Here is a look at the basic scriptures that give us a foundation on the essentials of Christian prayer.
- PRAYER IS THE CENTRAL AVENUE THAT GOD USES TO TRANSFORM US. IF WE ARE UNWILING TO CHANGE, WE WILL ABANDON PRAYER AS A NOTICEABLE CHARACTERISTIC OF OUR LIVES. THE CLOSER WE COME TO THE HEARTBEAT OF GOD THE MORE WE SEE OUR NEED AND THE MORE WE DESIRE TO BE CONFORMED TO CHRIST.
- WE PRAY TO WORSHIP GOD-TO ALERT OURSELVES TO SEEK HIM—TO EXERCISE FAITH BY MEDITATING ON HIS PROMISES.
- PRAYER CHANGES OUR PASSIONS—JAMES 4:3– When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
- TO ASK RIGHTLY INVOLVES TRANSFORMED PASSIONS. IN PRAYER, REAL PRAYER, WE BEGIN TO THINK GOD’S THOUGHTS AFTER HIM: TO DESIRE THE THINGS HE DESIRES, TO LOVE THE THINGS HE LOVES, TO WILL THE THINGS HE WILLS.OUR DESIRE IS INTIMATE COMMUNION WITH GOD—HEART TO HEART—LISTENING FOR HIS HEART.
HEBREWS 10:22– let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
- WE CAN NOW APPROACH THE THRONE OF GOD WITH CONFIDENCE—WE CAN HAVE INTIMAGE COMMUNION WITH GOD.
JAMES 5:16– The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
JOHN 15:7–If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
- WHEN WE BECOME OBEDIENT TO GOD’S DESIRES IN OUR LIFE AND WE BEGIN TO LISTEN TO GOD’S HEARTBEAT, WE WILL BE IN TUNE WITH WHAT GOD HAS FOR US AND FOR OTHERS.
- WE KNOW THAT PRAYER CHANGES THINGS. OUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN AND WE ARE PURE IN HIS SIGHT. THE BIBLE PRAY-ERS PRAYED AS IF THEIR PRAYERS COULD AND WOULD MAKE AN OBJECTIVE DIFFERENCE.
- WE ARE WORKING WITH GOD TO DETERMINE THE FUTURE!
- SO IF WE DO NOT PRAY—WHAT IS THER RESULT?
- PRAYERLESSNESS brings anxiety.
- No room for worry—NOTHING vs. EVERYTHING.
Negative Phil. 4:6-7—“Do not be calm about anything but in everything by worrying and keeping it hidden with lack of thanks present nothing to God. And the conflict of satan which is only too real, shall poison your hearts and minds with lies.” Or Do not be calm about anything, but in everything, by dwelling on it constantly and feeling picked on by God, with thoughts like ‘and this is the thanks I get,’ present your aggravations to everyone you know but God. And the acid in your stomach, which transcends all milk products, will cause you an ulcer, and the doctor bills will cause you a heart attack and you will lose your mind.”
- Without a doubt, avoiding prayer is a sure prescription for anxiety, a certain way to avoid peace.
Does it matter who we pray to?
Some people say that when you strip away everything, all the world religions are essentially teaching the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of humankind.
- Ravi Zacharias—In sum, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity are not saying the same thing. They are distinct and mutually exclusive religious doctrines. They cannot all be true at the same time.
- Ravi Zacharias—“To deny the exclusive nature of truth is to make a truth claim, and is that person then not arrogant too? That’s the boomerang effect that the condemner often doesn’t pause to consider. The clear implications of Jesus saying He’s the way, the truth, and the life are that, first, truth is absolute, and second, truth is knowable. His claim of exclusivity means categorically that anything that contradicts what He says is by definition false.”
The foundation of our faith is NOT the teachings of Jesus Christ or anyone else. The foundation of all world religions is the teachings of some great leader.
The foundation of our faith is NOT a philosophy or life or even a worldview. Its not a country or not even a FAITH. It is not saying, “Christians you need to just BELIEVE . . .”
Foundation of our faith is an EVENT. It all hangs on one event on one morning. NOT on teachings or philosophy or death or even the crucifixion.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundational point of all that we are and all that we believe.
The fact that it works is good but just a benefit. Feelings are great but they are just experiences.
The reason we celebrate and this separates us from the rest of the world religions is because of one solitary event—Jesus Christ rose from the dead. This is the reason we pray to Jesus and not to other world religions.
What kind of God do Christians pray to?
We worship a God who was born in a smelly stable, who walked this earth in blood, sweat, and tears, but who nevertheless lived in perpetual responsiveness to the heavenly Monitor.
Jesus is giving His disciples a prayer that He knows God will answer in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. This is the model prayer and Jesus is showing that God the Father is the model father. The word for father in the Greek language, the original language of the New Testament, is pater. Pater, root word pa, translates into English with three words, “nourisher,” “protector,” and “upholder.” He is approachable to His family–v9
He is approachable—simply—Abba Father—Daddy—baby terminology V9
The God of the universe—spoke and created the universe is the same one that Jesus is calling us to address simply as Daddy.
He nourishes His family–v10-11 What does it mean to be a nourisher? A nourisher is a person who supplies whatever is necessary for maintaining life. This would mean everything materially, emotionally, and spiritually.
Spiritual–v10—God’s Will is always for our best—Romans 12:2–His perfect and pleasing will. Proverbs 3:5-8 The prayer looks for the perfect accomplishment of what God wills.
Physical–v11—NOT WEEKLY BREAD & NOT MONTHLY BREAD BUT DAILY. Jesus takes serious our physical needs. DAILY BREAD—OUR DEPENDENCE IS UPON THE LORD. ESTABLISH AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE—FOOD IS FROM GOD—I MAY FAIL YOU.
He protects His family–v13 What does it mean to be a protector? A protector is one who defends and guards one from attack, loss, annoyance, and insult. Delivers from evil–v13—He releases us from our sins—forgives us. Colossians 1—rescues us from domain of darkness. 2 Thess. 3:3 Emotional–Eph 6:4–power of presence. “lose heart”—presence changes that.
Upholds–Psalm 23:6—A Mighty Fortress is Our God.
GOD IS A MIGHTY ROCK—IMMOVABLE.
Family looks to father to be the stabilizing force in a family. We know that EARTHLY FATHERS MAY FAIL BUT THEY NEED TO STRAP THEMSELVES TO THE ETERNAL ROCK. POINT THEIR FAMILY TO HIM AND HIS PROVISIONS.
How do Christians pray?
Jesus reminds us in the Lord’s Prayer that prayer is little like children coming to their parents.
- Our children come to us with the craziest requests at times!
- Often we are grieved by the meanness and selfishness in their requests, but we would be all the more grieved if they never came to us even with their meanness and selfishness.
- We are simply glad that they do come—mixed motives and all.
- That is precisely how it is with prayer.
- We will never have pure enough motives, or be good enough, or know enough in order to pray rightly.
- We simply must set all these things aside and begin praying.
- In Simple Prayer the good, the bad, and the ugly are all mixed together.
- In fact, it is in the very act of prayer itself—the intimate, ongoing interaction with God—that these matters are cared for in due time.
- When we pray, genuinely pray, the REAL condition of our heart is revealed.
- We should feel perfectly free to complain to God, or to argue with God, or yell at God.
- Jeremiah 20:7—“You have seduced me, Yahweh, and I have let myself be seduced; you have overpowered me: but you were the stronger. I am a daily laughing stock, everybody’s butt.” I can imagine Jeremiah shook his fist as he spoke!
- God is perfectly capable of handling our anger and frustration and disappointment.
- CS Lewis—“Lay before God what is in us, not what ought to be in us.”
- NEVER believe the lie that says that the details of our lives are not the proper content of prayer.
How does God answer prayer?
Prayer is not an exercise in getting, but an experiment in intimacy.
The better we know God, the more we will trust Him. The more we trust Him, the more we will sense His peace when the wintry winds blow against us.
God answers prayer by having us in tune with the Holy Spirit and revealing to us His heart and what His desires are for our life. The answered prayer is when we come to understand what HE has for us.
- Paul is calling for prayer inspired, guided, and made effective through the Holy Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit intercedes for us.
Rom 8:26-27—In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
- He intercedes for us because of our weaknesses—that of being human and fallen. Unspoken words that that HS intercedes for us.
- Paul is saying we have an inability to discern clearly God’s will in the many things for which we pray.
- We cannot presume that our petitions are the will of God.
- Our failure to understand God’s purposes and plans, to see “the beginning from the end,” does not mean that effective, powerful prayer for our specific needs is absent.
- The HS is in perfect accord with God and He effectively prays to the Father on our behalf throughout the difficulties and uncertainties of our live here on earth.
Ephesians 1:18—what it means to know God.
- “the eyes of your heart”—literally spiritual eyesight. We are given the “illumination of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4:6)”.
- Prayer is made that they may understand God’s ways and His purpose, with special reference to His dealings with His people; the hope to which He has called them, the rich inheritance which He possesses in them, and the mighty power with which He energizes them.
Ephesians 3:18—Paul’s prayer for believers to understand God’s answer to prayer
- “that you may be able to seize” (or comprehend or grasp)—means to throw arms around and squeeze.
- The word for “grasp”—is katalambano—means to “lay hold of, seize with eagerness, suddenness . . . in allusion to the public games, to obtain the prize with the idea of eager and strenuous exertion.”
- This prize is one worth expending our most strenuous energies on.
- Paul wants them to grasp how much God loves them.
- “ . . .with ALL the saints”—this includes Billy Graham and someone who has just accepted Christ in the last five minutes.
- In the Tabernacle, the holy of holies was a cube—10x10x10x10—perfect symmetry.
- In the Temple, the holy of holies was a cube—20x20x20x20—perfect symmetry.
- “Breadth”—that God loved Paul and Peter, who were Jews and He loves Gentiles 2000 years later in Yemassee. That God loves AIDS patients and prostitutes. We put God in a box and says He has to look like me—a white Protestant.
- Voltaire—“God made man in His image and we have ever more returned the favor.”
- “Length”—world sinned against God and He was so patient. Romans 3:25. We were horrible sinners. God saved us and drew us to Himself and He continues to perfect us our entire life.
- “Height”—God has taken me a sinner and made me a Son. He has put my name on the book of life and He has seated me in the heavenly places with Him.
- “Depth”—sent His Son to be spit upon, beaten, crucified, and rejected for me. Jesus was cursed for me and you. Read the crucifixion account and realize He did it for you and me. Unless we truly know that, we will just be acting it all out. It won’t be real to us.
How do we learn to pray?
EXAMPLE OF JESUS—LUKE 11:1-2
¨ TEACH US TO PRAY . . . HIS PRAYERS & ABILITY WAS SO EXTRAORDINARY, His DISCIPLES WANTED TO LEARN.
¨ HE IS STILL INTERCEDING FOR US TODAY.
¨ PRAYER WAS SUCH AN INTRICATE PART OF JESUS’ LIFE.
¨ DISCIPLES KNEW HE NEEDED IT TO RECHARGE, FOR INTIMATE COMMUNION WITH THE FATHER, FOR US, ETC.
¨ HE PRAYED REGULARLY WITH INTENSITY.
¨ HE PRAYED IN CRUCIAL MOMENTS.
¨ HE WAS SUCCESSFUL IN TEACHING THE DISCIPLES TO PRAYER—THE EARLY CHURCH WAS MARKED BY A LIFE OF PRAYER—ACTS 1:14
“BE LIKE MIKE”—NBA COPIED MICHAEL JORDAN’S LONGER SHORTS, WRESTBAND, TONGUE WAGGING AS HE DUNKED, HIS SHOES, HIS GATORADE—BUT IT WAS HIS HARD WORK WHICH NO ONE SEES THAT WON HIM 6 NBA TITLES.
¨ IT WAS NOT THE WALKING ON WATER, THE MIRACLES, THE HEALINGS, THE POWERFUL THINGS THAT HE DID THAT THE DISCIPLES ASKED HOW TO DO IT. THEY WANTED TO KNOW HOW HE PRAYED.
¨ IT WAS HIS SOURCE OF POWER—POWER OF PRAYER THAT TRANSFORMED JESUS, RENEWED HIM AND KEPT HIM IN HIS FATHER’S WILL.