Summary: Prayer is a means to establish, deepen, and sustain our relationship with God.
In the book, Steps Toward Spiritual Growth, the story is told of a man who was opening an adult bookstore in a small town despite the objections of many people in the community. A group of Christians from a neighboring church decided to gather for an all-night prayer meeting to ask to somehow block the establishment of this store. That evening there was a tremendous thunderstorm in the area. During the storm, lightening struck the adult bookstore building and it burned to the ground.
The owner of the bookstore brought a lawsuit against the church that claimed they were responsible for the fire. The Christians hired an attorney who denied that they had anything to do with it. When the case was brought before the judge, he stated, “No matter how this case comes out, one thing is clear; the bookstore owner believes in prayer and the Christians do not.”
Today we continue our series, “Bible Jeopardy: You know the answer, but what is the question?”
Today our topic is. . . . Well, let’s find out. Ready?
It has been called talking to God.
What is prayer?
It is one of the ways that we develop our own relationship with God.
What is prayer?
It is one of the spiritual habits that we can practice anywhere.
What is prayer?
Our study this morning is on prayer. But, what is prayer? Here is a suggested definition.
Prayer is a means by which we establish, deepen, and sustain our relationship with God.
Prayer is a much-discussed topic and a sometimes-frequent source of discouragement and despair. It also is sometimes the source of great insight as we study the prayers of others, especially children, like the four year old who was heard to pray, “And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.” Keen insight isn’t it?
Early in his earthly ministry Jesus sat down with His disciples and took time to instruct them in several important areas and topics. We read that instruction in Matthew chapters 5 through 7. It has been called, “The Sermon on The Mount” because it took place on a mountainside.
Among those topics addressed was prayer and Jesus’ comments on prayer are found in Matthew 6:5-18.
There are five sections to this passage on prayer that we need to be aware of:
Verses 5 and 6 – The Correct Attitude of Prayer
Verses 7 and 8 – The Correct Practice of Prayer
Verses 9 – 13 – A suggested pattern of prayer
Verses 14 and 15 – Prayer and Forgiveness
Verses 16 – 18 – Prayer and Fasting
All are important in understanding and practicing prayer. But today, I want to focus on the suggested pattern because it is here that we learn how to establish, deepen, and sustain our relationship with God.
Dale Galloway has given us a wonderful illustration and thought on prayer that we are going to us as a guide through this passage that we now know as the Lord’s Prayer.
Dale calls prayer “the hand that moves the hand of God.” And so, we are going to use our right hand as a guide in understanding how the elements of Jesus’ model prayer help us establish, deepen, and sustain our relationship with God.
Here is a diagram for you to follow:
To establish something means to put it on a firm basis. Prayer is a very important means in establishing our relationship with God and we establish our relationship with God when we tune into God in and through praise as we say “Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored.”
What does it mean to praise God? We say that a lot. We sing it, “Let’s just praise the Lord!” But what does it mean to praise God?
Two important things: First of all praise is thanking God for who He is. Who is God? Words fail us in answering this question. But, we establish our relationship with God as we thank Him for who he is. We must thank Him and acknowledge Him for His holiness, for His purity, for His power, for His majesty, and other aspects of His being. This kind of praise gives God His rightful place in our lives and thus establishes a relationship with Him.
We also praise God when we thank Him for what He has done for us and His mighty acts through history. Once again acknowledging God’s work in our lives and the lives of others in words of praise and thanksgiving create the environment by which we establish our relationship with God.
Psalm 103:1-2 “Praise the Lord, I tell myself; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, I tell myself, and never forget the good things he does for me.”