Summary: Second in prayer series dealing with the purpose of Prayer
I. PERSEPCTIVE ON PRAYER -- What is it?
A. PRAYER MISUNDERSTOOD & MISUSED
B. PRAYER PROPERLY UNDERSTOOD
As we have emphasized, prayer is simply humble conversation with God both as Sovereign King and Loving Father. Prayer is honest expression of our heart to God’s ear and His heart to ours.
C. PLACE OF PRAYER IN THE LIFE OF JESUS
II. PURPOSE OF PRAYER -- WHY PRAY?
Pray is talking with God at every level of life. It is talking with God about the same things we would share with any other person of significance in our life.
Words of admiration and encouragement.
Words of gratitude.
Words expressing how we feel about that person.
Words expressing our feelings about ourselves and others.
Communication with God includes some of the same elements; praise, thanksgiving, petition, sharing...
Perceiving and practicing communication with God will continually be both simple and complex.
Understood and yet mysterious. Beside the fact that God commanded it and desires it, there other reasons why we should make dialogue with God a regular habit.
A. PRAYER FACILITATES INTIMACY WITH GOD
Dialogue is to developing intimacy with anyone. There can be no closeness without communication. No Intimacy without interaction. No relationship without relating. No walking together without talking together.
No caring without sharing. Communication encompasses two crucial elements--talking and listening. If someone stops talking (honestly sharing of themselves) or someone quits listening, the walls of bitterness and misunderstanding soon arise and the quest toward intimacy hits a wall.
This is true with any relationship. It is also true with our relationship with God. I talk to share myself with God.
I listen to learn of Him.
1. I share information about myself
Talking with my Heavenly Father must flow out of the deeper levels of my soul.
I Share my general observations about life and events.
I share my opinions and thoughts and ideas.
I share my deepest feelings
2. I learn information about Him
I learn what He has done. I learn who He is, His character, His likes, His dislikes. I learn of His love for me.
I realize His care. I learn of His plans and desires. Much of this comes from His letter to us, the Bible. Some comes through meditation and quietness before Him.
WHEN I NEGLECT PRAYER
The more I neglect honest sharing of myself and humble listening to God, the less intimacy I will experience with God. Prayer degenerates into cold recitation of words without passion. I will rehearse the jargon of prayer without the joy of relationship. I will engage in the exercise of talking without the enthusiasm of sharing. The reality of intimate relationship with God cannot be experienced without the continual practice of meaningful dialogue. Jesus told the woman at the well how continually seeks for those who will respond to (worship) Him in spirit and in truth.
B. PRAYER FOSTERS HUMBLE DEPENDENCE
God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. By designating prayer as the key that unlocks His wonderful heavenly storehouse of blessing, we are ever reminded of our total dependence on God. Some would declare dependence with the mouth but not feel it in the heart. Christ instructed us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." The act of coming to God for the daily necessities of life, be they physical or spiritual, forever illustrates my dependence on Him for everything. It is when I become self-sufficient that I become cold toward Him. Independence develops indifference.
God warned Israel several times to beware lest they become arrogant.
Beware lest you forget the Lord your God, lest, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them and when you herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery...Otherwise, you may say in your heart, 'My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth. But you shall remember the Lord you God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers." Deut 8
God knows that if we are not continually dependent on Him for our daily needs, we will become arrogant and self-sufficient. When we become self-sufficient, we become ungrateful and cold toward God and the things that concern Him sometimes without even realizing it. When we, through prayer, realize how weak we are, and how strong He is, we are better able to recognize our dependence on Him. Why ask if He knows what I need already?
1--The very act of asking demonstrates the vital attitude of humble dependence necessary for Him to answer.