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Summary: The 4th message on the power of Prayer, entitled "Breath" teaches how prayer can become like breathing. Based on Apostle Paul’s admonition to pray without ceasing.

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Power of Prayer: #4 - BREATH

I Thessalonians 5:17

CHCC: June 28, 2009

(from Discover the Power of Prayer by Max Lucado)

(Ronnie Morgan preached #3)

INTRODUCTION:

This summer, we’ve been talking about PRAYER. We talked about how we have unlimited ACCESS to God … with the username of Jesus and the password of Abba Father. We talked about the POWER available through prayer and the STRENGTH God gives us in prayer.

So, after all this emphasis on prayer, I wonder: Are we praying enough? And anyway, how much praying is enough? The Muslims pray 5 times a day. The Buddhists use a prayer wheel, and every time it turns is a prayer. In the Old Testament Daniel prayed at his window morning, noon, and evening. What does the New Testament say about how often WE should pray?

In I Thessalonians 5:17 the Apostle Paul gave this instruction on prayer: He told the early Christians: "Pray without ceasing." Is that even possible? How can we to do ANYTHING without ceasing? I try to exercise at least 5 times a week, but I can’t say I exercise without ceasing. I’ve sure never been able to diet without ceasing! It’s hard to practice any good habit without ceasing. The only thing most of us actually do without ceasing is BREATHING.

So here’s the question: can prayer become such an integral part of life that we literally pray like we breathe … without ceasing? If we PRAYED like we BREATHE, how would that affect our spiritual lives?

One thing that breathing does for us is to give us the ENERGY to keep going.

1. Prayer gives us Energy

What happens when someone can’t get enough air? It’s not long before they have to stop running and walk, or stop walking and sit. And if they still can’t get their breath, they’re going to pass out. That gives a whole new way to look at Luke 18:1, where Jesus taught that we ought always to pray, and not to faint.

Notice that Jesus didn’t say we ought OFTEN to pray. He taught we ought ALWAYS pray. The first time I experimented with doing that was back when I was in college. I was working at a meat market alone in the meat locker, so for about 4 hours I was able to pray while I worked, and I did that by simply thinking my thoughts towards God who I knew was there with me.

Since then, I’ve continued trying to include God in every part of the day. I think my thoughts to God while working. I sing along with praise music while driving. I consult God when thinking through a problem. I believe this is what the Bible means when it tells us to pray without ceasing.

Philippians 4:6 says, Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Do you find yourself constantly worrying about things? Then you know that nothing saps your energy like worry. And PRAYER is the solution. Whenever you catch your mind wandering off into worry, turn your worries into prayers. Learn how to pray about EVERYTHING. If it’s important enough to worry you, it’s important enough to pray about.

A Christian named Edwin Keith said this about prayer: "Prayer is exhaling the spirit of man and inhaling the Spirit of God." When we breathe, we inhale oxygen (demonstrate) and we exhale (demonstrate) carbon dioxide … and anything else that would be harmful.

In prayer we INHALE spiritual ENERGY, and we EXHALE the things that need to be cleaned out of our lives. Prayer CLEANSES us from sin.

2. Prayer CLEANSES us

The other day, Susan and I were eating out and some guys at a nearby table were talking about some of their experiences with women. They were getting louder and louder, and it seemed like they were trying to one-up each other with who could say the most inappropriate thing. After a while, Susan whispered to me, “I feel like turning around and telling them, ‘Hey! I can hear you!’”

I wonder if that’s how God feels sometimes. We know that God always sees and hears us. But so often we act like He’s nowhere near. Does He ever feel like saying “Hey! I can hear you!”

Max Lucado said this about his effort to pray without ceasing: "In the past my prayer life had been mostly a matter of checking in with God --- as if He were my Sergeant or Commanding Officer --- and then leaving His presence to go do what I thought He told me to do. But this idea of allowing God to be always with me --- inviting His presence every few moments --- this is a delightful adventure! It’s wonderful --- but not easy. It demands a re-shaping of the thought process."

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