Seeing God Intervene

Bible Book: Psalms  143 : 5-11
Subject: Prayer; New Year; Deliverance; Revival
Introduction

It was Dr. A.J. Gordon who said, "You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed." How true that is. Why is that we wait till the last moment to pray?

There is the story told by Vance Havner about an elderly lady who was very sick. I don’t remember the exact details, but the core of the story involved prayer. Every doctor had been sought and visited, and at last nothing more could be done. Her son said, “Mom, we are just going to have to pray.” The sick lady responded, “Has it come to that?” Sadly, many of us try everything but prayer before we decide to pray. It is little wonder that God is reluctant to answer such prayers! It is going to “come to that” so we might as well begin with that. Start with prayer. Remain desperate for God’s presence and hand in your life. If we don’t feel that sense of need, we will never pray as we should.

So, I want to speak to you today on the subject of prayer. More specifically, I am going to address how we can address the Lord in such a way as to experience His power and presence in this New Year. I doubt there are many true believers who do not realize just how much we need for the Lord to show up and do great things in this day and time.

We turn today to a prayer by David found in Psalm 143. You will note that David is having some problems, one of which is the fact that there were enemies out to get him. How many of you know that there are enemies of your souls and God’s kingdom in this world today? Sure you know that! Then how can we pray for such a time as this? How can we see God intervene in 2014? There is a great prayer found in this passage that can help us see some needs in our lives and how we can take those to the Lord.

When we pray as we should, we address three realms. We see this is the Lord’s Prayer:

The Divine Realm – "Our Father who art in heaven…"
The Daily Realm – "Thy will be done – give us our bread – forgive us our trespasses…”
The Demonic Realm - "…deliver us from evil…"

Praying properly moves heaven, changes us and drives back the evil one. So let’s concentrate for a few minutes today on the prayer of David found in Psalm 114:5-11.

David’s prayer contains four important elements. I know there are more than four important issues in this Psalm, but I want us to zero in on the four that need to claim our attention today. David asked for four specific things in this prayer, and some of them he mentioned more than once.

I. Answer Me

Two times in Psalm 143 David prays, “Answer me.” David desires to hear a word from the Lord. Listen to me, my friends, that is our need today. We hear from the national politicians, but who can trust them. We hear from the experts but they are often proven incorrect. We hear from the scientist but they almost always deny God. We hear from the market place but it simply says, “Buy more, spend more, have more!” We need a word from God. We need to hear from heaven.

David’s request for God to answer him reveals that he is actually listening for God’s voice. This is important and often neglected.

I read the other day about a man who spoke to his aging mother and said, “I am worried about dad’s hearing.” His mother said, “Oh, it doesn’t matter. For forty years he would not listen and now he can’t hear!”

Hearing from God, however is very important and it really does matter. To hear from God is to have a divine mandate, a holy fiat. It means to know that God is with you and, after all, that is what matters most.

A. Notice the Adoration

David calls Him “Lord.” He doesn’t see God as a holy bellhop. He knows that He is God and he honors Him when He calls upon Him. No one can pray properly who does not know the glory and greatness of God. He is God and I am not!

B. Notice the Realization

David knows that he has enemies. Do you know that? The world, the flesh and the devil are always your enemies. Perhaps you have some human enemies as well. Most of us do, even if we do not know it. Enemies abound and there is only one protector for us and that is the Lord.

C. Notice the Desperation

He calls for a response “speedily.” Does God sometimes drive the believer into a corner so that it will drive him to his knees.

D. Notice the Expectation

Look at verse 143:9. He calls on the Lord for deliverance. Note that he takes his shelter in the Lord. The word “shelter” in this verse means to be “concealed” or “hidden”. David knows he can only be hidden and sheltered from his enemies if he is wrapped up in the Lord.

This word, “shelter,” is written as a Piel Perfect, which means it is stated as an action already taken. It is something settled in the heart of the speaker. In other words, it is not something David plans to do but something he has already done.

Have you fled to Jesus? Is it settled? Is He your Lord? He can be today.

II. Lead Me

A. From Ego

Note that David does not claim to know what he is to do. He has no ego in his relationship with God. He has been through many trials. A bear, a lion, a giant, captured by the Philistines (extricated by the Lord) and faced many enemies within his own house – including his son Absalom. Yet, David has no ego in the face of his previous successes. Success can be a danger to the Christian. We begin to think that our success is the result of our own abilities and strengths. David humbly asks for God’s leadership. He knows this world is full of minefields and pitfalls. He forsakes his ego and calls upon the Lord with humility.

Note verse 6 in Psalm 143. David states that he lifts up his hands to the Lord. Picture a small child with his little arms uplifted in the desire that his mother or father will pick him up. That is what I see here. David is like an humble child who desires to be in his parent’s arms.

Ego is a dangerous thing. It causes us to center the entire world and history around our personal lives. I am reminded of a Sunday School class that was asked by the teacher to go into their backyards at night, to lie down on the ground, and to count the stars they see in the sky. In the Sunday School class the next Sunday, the children reported that some had seen as many as 153 stars while others said it was too many to count. Most of them were fairly in agreement as to the large number except for one little boy who answered very positively that he saw three stars. The teacher asked how it could be that others saw so many and you only saw so few. The child thought a minute and said, “Well, our backyard is awfully small.”

Some people are like that in life. Their world is very small. It is all about me and mine. Even in this prayer by David, when he was surrounded by trouble, he does not display a vaulted ego. He is humble. He recognizes that no one living is righteous (Psalm 143:2). David is not like the name and claim it prosperity preachers of our day. He doesn’t presume upon God. He prays in humility and honesty.

B. From Evil

Look at Psalm 143:10. David cries out to be delivered in the way of uprightness. He doesn’t want to act in a way that is evil, even though his enemies are doing so. He desires to honor God in every situation.

Only those who pray and pray properly can avoid the tendency to act like their enemies. If we are not in close contact and fellowship with God, when we are smitten we will strike back in like manner. When Jesus said to turn the other cheek, he wasn’t talking about passivity. He was teaching us to know God’s path in each situation. We must have Him lead us in our responses. There are times for one to protect himself. But, there are times when God will lead us in a different path – one that honors Him. If we are not talking to Him regularly and properly we will not know how to react. David desires to honor God in this situation.

III. Teach me

A. Teach Me to Understand what Pleases You

The word for “teach” in this passage is the Hebrew word “lamad”, which means to be disciplined and trained. It was used of training animals, like cattle, to learn to follow directions. It was also used of training soldiers who must learn discipline and endurance. David is praying for the wisdom to endure the hardship till God can teach Him what pleases God. Knowing God’s will is not always easy. It sometimes means enduring hardship to learn God’s path.

B. Teach Me to Undertake what Pleases You

David did not just pray to know what pleases God but to DO what pleases God. In Psalm 143:10 David prays, “Teach me to DO your will, for you are God….”

Just think of what we can accomplish if we simply DO what we already KNOW we are to DO! Why should we follow God’s Spirit and do His will? Well, first, he is God! But, there is more to it than that. Not that David says that God’s Spirit is GOOD! The word means “beautiful” and “pleasant”. To be sure, doing God’s will doesn’t always seem beautiful and pleasant, but it always leads to that which is beautiful and pleasant.

David is praying for God to lead him onward on the straight path. Now listen, when David prays to be lead in the path of uprightness, he does so by using an “imperfect” tense. In other words, David knows he isn’t all he can be or will be. He is seeking to follow the Lord more purely and perfectly.

IV. Revive Me

The word “revive” used in this passage is the same word used in Habakkuk 3:2 where the prophet prays, “Revive they work in the midst of the years….”

A. Revival and Remembrance

The word revive is a word for breath. Remember that Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, He came as “wind” or “breath”. Oh, how we need to be revived. We need God to breathe on us and revive us. There has not been a time in my lifetime when we needed revival more than now.

Earlier in this Psalm, David spoke of remembering the days of old and the greatness of God’s works. As he ends this Psalm, he prays for revival. David is praying for a return of the mighty power of God. That is what we need today.

One of our problems is that we are forgetful. We do not remember the mighty things we have seen God do, or the things we have read about in the Bible and history that He has done. We become accustomed to the mundane – the ordinary. I remember the early days of my ministry beginning in the 1960s and throughout the 1980s how God moved in remarkable ways. It was nothing back then to see several people saved in a service or to see dozens of people saved in revival meetings.

One day, while in a revival in Hampstead North Carolina, I went to play golf with a couple of the church members in that church. One of them men owned a beautiful set of woods that were very light. He led me hit the driver and I fell in love with it. I asked how much he would take for that driver at least three or four times during that round of golf. He finally said, “Tonight is youth night at the church. If seven young people get saved, I will give you this driver.” That night the service took place and during the invitation young people began to respond. The invitation went on for some time. Then, when the pastor introduced those who had been saved it was exactly SEVEN YOUNG PEOPLE who had come to Christ. There was such joy there that evening. That church probably averaged 200 people each Sunday and seven young people got saved in one night. The church was as good as his word – he gave me that beautiful driver. I can tell you, though, I was for more excited about seven young people coming to Jesus. Often in those days we would see three, four and perhaps even eight or ten people come to Christ in one revival service. How long has it been since we have seen that in our churches? Perhaps it is because we are not burdened for it. Perhaps it is because we are not praying and begging God for it.

David prayed for real revival in his life. That is what we ought to be praying for in our lives and in our churches.

B. Revival and Reason

What is the reason we ought to desire revival? David prayed that God would revive him for God’s own sake. David was praying for God to display His power and to reveal His divine honor. We pray for revival for God’s sake. Our desire must be for God to be honored and glorified. This is not about us – it is about God’s honor and name.

The reason to desire revival does involve us. David did wish to be delivered, but at the core of his prayer was a desire to see God glorified. You see, when God pushes up the sleeve of His arm and does mighty things, we get to participate in it; but, in the end, it is God who is glorified. He reveals who He is and that we belong to Him.

Conclusion

How is your prayer life? What kind of difference would it make if we made a commitments to pray for these four things throughout the remainder of the month of January in this New Year?

Pray for God to Answer You
Pray for God to Lead You
Pray for God to Teach You
Pray for God to Revive You

Wow! Don’t you think God would move upon a people who earnestly prayed in this manner? David was a man after God’s won heart and we can see that in this wonderful Psalm. There is no pride, no laziness, no arrogance in this prayer. David is laying himself out honestly before God.

“Prayer makes the darkest cloud withdraw,

Prayer mounts the ladder Jacob saw,

Gives exercise to faith and love,

Brings every blessing from above.

Restraining prayer, we cease to fight;

Prayer makes the Christian armor bright;

And Satan trembles when he sees

The weakest saint upon his knees.” (William Cowper)

Extra illustrations:

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In the hospital the relatives gathered in the waiting room, where their family member lay gravely ill. Finally, the doctor came in looking tired and somber. “I’m afraid I’m the bearer of bad news,” he said as he surveyed the worried faces. The only hope left for your loved one at this time is a brain transplant. It’s an experimental procedure, risky and you will have to pay for the brain yourselves. The family members sat silent as they absorbed the news. After a great length of time, someone asked, “Well, how much does a brain cost? The doctor quickly responded, “$5,000 for a male brain, and $200 for a female brain.” The moment turned awkward. Men in the room tried not to smile, avoiding eye contact with the women, but some actually smirked. A man, unable to control his curiosity, blurted out the question everyone wanted to ask. “Why is the male brain so much more?” The doctor smiled at the childish innocence and so to the entire group said, “It’s just standard pricing procedure. We have to mark down the price of the female brains, because they’ve actually been used.”

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Listening to God is important. In fact, listening is always important. A doctor saw his 92 year old patient walking down the street with a beautiful young woman on his arm. He called the patient and asked about it. The old man said, “Well, I was just doing what you told me to do. You told me to get a hot mamma and be cheerful.” The doctor said, “I didn’t tell you that. I told you that you had a heart murmur and to be careful!”