Summary: First in a two-part series on prayer.

Be Intentional

#6 - How to Have an Effective Prayer Life

(Part 1)

Philippians 4:6-7

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.

The Bible tells us that when Jesus died, the curtain that separated people from the Most Holy Place in the temple was torn from top to bottom.

Jesus shed His blood, and when He did, he brought access to God. The curtain was torn - anyone could go into the presence of God.

Listen to Hebrews 4:16 -

16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

And so God now invites us all to come to Him directly in prayer.

Growing up Catholic, I did not understand this concept really well. I knew I could pray to God, at least in my heart, but was also under the impression that prayer was generally directed to and through Jesus’ mother Mary, and any other saints that were approved by God and the church to receive our prayers.

It wasn’t until I had given my life to Christ that I understood that God was waiting to hear from me personally. And what a revelation that was.

God wants to hear from you. And He wants to act on your behalf. And He doesn’t put you on hold.

Imagine if God had one of those computer-answering devices. It might go something like this:

As we begin to pray we hear...

Thank you for calling your Heavenly Father’s house. Your call may be monitored for quality assurance. Please select one of the following options:

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