Summary: Lets get free to just pray.
Church as is it is meant to be, in God’s original design, is meant to be many things. Unfortunately, outside influences have altered and tampered with God’s Church making it not what God meant it to be. Cultural and political correctness demands the church behave in ways that are acceptable and popular with everyone regardless of what the Bible teaches. Denominational and theological approaches to Scripture twist and turn God’s Word to please their traditions and theories. Personal preference simply wants to please the ‘self’ and thus respond positively to ones own personal choices regardless of God’s will for His Church and our lives.
God meant His church to be:
1. Spirit-welcoming churches. A church without the Holy Spirit is like a car without an engine, you’ll get somewhere in it but it will be very slow and you’ll have to do all the pushing.
2. Gospel/Word-proclaiming churches. The world needs good news. We have got good news, but it’s only good news if we share it otherwise it’s just a good secret.
3. Leader-following churches. Everyone is looking for someone to follow; the problem in many churches today is people don’t want to follow their leaders, they want to follow the Holy Spirit.
4. Miracle-embracing churches. Many Christians today don’t believe in a God doing miracles, because the world will think we are silly.
5. Need-meeting churches. Needy people are not just in far away places, they are also sitting next to you.
6. God-fearing churches. Awe makes a difference in the Church. Without fear for and of God people just please themselves.
7. Hardship-enduring churches. Persecution is what makes or breaks a church. Hardship means some will stay and some will stray.
Today, I want to finish this teaching by talking about the glue that binds all these characteristics together. There is a danger that the church and even our lives becoming spiritually imbalanced. God clearly meant and means His church to have many characteristics and so when we say all we need to do is worship then we are imbalanced, or all we need to do is preach the word then we are imbalanced. The glue that helps bind us together and keep the balance with the aspects of God’s church, is prayer. God meant and means His church to be prayer-engaging.
Prayer is our means of communicating with God. Because we are in a personal relationship with God, prayer can be considered a conversation with God, punctuated with petitions because we are talking to God, and thanks-giving because only God answers our prayers.
In Acts, the importance of Prayer is clearly undeniable, almost every chapter makes reference to prayer; almost every major turn of events in Acts is covered and connected by prayer. (Acts 1:14, 1:24, 2:42, 3:1, 4:23, 4:24, 4:31, 6:4, 6:6, 7:59, 8:15, 8:22, 8:24, , 9:11, 9:40, 10:2, 10:5, 10:9, 10:30-31, 11:5, 12:5, 12:12, 13:3, 14:23, 16:13, 16:16, 16:25, 20:36, 21:5, 22:17, 26:29, 27:29, 28:8.)
I don’t want to bring to you a Bible study on prayer, (there is one at the end of these notes) I want to encourage you to be a prayer-engaging church, free from cultural, denominational and personal influences so that you can simply pray.
1. Pray Free of Recycled Prayers
When the Disciples said to Jesus, “Teach us to Pray” Jesus didn’t give them a prayer book; He didn’t send them to a conference on prayer; He didn’t give them a prayer helpline number. Jesus gave them guidance in what is called the “Lord’s Prayer,” which, if anything is theologically incorrect, it is that title, because Jesus would never have to pray “Lord forgive me my sins!”
The guidance that Jesus gave to the Disciples in response to their request, was related to the content of their prayers and the condition of their hearts when praying.
Unfortunately, external influences have turned Jesus’ guidance on prayer into something that should be recited regardless of the condition of a person’s heart. The recited, recycled prayer has turned it into a duty and not a relationship build on devotion.
2. Pray free from posture, place and duration demands
A. Do you stand? Do you kneel? Do you sit in prayer? Do you join hands? Do you shout? Do you whisper? Do you bow? Do you lie down?
Doesn’t really matter. You can do them all, but not at the same time! (kneeling in prayer: 1 Kings 8:54; 2 Chr. 6:13; Ps. 95:6; Isa. 45:23; Luke 22:41; Acts 7:60, 9:40; Eph. 3:14. Bowing and falling prostrate: Gen.24:26,52; Ex.4:31,12:27; Matt.26:39; Mark 14:35. Spreading out the hands: 1Kings 8:22, 38, 54; Ps. 28:2, 63:4, 88:9; 1 Tim. 2:8. Standing: 1Sam.1:26; 1 Kings 8:14, 55; 2 Chr.20:9; Mark 11:25; Luke 18:11, 13).
B. “This church Is open for prayer” seems to appear outside many church buildings in a crisis. I understand the sentiment, but the message could be this is the place to pray, when in fact you can pray anywhere.