Our Prayer Life - pt. 1
Today;’s topic will be centered around prayer. Beyond our first point, we will be focusing on a passage of Scripture from what’s known as Jesus’ ‘Sermon on the Mount’. It includes very familiar Scripture, but as we read it in context, there are some things that we should not ignore.
That being said, the theme for our year is ‘Let us Rise Up and Build’, so we are going to focus on ‘Rising Up and Building’ our prayer life.
That being said, how many of you would like to have a more effective prayer life?
If you’re to have a more effective prayer life, I believe there needs to be some things that we are cognizant of concerning prayer. Today (and tonight) we will be examining in detail some of those things.
I will forewarn you - I have a lot of writing, a lot of Scripture and a lot of stories for you today, but I pray it will all be a blessing & help to you.
Before we get into the main text, we need to look first at some Particulars concerning Prayer
I. Particulars concerning Prayer
I. Particulars concerning Prayer
These are some general things that we need to understand concerning prayer. Many of which most are either ignorant of or they take for granted.
So concerning the particulars of prayer, we’ll look first at the Significance of Prayer
The Significance of Prayer
What is it about prayer that makes it so vital to the Christian?
It’s Communion and Communication with God
It’s time that we spend with the LORD. Focusing solely on Him.
One thing that I and many others have said is that Christianity is not mere religion, but rather it’s a relationship with Jesus… right? Well if you’re going to have a healthy relationship, you must spend time with one another.
(Ill.) I have two children whom I love dearly. I have relationships with both of them. But one thing that throughout the years I’ve tried my best to do, is spend time with them. Time is a commodity that is more precious than money and can only be spent once. I believe that because I spent time with my children they know that I love them.
I believe the same holds true with God. If you’re going to have a relationship with Jesus, you must spend time with Jesus! (Ill.) And I’m thankful that I can commune with my LORD no matter what I’m doing: I can talk with Him as I’m driving down the road… (Ill.-cont) One of the things that I enjoy doing with my family is watching a movie or a show together. We’ll plan that, and I think I’m spending QT with them, but you know what my wife says? ‘We’re not spending time together, we’re watching a movie!’ Do you know what she wants? She wants me to turn the TV off & talk. She wants me to focus on her. And I think that if we’re not careful, what ends up happening with our relationship to the LORD is we’re sitting beside Him while we’re paying attention to the movie.
When we set time aside solely unto prayer we are communing with God
If a relationship is going to thrive there must be communication.
Communication principles are these: It must be 2-way. A giver and receiver. Our relationship to God is such that we give communication unto the LORD in prayer, and we receive communication unto the LORD by reading His Word.
Much could be said on this: Namely, if you’re praying, but you’re not reading His Word, you have become the irritable loud mouth that want’s to talk, but not to hear.
We need to take time to speak to God - and I know that the LORD knows our hearts & needs - we’ll get to all that, but (Ill.) there’s been plenty of times when I have known the hearts of my children, but instead of them speaking to me, they’ve kept it bottled up inside. Now I ask you - how do you think that made me feel as a parent?
Prayer is communication with God. If we’re going to have a healthy relationship with Him, we must pray.
It Once was Unavailable, but now is Attainable
This is a point that I think we Christians today take for granted.
(Ill.) I have thankfully lived through the dawning of the age of the internet. I remember what it was like before it. I remember what it was like to get ‘Internet in a box’ and connect your phone line and hear the connection. No WAY you could have watched a movie on it, it took 20 minutes to download a picture! Today if you want an answer to something, all you have to do is pull out the little computer in your pocket and ‘google’ it. When I was growing up, you didn’t have that luxury. If you wanted to know how to do something, you either had to figure it out on your own or know somebody who did.
Today we have direct access to the throne of God! In fact, the Bible says: Heb. 4:15-16 “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
But it wasn’t always like this. In fact, the majority of the history of mankind access to God was limited to only a few for only a time. BUT SOMETHING HAPPENED WHEN JESUS GAVE UP THE GHOST UPON CALVARY! The Bible says: Mat. 27:50-51 “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;”
Church we have such a privilege that wasn’t afforded unto mankind for thousands of years, yet it’s available unto us today! What a privilege! (That’s much better than having the internet in your pocket!)
Next we’re going to look at the Subtleties of prayer. Some of the things that many aren’t likely to think of right off.
The Subtleties of Prayer
The Disciples Asked, Jesus Answered (Luk. 11:1-2a)
Luk. 11:1-2 “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.”
I wanted to point to this text for a particular reason. The reason being is that the disciples were wise enough to understand that they didn’t know everything there was to know about prayer.
Today people have such a superficial understanding about prayer. (Much like Christianity itself). They believe that it’s as simple as you just talking to God and telling Him what you think. Question: If that’s all it was, why do you think the disciples asked Jesus how to do it? Better yet, why WHEN they asked didn’t Jesus just say ‘Hey fella’s, just talk to me’ - no, He gave them an answer.
That being said, there are proper ways to talk to God an improper ways. There are things that will help your prayer and things that will hinder your prayers. Let me illustrate this: When you speak / spoke to your parents, was there a right way to speak to them? A wrong way? Were there things that you could say or do that would hinder your prayers unto them?
The same way it is with God!
That being said, I want to speak for a little bit on things that will hinder your prayers
There are Hinderances to Prayer
Wrong Relationship w/ God (Joh. 9:31)
Joh. 9:31 “Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.”
Now with this point, I’m not speaking about fellowship. I’m talking about a wrong relationship. You see, every soul in here has one of two relationships with God Almighty. You are either His enemy or His friend. You are simply His Creation or you are one of His children. And yes I said enemy - Rom. 5:10 “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”
If you have not been born again into the family of God and become His Child, you have no right nor standing to ask anything of God! You are still in your sin and God will not hear you.
You know today it’s politically incorrect to say ‘thoughts & prayers’, so usually you’ll just hear ‘thoughts are with...’. Truthfully, the thoughts of the heathen is far better than their prayers, as their prayers don’t count for anything!
If you’re praying to God, yet you don’t have the right relationship to Him, your prayer will not only be hindered, it will not be heard. Ye MUST be born again (Joh. 3:3)
The good news is that God’s not willing that any should perish! If this is you, you can be born again today!
Harbored Sin (Psa. 66:18; Isa. 59:2; Mic. 3:4; Joh. 9:31)
Psa. 66:18 “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear me:”
Isa. 59:2 “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, And your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”
Mic. 3:4 “Then shall they cry unto the Lord, but he will not hear them: He will even hide his face from them at that time, As they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.”
If you have sin that you’re holding onto in your life, then that sin is coming between you and your God and hindering your prayers.
Many Christians are harboring sin in their lives.
Pride, vanity, a proud look, a lying tongue, wicked imaginations, tale-bearing, slothfulness, idleness of hands, back-biters, despiteful, boasters, unmerciful
There’s literally a multitude of sins that could come between you and your God - but it only takes one! It only takes one to hinder your prayer.
But I’m thankful for the promise of God in 1Jo. 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Harbored sin will hinder your prayers
Idols (Eze. 14:3)
Eze. 14:3 “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them?”
Idols in your life will hinder your prayers.
I’m not talking about little statues of cows of fat men. I’m talking about things that you place before your God - which could be anything.
Hunting / Fishing
Your job / profession
Your Facebook / Social media
Your Friends, spouse, or even your children
If you have something in your life that holds more value to you than God it’s an idol unto you - and it’s hindering your prayers.
Idols hinder your prayers
Refusal to Ask (Jam. 4:2)
Jam. 4:2 “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.”
One of the simple reasons that prayers go unanswered is that we don’t ask.
(Ill.) When I was growing up, some say I was a little spoiled. My parents would typically get me things that I asked for. (Not always, but often). Do you know why I got stuff? Because I asked. My brother on the other hand, either out of fear of asking or fear it wouldn’t be answered would rarely ask for anything - and do you know what? He didn’t get all the things I did.
Don’t misunderstand, he wasn’t wanting for anything. He still had 100’s of matchbox cars & video games. They gave him a car when he turned 16. And a lot of our stuff was communal, so I would ask for it & he’d get to enjoy it. But I wonder how much more he could have enjoyed if he’d just went to them & asked?
Maybe you’re missing out on blessings in your life simply because you don’t ask? I know God knows your heart… but as a daddy, I want to hear my children ask me for something before I give it. It shows confidence that they have in you. It shows dependence that they have in you!
Some prayers go unanswered simply because they’ve never been asked
Asking Amiss (Jam. 4:3)
Jam. 4:3 “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”
Here’s the thing though, it’s not just about what we ask for, it’s about WHY we’re asking in the first place. It’s not the request, but the motivation behind it.
(Ill.) I have a dear friend of mine (bro. Gene) who started a side business several years ago. He started it not to get rich, but as a means to support more missions. Well time and trials passed and that side business has become a multi-million dollar company. God blessed that business because of the prayer and the motivation for it. I spoke w/ him recently and he was talking about (I think to his accountant) about a dip in the forecasted business and they asked him what he was going to do. Do you know what his answer was? ‘I’m going to give more! It’s worked every time I tried it!’.
Maybe if you’re prayers are not getting answered, it’s because you’re asking amiss
Lack of faith (Jam. 1:6-7)
Jam. 1:6-7 “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.”
This is a point that is important to consider. Let me ask you this: When you pray, do you really believe that God will answer your prayer? If not, why not? Are you afraid that He can’t or He won’t?
This can be a little tricky because of a few different factors:
Maybe what you’re asking for is out of the Will or Plan of God
Maybe you’re asking to ‘consume it upon your lust’
Mind you, the closer you get to God, the more your Will will align with His
Maybe what you’re asking for is not God’s decision
(Ill.) Such as when you’re praying for a lost soul. It’s certainly God’s Will to save them, but it’s not God’s decision. Therefore instead of just praying to save them, pray God give you the words & boldness to speak to them - or to send another
Let me say this: Whatever is within God’s Will, His Plan and His Purview, He has the Power to Perform! So when we pray, just believe that God will answer your prayer - and if He doesn’t, just trust God that He knows best and His Will be done! (We’ll speak more on this later on)
A Lack of Faith can hinder our prayers
Once the Door is Shut (Mat. 25:12; Luk. 13:25)
Mat. 25:1-13 - Parable of the 10 virgins Mat. 25:12 “But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.”
Luk. 13:24-25 “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:”
Sometimes God gives opportunity, but for whatever reason, we don’t take advantage of it, then God shuts that door & after it’s shut that’s it. You’ve missed the boat. Now this can happen in many instances, but I want to share two specifically today.
First the COI and Canaan’s Land. (Tell the story) After bringing them out of Egypt, God brought them to Canaan’s Land, but their unbelief kept them from entering. God said ‘Ok, then you will all die here in this wilderness.’ After that they said ‘Oh, no - we’ll go’ and they tried to take the land, but God wasn’t with them - He’d shut the door.
God had a better life for the COI than the wilderness but they never got it.
Secondly it’s found in Luk. 16. (Read Luk. 16:19-31. Two prayers: first found in v24; second found in v27-28. Both went unanswered.
Listen, if you leave this world in your sins. There will come a day when you’re crying out for mercy. YOU’RE desiring a drop of water. YOU’LL want to see your lost family saved - but your prayers will go unanswered. The door is shut.
II. Private Prayer (v5-6)
II. Private Prayer (v5-6)
Instruction against Pride
Invitation to Intimacy
Implication to Impart
III. Personal Prayer (v7-8)
III. Personal Prayer (v7-8)
Understand your Audience
Understand His Awareness
Invitation is two-fold.
First, if you’re lost today, I want you to know that as of right now, the door of your opportunity to get saved is still open. But for how long, no one knows.
Secondly, maybe Christian you have heard this message and part of it has pricked your heart. You recognize there’s things in your life that are hindering your fellowship with God. Why don’t you get that taken care of today?