Faith, Obedience, and Prayer

Matt Redstone
Prayer Changes Everything  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  23:05
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PRAYER! It is one of the most important disciplines in a believer's life, yet it is often the most misunderstood! That is why we are taking an entire series, devoted to addressing what prayer is and why it is so important. You are invited to come with questions, and we hope to answer them all by the time we are done!



opening thoughts
what does it mean to have faith when we pray?
what does it mean to pray in Jesus name?
Does obedience play a role in answered prayer

What does it mean to have faith when we pray?

this morning I’m going to pick on the disciples. There are times I think the disciples get a bad wrap unnecessarily. There are times, like these two stories, where they maybe get too much benefit of the doubt.
Matthew 17:14–20 NLT
At the foot of the mountain, a large crowd was waiting for them. A man came and knelt before Jesus and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. So I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.” Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy, and it left him. From that moment the boy was well. Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
if you’re reading in your Bible, you will notice that v.21 is missing. In the footnotes, it probably has v.21, which says, “This kind of demon won’t leave except by prayer and fasting”
If faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains, then the amount of faith we have isn’t the problem
it is verse 21 that actually shows what the disciples are missing: their commitment to remain in prayer. The quality of their faith was the problem.
The gospel of Mark especially highlights times when the Jesus was praying and the disciples were sleeping. THe implication in both scenarios is that Jesus would have prefered them praying

What role does obedience play in answered prayer?

we talked about how sometimes God will call us to action as an answer to prayer.
but do we really need to follow what the Lord is saying? Is obedience optional?
Luke 17:1–10 NLT
One day Jesus said to his disciples, “There will always be temptations to sin, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting! It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin. So watch yourselves! “If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.” The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you! “When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me’? No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’ And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not. In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.’ ”
There is so much lost in the English translation.
Jesus is trying to teach about forgiveness, and the disciples’ response is a cheeky one. They are essentially telling Jesus that if He expects them to exercise that kind of forigveness, He is going to have to increase their faith
Jesus’ response is a parable about a servant. A servant doesn’t get to negotiate with his master; he simply does as he is told
Jesus is telling the disciples that they are going to operate with that kind of forgiveness simply because he told them to
I think we struggle with this concept in Western society. Our kids argue and talk back, trying to negotiate and get their way. We don’t have slaves and masters, we have bosses and employees and those employees have rights, which they can be quick to exercise.
In many other countries, people understand concepts like honor, authority, and heirarchy. People understand that you do as your told becuase someone in authority has told you to. What might seem like a harsh response by our standards is a simple reminder for the disciples.
How does this relate to pray? RC Sproul, in his book Does Prayer Change Anything, starts the books by saying, “It doesn’t matter if prayer changes anything. We pray because God has commanded us to pray.” It is this kind of mindset we need to adopt into every area of life and faith. We follow ALL of God’s word because we are called to obey. It is the willful failure to obey and unrepentance in our life that gets in the way of our answers.
which brings us to praying in Jesus’ name

Praying in Jesus name

has anyone ever noticed the care and attention in making sure that every prayer is capped with, “In Jesus name.” Why do we do that? Where did that come from?
John 14:13 NLT
You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.
ask anything in my name. So in order to ask for something in Jesus name, does that mean we tack, in Jesus name at the end and that stamps the prayer for instant approval? Anyone who has been a believer long enough and prayed enough knows that simply isn’t the case.
can anyone tell me how many prayers in the New Testament were finished with, “In Jesus name”? None. Not once did any of the apostles finish a prayer that way. Why? Because Jesus was not giving us a prayer formula, or a secret code word that would instantaneously get God’s attention everytime we incorporated it into our prayers.
So what does Jesus mean?

1. Jesus wants us to pray in a way that is consistent with His character

in the ancient world, someone’s name represented them as a person and their character. It is why Solomon said in Proverbs 22:1
Proverbs 22:1 NLT
Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.
to pray in Jesus’ name is to pray in a way truly reflects Him and the way He lived His life
What Would Jesus Do is a good question to come back to

2. Jesus wants us to pray according to His will

this is another one of those teachings, if you do this, God will hear us
1 John 5:14–15 NLT
And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.
this is why it is so important to have a renewed mind, so we can know what the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God is (Romans 12:2)
even if you aren’t sure, James 1:5 says that if you lack wisdom in anything, to ask God, for He gives freely and without restraint

3. Jesus wants us to pray and act with His authority

if you are praying consistent with His character and according to His will, then you have the power to carry out whatever you are asking for.
Acts 3:6 NLT
But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”
notice this: Peter is not praying in this moment. Peter is taking hold of the authority he has in Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, he is carrying out Jesus’ will for this guy.
this is the same Peter who struggled to cast the demon out of the little boy. He has learned his lesson, has remained dependent on the power of God and remained in His authority.
Try Something Different
In light of everything we’ve covered this morning, I want to put out this little challenge. This week, instead of praying and paying attention to close with, ‘in Jesus name’, try being more attentive to what you are praying about. Does you prayer represent Christ’s character? Is it consistent with His will? Remember, if you’re not sure about what God’s will is, ask Him to reveal it to you.
If you have checked those two boxes, are you willing to take hold of the authority in Christ to carry out His will in the situation?
My challenge for you is to not end your prayers, ‘in Jesus name’. Now I’m not asking you to be legalistic about it, but try it. Try being more attentive to the content and less worried about how you sign off. My hope is that you will see a new side to prayer, that you will grow in power, and experience the authority of Jesus in your life.
Let’s Pray

1. What stood out to you in this morning’s message?

2. Which aspect of ‘praying in Jesus name’ stood out to you? Which one are you strong in? Which one do you need to grow in?

3. What do you think of the challenge this week? Will it be hard to not sign off your prayer with, ‘in Jesus name’?

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