Summary: Almost all Scripture, following a question/answer format.
The Word on Prayer: A Season of Prayer
June 3, 2007 various Scriptures (NLT)
We are in a season of prayer, so this morning I want to spend our sermon time returning to Scripture for instruction on prayer. This is actually a sermon my brother, who preaches for fun as a lay person in his church, preached a couple of years ago and which I’ve modified for us this morning. The sermon is almost all Scripture, which is consistent with our desire as a church to spend more time in Scripture and raise the profile of the Word of God as our authoritative source for hearing and seeing God in our lives. It flows in a question/answer format.
What is prayer?
• “Prayer is conversation with God.” - Clement of Alexandria.
• “Prayer is the chief exercise of faith, by which we receive God’s benefits.” – John Calvin.
• “What you love you worship; true prayer, real prayer, is nothing but loving: what you love, that you pray to.” – Augustine of Hippo.
When should we pray?
If we follow Jesus’ example:
• morning (Mk 1:35): “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.”
• evening (Mk 6:45-46): “45 Immediately after (feeding the 5000), Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. 46 After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.
• all night (Lk 6:12): “12 One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.”
• In other words (1 Thess 5:17): “Never stop praying.”
Where should we pray?
• not here (Matt 6:5): “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.”
• but here (Matt 6:6): “But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
What about when we don’t get an answer, when we have already prayed about something, when we feel like giving up?
• Lk 18:1-8: “One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’” Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly!”
What about our feelings?
• Jas 5:13-16: “Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results”
Why should we pray?
A bigger question than when or where, why should we pray?
• to avoid temptation (Matt 26:41): “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
• to find forgiveness and freedom (1 Jn 1:9): “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
• to receive from God (Lk 11:9-13): “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”