"We Must Acknowledge God!"

As there are some folks who are coming to our church and are new to the faith, as well as the rest of our congregation we must be firmly rooted in the fundamentals of the faith. Over the last several months we have been looking at the foundations of our faith, and making sure that we help believers build a foundation on the solid rock of God and His Word. Today is another brick in the foundation of our faith and this solid rock is the rock of prayer.
John Calvin the great Swiss Reformer said,

“Prayer is the principal and perpetual exercise of faith and the chief element of piety. Prayer shows God’s grace to the believer even as the believer offers praises to God and asks for His faithfulness.” John Calvin.

The main purpose of prayer is the humbly come before God and express our submission to the sovereignty of God and our trust in His faithfulness. Prayer is the main way we express to God what is in our hearts. Prayer is not telling God what we want Him to do for us or even giving God information, why, because God knows everything. Prayer begins as a reverent communion with God, worshiping Him and acknowledging Him as the giver of everything that we have in this life. Paul reminds us in his letter to the church at Philipi what prayer is, in it’s simplest form.
Philippians 4:6–7 ESV
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Three Questions to Consider:

1. What is the purpose of Prayer?

There are many times where it can be easy for us to wonder about prayer and the importance of it. Let me give you 3 reasons for the purpose of prayer. The Gospel of John tells us that prayer brings glory to God. In other words it is something that every believer should see as a benefit, but also as an opportunity for God too manifest His goodness and glory.
John 14:13 ESV
13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
A. For the Believer, prayer is a learning experience that must be developed into a spiritual discipline.
In Luke chapter 11 we see this interesting conversation that is taking place between the Lord and His disciples. The conversation is on prayer. Notice here in verse 1 of chapter 11 of what the disciples asked of Jesus???
Luke 11:1 ESV
1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
The disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. We are going to look at this more in just a moment. But, then we see that Paul tells us in Romans chapter 8 that the Holy Spirit helps us to pray when we do not know how to pray or what to pray for. I tell you this today because there may come times in your life where this will happen. So, call out to God and express your uncertainty, and trust the Holy Spirit to intercede for you.
B. Second, Prayer is communication with God.
When we pray, we begin to see that this is our direct communication line with God. And God’s Word helps us to see that God is very interested in us and our personal struggles.
Psalm 34:15 ESV
15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.
Over and over again David brought his petitions before the Lord. David also brought his complaints and troubles to God, and so must we.
Psalm 142:2 ESV
2 I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.
So, the question may come before you today, on how exactly are we to approach the Lord? How exactly are we too seek God?
Hebrews 4:16 ESV
16 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.
Do you need help today? Do you need wisdom in making the right decision? Then come before the Lord your God with confidence knowing that there is nothing too big or too hard for God. Cast all your worries and anxiety on Him! Why??? 1 Peter chapter 5 tells us because He cares for you. Will you come to God today and tell him that you need help and guidance? Will you begin by confessing your sin and your need for a Savior?
C. Third, Prayer is effective and it can and will change situations. In fact, we are encouraged to pray expecting results.
There are many times throughout Scripture that we see answered prayer. In Acts chapter 12 we see one of those examples.
Acts 12:5–7 ESV
5 So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. 6 Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. 7 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands.
Peter was in prison and the church began to earnestly pray for him. Notice in verse 7 how God answered their prayers. An angel of the Lord helped Peter, and his chains fell off his hands. WoW!!! Clearly this was not man’s doing, but only could have come from God. God answered the church as they gathered to pray for their leader. Again, prayer is effective and we are encouraged to pray expecting results.
You may be here today and say, why pray? Why pray if God is sovereign and all things have been decreed by Him? Please here me today church, God not only ordains the end or the results, but He also ordains the means or the methods. So, one of the means is through our prayers. By praying, we are not changing God’s mind, but we are aligning ourselves with His will.

2. How do we pray, and what should we pray for?

This is two questions bundled as one. Throughout the Scriptures we see that God encourages and commands believers to persevere in prayer. In fact in Luke chapter 18 we see that the Lord’s disciples are encouraged with this very thing. Jesus is teaching them that they should always pray and not lose heart. This is wonderful encouragement for us today as we deal with so many difficult things. We must pray and not lose heart church.
Luke 18:1 ESV
1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
As we begin to see the importance of prayer in our own lives, we will begin to see and even understand what Christ desires for us in this communication that we have with him. In fact, God’s will for us as believers in Christ Jesus is that we pray as often as we can. We see this mentioned several times in the New Testament.
Ephesians 6:18 ESV
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
-When should believers pray? At all times. What Paul has in mind here is that we must be persistent and persevere in our prayers. Keep going don’t stop even if you are discouraged. Here is one other similar text.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV
17 pray without ceasing,
God’s will for believers is that we should pray without ceasing. Again this does not mean pray without taking a break, but seek God persistently or as often as you can. As we begin to do this in our personal lives we will be encouraged, and see just how mighty and powerful prayer truly is. What happens is that you will begin to have a confidence in the Lord as you pray. We actually see this in 1 John chapter 5.
1 John 5:14 ESV
14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
Now clearly we don’t pray and ask the Lord to give us whatever we want and He does, but as we ask according to the Lords will and He will hear us. We know that even Jesus prayed and was in constant communion with the Father. We see that there were many times that Christ himself rose early in the morning and got away to pray. There was an intensity in His prayers, and often we see that there was great agonizing when He prayed. As we think today about how Christ prayed the good news is that He leaves us with a model or pattern on how to pray, and what to pray for. Turn with me to Matthew chapter 6. Let us look at this pattern.
Matthew 6:9–13 ESV
9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Begin by Praying to the Father who is in Heaven. As God’s children we come to Him humbly and submit to His authority.
Second, we should exalt God or revere and praise His name. Take time to praise God for all His blessings that He has given you.
Third, we must submit to God. We do this by praying for His kingdom to come. Pray for others to be saved and God’s will to be done.
Next, Look to God and seek Him. Begin to pray for God’s will to be done. Pray that your will would align with His will. “Give us this day our daily bread.” This is a petition for our needs and necessities. We must recognize that God is our provider. Remember today that He cares for you and wants to supply your needs.
“Forgive us our debts.” What are debts? This is speaking about our sin. This is a prayer of confession. Confess your sins to God and then know that God will forgive you.
1 John 1:9 ESV
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
6. “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Depend on Christ or trust in Christ. James 4:7 tells us to submit to God and He will help you to resist the temptations of the devil. The importance here is that this is just a pattern for prayer or an example to help us seek God. I now want to help you understand several types of prayers.
Four Important Areas of Prayer:
A: Adoration = Reflect your prayers on God Himself. Praise the Lord for all of His Wonderful Attributes. His majesty, and His gift of salvation in that of His Son Christ.
C: Confession = Take time to admit to God that you have sinned. Be honest with God and be humble. Remember that God knows you better than anyone, and that He loves you. As you confess your sin with a humble and contrite heart it is also important to know that He will forgive you of your sin.
T: Thanksgiving = Tell God how grateful you are for everything He has given you, even the unpleasant things. Your thankfulness will help you to see God purposes.
S: Supplication = Begin to share your specific requests with the Lord. Pray first for the requests that you have for others and than come to God for your own personal requests.

3. Why do I struggle to pray?

Today there are many Christians who find that it is a struggle to pray. They often get so busy that there is little time for God, after all they have to work, provide for the family, have some down time and get their rest, only to realize that they have never met with God as they go about their day. So, prayer is hard work, and sometimes it can be discouraging, but that should never keep us from seeking the Lord. Let me give you two things to consider when it comes to the fact that you may be struggling in your prayer life.
1. We should still seek God even when we are frustrated or discouraged. There were many times when David himself was discouraged. Not only did David face many enemies who were constantly coming after him, but there were times that David felt alone, and felt as though God had forgotten him. Turn with me to Psalm 13.
Psalm 13:1–2 ESV
1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
There were times in David’s life that he felt alone and that God had abandoned him. There were times where David cried out to the Lord and he did not feel as if God was answering him. In Psalm 22 we see David’s complaint, but I also want you to notice the progression of David’s prayers. Let’s begin in verse 2.
Psalm 22:2 ESV
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
-In verse 2 we see that David is discouraged and wonders why God does not answer him. How many times do we feel the same as David? You may feel that God does not hear you or even answer your prayers. I think that it can be easy to get frustrated or even discouraged when it comes to praying.
-We then come to verses 3-6 David recognizes and remembers God’s past faithfulness. As David thinks through all of this he considers God, and is humbled.
-In verses 7-18 David now pours out his burdens to the Lord.
-In verses 19-21 David calls on God for help and asks for the Lord’s assistance.
-In verses 22-24 David is moved to praise God for he knows that God cares.
-In verses 25-28 David is lifted up.
What we learn here is that when we are discouraged, we need to recognize God as our help, and remember how He cared for us in the past. We need to cast our burdens upon Him. This leads us to encouragement and to give praise to God.
2. Second, Prayer is governed by God’s sovereignty, and His purposes determines His answers to our prayers. Clearly we know this to be true and we see the many examples of this throughout Scripture. Here are just a few.
-Sometimes God answers our prayers immediately.
Isaiah 65:24 ESV
24 Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.
-Sometimes as we seek the Lord, the answers to our prayers are delayed.
Luke 18:7 ESV
7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?
And yet at the same time we are encouraged to continue to keep on praying. In other words, we are to be persistent in our prayers. There have been many times over the years where I have heard a parent or missionary tell me about praying for certain individuals to come to know the Lord and many years down the road the Lord saves this person. Behind all of this was persistent praying.
Luke 18:1 ESV
1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
-Finally, sometimes God answers our prayers differently than we desire or want. This happened in Paul’s life as he was praying about some difficult things in his life.
2 Corinthians 12:7–9 ESV
7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
One last thing that I need to speak about here on the sovereignty of God in prayer is that there is a huge movement today, claiming from God one’s petitions. They are saying that God spoke to them and told them this exact thing.
-Let me just say that when we pray we are to pray according to God’s will not our own or even what we think. We need to align our will with the will of God.
-Also the ultimate point or purpose of prayer is to bring honor and glory to God.
Get alone with God as often as you can. Give your heart and your mind to God and be specific as you pray. Surrender your requests to God’s wise and loving plan, acknowledging your willingness to receive His answer with thankfulness.
(Pray and Have Nate explain Communion)
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