Summary: Prayer can be a powerful tool to help us grow spiritually. What does a powerful prayer look like? Is there a right and a wrong way to pray?
The Power Tool of Growth
Today, I want to remind you of our theme verse for this series of messages.
This theme verse outlines what a spiritually mature Christian looks like.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
The idea we are exploring in this series is that through the practice of certain spiritual disciplines, we can grow in maturity. We talked last week about how Scripture expects us to grow up spiritually. As we grow up spiritually, we begin to demonstrate these characteristics of the spirit. The key phrase we discovered last week was more and more.
More and more I find myself loving
More and more I find myself joyful
More and more In find myself peaceful
More and more I find myself choosing to be patient.
More and more I find myself filled with a kindness
More and more I find myself choosing to do that which is good
More and More I am faithful
More and more I am gentle
More and more I demonstrate self control.
We also learned that these spiritual characteristics don’t develop overnight, and they don’t happen naturally. In fact it is quite the opposite. It takes the application of spiritual disciplines. So what are these disciplines?
Over the next several weeks, we are going to explore these spiritual disciplines that can help us to grow spiritually. We are going to look at the tools in our toolbox.
The tool we talk about today kind of reminds me of a show I used to watch in the 90’s.
Do you remember the show starring Tim Allen? It was called, “Home Improvement?” Tim’s character in the the show hosted his own local cable program called “Tool Time.”
Each week he would introduce the tool of the week. If you have seen the show you now the more powerful the tool; the better! In fact, Tim would make that manly sound after he introduced a powerful new tool. Do you remember it? He would do three grunts… “RRR, RRRR, RRRR.”
He would then explain how to build with this tool or to use this tool. Finally, he would demonstrate it, generally wrong, and he would injure himself or almost destroy the set in the process.
As we start today, I want us to picture ourselves in an episode of Tool Time.
The tool (or discipline) we introduce today is probably the most powerful tool in our toolbox for spiritual growth. So when I tells you what it is would you respond with the Tim Allen grunt? The tool we look at today is …. Prayer. (RRR, RRR, RRRR)
Now I know many people don’t see prayer as a powerful growth tool. And if we do, we think it’s too powerful to play with and we leave it unused in the toolbox. Only a trained profession should use it!
So I can picture some of you saying, “unless you are saying preacher that YOUR prayers will help ME grow spiritually I think I’ll daydream today.” I want to say not so fast.
And before you say, “Wow, John was a real jerk from the pulpit today” I want you to know I have wrestled with prayer. I have wrested with some unhealthy attitudes toward it in my own spiritual walk.
At one time I wrestled with the attitude that prayer is the responsibility of other people. I believed the preacher had something akin to the bat phone in his office with a direct line to God. So I’ve wrested with the idea that prayer is for pastors, or the elders, or should only be used by those who are trained or spiritually mature.
I know there have been times when I have expected OTHERS to pray about an issue when I haven’t bothered to pray about it in earnest myself. I don’t know if I would have responded honestly if I gave a request to the preacher and he asked, “Have you earnestly prayed about this yourself?”
I’ve wrestled with the been there, done that attitude. I’ve tried prayer before in my own life and it didn’t seem to work. Now the preacher is asking me to try it again?
I’ve wrestled with embarrassment in prayer wondering if I would or could say the wrong thing; I’ve struggled with not even knowing where to start.
Maybe you have too. As we talk about prayer as a tool for spiritual growth I hope to exorcise these demons today.
So turn in you Bibles with me to our first text this morning.
Text One: Luke 18:9-14
These words are the words of Jesus.
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’