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How to Keep the Devil from Answering Your Prayers

Richard O'Ffill




  • August 19, 2006
    5:50 PM
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Now I really think that... Let me tell you how this worked in a practical sense. I was in South Africa and I was preaching and a young woman came to me and she said, "Pastor O'Ffill my, I guess it's my grandmother or my mother, whoever it was because the lady was somewhat aged, she's here today and she's got a broken and the top part of her arm is broken, she's fallen or something and won't you pray for the Lord's healing that there be a sound healing."

Now I suppose, you know, that I could've done the charismatic thing and just all gathered around and said heal, heal, heal. But I decided that I would rather do this. Have you noticed that when one member of the family gets sick the whole family gets sick? It works that way. In fact sometimes, by the way there's a young doctor here and we're glad he's here. They rotate the doctors in and out of here just... this is a kind of a medical rich in here now.

And haven't you noticed, doctors, that sometimes for example if a husband has a stroke he's got tubes up his nose and his eyelids scotch taped shut but it's his wife that's really messed up. Haven't you noticed that? The whole family gets sick when one of it's members get sick. And so I decided that if I was going to pray for Grandma I would ask the whole family to be there. And you heard me preach that sermon on bitterness and resentment.

I want to tell you, to me, of all the things that we need to address in our Christian lives that's one that's really big. Did you pick that up when I talked about that? Were you able to identify with that? That bitterness and resentment is a knee jerk reaction to being offended and our homes are usually being broken up because of accumulations of bitterness and resentment.

So I invited the Grandma's family to be there and there must've been about 12 of them. There were probably some children and some grandchildren and maybe some uncles and aunts. They were there and Grandma was there and I said to her... I said, "Grandma, before we pray for your arm may I ask you a question? Do you have bitterness and resentment in your heart towards anybody?"

Now you could say, "Pastor O'Ffill man what you doing?" No, because do you see that our healing should be more than just physical healing; shouldn't it be that way? And guess what, do you know what she said, "Yes I do." She just had a fight with her daughter and it moved out. Was she bitter and resentful or was she bitter and resentful? So I said, "Would you mind that as we pray that God will enable the healing of your arm, that it will be sound, that He'll also heal your spirit and give you the spirit of forgiveness. Would you mind that?"

Can you see how important that is? In fact, even in a medical sense being bitter and resentment would impede sound physical recovery, would it not? Absolutely. This is why I think that we've got to stop so much praying to get as we would pray to be. Now one young man asked me. You know I say young man, you all are all young to me. I got kids older than most of you guys. And one young man said to me after I finished that first section just now. He said, "Pastor O'Fill but what about that text says the Lord will give you desires of your heart?"

See our Pentacostal brothers are always throwing that at you. So you know well I was just hoping Lord I'd win the lottery. That's really my desire. No, it doesn't mean that. See because that could make the Lord aiding and abetting gross selfishness couldn't it? And all kinds of other things. So I expressed to him my conviction that when we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, what we're doing is putting ourselves on God's side. Then the desires of my heart are the desires of His heart. I delight to do His will.

In fact I believe that the true purpose of prayer is to discover the will of God. You know my wife brought home a book from her office that a former boss loaned her. I think it's called "The Universe." It's a kind of spectacular it must be a kind of little expensive book. But it's got these pictures that the Hubble telescope took. Have you seen those astronomy, some of these latest astronomy pictures? Did you know that that Hubble telescope seems to have, they concluded, I don't now who counted them. But they conclude that there's something like 150 billion galaxies, galaxies. And that we have over 100 billion suns in our galaxy, the milky way. Do you get the implications of this?

It's unbelievable to think, doctor, that we come to God and say, "God I want to tell you what I want you to do." Give me a break. You know there's two kinds of prayer. Now there might be other kinds. But I say, and I divided it up this way and I'm going to ask you which prayer we use usually pray. There's the prayer that desires to know the will of God and to glorify His name and there's the prayer where we seek God to do our will and we try to impose our will on Him. Which prayer do we usually pray? The second one, of course.

Can you imagine that we would have the gall to come before the God of the galaxies and tell Him what... You know... Is there any other medical people besides? How many nurses... are the nurses today? Any nurses? Who's the medical people here today? Is there medical people? All over the place. You know sometimes I think we do to God what we would never do to even our doctor. Doc you know, I'd have to be an idiot you know to say, doc I just come to your office to tell you what's wrong with me. And I want to tell you what to do about it. I just wasted my money.

No, you come to a doctor to tell you what's wrong but to find out what's wrong. And by the way you know I said you know sometimes when we go to God. We try to play down our sins. You know it would be like me saying, "Next time you're in Orlando come visit me, you know I got these cute little furry animals running around in my house." And you'd think, "Awww that must be pretty, he's probably got little cats there." Rats. You see it depends on how you put it. It depends on how you put it.

If you're going to call your sins cute little furry animals then that's what we got. But when you call it "rats" it changes. You see I think we ought to go to God and don't play our sins down, play them up. Because if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. No, we're going to go to God. God I want to tell you what's wrong with me. Not only do we tell God what's wrong with us, we do a self diagnostic and then we tell Him what's wrong with us. We tell Him what to do and when to be done. That's crazy.

This is the God of the galaxies. A hundred and fifty billion galaxies. You know I was thinking one day. I thought it's no wonder when they get near to God they fall on their face. You know I was talking one time with a guy who was on the administrative committee in Florida, on the executive committee. And he wanted them to take out this clause in the Florida constitution that says, "Fear God and give glory to Him." He says I don't want a God I fear. I want a God I can sit down with on couch and talk to like a friend. I said, "But you don't worship your friends."

He's more than a friend. And not only that, and by the way when Jesus added the term, you people from Loma Linda have heard this argument before, there's those who really build up the friendship side. When Jesus said He's a friend it didn't take away the other ones. It added one. But you don't worship your friends. In fact the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fear God and give glory to Him.

You know there's a kind of a move on in the last few generations to kind of dumb down God. It happened when I was a young man. They came out with a song. You remember this song Jim. "Have you talked to the man upstairs?" Have you heard of that song? Have you talked to the man upstairs. I've heard people talk about God and you know they'll say, "You know the other day I was talking to the big man." I was talking with another young man he said, "Me and JC get along pretty good."

I heard that out in the Midwest some place there was a football, in a high school, there was a football team called the Cougars. And before they would play, they would talk to the big Cougar in the sky. Let me tell you this. Listen to me now. We can rise no higher than our concept of God and that's why the trend in society is to bring God down to our level. That's all the Grecians and Romans did. They made their Gods like them. The Gods were having afairs, committing adultery, and murderers. We can rise now higher than our concept of God.

This is why when Isaiah saw Him he said, "I'm ruined." Job saw Him and said, "I'm messed up." The higher we place God in our estimation the higher potential we have to rise. You lift Him up, He doesn't leave you behind He picks you up with Him. He does that. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. You know I thought to myself, do you remember reading in scripture that there's those, what is it the four and twenty elders. Whatever they are, they're at the throne and all they do is say, "Holy, holy," all day. I thought, "Boy I hope I never get that assignment." To have to do just "holy, holy," for a billion years man. While everybody else is traveling around and everything.

But then I got to thinking who God is that from that whatever it is everything exists. I could think that I would want to spend eternity in that presence with that glory washing over me. And I would just stay there for the rest of the time saying "Holy, holy, holy." That the assignment I want early on. Look did you see who's visiting. Hold him up so we can see him. Did you see who's part of here. We gone to the dogs. Hold him up, nobody can see him there honey. Hold him up so we can.. What's it's name?

You know I heard somebody say one time, "treat your wife like a dog." You know some people treat their dogs better than they treat people. You understand that don't you. Because we usually treat dogs pretty nice. We need to treat the people we love as nice as we treat the animals. You know I'm saying in general. Anyway, there's a trend to bring God down and we need to lift Him up. Lift Him up the risen Savior. And the higher we do that... By the way, just let me throw in some things because we're talking about prayer.

There's some questions about prayer. You know people say sometimes, they say, "When I pray alone or silently; I think I should pray silently because I don't want the devil to hear what I'm saying." Let me just tell you how I feel about it. Son, I hate the devil, he hates me and this can only get worse. I'm not going to let him mess up my prayer life. If I want to talk out loud, I'll talk out loud. If I want to talk quietly... In fact if you in your private devotions, if you're in your private devotions will talk out loud, it will do something to you that you can't imagine. It really makes it special.

By the way, I would hope that everybody here this afternoon has a private devotion time. You start the day with God. I hope you do that. Especially the men. Especially the men. This is really critical for us. We men, I know what we're like, ladies. We're dirty old men, that's what we are, but we would have a lot less trouble if we'd give our hearts to Jesus in the morning. Then when we were tempted during the day we'd know what to do.

You know over in Iraq and where they're having the wars, you know they do a lot of electronic warfare? And they use these radars or whatever it is they call "paint the target." Have you heard that expression? "Paint the target." In other words, and then they have these little receivers or whatever it is on these airplanes that can tell when they're being painted. And then when it starts going, "beep, beep, beep, beep," you'd better move because there's a missile coming after you.

You see men we need to realize when we're being painted so that we'll take evasive action. And giving your heart to Jesus, fellow, in the morning will tell you what to do all day long. You don't have to say, "I think I'm being tempted I don't know what to do." It's too late. We decide in the morning who we're going to be all day. Anyway just let me just throw that out. If when you're having your private time with God should you pray out loud or to yourself. No, you can do it however you want.

Another thing is that one of the occupational hazards of praying is going to sleep. Have you noticed that? What were the disciples doing on the Mount of Transfiguration? Sleeping. You know they must've hated themselves the rest of their lives. If they'd stayed awake for that, oh my lands. They probably told that story afterwards and said, "Oh brother, if we could only do that again." And what were they doing in the Garden of Gethsemane? Listen I want to tell you, if the disciples had not slept in the Garden of Gethsemane history would've been changed. I don't know what it would've been, one thing they wouldn't have ran. And Peter wouldn't have denied Him. That I know.

But in other words, but I want you to know that when you spend time alone with Jesus one of the things you're going to have to worry about is wanting to go to sleep. So that means that when you spend time alone with God especially if it's in the morning you don't want to have a routine that puts you back to sleep. This means sometimes when you kneel down to pray you may not want to kneel down you put your head on the couch and you know it's (snoring) huh? So sometimes you can stand up. By the way should we be kneeling or standing when we pray? However.

I know a person that really got hung up on that. She just felt that if you didn't kneel when you prayed that you were doing something really awful. But I think in the scriptures you know they prayed on their face, didn't they? They prayed kneeling and they prayed standing up. So we don't need to get hung up. See this is what I want to say to you as your spiritual father, don't get hung up. Now it might give you peace of mind to be able to say this is the only way you know if you don't do it this way, my way, it's the highway. No, there's many ways to do this and many right ways to do it.

This is why I tell people, I said what we need to be as Christians, we need to get in the middle of the road. And everybody says, huh? The right road. Don't run the edges. When you run the edges of the spiritual life you get knocked out of bounds pretty easy. We don't need people running the edges. I don't know if you remember when you were little and you used to ride your bike. Of course you know people ride their bikes now all their lives. But have you ever noticed when you were a kid you were riding your bike on the sidewalk, and you get to the edge of the walk and you start to go off the edge and you just can't keep yourself on. You ever noticed that?

And you say, "Ah,ah,ah,ah," and you go off anyway.

You know what the problem was, you know why we went off? We went off because we were looking at the edge. What you see is what you hit. We go in the direction we look. So when we were kids we could've saved ourselves going off the walk if when we got to the edge we'd have looked back to the middle. If we'd have looked back to the middle we could've gone back to the middle but because we kept our eyes on the edge we couldn't help but go off. So this is why it's really important in the Christian life don't be single issue, don't look to the edge, look to the broad picture and see what you get.

It's not going to be a compromise it will be health and strength and anyway it's just so much better. What else would I say about prayer? By the way you know some people, I used to do this for years and years. Everyday I would write a prayer to God. Have you ever written a prayer to Him? If David hadn't written his prayer we wouldn't have the Psalms, would that be right? Sometimes you write Him a letter, you don't have to make it long. But it makes it really special the idea is to make it real. It's not for His benefit it is for what? It's for our benefit. He hears, it's we who want to stop listening to these things.

Another thing that we can do in our prayers, in fact I used to keep a journal everyday. Not like a diary, a journal. And in that journal I look back on yesterday. You see in business you're continually, what's the word we want to use? Debriefing what you're doing. Because if you don't do that you can keep doing the wrong thing. So I think in the morning is a good time to debrief yesterday. Do I want to continue to do whatever I got started yesterday or do I want to turn it another way?

You see the spiritual life is got to be intentional huh? It's not magic, it's not by the numbers but it's very intentional. It's just the way we do it. And if we would give Jesus time. By the way in the morning's not the only time to pray. You know that don't you? We need to sort of be on demand. We need to have our prayer life going Norton Utilities. It's on all the time. It's running in the background. And when a virus comes on you know what to do about it.

You know prayer can surely change the outlook on life. I'm going to tell you an experience. For years I was the director of community services in addition to what else I did in Florida. In Florida, you won't remember this because it's not been so active in recent years, they used to have screening vans in New York City. Do any of you remember when they had the huge screening vans for blood pressures in New York City? New York City got it's idea from Florida.

When I went to Florida to take over the post there. There must've been 12 or 13 screening vans. And anyway because it was really hot in those days you could go out into a community, that was before you could go to the drugstore and get your blood pressure taken. People were anxious to get certain kinds of tests. And so we would do that in the streets. Anyway, on this particular day the... Wake him up the poor boy's going to sleep there. Come on buddy, hey come on. You know I don't blame you, I don't blame you. It's been a long day man, it's just like me. But do that part about painting your eyes open so I can't tell.

Anyway, but he's on the front row give him a break. Goodnight. I mean they brought his stretcher up here this is just as well. Anyway, somebody brought a screening van back and it was obvious that they had put duct tape on it. You know what duct tape is fellows. It's very nice to have a roll of duct tape around in the garage or some place. But when you put duct tape on someone you pull it leaves some of this mastic on. So apparently when that church had asked to borrow this screening van for the weekend they must've used duct tape to hang signs on the side of the van. And when I heard that I got mad, I must confess I got mad. And I thought to myself, "So they're putting duct tape on the screening van they wouldn't do it to their own car." Give me a break.

And I thought, "You know, I'm going to call up the pastor and tell him off." I was ticked off. And so I went and I found his telephone number, you know and I thought, "Man I'm going to tell him." And then suddenly the thought came to my mind that wouldn't be a Christ-like thing to do. But I was still mad. Then the thought came in, "Tell him off in a Christ-like way." I like that see... you see that's... isn't crazy how we are? Tell him off in a Christ-like way. So I went ahead and I got the number and I picked up the phone you know back in the day you know when you had to do this to it. And I thought maybe before I dial I'll say a prayer. So I had the phone to my ear, I held my finger on the, whatever it is there, and I offered a prayer. And when I said "Amen" guess what I did? Hung up the phone. Hung up the phone.

Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling. You see... you know we, many times we pray too late. If we were praying and you know so many of our prayers are and it's fine if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive. But we need to learn how to use prayer and how to keep you from falling. You know how to lose but now let's learn how to win. Wouldn't you say that? This is important for us.

Anyway, what else about the private devotion. Now if you don't already have that in your life, you'll want to have that, right? We want to go home from this this weekend. Prayer time in the morning. Now by the way I don't use the word study. For example if the newspaper comes, now just watch this. Newspaper comes to my house and I'm reading the newspaper I say to you, "Here would you like to study the newspaper for a while?" You say, "Don't have time." But if I say, "Would you like to read it a little?" You'd say, "Thank you." You see there's a time to study the Bible, you know what I'm saying. And there's a time, I think the morning, I don't use the word study in the morning. I read the Bible in the morning. And I don't try to read it through.

Have you ever tried to read the Bible through? From the beginning to the end. You get to Exodus by Leviticus and Numbers you've had it. It's the end of it. Isn't that about right? Come on be honest with me. Now I'm not saying that we don't read the Bible through. But I think that the morning is a good time to read a la carte. In other words to make it practical. Listen to me. That the Christian life's got to be practical. Hey we've heard the theory of the Christian life, haven't we? We know how it ought to be or how it's going to be some day. But don't talk to me about how it ought to be, or how it's going to be, talk to me about how to make it work now.

I remember back in the days when I was young. Jim and I used to be young, we don't look like it. Have you noticed Jim, have you met him yet? He's really nice. He's in a hair restoration program. He's a donor. Did you like that? And that's the only reason I did it Jim because I figure they'd tease you about that and I'm going to let you off the hook when they say that to you, you're right back on them. Anyway, what was I talking about? See that got me so far off the subject that I really lost my way.

Studying the Bible. In other words do it a la carte. See, in other words go around and read here and read there, read for the joy of it. Don't study in the morning. Just kind of get the fresh air. Be still and know that I am... watch the word "meditation" by the way. The word "meditation" these days is dangerous. Now I know the Bible has a lot to say about it but we're paganizing the word. We're Hinduizing it. In fact it's got in among the Christians even some Seventh-day Adventists. Here's, and I don't know if you've ever seen this happen. I hope you haven't. But they'll set a circle there's 10 of us. They'll set a circle of 11 chairs. You know what I'm going to say. Close your eyes and imagine that Jesus is in one of them. Don't do that. Because the devil could be in that chair.

And you know there's a fellow I, in fact I read about him in a national news magazine, he's big into this meditation, it's a big meditory thing. And so you're supposed to close your eyes and bring up Jesus. And I was talking to a fellow that was really into that. I says, "How do you know it's Jesus?" And they say, "Well we can tell, if he's wearing a black robe we know it's not." "If he's got a black belt or if he's got a black sheep we know it's somebody else."

Let me tell you what I think meditation is. I don't think meditation is sitting with your arms crossed going, "hmmmmmm." I think meditation is the process because David said he meditated how much of the time? All the time. I think meditation is the process by which I take the principles of the word of God and apply it to my real life. And you could have that running all the time. In fact remember when they did that thing called "what would Jesus do?" That's also dangerous. Did you know that? Remember how they had the little bracelets and the little placards and everything, "what would Jesus do?" We should not gage our lives on what would Jesus do because remember what He said. Many would come in my name.

In fact what did Jesus say when He was tempted? He said, "It is written." And so our lives should not be governed on what we might imagine Jesus would do because that might be off the wall. What we've got to do is go to the word to find out. To the law and to the testimony... I'm going to hit on this just a little bit more. But watch the word "mediation." It's a dangerous thing. Now it's not, it wouldn't be wrong to sit around in a circle and say, "I wonder what it was like when He fed the 5 thousand." That was real, that's a real story. But to sit in a circle and to say "Let's pretend Jesus is with us, tell me what he's telling you." Don't do that.

That's pure mysticism and the devil is easily involved in that. God doesn't play with that kind of stuff. Could you hear where I'm coming from? Are there any, just, questions before I go on to next part that might be relevant before we go on to talk specifically about how to keep the devil from answering your prayer? Yes. I guess I'm missing the point. Stand up so I can hear you a little better. I'll repeat it alright. Yeah, go ahead. Yeah that's right. No he's recording it I'm doing this as a part of our technical marvel. That's alright.

[Man in the audience]: And then you said we can pray anyway we want and I kind of remember back... my memory may not be that great. Thank you for agreeing so readily. But didn't you say something about the devil can not hear your silent prayer, God can but devil can not? [O' Fill]: Sure. [Man in the audience]: And you know some prayer requests or some things that you struggle with, you know just pray to God. [O'Ffill]: No, no, no I would let that go. I was simply saying, thank you, thank you son, that I was saying this: that some insist that they're not going to pray out loud because they don't want the devil to hear what they've got to say. I'm simply saying, that I hate the devil, he hates me, I'll pray the way I want.

He that is in me is stronger than he that is in the world. Come on. Now he who is able to keep... In other words I'm saying let's don't have our devotional life around the devil. And you go along with me on that, see. Is there any other comment or observation you'd like to make about this before we go on? Yes, I'm going to come over here and would you like to stand up too? Thank you. [Man in the audience]: I guess the question I've always had is why does God... you know the thing I've struggled with in prayer is why does God choose to answer some prayers and not choose to answer others. Very commonly in the medical context we see a family grieving situation and God chooses to just intervene through whatever means and there's healing comes about and other times not. And then different outcomes happen. Families separate, families come together, how do we make sense of that and what is the point of prayer?

[O'Ffill]: I'm reading a book right now on, by Oswald Chambers, and it's the story of Job and he really goes into that kind of stuff. Now let me just bounce back. We can't answer all these things, we can't. But let me just spin this back to you. Is a possible consideration. Do you realize that everybody that Jesus ever healed, got sick and died again? Did you hear the good news about Lazarus? Did you hear that bad news? He died again. You see the mortality rate for this race is a hundred percent. When Jesus was healing it was for higher reasons because they were going to die anyway. You understand I'm saying?

You see we've got it in our minds that physical survival is the ultimate but we're going to die anyway. Now this may not answer but you see in other words why He answers some why He doesn't answer, I guess we'll have to give Him the glory because he's nicer than we are. And He knows things we don't know. Now I may miss my description of my disease. You doctors here, I'm going to just sort of let my disease hang out here. It's been a number of years ago that I began to notice that I was loosing radius of motion in my left arm. In fact it got to the place where I couldn't, Jim, I couldn't get my wallet out man. Which was... I saved lots of money that way. And I couldn't get my belt on. And so I was doing a camp meeting at Pennsylvania where they had the Redding Rehabilitation Center in those days and so I tell this story.

My life is an open book. And so I told the congregation that I was having trouble with my left arm and so afterwards one of the docs came and he said, "Dick hold out your arms." He said, "Now raise this one." You know. I couldn't. This was it Jacky. This was it. He says you've got adhesive capsulitis, you've got frozen shoulder. Now you know I don't know that they know. By the way, you know, have you discovered Google yet? Google knows everything. You can't ask a question that Google can't answer. Isn't that true? And so this is why you doctor's businesses is slumping off so bad we go to Google. We used to got to you, now we go to Google. Google tells us what we need to know. Dr. Google.

And so you go to Google and you type in adhesive capsulitis and it even shows the pictures of it of how these little tissues, they come down over that and they just kind of freeze it up. I'm not sure they know what makes it happen and where it goes. But I want to tell you it's gross. And you know I had to finally go into physical therapy because I had lost all the range of motions. The little physical therapist she was a Filipino and she was hilarious. You know sometimes if we laugh it will get us through life. You know that don't you? We've got to laugh whenever we can. We laugh at ourselves when can. If she hadn't had been such a sweetheart and laughing and everything. I'd have been off the table and running down the hall. Because it's painful, boy that...

By the way, if you happen to be a physical therapist you know what PT means don't you? Pain and torture. No, I'm telling you a physical therapist if they get out of work, if they lose their license they could work for the national wrestling association anytime because it's really rough man. She just would take my arm and she'd just bend it and I want to tell you it was just so painful I couldn't stand it. One day she said she was going to go for this movement. This one. She says, "Now we're going to do this." I says, "Arms don't do that." She said, "Check the other one." And it did. Ahhhhh, it was awful.

Well anyway, I got it back, I don't know whether it was, what it was 2 or 3 years later, I began to get pain in the other shoulder. Usually women get adhesive capsulitis and so I began, but this time I was not going to let it freeze up on me. I'm going to keep it moving. I went to Google, in fact I think I went to the doctor and got some rubber straps and all. You know where you could pull and push and pull these things to keep this thing moving. I want to tell you I've talked to women, now I don't know what the women who are here who have been through childbirth before, but I've had so many women say the pain of adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder can exceed the pain of childbirth. You know all things being equal.

And man, and it just washed over me that pain. It'd wake me up at night and I... in fact it said it could last for 7 years. I thought that was the rest of my life and I was wearing my arm in a sling. I couldn't, I had the coritsone. It didn't do any good. Now here's what the point has to do with prayer. You know when I get sick, that's when I notice the other sick people. Because you know when you walk out of the hospital well it's still full of sick people. But we're not sick and so we're not worrying about it.

So anyway there I was and when I began to really hurt I began noticing the hurting people again. I began to see the people in the wheelchairs, I began to hear people like this and everything. Because the issue is going to be this: am I going to pray that the Lord will heal me? Here we go. And I thought to myself... Are you a doctor? I thought to myself, doctor, I thought look at all those people. They're in the wheelchairs and they're all messed up and they're ahh and they're like that. Have nobody ever prayed for them? And so I'm supposed to pray that the Lord will heal me and leave them there? Come on now I'm not going to do that.

But I'm going to do this, and this is what I did. I decided that although I was hurting like I've never hurt before, I would not pray that the Lord would heal me. But I would pray this, listen to this now; I would pray that if I had to suffer this awful pain, which I figured was going to be for the rest of my life, I figured that I would ask the Lord to give me the spirit of compassion. Seek first the what? Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Lord if this is going to be something that I'm going to have to live with then give me compassion for those who suffer all the time.

And then I prayed for something else, doctor, I prayed, "and if I'm going to have to carry this all my life, I want you to do what you promised you'd do, that there'd be no trial so severe but you give me strength to stand." That's what I pray. And you know I just lived with that. It was about a year. One day I noticed it hurt a little less. A few weeks later it hurt... then it went away. But you see this is why we are so intent. And I understand it when your child's dying, when your spouse is dying or when there's these awful things; these are the mysteries of iniquity.

Our race is messed up. We were born in a planet that's ruined. Jesus is our only hope here. His coming is our only hope. If Jesus doesn't come or if He didn't come this was a bad deal. It was a bad deal. And so if we're going to suffer through this and we're going to; we may not know. In fact some people say, "When I get to heaven I'm going to ask Jesus about this or that." I'm not going to ask anything. I just want to forget about this.

I know that the judge of all the earth will do right. In fact, doctor, I'm not going to talk to Daniel about that in the lion's den thing. I'm fed up. And you know about that, David about the cutting off the head of that thing man that's gross. I just want to get on with my life. I want to put this behind. Anyway, I can't answer your question. We'll pray that prayer. There's nothing wrong with praying that prayer, but we won't hang up on it. We won't say what Benny Hinn says. Benny Hinn says, "Don't tell the, ask the Lord His will, just tell Him what to do. And if it doesn't work out it's because you didn't have faith." Give me a break.

Anyway, let's talk just a little bit in the time that remains about the danger of answered prayer. Remember I think it was one of the speakers. It might have been Ray that mentioned Matthew 7:21 which Jesus spoke of the time that would come in which He said many would come in my name and they would be naming miracles and they would all be answers to prayer. And what does Jesus say to them? It must've been somebody else. Wasn't me.

Everybody is getting answers to prayer these days ladies and gentlemen. And these answers to prayer are 180 degrees out of sync lots of time. I've got an e-mail here, you see it looks, doesn't that look, that looks all messed up. This is what grandchildren and you're carrying the... all the supplies for the kids and they dump out in the trunk of the car. And rather than to retype this up I... this makes me think of my little grandchildren. And so, but anyway, this is an e-mail from Loma Linda. I have a sermon by the way.

I have a serious website. Have you ever seen it? It's called revivalsermons.org. It's a serious website. I have sermons on there. I have 70 sermons and manuscripts. So if you're ever asked to preach and it's Friday night and you forgot, just download one of my sermons do find and replace. Take out Dick put your name in and you got it Jim. Got your sermon all ready, boy , just get up and preach your heart out. Anyway it's got about 30 Spanish sermons, it's got Spanish site, it's got a big forum, it's got lots of things. It's a serious... it takes thousands and thousands of hits. Revivalsermons.org

And anyway I have a sermon there on that... in the sermon index called "A Powerful Gospel." Ladies and gentlemen I don't believe that there's any sin so powerful that God can't break it. I believe that. They can say what they want. In fact, in this thing I'm talking about, a little bit about homosexuals. Let me say this that our church had better be careful... What I'm about to say next is rough. We hang around the fourth commandment, the evangelicals hang around 6 and 7. You know what I'm talking about 6 and 7 is the abortion and the homosexual one. Our church is... I can't say we're in favor of abortion or homosexuality but we're... You understand what I'm saying.

You can say, well we're not going to talk about that. I think, ladies and gentlemen, that the issue in the last days; we have to see it as not just the fourth commandment but all of them. And I believe that we had better not only uphold number 4, but we'd better be upholding the 6 and 7 or the Evangelicals are going to think we're not serious. Now I know what I hear amongst Adventists sometimes. And listen to me now; they'll say, "But you can't legislate morality." Give me a break, you'd better.

Every civilization in the history of this planet has to, Hammurabi legislates morality. Morality you see is the last 6 commandments. If you don't legislate those last 6 commandments your wife and kids aren't safe and neither is your money or your car. Don't tell me you can't legislate morality. You better. But what you don't legislate is spirituality. And you notice the commandments are divided into two parts. The first four is our relationship with God keep out of there. But you can legislate the last 6 until the cows come home. But I'm hearing Adventists say well you can't legislate morality. No, you've got to.

So I disagree, see, there's another option. See, we're so afraid of that fourth commandment thing that we go soft on 6 and 7. I think it's a credibility issue. But anyway I'm worried about this homosexual thing and I know all the reasons they put up for that. You're going to hear just in a minute a little bit about that but I believe now it's come on to television. And once we accept the homosexual lifestyle as the baseline for moral behavior what just happened to adultery and fornication? Out the window. We're all going to hell.

To me this homosexual thing is the last straw. This corrupts us completely. This is why when I preach, you know, we as Adventists again bless our hearts, we thought that the issue in the last days would be just the Sabbath issue. Remember what I told you earlier in the weekend? God created two things at the end of creation week one was the Sabbath, what was the other? Marriage and the devil's after both of them. And if the devil brings in the homosexual thing he corrupts the life out of marriage. Turns everybody into sex idiots.

Anyway here's this uh... I can get carried away pretty easy because I've got so many things I want to tell you, you know. Here's this e-mail that he sends me. And it was really nice, I really appreciate it. He says, "Dear pastor I am a homosexual and also a Seventh-day Adventist all my life. I read your sermon in the Internet and have this to say. I knew I was gay at the age of 8 and it goes on..." He tells the whole story and then he gets down toward the end, the last paragraph or so. And he says, "In 1984 I separated from my wife and 6 months later divorced her with no dispute of any kind between us and with the knowledge of both our children. As we stayed friends my ex one day came home with some information about kinship."

You've heard of that, haven't you? "Given to her at the University Church in Loma Linda. In September of that year I met my fellow gay SDA friend. Four years later what I firmly believe was God's straight answer to my prayer for a partner in life, I met my friend and partner of 11 years who was exactly as I had asked the Lord would have him to be." This is why, ladies and gentlemen, when somebody comes to me and says, "You know I've been praying about it and the Lord showed me." I'm not impressed.

The only way we can know these days who's answering our prayers is by going to the word of God. This is why it's critical. Remember I told you before, at one time we were very much into the word. By the way, being just into the word of God can make a fanatic out of you know that don't you? The pharisees were fanatics, they were into the word. They were the world's best Bible students. You hear what I'm saying? But on the other hand being just into prayer without the word, it turns you into a mystic. "You know I was talking to God the other day and God told me, and then I thought..." See we got that from our charismatic people.

But you see that's consistent with what they believe. We Adventists didn't say God told me, or I told Him. We would say I felt impressed. Maybe it's the same thing Jim, but it sounds a little different to me. I was talking with one of Benny Hinn's members one time and he says, "Here's where the word of God comes from right here." He pointed to His lips. Now you see it fits their theology because they believe speaking in tongues is the voice of God, right? They believe in words of wisdom and words of knowledge so they can say that this is where the word of God comes from. And so it's consistent.

But we've got to be very careful. You know I was talking with a young lady. Now I know I've finally got something I can talk to you unmarried girls about. It's been difficult. I hope next time I can have you married off by the time I ever come back here. Anyway, I was talking with a young lady who was dating a boy who was not a Christian. And I don't mean not born again, I mean of one of the big world religions. And she said to me, "I'm praying that the Lord will show to me what to do."

And I wanted to say, honey, he already has. He says be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. You see a lot of our prayers unfortunately is not to know the will of God, it's to get an exemption. In fact I believe that we could reduce our mystical praying if we'd go to the word and find out what to pray about. I don't think there's a situation in your life or mine that isn't contemplated and spelled out in the word of God. You may think you're really special and nobody's by like you before but that's just not true. It's all in the word of God.

Here's the illustration I use. You know you can pray about anything you want. And I use this illustration. My wife and I live in Orlando, in the area of Orlando out by the Forest Lake Academy. We've only owned 2 houses in our lives and I moved into this house. It was built about 1977 we tried to keep it up. But supposing that Betty and I decided, Jim, that we want to spend the next 30 or 40 years in a custom made house. So we go to an architect see. And we say to the architect, you know the lady architect.

You know the ladies are into most everything these days. We say to the lady architect, "You know ma'am, you know we want to design a house that's just uniquely us." And she says, "Well what do you want it to be like?" "Well let's see, you know I was talking with Betty and let's start at the front door. Is that alright ma'am?" "Yes, that's alright." "Well we want the front door to lead right into the master bathroom. So if our guests, you know, needed to go before they get there, they can take care of that early on, see. And then you go right into the master bedroom and then you know you go through the scene and everything."

And so she's rolling her eyes by now, but she's going to charge me $25,000 to draw it up and.... She kind of goes, "Alright." But you know she can draw those plans however Betty and I want them to be. But that's not going to be a house. You know why? Because it's against the building code. You see you can come up with the stupidest house you ever want to but you're not going to get it off the ground. Unless it conforms to the building code.

In the same way I could say, "You know, that house that you drew up for me; you know it's on an acre land and I got an acre because of my hobby. In the backyard I want to have a junkyard. I want to collect wrecked 18 wheelers." No, you're not. Because why? It's a zoning rule. No, you can make any plan you want but it's not going to happen if it's not within the building codes and the zoning stuff. Am I right on that?

In the same way, you can pray about anything you want. But it's not going to happen unless it's in God's word. And that's why we've got to go to the word of God before we pray, while we pray, and after we pray. Because if we don't the devil's answering prayer. That's what you got to look out for these days. The devil's into it. "So you know I prayed a lot about that but the Lord showed me and.." Right. Don't tell me what He showed you from your head.

To the law and to the testimony if they speak not according to the word it's because there is no light in them. This is why it's really critical that in these last days that we really be into prayer. Because prayer is the opening of the heart. You see you can read the Bible until the cows come home, get up and be as mean as ever. But you can't pray and read the Bible and be mean.

Because prayer... You know it's like a computer, Jim. You know you type on the computer. You can type all day and it's going into the RAM. But unless you hit "save as," it's gone. In fact yesterday on the airplane I was working on my little ipack and I had typed for 15 minutes on something and I hit the wrong button. It says, "you want to save this?" I thought it meant did I want to save the last word. I said, "No." And it was all gone.

So what happens with prayer is that you go to the word to find out what the codes are and what the zoning is, then you open your heart to God and that's hitting "save as." There's hope for us. There's hope for us. It would be my desire and my prayer that as you go home... if you don't already have that... Now don't get into mysticism. Get into the word. But don't just get into the word. Remember you can get into the word and be mean as sin, but when you bring prayer into it you suddenly get into being nice. What we need is nice people, loving people, kind people, forgiving people, huh.

Don't you think that's what we need? Well how do you feel, better or worse? Yeah, there's hope for us. Heavenly Father we're thankful that we have your word to teach us how to pray. That you've told us already what your will is and that Lord, that we can go to you and get strength to hit "save as" in our lives. We pray for every young man and every young woman who's here today. Lord, you know where they're at and what they're doing, you know that they love you and Lord do for us in our hearts. If you were ever going to do something special for some people sometime, do it for us now. Won't you? In Jesus name, Amen.


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