Summary: This sermon outlines five principles needed for an effective and active prayer life.
Our Scripture text for today is found in LUKE 1. While you are turning to it, let me tell you about a young girl who once wrote a missionary, to let him know that she was keeping him in her prayers. She had been told not to request a response to her letter because the missionary was very busy, so she began her letter with these words; “Dear Mr. Missionary, I am praying for you, but don’t worry, I am not expecting an answer.”
I think that summarizes how too many Christians pray. We bring issues before the throne of God, but we don’t really expect any answers. We pray for help, and then immediately look for some way that we can fix the problem we are praying about. We ask God to help us, and at the same time we are asking for His help, we are also planning on what "we" are going to do to solve the problem.
I don’t think God answer prayers like that, because those prayers do not show our full reliance on Him. They tend to show that we do not fully trust that He will, or can, answer prayers, don’t they?
Follow me as I read this morning’s text. Starting in LUKE 1:5-23.
We are going to talk about prayer today, but first – LET’S PRAY.
If we are going to be talking about prayer today, I think we might start by simply defining what prayer actually is. I think this is one of those words that has been used so much we have all but forgotten what it really is.
Prayer is a very private conversation. That conversation is between you and God. Specifically, it is between your heart and God’s heart. And, in order for us to be able to pray properly, we must know a few of the attitudes of prayer.
1. ALWAYS START WITH A HUMBLE HEART.
2 CHRONICLES 7:14 starts by saying,
‘If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray ….’
Who is He talking about when He says, “My people?” He is talking about Christians. The first thing He tells us to do is to humble ourselves. See, we are full of pride, and God cannot hear us when we are prideful, so we must get rid of that pride so we can go into prayer with a heart that has been humbled.
That means we must become submissive to God in our hearts. This is one of the hardest things we can do as a human, but this is also the most important thing about praying – having a submissive heart for God Almighty. You have heard me say that if you actually get on your knees and bow your head, you are putting your body in a submissive position, and whenever you put your body in a submissive stance, your mind and your heart will automatically follow.
2. LET GOD ANSWER PRAYERS IN HIS TIME.
Today’s society is a ‘right now’ society. We want instant everything, don’t we? All too often, when we pray for God’s help, we have the attitude of ‘hurry it up, God!’ We seem to forget that God knows the perfect time and the perfect way in which He should answer our prayers, and we don’t.
We need to let God do His perfect work in His perfect time and stop trying to rush Him to fit into our imperfect schedules.
Sometimes God will answer a prayer immediately; sometimes He will just say ‘NO’, which will turn out to be the perfect answer in the long run; and sometimes, He will say, ‘NOT YET.’
In today’s Bible reading, we read about the story of a man named Zechariah. He was the father of John the Baptist. He was a priest who was quite elderly. He and his wife, Elizabeth, were righteous and Godly people.
One time, Zechariah was sweeping the temple and burning incense and the angel Gabriel appeared to him. The angel told him that his prayers had been heard and they would be answered. He said that Elizabeth would give birth to a boy.
Now, instead of having the faith to believe his prayer had been answered, Zechariah expressed doubt. The angel said that because of his disbelief, Zechariah would lose his voice until the day the baby was born.
I can understand why Zechariah had doubt, can’t you? Sometimes when I pray, I do not have that solid foreknowledge that God will answer my prayers either. So, I can see why Zechariah expressed some doubt. The problem with having any doubt, though, is that when we have any doubt at all, we actually hinder the work God can do for us, and we can even hinder the blessings we could have received by having full faith.