A few days ago I uncovered an old spiral-bound notebook from my high school days. “Aha! This should be humorous!” I thought. “What sort of peculiar ideas was I scribbling down at that age?”
As I thumbed through various notes from my landscape business, exam preparation material on American government and economics, backpacking food recipes, and other random jots, my interest perked up when I happened upon a sermon I wrote concerning prayer and the status of our country. Interestingly, all the dates in this notebook are from 1999, which indicates I penned this sermon-essay a little over 16 years ago, when I was 16 years old (I’ll be 33 this coming May).
Just what was I thinking about when I was 16 years old? Well, that is for you to determine as you read my short “sermon” below. But as I reflect on this message from my 16-year-old self, I recognize my biblical and theological understanding is now (hopefully) deeper, clearer, and more nuanced. With all the grammar and syntax pounded into me during 9 years of college and seminary education, I now see obvious gaps in my 16-year-old self’s writing style.
However, what I pray never fades is the passionate fervor for God’s truth and the “fire in my bones” (Jer. 20:9) to preach with His authority and power. The calling of God to “preach as a dying man to dying men,” as Richard Baxter put it, has been woven into the fiber of my being from the time I was a small boy. I pray this flame is never dampened with age but ever increases to the praise of God’s glorious grace.
I again echo the words of the legendary missionary, Jim Elliot:
“God, I pray Thee, light these idle sticks of my life and may I burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus.”
On Prayer: A Sermon From My 16-Year-Old Self
Prayer is communication with God. What is communication? It is talking and listening. The need for prayer in our nation is very great. God is longing for people who will hear His voice and obey, people that will hunger after God, long to speak with Him and desire His will in their lives. I’m talking about a praying spirit or for lack of a better word, a praying attitude.
We hear people complain about the moral decay and the corrupt society we live in. We hear politicians, preachers, and the like condemn this act and blame this person and that person (which might be all well and good), but do we hear people praying? I believe if God’s people long to see this nation turn to Christ, they must pray.
Jesus, the blood-shed on Calvary, is the answer. But the only way we can get to know Jesus is by talking and listening to Him. We all know how God has changed our nation in the past through prayer and action. From our nation’s birth to the great revivals of Edwards, Moody, and Azusa Street, prayer to the Lord God Almighty is what started it and prayer is what kept it going.
If prayer stops, revival stops.
Our time is now. It is time to rise to the occasion, to take the torch and run with it. For the prayers that have gone before us will not carry us any longer. We must long to know God and do whatever He wills.
The reasons to pray are enormous.
Based on 1 Tim. 2:8; Luke 19:46; Acts 1:14; 6:4; 12:5; Eph. 6:18; Phil. 4:6; Jam. 5:15-16:
- God sends revival.
- God casts out demons.
- God breaks down principalities and powers, “rulers of darkness,” etc.
- God gives us victory over sin.
- God gives life and joy in life.
- God mends relationships.
- God changes lives.
- God gives comfort.
- God gives us love.
- God grants salvation.
- God heals.
- God gives wisdom.
- God gives strength.
- God changes cities, states, and He can change this country.
- We enter God’s presence.
Through prayer… God is changing my life and He can change yours!
Prayer is vital, for if we do not pray, we will not see lives changed, relationships mended, and lives saved. Prayer is the backbone of revival, and oh how we need a church with a strong backbone!
It is time for soft Christians to get tough, for weak Christians to become strong, for lukewarm Christians to turn back to the Lord. And this can only happen through prayer — through knowing God intimately.
Let us pray. Let us humble ourselves, seek His face, turn from our wicked ways, and He will heal our land.
1999 – from a 16-year-old Michael Breznau
Let us all rivet our attention on these striking words from the late Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994):
The two prerequisites for successful Christian living are vision and passion, both of which are born in and maintained by prayer. The ministry of preaching is open to few; the ministry of prayer – the highest ministry of all human offices – is open to all.
Spiritual adolescents say, “I’ll not go tonight, it’s only the prayer meeting.” It may be that Satan has little cause to fear most preaching. Yet, past experiences sting him to rally all his infernal army to fight against God’s people praying. God is not prodigal with His power; but to be much for God, we must be much with God.