Summary: We know the Spirit is intertwined with our spirit and shares our hearts with God. We know that He knows our needs, but what is our part in prayer?
Central Christian Church
St Petersburg Florida
“The How, What, When and Where of Prayer”
It was the Disciples who asked Jesus to teach us how to pray. Remember when they asked this question Jesus was still alive on the earth and the Holy Spirit had not yet come.
So today “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Rm. 8:26-27)
You see it is the Spirit of the Lord intertwined with your Spirit that searches your heart and communicates to the Father.
I know this is true because I have shared with you before that when I became a Christian the church wasn’t all that I thought she should be. When I became a minister in that church I realized that some of the meanest, most cruel people I had ever met came to church, some of them had been there for 30 years and in one breath could sing praises to God and in the next curse a brother in Christ. It was sad to me that I had met nicer people in a tavern than at the church. At one point when it was particularly rough I went to the woods to pray, but my spirit was so hurt, I couldn’t pray. All I could do was sing Jesus; Jesus there is something about that name.
I cried, I wept in loud moans and groans but through the presence of the Holy Spirit living in me searched my heart and shared with God when I could not speak.
My prayers were answered, the call on my life was to minister to families, I wanted to help grow a spiritually deep church, my prayer was for a youth minister that I could mentor and to serve in a church where leadership was strong and sin would not be acceptable. A –place where in gentleness and love people would be rebuked and when they repented treated as if the sin had never occurred.
And so when I couldn’t pray the Holy Spirit showed my heart to God and God granted the desire of my heart.
By His grace I was placed in this body of believers!
Yet the questions remain:
1. How shall we pray?
2. For what shall we pray?
3. When shall we pray?
4. Where shall we pray?
How then shall we pray? :
Not just with words but with a pure heart. A heart that delights in the Lord and then when we do pray we must expect that God will give us the desires of our heart. Prayers are effective when we are upright and righteous people. Before we can pray effectively we must repent effectively, humble ourselves, be cleansed by the blood of Christ, put on His righteousness not our own self-righteousness and then we are ready to pray.
In the early church Peter was in prison they held a prayer meeting, they prayed specifically for his freedom for his release. (But did they believe it was going to happen?)
He was guarded the scripture say by 4 squads of 4 men. He was guarded better than Brad Johnson, but the church was praying. Not just praying but fervently praying. In other words they prayed with intensity because they knew this fisherman they loved, who had grown so much would probably be killed.
Now Peter’s prayer was probably, “oh Lord, get me out of here if you can use me.” Or maybe he just had peace enough to sleep because Jesus had already told him how He would die.
Here Peter is asleep between two guards chained to both of them when this angel kicks him or strikes him in the side and says, “Get up.” The chains fall off, he walks right past the guards like they have blinders on or he is invisible, the prison gates are suddenly equipped with an automatic garage door opener and out walks Peter a free man.
The angel takes off to who knows where and it dawns on Peter what has just happened and he talks to himself with these words, "Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating."
Meanwhile back at the prayer meeting it becomes clear they are certainly praying for Peter but in light of the anticipation of his most certain demise. In other words they are praying for Peter realizing he is “toast.”
How do we know this? Peter knocks on the door of John Mark’s mother’s house where the prayer meeting is ongoing. Rhoda the little slave girl says, like slave girls would, “who is it?” “It’s me Peter!”