A STUDY OF PRAYER (by Steve Pierce)

I. Introduction
A. Purpose
1. Purpose of salvation
a) To glorify God
b) To bring us into intimate relationship with Him
2. Prayer required for intimate relationship
B. Prayer defined
1. Communion (fellowship) with God = highest activity of which man is capable
2. Prayer a form of worship that includes
a) Confession
b) Praise
c) Supplication (humble request)
C. Topics to be considered
1. Who
a) Who should pray
b) Who should we pray to
2. Why pray
3. What should we pray about
a) We do not know, the Spirit intercedes
b) God's agenda
c) Lord's Prayer
1) "Our Father in heaven"
2) " Hallowed be thy name"
3) "Your kingdom come"
4) "Your will be done..."
5) "Give us our daily bread"
6) "And forgive us our debts..."
7) "And lead us not into temptation..."
d) Other topics of prayer
4. How and when should we pray
a) Precursor to prayer: be watchful
b) Attitude of person praying
c) Characteristics of prayer life
5. Conclusion and summary
II. Who
A. Introduction
1. Who should pray?
2. Who should we pray to?
B. Who should pray
1. Believers (Those who have or are seeking to have a relationship with God)
2. God does not hear or respond to:
a) Sinners (John 9:31)
b) Wicked Judah (Is 1:15)
c) Wicked Judah (Jer 14:10,12)
d) Jeremiah’s prayer for Judah (Jer 11:11-14)
e) Those who reject God (Prov 1:24, 25, 28 also v. 28-32)
f) The wavering or unstable, that is, have doubts i.e. lack faith (James 1:6-8)
g) The enemies of the saints (Ps 18:40-41)
h) The proud (Job 35:12-13)
i) Those who pray to fulfill personal pleasures (James 4:3)
j) Those separated from God by sin (Is 59:2)
k) Those without faith cannot praise Him (Heb 11:6) (and the prayers of the upright are a delight to God, Prov 15:8)
l) Those who are wicked (Prov 15:8)
m) Those who refuse to hear God’s law (Prov 28:9)
C. Who should we pray to:
1. The Father: This is example of Christ. (partial list)
a) Lords prayer (Mt 6:6,9)
b) Spiritual conflict (John 12:27)
c) At return of seventy (Lk 10:21)
2. Jesus
a) No scriptural precedent
b) Acceptable because God knows the intent of our heart
3. In the “name of Jesus”
a) Ref. (John 14:13-14)
b) What does this mean?
1) Pray for His purpose, not selfish purpose
2) Pray on merits of Him, not personal merit
3) Pray in pursuit of His glory
c) What does this not mean
1) Christ will pray to Father (John 16:26-28)
2) These are special words required for prayer be effective
III. Why Pray
A. Why people do not pray
1. They don’t depend on God, they depend on:
a) Physical resources
b) Intelligence
c) Programs, etc.
2. Believers who do not pray are effectively humanists
B. Why people should pray (The purpose of prayer)
1. To glorify God
a) “And whatever you ask in my name, That I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (John 14:13)
b) Example: Jonah extols God while in the belly of a fish (John 14:13)
2. To fellowship with God
a) Communication needed to maintain any relationship
b) He is near those who call on Him (Ps 145:18)
3. To exercise our faith in God
a) This in turn glorifies Him
b) It helps our faith to grow and thus our assurance of His answers
4. We are told to pray
a) Jesus tells disciples to pray (e.g. Lk 22:40)
b) Examples of Jesus, Paul, OT prophets, etc.
5. For the purposes sited in the Lords Prayer (Mt. 6:9-13)
a) Ask forgiveness for sins
b) Ask for protection from Satan
C. Is the purpose of prayer to:
1. Inform God; Answer: No
a) “...your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Mt 6:8)
b) God is omniscient
2. To persuade God, change His will or purpose; Answer:?
a) Yes, many OT examples
b) No.
1) God is sovereign, not man
2) God is not a genie we call upon to have our desires met
3) If prayer changes God’s purpose, then is it not a work in which we can boast?
D. Question: If prayer does not (or cannot) bring about the results we have requested (perhaps a change of God’s purpose), why pray?
1. See reasons cited above in III.B.
2. To change us
a) Benefit is not in the change God may make in our circumstances
b) Benefit is the change God makes in us
1) Our circumstances should not be our priority
2) God’s purpose should be our priority (This is sanctification)
3. To obtain peace: outcome of prayer should be peace
a) Our focus should not be on a specific outcome
1) If so, our joy is a function of outcomes
2) If desired outcome does not occur either:
(a) We are disappointed with God
(b) We doubt God
(1) Doubt Gods existence
(2) Doubt Gods love
(3) Doubt effectiveness of prayer
(c) We search for God’s purpose in non-desired outcome
(1) This can lead to frustration: Gods purpose cannot always be known
(2) This can lead to anxiety and confusion (This is not what God desires for us)
b) Our focus should be on God and His goodness
1) Focus on God brings peace: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You" (Is 26:3)
2) We have peace knowing:
(a) God is trustworthy and has good for us
(b) That we are not to be anxious. “Be anxious for nothing” (Phil 4:6)
(c) That God has promised peace: “...let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds though Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7)
IV. What to Pray About
A. Overview
1. We don’t know, the Spirit intercedes
2. God’s agenda
3. Lord's prayer
a) Honor God
b) Advance of God’s kingdom
c) God’s will as revealed in scriptures
d) Earthy needs
e) Confession and forgiveness
f) Protection
4. Other
B. We do not know, the Spirit intercedes
1. Reference verse: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Rom 8:26-27)
2. “In our weakness”
a) Weakness describes the general human condition
1) Finite minds
2) Human frailties
3) Spiritually limited
b) This results in a lack of holiness such as:
1) Being moral
2) Speaking the truth
3) Witnessing
4) Lusting
3. “We do not know how we ought to pray”
a) Meaning
1) Greek: “What we should pray”
2) The content of our prayers
b) Because of weakness we cannot always:
1) Know that there is a need for prayer
Example: Christ knew, Peter did not, that Satan had asked to sift him like wheat (Lk 22:31-32)
2) Know God’s will, in specific matter, and thus pray in accord with that will
Example: Paul prayed three times to have his “thorn in the flesh” removed , God did not remove it (2 Cor 12:3-9)
4. “The Spirit Himself intercedes for us”
a) Definition: to plead or make a request in behalf of another (Webster)
b) Questions:
1) To what extent does the Spirit intervene?
2) What is our role
3) Is this corroboration between person that is praying and the Spirit. Example: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8:16)
4) Is this “praying in the Spirit” (Eph 6:18)
5. “Groans that words cannot express”
a) Meaning of groan
1) To utter a deep sound expressing pain, distress, or disapproval (Webster)
2) Not uttered in words
3) May be figurative, not an audible sound but some form of communication
b) Not understood by man
c) Understood by God
1) Profound content
2) Divine communication (inter-Trinitarian communication)
Example: “Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:11)
6. “He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit”
a) “He” is the Father
b) “Searches our hearts”
1) Examples:
(a) “As for you my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve him with a willing heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts” (1 Chron 28:9)
(b) “O Lord, you have searched me and know me . . . you understand my thoughts afar off” (Ps 139:1-2) also v. 3-4
(c) When the disciples were choosing between Barsabas and Matthias to replace Judas they prayed “You, Oh Lord, who know the hearts of all, choose which of these two you have chosen . . .” (Acts 1:24)
(d) Also 1 King 8:39, Prov. 15:11, 1 Cor 4:5, Heb 4:13
2) Question: If He knows the mind of man why does He search?
c) “Knows the mind of the Spirit”
1) The Father and Spirit are one
2) Question: If they are one, is this a truism
7. “The Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will”
a) Intercedes: see above, para 4a
b) Question: Why is there self-communication between the Spirit and God. (Can we understand this, or do we acknowledge by faith.)
C. God’s agenda
1. Our prayers reflect our spiritual state
a) The prayers of most Christians are shallow and selfish
1) Common topics: health, happiness, success, solutions, things (e.g., money, car, spouse)
2) Such topics were low priority for Christ and new testament writers
(a) “. . . do not worry about your life, what you shall eat or what you
shall drink, nor about your body . . . your heavenly Father knows you need all of these things . . . seek first the kingdom of God . . .” (Mat 6:25-33)
(b) "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasure” (James 4:3, context v1-3)
3) The world seeks “personal peace and affluence” (F. Shaefer) and this is the attitude of many believers.
b) Prayers should reflect God’s perspective (e.g. what God wants to accomplish)
1) God’s glory
2) God’s desire for us to become Christ like (i.e. saintification)
3) God’s desires for those around us:
(a) Our family and those we care for
(b) The world and those we don’t care for
2. Paul’s prayers
a) Overview: Paul prays for the spiritual welfare of believers
b) Example: “Therefore we also pray always for you [the believers in Thessalonica] that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you…” (2 Thes 1:11)
1) The primary subjects of Paul’s prayer are spiritual characteristics
(a) Worthiness
(b) Goodness
(c) Faith with power
2) “Worthy of this calling”
(a) “Calling”
(1) Refer to saving call that results in regeneration (Rom 8:30)
(2) Does not refer to call to repent or believe
(b) Worthy
(1) Refer to Christian character and conduct
(2) Examples of worthiness
i. Behavior that glorifies God (2 Thes 1:12)
ii. Unity of purpose and striving for the faith (Phil 1:27-28)
iii. Good works, increase in knowledge of God, and patience (Col. 1:10-11)
iv. Humility, gentleness, and patience (Eph 4.1)
(3) Characteristics of a worthy walk
i. Humility (Eph. 4:2)
ii. Purity (Rom. 13:13)
iii. Contentment (1 Cor. 7:17)
iv. Faith (2 Cor. 5:7)
v. Righteousness (Eph. 2:10)
vi. Unity (Phil. 1:27)
vii. Gentleness (Eph. 4:2)
viii. Patience (Col.1:11)
ix. Love (Eph. 5.23)
x. Joy (Col.1:11)
xi. Thankfulness (Col. 1:13)
xii. Light (Eph. 5:8-9)
xiii. Knowledge (Col.1:10)
xiv. Wisdom (Eph. 5:15-16)
xv. Truth (3 John 3-4)
xvi. Fruitfulness (Col. 1:10)
(c) If you truly belong to Christ, you ought to walk as He walked (1 John 2:6)
3) “Fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness”: Paul prays that the believers exhibit goodness as Jesus did
4) Fulfill “the work of faith with power”
(a) Paul wants believers to be spiritually powerful (Eph 3:16)
(b) Powerful in what ways:
(1) To glorify God through Christian walk
(2) Examples
i. Faith
ii. Works
iii. Peace
(c) How do you become more powerful: draw close to God
(1) Know God’s word
(2) Have a strong relationship with God (e.g., pray)
(d) Become more powerful through sanctification that is, maturing as a Christian
5) Other Pauline examples of prayers: Eph 3:14-21 and Col 1:9-12
D. The prayer of Jesus: Lord’s Prayer (Mat. 6:9-13)
1. Overview
a) It contains 6 statements
1) Three are about God
2) Three are human petitions
b) It is brief, simple, and comprehensive
2. “Our Father in heaven”
a) Opening statement
1) Who we are addressing
2) Where he lives
b) “Father”
1) “Father” describes an intimate relationship that is characterized by His love, care protection, and provision.
2) “Father” describes authority: He is the Father, we are the children.
c) “In Heaven”
1) Where God resides reminds us of who God is
2) He does not have an earthly dwelling which would imply earthly characteristics, such as:
(a) Bound by time and space
(b) Possibly possessing human characteristics
3) He has a spiritual place of dwelling which implies the opposite of above and
(a) He is beyond our full comprehension for we don’t even understand the nature of the place where He lives
(b) He is spiritual in nature
3. “Hallowed be thy name” (v.9)
a) “Hallowed”
1) Definition of hallowed: honored as holy, venerated (Webster)
2) Definition of venerated: to look upon with feelings of deep respect; regard as venerable; revere (Webster)
3) Define holy:
(a) Spiritually perfect or pure, untainted by evil or sin; sinless; saintly
(b) Regarded with or deserving deep respect, awe, reverence, or adoration (Webster)
b) “Thy name”
1) Phrase could have been “you are holy” rather than “your name is holy”
2) Verse implies that everything about God is holy including His very name. (e.g., devout Jews will not speak his name)
c) Why does this model prayer start with this phrase
1) It addresses God with reverence, recognizing who He is, and therefore, our dependence on His character
2) It is equivalent to saying “God be glorified”, thus, may our prayers and their outcomes bring glory to God
3) It offsets the intimacy of “Father”
d) Examples of glorifying God (rather than dwelling on problems at hand)
1) Prayer of Daniel (Dan 9)
(a) “O Lord, great and awesome God . . .”(v.4)
(b) “O Lord, righteousness belongs to you” (v.7)
(c) “To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness”(v.9)
(d) “O Lord, according to all your righteousness, I pray” (v.16)
(e) “For the Lord’s” sake” (v.17) Daniel petitions God not for his sake or the sake of the people of Jerusalem, for whom he is praying, but for the sake of God’s reputation in this world.
2) David’s Prayer of repentance (Ps 51). David recites many of the characteristics of the divine God: loving kindness (v.1), merciful (v.4), blameless (v.4), generous (v.12), and God of salvation (V.14).
3) “And whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son”(John 14:13)
4) Jonah prays in the belly of the fish giving homage to God (Jon. 2:7-9)
5) Jeremiah at a time of attack by the Chaldeans prays to the Lord reciting his mighty works (Jer. 32:17-22)
4. “Your kingdom come” (v.10)
a) Kingdom of God defined
1) Present kingdom
(a) The redemptive rule of Christ (Rom 14:17)
(1) Salvation and the forgiveness of sins is made available
(2) People can enter the kingdom now and enjoy the blessings of God’s rule
(b) The kingdom was introduced after John the Baptist (Lk 16:16) and John was not a part of it (Lk 11:11)
(c) Entry into the kingdom
(1) Through a “new birth” (John 3:3-5)
(2) “The kingdom of God is within you” (Lk 17:20)
(d) It was evidenced by the casting out of demons (Mat 12:28)
(e) It was offered to Israel and refused (Mat 8:12; 23:13; Rom 10:3)
(f) It was offered to tax collectors and harlots and received (Mat 21:31, Col 1:13)
2) Future Kingdom
(a) Inaugurated by the return of Christ
(b) Righteous will inherit the kingdom (Mat 25:34)
(c) It is synonymous with eternal life in the age to come (Mat 19:16, 23-30; Mark 10:30)
(d) Reign of Christ described (Rev 20:1-6)
b) “Kingdom come” alternative meanings
1) Looks to the redemption of people on earth
2) Looks to the future reign of God and final conquest of Satan
5. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (v.10)
a) Introduction
1) Questions:
(a) If God is sovereign and His will is always accomplished, why pray for his will to be done?
(b) What is the relationship of God’s will and our will?
2) We need to understand what “God’s will” means to understand prayer
b) Characteristics of God’s sovereign will
1) Overview
(a) Active will (decretive will)
(1) That which the sovereign God decrees
(2) Always accomplished
(b) Passive will (permissive will)
(1) Compassionate will: God’s benevolent desires
(2) Preceptive will (moral will)
i. How people are to live as prescribed in His word, the Bible
ii. Often disobeyed
(c) Circumstantial will
(1) God’s will for a particular circumstance in our lives (e.g., marriage, employment)
(2) Demonstrated through prophetic revelation or perhaps other means (?)
(d) Secret will: His plans and purpose that He chooses not to reveal to us.
(e) Revealed will: His precepts and commands and His purpose and plans that He has elected to reveal to us.
2) Sovereign will
(a) His will flows from His character
(1) Omnipotent: All powerful (Ps 115:3)
(2) Omniscient: All knowing
(b) His purpose is to exercise His will to His glory
(c) His purposes are free, sovereign, and immutable
(1) Free: He is not under the influence of anything or anyone outside Himself
(2) Sovereign: God has the power to carry out His purposes
(3) Immutable:
i. There can be no change with God (Mal 3:6)
ii. Change implies:
− Lack of wisdom in planning
− Lack of power in execution
− Unforeseen events
3) Active (decretive) will
(a) Defined: That which God decrees and, therefore, will be accomplished
(b) Scriptural examples:
(1) “The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying, ‘surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand’” (Is 14:24)
(2) “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Eph 1:11)
(c) Types of decretive will: revealed and secret
(d) Example of revealed active will
(1) Create a redeemed people on earth
(2) Create a church, bride of Christ
(3) Saints to reign in eternity
4) Passive (permissive) will
(a) Compassionate will
(1) Defined: That which God benevolently desires to occur but does not sovereignly decree to occur
(2) Scriptural examples:
i. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!” (Lk 13:34; Mat 23:37)
ii. God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth” (I Tim 2:4)
iii. God does not wish for “any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9)
iv. The Lord weeps because Israel is taken captive (Jer 13:17)
(b) Preceptive (moral) will
(1) Defined: That which He has prescribed in His scriptures as to how His people are to live (His precepts); God permits what He has forbidden
(2) Scriptural examples:
i. Paul prays for believers to live according the Lords precepts (Col 1:9-13)
ii. Paul exhorts believers to live according to God’s will
(1 Thes 4:1-8; Eph 4:17-24;1 Pet 1:22-2:12)
iii. “if anyone sins, we have an advocate. . .” (1 John 2:1)
iv. “some have strayed” (1 Tim 6:10)
5) Circumstantial will
(a) Defined: God’s leading and guidance in the specific and personal circumstances of our lives
(b) Scriptural examples:
(1) Guidance is promised (Ps 23:3; 32:8; 48:14; Prov. 3:6; Is 30:21; 58:11; John 8:12; 16:13, Rom 8:14)
(2) Some circumstances are a consequence of obeying or disobeying God’s moral will (1 Cor 11:29-31)
6) Secret will
(a) Defined: His plans and purpose that He chooses not to reveal to us
(b) Scriptural examples: God spares Peter but not James (Acts 12:1-8)
7) Revealed will
(a) Defined: His precepts and commands and His purpose and plans that He has elected to reveal to us
(b) Scriptural examples:
(1) Moral will (see above)
(2) God sometimes reveals His will before an event occurs
(Acts 21:10-11)
(3) God will sometimes reveal only the next step (Acts 16:6-10)
(4) God has revealed consequences of not obeying His moral will
(1 Cor 11:29-31)
(5) His Methods of revelation include: the scriptures, revelations, dreams, visions, casting lots, opening doors of opportunity
(1 Cor 16:9; 2 Cor 2:12; Rev 3:8)
c) Interpretation of verse
1) Pray that God’s will (revealed active/decretive) be done on earth
(a) Pray in accord with what God has decreed will occur, even if this is inevitable
(b) Scriptural example: Daniel knew from God’s revelation (Jer 25:11,12;29:10) when the exile was to end (Dan 9:2) and nonetheless prayed that God bring it to pass (Dan 9:19).
2) Pray that God’s will (revealed passive: moral and compassionate) be done on earth.
(a) God permits what He has forbidden, therefore pray like Paul that believers will live according to the Lord’s precepts (Col 1: 9-13; 1 Thes 4:1-8; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 1:22-2:12)
(b) God does not always decree that which He benevolently desires to occur (1 Tim 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9), therefore pray for the salvation of the lost.
3) Pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven
(a) It is implied that God’s will is obeyed absolutely in heaven, there is no rebellion
(b) This is the standard for obeying God’s will, and the desire expressed in our prayers.
4) How to pray that “God’s will be done”
(a) You need to know God’s will to pray for it
(1) You should know God’s revealed will: moral will, compassionate will, and decretive will
(2) You can know His will by:
i. Knowing the Bible
ii. Praying for understanding
(3) Scriptural examples
i. “I, Daniel, understand by the books the number of years specified by the word of the Lord . . . then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer . . .”
(Dan 9:2-3)
ii. “Your testimonies also are my delight and my
counselors . . . make me understand the way of your precepts; So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works” (Ps 119:24, 27)
iii. Ezra’s prayer of intercession and confession for Israel. He knows God’s law and therefore knows Israel has sinned (Ezra 9:5-15) (see also Neh 1:5-11)
iv. Ezra reads the Book of the Law of Moses to the people, (Neh 8:1-4) the teachers helped the people to understand the book (v7-8), the people wept (v9), the people rejoiced because they understood the book (v12), the people confessed (Neh 9:2-4)
(b) Have a life filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18-21)
(c) Pray for His will to be accomplished, not our own
(1) We should submit our will to His as exemplified by Jesus, “not as I will, but as You will” (Mat 26:39)
(2) His will should be our will
(3) “I delight to do Your will. O my God, and Your law is within my heart” (Ps 40:8)
(4) “Jesus said to them [the disciples], ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work’”
(John 4:34) (see also John 6:38)
(5) Jesus speaking to disciples, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother”
(Mat 12:50)
(d) Pray with the correct attitude
(1) Not with resentment
i. God is divine dictator
ii. God will do whatever He wants and we cannot escape the inevitable
(2) Not with resignation
i. God is loving Father
ii. God will do whatever He wants and we cannot change the inevitable
(3) Not with skepticism like those praying for Peter’s release from jail who were surprised that God responded (Acts 12:5-16)
(4) Pray with:
i. Faith
ii. Excited expectation
iii. Reverence
iv. Gratitude and thanksgiving
d) God’s will and prayer
1) Questions:
(a) What is the relation between God’s will and prayer?
(b) Does God accomplish His will regardless of whether we pray or not?
(c) Can we overcome God’s will?
2) Alternative answers:
(a) Sovereign extreme: God cannot be persuaded
(1) God works His perfect will regardless of:
i. How we pray
ii. Whether we pray
(2) Prayer is aligning with God’s will
(b) Opposite extreme: God is persuaded
(1) God’s actions are determined largely by our prayers
(2) Persistent pleadings can persuade God to do what He might not have otherwise done.
(c) Middle ground: man can influence God to some degree
3) Conclusion
(a) Fundamental issue
(1) The question of the relationship between God’s will and man’s will embraces more than prayer (e.g., salvation).
(2) Our view of this issue is the foundation of our theology, our understanding of the nature of God and how we are to interact with Him
(3) It is not likely that we will know the answer to this question on this side of heaven
(b) Musings on the purpose of prayer
(1) Seek God’s perspective
i. We typically are interested in, and pray for, the outcome of a particular circumstance (e.g., health, well-being)
ii. God is interested in changed hearts that will bring Him glory, outcomes are a means to that end
iii. To understand prayer, we need to look from God’s viewpoint not our own.
(2) It is God’s purpose that we:
i. Continually read the scriptures for truth and understanding
ii. That we lean primarily on faith not knowledge
iii. That we draw close to him
iv. That He receive glory through our prayer
(c) Obey God’s command to pray to Him
(1) Man is responsible for prayer (regardless of what it’s purpose may be)
(2) Because it is commanded by God, it is not futile
6. “Give us this day our daily bread” (v.11)
a) What is meant by “bread”?
1) Term represents food
2) Greek word has broad meaning: symbolizes physical needs.
b) Question: Why pray for bread?
1) Why ask for what is in abundance?
2) Why ask for what God has already promised He will provide?
(a) “do not worry about your life, what you will eat . . .”
(Mat 6:25, 32-33)
(b) “Feed me with the food allotted to me” (Prov 30:18)
(c) Examples of His provision (Ps 37:3-4, 10-11, 25)
(d) God provides for the physical as well as spiritual (2 Cor 9:10)
(e) Jesus says that His people will receive much (Lk 18:29-30)
c) Answer: This is not a petition to persuade but a prayer to acknowledge.
1) Acknowledge that God is a personal provider
(a) He is a loving Father
(b) He meets our personal needs
(c) God supplies every good gift (James 1:17)
2) Acknowledge our dependence on Him
(a) We depend on Him like a young child depends on a parent for food, shelter, protection, and cleaning.
(b) We should not:
(1) Depend on ourselves
(2) Presume that our needs are met through our efforts alone
i. We like to take credit for our hard work and accomplishments
ii. We are commanded to work (2 Thes 3:10-12)
iii. God gives you the power to get wealth (Deut 8:18)
3) Acknowledge our trust and faith (Ps 37:3-4, 10-11, 25)
4) Acknowledge God’s past faithfulness
5) Acknowledge our gratitude
(a) Ingratitude was shown by Israelites who were fed “to the full” by God and “then committed adultery” (Jer 5:7)
(b) Show thanksgiving as David did in many of the Psalms.
(Ps 95:2;105:1;116:17;118:1)
6) Acknowledge His glory
d) Question: Why pray “this day”?
e) Answer: This emphasizes that our needs are continual and our reliance on God is continual
1) We need to pray daily
2) We need to strengthen our faith through prayer
3) We need to avoid:
(a) Reliance on self
(b) Reliance on our circumstances
(1) A rich nation of plenty
(2) Personal availability and stores of daily needs
7. "And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors" (Matt 6:12)
a) Overview
1) Sin
2) Forgiveness
3) Confession
4) Forgiving others
b) Sin
1) The issue is sin
(a) Man's greatest problem - sin
(b) Man's greatest need - forgiveness
2) All people sin
(a) Scriptural references
(1) "There is none righteous..." (Rom 3:10-12)
(2) "They are corrupt..." (Ps 14:1-3;53:1-4)
(3) "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"
(Rom 3:23)
(b) Results of sin
(1) Non-believer is condemned to hell
(2) Believer damages relationship with God
3) Forms of sin (Greek words used in the N.T.)
(a) Hamartia:
(1) Most common word used
(2) Root meaning: missing the mark (i.e., sin misses the mark of God's standard)
(3) Used in Luke's account of Lord's prayer (Lk 11:4)
(b) Paraptoma:
(1) Often rendered "trespass"
(2) Sin resulting from carelessness rather than intentional disobedience
(c) Parabasis:
(1) Often rendered "transgression"
(2) Sin of stepping across the line prescribed by God
(3) Sin that is conscience and intentional
(d) Anomia:
(1) Means "lawlessness"
(2) Sin that is intentional and flagrant and in open rebellion to God's will
(e) Opheilema:
(1) Used in Matt 6:12.
(2) Refers to moral or spiritual debt to God.
(3) Verse refers to debts incurred by Christians when they sin.
4) Consequences of sin
(a) Sin dominates the mind (Rom 1:20-22).
(b) Sin dominates the will (Jer 44:15-17).
(c) Sin dominates the emotions and affections (John 3:18-20).
(d) Sin brings men under the control of Satan and under divine wrath (Eph 2:1-3).
(e) Sin subjects men to misery (Is 48:22).
5) Debt of sin
(a) Verse refers to debt owed to God for violating His laws
(b) Debt is in form of punishment
(c) Debt is huge: Example of ungrateful servant (Mat 18:23-24) who owed10,000 talents. At a laborers wage it would take 19 years to repay one talent.
(d) God will forgive debt.
c) Forgiveness
1) Two types: judicial and parental
2) Judicial forgiveness (justification)
(a) Occurs at salvation
(b) Forgiveness is available because penalty has been paid by Christ (Is 53:6; 1 Pet 2:21-25)
(c) Results
(1) We are no longer under judgement (Rom 8:33-34).
(2) We are not condemned to everlasting death in hell, pardoned (Rom 8:1; Jer 31:34 re: new covenant v.31; Ps 103:11-12).
(3) We are deemed righteous (Rom 3:24-26; 2 Cor 5:21).
3) Parental forgiveness
(a) Suppositions
(1) Believers are to run the good race, but have not attained perfection (Phil 3:7-14) and therefore sin.
(2) Because believers sin, they need forgiveness, continually;
(1 John 1:8-10).
(b) Analogy of the parent and child
(1) Child disobeys and causes disharmony in the relationship.
(2) Child is forgiven (as a result of confession and/or punishment).
(3) The disobedience does not change the parent-child relationship, the parents love, and the parents readiness to forgive.
(c) Scriptural analogy (John 13:5-10)
(1) Dirt on feet is daily contamination.
(2) God cleans repeatedly.
(3) Daily dirt does not make the believer entirely dirty because he has been permanently cleaned.
(d) "Forgive our debts" is a petition to forgive a believer's transgressions.
d) Confession
1) Implied by asking for forgiveness
2) Described
(a) Defined: to admit guilt
(b) Requires the following:
(1) Believer knows God's moral law.
(2) Believer discerns that behavior does not conform to God's law.
(3) Believer is in agreement with God's law.
(4) Believer places himself under God's authority.
(5) Believer recognizes need to conform to God's will.
(c) Confession should be specific.
3) Confession leads to forgiveness which results in cleansing (1 John 1:9).
4) Without confession there is:
(a) Loss of blessing (Prov 28:13)
(b) Moral hardening and insensitivity to sin
(c) Guilt
(d) Impaired fellowship with God
(e) Not a loss of salvation
e) Forgive others.
1) Important
(a) Prerequisite to forgiveness by God: forgive so that you may be forgiven
(b) Only verse in Lord's prayer that receives added emphasis (Mat 6:12,14,15)
(c) Other admonitions to forgive others
(1) Prerequisite to forgiveness (Mark 11:25-26)
(2) Do not avenge yourselves (Rom 12:18-21)
(3) Love one another (Rom 13:8)
(4) Do not harbor anger (Mat 5:22-26)
(5) Forgive one another (Eph 4:32)
(6) Forgive seventy times seven (Matt 18:21-22)
(7) Forgive seven times a day (Lk 17:4)
2) Reason to forgive
(a) A characteristic of the saints
(1) Forgiveness is the mark of a regenerate heart.
(2) A believer is to be merciful (Mat 5:7; James 2:13), and mercy is tantamount to forgiveness
(3) To love your enemies (Mat 5:43-45) requires forgiveness
(4) Forgiveness displays the majesty of creation (Prov. 19:11)
(b) Example of Christ
(1) Forgive as Christ has forgiven you (Eph 4:32)
(2) Christ forgave those who crucified Him (Lk 23:34)
(c) Removes guilt
(1) Forgiveness removes the burden of guilt from the wrongdoer
(2) Guilt is destructive to relationships
i. Man with man
ii. Man with God (e.g., David petitions to remove guilt and restore joy of salvation, after Bathsheba affair;
Ps 51:10 to14)
(d) Restores the relationship with God
(1) A believer that bears a grudge or is bitter toward a person impairs their relationship with God
(2) Scriptural examples
i. "If I regard inequity in my heart, the Lord will not hear" (Ps 66:18)
ii. Do not harbor anger (Mat 5:23-24)
iii. Prerequisite to forgiveness (Mark 11:25-26)
(e) Avoid God's discipline
(1) An unforgiving spirit leads to sin and sin leads to God's chastening
(2) The Lord disciplines those he loves (Heb 12:6 which quotes Prov 3:11-12)
(f) Demonstrates believers comprehension of God's forgiveness
(g) Is necessary for God to forgive (Mat 6:14-15)
3) Examples of forgiving others
(a) Joseph forgave his brothers (Gen 50:20-21)
(b) David spares Saul (1 Sam 24:1-7)
(c) David shows mercy to Absalom (2 Sam 18:5); Shimei curses David (2 Sam 16:5-13) and David forgives him (2 Sam 19:18b-23) although he had committed a crime worthy of death (Ex 22:23)
(d) Adonijah, the son of David, declared himself king (1 King 1:5) and was forgiven by Solomon (1King 1:50-53)
(e) Stephen forgives those who stone him (Acts 7:54-60)
(f) As the end approached (2 Tim 4:6), Paul forgave those who abandoned him at his Roman trial (2 Tim 4:16)
8. “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" (Mat 6:13)
a) Temptation defined
1) Greek (peirasmos)
(a) Root word deals with testing or proving and from this are derived trial and temptation
(b) Greek word is neutral, does not connote good or evil
2) English (tempt)
(a) Webster
(1) Originally, to test or try
(2) To try to persuade; induce or entice, especially to something immoral or sensually pleasurable
(b) English word as currently used is not neutral
b) Trial defined (Webster): the act or process of trying or testing
c) Does v.13 refer as temptation or trial?
1) The evidence
(a) God does not tempt (peirasmos) (James 1:13, context v12-15)
(b) Trials (peirasmos) should be considered a joy as they produce endurance (James 1:2-3; 1 Pet 5:8-10)
2) The paradox
(a) Why pray "lead me not into temptation" when God does not tempt?
(b) Why pray "lead me not into a trial" if trials should be considered a joy?
3) The solution
(a) Perhaps this verse reflects the human desire to avoid rather than defeat temptation
(b) Intellectually we know that trials are good for us, the path to spiritual maturity (i.e. sanctification)
(c) Emotionally we do not want to experience trials
(1) Trials are not enjoyable, they can bring grief and distress.
(2) Trials could lead to temptation and sin. (We do not trust ourselves.)
(d) Conclusion:
(1) Verse likely addresses trials that could lead to temptation
(2) Verse recognizes our human weakness and our weak faith. We want to avoid the trials that are good for us.
d) Trials and temptation: purpose and process
1) Purpose: to test faith and glorify God. (1 Pet 1:6-7)
(a) Help us to trust Him more
(b) Drives us to His word and prayer
(c) Causes us to rely on Him more
(d) Allows us to exercise our spiritual muscle
(e) Helps us to mature, sanctification
2) Trial:
(a) Define: a situation that tests spiritual strength
(b) Examples:
(1) Lose job
(2) Unintentionally exposed to pornography (magazine, music, internet)
(c) Outcomes: pass or fail
(1) Pass: rely on God and His strength and not tempted to sin
i. Example of job loss: take joy in circumstances, commit situation to Lord, look excitedly to God's solution
ii. Example of porn: just "keep on walking"
(2) Fail: test turns into temptation that incites desire to sin.
3) Temptation
(a) Defined: to rouse a desire to sin
(b) Example:
(1) Job loss: want to blame employer or God, want to "get back," want to say bad things about employer
(2) Porno: want to look at porn.
(c) Outcomes: Pass or fail
(1) Pass: resist temptation to sin
(2) Fail: commit sin of commission, of omission, or in mind (James 1:14-16)
4) Conclusion: Sin is not spontaneous, it is part of a process
(James 1:14-16)
(a) "drawn away" (v14)
(1) Greek word to describe wild animals being lured into traps
(2) Just as animals are drawn to their death by attractive bait, believers can be attracted by what appears to be good, but is not.
(b) "his own desires" (v14): the strong desire to fulfill the flesh
(c) "entice" (v14): Greek term used in fishing that means "to capture" or "catch with bait"
(d) "conceived, it gives birth" (v15)
(1) Analogy to the process of physical conception, birth
(2) Contrast of bringing forth life vs. death
(3) Emphasis is on cause and effect
(e) "death" (v15)
(1) Not spiritual death for believer
(2) Sin can lead to physical death; examples:
i. Some sins lead to death (1 John 5:16-17)
ii. Eating in an unworthy manner can lead to "sleep" (1 Cor 11:29-30)
iii. Deliver to Satan for destruction of flesh (1 Cor 5:1-5)
iv. Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11)
e) Conclusion
1) Mat 6:13 paraphrased: "Lord do not lead us into a trial that will present a temptation that we will be unable to resist. Rather, deliver us from any trial that will through natural consequence bring evil on us."
2) We are claiming the promise that God will not allow temptation we cannot handle (1 Cor 10:13)
E. Other topics of prayer
1. People to pray for: the easy ones
a) Believers
1) "praying always....for all the saints" (Eph 6:18)
2) Israelites (1 Sam 12:23)
3) For one another (James 5:16)
4) Brother who sins (1 John 5:16)
b) Those who labor for the Lord
1) Corinthians pray for Paul during his trials (2 Cor 1:8-11)
2) Philippians pray for Paul (Phil 1:25)
c) God's workers pray for the body of believers
1) Pray for wisdom and knowledge (Eph 1:15-17+)
2) Pray for strength, to comprehend, to be filled (Eph 3:14-19)
3) Pray for their Christian walk (Phil 1:3-11)
d) Salvation of unbelievers
1) Israel (Rom 10:1+)
2) All men (1 Tim 2:3-4)
e) Those in high positions
1) All in authority (1 Tim 2:1-2)
2) God's appointed authorities over us have great power (Rom 13:1-7) thus we should pray for them
3) For your master/boss (Gen 24:12)
f) Those who are ill and dying
1) Centurian's servant (Lk 7:2-3)
2) The sick and suffering (James 5:13-15)
g) Those who are demon possessed (Mat 15:22)
2. People who are not easy to pray for: the hard ones
a) Your enemies
1) Those who use and persecute you (Mat 5:44-45)
2) Enemies among whom you dwell (Jer 29:7)
3) Those who envy and speak against you (Num 12:1-13)
b) Those who forsake you
1) Those who forsook Paul (2 Tim 4:16, context v9-16)
2) Those who stoned Stephen (Acts 7:59-60)
3) Those who crucified Jesus (Lk 23:33-34)
c) Those who speak erroneously about God (Job 42:7-8)
d) Those who complain to and reject God
1) Moses prays for Israelites (Num 11:1-2)
2) Moses prays for Israelites again (Num 14:11-12,19)
e) Why and how to pray for the forsakers, murderers, God rejectors...
1) This is the model of Christ
2) Turn these issues over to God to release yourself from hate and revenge
3) Pray according to God's plan (e.g. Stephen did not ask God to punish his killers which would not have been in accord with God's intent that one, Paul, would become a great disciple)
4) Pray selflessly
(1) Pray for the sake of others, even though they have evil motives
(2) One’s care for others should exceed one’s disappointment with their behavior, desire for revenge, etc.
(3) Examples
i. Stephen intervened with God for the sake of his killers
ii. Paul requested God's mercy for those who betrayed him
iii. Moses asked that God forgive those who hate Him
3. Peace
a) Peace (physical and spiritual) in Jerusalem (church) (Ps 122:6-9)
b) Example: Paul's prayer "the God of peace be with you" (Rom 15:33)
c) Peaceable lives (1 Tim 2:2)
4. Thanksgiving (thankfulness should be reflected in prayers)
a) Prayer should be accompanied by thanksgiving (Phil 4:6; Col 4:2)
b) In everything give thanks (1 Thes 5:16-18)
c) Always give thanks (Eph 5:17-21; 1 Thes 1:2)
d) Unbelievers are not thankful (Rom 1:21; 2 Tim 3:1-5)
V. How and when should we pray
A. Overview
1. Precursors to prayer
2. Attitude of person praying
3. Characteristics of prayer life
4. Prayer reflects spiritual state
B. Precursor to prayer: be watchful
1. Overview
a) At several important times, believers are told to watch and pray
1) Description of the new man (Col 3-4)
2) Armor of God (Eph 6)
3) The second coming (1 Pet 4, Mrk 13, and Luke 21)
4) Gethsemane (Mat 26, and Mrk 14)
b) The believer needs to know:
1) What it means to be watchful
2) How to be watchful
3) That watchfulness is required to know what to pray about and how to pray
2. The new man: "Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it..." (Col 4:2)
a) Context: Paul's description of the behavior of the believer (Col 3:12 - 4:5)
b) Vigilant: the word used
1) Watch (KJ), watchful (NIV)
2) Vigilant (NKJ): "Staying watchful and alert to danger or trouble" (Web.)
3) Alert (NAS)
4) Alert and intent (AMP)
5) Watchful, alert and vigilant are English synonyms
c) Vigilant connotes:
1) Physically alert
2) Mentally alert
3) Spiritually alert
d) Conclusion: these are key precursors to prayer.
3. Armor of God: "Being watchful" in prayer (Eph 6:18)
a) Context: The whole armor of God (Eph 6:10-20)
1) Believers are to put on the "armor of God" (v11) to "wrestle" against the rulers of darkness" (v12)
2) Armor of God described (v14-17)
3) Method of prayer described (v18)
(a) Pray always
(b) Pray in the spirit
(c) Be watchful in prayer
(d) Pray with perseverance
(e) Pray for all the saints
b) Watchful, the word used
1) Watchful (NKJ), watching (KJ)
2) Alert (NIV, NAS)
3) Keep alert and watch (AMP)
c) Being watchful connotes being alert to danger
1) The danger cited is spiritual (i.e., satanic) powers
2) Therefore, believers are to be spiritually perceptive about what is going on in the world and in their lives
d) Conclusion:
1) Prayer is to reflect this spiritual awareness of the battle
2) "Until we believe that life is war, we will not know what prayer is for. The number one reason why prayer malfunctions in the hands of believers is because they try to take a war-time walkie-talkie and turn it into a domestic intercom by which they ring up the maid to bring another pillow. It was made for troops. It was made for tanks. It won't work when you install it in your yacht." (John Piper)
4. The second coming of Christ: be watchful in your prayers
a) Context: the second coming of Christ (1 Pet 4:7, Mrk 13:32-37
Lk 21:34-36)
b) Scriptural references
1) "But the end of all things is at hand, therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers" (1Pet 4:7)
(a) Watchful, the word used:
(1) Watchful (NKJ), watch (KJ)
(2) Alert (AMP)
(b) Watchful and its synonyms are absent in the NAS and NIV
2) "Watch and pray" (Mark 13:33, context v32-37; Lk 21:36, context
v 34-36)
(a) Watch, the word used; Mark 13:33
(1) "Be on your guard (constantly alert) and watch and pray" (AMP)
(2) "Be on guard! Be alert" (NIV), "Take heed, keep on the alert" (NAS). (The word "pray" does not appear in these versions.)
(3) Take heed, watch and pray" (KJ, NKJ)
(b) Watch, the word used, (Luke 21:36)
(1) "Keep awake then and watch at all times (that is, be discreet, attentive, and ready); praying that..." (AMP)
(2) "Be always on the watch, and pray that...." (NIV), "But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order..." (NAS)
(3) "Watch therefore, and pray always that..." (KJ, NKJ)
c) Interpretation of watch and pray
1) Being watchful connotes:
(a) Look to the "end of all things," the second coming of Christ
(b) Be alert to God's eternal purpose
(c) Have a proper perspective about our place on earth
(d) Be spiritually alert, do not be focused on the temporal
(Mat 24:36-39). Believers are sojourners (1Pet 2:11).
2) What to pray about
(a) Emphasis here is prayer about God's eternal plan, not the temporal
(b) Luke 21:36 (AMP) states that believers should be "praying to have the full strength and ability and be accounted worthy to escape all these things (taken together) that will take place and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man."
(c) Pray about our Christian behavior (1Pet 4:8-11)
(1) "Have fervent love for one another" (v8)
(2) "Be hospitable to one another, without grumbling" (v9)
(3) "Minister to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (v10)
(4) "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God" (v11)
(5) "If anyone ministers (serves), let him do it as with the ability which God supplies" (v11)
(6) "That in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ" (v11)
(d) Pray for alertness, to be a good watchman
(1) Pray for mental and physical alertness
(2) Pray for spiritual alertness, to be discerning, to be able to see danger
(3) Pray for protection from spiritual danger
(e) Pray for the second coming, the unfolding of God's eternal plan
5. Gethsemane: "Watch and pray" (Mat 26:40-41; Mrk 14:37-38)
a) Context: Christ at Gethsemane (Mat 26:31-45; Mrk 14:32-42)
b) "Watch" (Mat 26:41), what is Jesus telling disciples
1) Be physically alert:
(a) They were sleepy and sleeping
(b) Because of their physical state, they were useless to Christ
(c) If they are to be watchman, sentinels in God's army, they have failed.
(1) In an earthly army this is punishable by death.
(2) However, Jesus displays great patience and mercy.
2) Be mentally alert:
(a) Due to their sleepiness, they were mentally absent.
(b) They should have been mentally sharp and aware of what was going on, so they could have forced themselves to "watch."
(1) Aware that Jesus was "sorrowful and deeply distressed" (Mat 26:37)
(2) Aware that Jesus was "sorrowful, even unto death" (Mat 26:38)
(c) They should have been mentally aware of their responsibilities.
(1) The three were in the inner group of the inner group (12 disciples) of followers.
(2) Jesus told them what to do ("Watch with me") more than once and they did not (Mat 26:38,41)
3) Be spiritually alert:
(a) There were several events preceding Gethsemane that should have lead to spiritual alertness.
(1) The Lord's Supper, was initiated "this is my body" and "this is my blood," (Mat 26:26-27)
(2) Christ foretells (again) of his death (v28,34) and resurrection (v32)
(3) Christ tells the disciples, and particularly Peter, that they will desert Him (v31-34).
(b) If spiritually alert, the disciples would have aware of the gravity of Gethsemane and the importance of supporting Christ in prayer.
(c) If spiritually alert, the disciples could have taken measures to be physically and mentally alert.
(d) Due to the lack of spiritual alertness, the three disciples failed Christ at a time of need.
c) "Pray" (v41)
1) Question: What is Christ telling the disciples they should pray about.
2) Answer(s):
(a) For Christ in His time of anguish
(b) To avoid temptation (v41)
(c) That the flesh not be weak (v41)
3) For the disciples this addressed:
(a) The present temptation to give into the fleshly desire to sleep
(b) The upcoming temptation to:
(1) Physically attack those who arrested Christ
(2) Crumple in fear and deny Christ
6. Conclusion: watch and pray
a) Spiritual sentinel
1) Believer to be a spiritual sentinel
2) Job is to stand guard over those within believers sphere of spiritual influence: family, friends, co-workers
b) Watch: the sentinels job description
1) State of being; a spiritual sentinel must be:
(a) Physically alert (e.g., well rested)
(b) Mentally alert and focused, for example:
(1) Not day dreaming
(2) Not preoccupied with other thoughts
(3) Not distracted by the temporal
(c) Spiritually alert (i.e., prepared to recognize spiritual issues), for example:
(1) Know scriptures
(2) Spiritually engaged with other people
2) Know what you, as a sentinel, are looking for, for example:
(a) Danger, spiritual warfare
(b) Spiritual and other needs of others and self
(c) Spiritual events (e.g., second coming)
c) Pray: the cry of the sentinel
1) The alert sentinel
(a) Know what he is looking for
(b) "See" things, gather information
(c) Take that information to his commander
(d) Make an accurate and detailed report
(e) Will consequently protect those in his charge
2) Similarly, the alert prayer will:
(a) Know what to pray about
(b) "See" issues and circumstances that require prayer
(c) Will pray to his Father
(d) Will have specific and focused prayers
(e) Consequently, his prayers will be more effective
C. Attitude of person praying
1. Overview
a) Humble
b) Assured
c) Intense, earnest, and serious
d) Unselfish
e) Incorrect attitudes
2. Humble
a) Introduction
1) When you pray you are entering into the presence of the almighty God
(a) What should our attitude toward God be?
(b) How should we behave?
2) How would you act if you were invited to be with an important person
(a) If you were with the President of the U.S. you would likely be humble, respectful, submissive, and so forth (as well as nervous).
(b) When Esther approached the king, she trembled with fear of his power (Est 4:10-11).
b) Humility defined
1) Characteristics of the humble (Webster):
(a) Showing a consciousness of one's defects or shortcomings
(b) Not proud
(c) Not self assertive
(d) Modest
2) Humility before God requires knowing:
(a) Who God is and why He is to be exalted
(b) Who you are and how unworthy you are (and acting accordingly).
c) Reverence (Honoring God because of His nature.)
1) A reverent attitude toward God is the first manifestation of humility
2) Examples:
(a) The Lord's prayer, "Hallowed be Thy name" (Mat 6:9; also Ps 8:1)
(b) God demands honor and reverence and tells the Israelites so (Mal 1:6)
(c) Many prayers exalt God by recounting this mighty deeds, mercies, and righteous character (e.g., Ps 86:8-10)
d) Humility (recognizing your position before God)
1) When cognizant of the holiness of God we are aware of our unworthiness
2) Scriptural examples
(a) Isaiah upon seeing the Lord on His throne, "....I am a man of unclean lips..." (Is 6:5, context v1-6)
(b) When Job stopped questioning God, he acknowledged God's sovereignty, and expressed humility "...I abhor myself..." (Job 42:6, context v1-6)
(c) Peter, overwhelmed with his own unworthiness after meeting Christ and seeing the miracle of the fish catch said "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Lk 5:8).
e) Desire to be heard
1) Beseech God to listen to your prayers
(a) Recognize that He is so exalted that we need to approach with a request that He listens to our requests.
(b) Recognize how inconsequential we are and how great God is.
2) Scriptural examples:
(a) Nehemiah, "please let your ear be attentive..." (Neh 1:6, context v5-6)
(b) David frequently started his conversations with God with a cry that God would "give ear to his petitions" (Ps 17:1, 55:1,2, 61:1, 108:6)
f) Repentant
1) Associated with humility is awareness of wrongs committed before a holy God and responding with an attitude of repentance, that is regret and sorrow.
2) We should have such awareness when we approach God in prayer
3) Jeremiah speaking to Baruch, a scribe, asking him to read the word of the Lord to the people of Judah "It may be that they will present their supplications before the Lord, and everyone will turn from his evil way. For great is the anger and fury that the Lord has pronounced against this people" (Jer 36:7).
g) Submission
1) Humility means:
(a) Not asserting ourselves, our will
(b) (Conversely) Being submissive to God, His will
2) Scriptural examples:
(a) Jesus at Gethsemane "not my will, but Yours, be done" (Lk 22:42)
(b) Lord's prayer, "Your will be done" (Mat 6:10)
3) God's will (refer to Section IV.D.5)
(a) We should seek to know God's will as revealed in His scriptures
(b) We should pray in accordance with His will, not our own. "The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth" (Ps 145:18) See also John 4:24
h) Posture
1) A humble attitude is also reflected in the posture we assume when in the presence of God
2) There are many examples of humble stances
(a) Kneeling
(1) Paul (Acts 20:36, context v36-38; Acts 21:5; Eph 3:14)
(2) Call to worship (Ps 95:6)
(3) Solomon (2 Chron 6:13, context v 12-13)
(4) Jesus (Lk 22:41)
(b) Falling on face
(1) Moses and Aaron during the rebellion to beseech God for mercy (Num 16:22, context v 20-22)
(2) Joshua at encountering the Commander of the Army of the Lord (Christ) (Josh 5:14, context v 13-15)
(3) Christ at Gethsemane (Mat 26:39)
(4) "And where I saw Him, I fell to His feet as dead" (Rev 1:17)
(5) Paul encountered the light from heaven on the Damascus Rd. "Then he fell to the ground..." (Acts 9:4)
(6) See also Gen 17:3, Num 16:22, Ezek 1:28
(c) Lifting up hands
(1) David (Ps 28:1-2; 63:4, context v1-5)
(2) Jeremiah exhorting the people of Judah (Lam 2:19)
(3) Solomon during the prayer of dedication (1 King 8:22-23)
(4) Paul exhorting men in the church (1 Tim 2:8)
i) Examples of praying with humility
1) God speaking to Solomon says that the people need to "humble themselves and pray and seek my face" (2 Chron 7:14, context v12-14).
2) Manasseh, king of Judah, when captured by the Assyrians, "humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him" (2 Chron 33:12, context v10-13)
3) Abraham, in his discourse with God about the destruction of Sodom stated "I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord" (Gen 18:27)
4) There are numerous references to making supplications (i.e., humble requests) to God
3. Assured
a) Go before God with boldness
1) Secular world:
(a) Historically it was dangerous to approach a ruler (e.g., Est 4:10-11)
(b) Currently, one still approaches with trepidation
2) Spiritual world
(a) "...come boldly to the throne of grace" (Heb 4:16)
(b) Why can we be bold? Because we have a High Priest who offers grace, mercy, and sympathy (v15-16)
b) Ask God to answer your prayers
1) We should boldly request answers to our prayers
2) David provides several examples:
(a) "Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me." (Ps 27:7, context v7-9, displays David's bold demands of God)
(b) "In the day that I call, answer me speedily" (Ps 102:2, context v1-2)
(c) "In your faithfulness answer me" (Ps 143:1)
c) Expect God to answer your prayers
1) Be of strong faith and act accordingly
2) Examples of such prayers
(a) "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." (Mat 21:22; context v18-22)
(b) "...ask in faith with no doubting..." (James 1:6; context v2-7)
(c) Prayer of David after caught by Philistines. "When I cry out to You Then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me." (Ps 56:9; context v8-11)
(d) "Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; And attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, For You will answer me." (Ps 86:6-7) (This prayer of David is a good example of how to pray: request for God's attention, v1-7; recitation of God's attributes, v8-13; petition, v14-17).
(e) "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." (1 John 5:14; context v14-15)
4. Intense, earnest and serious
a) Defined (Web.)
1) Intense
(a) Occurring or existing in a high degree
(b) Strained to the utmost, strenuous, earnest, fervent, zealous
(c) Having or showing strong emotion, firm purpose, great seriousness, etc.
(d) Characterized by much action, emotion, etc.
2) Earnest
(a) Serious and intense; zealous and sincere
(b) Not petty or trivial; important
3) Serious
(a) Showing, having, or caused by earnestness or deep thought
(b) Earnest, grave, sober, or solemn
b) The example of Christ
1) With reference to Gethsemane, it is described that Jesus "offered up prayers and supplications with vehement cries and tears" (Heb 5:7)
2) Luke in his description of Christ at Gethsemane stated "And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Lk 22:44)
c) Pray to God with all your heart, earnestly
1) Jeremiah's letter to the captives in Babylon, "Pray to Me...and...search for Me with all your heart" (Jer 29:12-13)
2) "Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven" (Lam 3:41)
3) "I entreated Your favor with my whole heart" (Ps 119:58)
4) "I cry out with my whole heart; Hear me O Lord!" (Ps 119:145)
5) “Epaphras...greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayer” (Col 4:12) (Epaphaas reputedly founded the church at Colosse; Col 1:5-7)
d) Pour out your soul in prayer
1) In the context of a psalm of lament, "I pour out my soul within me" (Ps 42:4)
2) "Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your hearts before Him: God is a refuge for us" (Ps 62:8)
3) Hannah, when praying for a child, "...I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have...poured out my soul before the Lord" (1 Sam 1:15)
4) "Arise, cry out in the night, At the beginning of the watches; Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord" (Lam 2:19)
e) Be serious
1) Scriptural references
(a) "But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers" (1 Pet 4:7; NKJ)
(b) "Do not be rash in your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God" (Eccl 5:2)
2) The words used
(a) Serious: other biblical versions of 1 Pet 4:7
(1) "Sound minded and self-restrained" (AMP)
(2) "Sound minded and sober spirit" (NAS)
(3) "Sober" (KJ)
(4) "Clear minded and self-controlled" (NIV)
(b) Hasty: done or made too quickly and with too little thought; rash; impetuous (Web.)
(c) Rash: too hasty or incautious in acting or speaking; reckless (Web.)
3) Thus, prayer should be characterized by:
(a) Reason
(b) Emotional balance and self-control
(c) Careful thought
4) Why?
(a) God's rules by reason and self-control.
(b) The topics of prayer are to be important not frivolous.
(c) In respect for who God is, the believer should approach with well- considered petitions.
5. Unselfish
a) The topics of our prayers should reflect an unselfish attitude
b) Most prayers in scriptures are for others, for example:
1) Moses for Israel
2) Prophets (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah) for Israel
3) Paul for the people and churches he ministered to
4) Centurian for servant
c) We are directed to be unselfish "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal 6:2, context v1-3)
6. Incorrect attitudes
a) Pride
1) Do not pray in a prideful or hypocritical manner to receive the praise of men
(a) For example, do not pray to be seen (Mat 6:5)
(b) For example, do not pray to impress others, that is to display spirituality, skills of articulation, etc.
2) Alternatively, Christ advises us to pray in private (Mat 6:6)
3) Summary
(a) The purpose of prayer is to connect with God
(b) Do not allow the flesh (e.g., pride) to interfere
(c) This is true also of charity (Mat 6:1-4) and fasting (Mat 6:16-18)
b) Shallowness
1) "And when you pray, do not use vain (meaningless, NAS) repetitions...(NKJ)" (Mat 6:7)
2) Prayers should not be thoughtless recitations
3) Prayers should not be repetitive recitations
c) Verbose
1) “...let your words be few...” (Eccl 5:2-3)
2) Thus, prayers should be:
(a) Concise
(b) Well considered
3) Q. Why? A. Out of respect for God
7. Summary: When we go before God in prayer, our attitude should be characterized by:
a) Humility: reverence, repentance, submission
b) Assurance: faith and trust which emboldens us
c) Seriousness and intensity: well considered prayers that come from our hearts offered with earnestness
d) Unselfishness
e) Lack of pride, thoughtless repetition, and verbosity
D. Characteristics of Prayer Life
1. Overview: We should be praying:
a) Persistently
b) Frequently
c) Regularly
d) In private
e) In depth
2. Persistent
a) Scriptural references
1) Parable of the persistent friend (Lk 11:5-10)
2) Parable of the unjust judge (Lk 18:1-8)
b) Observations
1) These are parables that contrast God to reluctant friend and unjust judge: if such as these respond to persistence how much more so will a merciful God.
2) Jesus tells us "not to lose heart" (Lk 18:1), which may be interpreted as follows:
(a) Do not be discouraged about the trials of life, or
(b) Do not be discouraged in prayer (be persistent, God will answer).
3. Frequent
a) Always
1) Scripture
(a) "...we pray always for you..." (2 Thes 1:11)
(b) "...men ought always to pray..." (Lk 18:1)
(c) "...praying always for you."(Col 1:3)
(d) "Praying always, with all prayer and supplication..." (Eph 6:18)
2) Emphasis
(a) At all times, all occasions
(b) Continuously
b) Without ceasing
1) Scriptures
(a) "...without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers." (Rom 1:19)
(b) "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thes 5:17; context v16-18)
2) Emphasis: without stopping, continuously
c) Day and night
1) Scriptures
(a) "...continues in supplications and prayers night and day" (1 Tim 5:5)
(b) "night and day praying exceedingly..." (1 Thes 3:10)
2) Emphasis: continuous, at all times
d) Conclusion
1) Pray at all occasions
2) Pray frequently
(a) Q. How often is frequent
(b) A.:
(1) Greek word for "without ceasing" is used to describe an unrelenting cough (Chip Ingram). Such a cough:
• Can occur hundreds of times a day
• Will occur except when one is engaged in something (e.g., eating) that takes precedence.
(2) Prayer should be an ongoing (e.g., not once a day) conversation with God during the day (and night).
4. Regularly
a) Scriptures (Note: The underscored phrase in each of the following verses is the translation of the Greek word proskartereesis)
1) "And they steadfastly persevered, devoting themselves constantly to the instruction and fellowship of the apostles, to the breaking of bread (including the Lord's Supper) and prayers." (Acts 2:42, AMP)
(a) "continued steadfastly in" (KJ, NKJ)
(b) "were continually devoting themselves to" (NAS)
(c) "devoted themselves to" (NIV)
2) "But we will continue to devote ourselves steadfastly to prayer and the ministry of the Word" (Acts 6:4, AMP)
(a) "give ourselves continually to prayer" (KJ, NKJ)
(b) "devote ourselves to prayer" (NAS)
(c) "give our attention to prayer" (NIV)
3) "Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer" (Rom 12:12, AMP)
(a) "continuing instant in prayer" (KJ)
(b) "continuing steadfastly in prayer" (NKJ)
(c) "devoted to prayer" (NAS)
(d) "faithful in prayer" (NIV)
4) "Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer (life), being (both) alert and intent in (your praying) with thanksgiving" (Col 4:2, AMP)
(a) "Continue in prayer" (KJ)
(b) "Continue earnestly in prayer" (NKJ)
(c) " Devote yourselves to prayer" (NAS,NIV)
b) Definitions (Web)
1) Steadfast
(a) firm, fixed, settled, or established
(b) not changing, fickle, or wavering; constant
2) Constant
(a) not changing; remaining the same
(1) remaining firm in purpose; resolute
(2) remaining steady in affections or loyalties; faithful.
(3) remaining free of variation or change; regular
(b) going on all the time; continual; persistent.
3) Devoted: to set apart for a special use or service: dedicate
4) Faithful: marked by or showing a strong sense of duty or responsibility; conscientious
c) Conclusion: We should be conscientious and dedicated to prayer.
1) Result: This will manifested in a prayer life that is characterized by constancy and regularity
2) Example: King Darius decreed that no one was to pray to any god for 30 days or face the lions den (Dan 6:7). However, Daniel risked his life to maintain his practice of daily prayer (Dan 6:10).
5. In private
a) Jesus is our example
b) Jesus often sought private places for prayer, presumably to:
1) Obtain peace
(a) Minimize distractions
(b) Avoid interruptions by others
2) Be in a place where He could focus on God
c) Examples:
1) "Great multitudes came... so He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed" (Lk 5:15-16)
2) "And as it happened, he was alone praying..." (Lk 9:18)
3) At the transfiguration, "...He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray" (Lk 9:28)
4) Going to Gethsemane to pray "coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed..." (Lk 22:39)
5) Prior to walking on the water, "And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray" (Mt 6:23)
6. In depth
a) Introduction: The depth of our prayer is measured in part by the following:
1) Intensity: pour out your soul
2) Earnestness: pray with all your heart.
3) Duration
b) Short prayers:
1) At times prayer will address an immediate issue or emergency and will be short and to the point
2) Example: When Nehemiah, the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, displayed sadness, the king addressed Nehemiah, and Nehemiah "became dreadfully afraid" and prayed a quick prayer to God. (Neh 2:1-5).
c) Long prayers
1) At times prayer needs to have great depth and consequently will be long.
2) Examples:
(a) At the selection of the 12 apostles, Christ "went out ot the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God" (Lk 6:12).
(b) At Gethsemane Christ prayed much of the night (Mat 26:36-46)
(c) Moses interceding for Israel before God, prostrated himself for "forty days and forty nights" (Deut 9:25-26)
VI. Conclusion and Summary
A. We should periodically assess our spiritual condition.
B. Why assess?
1. Our goal is to glorify God (e.g. to grow spiritually, become more Christlike)
2. We should, therefore, check our spiritual condition
C. How to assess:
1. Know what God wants of us. Know God's will as revealed in the scriptures.
2. Compare your life with God's standards.
D. Points of assessment (i.e., God's will for us)
1. Walk in love (Eph 5:1-7)
2. Walk in light (Eph 5:8-14)
3. Walk in wisdom (Eph 5:15-21)
4. Character of the new man (Col 3:12-17)
5. Exhortations (1 Thes 5:12-19)
E. Assess prayer life
1. The quality of any relationship is a function of the quality of the communication
a) Parted lovers talk for hours on the phone
b) "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" should read "absence makes the heart forget."
c) Where there is no communication there can be no relationship.
2. The quality of our relationship with God is reflected by the quality of our prayer.
a) A weak prayer life reflects a weak relationship
b) The quality of a prayer life can be measured by all the things discussed previously
3. Questions to ask yourself, to assess the condition of your communication with God.
a) Are you praying to God (not to Jesus, but in the name of Jesus,) (II.C)
b) Are you praying for the right reasons, for example:
1) To glorify God (III.B.1)
2) To fellowship with God (III.B.2)
3) To exercise your faith in God (III.B.3)
4) To obey God's command to pray (III.B.4)
5) To change yourself (i.e., sanctification) (III.D.2)
6) To obtain peace (III.D.3)
(a) Is your focus on specific outcomes, or
(b) Is your focus on God and His goodness and the peace He provides.
c) Are you praying for the wrong reasons, for example:
1) To inform God (III.C.1)
2) To persuade God (III.C.2)
d) Are you praying about the right things
1) Do you invite the Spirit to intercede because you do not know what to pray about (IV.B)
2) Do you pray that you would be worthy of your calling, that is, about your character and conduct (IV.C.2.b)
3) Do you pray to "fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness" (IV.C.2.c)
4) Do you pray to "fulfill the work of faith" (IV.C.2.d)
5) Do you pray in accordance with the Lord's prayer (IV.D)
(a) Do you give God honor in the course of your prayers (IV.D.3)
(b) Do you pray for God's Kingdom, the redemptive rule of Christ (IV.D.4)
(c) Do you pray in accord with God's active (or decreed) will (IV.D.5)
(1) Do you understand the facets of God's will: active (decreed), passive (permissive), compassionate, preceptive (moral), circumstantial, secret, and revealed
(2) Have you resolved whether a sovereign God can be persuaded by prayer (IV.D.5.d)
(d) Do you acknowledge God's provision in your prayers (IV.D.6)
(e) Do you acknowledge your sin and ask God for forgiveness (IV.D.7)
(f) Do you pray that others be forgiven (IV.D.7.e)
(g) Do you pray that God will not allow temptation that you cannot handle (IV.D.8)
6) Do you pray for others (IV.E)
(a) Those who are easy to pray for:
(1) Believers
(2) Those who labor for the Lord (e.g., pastors, missionaries, elders)
(3) Those who have authority over us
(4) Those who are ill and dying
(5) Those who are demon possessed
(b) Those who are not easy to pray for:
(1) Your enemies
(2) Those who forsake you
(3) Those who speak erroneously about God
(4) Those who complain to and reject God
e) How are you praying
1) Are you watchful, like the sentinel on guard duty (V.B), are you:
(a) Physically alert (e.g., well rested)
(b) Mentally alert (e.g., attentive, not distracted)
(c) Spiritually alert (e.g., recognize spiritual issues)
2) What is your attitude when you pray (V.C), are you:
(a) Humble (e.g., reverent, seek to be heard by God, repentant, submissive to God's will, assume a humble posture)
(b) Assured:
(1) Do you ask God to answer your prayers.
(2) Do you expect God to answer your prayers
(c) Intense, earnest, and serious
(1) Do you pray with all your heart
(2) Do you pour out your soul
(3) Are you serious, not rash or hasty
(d) Unselfish (i.e., pray for others)
(e) Not prideful, shallow, or verbose
3) What are the characteristics of your prayer life (V.D):
(a) Are you persistent
(b) Do you pray frequently
(c) Do you pray regularly
(d) Do you pray in private
(e) Do you pray in depth, as marked by duration

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