Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: This message looks at prayer and listening to God as a means of connecting to Him

Prayer: A Means of Grace

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Elementary age children were asked to write a “Dear God” prayers:

7-year old Debbie prayed, “Dear God: Please send a new baby for Mommy. The new baby you sent last week cries too much.”

Hank, 7 “Dear Lord: Thank you for the nice day today. You even fooled the TV weather man.”

Lois, age 9 “Dear God: Please help me in school. I need help in spelling, adding, history, geography and writing. I don’t need help in anything else.”

David age 7 “Dear God: I need a raise in my allowance. Could you have one of your angels tell my father? Thank you.”

Diane age 8 “Dear God; I am saying my prayers for me and my brother, Billy, because Billy is six months old and he can’t do anything but sleep and wet his diapers.”

I think that raises the question, “Why should we pray?” Five reasons. First, we are encouraged and commanded us to pray. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Colossians 4:2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” And 1 Thessalonians 5:17 calls us to “pray without ceasing.” I could go on and on but the point is that God wants us to pray. He wants to hear from us. He wants to talk with us. He wants to speak His heart’s desire to us but that can only happen when we pray. Second, Jesus equipped us to pray through the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer appears in the Sermon on the Mount. In the middle of His sermon, where Jesus is focusing on teaching his followers how to live, He turns His attention to the subject of prayer. He not only begins to teach his followers how to pray but by interrupting his sermon, he’s telling them that prayer is meant to be a part of how they live their daily lives. And so Jesus gives us a model for prayer.

Third, God uses our prayers to advance His purposes. This is why we pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done…” When we pray for God’s will and God’s work, we enhance it and speed its completion. Prayer is what ensures the triumph of the Gospel and the establishment of God’s kingdom here on earth. When God answers our prayers, we have been used as instruments in forwarding His purposes! It is not that our prayers change God's plans - but in a wonderful way, He uses them as a powerful means to accomplish them. God harnesses the prayers of His people to His unchangeable plans as one means by which He will bring them to pass! So it’s through prayer, we become co-laborers and partners in His mission. Every great movement of the Gospel was bathed in prayer making prayer an invariable and necessary condition for any new initiative in the work of God.

Fourth, prayer is a spiritual weapon. Paul reminds his readers that we are engaged in a war, a war between the armies of heaven and those of hell. The struggle that is taking place with them is our struggle because we are a part of God’s army and God has enlisted us to fight this war and our most powerful spiritual weapon is prayer. It enables us to engage the powers and principalities and fight for the kingdom of God. Ephesians 6:12-13, 18 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm….With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”

Fifth, Prayer develops in us an attitude of dependence and trust in God and that places us in a position for receiving God’s grace. Prayer is a direct appeal to God for help and for grace. Prayer enables us to commune with God who is the source of all grace. It not only in an attitude to receive grace; it actually leads us to seek grace because we’re now in a position to receive it. Jesus expressly commanded, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Matt. 7: 7-8). We are "directed to ask as a means of receiving; to seek in order to find the grace of God and to knock to open the floodgates of God’s grace. When grace enters our lives, we are empowered to do the work of the kingdom as Jesus promised to do even greater things than Him but we are also transformed in heart and mind to be more like Jesus. Thus, prayer is the most powerful means of grace!

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