Summary: what the Bible says about what prayer is--a defintion from scripture.
Intro: most of the sermons on prayer generally emphasize the need of prayer, the how to of prayer, the outcome of prayer. Tonight, I would like to simplify this subject by looking at, "Definitions of Prayer." The bible is full of verses that include the words pray, prayed, praying—in examining these verses we gather real insight into the meaning of prayer.
· Matthew 6:6—A Secret Situation—Jesus gives an alternative to the showy, religious prayer of the day. Instead of making prayer a spectacle for others to witness, Jesus encourages prayer to become a private time, a secret meeting with God. Jesus goes on to explain that real answers to prayer come when they are done in a personal way. One on one with God, in a secret place, having a holy encounter. If you are known for your prayers you are rewarded by man, but if God knows your prayers you are rewarded by Him.
· Matthew 9:38-A Master’s Commission—prayer is a time where God gives us direction in our lives. It is the place where we invite God to lead our lives in His service. It is a sending place, it is the place where His will for our lives is revealed. We are sent to the fields of harvest, where we can come back rejoicing bringing in the sheaves. If someone is satisfied with no fruit in their lives, it is because of a lack of prayer. Jesus cursed the fig tree because of fruitlessnes, and in our walk with God we must be careful never to be satisfied with just merely existing for God. We are called to production and harvest, the longer something doesn’t produce the more unlikely it ever will.
· Matthew 26:41-A Spiritual Protection—it is a place where we are strengthen for the tests and battles of life. We gain spiritual fortitude to be able to withstand all the wiles of the devil. Temptations will come our way, but prayer is the preparation time for us to go through in victory. You may not know what you may face tomorrow, but prayer is the preparation for the storm. If you wait till the test arrives to pray, you may fail, but if you have already prayed, you will overcome.
· Mark 11:24—A Confident Expectation-prayer isn’t just about asking, but a deep belief in receiving from God. We pray in confidence, that God will answer, God will come through for us. We believe the mountain will fall, the enemy will be defeated and the blessing will come down. Prayer isn’t about our ability to pray, but His ability to answer. If we who are evil can gift good gifts, how much more can the heavenly Father give good things to them who ask.
· Luke 18:1- An Everyday Opportunity—we now move into the challenge of making prayer more than a week-end event, more than a 9-1-1 emergency call, into a lifestyle of prayer. Prayer isn’t a last ditch effort, or a last resort, it is the first call, it is the most important thing. Jesus gives us this simple formula for prayer, pray about everything. I like the part that says we will reap if we don’t faint. Many times people give up on prayer because they don’t see immediate results. But the true prayer warrior and intercessor presses on to completion. A general rule of any trial is this: it will get worse before it ever gets better. So if you didn’t get the answer today, don’t despair, God is faithful who has promised.
· I Thessalonians 5:17—A Continual Connection—pray without ceasing, means that prayer isn’t something we do, prayer becomes something we are, an attitude of the heart. As Smith Wigglesworth said one time, “ I don’t have to get prayed up to pray for someone, I am always on ready when it comes to prayer.”
God would have us meet every challenge with prayer, not intellect, not ability, but prayer. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.
· I Timothy 2:8—An Everywhere Event- prayer isn’t something that is done in a particular place with a particular group. Prayer is an anytime, anywhere, in any situation thing to do. Paul says, pray in jail, pray on the road, pray in the desert, pray in the ocean, the main place to pray is to pray wherever prayer is needed.
· Acts 4:31—A Supernatural Sensation—things don’t get shaken until we pray, if something isn’t moving then someone isn’t praying. As the old quote says, “prayer changes things.” If prayer didn’t get any results, there would never be a need to pray, but a supernatural prayer produces supernatural results. Religion can become stagnant, but God is an ever flowing stream. You will never exhaust the power of God. As we have said many times before, seeking God isn’t about you getting all of God, but God getting all of you.