Summary: We often pray, but don't understand how privileged we are to be able to do this.
Opening Remarks and Introduction
Tonight, we start a new sermon series called Thoughts and Prayers. For the next few weeks, we’re going to look at different aspects of prayer, and examine how it can impact our lives.
Here at Concordia, We use prayer regularly in our worship services. We pray when we start our services. We pray to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. We pray in petitions asking for healing, and in thanksgiving for blessings received. Prayer is an integral part of our worship experience. But, for many of us, it is much more and may be part of our meals, part of our bed times and even part of our drive around town. Prayer is something that many of us enjoy on a regular basis. But, have you ever considered how special this communication with God really is? Let’s start looking at this amazing gift that God has given us, beginning with one small aspect of prayer, and looking at a few definitions. Look at these for a moment. What word do you think of with these definitions?
“an opportunity to do something special or enjoyable”
“Something regarded as a special honor”
“A special benefit given to a particular person”
Does any word come to mind when you read these? The word that fits these definitions is… PRIVILEGE and we’re going to start this series with a focus on the privilege of prayer, and how wonderful and amazing that blessing truly is.
Tonight, we’re going to look at three special privileges we are given with prayer.
- Its’s a privilege to come to God in prayer
- It’s a privilege to know that God hears us
- It’s a privilege to receive God’s answer
Privilege to Come to God in Prayer
The first point I’d like to talk about is the privilege to come to God in prayer. But, I need to start with the blunt, and honest, truth. Prayer is a privilege offered to us, but
not because of what we do, and not because who we are. There is NOTHING that we can do to make ourselves worthy to be in the presence of God Almighty.
Instead, of making ourselves worthy, we’ve often found ways to break the commandments, disregard the needs of our fellow men, put idols in money and power, and we’ve chosen to put God second to so many activities in our lives. For each of us, it’s something different that we’ve struggled with and found a way to sin. Each of us, in our own way, is a sinful being and in need of forgiveness on a regular basis. In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, he explained it this way. “23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23, NIV 84). That’s the blunt truth. We are ALL unworthy to be in God’s holy presence. So, if we haven’t earned it, how do we get this privilege anyway?
It’s not because of us. Consider who God is. When we pray, who is it that we’re trying to talk to anyway?
God, the creator of the heavens and the ruler of the universe, He has been gracious to us in untold and fantastic ways. He is a perfect being who chose to create imperfect people. As the creator of all the universe, He has so many things that He could be doing. The all-powerful could do literally anything else, but he’s chosen to give us some of His time, and allow us into his presence. Although we are sinful and fallen, He reaches out to us, and invites us to talk with Him.
You see it’s not about us. It’s about Him. Our relationship with God is not dependent on who we are. If it depended on how good we are, how sinless we are, how holy we are… none of us would have the privilege to talk to God. Instead, our relationship with God is dependent on who He is, and the grace that He so freely offers, even in our sinful state. In chapter 9 of the book of Daniel, this is said so very well. It reads, “We do not make requests of God because we are righteous, but because of God’s great mercy. (Daniel 9:18b)”
It is the mercy of God that gives us the opportunity to talk to Him directly about so many things. It’s a chance to share our wants and desires, our thanks and praise, and our confession of our shortcomings. It gives us an opportunity to share out needs with God Himself. But, it also gives us the opportunity to pray for the needs of others as well.
Now, with an all-powerful and all-knowing God, there is nothing beyond his knowledge or comprehension. In fact, He knows what we need before we even ask Him for it (Matt 6:8). Prayer give us the privilege to allow God to work n our lives, connect ourselves to His will, and experience the peace that only He can provide. Paul wrote in his letter to Philemon: