Summary: Four Ways to Prepare yourself for prayer...
How to Pray
like you mean it
Acts Series: ¡§Completely Irreligious, Yet Radically Christian¡¨ Part 21
Pastor Jeff Christopherson
June 8, 2003
FOUR WAYS TO PREPARE YOURSELF FOR PRAYER:
¡§Prayer does not enable us to do greater work for God. Prayer is a greater work for God.¡¨ Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847)
1. Authentic Prayer Requires:
Unity, not Uniformity.
¡§In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.¡¨ Acts 13:1
¡§For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body¡Xwhether Jews or Greeks, slave or free¡Xand we were all given the one Spirit to drink ¡K so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.¡¨ 1 Corinthians 12:13, 25-26
2. Authentic Prayer Requires:
Personal Availability, not Theoretical Spirituality.
¡§While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ¡§Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.¡¨¡¨ Acts 13:2
¡§Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God¡¦s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God¡Xthis is your spiritual [lit. rational] act of worship.¡¨ Romans 12:1
3. Authentic Prayer Requires:
Giving God our Best, not Giving God our Leftovers.
¡§So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.¡¨ Acts 13:3
JESUS: ¡§For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.¡¨ Mark 8:35
4. Authentic Prayer Requires:
Honest Allegiance to the Highest Authority.
¡§They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, ¡§You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.¡¨ Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.¡¨ Acts 13:6-12
Why is Paul so dogmatic? Certainly there are other valid points of view (didn¡¦t Jesus tell us not to judge?)
JESUS: ¡§If anyone acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will openly acknowledge that person before my Father in heaven. But if anyone denies me here on earth, I will deny that person before my Father in heaven.¡¨ Matthew 10:32-33 (NLT)
Didn¡¦t Paul seem a little harsh? Why not show a little grace and be gentler (like Jesus would have been)?
JESUS: ¡§If anyone causes one of these little ones who trusts in me to lose faith, it would be better for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around the neck. How terrible it will be for anyone who causes others to sin.¡¨ Matthew 18:6-7 (NLT)
Scripture passages from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.
Home Church Discussion Guide: Preparing for prayer
1. What do you like better, ¡¥fitting in¡¦ or ¡¥standing out¡¦? Can you give an example? 2. Read Acts 13:1. What was the great strength of the Antioch church? How does building unity through diversity prepare us for effective prayer? 3. Read Acts 13:2. Have you ever prayed for something or someone and yet you really didn¡¦t desire to be part of the answer? What does that mean? What is significant about God¡¦s specific message to the Antioch church? 4. Read Acts 13:3. What price did Antioch have to pray for an honest prayer life? When have you struggled with the principle of, ¡¥giving yourself¡¦ when everything inside you screamed, ¡¥save yourself¡¦? What happened? 5. Read Acts 13:4-12. What does this passage teach us about the nature of our spiritual battle? How can you see God¡¦s grace in Elymas¡¦ experience? When is it right to strongly confront people who oppose faith?