Summary: This sermon looks at the discipline of prayer.
Psalm 63:1-11 NIV
A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah. O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. 4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. 5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. 6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. 7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. 9 They who seek my life will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth. 10 They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals. 11 But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God’s name will praise him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced.
3 Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word."
It’s an easy thing to do… to forget.
Especially if praying isn’t a habit for you. You know it is something you should do, but you never really pray. You think it is important, but when the most important things happen to you… you may forget to pray entirely. In fact… you may go days and days without praying simply because it never occurs to you. Are you the forgetful Christian?
It’s an easy thing to do… to get too busy or too tired.
You get busy and fill your life with so much stuff that God gets pushed to the fringe. Instead of being a priority… God becomes an afterthought… something you do “if you have enough time left over. You want to pray, you really do, but it is reserved now for mealtime and bedtime. That is when you have time to eat. And at night… well the nights you don’t pass out the second your head hits the pillow you might make actually make it to… and God bless before you pass out in exhaustion. Are you the busy and tired Christian?
It’s an easy thing to do… to get too legalistic and proud of your prayers.
You are part of the 60% of Americans who pray every single day. You take pride in the fact that your prayer track record is so impressive. You pray regularly and for all the right stuff. The forgetful Christian and the tired Christian make you angry and you do not hesitate to take the opportunity to offer to teach them everything they wish they knew so that they could be more like you. In fact, you have been so diligent in prayer, you believe that you know the very best and most effective position to pray in.
Take this story of three ministers. They were out for a walk together discussing the effective positions for prayer. As they were talking, a telephone repairman was working on the phone system in the background. One minister shared that he felt the key was in the hands. He always held his hands together and pointed them upward as a form of symbolic worship. The second suggested that real prayer was conducted on your knees. The third suggested that they both had it wrong--the only position worth its salt was to pray while stretched out flat on your face. By this time the phone man couldn’t stay out of the conversation any longer. He interjected, "I found that the most powerful prayer I ever made was while I was 40 feet off the ground, dangling upside down by my ankles." Are you the proud Christian?
It’s an easy thing to do… to only pray for yourself.
You are not tired, nor forgetful, nor particularly proud of your prayers. However, your focus has gotten a little narrow. You will pray 20 times a day… but it is all about you. Help me with this problem. Help me find more money in the budget. Help me! Are you the selfish Christian?
Perhaps… you can’t see yourself in any of these descriptions… perhaps you deserve a new category all your own! Either way… it is easy to see there are definitely ways NOT to pray. Now let’s take some time to look at some ways TO pray.