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Summary: Prayer is communication with God on a personal level. #1 in a 4-part series.

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Title: How Can I Begin An Effective Prayer Life?

Series: Prayer Changes Things

Text: John 15:5-8

Introduction

In the small town we lived in, the volunteer fire department’s telephone was answered by the policeman on duty, who would in turn sound the fire whistle to rally the volunteers to duty. One Saturday morning my father, the town chief of police, had just come on duty when the fire department phone rang. He picked up the phone and said, "Fire Department."

A voice on the other end of the line frantically said, "Send the fire truck!" Then the caller immediately slammed the phone down.

My dad stood stunned, not knowing what to do. In a few minutes the phone rang again. Quickly he picked it up and said again, "Fire Department!"

Again the voice cried, "Send the fire truck!" Again the caller immediately hung up.

Realizing that someone’s house was possibly at stake, he rushed outside and scanned the sky to see if he could see smoke and therefore send the fire trucks in that direction. While outside he also devised a plan as to how to keep the caller from hanging up so quickly if she called back. Sure enough the phone rang again and he went running inside. Picking up the phone he quickly asked, "Where’s the fire?"

The lady on the other end screamed, "In the kitchen," and slammed the phone down again. (James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 110.)

Does this story describe your prayer life?

I. PRAYER IS A CONVERSATION BETWEEN YOU AND GOD.

Note: Prayer is not a one-sided conversation with a God who is “out there somewhere.” God desires your fellowship and love. He also wants you to know and experience His love and presence. But much of our prayer life should be in listening, not in speaking; for it is only in listening that we receive an answer from God.

Illustration: Quotes

Ø Great minds talk about ideas; mediocre minds talk about things; small minds talk about other people. (Proverb. Edythe Draper, Draper’s Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 1836.)

Ø Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. Abraham Lincoln. (Edythe Draper, Draper’s Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 1845.)

Ø If nobody ever said anything unless he knew what he was talking about, what a ghastly hush would descend upon the earth! Sir Alan Patrick Herbert. (Edythe Draper, Draper’s Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 1852.)

Ø Man has been given two ears and only one tongue that he might listen twice as much as he speaks. Walter Colton. (Edythe Draper, Draper’s Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 1858.)

Ø The ability to speak several languages is an asset, but the ability to keep your mouth shut in one language is priceless. (Edythe Draper, Draper’s Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 1876.)

A. God Is Seeking An Intimate, Personal Relationship With You. John 14:23

Note: There is a recent TV commercial in which a man and woman get married in a Las Vegas wedding chapel. As the commercial begins, the “happy” couple is exiting the chapel supposedly on their way to their honeymoon. The woman looks at her newly married husband and tells him she has to run and she’ll see him later.

Obviously this is not the way a marriage is supposed to work. There has to be a real relationship for the marriage to succeed. It’s the same way with our prayer life. If we want to have an effective prayer life, we first have to have a love relationship with God. If you feel that your prayers are not being answered, perhaps the first thing to check is your relationship.

B. We Cannot Pray Effectively Without An Intimate, Personal Relationship With Him. 1 John 4:15-16

Note: A love relationship through effective praying surpasses a saving relationship alone. Being saved but never having an effective prayer life is like being born as a child, but never talking to your parents. You’re still their child, you just don’t receive many of the benefits offered by parents to their children because there is no communication.

C. When We Begin To Pray Effectively, Jesus Promises To Answer Our Prayers. John 15:7

1. If we abide in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart. Psalms 37:4

Note: He will not only give us the things we desire, He will give us a whole new desire.

2. If we abide in Him, we will conform our will to His will.

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