Summary: Introductory Message on a series for Prayer.

Luke 11:1-4 KJV And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. [2] And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. [3] Give us day by day our daily bread. [4] And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.


• What is the single word that can bring the great God that we serve?

• What is the word that turns captivity captive?

• What is the word that unites far separated souls around one common seat of mercy?

• What is the word that brings man’s storm driven ship into the haven of safety and peace?

• What is the word that turns back the shadow of death on the face of life’s dial?

• What is the word that gives songs in the night and that lifts the load of guilt from the conscience smitten heart?

• What is the word that puts a sword in our hand when we face temptation?

• What is the word that gives us strength to bear our daily burdens?

• What is the word that fortifies the soul when it kneels before its cup in some Gethsemane of sore agony?

• What is the word that lifts us up when we have fallen?

• What is the word that brings angels down from heaven to minister to us when we have overcome the devil?

• What is the word that makes us co-workers in the Kingdom of God?

• What is the word that calls the wanderer from the far country?

• What is the word that is the best physician for both soul and body?

• What is the word which, when we speak it, may set the captive free?

• What is the word that companions the soul in its hours of loneliness and that comforts it in the day of sorrow?

• What is the word that sets a lamp of forgiveness and reconciliation in the window for the prodigal and the wanderer?

• What is the word that is the simplest form of speech that infant lips can try?

• What is the word that is smallest strain that can reach the majesty on high?

• What is the word that makes the angles rejoice when they hear it on lips of a contrite sinner?

• What is the word that is our watchword at the gate of death, the word with which we enter heaven?

-That mighty, all prevailing, God-conquering word is prayer. James 5:16 bears out that, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (Clarence Edward Macartney)

-All of that is true of prayer and there is even more that has not been tapped concerning the power and magnitude of prayer.

• If such is true of prayer, then why is the church and her ministers not more involved in such activity?

• Why is the church unwilling to make an all out stride for the throne of grace?

• Why is the church willing to live in the shallows of true religion by merely dabbling with prayer?

• Why can the church not shake the sleep from her eyes to pray?

-Perhaps because the church does not understand the magnitude, the power, the hope, nor the royalty of prayer.

-There is small chance of success in the spiritual life unless men are willing to sacrifice and crucify the listless, slothful, and self-indulgent habits.

-Men who are weak and anemic in the Spirit are generally those men who refuse to pray. Prayer needs to be entertained at all times.

-It cannot be embraced only in the midst of tribulation and turmoil. Prayer is a necessity. It is imperative that the church learn how to pray.


A. Of All The Things Asked For, It Was The Knowledge of Prayer

-Of all the things that the disciples requested of the Lord, the request “Teach us to pray” is by far the most important.

-When one searches out the requests of the disciples, one finds that they did not ask the Lord of a great many things. Collectively, they only made two requests.

-One is found in our text of Luke 11:1 and the other is voiced by Philip in John (14:8-11) when they requested to see the Father.

-Of all the things that they could have asked for, careful consideration should be given to the fact that they asked to pray.

• They did not ask for a greater knowledge of the Law.

• They did not request for power over the elements.

• They did not ask to have the capacity to work miracles.

• They did not ask for greater love or patience or other great character traits.

• They did not ask for thrones or dominions.

• They did not ask that the Lord restore the nation of Israel over Roman rule.

-This in itself should bring about a greater comprehension of the importance of prayer. Obviously, for such a request to be uttered, the disciples understood the difficulties that prayer may often present to men.

-The disciples would spend three and a half years with this Man called Jesus and could have asked for anything.

-It was the knowledge of prayer that they desired, a greater understanding of the knowledge of the holy.

-They had witnessed Him praying in a very disciplined fashion. The Lord had prayed often and much. He had prayed in joy, in sorrow, in supplication, and in thanksgiving. He had prayed alone and He had prayed with His disciples.

• They had observed Him praying with fervor and passion.

• They had watched Him praying in serious situations.

• They had watched Him pray with abasement, yet the abasement of His posture in His prayer seemed to elevate Him above the rude surroundings of life.

-Prayer is a work of the heart and soul and it has to be taught.

B. How Is The Petition Granted?

-If the greatest goal of life is to be saved, then the greatest lesson in life is how to pray.

Perhaps one reason that the church and her ministers retreat back from requesting how to pray is that a price will have to be paid.

Leonard Ravenhill -- God seeks for a man to “stand in the gap.” We want to be clothed upon with power; God wants to strip us. We want power; He wants to expose our weakness. We want large bonuses for small investments of prayer. We want to sow radish seeds but reap a forest of redwoods.

-God often grants petitions that come before His throne, yet the ways that the petitions are answered often come through the heat of the furnace and the strike of the hammer on the anvil.

In the shop of the blacksmith, there are three types of tools. There are tools on the junk pile: outdated, broken, dull, rusty. They sit in the cobwebbed corner, useless to their master, oblivious to their calling. There are tools on the anvil: melted down, molten hot, moldable, and adaptable. They lie on the anvil, being shaped by their master, accepting their calling. There are tools of usefulness, sharpened, primed, defined, and mobile. They lie ready in the blacksmith’s tool chest, available to their master, fulfilling their calling. Some people lie useless: lives broken, talents wasting, fires quenched, dreams dashed. They are tossed in with the scrap iron, in desperate need of repair, with no notion of purpose. Others lie on the anvil: hearts open, hungry to change, wounds healing, vision clearing. They welcome the painful pounding of the blacksmith’s hammer, begging to be called. Others lie in the Master’s hands: well-tuned, uncompromising, polished, and productive. They respond to their Master’s forearm, demanding nothing, surrendering all.

-It is on the anvil that great prayer warriors are shaped and made. Instead of their circumstances crumbling them, they are shaped by the pressures and hurts of the circumstances.

1. By Discovery of Spiritual Poverty

-One of the ways that prayer becomes developed is by the discovery of our own spiritual poverty. Once men come to the knowledge of their own sinfulness, once the conscience is fully alert, men find themselves with a choice. The choice: Repentance or Rebellion, Revival or Revolt.

-Consider what Paul had to say concerning the true moral nature of man:

Romans 7:18-24 KJV For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. [19] For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. [20] Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. [21] I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. [22] For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: [23] But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. [24] O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

-The world makes the suggestion that the problem of man comes from the lack of self-esteem and of self-worth. However, the Bible provides us with more than just philosophy. It supplies us with truth. We are sinners.

-No matter how high that we rove in the circles of society, no matter how many degrees and titles follow our names, no matter how rich or even how poor that we are, we are sinners. What thing can send us to our knees more quickly than an understanding of our own spiritual poverty?

-That great penitent psalm written by David after his failure with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah sums up our spiritual poverty.

Psalms 51:1-5 KJV Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. [2] Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. [3] For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. [4] Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. [5] Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

-Because my life does not measure up to the will and purposes of God as a sinner, then I must echo the cry of the disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

2. By Allowing Affliction and Trial

-There are a number of times that prayer was limited to great sobbing cries. Pain, either physical or emotional, creates great tears in our lives. Anyone who has worked with a vegetable garden understands that the best time to pull the weeds out of the garden is after a good soaking rain.

-When the tears of affliction comes to our prayer closets, instead of requesting that fire come from heaven to destroy the source of affliction, look for the “weeds” in the heart that must be pulled up.

-Consider the text found in the Old Testament:

2 Chronicles 33:10-13 KJV [10] And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. [11] Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. [12] And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, [13] And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.

-History will tell us that not only did the Babylonians bind him in chains and irons, they also put a ring through his nose and used that to guide and direct his steps. Yet in his greatest moments of affliction, he returned to God. That is a whole message in itself, The Value of Affliction.

-The church must be willing to rise to the next level and submit to the methods that God chooses to keep us on our knees. This is one of the ways of God. He teaches us to pray in the midst of our difficulties in life.

Samuel Chadwick -- There is no power like that of prevailing prayer—of Abraham pleading for Sodom, Jacob wrestling in the stillness of the night, Moses standing in the breach, Hannah intoxicated with sorrow, David heartbroken with remorse and grief, Jesus in sweat of blood. Add to this list form the records of the church your personal observation and experience, and always there is the cost of passion unto blood. Such prayer prevails. It turns ordinary mortals into men of power. It brings power. It brings fire. It brings rain. It brings life. It brings God.

3. By Allowing Visions of His Greatness

-There are other times that God teaches us to pray by giving us a greater understanding of His power. This comes through the blessings both spiritually and materially. There are times that this comes through the Word of God, either by preaching or by devotional reading.

-I can look back in my life and understand that there were certain messages that I heard that caused faith to rise in my heart because I caught a glimpse of God that I had not experienced or understood.

-There were other times that I was driven to place of prayer after reading something in the Word of God. There were times that I prayed the Scripture and what a great blessing that was.

-If the church can come to the wonderful revelation of who God really is, there will be no need to plead for men to pray. Praying will come naturally if we can but just catch a glimpse of the deeper dimensions of God.

Isaiah 6:1-10 KJV In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. [2] Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. [3] And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. [4] And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. [5] Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. [6] Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: [7] And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. [8] Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. [9] And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. [10] Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

4. By Allowing The Spirit To Pray Through Us

-Paul gave the apostolic church the deepest level of prayer when he wrote the Roman church. There are superficial levels of prayer and then there are levels of prayer that as the Psalmist may describe as “deep calleth unto deep” (Psalm 42:7).

-The Psalmist describes the type of relationship of the depths of the communion of God, but there was no Spirit to assist him to gain this place. Yet, once the Holy Ghost had been poured out at Pentecost, another level of prayer was gleaned.

Romans 8:26-27 KJV Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. [27] And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

-Satan’s spiritual kingdoms are torn down when we involve ourselves in this higher level of spiritual prayer. The gates of hell are assaulted when this type of prayer works through the church.

-Having such an understanding of the power of prayer causes one to wonder where are the intercessors?

Oswald Chambers -- The majority of us saints are sound asleep to the devastation going on, and we shall come under the bitter curse of Meroz if we do not rouse ourselves up and stand with God against the mighty.


-By allowing the Lord to teach the church to pray, then the host of believers find participation in the realm.

• True worship has not really been embraced until prayer has become the foundation of worship.

• Singing is not true worship.

• Christian service is not true worship.

• Tithing and offerings are not true worship.

• Evangelism is not true worship.

• Church attendance is not true worship.

-That is not to discount any of these vital areas from the life of the believer yet prayer is the highest form of worship outside of the ministry before God.

Psalms 141:2-5 KJV Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. [3] Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. [4] Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties. [5] Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.

-What happens when saints begin to pray? I have a feeling that most of us really have no idea what happens when churches give themselves wholly to prayer and the ministry of the Word.

Philip Harrelson