Prayer


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Series:  Discipleship:  From Here to There    Part 5 “Prayer” * Matthew 26:40‐41  East Leesville Baptist Church * February 5, 2017    WELCOME    Have you ever spent an entire hour with God in prayer? The context of this Scripture is when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane in His final hours. At a time when Jesus needed His disciples the most, they were there for Him the least. The disciples’ worship and passion for Jesus wasn’t sufficient enough to pray for even one hour.   Matthew 26:40‐41 ESV  40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And He said to Peter, “So, could you not watch  with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing,  but the flesh is weak.”    Why is it so important for us to have a strong prayer life? They’re at least 3 reasons I can think of:     Prayer is the vision of the believer.    Prayer is what gives eyes to our faith. In prayer, we see beyond ourselves and focus our spiritual eyes on God’s infinite power. We begin to see the situations that are around us and we’re able to gain a new perspective on things we’ve never seen before!    Prayer is our ultimate indication of trust in our Heavenly Father.   

Here’s a convicting question: What level of dependency upon God does your prayer life reflect? Let that sink in for a second. Based on how you prayed this past week, what does that show about your level of dependency upon God? Prayer is our ultimate indication of trust in God.  Where there is an absence of prayer, there will be an absence of power.  If you feel like your life is struggling and your spiritual walk is powerless, you need to infuse more prayer into your life. Little prayer means little power with God. Much prayer means much power with God. What we do for the Lord is dependent upon what we are in the Lord. If you want to experience a true spiritual breakthrough in your life try spending an hour w/God in prayer. In his book, The Hour that Changes the Word, Dick Eastman basically gives us kind of like a prayer wheel.

Think of it as a clock. If you spend 5 minutes in each of these different types of prayer, all 12 of these 5 minute segments are mentioned in the Bible, and you’ll easy spend a whole entire hour in prayer before God. There are 12 different ways we can pray and they’re all mentioned in the Bible. Paul told the church at Ephesus, “Pray…with all kinds of prayers.” Spend just 5 minutes on each one, and you’ll not only have a well-rounded prayer life that draws you closer to God, but you’ll also have spent an entire hour in prayer.   The very first thing on that wheel is…   1.  Praise    When Jesus gave us the model prayer, The Lord’s Prayer, the first 10 words are devoted to praise: Matthew 6:9 ESV  9 Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.    The word “hallowed” means “to revere or to sanctify.”   Praise simply means to  bring glory to God with our words.    It’s the vocal adoration of God. We’re giving Him the glory for who He is—for His attributes, for His omniscience, for His omnipresence, for His omnipotence. We’re bring God glory for who He is.   “Here is one of the greatest values of praise: it decentralizes self. The worship and praise of God demands a  shift of center from self to God. One cannot praise God without relinquishing occupation with self.” –Paul  Billheimer    

What is the one aspect of God that you could praise Him for today? What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?   Psalm 50:23   Whoever offers praise glorifies me.”    Why should we put praise first in our prayers? because only praise puts God in His rightful position at the very beginning of our praying.   The fifth aspect of prayer is simply….   5.  Worship    Praise is the joyful recounting of who God is; worship comes from a different place in our spirits. Worship is the art of losing oneself  in the adoration of another.    It involves giving all that I am to all that He is. To truly worship God, we have to let go of our self-worship and humble ourselves before God, surrender every part of our lives to His control, and adore Him for who He is, not just what He has done. Worship is a lifestyle, not just an occasional activity. Jesus said the Father is seeking those who will worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23).   Another aspect of prayer I think we forget about, and that is…      

2.  Waiting on the Lord    To be complete, prayer needs an early, significant dose of spiritual silence.   Psalm 52:9   …I will wait for your name…   

Psalm 62:1  For God alone my soul waits in silence...     

Psalm 130:6  …my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning.     

Isaiah 40:31  But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength….  (so) What is “waiting on the Lord”?   Waiting on the Lord is basically the silent surrender of your soul to God.  In a sense, it’s “wordless worship”. We must take time to wait. Bring your mind and spirit into a time of   complete silence to the world.   

Think no thoughts but thoughts of God.   

Ask God to speak to you during   your time in prayer. 

The third aspect of prayer is  

3.  Confession   

This is probably the most painful part of prayer, which is why it ought to be on the front end of our prayer life, because I think sometimes if we feel we’ve sinned against God, we feel like we’re not worthy enough to come to Him. And maybe that’s you today? Maybe this past week you did something and you’re saying to yourself right now, “I’m not even worthy to be here today.” Let me encourage you right now, just humbly come to God and as ask for His forgiveness for elevating your sin above His grace, because God wants to cleanse you! He wants to take that sin…that’s in your heart and life, and separate it as far as the EAST is from the WEST. I love this quote from Andrew Murray…  

“God cannot hear the prayers on our lips often because the desires of our heart after the world cry out to  Him much more strongly and loudly than our desires for Him.”  ‐‐Andrew Murray     Isn’t that true?   1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins, and to cleanse us from all  unrighteousness.”    Confession is your all access pass into the very near presence of God.    If you want God to do a breakthrough, it requires that you first must be broken. Brokenness must perceive the spiritual breakthrough. The depth of your repentance is going to determine the height of your revival. The word “confess” means to “agree with God” in admitting your guilt. Confession is to verbalize our spiritual shortcomings and admit that we’ve sinned.

Psalm 66:18  If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me.    According to Scripture, we’re not going to have an effective prayer life if sin’s maintaining a grip on us! Ask God to search your heart for any unconfessed sin. As the Holy Spirit brings thoughts to your mind, ask God to forgive you and cleanse you by His blood. And when you’re confessing sin, be as specific as possible. Here is a list of common sins….we must confess:   Addictions/ Breaking promises / Bringing dishonor to  others / Believing God will refuse to forgive you / Disobedience towards those in authority / Telling unkind  truths about another / Gossip / Materialism /Gluttony / Hatred /Impure thoughts / Indifference toward  good and evil/ Ingratitude / Jealousy / Laziness / Lying / Lack of prayer / Not obeying God in your giving /  Pre‐marital sex or Extra‐marital sex / Pride / Rudeness / Selfishness/ Stealing / Anger / Using others for  your own personal gain and Viewing pornography   

Maybe it’s some other sin. Would you pray, “God I receive that forgiveness. I receive your love & your mercy. Thank you for forgiving me and giving me a fresh start today. In Jesus name, Amen Another aspect of prayer we don’t think about much is 4.  Praying Scripture    The degree to which we believe in God’s Word and apply it to prayer is the degree to which God will put out His power during our prayer.   Romans 10:17  Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.   

And so, here’s what we do when we pray scripture, whatever it is that we’re reading in our Bible, when we get to that one verse that really speaks to your heart, then take that verse and turn it back into prayer. The word of God is full of power and life. Here’s the reality:  

By bringing God’s Word directly into our praying, we’re bringing God’s power directly into our praying.    Try visiting www.TheVerseProject.com for memorizing and meditating on Scripture put to song.   The sixth aspect of prayer is….  

6.  Intercession for Others  Before we pray for ourselves, we pray for others. To intercede means to meditate. It’s to stand between an individual and Almighty God and asking for God  to accomplish something in their life.    Colossians 1:9   For this reason also, since the day we heard about it, we do not cease to pray for you…   

May we not be guilty of ceasing to pray for others.  

“When we pray for others we do not stand with outstretched hands hoping to receive something for  ourselves. We stand at God’s side, working together with Him, in the task of redeeming others.”  ‐‐ Edward  Bauman          

Ask the Holy Spirit   who you need to pray for.   

Be as specific as possible in  your prayers for them.   

Send them a text or an email and let them know that you’re praying for them.  The seventh aspect of prayer is…  

7. Petitions for Yourself    If we’re honest with ourselves, when we think about praying you’re thinking, “Okay, what do I want God to do for me.?” And there’s nothing wrong with that, but understand that’s not all that prayer is about. It’s just one of the 12 ways that we’re praying to God.   “Asking is the symbol of our desire. Some things God will not give until we want them enough to ask.” –E.  Stanley Jones    There are certain things that God is ready and willing and waiting to give to us, but He’s waiting for us to ask Him.   Petitions in prayer mean that we’re to express our dependence on Christ for every need.  Jesus said in His model prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” teaching us to pray for the things we need.   Four Powerful Prayer Promises  Matthew 7:7‐11  Matthew 21:22 

Mark 11:24  John 14:13‐14      Ask the Holy Spirit to help you claim only those desires that will bring special honor to the Lord. (His will)    Make a list of specific needs you have for that very day and offer each need to God. (don’t be vague)    Take time to explain to God why you desire an answer for that request. (This will check the motives of your heart) The eighth aspect of prayer is…  

8. Thanksgiving    Thanksgiving is a daily act of expressing specific gratitude to God for the blessings. Part of our prayer ought to consist of thanksgiving. It’s different from praise. Praise focuses on who God is; thanksgiving focuses on what God has specifically done for us.    Colossians 4:2  Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving helps me focus on God’s faithfulness. It has also been called “a confession of blessings.” The Psalmist said we’re to “shout our thanksgiving to the Lord”. Shout His praises. If you can think of something that you’re grateful to God for, maybe it’s a spiritual blessing, maybe it’s a material blessing, maybe something God’s done in your life and you want to thank Him for that, just shout it out….  

Another aspect of prayer is singing. 9.  Singing    Paul talks about making a spiritual song in your heart, that whatever you sense that God is doing in your spirit; you can turn that into a song basically.     Psalm 100:2  Serve the LORD with gladness; come before his presence with singing.  There’s a lot of joy in singing songs to the Lord during prayer! Another aspect of prayer is….  

10.  Meditation    Eastern meditation means you empty your mind, but biblical meditation means you fill your mind. Fill it with what? With God’s Word. When you come upon a scripture that speaks to you, simmer on it for a while. Pause and think on what it’s saying. Look at Joshua 1:8  This Book of the Law (The Bible)   shall not depart from your mouth   (I’m thinking about it constantly-it’s to be in my conversations), but you shall meditate on it day and night, so  that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it (God I want to honor You, not just in the parts of the Bible I like, but I want my life to be honoring to you in everything you’ve told me to do). For then  you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have (what?) good success. 

So many times we want to rush to the very last part and say, “Yes, God. Give me that prosperity and success part. I want that part.” Do you know what “biblical success” is? It’s progressing in the will of God for your life. And we’ll prosper spiritually, we’ll progress in God’s will for our lives IF we meditate upon His Word through the day and night, and IF we allow it to speak into life. 11. Listening  Ever been in a conversation and they’re doing all the talking and you can’t get a word in edge wise. How much of our prayer life is a one sided conversation when God intends it to be a dialog. A part of our time should be just being still in God’s presence and listening. To listen in prayer is to mentally absorb divine instructions from God concerning specific matters for that day.   We need to recognize the whisperings of God.  Often His whisperings come in the form of quiet impressions  on the heart.     Maybe you’re facing a situation today and it’s a biblical situation, you really don’t know what to do. Our gut level response is usually to find somebody with skin and bones and say, “Hey! What do you think I should do?” BUT why not take it to God and ask Him what He thinks you should do? And sometime He’ll speak immediately and give us the idea or the answer, and sometimes He’ll wait and give us the answer later.   Ask God very specific questions about difficult problems   or situations you’re facing.   

Search Scripture for answers   to your questions.   

Ask God to show you His plan or your next step regarding that situation.   

12.  Praise   

Prayer has now come full circle and we find ourselves again at praise. Praise to God should be the bookends of our prayer time. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus, not only taught us to begin our prayer with praise, “Our Father, which art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name”    

Matthew 6:13  “For thine is the kingdom, and the power,   and the glory, forever. Amen.” but to also end our prayer in praise! Jesus taught us to conclude our prayer with a strong expression: AMEN!   Amen “So be it” or “It is done.”   

Greek:   “God, our King, is trustworthy.”  (trustworthy enough to handle whatever prayer we just gave Him.  

To say “Amen” in prayer is…. to express confidence that God has heard our prayers.    God is able. He is trustworthy to handle those concerns and answer them. “So be it” “It is done” according to the will of God. God’s will will be done in this situation, therefore I can let go of it. I don’t have to worry about it. God’s got this!