Not in a hurry to get through an important issue – we are seeing spiritual battles unlike anything we’ve seen before.
I’m using the word “delay” because I don’t believe that most of your prayers aren’t being answered – if you’re truly seeking God and following His principles – I believe that you’re experiencing delay vs. prayers being denied.
ACTS 12:1 Now about that time [the time the church sent relief] Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. 2 Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. 4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
1. Delay is Not Deny: Answers are often delayed.
Waiting is praying and praying is waiting, but we often quit before we really begin.
We Underestimate the Waiting Time: Our mind assumes that Peter was in jail overnight.
DELAY STRENGTHENS FAITH –
Psalm 106:13, “They soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel” – 1. Leanness of soul. 2. Entitlement 3. Worldliness 4. Complained 5. Provoked God.
2. Delay “CAN” Readjust Motives.
Waiting is listening – I want to “see” the answer, God wants me to listen.
“Not my will, but Your will” – please let us win.
I’m not a painter.
If you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything. What soldier rushes ahead?
5 Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. 6 And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. 7 Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.” 9 So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.
3. Delay “CAN” Increases Boldness – Contend Don’t Quit – “Constant prayer”: Hebrews 11:1 (KJV) “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Bold prayers come from seeking God – they come when repentance takes place – they come when we reposition our heart with His.
HELL WAS REJOICING – “Herod was about ready to bring him out.”
4. Delay “CAN” Increases Faith and Fervency.
Thomas Brooks – “A man full of hope will be full of action.”
FAITH: Peter was sleeping.
5. Delay “CAN” Causes Spiritual Growth.
Oswald Chambers – “Waiting means standing under, in active strength, enduring till the answer comes.”
GROWTH PROCESS – 2 Peter 1:5-12 (NKJV) …add to your faith virtue [HOLINESS], to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ….”
11 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.” 12 So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. 15 But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel.”
Doubt enters the mind of even the greatest saint. Take it captive and press on.
16 Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.” And he departed and went to another place. 18 Then, as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter. 19 But when Herod had searched for him and not found him, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death.
No small stir – God will surprise everyone / unbelievers are baffled.
6. Delay “CAN” Subdue the Flesh: the church was focused…targeted.
Ray Stedman gave an example of a self-focused prayer, “Dear Father, I don’t want to disobey You, but I must have my own way at all costs. For I love what You do not love, and I want what You do not want. So please be a good God and deny Yourself, and move off Your throne, and let me take over. If You don’t like this, then all I ask is that You bite Your lip and say or do nothing that will spoil my plans, and let me enjoy myself.”
Without delay the flesh would prevail – always getting its way without consequences.
The flesh hates to pray – the discipline of prayer bring it into subjection.
7. Delay “CAN” Lead to Exposure then Repentance.
ISAIAH – Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”
EM Bounds: “Men do not pray well because they do not live well.”
Is there a break in the line of communication?
8. Delay “CAN” Re-adjust our Attitudes.
Thomas Watson – “Our murmuring is the devil’s music.”
1 Peter 3:7 – “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”
Seek to “listen” – they have “value” – “fragile” (of worth).
We have the same godly destiny: “treat her accordingly”.
9. Delay “CAN” Point us Back to His Sovereignty
Who is ultimately in control?
“Herod killed James the brother of John.”
The story of the woman who missed her train is a good reminder.
10. Delay “CAN” Point us to the True God [pray in Jesus’ name]
Most religions pray – but only the true God answers prayers.
“Whosoever calls upon the Lord shall be saved” is the first prayer He must hear.
Closing JOHN 14:13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
ACCORDING TO GOD’S WILL – What His name stands for.