Summary: Third sermon in a three part series on prayer.
We’ve been looking at our Lord’s response to the request of His disciples to teach them to pray. Jesus shared a parable with them from which we discover three important truths about what kind of praying we must do.
First, we learn that the kind of praying we must do is bold praying. Our prayers need to be bold in size, in stubbornness, and in sacrifice.
Second, we learn that we must do definite praying. Lifting up specific requests to God makes us more aware of our need of Him and more aware of His power, when He works in response to prayers.
At this point, I think it would be good for us to consider the four different levels of involvement in prayer that we move to as we grow in this foun-dational discipline of the Christian life.
Level One - Inconvenience level - At this level, we only pray to the Lord when we are inconvenienced. Otherwise, we go on about our business, never thinking to pray about anything. In fact, we see prayer as an inconvenience, until we find ourselves in a crisis. We may go days or weeks at a time, never once praying to God about anything, until we are inconvenienced by something and then we turn to God in prayer.
Level Two - Initiation level - At this level, we have learned the value of setting aside time with God in prayer and lifting up requests to Him. So we take the initiative to meet with Him in prayer regularly.
Level Three - Invitation Level - At this level, we move beyond a set time for prayer, to being willing to respond to God’s invitation to pray, whether it be day or night. Prayer is not only at our initiative, but God’s initiative. We live in an attitude of prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Level Four - Inter-Active Level - At this level, we move beyond a set list of things we want to talk to God about to allowing Him to guide us by His Spirit to pray about those things He calls us to pray about.
"With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit" - Ephesians 6:18 (NASB)
"You must pray at all times as the Holy Spirit leads you to pray." - Ephesians 6:18 (New Life)
At this level, we are led by the Spirit to know what we should pray for, and how to pray about them.
This thought brings us to a final truth for us to glean from this parable.
What kind of praying must we do?
It must be INTERCESSORY PRAYER!
The man in this parable makes a request on behalf of another who was not in a position to ask for himself. The traveler was not in a position to make this request, because he did not possess the relationship with the neighbor that the man who made the request did. This is what intercessory prayer is - approaching God on behalf of another who is not in the position to approach God that I am in.
Intercession is offering up requests to God on behalf of another who would make the same request of God if they had sense enough to ask.
This is different from agreeing prayer. When I pray for someone else who is also praying for what I am asking, that is agreeing prayer (Matthew 18:19). Intercession, on the other hand, involves praying for people who are not in a position in their relationship with God to make requests of Him. This means then, that intercessory prayer relates to my praying for those who are unbelieving and lost or unfaithful and backslidden. Why must the Christian be involved in intercessory prayer?
1. Because of our inescapable responsibility - v. 6
The man says to his neighbor, "a friend of mine . . . has come to me." In other words, he had a personal responsibility that had come to him.
God calls us to partner in prayer. In His sovereignty, He has voluntarily linked Himself to human cooperation. He has bound Himself to the prayers of His children. He merges His working with man’s praying.
"The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads," says the Lord GOD." - Ezekiel 22:29-31
In this passage we note several things:
A. God’s desire was to bless.