Be Devoted in Prayer

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Why we pray, and why we don't.

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Earnestly desiring that the church grow in devotion in prayer
As your pastor, there are a lot of things that I long for the church to know and grow in, but the most essential, fundamental, is prayer

What is Prayer

The Nature and Purpose of Prayer

Prayer is bringing our hearts before God

First recorded prayers - Genesis 20 - as Abraham prayed for Abimelech for healing -
Psalm 62:8 ESV
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah
Hebrews 4:16 ESV
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
John Bunyan - Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring our of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to His Word, for the good of the Church, with submission in faith to the will of God.
John MacArthur - The essence of prayer is simply talking to God as you would a beloved friend - without pretence or flippancy.
The goal of prayer is the ear of God.
Charles Spurgeon

Why we Pray

Because God commands us

Throughout the Bible God calls us to pray to Him, and, quite simply, we are to do what God says.
Pray for those who persecute you -Matthew 5:44
And when you pray… -Matthew 6:5
This, then, is how you should pray… -Matthew 6:9
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. -Ephesians 6:18
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. -Philippians 4:6
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. -Colossians 4:2
Pray continually. -1 Thessalonians 5:17
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone... -1 Timothy 2:1

Because the need is great

The work that we’ve been given, remaining faithful, and the overwhelming difficulties of the day: we know that only God can provide what you really need Psalm 86:1 “Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.”

Because Christ has opened the way for us to pray

We can approach God in prayer because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us
Ephesians 3:12 ESV
in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
Hebrews 10:19–22 ESV
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Why We Don’t Pray

We are preoccupied, and over-stimulated with empty things

We fill our minds with entertainment, with the priorities of work, with the worries of the world. We need to turn off the news, the radio, the phones, and give ourselves time to talk with God.
Other duties become pressing and absorbing and crowd out prayer. ‘Choked to death’ would be the coroner’s verdict in many cases of dead praying if an inquest could be secured on this dire, spiritual calamity.
Edward McKendree Bounds

We don’t know how to pray

We think we have to have just the right words, or we repeat words and phrases, thinking that saying it just right will get us closer to God - our minds wander off, we feel bad about it, and so we just give up
Lay no weight on the quantity of your prayers; that is to say, how long or how many they are. These things avail nothing with God, by whom prayers are not measured, but weighed.
Thomas Boston
Some of the greatest prayers are those with the fewest words - Pharisee and Tax Collector - Luke 18:13 - “God, be merciful to me a sinner.”
At the root of prayerlessness:


We don’t want to admit our own need. We refuse to humble ourselves, acknowledge just how desperate we are.
We don’t want to give up control. To ask for help is to relinquish control, to submit to someone else’s care.
We don’t like how God answers:
We limit God to answering according to our wisdom, giving us what we think is best, rather than what He knows is for our greatest good
We expect God to change everything around us, when what God intends to do in prayer is change us
Sin will always come between you and God
Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan. Prayer will cease a man from sin; or sin will cease a man from prayer.
John Bunyan

Prayerlessness Results in

Spiritual Poverty (James 4:2)
Alienation from God (Psalm 73:27; John 15:6)
Ineffective Ministry (John 14:4-5)

Being Devoted in Prayer

What Devoted means

The Greek word translated “perseverance” and in the command “devote yourselves” is from proskartereō, a compound word made up of kartereō (“to be steadfast” or “to endure”) and an added preposition that intensifies the meaning. The verb means “to be courageously persistent,” “to hold fast and not let go.” To be devoted to prayer is to earnestly, courageously, and persistently bring everything, especially the needs of others, before God. Sensitivity to the problems and needs of others, including other believers who are facing trials and hardships, will lead us to pray for them “night and day” as Paul did for Timothy (2 Tim. 1:3).
If prayer doesn’t come easy for you, consider yourself normally fallen and sinful with the rest of us. Then fight. Preach to yourself. Don’t let your sins and weaknesses and worldly inclinations rule you. God says, “Be devoted to prayer.” Fight for this.

How can we be devoted in prayer?

Remember God’s promises in prayer

He will answer those who come in the name of Christ
John 14:13–14 ESV
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
God promises to hear the prayers of the humble 2 Ch. 7:14
2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV
if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Know that you’ve been invited to pray

Matt 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.””

Know that Jesus is praying for you

Acknowledge the truth of the gospel, that you are in need, and the Lord provides for those who seek his face


Be devoted in prayer to God
Why - Because God commands it, because our need is great, and because Jesus has opened the way for us to pray to God.
Recognize how sin keeps us from communing with God, lay aside your pride, your need for control, and all the other things that would keep us from Him, and seek his face.
Dedicate yourself, devote yourself in prayer to God, that you may know the abundant grace and mercy of God in Jesus Christ through this coming year.
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