Summary: When we don’t understand the purpose of prayer we will be disappointed with and discouraged by the experience of prayer.
The Purpose of Prayer
Examining the Motives behind our Prayers
Turn to Romans 8
There are many different types of prayer:
public, private, group, family, church, national,
confession, petition, intercession, fasting, short, long…
Three-year-old Donna, who loved to pray before meals, would sometimes get carried away. Occasionally her pastor father would have to say, "Amen. That’s enough, Donna." One Sunday in church, as a lengthy benediction was being pronounced, Donna stood up and declared, "Amen. That’s enough, Daddy!"
I want us to think through what the Bible says about prayer. I’m not here to lay guilt on any of us about how long or loud we should pray. Fact is, God’s Word isn’t clear about those issues. Nor does it delineate when or what posture we are to use. But the Holy Spirit wants to make sure that some things are very clear to us so we will understand:
• The PURPOSE of Prayer and…
• What our MOTIVES are when we pray.
The Holy Spirit wants us to understand that the Purpose of Prayer is:
1. Not a speech, but a conversation with God.
Let’s compare two different prayers:
What a difference in these two prayers:
Pharisee – An utterance based in pride-it was
Jonah - A conversation with & listening to God
Prayer is not:
1-way but 2-way communication and it includes…
speaking and listening to His Word & voice,
& paying attention to His leadings & pleadings.
2. Not a begging session, but for spending time
in God’s Presence:
One grandma tells this story: “My granddaughter, Hannah, begged me long-distance to come help her celebrate her sixth birthday. Unable to resist, I made my plans to join the family.
When we sat down for the birthday dinner, my son asked Hannah if she would like to bless the food on her birthday. "Sure, Daddy," she said. She closed her eyes and began, "Dear Lord, thank you for Mommy and this good food she fixed. Thank you for letting Grandma come here today."
Pausing momentarily, Hannah opened her eyes to
peek at me before she continued. "And please Lord,
let us have a good time at ’Toys R Us’ this afternoon."
Now that was news to Gramma…
So why did she want Grandma to come to town?
Just to spend time with her sitting on the couch talking about life and getting to know Grandma better?
I don’t think so…she wanted to “get” something!!
The very heart of Prayer is not to “get” something but for spending time in God’s presence for the purpose of:
Cleansing = to receive refreshing from
God Psalm 32:1-2
In his book Why Prayers Are Unanswered, John Lavender tells a story about Norman Vincent Peale.
When Peale was a boy, he found a big, black cigar,
slipped into an alley, and lit up. It didn’t taste good, but it made him feel very grown up ... until he saw his father coming. Quickly he put the cigar behind his back and tried to be casual. Desperate to divert his father’s attention, Norman pointed to a billboard advertising the circus.
"Can I go, Dad? Please, let’s go when it comes to town." His father’s reply taught Norman a lesson he never forgot: "Son," he answered quietly but firmly, "never make a petition while at the same time trying to hide a smoldering disobedience."