Draw the Circle – Part 5 – Ripple Effect
May 6, 2018 – Psalm 103:13-18
In 1983, physicist Lorne Whitehead published an article in the American Journal of Physics titled, “Domino Chain Reaction.”
Whitehead discovered that a domino can knock over another domino that is one-and-a-half times its size. So, a two-inch domino can topple a three-inch domino. A three-inch domino can topple a four-and-a-half-inch domino. And on an on…
Now get this. This is wild! By the eighteenth domino, you could knock over the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The twenty-third domino could knock over the Eiffel Tower. And by the twenty-eighth domino, you could take down the Empire State Building!
This is the power of the domino effect, and prayer operates the same way— exponentially. Remember, God is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20, NIV). Those are Paul’s words from Ephesians 3:20 in the NIV. I love how Eugene Peterson translates it in The Message: “God can do anything, you know—more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams.”
God can multiply the effects of our prayers!
Lorne Whitehead wrote about the “domino effect” but I want to use a different phrase for this message. I want to use a phrase we can easily picture in our minds. I want to talk about the ripple effect prayer.
First, let’s turn to Psalm 103 and hear an example of the ripple effect.
Psalm 103:13–18 (NIV84) page 428
13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
Did you hear the ripple effect? [Pause]“From everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children.”
Now, let’s look at four things that will help us understand the ripple effect of prayer.
The Ripple Effect
1) God wants us to be specific with our prayers.
In Matthew 20, we read about a time when Jesus was walking down the road and two blind men called out to Him. They said, “Have mercy on us.”
Jesus stopped and asked them what they wanted him to do.
They replied, “We want our sight” and Jesus healed them.
Did Jesus know what they wanted when they said have mercy on us? Yes, he did. Was it really necessary that they specifically ask for their blindness to be healed? Evidently, it was. While Jesus knew the request behind the words, he wanted them to be specific. Drawing circles effectively begins with knowing what circles to draw. How do we know when vague prayers have been answered?
Imagine Jesus standing before you and asking, “What do you want me to do for you?” How would you answer that question?
Do you dream big? Do you believe God wants to exponentially answer your prayers?
2) God takes our small prayers and does great things.
In the Old Testament, we read about two temples where God’s people worshipped. The first was the grand and impressive Solomon’s temple. It was destroyed in 586 BC when King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. The second, much less spectacular temple, was rebuilt after the exiled Jews returned to Jerusalem. Outwardly, this second temple was a pitiful shell of the first and that was an issue for many who remembered it. But in Zechariah 4:10, God said to the ones building the second temple, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” (CEV).
I love Mark Batterson’s words here, “If you do little things like they’re big things, God will do big things like they’re little things.”
From Oswald Chambers’ classic devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, we read, “It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God, but we have not. We have to be exceptional in ordinary things.”
Just because something is small does not mean that it is unimportant.
Consider the three smallest bones in the human body, which are in the inner ear: the malleus, incus, and stapes (also referred to as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup due to their shapes). These bones are tiny, but if they do not function, we cannot hear. What seems small to you and me may be significant to God.
3) God can answer our prayers in a greater manner than we imagined and in terms of generations.
In Joshua 4:6–7, we read that Joshua gave instructions for the people to set up stones of remembrance for all that God had done. Joshua said, “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD” (NIV).
Often, we think so small…too small…and don’t even realize it! We think God has answered prayer for us and he has, but he is also thinking beyond us. “He is thinking nations and generations!”
Remember last week’s sermon. What comes to your mind when you realize that your prayers for your children are prayers for your grandchildren and great-grandchildren?
4) God wants us to develop the habit of praying regularly.
- In Acts 10:2, we read that Cornelius “gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly” (NIV).
- Jesus encouraged His disciples to keep on praying and not give up (see. Matthew 7:7; Luke 18:1).
- Paul said we are to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), which means to always be connected to God.
Batterson writes that when we pray to God regularly, we will find that irregular things happen on a regular basis!
Praying regularly has been the purpose of this series from the very beginning. In the first message, I told you that this 40-day prayer challenge isn’t about just 40 days of prayer. It’s about developing a habit of prayer that continues on day 41 and beyond.
George Müller was an evangelist who established the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, from 1849–1870.
During his time on earth, Müller cared for 10,024 orphans while establishing 117 schools throughout England. In today’s dollars, Müller raised around $150 million.
Amazingly, he never asked anyone for a penny. He only asked God by turning every need into a prayer. God answered more than 30,000 of Müller’s prayers. How do we know? He wrote them in his prayer journal.
We’re going to show a video about the power and influence of regular prayer. Some of you have already seen it during a Sunday evening service and some of you have seen it in Growth Track. I’m guessing most of you have not seen it.
Find your chair…or whatever your place it. Commit to it regularly—that’s the initial drop—and watch to see how God can create a ripple effect through prayer—a ripple effect that just might affect generations that follow you.
This series is based on Mark Batterson's book, Draw the Circe: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge.
We are embarking on a 40-day journey to develop the habit of prayer that will continue on day 41 and beyond.