Relationship and love form the pattern of prayer. Tell God you need love. Confess your problems in the flesh. Your true need is God. Forgiveness is the key to seeing answers in prayer. Forgive and reconcile and do not regard iniquity and be heard. (Matthew 6:5-6; James 4:1-4; Mark 11:24-26)
Speaker: Thomas Schaller
11:00 AM on 11/12/2023
P. Schaller –
About two weeks ago on a Sunday night, we had a prayer message that really resonated with us. Maybe some of
you remember it about when you pray enter your closet, Matthew 6:6. There were two parts to that
message: the closet and then shutting the door. This morning, we want to continue on the
theme of prayer and teach about what that means that you actually come into the place of God
and receive from God. God carries you. God serves you.
I want to introduce a thought from this morning, Isaiah 46, that goes along with this. Isaiah 46:1, on
the screen it’s this picture here. What do you think those words – Bel. What does that word
mean? Do you know? Turn to your neighbor and tell them. What does Bel mean and Nebo? Bel
and Nebo. What do you think? Belshazzar. Remember that name? Belshazzar. Wasn’t
Belshazzar – was that Daniel’s name given to him? It’s a name of a god. A pagan god. Bel and
Nebo. Bel and Nebo were pagan gods. Vs. 1. So, the pagan gods were transported, and this was
a burden to carry them because they weighed so much. But can’t those gods walk? No. Can
they move their arms or talk? No.
Vs. 2. There are gods in this world that do not help you. There are gods in this world that
burden you. There are gods in this world that are tough to handle. They are a burden and
wearisome to us. They really are demanding of us. They want us to bow down and stoop and
Vs. 3. Israel has been born from God. God brought them down. This is figurative speech, but he
brought them down to Egypt. Seventy people went to Egypt. Seventy. Out came 2.5 million 400
years later. They multiplied. And then when he brought them out of Egypt through the Red Sea,
how did they get out of Egypt? God did it. God carried them. God did it. So, we have here up on
our screen a picture of people worshipping gods and carrying the gods. But there’s another way
that we have found, and that is that the true and living God carries us. He’s the one that serves
you. He carries you. But you might say I’m not in a bondage like this. But actually, Jesus said
that if you sin, you are a slave to sin. I came to set you free. If you continue in my Word, then
you are free indeed. I will carry you.
Look at verse 3-4. Hoar hairs means gray hair. I will carry you through your whole life. From the
beginning of your life to the end of your life. Vs. 4-5. How do you compare me to this picture up
here? How do you compare it? Am I like that, that you have to carry me?
We had one African pastor share the story that before he was saved, he was an idol
worshippers. He had a bag of idols, and he was invited to go from Burkina Faso to Ivory Coast
and teach about worshipping the idols. So, he brought the bag on the train. He travelled to
Ivory Coast. He did a little seminar and then he left and forgot the bag. He got on the train, and
he went back home and he realized he forgot the idols. And he goes those dumb idols can’t
even catch the train on their own. I have to go back and get them. I got to go get the idols cause they can’t do it. I got to do this, and I got to do that and I got to do this.
Think about Jesus Christ who came into the world and he said basically, literally, essentially, Mark 10:45 I came not into
the world to be served. I didn’t come into the world to serve you. I came into the world to serve
you. I came to carry you. I will carry you when you fail. I will carry you when you are a
disappointment to yourself. I will carry you when you don’t show up. I’ll carry you when you are
crippled and troubled and hurt psychologically, spiritually, and even physically. I will heal you.
And you will walk again. Take up your bed and walk. Who is our God but the God that cares for
us, ministers to us, carries us, forgives us, gives us grace, teaches us, and humbles us. Isn’t that
good? Okay. Amazing. Amen.
Let’s take a few minutes and let’s have prayer. Just in your seat or if you want to pray with
somebody in the room, feel free to do that. Just for a few minutes, pray for Israel. The war over
there. Our country. Family members. Peace in our homes, our neighborhoods, wisdom for our
leaders. Pray for our leaders to have wisdom in difficult times. Dangerous time we live in. So,
let’s do that right now. Just have a few moments of prayer. (Prayer).
Would you stand for a moment and turn around and greet your neighbor? Say good morning.
God bless you. Build them up. You may be seated. Two parts to the message. First one is: What
is prayer? Second one is: Why I don’t receive answers to prayers. Three parts to that. So, let’s
start by turning to Matthew 6:5. What is it about prayer in public? There is prayer in public, and some
people are motivated to pray because of the value of a public display or exhibition. I think we
all have tendency when we pray publicly. Did I say it the right way? Did I pray with the kind of
intensity or sincerity? Did I say the right words? Because we are in public and that means
something to us.
But when it means too much, then we are more conscious of the people than we are of God,
right? Like how do you receive what I say or when I pray, did you notice that I am projecting an
image. I want you to see that I am a believer. I want you to see that I am serious about it. So,
people hijack or the whole idea in my mind is hijacked in thinking that prayer is something like
that. But Jesus corrects it.
Look at vs. 5. There actually is a reward when you are seen of men. They talk about you maybe
or they recognize you or they respect you or there is a reward. So, you have the reward. That’s
what you got. But Jesus is saying that prayer is something else. Prayer is not that. Prayer is
Vs. 6. What is prayer? Here is a picture, very simple. God is a Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit. And they have fellowship. This is the key. It’s the fellowship. It’s the nature of those
three. Those three are not jealous. They are not at war with each other. They are not
exhibitionists. They are all servants. They are all holy. Infinitely so. Like it’s incredible to think
about the nature of God and who he is. And when we come and we are invited in, we are actually in there already. There’s not a process. In the mind of God, it’s already done.
You are accepted in the beloved. You have the lover – in the Trinity, you have the Father who loves the
Son. Another way of saying it is the lover has the beloved. The Father loves the Son. And the
Spirit is that environment, that person that is between the two. That third person is actually
dwelling in you. When you and I are born again and the Spirit is given to us, we are
automatically in fellowship with the Father and the Son. We’ve been accepted in the Trinity. We
are in fellowship with the Father and the Son.
Even though it is secret, meaning people are not seeing it, it is dynamic. It is gentle. It is
present. You are not alone. It’s not obvious to others. You have the other direction which is my
public prayer. And by the way, public prayer is not a bad thing. It’s just when it’s in the context
of self-consciousness and my ego and my self-life, and then that’s not right as we’ll see a little
later. Public prayer is part of our fellowship. We pray publicly in the Body.
But, but, the secret place or the closet is what Jesus is teaching here that we actually have in
inner chamber. A place where we have the Holy Spirit – let’s write down the Holy Spirit and the
love. The fruit of the Spirit is love, AGAPE love, God’s love. In that love, you are accepted. In
that love, you are satisfied. In that love, you are comforted. In that love, you have God’s heart
and mind. Sometimes I look for that in my own life. Do I have it in my heart. Like what’s in my
heart? Like we have a new heart, but I would like to have my heart moved in life. I want my
heart to be awake. I want my heart to be moved with compassion.
I want my heart to be sensitive to other people. I’d like my heart to be alive unto God. I want to be Spirit filled we
would say, right? That’s what we say, to be Spirit filled as we read in Ephesians 5
We would like a heart after God like David did. David had a heart after God in 1 Kings. 15. We
have a heart for our Bible to understand our Bible.
To find something in the Bible that speaks to my heart. I want to read my Bible and my heart be alive like Song of Solomon. I sleep but my heart awakes. It’s the voice of my beloved. That’s what happens to you and I when we have
prayer. There’s a lot of different elements to it. Prayer is basically your fellowship with God in
the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit moves in you and leads you in prayer, in fellowship, in love.
It’s not simply like asking for things. That’s what we sometimes think. This is different.
This is a relationship. One word that is pretty strong in the Bible is waiting on God. We wait on Him. Psalm
46:10, “be still and know that I am God.” So, we have the secret place, and I like that part
where it says shut the door. Like shut the door. That’s a big one. That means there’s got to be
something on the outside is not on the inside. There’s something excluded, that I’m excluding.
Maybe we could say the noise that is in the world. Maybe the struggles that are in the world.
Maybe the fightings. Maybe the fears. Maybe the ideas, the psychology of man and the
intellectualism of the human race. The philosophies and religions and ideas that men live in
easily. They easily live in the world.
When you pray and it’s like Jesus came into the world, but he was often disappearing to go to
pray and be with his Father. Luke 6:12, all night and sometimes early morning. Gethsemane was
a place where they often went for prayer. So, Jesus was Luke 11, often in prayer. When he
finished praying in Luke 11, when he finished it says the disciples asked him teach us to pray like
John the Baptist did. His disciples. Teach us to pray. I think John the Baptist prayer was different
from the hypocrisy of the day and the religion of the day. We know Jesus’ prayer was also not
like an exhibition. It was connection with the Father.
Okay, so, let’s speak about this in very practically now. Here’s the believer and he has his
approach to God. I’ll just draw it this way. He’s in fellowship with God and he has the Holy Spirit
and then he has his flesh, the believer’s flesh. Okay. Turn with me to James 4 and read with me
about that. James 4:1, I can’t help but think of family. Family has a fight. There’s a fight in the
family. I think of a war that happens at a working place. At your job. Or a war or a fight that
happens in the church. Or in the teacher’s room at the school. The lounge area or the school
area. There’s a fight of some kind going on. Where is it coming from. Where does the wars and
the fightings that are from within? Vs. 1. Is the war coming from me? Is the war coming from –
yes, my flesh does that. Yes, my flesh does that. Really. Okay.
What do you mean? Well, my flesh is essentially – the word “flesh” is referring to our fallen
nature, so really it’s our selfishness and there’s many ways that’s expressed. One of them is I’m
right. I’m right. A religious word is self-righteous. I’m right. I know I’m right. I got the Bible
verses for it and everything. I’m right. And you bother me. You bother me because you don’t
live with God. You don’t walk with God. That’s what we as religious people, this is what
happens. We have fights that happen because we lack love. We get entrenched in our self-
Jesus would say, have you been in prayer? Have you been in the secret place? Have you
dropped your flesh at the door? Okay. This is a great exercise for us that we would actually say
to God, I think I might be in the flesh. The troubles I have out there it might be because I don’t
have love. I don’t have the patience. It bothers me. Maybe my temperament or my personality
and things are bothering me. Also, our age, by the way. Man, that’s a big one. Our age.
Sometimes we get older, and we get a little crustier. A little more sensitive. A little stronger
opinionated. A little more self-righteous. We would call it wisdom or maybe I’m wiser. Maybe
you better take another look at that, because this is about your relationship with God. And God
is like very patient. He is very wise. He is very loving. He is very kind. This is – I just use this to
My flesh is in the prayer room. It’s in the prayer room. Now, when Job had his trial, he had a lot
to say. He talked a lot. He talked a lot in the book of Job. God wasn’t talking for 31 chapters. It’s
a long time. And the three friends of Job and Job are talking through the whole thing. The last
guy, the fourth guy, the youngest of him, he starts talking in Chapter 32 to 37. He’s anointed.
He’s anointed. And then God spoke in chapter 38 and Job stopped talking. He said I put my
hand to my mouth.
Listen. You can talk to God. That’s what the psalms are about. You can make complaint to God.
That’s what the psalms are saying. We can pray with the psalms because they allow us to feel
and be emotional and cry out and say how long o God, how long? Cause we don’t hear much.
Often in our troubles and our trials, we’re not hearing very much.
Okay. So, when God started speaking to Job, Job got really humble and he started to hear. And
when he was hearing, it was like really good. I say that to say prayer isn’t me just doing a lot of
talking. That’s like the psalms. But prayer is also waiting on God. It’s also being quiet before
God. It's also being careful to hear from God. And when the Lord says go back to your brother.
Leave your gift at the altar. Go back to your brother and get right with your brother, then we
need to do that. That’s Matthew 5:23-24.
James 4. I think we better finish this before we go there to Matthew. James 4:2, this reminds
me of people running around a lot, going from one event to another trying to also the
entertainment and acquisitions and the conversations and the talking and the activity and
there’s a lot of getting. There’s a lot of getting in life. Especially Americans, we’re kind of
continually active in getting and getting. It says in vs. 2, you desire to have but you cannot
obtain. You are busy in the flesh not getting the satisfaction versus prayer in fellowship and
getting the satisfaction. You actually are getting it. That’s one thing Jesus promised us. That we
would be satisfied. That we would be filled with the Spirit and have love and joy and peace. We
would be satisfied.
I’ve got to say to you and with you and think about it with you that I have a tendency like all of
us that in my flesh I have things that I can’t shut the door on. There’s some brother that
offended me. there’s somebody that I cannot forgive. Or there’s some bad habit that I always
go back to, and I run after that thing and then I don’t have it. I get it but it’s nothing. I get it but
it’s not satisfying. That means I cannot obtain. I might get it, but I end up like empty at the end
of the project or enterprise or relationship.
I got married to an amazing girl and it thought she would meet my need, and then I find out she
doesn’t really meet my need and why? Why doesn’t she met my need? Because marriage isn’t
like that. It isn’t that you marry so the other person meets your need. Marriage is more like this.
You have a secret place and you’re in fellowship with God that meets your need. Then, the Lord
gives you a relationship with a woman that becomes your wife, and you can go to bed at night
and say you’re not the one that meets my need. I have God that meets my need, and you’re
somebody that I love. I love you because God loves me. God loved me first. I didn’t love God
first. He loved me first, brought me into the fellowship, and on the basis of that relationship,
now we go out and have a ministry.
But there’s three things I have listed here that disturb us regarding this prayer subject. I don’t
know if you followed me in what I just said. I think you did. I think it’s clear. Look at the
Scripture before we turn. I got my eye on the clock here, too. Look at James 4:3. Okay. What is
that? I want a wife. Okay. I want a husband. I want a friend. I want to have a good church. I
want to have a good job.
Of course, who doesn’t? Who doesn’t want all those things? So, I go
to God and I’m saying this is what I want, but the Lord is saying to us this morning that when
you come before God, it’s not about you and I and our flesh. It’s not about what I want.
Primarily it’s the Lord says to us not what do you want. He’s saying do you know what your
need is. I say, no Lord. I don’t know what my need really is. He says your need is me. I’m the
one you need. You might want a thousand things, but I’m talking about what you really need is
me. Cause I made you for me. I made you.
Here's a good point. You ask somebody, what’s your purpose in life. I did this the other day to
some young people. They said I want to be happy. I want to have a family. I want to have a
good job. I want to make a lot of money. Then they say to me, why are you alive? What do you
live for? I go, I live for the glory of God. It’s like and I don’t want to be proud about it. It sounds
like it. I’m trying to say Revelation 4:11. We are made for the glory of God. That means if you get
money, that’s fine. But that’s not enough for you. You have to live for the glory of God. You
have a wife, that’s great. But that’s not enough for you. You have to live to the glory of God.
That’s what you’re made for.
Jesus is talking to us like real adults. Not like children. Our culture talks to us like children. You
need to go to Los Vegas and have a party. I don’t need that. I need God. And Jesus tells me that.
He tells me that if you have a secret place and you go in and can shut the door and you’re in the
presence of Almighty God, your life is going to turn out really good. Cause you’re going to end
up living to the glory of God.
Look at what Jesus says about it. We’ll jump over here even though going slow is good. Look at
Matthew 6:6. Hold it. I want to hear about that. What do you mean? He will do something openly. All
right. Think about it. We are in fellowship with God. You’re dealing with your flesh. You
recognize your flesh. You have to learn to recognize your flesh. We all have a fleshly nature. You
have to recognize it in the presence of God. That’s what happens in the Bible. When people are
in the presence of God, they realize things about themselves. We realize things about ourselves
and recognize it. We know this is my flesh.
So, we’re in fellowship and then we ask. We’re waiting on God. We’re in fellowship with God.
We’re asking and then he answers. Openly. You’re out in public. Openly you’re in public and the
Lord is rewarding you in public. He’s rewarding you in public. It’s in your heart. It’s in your life.
He’s rewarding you in public. And people could say not everybody recognizes it. Just like when
Christ came. Not everybody recognized who he was. But there were people for sure, Luke 4:32.
No man speaks like – he doesn’t speak like the scribes and Pharisees. No man has spoken like
this. Where did he get that from? Tell us plainly. Are you the Christ? Right? John 19. How about
this one. Tell us. Where did you get this authority? Right?
So, let’s go to why I don’t receive answers to prayer. Turn to one of them because of the time.
Mark 11:24-26. Well, are you saved? Yes, I’m saved. But I’m not forgiven in this sense. I am
forgiven of all my sins, – past, present, and future because of salvation. But in my practical life,
there’s something against me because I will not forgive him. Then the Lord says I will put you in
a psychological or spiritual prison, Matthew 18. And you’ll not get out until you pay the uttermost farthing. You’re going to have troubles in your life cause I’m not forgiving you unless you
forgive. I’m not – we don’t have fellowship.
You’re not forgiving him. I forgave you. You’re not forgiving him, so I’m cutting off the fellowship. It might last a long time, but your life is not, is not working so well. God is resisting you. James 4 says he resists the proud. Why don’t I forgive
him? Because I am proud. It bothers me. It’s my flesh. I will not forgive. He doesn’t deserve it.
He doesn’t. I don’t like him. I hate him.
I talked to a brother recently and I said, you hate this person. I gave the name. he goes, no. I
don’t hate him. I just don’t like him. I don’t want to see him. I never want to see him. It was like
hatred coming out of the brother’s heart. Then, you will not be forgiven. You’re going to have
trouble. You’re not going to be forgiven. You are saved. You are forgiven, therefore. But in your
practice, you are living like there’s no power. I don’t have any power. Can you imagine praying
and the prayer doesn’t go farther than the ceiling? It returns into my bosom.
Deuteronomy says to the Jews if they will not obey, their heaven will be like iron and the earth will be like brass.
Now, in the Bible the metals mean different things. Iron is like strength and brass is judgment
because brass is made by the melting of tin and copper I think. The brass is heat. The heat. Your
earth will be like a judgment furnace, and your heaven will be like iron where prayers will not
go through. Prayers will return to your bosom.
What about we are born again Christians? Yes, we’re born again. We’ve been brought into the
Trinity. We’re in fellowship with God, but when I grieve the Holy Spirit, I lose the fellowship.
The Lord says leave your gift at the altar. Go get right with your brother. Then come back here
and come on in. Go to the secret place and shut the door and pray to me and ask and you shall
receive what I have for you. Isn’t that good.
So, there’s three things. I do not forgive so now my prayers do not work. #2. I regard iniquity in
my heart. That’s Psalm 66:18. Let’s put that up on the board and we’ll finish up here. Psalm 66:18, I’m
devising a plot to destroy my enemy, and the Lord will say fellowship with me. And then you
put that away and you fellowship with God, and you start to love your enemy. Pray for your
enemy cause God is love. You start to forgive. You start to imagine how could that person
change? How could they change?
I think of our President. Joe Biden. And I’m not into the politics of the man. I’m not talking
about that. I’m talking about him as a person. Him as a person. What is in my heart. I am the
same. I am not here to judge. We could say Jesus, could you judge the Roman Empire or judge
king so and so. Jesus would say I came into the world not to judge. I came into the world to
save. To lay down my life. I came into the world to love. They’re going to take me and nail me
to a cross, but on the cross I’m going to say, Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.
That kind of life we don’t have. We don’t have it. That’s why the Bible says pray for your
leaders. Cause this world is more than flesh and blood. It’s more than what the news is saying.
It’s more than what your ideology is. It’s an opportunity to live in the heart and the mind of
Christ in a dark world. That is to forgive others and not have iniquity in my heart, but to have
faith and love and joy and peace and truth.
The truth part of it is clear. I don’t agree with many decisions that are made in our culture and
in our politics. There’s like terrible things that are legal. Let me give you three of them. They are
legal but they are not ethical, and they are not wise. One of them is marijuana is legal. A young
person says I can smoke marijuana. It’s legal. Yeah, but it’s not wise. You can get cancer from
that. You will mess up your head. It will cost you money. You’ll probably get in trouble for it.
You’ll lose strength. You’ll be unproductive. You become a pot head. Do you know what that is?
It’s legal but not wise.
How about alcohol. Another one. It’s legal but it’s not wise. What about abortion? It is legal but
it is not wise. Like where are you living? Where do we get this mind? We get it from fellowship
with God and his mind is not the mind of the world. We have convictions. We are learning it.
The last one is Matthew. 5:23-24. Please, go get right with your brother. Do it today. Go say to your
brother, forgive me. Just forgive me. I love you. Thank you. God bless us. Let’s live in the secret
place. Let’s love each other and care about each other.
You might say I haven’t done anything particularly wrong. Yeah, but your heart is cold. I haven’t
done anything particularly – yeah, but do you have a prayer life which moves your heart? And
you’re waiting on God, and you have love in your heart. Yes. I’m not saying this to condemn any
of us. I’m just saying to inspire us and encourage us cause Jesus said it.
Let me finish. I got to do this proverb. I’m always saying that. Okay. Here we go. Finishing up
here. This is shocking actually. Proverbs 1:25-29. Wow! What? I can party all day long. Do my thing.
Do whatever I want to. Then, when I’m really in trouble, I’ll call on God. Yeah, but don’t be to
sure about that. Don’t think that you’re in control of this whole thing. You might not even live
tonight and it’s too late. You can say all that religious stuff or whatever. That’s fine. I’m living
my life and then sometime when I really need, I’ll call on God. God is saying, he said it. I will not
hear when your calamity comes. I’m not there.
I was thinking in the Scripture, where is an example of that? The two thieves on the crosses.
There are three crosses. Jesus is in the middle. The one thief said, Lord, if you are the Christ
then save yourself and us. Save yourself and us, too. Remember? And Jesus did not answer him.
He died without Christ. We could say, God could say, why would I save you? Why would I save
you? Just so you can continue to be a thief? I’ll come down from the cross and bring you down
from the cross and you go on your merry way and just be a thief again. That’s not why I came
just so I can be a tool and you can go and live like hell all the time. Go live like hell every day.
When you call, I will not hear. I will not answer you. Wow.
The other thief was like this. These are my words. I don’t remember the text literally. Be quiet.
We have done what we have done, and we deserve this. He deserves none of it. Then he says
to Jesus, Lord, remember me. He didn’t say save me. He said just remember me when you
come into your kingdom. The Lord said today you will be with me in Paradise. Whose prayer
was answered? Whose prayer was answered? The man that just wants to go on and live his
own live his own way and when he is in trouble, he’ll cry out? And the Lord says, I will not hear
But listen. He hears the cry of the penitent, of the person that is serious about it. And coming to
God not on my terms, like save me so I can go my way. But save me so I can enter into a secret
place and get this straightened out cause I need help. I need more than just coming down from
the cross. I need a whole new life. I need a new heart, new spirit, new mind. I need to learn
what prayer is. I got to learn to forgive. I got to learn to stop judging people. I got to learn to
stop being selfish. I got to learn how to walk with you. That’s what I need. And when we have
that, prayers are answered all over the place. I’m convinced of it. I really believe that. He
rewards us openly with answers. Amen.
Please enjoy these sermon notes from the messages preached at Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. These notes are provided to aid in your study and understanding of the Word. Note that these notes do not represent complete, word-for-word transcriptions. Also, they may contain omissions as well as some errors in spelling and structure, etc., as we attempt to provide them as soon as possible. Our hope is that these notes serve as a way to help you search and connect with messages on related subjects and passages. Thank you for your interest in the ministry of Greater Grace.