Summary: 1. PRAYER 2. PURPOSE OF PRAYER 3. ANSWERS TO PRAYER 4. CONDITIONS FOR ANSWERED PRAYER
Prayer is basic and fundamental in the life of a Christian, being the very lifeline itself. It is an act of worship, the communion of the soul with God, spirit with Spirit, the saved with the Savior.
A. Variety of Prayer.
1. Luke 18:13 "God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
a. Prayer is reaching out for God.
2. Psalm 40:1 "I waited patiently for the Lord, he turned to me, and heard my cry."
a. This was the prayer of the publican in the temple, and the prayer of the Psalmist
B. Prayer is Praise, Or Adoration.
1. Ps. 104:1. "Praise the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great"
2. Ps. 145:1-3 "I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day will I praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom". (NKJ)
a. It is the recognition of God's magnificent grace
C. Prayer Is The Showing Of Thanksgiving And Gratitude.
1. James. 1:17 "every good perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the Heavenly lights." (NKJ)
a. It is the recognition that God is the source of all blessings. Here is the expression of our indebtedness to God for his goodness to us.
2. Ps. 118:1 "Give thanks to the Lord; for He is good; His love endures forever" (NIV)
a. This Psalm was always sung at the Passover, and therefore must have been sung by our Lord at His last Passover, the crisis period of His life.
D. Prayer Is For Confession.
1. Matt. 6:12 "Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors" (NKJ)
a. As one grows in grace and nearness to the Lord his sensitivity to sin increases. He sees his own unworthiness in the contrast between his own life and the absolute righteousness of God. Sin is against the living God, and there is neither peace nor power until the prayer of repentance is offered. And even then the picture is not complete, for along with confession there must be the drive to mend our mistakes and to embed our wills in His way of life.
E. Prayer Is For Petitioning.
1. Matt. 6:11 "Give us today our daily bread" (NKJ)
2. Matt. 7:7 "Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you" (NIV)
a. Petition for our own needs should always be superseded by giving of thanks, confessing our sins, and praying for our neighbors. Then the petition may have free course. Our petitioning should grow in grace. The highest type of prayer is one in which we forget ourselves and plead the cause of others. The best example of intercessory praying is that of our Lord himself as found in John 17.
2. PURPOSE OF PRAYER
A. Communion With God.
1. Rom. 8:26, 27. " In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express, and he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with Gods will" (NIV)
a. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we pray, since we, in our finiteness, are inadequate in communicating with God. It is a very personal thing, dealing with all that is involved in a personal relationship of the redeemed with the Redeemer. It is spirit dealing with Spirit, making adjustments and readjustments, commitments and re-commitments. Prayer is a personal experience, not a philosophy or a theology. Prayer is man's supreme venture of faith, his wholehearted response to the impact of God. It is a method of human adjustment to destiny. The Christian's aim in praying is for it is that of beseeching God to bestow upon him any blessing that would be.
3. ANSWERS TO PRAYER
A. NO UNANSWERED PRAYER.
1. Matt. 7:11 "how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?"
a. Because prayer is communion with God, there is no "unanswered" prayer. The very communion of spirit with Spirit constitutes an "answer." For what should man seek more, what God can bestow or God himself? Is it not God himself? Therefore the very communion of the saved with the saving God constitutes an answer. And yet, when most people speak of unanswered prayer, they think only of petitionary prayer, that a man asked for something and did not receive it.
The prayer of thanksgiving, the prayer of aspiration, the prayer of praise, the prayer of confession--all these do not elicit from the suppliant the expressed disappointment of God's failure to respond. There are several things to be considered. First, "no" is just as much an answer as "yes," and this in spite of the fact that so many Christians cannot accept "no" for an answer. People may ask God for things which he, in his infinite wisdom, knows they should not have. Did not Jesus remind us that God gives good gifts--God may know that it is best for us not to receive our bold requests.