#6 - How to Have an Effective Prayer Life
February 23, 2002
Today we are beginning a 2-part series on prayer.
I assume that all of you understand that prayer is extremely important. But too often we don’t really think on why it’s so important.
We’re just told that the Bible says to pray, and that it’s important.
I hope that by the end of these messages, God will grip your heart with the importance of prayer, and with the desire to enhance your relationship with God through honest, authentic prayer that pleases God and brings results in your life.
Next week we will look at some very practical "how-to" stuff on enhancing your prayer life. Be sure to be here, okay? I promise that you will get something you can use.
Today, however, I want to lay the groundwork for next week’s message.
The reason is that I’m convinced that so many people, including myself, have operated on a shallow understanding of prayer, and then are confused when we don’t see God moving.
I am not an authority on prayer - I haven’t written books or articles on prayer, and no one has written books or articles about my prayer life.
In fact, I am rather embarrassed about my prayer life sometimes. I don’t pray nearly as much as I should, because I succumb to the same excuses most people put up - limited time.
I’ve got things I’ve got to do, and I don’t have the time to pray, when I could be using that time for other things.
Martin Luther had even more pressures and responsibilities than I have. Listen to what he had to say regarding prayer:
"I am so busy now that if I did not spend three hours each day in prayer, I could not get through the day."
Now doesn’t that just fly in the face of our task-oriented, "to-do" list society? Here’s something else Martin Luther said:
"If I should neglect prayer but a single day, I should lose a great deal of the fire of faith."
So how do I become more intentional and active in this incredibly important aspect of life?
I think it’s by gaining a better understanding and appreciation for what prayer is all about.
The basis of the message today is Philippians 4:6-7, which I have printed in your bulletin. Please join me in reading it aloud, okay?
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I want to offer you four challenges that if you take them will immediately strengthen your grip on this whole issue of prayer. And the first one is to...
1. Understand God’s mindset on prayer:
Here are some keys to understanding God’s mindset on prayer:
* He made it possible and invites us to come.
Let me set some background here:
At the temple of Jerusalem, the Most Holy Place was where the presence of God resided in Israel. And no one could just walk in there. Only the High Priest could go in there, and only once a year, and only with a blood offering. Anyone else at any other time risked being struck down by God.