Those who do not believe do not pray. This is a good functional definition of faith. Faith prays, unbelief does not. - John Hardin
How should we pray?
Follow Jesus’ example - Lk.5:16, 6:12.
Follow Jesus’ format: Mt.6:5-13 - "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray: ’Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thankfulness, Supplication.
Pray directed by the Holy Spirit - like everything else, I can’t do it alone.
Eph.6:18 - Thoughtful and intelligent prayer empowered by the Holy Spirit - praying on all occasions, for different things and requests, being consistent and alert (thoughtful), with the power and direction of the Holy Spirit.
His Holy Spirit guides my thinking - 1 Cor.2 and that also applies to prayer (because we do not know how we ought to pray but the Holy Spirit does (Rom.8:26).
1 Peter 5:8 - alert and self controlled.
Note: Prayer is the context of the Spiritual battle in vs.10-17.
Be faithful in prayer - Rom.12:12.
Remain in Him, pray in His name, according to His will and He will answer. - Jn.14:13, 15:7, 16, 16:23.
Pray for each other and don’t forget to pray!!!
Use a prayer list!!! Develop a personal strategy for becoming a person of prayer.
Eph.1:15-16 - “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”
C.S. Lewis wrote that the older he got the longer his prayer list got!
Confess when you don’t pray, as sin - 1 Sam.12:23
Pray in agreement with other believers - Mt.18:19.
Pray with a heart and attitude of humility & repentance - 2 Chr.7:14
Pray persistently regardless of results (Lk.18:1-8).
Pray honestly from the heart - David’s example all through the Psalms (will you forget me forever...)
1 Peter 5:7 - cast anxiety...
Pray with thankfulness - Phil.4:6.
Pray His will will be done here - Mt.6:10
Remember His will - Lk.19:10.
Pray for laborers for the Harvest - Mt.9:37-38 - The Harvest is ripe, workers few.
Be an answer to your own prayer!!!
Pray continually!!! 1 Thes. 5:17 - EXPLAIN!
What should we pray for?
Why doesn’t scripture tell us to pray for x?
Point is fellowship not adherence.
The object of prayer is not the point of prayer; the fellowship is:
We pray because communication is how we draw near to God.
Jn.16:24 - When I pray my joy is made complete in Him.
Phil.4:6-7 - When I pray His peace is made surpassing in me.
Mk.6:31 - Prayer recharges me.
Mk.6:31 - “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Leaders are busy but, in Bill Hyble’s words, you’re “too busy not to pray.”
Prayer is not a means to an end (the end, when not realized yields frustration, anxiety, doubt and lack of peace).
Prayer is not micro-managing the universe.
God does answer prayer - but those answers are in areas He already intended to work.
The object of prayer is not the point of prayer, the fellowship with God is.
Prayer is fellowship with God and co-laboring in His work.
When I pray, I am laboring together with Him, focusing on what is close to His heart and that yields intimate fellowship with!
Prayer is powerful.
Prayer is powerful because it is co-laboring with God, helping Him in His work.
Judges 5:23 - ’Curse Meroz,’ said the angel of the LORD. ’Curse its people bitterly, because they did not come to help the LORD, to help the LORD against the mighty.’
1 Cor.3:9 - We co-labor with God (that involves prayer and in action).
Ps.127:1 - Implicit - we labor and build too!
We co-labor with God by speaking His will into existence with Him. Explain.
It is impossible to co-labor with God and not see results.
2 Cor.1:10 - “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.”
Work together - share in the reward.
James 5:16 - “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
Effective in the Greek (ENERGEO) is not and adjective but a verb (the root from which we get the English word energy) meaning “to be operative, at work, and to effect putting forth power.”
James 5:16 is not saying that prayer can be effective (and thus implying it also can be weak if not fervent enough), it is saying that whenever we pray we are powerfully affecting change everywhere around us.
Some translations say the “fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much.”
Not a good translation.
“Emotional intensity is in itself no proof for spiritual depth. If we pray in terror we shall pray earnestly, it only proves that terror is an earnest emotion. Only God Himself can let the bucket down to the depths in us.” C.S. Lewis
No such thing as weak prayer.
Ps.108:10-12 - David describes his opposition saying, “in the name of the Lord I cut them off.”
Our authority is in God and through prayer.
Prayer does not change God’s mind nor force His hand (both would undermine His deity).
Jer.15:1 - Even if Moses and Samuel (prayer warriors) stood before me, my heart would not go out to these people.
Gen.18 - Abraham pleads for Sodom and Gomorrah (50, 45, 40, 30, 20, 10), God’s mind wasn’t changed throughout the discussion, He still destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and Abraham grew closer to God’s heart through the process.
Ps.106:23 - So he said he would destroy them - had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them.
God’s will all along was for Moses to stand in the breach!
Prayer is not passive: prayer = action and must be accompanied by action.
2 Chr.31:21 - He (Hezekiah) sought his God and worked wholeheartedly and so He prospered.
Remember Hezekiah, the prospering comes out of fellowship with God.
The power in prayer is not in the prayer itself but in God and fellowship with Him.
Andrew Murray rightly articulated this point writing, “do you not realize that time is needed, much time in fellowship with the Father and the Son if you would experience the power of God within you.”
Remember Sonny Perdue, Governor of the State of Georgia who called for a prayer meeting on the steps of the state capitol, to ask God for rain when Georgia was in the middle of a drought in November of 2007; the next day it rained over an inch in Atlanta.
Prayer and the Great Commission.
Mt.28:18-20 - Go into all the world an make disciples!!!
Remember: “First talk to God about people then talk to people about God.”
The fulfillment of the Great Commission is what we call revival.
The Great Awakenings, D.L Moody’s ministry, the Welsh Revival and pretty much every revival in history (remember Acts 1:14 and the result in chapter 2) were begun in prayer.
Revival doesn’t happen because we pray and then God decides to finally move. He isn’t lazy and I don’t motivate Him.
Revival happens when I pray because that is when my heart is finally where it needs to be with God, and He then is freed to do what He wanted to do all along.
Revival stems from prayer not as a direct result of our prayers, but as a result of the fellowship with God and surrender to Him that those prayers are based in.
Revival is always imminent - I need to draw near to Him, I don’t have to force His hand.
When Christians begin drawing near to Him, they begin to be changed into the people they need to be to see true revival happen around them.
John Wesley - “Light yourself on fire and people will come from miles away to watch you burn.”
Real leaders pray!!!
Leadership integrity and competency ride on prayer - commit to lifestyle of prayer.
Mk.6:31 - Get away with God frequently and get recharged.
Remember, in Bill Hyble’s words, you’re “too busy not to pray.”
When our Missionary friend in Afghanistan was asked about prayer he said he and his team pray together for an hour each day. He then asked, “how can we not pray?”
1 Sam 12:23 - “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.”
Remember, confess as sin when you forget to pray!!! 1 Jn.1:9
Jer.10:21, 12:10-11 - When leaders are “senseless” and don’t inquire of the Lord, the fail and their flocks are scattered, and because they don’t care, they trample down God’s work, making it a desolate and parched wasteland.
Acts 6:4 - The Apostles said, We “will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word."
Prayer, evangelism and teaching (discipleship).
“Prayer is not just a part of the ministry but the foundation for it.”
Col.4:12 - Epaphras led by always wrestling in prayer for those entrusted to him. 2 parts:
Part 1: Always - 1 Thes. 5:17 - Pray continually!!! - EXPLAIN!
Part 2: Wrestle - GK: AGONIZOMAI (english root for agonize) - “To enter a contest, compete in the olympic games, to contend with adversaries, to fight and struggle with difficulties and dangers, to endeavor with zeal, to strive and attain something.”
Rom.15:30 - join me in my struggle by praying for me.
As a leader, pray for people AND tell them you are praying for them.
It goes back to the heart: How do I develop a heart for prayer?
Mk.14:38 - “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
C.S. Lewis put it this way - “Now the disquieting thing is not simply that we skimp and begrudge the duty of prayer. The really disquieting thing is it should have to be numbered among duties at all. For we believe that we were created “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” And if the few, the very few, minutes we now spend in discourse with God are a burden to us rather than a delight, what then?”
Basically, we develop a heart for prayer by praying.
Huge contributer - confess as sin when you don’t pray!
Col.4:2 - “Devote yourselves to prayer!”