around the room, kissing her a thousand times and Dada. What happened to Daddy? He freaked out. He loved it. It was an intimate moment. It was this moment where that was all she wanted. That's how God's saying to approach Him. Approach him in intimacy, approach him with all your needs, approach him with all the things. God saying, "I want communion with you, church. I want to love on you and I want you to listen. And this is the thing. Sometimes we get into our prayer closet and we just talk at God, "I need this, this, this, this, this God, would you do this? Okay bye." And we don't take time to sit and listen. We don't take time to just ponder and wait. Just ponder and wait, ponder and wait, ponder and wait and wait for the Father to whisper the truth. Some of you struggle with your identity. Some of you struggle with your self-confidence. Some of you struggle with anxiety and insecurity. Guess what? It's in that intimate place found with the father that he's going to affirm who you speak to, who you are through the word. And I'm telling you, your prayer life is going to change. We need to learn how to be intimate with the Father, pray in the secret place, pray from a position as a co-heir with Christ and a son of the Father.

PERSISTENT IN PRAYER

Some of us need to be persistent in our prayer. There's a scripture in Luke 11. It's the same account of the disciples saying "teach us how to pray." But Jesus goes on furthermore in this section and he says to them, "suppose you have a friend and you go to him at midnight and say, Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. A friend of mine on a journey has come to me and I have no food to offer him. And suppose the one inside answers 'don't bother me. The door is already locked and my children and I are in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' I tell you, even though you will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship. Yet because of your shameless audacity, he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. So I say to you ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives, the one who seeks finds and to the one who knocks the door will be opened to you."

Now he's saying be persistent and be shamelessly audacious. Some of us are too polite. We ask and we just move away. God's saying when you pray, I need you to ask, seek, and knock. I need you to keep being persistent until something happens. There's an acronym that's gone around that says PUSH: Pray until something happens. Some of us just give up, we just relent "oh no." But God's actually wanting to develop a muscle inside of you and that's called tenacity. He's wanting to push something out of you that says, "I will not leave you, leave you until you bless me."

Some of us need to have that tenacity and that boldness like Jacob did when he wrestled with God. Some of you actually need to have a bit of a wrestle because some of you have gone into your prayer closet and [after] five minutes, you feel nothing and you feel distracted and you think of everything else to do and you exit. And God goes "that's not the time. I need you to stay and push. I need you to push." Because how is a baby delivered? By pushing? It doesn't come by saying. "let's have the baby." And sometimes it's a long wait. My first labor was twenty three hours, my second labor was four. Thank God, Tyler was easy. Holly did not want to come out into this world. She was very cozy. But I had to push and push and push. You don't just get it, but there's some things. I had a healing that I needed to actually have those children because I was barren, I didn't just ask once. I was barren and I prayed for two solid years every day. And I pushed God and I pushed and I was like, God, I'm holding you at your word. I'm not giving up. I will have children because you purposed it. I got so bold in my faith that I believe that even if I didn't have a womb in my body, that God could creatively do one by miracle. There became such tenacity. By the time I had the children, I thank God that I had to wait two years, because something happened inside of me that caused me to push after God until I got what was promised. Some of us give up too easily. We need to be like that Canaanite woman that went after Jesus and said, "Jesus, my daughter is demon possessed and I need her to be healed." And he's like, "I'm sorry I didn't come for you. You're a Canaanite woman. I came for the Jews." And she begged and pleaded and he then called her a dog.And she responds with, "Well, even the dogs eat from the master's table, those few little crumbs that fall on the ground." And then she worshiped him. She didn't give up. And it was then that Jesus said, "my goodness, what faith. You've drawn something out of me because you've not given up." She could have turned away at the first sign when he said, "hey, I didn't come for you." Imagine that? I would be so offended I would have run the other way. Oh, sorry. Then to be called the dog? Some of us get mad at God when he doesn't do one little thing. We need to be persistent. We need to go after it. When we do that, we need to have faith. Because you see her faith was rewarded. "Oh your faith has made you well." Hebrews 11:6 says, and without faith, it's impossible to please him. Ask yourself, "do I truly believe when I pray that he'll do it, or is there a reservation or doubt?" You need to ask God to help you with your unbelief. You've got to ask "God, I don't know where the root is of why I have unbelief, but God, I need you to help me with it, because I want to believe without reservation. We need to pray in this spirit. This is very important. Romans 8:26 says "in the same way this spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he searches our hearts and he knows the mind of the spirit because the spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God." See, this is very important. And when you're praying in the flesh and in your head, that's sometimes, too, where you're not penetrating that spiritual principality and power. Do you realize that we have a fourth dimension that's very real and active and we need to pray according to God's will and pray in the spirit? And sometimes you go to get your spirit man in line with this and you go to pray as the spirit utters. And here it talks about wordless groans. Sometimes I've prayed where I've only been able to cry or have only been able to make noise. I've not even known what to pray, but I begin to pray in my prayer language because I'm like, "God, I just know that I need to pray, pray, and pray, and pray. And something shifts. And then actually things get dropped into my spirit and my heart and my head. And then I begin to pray in English. I know that right then and there. I'm in a zone where I'm praying according to the will of God, and that's when I know things shift. We need to be intentional with our prayer. Write it down. Have a prayer journal. Write down and watch God answer those prayers as you start, and go. "Alright God, this is what I'm believing for." I do that every year. And even though it doesn't happen annually, over the last six years, I've tracked my prayers and I've seen how many of them have been answered. Most of them. We need to be intentional with our prayer. Pray for your children. Pray for everything.

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