Low Expectations

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Low Expectations

Acts 12:15

Intro: There is a story of George Muller crossing the Atlantic. The captain knew him to be a man of prayer. He approached Muller and asked him if he believed he could pray for the wind to blow so they could move. Muller agreed, but told the captain to raise the sails. The captain said, “Why I’d be laughed to scorn for raising my sails with no wind.” Muller replied, “I will not pray for wind until you raise the sails. I will not ask my God for wind if I don’t believe he will send it.  About thirty minutes later, the captain returned to Muller and said, “You can stop praying now. We’ve got more wind than we know what to do with!”

There’s one thing you have to say about this in Acts 12 church. They were a praying church. Notice:

1. It was Unceasing Prayer – vs. 5

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
  • Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

2. It was Unified Prayer – vs. 5, 12

  • Matthew 18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

BUT…

3. It was Unbelieving Prayer – vs. 15

They didn’t believe God would answer.

NOTE: God has His own will; His own plan.

He can do whatever He wants, whether we pray for it or not.

God wasn’t finished with Peter; so there is no reason to believe that God wouldn’t have delivered him anyway.

BUT – God didn’t see fit to deliver James the brother of John. Or Stephen.

But notice their prayer, though it was UNCEASING, AND UNIFIED, it was UNBELIEVING.

They demonstrated an extremely low expectation in their prayer life.

Notice just how ridiculous it was!

a. They were Accusing

When Rhoda came to tell them that Peter was at the door, they refused to believe her.

They called her “mad”.

DEFINITION of MAD: of one who so speaks that he seems not to be in his right mind

Who was not in their right mind? The one telling them a miracle had taken place, or those that had been praying for a miracle without believing it was even possible?

What is more MAD than speaking to the Creator and not believing He can do what you’re asking??

b. They were Adamant

She “constantly affirmed” that it was even so.

How long did this back and forth go on? Imagine…

Rhoda: Peter is at the door!

The church: No he’s not!

Rhoda: Yes he is!

The church: No he’s not!

Rhoda: Yes he is!

The church: No he’s not!

Rhoda: Yes he is!

She “constantly affirmed” that it was even so.

Finally…they stopped arguing with her that there was someone at the door, and started imagining.

Since it CANNOT be Peter at the door, it must be his angel.

Huh?? How would that work?

So God can’t deliver Peter to them, so He sends the next best thing…Peter’s angel??

What in the world!!???

Funny thing is this – God DID send an angel; but not as a consolation prize.

God sent an angel to ANSWER their prayer.

Why were they so quick to settle for a consolation prize, instead of the GRAND PRIZE??

c. They were Astonished

DEFINITION of ASTONISHED: to throw out of position, displace

1a) to amaze, to astonish, throw into wonderment

1b) to be amazed, astounded

1c) to be out of one’s mind, besides one’s self, insane

NOW – WHO IS MAD??? Now, who is out of their mind??

Why were they even praying to start with if they didn’t believe God could or would answer??

Why are so many Christians praying without expecting God to answer??

 

I. Low Esteem – many don’t feel worthy of answered prayer

Many Christians do not feel worthy of answered prayer.

They feel that they are “putting” God out by asking for things (big or small)

Satan is a master at making the child of God feel inferior.

  • Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

One of his tactics in Matthew 4 was trying to convince Jesus that He had nothing.

Luke 4:5-7

  • 5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
  • 6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
  • 7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.

Luke 11:11-12

  • 11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
  • 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

 

II. Low Energy – half-hearted/cold/complacent/dutiful/routine/ritualistic

  • James 5:16 The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

The phrase “cried unto the LORD” is found in the KJV at least 29 times.

CRYto call, cry, utter a loud sound

Watch what happens when people CRY UNTO THE LORD:

  • Psalms 3:4 I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
  • Psalms 107:6 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
  • Psalms 107:13 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.
  • Psalms 120:1 In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.

In Acts 4, the disciples LIFTED UP THEIR VOICE TO GOD.

LIFTED: to raise up, elevate, lift up

  • 24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:…
  • 31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

How many times have you LITERALLY cried unto the Lord?

NOTE: God is not deaf. But God loves FERVENT PRAYER!

David said:

  • Psalms 55:17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.

 

III. Low Estimation

The problem with a lot of Christians is they think some miracles are bigger than others.

MIRACLE: a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.

God can create the earth and the heavens and all that in them is in just six days, but their prayer is just too hard.

God can part the Red sea for the children of Israel, and rain down manna, and bring water out of a rock, but your prayer is just too hard for God.

God can make the sun stand still for Joshua, but your prayer is just too hard for God.

God can heal Naaman’s leprosy, and raise to life the Shunamite woman’s son, but your prayer is just too hard for God.

God can bring down the walls of Jericho, and He can make the ax head swim, but your prayer is just too hard for God.

He can replenish the meal barrel of the widow of Zaraphath, and rain down fire for Elijah, but your prayer is just too hard for God.

He can feed the multitude with five loaves and two fishes, and calm the stormy seas, but your prayer is just too hard for God.

He can make the crippled walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear and even raise Himself from the dead, but your prayer is just too hard for God.

  • Jeremiah 32:27 Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

Conclusion:

ILLUSTRATION: Napoleon told one of his generals that if he won a certain battle, that he could ask him for anything and he would grant his request.  The general won a great victory, and he came to Napoleon’s treasurer and requested an exorbitant amount of money. The treasurer gave it to the general, but was highly offended. He went straight to Napoleon and complained about the amount of money the general requested. Instead of getting angry at the general, Napoleon got angry with his treasurer. He said, “I am a great king. He has honored me with his request!”

I wonder how many of our prayers dishonor God because we have such low expectations???