Summary: Prayer is the ultimate act of trust for the Christian, and to be prayerless indicates a self-led, self-trusting life, in spite of our words to the contrary.
a. This week we witnessed a terrible tragedy in Virginia – 32 men and women entered eternity, and hundreds of others stood at the precipice of eternity and glanced into it as bullets whizzed by their ears. Join me as we pray for the victims families and the future of those who survived this encounter.
2. Question: What do you do when your back is against the wall, when you are out of options, when you don’t have anyone else to turn to and when all of your resources are gone? You cry out to God!
a. What do you think those students did who were trapped in those classrooms, hoping to survive? I have to believe that most of those young adults called out to God!
b. The very act of crying out to God is an act of prayer.
i. Prayer can be a desperate act of trust, a casting of oneself upon One greater than themselves.
ii. You may remember what the definition of trust is – to place your entire weight upon another object without reserve.
c. But what do we really mean by prayer?
i. Dwight Moody was once addressing a crowded meeting of children in Scotland. To get their attention, he asked, “what is prayer?” He really wasn’t expecting the children to answer. To his amazement, hands shot up all over the auditorium. One lad quoted his textbook answer, “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to His will, with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgement of His mercies.”
1. That is a bit complicated and theological for a child…
2. But if Mr. Moody were to ask this question of us today, what do you think our replies would be?
3. Think about how you would reply to that question.
ii. Most people would say, “Prayer is asking God for stuff.”
1. But isn’t prayer a lot more than asking God to be our errand boy or magic genie?
2. Prayer is more than a beggar knocking on a rich man’s door.
3. Too many times, we treat prayer as a transaction and not an opportunity to commune with God. Even though we are bred to be consumers in this country, we should never get caught up in the idea that prayer is a retail experience.
iii. Prayer at its core is turning our hearts toward God.
1. Psalm 25:1 “to You Oh Lord, I lift up my soul.”
2. What prayer really is, is seeking God, because with God you have all you need.
3. Prayer is the ultimate act of trust in God.
a. Psalm 31:1-5 1 In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge; Let me never be ashamed; In Your righteousness deliver me. 2 Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; Be to me a rock of strength, A stronghold to save me. 3 For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me. 4 You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, For You are my strength. 5 Into Your hand I commit my spirit
b. The psalmist is voicing a prayer to God. His words are addressed to God Himself.
i. He proclaims that he has taken refuge, and he asks God for deliverance, rescue, and for guidance. In verse four he declares that “You (God) are my strength.” He concludes with verse 5, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit.”
ii. Most of us are familiar with this verse because they are the final words of Jesus on the cross. But they were also spoken by David over a thousand years before as an act of trust in God through prayer.
iii. Prayer often involves ceasing our activity and waiting upon the activity of God.
iv. Most of us find it easier to “do something” instead of quietly resting in the promises and character of God.
c. Trust is at the root of all praying.
i. Trust believes that God is who He says He is and is able and willing to answer the petitioner.
ii. Trust leans entirely upon the Other, places its full weight on God, and ceases to act on his own accord while He asks God to provide.
iii. Trust is faith that has become firm. It is like concrete that has set. Once hardened in place, it will no longer be stirred.
iv. EM Bounds calls trust “firm belief, faith in full bloom.”
v. Trust is also a conscious act, a willful choice we make.
vi. EM Bounds quote: “Trust is not a belief that God can bless or that he will bless, but that He DOES bless, here and now. Trust always operates in the present tense. Hope looks to the future, trust looks to the present. Hope expects. Trust possesses. Trust receives what prayer acquires. What prayer needs, at all times, is abiding and abundant trust.”