On Prayer

November 9th 2014

Welcome In The Name Of The Father, Son, And Holy Spirit.

 

Colossians 4:2-6

2

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

3

At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison–

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that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

5

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.

6

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

 

 

1.    We spend a great deal of time praying for ourselves rather than praying for the welfare of others.

 

Namely, Paul wants the Church to pray for the salvation of other people. Isn’t it interesting that when we pray we seem to pray for our health, or our finances, or our job? Paul wants the Church to pray for doors to come crashing wide open for the Gospel to enter through and save the lost!

 

2

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

3

At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison–

 

Pray steadfastly for that!

 

A.) Prayer is the Fuel of Missions:

People say: When one door closes God opens a window! And I wonder: Is your God a burglar? Paul is asking that people to pray for God to open doors of evangelism and to give him the words to speak. Isn’t that right where we all are? We want to tell people about Jesus but we don’t know what to say and we don’t know when to say it. And here we all are praying for promotions or that our team wins. How might God transform us during our secret times with Him if we prayed earnestly for “His Kingdom Come, His Will Be Done, On Earth As It Is In Heaven.”

 

2.  The constancy of prayer is our lifeline in the dark storm that is life under the sun. Prayer frequency is the evidence of a lifestyle rather than legalism.

 

“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”

~ Karl Barth

 

“Continual prayer is to blend with unwearied action. We are so to walk the dusty ways of life as to be ever in the secret place of the Most High.”

~ Alexander Maclaren

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-25

16

Rejoice always,

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pray without ceasing,

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give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

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Do not quench the Spirit.

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Do not despise prophecies,

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but test everything; hold fast what is good.

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Abstain from every form of evil.

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Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

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Brothers, pray for us.

 

 

Maclaren writes that Prayer is the way to be both Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus choosing the good portion as well as Martha who is serving the world in practical ways.

 

 

 3.   The “Get to” & “Got to” guilt trip of prayer.

 

The old song goes, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” True. How else do we know God loves us? Certainly the cross is evidence of God’s love. The Son takes on human flesh so that His sinless flesh might be nailed to a cross to atone for our sin. Christ crucified for sins is the sign of God’s love. And, Prayers is a sign of God’s love for He listens to people like us, as a good Father listens to His child.

Atonement and love are the foundations of prayer, not guilt and duty. Yet is it not often the case that we are admonished to pray because we must in order to be close to God? Even looking at prayer from the kinder perspective of getting to pray can quickly sour into duty. If we get the privilege to pray surely we must pray. The basis of prayer is Christ’s hard won atonement and the love of God.

 

4. Psalms: The guide for praying for ourselves.

 

 

As much as missions need our prayers we must still pray for ourselves. No one knows your sin and struggle as much as you do. The prayers the psalmists prayed bares the soul to God rather than our typical shallow cursory prayers.

 

Confession & Penance

Psalm 51

1

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

2

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

3

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

4

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

 

 We Pray For Justice

 

Psalm 17:1-2

 1

Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!

2

From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right!

 

 

We pray for an eternal worldview.

 

Psalm 90:12

 

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

 

5.   Why we don’t pray.

 

A.)        We’re Tired. We wait until the very end to the day to commune with our God and fall asleep, then we feel the shady burden of guilt. Try praying out loud. But people will hear my darkest secrets and vulnerabilities! This is one reason why Jesus said to go to your room to pray (Matthew 6:6).

B.)        We’re Busy. Not Necessarily with good things, T.V. Napping. Gossiping. Sinning, will all keep one busy. When we say we are too busy to pray we must ask ourselves what we are busy with.

C.)        We feel like we’re talking to ourselves.

D.)       We feel like God is going to do what God is going to do regardless of our petitions.

 

Prayer is your statement of faith, for to pray is your declaration of God’s goodness. And why pray to Him if we do not believe Him to be Good?

 

When we relegate prayer to an after thought we are admitting that we are functional atheists.

This is why it is of paramount importance that we still bring our prayers to God as children before a good father. God desires us to come before Him in prayer acknowledging Him as Lord rather than genie.

Luke 18:1-8

1

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

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He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man.

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And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’

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For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man,

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yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'”

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And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says.

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And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?

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I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

 

 And let us not forget Jesus’ comparison between His Good father, and regular earthly parents.

 

Matthew 7:9-11

 

9

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?

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Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?

11

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

 

Wicked judges will deliver justice because of persistence. Evil parents will do good unto their children. How much more so will a good God hear and answer your prayers for your ultimate good and His enduring glory?

When God’s answer to our prayers is “no”, we still pray to Him because He is good. People rage against God when things do not go their way. People question God’s goodness when a loved one is not healed.  People say, “He had the power to stop this or that, but didn’t.” I sort of go, “Americans could end hunger if they all canceled their cable T.V. and bought food for people.” To which people reply, “God is better than us.”

This answer reveals the truth that we expect God to be better than us without trusting that He is better than us. For if we truly believed Him to be better than us then we would trust Him.

 

Remember: on that dark day the Lord Jesus hung upon a cruel Roman cross on Golgotha, no one thought it would end well: no one but our Father in Heaven.

 

God is sovereign, yet we ask Him for things. His goodness is why.

 

 

 

6. Prayer feeds the soul (and forms the mind).

 

“We must make distinct and resolute efforts to rouse ourselves—we must concentrate our attention and apply the needed stimulants, and bring the interest and activity of our whole nature to bear on this work of continual prayer, else it will become drowsy mumbling as of a man but half away. The world has strong opiates for the soul, and we must steadfastly resist their influence, if we are to continue in prayer. “ ~ Alexander Maclaren  

 

We love the verse that says “Be still and know I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). We like the idea of it, but we no more like His presence than we like the quiet.  Sometimes I think we like the T.V. The Car Radio, The Podcast, The Itunes, The I Pod because we want to tune out the Holy Spirit convicting us of the things everlasting: repentance from sin, or conviction to answer God’s many calls in our lives. For much of prayer is listening.

 

Let us learn from the Lord Jesus, whose custom it was to go to secluded places to pray.

 

Luke 6:12-16

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In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.

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And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles:

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Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew,

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and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot,

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and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

 

 

 

Matthew 14:23

23

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,

 

 

Mark 1:35-39

 

35

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

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And Simon and those who were with him searched for him,

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and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.”

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And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”

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And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons

 

Were the Lord Jesus snarky He would have said to Peter: “I know, that’s why I’m out here.”

 

 Matthew 26:36

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”

 

Isn’t it fascinating that shortly before His death Jesus is still praying, even from the Cross, really. You might think that Father and Son were soon to be together for eternity, they could talk then. But there is never a time in your lives when we are not in need of the profound communion that we experience with our King in prayer.

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