The Miracle Of Prayer – Sermon – Romans 8:26
The Miracle Of Prayer by Bro.Leon Stewart Sr. of Christ’s Sanctified Holy Church.
1997 Annual Campmeeting in Perry, GA.
Brother Leon Stewart: I want to say first of all, I don’t need an apology. You can have my time any time. Give me a place to stay, give me a place to stand. Let me keep coming in, feeding on the Word, fellowshipping with the saints, that’s enough. I don’t have to have a spot up here. I’d like to say also I think our Board of Extension and those that help them are to be commended.
One of the things that is most astounding to most people, when I try to tell them about my church is that we don’t take up collections and we don’t have paid ministers. They can’t hardly figure out how a church can operate that way. We do quite well. A hundred and some years we have done never it. And I pray we go another hundred. Without ever succumbing to that situation where ministers are paid to preach and congregations have to come thinking that’s what they’re supposed to do is give their money. The Lord’s not after your money, he’s after your all. Everything that you have.
So I will try to be short tonight. I asked the saints to pray for me. I have prayed for humility. I think there’s very few situations in life where a good dose of humility won’t improve it. Very few conflicts in life, where a good measure of humility won’t go a long way and resolve it.
We live in a land and at a time of extraordinary advances and progress in technology in the communications field. I don’t think there has ever been a time, with any other field of endeavor, that there has been such rapid progress, so consistently. It almost staggers the mind how rapidly companies form and do so well. And then they’re passed on by because they can’t keep up with it.
Products are put on the market at very expensive prices. In just a few months, or a few years, they’re obsolete. They have no function anymore. The technology has gone completely behind them. There’s cellular phones and there’s fax machines and all kinds of microwave towers and microwaves and just technology of such extraordinary degree. All relating to communications, but as I think it hasn’t helped man’s communication with God, in the least bit. It’s not any better today than it ever was. God has always had a communications system.
Song we sang, “Just as the Lord in the world’s early ages, walked and communed with the prophets and sages. He will come now if you meet the conditions, humble thyself to walk with God.” Seems like after Adam and Eve transgressed in the Garden of Eden and they lost that communication. Severed. And then one of their sons who was righteous was slain by his brother, and it’s seems like the world was back where it was. No communication.
I think that all of the credit for God’s communication with mankind must go to God. It doesn’t go to man. It seemed to me like I thought maybe the Lord really extended himself to try again. He tried with Adam and it failed. He tried with Abel and he got killed. And Seth was born unto Adam and Eve after that Abel was destroyed. And unto Seth was born a son named Enos. The scripture says “Then began men to call on the name of the Lord.”
And I thought well, the Lord kind of had to intervene while he got this thing up and running. As I thought on that, I thought no, he never did get it up and running.
All of the contact between God and man originates with God. It’s not that we loved him, but it is that he loved us. It is not that we sought him, but it is that he sought us. It’s not that we called him, but it is that he called us. And some people think they can live their lives without the call of God. I don’t think so. Somehow, somewhere when the disappointments of a life of sin begin to dawn, and the Lord begins to speak, the call of the Lord will reach you. It reaches some at earlier ages than it does others. Nevertheless, I believe that it does reach down unto mankind.
Some twenty years ago, thereabouts, Brother Paul Merritt whom we all love very much. I had such… pardon me. So much respect. He testified to a man asking him one time if he believed in miracles. His answer was “Yes”. And he said “Give me an example”. And Uncle Paul’s answer to him was “Prayer, Prayer”.
I’m a slow learner and it seems like 20 years later it’s dawning on me what that really meant. Prayer is really our access with God. It is our communication line. Central’s never busy. Always on the line. I have a cellular phone in my truck and many, many times I call, and not the party that I’m calling is busy, but the system is busy. There’s a difference in that busy sound, you soon learn to know. And if the system is busy you can’t call anybody. I don’t care who it is, you can’t call anybody.
But this communication system is never busy. Anytime you want to change your life, you can pray to God and that line is open. Prayer has some characteristics of its own. If I put a tool up on the stand, say a drill or a saw, that tool will function just as well for one as it will the other. It doesn’t know the difference. The torque, the power, the RPMs will be just as great for a craftsman, as it will be for a fool. The tool doesn’t know any difference. If I put a gun up here, that gun’s velocity will be the same for one as it is for another. It doesn’t know the difference. Prayer is not like that. Prayer is related to your commitment, to your obedience, to your sincerity before God.
Jesus had a man come to him one time and he had a son that was very afflicted. The scripture said often times he threw him in the fire and he foameth. This man brought his son to the disciples and they could seemingly do nothing. And he brought him to Jesus and Jesus healed the young man. His father asked him, said “Why could not thy disciples do this?” And he said “This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”
So, don’t think that you can live frivolously and carelessly and still utilize the power that there is of prayer. It’s very much related to you. It even seems to have a spiritual intelligence of its own.
“Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought. But the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.-Romans 8:26”
We don’t always know what’s good for us. But if we are the people that God would have us to be, if we are as sincere and as dedicated as God would have us to be, the Spirit will make intercessions for us, will make corrections for us. It may be that we may not need what we think we need. The Apostle Paul prayed on one occasion for the Lord to remove a thorn in the flesh. He prayed not once, he prayed not twice. He prayed three times. He besought the Lord for this. God, as Brother Doris said, he gave him a yes or gave him a no or gave him a wait. He gave him a no. But he did give him an answer that strengthened him, and carried him on.
The Spirit was making intercessions for him. It was helping him in ways that he himself did not know and the answer came back and said my grace is sufficient for thee. For my strength is made perfect in weakness. Prayer did that. Prayer did that. What an enormous thing it is. What a powerful thing it is. When we’ve learned to call on the Lord. When we learn to put ourselves aside. When we learn to let the Spirit make intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
I’ve been thinking about this for a month or more. Began to track through the scriptures and it seems to me like prayer was used from the very beginning. When Enos, as I mentioned, began…men began to call on the name of the Lord. Enoch had his testimony that he pleased God and he was not found because God took him. Noah being warned of God. Prayer is not…let me say this that I think with any kind of communications there has to be a transmission on one side and a receiving on the other. But it doesn’t stop there. Then the receiver must transmit and the transmitter must receive. So then it goes back and forth, and if it doesn’t go back and forth, it dies. And so, if God speaks to you, and you don’t respond, it dies.
Have you ever tried to talk to somebody and they won’t give you nothing back? They may answer your question and that’s the end. You know what happens to that conversation? It collapses. There takes some…back talk is not the right word. It takes something reciprocal. It takes some going back to the Lord, when he speaks to you. As Samuel said after he finally recognized it was the Lord, he said “Hear am I Lord. Speak, for thy servant heareth.”
I began to go back, and I think Abraham prayed, in the very spot that God took him out and showed him the stars of heaven. And said “If you will believe, so shall thy seed be.” When Abraham was an old man. Well stricken in years. Ceased to be with them as it does with normal younger people. At a child-producing age. It ceased to be with them that way. It’s a hard promise to believe. It was difficult to believe that that could really in fact come to pass. But Abraham believed God and it came to pass. He gathered stones, and built an altar, and called upon the Name of the Lord.
In The Book of Hebrews it says, first verse, first chapter.
“God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in times past to the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken to us by his son. Hebrews 1:1-2”
Indeed, there were various ways, many ways that God spoke to his people. Sometimes through angels. Sometimes those angels took the form of a man. They appeared as a person. They sat down. They went in their tents. They ate. They communed with him. Sometimes it was dreams. Sometimes it was visions. Sometimes it was other people. Other people, other prophets that began to speak to them. And they responded in many ways.
But they made something to do of God’s contact with them. They made some memorial, they built altars, they poured oil on them. They made sacrifices. They brought the first-born of their flock. They drilled wells. They built wells. They renamed certain places. Jacob named a place Bethel, where God appeared to him and showed him that vision with the Ladder stretched towards heaven. But somehow rather they made acknowledgment of these things and God hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Spirit.
But I think comprising all of this, the thing that has stood all of those things, we don’t really build altars anymore. We don’t dig wells anymore. We don’t really have that many visions. I don’t. Maybe some of you do. Vision and having a vision perhaps is two different things. The thing that has survived all the ages and all the times and all the changes and the ways that God has dealt with, prayer seems to be the thing that has survived. And it is our lifeblood to heaven.
I believe when the Devil begins to single you out and break you down and attempt to destroy you, which he’s doing at all times, the first thing he would go after is your prayer life. He would diminish your ability to steal away and get on your knees before God and humble yourself under his mighty hand and get you to cease from praying. The Devil would do that. And you’re on dangerous ground if you allow that to happen.
I’m going to read just a couple of scriptures here. Some vowed a vow. Jacob vowed a vow. After God has shown him that. And he says this is none other than the house of God and this is a gateway to Heaven.
“Jacob vowed a vow and said If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on so that I come again to my father’s house in peace. Then shall the Lord be my God. And this stone which I have set for a pillar shall be God’s house and of all that thou shall give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee. Genesis 28:20-22”
Bear in mind that at this time Jacob was like a man without a country. He had fled from his, the wrath of his brother. Some see great deceit in that. See what you want to, I see a little obedience unto his mother.
And I also see the hand of God working, whether it fits my scale of things, or my idea of justice, that’s pretty irrelevant in my opinion. I think the Lord was working. Israel was not his name at that time. He was still Jacob. He had not begotten twelve sons at that time. There was no mighty nation but he had had the promise. God had made him a promise. And he embraced the promise. And he was fleeing. And he was on that mountain, cold. No one there. Not a soul. Not a family member. Not a friend. Nobody there. And he vowed a vow to God. And God did what he said. He brought him through that.
Another, getting off the subject, but another time when he went to meet his brother Esau and he expected great retaliation. He expected wrath, he expected a fight. And God intervened and took all that wrath away. And when he saw him, he ran and kissed him and fell on his neck and they embraced as brothers. Only the Lord can do that. And that doesn’t come by frivolous living, that doesn’t come by self-will.
Moses prayed. Isaac prayed. When Isaac passed through the land of the Abimelech, Abimelech thought that land was his. He didn’t know that God had given it to Isaac and to his seed. He didn’t know that. And they had great conflict with their herdsmen. He built a well. And the first well he built they had conflict over it. He built another well, and they had conflict over that well. He built a third well. He dug the third well and they ceased to have conflict. Isaac named the name of that well “Rehoboth”. I’ve seen a little church down the road here named Rehoboth. It means now there is room for us and we will be fruitful in the land. It’s a wonderful thing to feel like there’s room for you. And I believe in the doors of this church there’s room for everybody. We’re not here to close anybody out. We’d like to bring you in.
If you’re in the doors of this building, we’d like to bring you in closer. If you’re sitting back afar, we’d like for you to come in, we’d like for you to experience the Spirit of God. We’d like for you to know what it is, for the prayers to ascend in one accord, in an altar service, when everyone is united in helping that person, we’d like for you to experience that. It does draw people. I see it. It draws a crowd. Our aisles get obliterated when that happens. People standing eight and ten back because they want to see that.
The Lord spoke unto Moses face to face as a man speaketh to his friend. He turned again into the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
“Bring up this people and thou has not let me know who thou will send with me. Yet, thou hast said I know thee by name and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now therefore I pray thee.” This is Moses, praying to the Lord. “Now therefore I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee. That I may find grace in thy sight and consider that this nation is thy people. Exodus 33:12-13”
Moses wanted to know who’s going to send with him. And the Lord gave him an answer, And he said “My presence shall go with thee. My presence shall go with thee.” He might have been looking for him to name Aaron or Hur or some other brother or some friend, or some of the other children of Israel. But the Lord said
“My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. Exodus 33:14-15”
That was Moses, praying unto God.
There are so many scriptures. There was a period of time that the children of Israel, dwelt under Judges, 450 years if my memory serves me right. The end of that period of time, there was a child born to a lady, who was barren. And this would be the child that would grow up to be the minister of the Lord who would go down and anoint Saul and go back and anoint David. He would usher in the era of the Kings. I don’t have time to read all this.
But when she had weaned him she took him up with her, three bullocks and one ephah of flour and a bottle of wine and bought him into the house of the Lord in Shiloh. The child was young. 1 Samuel 1:24-25
This, of course, you Bible readers know, this is Samuel. And they slew a bullock and brought the child to Eli. She said
“Oh my Lord, as thy soul liveth my Lord, I am the woman that stood by me here, praying to the Lord. 1 Samuel 1:26”
Hannah was praying unto the Lord.
“For this child I prayed, and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him. Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord and she worshipped the Lord there. 1 Samuel 1:27”
As the progression went on with the people of God, it seems like prayer began to improve. Maybe men learned better how to call on the Lord. Like it was a little primitive at first, but by the time it got to David, I believe it just about reached the zenith. David. King David, wrote the Psalms. Seemingly, I see David sometimes. The Scripture talks about the mercy of David. But as I read about David and read the Psalms, it almost seems to me like the mercy that David discovered was not his own mercy, but it was God’s mercy. But David discovered it seemingly in a clearer way, in a better way, than hardly anyone else. Poor people prayed, rich people prayed, honorable people prayed, vile sinners prayed. Prayer was the avenue that was open to everyone.
Solomon, when he built the Temple, he was a king. He had great riches. He had more honor. More pomp and circumstances than we’ll ever experience in our life. Magnificent building, magnificent beyond my description. Gold, craftsman, the timbers, the purple, the curtains, the hangings. It truly was a magnificent building. But Solomon never got exalted with that. And he felt a need to pray.
“Solomon made a brazen scaffold of five cubics long and five cubics broad and three cubics high. And he set it in the midst of the court and upon it he stood and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel. And spread forth his hands toward heaven. And said “Oh Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee in the heavens, nor in the Earth, which keepeth covenant and sheweth mercy. Unto thy servants that walked before thee, with all their heart. But will God in very deed dwell with men on Earth? 2 Chronicles 6: 13-18. “
This was Solomon asking that. Makes me wonder sometimes. When I think about the greatness of God. Why?
I really don’t know why God wanted to have such communion with mankind. Man was of the earth. He was earthy. He was insignificant. He was vile. He was sinful. He was contrary. He went the wrong way. There did not seem to be one redeeming thing that man could offer unto God. One of the poets says “nothing to thy hand I bring, only to thy cross I cling.” Why, I don’t know. I do not know why God looked down. When I think about the distance, I know some people don’t like to talk about astronomy, and those kinds of things. I read a little bit of that when I can, I have an interest in it for some reason. I don’t understand it, but I still have an interest.
The distances that we’re gradually being introduced to, that exist in the universe, are just beyond the human mind. They are just beyond the human mind. I think that the distance between God and man is greater than that. Between man’s sinfulness and God’s holiness, the distance is greater than that. Which, you shouldn’t look down on that, because one of the poets said
“When I considered the stars and the moon that thou has made, what is man? That thou art mindful of him. Psalm 8:4”
And Solomon asked
“But will God indeed dwell with men on earth? Behold Heaven and the Heaven of Heavens cannot contain thee. How much less this House which I have builded? 1 Kings 8:27”
But he went on to pray and he said
” If a man sin against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to make him swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house;Then hear thou from heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, by requiting the wicked, by recompensing his way upon his own head; and by justifying the righteous, by giving him according to his righteousness. And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy name, and pray and make supplication before thee in this house; Then hear thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest to them and to their fathers. When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them; Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance. 2 Chronicles 6:22-27″
David prayed. Solomon prayed. Daniel prayed. Do you remember Daniel? He was the subject of a conspiracy. They didn’t like him not because he was unlikeable. They didn’t like him because he was evil. They didn’t like him because he was not a good man. They did not like him because they were jealous of him. They formed a conspiracy. It was no less than a death trap. And he didn’t fall in that trap. He didn’t slip backwards in that trap. He didn’t find himself unknowingly going in there, but he walked headlong knowingly into that situation. The death knell was on his head. He opened his windows, knowing that the decree had been signed. And he prayed unto his God, three times a day, as said before. And he did in fact go into den of lions. But that prayer salvaged him. Saved him from that. Could that be anything but the hand of God?
When the Children of Israel were caught down in the land of Egypt, under hard bondage, when the going was tough, and getting tougher by the day, sweating as it were under hard labor, making bricks in the hot sun, Pharaoh making it harder on them all the time. You know what delivered them? Their prayers went up! The prayers of those people ascended up, before the throne of God! And he looked down and had respect unto the prayers of his people. It was prayer that saved them.
I don’t have time to do all this. But it seemed to me like prayer was not just a little thread that weaves its way through the scripture. Prayer was a cloud that covered them. They lived under a canopy of prayer. The saints prayed. The people prayed. The ladies prayed. The men prayed. The children prayed. The priests prayed. The prophets prayed. They all prayed unto God and God heard their prayers from heaven and delivered them time and time again. Elijah was a man subject to passions like as we are. He was an ordinary fella. He knew hunger, he knew thirst. He knew what it was to be tired, to be sleepy. He knew the frailties of mankind. He was an ordinary man. And he prayed that it would not rain. And it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again and the Lord gave them rain from Heaven. This was a time when water was scarce. Three and a half years of famine. There was no rain. No rain on the earth. Three and a half years.
And when he had his showdown with the prophets of Baal and the 450 prophets of the Grove, he said “Call on your God a little louder. He’s not hearing your prayer. Maybe he’s asleep. Maybe he’s on a journey.” But come time for him to kneel down and pray his prayer, he said bring on the water. And they poured out that valuable water in the trenches, they filled the trenches. If that man had not confidence in his prayer, his life would have probably been taken from him. But his prayer was short, his words were few. He showed the people what God could do. And fire from the Heavens came down. And it licked up the water out of the trenches, and all the sacrifice that he had made. And the Lord he is God. And the enemy said so.
That’s the God we serve today. I take it all the way through in Jesus time. From the time that Zachariah went in the temple. You know what he went in there to do? He went in there to pray, and to offer incense. What the people were doing without. They were praying. The people of God were praying. And Zachariah went in and received that great promise from God. Simeon prayed. He was in the temple, he and Anna. The great prophets of the great age had lived so many years. In a state of being a widow, they were waiting for the consolation of Israel. They prayed in that temple.
When that baby child Jesus was born, bear in mind now he never performed any miracles, they never saw him heal the sick. They never saw him restore sight to the blind. They never saw him raise the dead. He was an infant. He was a baby, but Simeon picked that child up in his arms and said
“Lord lettest now thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation. Luke 2:29-30” “this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel. Luke 2:34”
and Anna the prophetess picked that child up and said
And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Luke 2:38
Mary prayed, Martha prayed, Elisabeth prayed. Their fathers prayed. Jesus prayed.
I see it all through the scriptures. It was the thing that brought…it covered the people of God. And I believe the Scripture says
“If my people, which are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, then I the Lord will hear it from Heaven. And will forgive their iniquities and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14”
If there ever was a time we need to pray it is now. What we need to send our prayers up in unison to God that the Lord would take care of us. Paul and Silas prayed. They were singing and praying in the jail because Paul and Silas they knew how to pray. And an earthquake came and it loosed the fetters, their feet were held in stocks. And the jailer was notioned to take his own life, and they stopped him from doing that. So many times, Stephen prayed. The thief on the cross prayed and said
“Lord remember me when thou comest into thy Kingdom Luke 23:42”.
All through the Scriptures! John the Revelator tells us about the prayers of the saints, that were bottled up in Heaven. And the end says the smoke came up before God as the sweet smelling savor. And I believe today if you don’t have anything to pray for, you need to wake yourself up. You need to pray for your church and home. You need to pray for your leaders. You need to pray for your congregation. You need to pray for your brothers and your sisters. You need to pray that the Gospel will go out. You need to pray that our young people will leave off the things of the world that will destroy them and drag them down. They don’t need to be going to ballgames, they don’t need to be out on the golf course. They need to be singing, praying to the Lord God. God will hear from Heaven and heal our land.
I didn’t mean to take that long. But I tell you that I believe in prayer. I don’t believe you’ll ever find a better communication. It won’t be faster. The Lord said, before you call I will answer. Nobody’s ever come up with anything that fast this far. They have made great strides in communication, but they never found nothing like that. Before you call I’ll answer and while you’re speaking I will hear. So I want to say if you sometimes wish to help me just call my name in prayer. Pray for me.