This morning as we continue on in our series on worship today we will be examining the topic of prayer. The simplest way to describe prayer is that is a way that we communicate with God and either praise him or ask for things in life such as forgiveness of our sins or that person might be restored from their sickness. You see God talks to us through his written Word and we talk to him through our prayers. Our prayers are apart of the worship to God and we use our prayers in our private life. The first think I want to look at this morning is,
How do we pray and by what authority do pray?
Well fortunately for us the Bible answers these questions because Jesus taught on this and his disciples even asked how they should pray.
Luke 11:1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." 2 So He said to them, "When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one."
In this example prayer notice who the prayer is directed to. It’s the father in heaven. Now one thing we need to keep in mind is part of the prayer is obsolete for the Christian today because in this prayer they were to pray for the kingdom to come. Well, hopefully we all understand that the kingdom and church are synonymous and that prayer was answered at the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. However we can still pray that kingdom grow. However, Jesus expands more how to pray latter on.
John "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
John 15:16 "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
John "And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.
What do all of these verses have in common and teach. It makes it easy to see Jesus instructions. Our prayer to be directed to the father and we are to pray in Jesus name or by his authority. Based on this teaching of prayer we can see that we are not to pray to the Holy spirit or pray to Jesus himself. No it is to the father in Jesus name. We can see this example followed in the NT.
Acts 4:23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 "who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: 'Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ.' 27 "For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 "to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 "Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 "by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus."
Notice in this public prayer they pray to father and they do so through the name of Jesus Christ. Now that we have seen how we should we pray and by authority lets now take a look at,
How should prayer be done in public worship?
Well obviously in public worship we have two things going in during a prayer. We have person leading the prayer and the rest of listen to prayer in silence and agree with it and make it our own. Before we look at these 2 different aspect of public prayer lets fist look at who should lead in prayer.
James 5:16 The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Certainly we all agree that we need a righteous person to lead the prayer. In other words you don’t want a person living in sin or non-Christian leading us is prayer. But now does it matter weather it’s a women or a man? Well, lets see what Paul has to say about the matter.
1 Corinthians Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.
1 Timothy And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
Now Paul is not being a chauvinist pig here. It doesn’t some bone to pick with women nor does he view than lesser than man he as apostle of God is teaching how God wants things done within the church. Now in the past I have told you that the word silence doest absolute silence or a women could tell her children to be quite or so much as sneeze or she would violate scripture. No Paul is saying that she should not take a position of authority over the man in public worship which excludes her from leading praying when men are present. Now God has given the men the role of being the leading within the public worship. That’s why Paul says,
1 Timothy 2:8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;
Now I want to give a few tips for those who lead prayer.
1. When you pray, pray with reverence and respect to God and keep in mind that you are trying to pray for the church and not just for yourself.
2. Another important thing to remember is that you need to speak loudly and clearly so that everyone can you hear you so they can be a part of the prayer. Now I personally think that it would be a good idea that if you are soft spoken that you come up to front of the building and either face the congregation or even better yet come up here and say prayer in the microphone. If you do this then you will know for sure that your prayer can be heard and that way everyone can participate in your prayer.
Now to rest of us who are being silent. We need to make sure that we are listening carefully and not messing around with something else. We need to thing about what is being said and make that prayer our own. We can show that agree the prayer by saying amen either in our head or aloud. We should always keep this mind every time someone leads prayer. Now the third thing I want to look at this morning is,
4 steps to a better prayer life.
1. Your prayers must be sincere.
A great example of a sincere prayer comes from David because after he had committed a great sin he came before God in prayer with all sincerity.
Psalm 69:13 But as for me, my prayer is to You, O LORD, in the acceptable time; O God, in the multitude of Your mercy, Hear me in the truth of Your salvation. 14 Deliver me out of the mire, And let me not sink; Let me be delivered from those who hate me, And out of the deep waters. 15 Let not the floodwater overflow me, Nor let the deep swallow me up; And let not the pit shut its mouth on me. 16 Hear me, O LORD, for Your lovingkindness is good; Turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies. 17 And do not hide Your face from Your servant, For I am in trouble; Hear me speedily.
As I read this prayer you could just hear the sincerity of David and we would do good to be very sincere when we pray. There are to many today that pray without sincerity. Let me illustrate this with a story.
There was a very wealthy man who went wading out in the ocean when a big wave came a swept him out to sea. He began to struggle to save his life, but all his efforts seemed fail. When it looked like he no chance of survival he began pray. He said, “Lord if you will save my life, I will give you half of all my money”. A few moments latter he had struggled a little closer to be saved and now he says “ Remember Lord, I promised you 25% of all my money if you will save my life”. A few moments later, his safety was still questionable but looked more hopeful so he prayed and said, “ Lord, keep up the good work, just a little more help an I’ll be safe. Don’t forsake me now remember I promised you 10 % of money if you will save me from drowning”. Well a few minutes latter the man if finally about to touch ground and prays to God one last time and says “Thank you lord for saving my life, and don’t forget my promise to you, if you ever need anything I will give serious to sharing some of money”.
While its easy for us to see this mans lack of sincerity to God many people do this every single day. They make these little plea bargains with God and then when things workout how they want them they disregard what they said they will do. People who do this are no better than the Pharisees of Jesus time who he told that the father would not hear their prayers because they had already had their reward. So, we must be sincere in our prayer life.
2. Must pray with faith
How many times have we prayed to God and doubted that God would answer our prayer? As Christians we should never doubt.
James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
We need to realize that God does indeed answer our prayers. Jesus illustrates this to his disciples in parable right after he told them how to pray in,
Luke 11:5 And He said to them, "Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 'for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; 7 "and he will answer from within and say, 'Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you'? 8 "I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. 9 " So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
God will answer our prayers but he will do so in such a way that is best for us. He might answer a prayer yes or no or even maybe latter. Lets look at one example where Gods answer was no.
2 Corinthians 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Here Paul prayer was
answered with a no because Gods Grace was sufficient. We need to learn to
accept Gods answer and trust his decision as Jesus did in the
Matthew 26:39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."
Notice Jesus prayed for the cup to pass but he left it up to Gods will and not his own. To many people today try to take matters into their own hands instead of letting God will be our guide. So we need to pray with faith and accept Gods answer.
3. We need to pray with humility
God will not hear a prayer if someone is haughty or self-righteous because God wants us to be a humble people just as Christ was humble before the father. Peter tells us,
1 Peter 5:5 … be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."
How many times have you heard of someone praying to God and trying to say that they deserve this or that because they have done so many good deeds. I have heard this insincere type of prayer on movies and no doubt many in the world take on this attitude in their prayer life. Jesus give a great example of this in,
Luke 18:9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men -- extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' 13 "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' 14 "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Here we have self-righteous Pharisee who came to remind God just how good he was and how he was glad he wasn’t like the tax collector. How many of us have prayed to God and told him good we were or better we are than someone else? I hope that you have never done this because if you have just as the Pharisee you were not justified in your prayer. However the tax collector came before God and wouldn’t even look up to heaven and asked God for mercy with humble heart and in sincerity. This is the example we are to follow and if we do just as the tax collector we will be justified in our prayer. So pray with Humility.
4. Pray for the right things.
Sometimes people think they can pray for whatever they want and they should receive it. They completely forget about the will of God and will even pray for things that God will not allow. For instance some will pray before they enter a Casino and ask God to help them win big. Some people even pray for vengeance on those people they don’t like. They will pray that bad things happen to someone or even that they die. I have quick story that illustrates praying for the wrong thing.
Some College students were filling water balloons up and dropping them on people from their 3rd floor. Well one night they realized they hit a police officer and they were scared to death so they suggested they pray about it. Now instead of asking God to forgive them for what they did wrong instead they prayed that the officer would not catch them. You see they were praying for the wrong reasons and sometimes because we are being selfish we pray for the wrong things as well. James deal with this problem in,
James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
So let us remember that if we have the wrong motive and we are praying for the wrong thing God will not answer our prayer. However, when pray from heart and we pray for things in accordance with his will he will answer. So let us always strive to pray for the right things.
We need to remember to use prayer in our everyday life because it how we talk to God. We use prayer in our worship and in our private lives. Our prayers should directed to father in the name of Jesus and the men are to lead prayer in worship and we are to participate in that prayer. Finally we need to remember that there are 4 steps to having a better prayer life. Our prayer needs to be sincere, we must pray in faith and realize that God does answer our prayers. We need to pray with humility and we need to pray for the right things. I want conclude this lesson with,
Hebrews Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.