Summary: This sermon will show you how prayer can change your life
PRAYER CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE
Power Though Prayer - Part 1
Pastor Jeff Seaman
John 15. We’re beginning a new series today. If I told you that you were going to have the opportunity to talk with Jesus Christ for fifteen minutes this afternoon and you could make one request of Him, what would your request be? If you could ask Him anything, would you ask for protection? a new job? Money? What would you ask for?
The disciples got this opportunity at one point. Luke 11 tells us they came to Jesus one day and they had a request. "Lord, teach us to pray." Why, of all the things they could have asked Jesus, why did they ask that question?
I think it was because they saw the results of prayer in His life. They saw Him pray and they saw what happened. It’s interesting that the disciples watched Jesus preach the greatest sermons ever, they watched Him do miracles, heal the sick, raise the dead and all kinds of things, but never once did they say, "Lord, teach us to preach" or "Lord, teach us to do miracles" or "Lord, teach us to raise the dead". Instead they said, "Teach us how to pray." They saw that was the life support system of Jesus Christ. They recognized that was the key to His life. There is nothing more vital to your Christian life than prayer.
We’re going to begin a new series this week called "Power Through Prayer". Why? There are a lot of faulty misconceptions about prayer, a lot of ignorance about how prayer works and why we pray and when to pray.
Some people think prayer is a magic wand. We kind of wave it at something -- it’s a superstitious approach -- and you get what you want. God is kind of like a genie that you rub the vase and God comes out and you pray the request -- "My wish is your command!"
Some people think prayer is a first aide kit. For them, prayer is an act of desperation. Sign for fire extinguisher: "Use only in emergency." For a lot of people, prayer is like that: Use only in emergency. It is a last resort. When things finally fall apart, then you pray. Like the deacon who came to his pastor one day. The pastor said, "I guess all we can do is pray," and the deacon said, "Has it come to that?" For us, prayer is like the last thing. You do everything you can and then you pray.
For some people, prayer is a tug of war. A religious con game that you play with God where you try to convince God to do something nice for you. The idea is you have to beg and plead and God is some cold hearted monarch sitting a million miles out in outer space and you have to urge and beg and plead to convince Him that He ought to do something good for you. It’s like a sales pitch. You keep pestering God until finally God gets so irritated that He finally says, "Ok, I’ll give it to you!" and He gives in. It’s like conning God into giving you what you want and, if you pray hard enough, eventually He gives in, reluctantly. Jesus told a parable to illustrate the exact opposite.
The worst idea or the worst misconception about prayer is, for many people, prayer is simply a religious duty. The basic motivation behind it is guilt. I know I should pray more, I ought to pray, it’s something I ought to do. It becomes a duty. You have a sense of obligation that if you don’t pray you’ll be on God’s Bad List. As a result, you go through a meaningless ritual that becomes a rut. You learn memorized phrases and you get caught in religious cliches and say the same thing over and over. It’s totally meaningless to you but you know you ought to do it. When you think of prayer you think of one word -- boring! You think, "Why do I have to pray?" It becomes something you endure rather than something you enjoy.
If prayer is a duty for you, you have missed the total point of prayer. You don’t understand prayer in the slightest, if you think it’s a duty. It’s no wonder you can’t get motivated if you’re going around saying, "I should pray, I must pray, I have to pray."
In this series, we’re going to demolish some of these misconceptions. Today I want to talk to you about the four purposes of prayer.
THE FOUR PURPOSES OF PRAYER
John 15 is actually in the middle of four chapters. Chapters 13, 14, 15, 16 are Jesus’ last words to His disciples. The last discussion that Jesus Christ shared with the twelve disciples before He was crucified on the cross. He is telling the people repeatedly, "I am going to die and then be resurrected and go back to heaven. I’m not going to be here physically but I’m going to be here spiritually. I’m going to put My Spirit in your lives -- the Holy Spirit -- and you can still talk to Me, even though I’m not here physically. You can talk to Me through prayer." And He gives us the four reasons for prayer.