Celebration of Discipline  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:22:49
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What is prayer?

Communication with God, primarily offered in the second-person voice (addressing God directly). May include petition, entreaty, supplication, thanksgiving, praise, hymns, and lament.

Prayer is not exclusive to Christianity, however,

The biblical examples of prayer portray Yahweh as a God who listens, not a deity who is distant or must be cajoled into attending the affairs of humanity.

Prayer is coming into communication with the living and active God...
Prayer is not good thoughts, feelings, karma, or a magic genie...
It is a conversation stemming from a relationship with God...
Prayers moves us from the:
Physical to the Spiritual
Temporal to the Eternal
From self-focus to God-focus
Prayer is about talking with God, but maybe even more-so, listening to God
“A man prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. But he became more and more quiet until in the end he realized that prayer is listening.” - Soren Kierkegaard
Prayer is communicating with God and allowing God to communicate with you!
When I looked up prayer in the NIV translation, there were 222 results of the word pray, prayer, praying...
This does not include anytime prayer was present but they didn’t use the word pray...
These results are simply from the word pray, prayer, or praying..
So, I felt like it would be good to go through several, not all 222, but several scriptures just to give us an overview of prayer in the bible..
I started this sermon with all of the verses that I was going to use and realized it was just too many.
So, we are going to just look at the OT today and next week finish up with the NT.
So, you are going to want to be here next week as well!
We will start with Genesis of course and make out way through… now, my goal is not to dive into each instance and give complete details on all of them, but to touch on several, so we can get a biblical idea of prayer
Let’s begin with the first recorded conversation with God!
Genesis 2:15–17 NIV
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Here is this beautiful garden, take care of it, oh and, don’t eat from that one tree...
And, immediately following
Genesis 2:18 NIV
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
We then jump to Genesis 3 and we see the fall...
Right after, we have this beautiful picture
Genesis 3:8 NIV
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Isn’t it such a cool picture to image God walking in the garden???
But, Adam and Eve had to mess that up!
And as one of the consequences
Genesis 3:23–24 NIV
23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
And now, we don’t have God walking with man anymore...
This changes the mode of communication that man has with God...
Man is now no longer in the direct presence of God like they were in the garden, but we see that God still talks to his people
We then see God speak with Cain...
We then see God speaking with Noah..
Genesis 6:13 NIV
13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.
The next time we see God speaking to people is the tower of Babel...
And, then to Abraham...
We know that Abraham had several conversations with God, as did others, such as Hagar
but it wasn’t until chapter 20 of Genesis that we see the word “prayer”
After Sodom and Gomorrah
Abraham travels to Gerar where Abimelek is king
Abraham says that Sarah is his sister Abimelek takes her as a wife
Genesis 20:7 NIV
7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”
Genesis 20:17 NIV
17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again,
So, I want you to catch the power of prayer in the coming verses...
We start here in Genesis 20 with Abraham praying to God and God healing Abimelek, his wife and the females and they could then have children again...
We look to Isaac a bit later and see
Genesis 25:21 NIV
21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.
Let’s jump a bit forward to Moses
God continues to speak to people and we come down to Moses and this is where we see prayer in the sense that we understand it become more prominent..
If you’re taking notes, you may want to write some of these down!
Wondering in the wilderness...
Numbers 11:1–2 NIV
1 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. 2 When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down.
So, we have seen women who can’t have children, now have children...
We see here fire stopping
Again in the wilderness
Numbers 21:4–6 NIV
4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” 6 Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.
Numbers 21:7–9 NIV
7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.
Here we have a consequence of their sin is being bitten by snakes and many dying...
Moses prays and God has them put a snake on a pole, look to is, and they are healed...
BTW, this is a foreshadowing of what Christ is going to do for us!
Moses is sharing with the Israelites
Deuteronomy 4:7 NIV
7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?
Moses understands that the thing that separates their God from others is that He is near to them! He hears them and answers them!
Of course, then we have the 10 commandments and conversation with the burning bush
After God gives Moses the 10 commandments and he comes down to see they made the golden statues
Deuteronomy 9:18–19 NIV
18 Then once again I fell prostrate before the Lord for forty days and forty nights; I ate no bread and drank no water, because of all the sin you had committed, doing what was evil in the Lord’s sight and so arousing his anger. 19 I feared the anger and wrath of the Lord, for he was angry enough with you to destroy you. But again the Lord listened to me.
Deuteronomy 9:20 NIV
20 And the Lord was angry enough with Aaron to destroy him, but at that time I prayed for Aaron too.
Here is one of the first times that we see God changes His plan in response to Moses’ prayer
Note here that prayer affects God!
God said he was going to destroy the Israelites until Moses interceded for them!
Again, possibly another foreshadowing of what Christ will do for us!
Let’s not rush forward without hammering home that God honored Moses and His prayers..
Let’s jump forward to judges, where we have Samson
Judges 16:28–30 NIV
28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
We see again God responding to a man who didn’t deserve it, but crying out to Him!
We have the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel - she couldn’t have a child and prayed to the Lord
1 Samuel 1:20 NIV
20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”
Saul prayed to the Lord
And then we have king David, who is likely one of the best prayers in the Bible.
We have the “Man of God” in 1 Kings 13 that came to the altar prophesying the coming Josiah of the line of David…
King Jeroboam stretched out his hand to tell them to seize the man and his arm shriveled
1 Kings 13:6 NIV
6 Then the king said to the man of God, “Intercede with the Lord your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God interceded with the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before.
Elijah with the rain
Elijah and the widow
1 Kings 17:12–13 NIV
12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” 13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.
1 Kings 17:14–16 NIV
14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’ ” 15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.
Elijah with the fire - gods of Baal
2 Kings 6:17–18 NIV
17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.
Women that are baron can now have babies
Healing to people
God responding and honoring Moses’ prayers
Shriveled arm
Rain and not rain
Eyes be open to see spiritual realm
Blindness on enemies..
Fire stopping...
Fire falling down with Elijah and..
2 Chronicles 7:1 NIV
1 When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.
We are familiar with the promise of God in...
2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
We then jump to Hezekiah
2 Chronicles 32:24 NIV
24 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the Lord, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign.
Manasseh prayed and God moved
2 Chronicles 33:13 NIV
13 And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.
Who hears the words that the temple had been destroyed
Nehemiah 1:4 NIV
4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
Then God answers by not only King Artaxerxes blessing him, but sending along guards, giving him a letter of his approval and gives him materials..
Job - who is super close with God continually praying to Him through all of his trials and temptations
We talked about David already, but see that the...
Psalms are filled with prayers
Psalm 32:6 NIV
6 Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them.
Psalm 69:13 NIV
13 But I pray to you, Lord, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.
Lots of prayers and wisdom in Isaiah
Shad Mes Abed who constantly prayed to God and went into the fire without being burned
Daniel 6:10 NIV
10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.
Guess what, lions didn’t touch him...
Jonah 2:1 NIV
1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.
All prophets who spoke with God...
So, this is a quick overview of the OT...
We didn’t talk about many of the stories in there of miracles and things that God did through prayer...
We, as the people of God, need to pray!
Prayer works!
Next week we will talk about prayer in the NT and drive home some of these points a bit more...
I encourage you this week to practice the discipline of prayer!
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