And then Jesus looked over the crowd and said Matthew 6:5 And when you pray. Prayer, what is prayer? Roger Babson “Prayer is the greatest unused power in the world.” Charles Trumbell “Prayer is realising the energies of God.” Phillip Brooks “prayer is in it’s simplest definition, is merely a wish turned heavenward.” Samuel Coolridge “Prayer is the highest energy of which the mind is capable.” and finally Billy Graham states “Prayer is the rope that pulls God and man together.”
A number of years ago World Literature Crusade conducted Schools of Prayer all over the world and they began those schools with a number of statement concerning prayer and they are: PRAYER IS:
1)The First Step To Knowing Jesus Christ,
2) Recognizing The Presence Of God,
3) Mans Means To Know God Intimately,
4) Laying Hold Of God’s Promises
5) Is The Soul On It’s Knees
6) Is The Path To Strength And Peace,
7) Man’s Way To Understanding God’s Plan,
8) Doing Business With God,
9) God’s Gift Of Power,
10) Man’s Means To Touch God,
11) Serving On An Executive Committee For World Evangelism,
12) Two People In Love,
13) Giving God Access To Our Need,
14) Key To The Miraculous,
15) The Very Breath Of Spiritual Life.
It’s all summed up by saying Prayer isn’t a monologue, it is a dialogue. Our talking to God and God talking to us.
Now Jesus begins by firstly making a positive assumption,
because He says When you pray not if you pray but instead when you pray. Now the word prayer is used over 375 times in the Bible, as compared to the word sing which is mentioned 185 times and the word preach which is mentioned just over 100 times.
Christ prayed in the wilderness, on a mountain, in the temple in a solitary place and in the garden.
Many of us reach for prayer as a last resort, when nothing else works pray. It’s like the story told about the two old guys talking one more after a storm had ripped through their town. First guy says “Quite the storm last night?” to which his friend replied, “Yep, reckon God heard a lot of unfamiliar voices.” Are you a unfamiliar voice to God? It shouldn’t be.
There are very few things which you as a Christian are commanded to do. Which is really unfortunate, it would make my life a whole lot easier if the good book said, thou shalt attend a small group, or thou take your turn in the nurser, or thou shalt give to the building fund. But then again maybe it wouldn’t help anyways.
After all Matthew 26:41 Jesus said “Keep watch and pray”, Luke 18:1 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.
Ephesians 6:18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Never stop praying. 1 Timothy 2:8 In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy., And Christ said, And when you pray. He really seems quite certain about it doesn’t he? There doesn’t seem to be any doubt in His mind that we would pray. But what has happened along the way?
Have we lost our desire to commune with God? Is the reason that we don’t do anything for God, because we don’t know what he wants us to do?
My first full time ministry position after College was as an Associate Pastor in Malone N.Y. and it was a miserable failure, all the way around. The main reason was because the senior pastor and I never talked to one another. We never knew what the other was up to and we never shared our dreams, we both went our separate ways and I never knew just what it was that he expected out of me.
Sometimes that is what it’s like between us and God. Is the reason we fail sometimes as a church because we fail to pray? James 4:2 Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. D.L. Moody, “Every great movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure.” W.W. Ayer “The quickest way to get a Church on it’s feet is to get it on it’s knees.”
Acts 4:31 After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. When was the last time that happened to you, or to us? When was the last time that we shook this building with prayer? Don’t worry about it falling down, if we pray this one down then we can pray another one up.
Did you catch what else happened, something even more dramatic then the building shaking? They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God boldly. Did they pray because they were filled with the Holy Spirit, did they pray because they spoke the word of God with boldness. If this church is going to set our communities on fire then first it will have to set itself on fire and prayer is the match that we’ll need.
Now before we go any further looking into the Lord’s prayer specifically, lets look at the conditions of successful prayer.
2 Chronicles 7:14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
1) We must be remorseful. We need to recognize the fact that in many cases we can’t do it. Now that can be a hard fact to face up to. We are told from the time we are born, that we can do anything, but the fact of the matter is this: there is much in life that we can’t do without the help of God.
Let’s pull that scripture up again, 2 Chronicles 7:14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
If His people do what? If they humble themselves, now Collins defines humble as “having or showing a consciousness of one’s defects”. Not a popular thing to talk about in our narcissistic society where we aren’t supposed to have any faults or defects.
And yet as much of a paradox as it seems, our prayers will only be successful when we realize that we aren’t really worthy of having our prayers answered. When I was growing up I remember my Dad commenting on some people who “Acted as if the world owed them a living.” Well sometimes Christians act like God owes them. “I’m a Christian and so now God owes me and all I have to do is to ask and it’s mine.” Boy I don’t know if that’s a very safe approach at all.
Jeremiah 29:13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
2) We must be whole hearted. When will you find God? When you seek him how? With all your heart. Not half not three quarters or nine tenths of your heart but when you seek him with all your heart. We need to whole heartedly seek God’s face. It has to be a motivating power in our life.
When we desire God the way we desire food, water and air, then we will find Him. But as long as God is just dessert, is just the frosting on the cake so to speak then our prayer life is going to be weak and ineffectual. What is the most important thing in your life? Who is the most important person in your life? Is the answer to those two questions, your relationship with God and Christ.
How could we measure those things? Maybe by the amount of time, money and effort we expend for their sake. If Christ and our relationship with him if foremost in importance in our lives, how much time do we spend conversing with him? Can you remember your courtship days? How the sun rose and set on your partner, how you clung to every word, every action, every whim. Do you remember how you felt, how you always wanted to be near them, to talk to them, to hear about their day, and tell them about yours. Do you remember that?
How about when you first became a Christian, how you wanted to spend so much time with your Saviour. I wonder what happens? When was the last time you had a conversation with God? When you shared your hopes and fears, and told him how much you love him?
Does he seem distant? Reminds me of the story about the Old couple driving along in their car and she says “How come we don’t sit close together in the car like we used to?” Well the old fellow looks at her and says “Hey I ain’t moved”
Mark 11:24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.
3) It Needs To Be A Prayer Of Faith. Now that is a promise, the only problem is this, Do we believe it?
When did Christ say that our prayers would be answered? When you believe. When you believe that your loved ones will be saved, when you believe for revival, when you believe then God answers prayer. Faith never asks more then that you believe, but it never asks less then that you believe either.
I love the story of the little boy who wanted a little brother and so he told his father. Well dad had some inside information and told the little boy to pray about it. Well the kid prayed and prayed and prayed but after a while he got tired and quit praying. It wasn’t to long after that that his mom gave birth to not one but two baby brothers. The little boy confidentially approached his father and told him “Good thing I stopped praying when I did, huh?”
James 5:16 The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. 4) It needs to be a prayer of Righteousness. The only prayer that God is under obligation to answer for the unrighteous man is the prayer of repentance. Sometimes the reason our prayers aren’t answered is becomes there is too much unconfessed sin in our lives for the prayer to get through. In other words if you’re living for Satan all week long, then don’t expect to be on speaking terms with God on the week-ends.
1 John 3:22 And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him. Why does the Bible say we receive?
Because we obey him and do the things that please him.
The reciprocal is also true. Because if we don’t obey him and do the things that please him, we don’t receive.
All you have to do is turn that scripture around and it says whatever we ask we don’t receive because we don’t obey him and do the things that please him.
In our righteousness God requires obedience. Not partial obedience, or semi obedience but obedience.
Being semi obedience is like being semi pregnant or semi dead, you either is or you isn’t.
If you are 95% obedient then you’re 100% disobedient.
Why aren’t your prayers being answered? Is it because you aren’t remorseful, haven’t humbled yourselves before God? Is it because you aren’t whole hearted in seeking God? Is it a lack of belief, or a lack of righteousness?
Or is it because of what James said in James 4:2 Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.
Maybe it’s something as simple as a lack of prayer.
The question has to be asked, are you praying, and are you living our prayers?
Are you praying and are you praying together? The hymn writer wrote, “Ere you left your room this morning, did you think to pray?”
Are you taking your communities to the throne of grace every day. Are you praying for, Cornerstone Wesleyan Church and Pastor Denn Guptill on a regular basis?
Or are you neglecting the greatest weapon that you have in our spiritual arsenal.
Let us pray and while we pray let us pray to live our prayers. Because if we are going to see great things done for God through this church it will not be through my preaching, and I can assure you it won’t be through my singing. If Cornerstone Wesleyan Church is going to do anything great for God it will only be done through the power of your prayers.
Will you commit this morning to praying more? To praying for your church and your city, and can I ask you to pray for me and my family.
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