Pregnant with Promise
My Sermon today entitled “Pregnant with Promise” is about
Praying with Expectancy. The only thing worse than prayerlessness is prayer without expectation.
The Apostle James calls it The Barrier of Unbelief – saying
“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” James 1:6 … and we have a classic example of this lack of expectation in Acts chapter 12, where Peter was released from prison. the story we read earlier in the service.
The angel suddenly vanished and a cool morning breeze sent a chill down Peter’s arm. Suddenly he realized that he was awake and everything he had just experienced was real. The chains had really fallen from his wrists. He had really walked right past the guards. The huge iron gates had really opened and he was really free! Knowing that the believers were praying for him, he made his way through the empty streets to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark. This is where the prayer meeting was being held, and Peter could hardly wait to show his face to his dear friends who were diligently interceding for his release.
This is where the story becomes a bit comical because – while all of the other barriers and doors had opened to Peter so freely, he was about to encounter one door that would not open to him.
The Bible says in Acts 12:13 that Peter knocked at the gate and a young lady named Rhoda heard it. She came to the door, and through the crack she asked, “Who’s there?” Peter said, “It’s me, Rhoda… I’ve just been delivered from prison: open the door and let me come in.” Rhoda was so excited to hear Peter’s voice that
she failed to open the door. She ran back into the room where the prayer meeting was in full swing. I recon – Some were bowing, others were weeping, still others were warring in the heavenlies for Peter’s release.
And Rhoda interrupted the prayer meeting with the urgent announcement, “Hey, everybody! Peter is at the door.” They laughed at her. “You’re crazy, Rhoda…don’t you know that Peter is in prison? He is bound between two soldiers, behind two wards of guards, behind a massive iron gate. Peter couldn’t possibly be at the door. Now get back in here and pray!”
I’m not sure how long the debate continued, but the Bible does tell us that all the while this discussion was taking place, …
Peter continued knocking.
What a comical irony! Every door had opened to Peter except the door of the house where the believers were praying for the doors to open. This illustrates a powerful point. God has given us the keys to the Kingdom. He has made us the doorkeeper. What we bind in Heaven will be bound on earth…what we loose in Heaven will be loosed on earth. We have the power and authority to open every door. There is no power on earth that can stand against us, and the very gates of hell itself will not prevail. But there is one door that can always stand in our way and keep us from receiving our miracles.
It is the door of unbelief.
So often the answer to our prayers has been standing at our own front door, but we have missed it because we did not believe that God had actually heard us and answered us. The believers were praying for Peter, but apparently they did not believe that God would answer them. As I say: The only thing worse than prayerlessness is prayer without expectation.
Unfortunately, many people think of prayer as being merely a religious exercise that appeases God’s need to be talked to. It is a kind of religious duty, like paying a bill that is due. When they pray, they feel better about themselves. When they don’t pray, they feel guilty. They seem to think that God keeps a stopwatch and records the minutes they put in, similar to the way a time clock keeps track of employees who are working on their job to receive a pay check.
Jesus dismissed this mind-set about prayer when He said,
“And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:7-8).
So if praying long prayers with many words is not the key to receiving an answer…then what is?
The answer is simple FAITH! In Heaven many of us will discover that the most powerful Enemy we faced was not the Devil, … it was our own Unbelief.
In Matthew 17, we read that a certain man with a demon possessed son had come to Jesus’ disciples for help, but when they could not cast out the evil spirits, they asked Jesus why they had been so unsuccessful. He said to them, “…Because of your unbelief ” (v. 20). This is a very clear and precise explanation that Jesus reiterated by going on to say, “…For verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you”
(v. 20). The simplicity and clarity of this statement is often overshadowed by confusion at the next words out of Jesus’ mouth: “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (v. 21).
It almost sounds as if Jesus had contradicted Himself. When asked why the disciples had not been able to exorcize the demon, He said it was because of unbelief. But now He seems to be saying that it is because they had not fasted and prayed enough. Which is it? The confusion comes when we fail to realize the moral of the story.
At first glance, it may appear that the demon is the focal point of this account, but a closer look will reveal that the real antagonist in this story is not the demon, but the spirit of unbelief. The disciples were concerned about the demon inside the boy, but Jesus was concerned about the unbelief inside the disciples. The disciples’ question was about casting out demons, but Jesus’ answer was about casting out doubt; – because Jesus knew that once unbelief has been cast out, exorcizing demons would
be a piece of cake.
Sometimes we have to pray long prayers and fast for many days before we get the victory, but it is not because our appeals coerce God into doing something, twisting His arm through many words. And it is not because we have finally earned the answer to our prayers by logging enough credit hours into some spiritual bank account.
The fasting and prayer is necessary and useful in helping us
to get the victory over our own stubborn flesh and cast out the spirit of unbelief that blocks God’s power from flowing through us. It is this kind of UNBELIEF that goes out “… by prayer and fasting.” Any way you look at it, faith is the key to powerful prayer. This is the point that Jesus made in this story.
Let us consider another instance of Casting Out Unbelief
as we see it in Matthew 9. We read there…
“But when the crowd had been sent out, He entered and took her by the hand, and the girl got up.” Here in Matthew 9:25, when Jairus’ daughter had died, Jesus had to send everyone out of the room before He could raise her from the dead. Why didn’t He allow all those scornful sceptics to see the miracle with their own eyes? The answer is … He had to cast unbelief out!
Peter did the same thing in Acts 9:40 “But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.” Jesus taught His disciples a lesson:
Cast the spirit of unbelief out and nothing will be able to
stand against you; demons, death, and even the most
formidable mountains … will obey your command.
But we must Expect to Receive, we must become Pregnant with the Promise.
In Acts, chapter 3, we read an incredible story about a lame man who happened to be in the right place at the right time:
“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze upon him and said, “Look at us!”
And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene – walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood up and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” Acts 3:1-8
There are a couple of things that stand out, when I read this passage. The first is that it says in verse 3 that this lame man SAW Peter and John about to go into the temple and ASKED to receive alms, but in verse 4 Peter commands him saying, “Look at us!” It was only afterwards that it says in verse 5, “He began to give them his attention, EXPECTING to receive something from them.”
The lame man had seen Peter and John, but he wasn’t paying attention. He had asked for something, but he didn’t expect to receive it. Have you ever found yourself coming to the Lord in this way? Have you prayed for something with no expectation that it will ever come to pass? This was the kind of prayer meeting taking place in Mary’s house. Though they prayed for Peter’s release, they did not believe it would ever happen…even when Peter himself was standing at the door, they didn’t believe it! Although God had heard their prayers and was willing and able to do what they asked, their own unbelief was delaying the answer.
Without faith your prayer could actually be a sin because Romans 14:23 says that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Before Peter and John could release the healing power of God into the body of that lame man, they had to get him to change his posture to one of faith and expectancy. That is why the Lord says to you today through His Word, “Look at Me! Pay attention to
what I am saying! Expect to receive when you ask!”
James 1:6-8 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubt, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable
in all his ways.”
What I am seeking to do today is create in the Church an
Atmosphere of Expectancy
Reinhard Bonnke the founder of “Christ for all Nations” tells that … “In his great evangelistic meetings in most African countries, the people come there with a high level of spiritual hunger and expectancy of the miraculous power of God. They have heard the testimonies of all that God has done for others, and they believe that God will do the same for them. They know that God is going to show His power and glory in these great meetings, and they come in full expectation that they are going to be the recipients of those blessings.
It is this attitude that actually takes hold of the miraculous and causes the power of God’s glory to fall. They do not come hoping it is the will of God to reveal Himself… they already know that it is! Because they already expect this, they pray from a position of bold confidence and expectancy. When God hears that kind of prayer and sees that kind of action being demonstrated by desperately hungry people, He does reveal His awesome power in some of the most phenomenal ways“.
Praying with faith and expectancy will always attract the presence and power of God just as the absence of these key elements will repel the presence and power of God. There is a direct correlation between the level of belief and expectancy in
the hearts of people and the measure of the revelation of the glory of the Lord. When God’s people pray in the firm conviction that it is God’s will to answer their prayers and to reveal His glory, their expectation of His glory will bring its manifestation in their lives.
Here is a wonderful story:
Many years ago, a region of the American Midwest had been stricken by drought. There was a small town there that was totally dependent upon farming, and the crops were dying in the fields because of the lack of rain. A day of prayer and fasting was declared in which all the townspeople would come in from their surrounding farms and spend the day in Church in prayer, asking God to send rain.
That morning a five-year-old girl came along with her parents to their church to pray. Some people were amused as this little girl was carrying an umbrella. They asked her why. She replied that she thought they had come there that day to pray for rain,
and she didn’t want to get wet going home.
Suddenly conviction gripped their hearts. The people realized that they had come to pray, but no one but this little girl actually believed anything was going to happen! In tears, they repented of their unbelief; and these same townspeople began to pray that day as though they really believed their prayers
were going to change things.
About four o’clock in the afternoon, clouds began to form on the western sky. By evening, a slow, soaking rain had begun to fall across the region. The heavens had literally opened for these people. This slow rain lasted for three days and nights. Their
crops were saved, and they eventually had one of the biggest
harvests that they had ever seen! Everyone remembered that it was the little girl with her umbrella who had come to pray and had changed their hearts from a place of religious duty bound with unbelief – to a place of expectancy that God would in fact hear and respond. My dear listening friends, we MUST believe and expect God’s best blessings whenever we pray!
NOW THIS FINAL WORD.
Dr David Yonggi Cho pastor of the world largest Church of over 1 million members in South Korea tells the story of how as a young preacher learning about FAITH, he had asked God for a Bicycle, a Desk and a Swivel Chair. At that time His small congregation met Sunday by Sunday in a tent, and He was eager to teach them about faith and help develop faith in prayer in their hearts. Standing on the Promise of Jesus in Mark 11:24 ” Therefore I say unto you, Whatsoever things ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them”.
he announced to his congregation, his people that he did indeed already HAVE the bicycle, desk and chair!
To his surprise, all of his congregation decided to follow him home to see this miracle for themselves. Cho, knowing that these things were still only his “by faith” in the spiritual and not the material sense, wondered how he would explain their absence when they would reach his home. So when they arrived there he declared that while he did indeed already have them, “he was yet only pregnant with them!” This was I believe a truly amazing revelation from God, for before we can receive from God,
we must first become pregnant with the promise.
In a few weeks Cho met a missionary couple who were returning home to the USA from Korea, and in their personal effects not being packed up and taken home with them, were indeed a bicycle, a desk and a swivel chair. Cho was convinced that these were his, and hence his lack of surprise when they were indeed given to him – not just as a gift from the retiring missionary couple, but as a gift from God and an answer to expectant prayer.
May God make us all Expectant, Pregnant believers, as he did Dr Cho.
… oh and …”don’t forget your umbrella”
God Bless you. … Amen