Summary: A series of sermons using "Celebration of Discipline" by Richard Foster. A top 10 book for any Christian’s bookshelf.
CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE: PRAYER
Of all the spiritual disciplines we will speak about, prayer is the most important. How can I say that? How do I know that prayer is the most important spiritual discipline? It is prayer (and only prayer!) that allows us into the deepest parts of our spirit and His Spirit. I want to remind you of something I said last week in reference to meditation. What did I say was the one way you would get good/find meaning in meditation? Practice. It is the same with prayer. Real, deep, and meaningful prayer is something we learn. The disciples, perhaps in one of their few shining moments, had the wisdom and the foresight to ask Jesus in Luke 11:1: “Lord, teach us to pray.”
I want to speak to you today and bring to your attention some truths about prayer. I hope these truths will encourage you in your prayer life. I hope these truths will get you excited about prayer and commit yourself to it. I have already shared one truth and that is that prayer takes practice. There are four truths that I wish to speak with you about this morning: First, prayer is connecting with God. Second, we should pray expecting change to occur. Third, prayer is listening. And fourth, prayer is simple.
I. PRAYER IS CONNECTING WITH GOD
If I had to define prayer with one definition, “connecting with God” would be it.
“Connecting with God” defines prayer by giving it purpose, direction, and a map to guide us. Our prayer should be about communing with the Creator. We connect with God so that His Power and Life can flow through us. When we connect with God, we become stronger spiritually. When we connect with God, we will know His will for our lives and will be able to make Godly decisions. When we connect with God, we are able to resist temptation. When we connect with God, we are able to forgive one another and love one another.
ILLUSTRATION… Discipleship Journal, 11-12/92
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness
5. (Tie) Sexual lust
Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when…
they had neglected their time with God (81 percent)
and when they were physically tired (57 percent).
Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising
situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).
II. WE SHOULD PRAY EXPECTING CHANGE TO OCCUR
I know for a fact that Scripture teaches over and over again about this truth. “Ask
anything in my name, ” Jesus said. James writes, “Is any of you are sick… pray.” Moses was faced with leading the Israelites through the desert for 40 years, do you think his prayers were not ones that expected God to do something. Again and again in Scripture we are taught that we are to pray with our faith. We are to pray expecting God to change the situation. When you pray for those on our prayer lists: those who are sick, in nursing homes, grieving—do you really believe that what you say will happen? If not, then why should God do it?
ILLUSTRATION… Brett Blair, Sermon Illustrations, 1999
Pastor Joe Wright of Kansas was asked to lead the Kansas State Senate in prayer. They were expecting the usual formal prayer to open the session but that is not what happened. The pastor used the moment a confessional and prophetic opportunity. As he prayed there were some senators who got up and walked out but Paul Harvey got a hold of the prayer and read it on his program he got more requests for copies of it than any other thing he had ever done.
Here’s what he prayed:
"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that’s exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values. We confess that:
We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it a choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
We have abused power and called it political savvy.
We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.