SECOND NATURE PRAYER January 19th, 2020 VIDEO – SECOND NATURE SLIDE 2 – TITLE WELCOME Good Morning! Welcome to Fox Valley Christian Church, where every member is a missionary. INTRO We are in the middle of our sermon series on Spiritual Disciplines. Where we are looking at some of the different spiritual disciplines. Not in an attempt to become Pharisees that are disciplined to practice different traditions and regulations … no, we want to pursue God and in so doing pursue godliness. 1 TIMOTHY 4:7-8 SLIDE 3 – SCRIPTURE 7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; SLIDE 4 – SCRIPTURE 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. We want to pursue God through the spiritual disciplines and allow these disciplines to transform us. This is of great value in every way. Last week we talked about Bible Intake, we talked about all the ways that we can be receiving the Word of God. But God not only has spoken clearly and powerfully to us through scripture, He also is a good listener. God hears our prayers. SLIDE 5 – TITLE I think one of the major problems with prayer is not necessarily “how do I pray?” Rather, it is “do I pray?” More than 17,000 people were surveyed about their prayer habits while attending a seminar on prayer for the purpose of spiritual awakening. You have to imagine that the people that would attend such a seminar find prayer to be important. At that seminar there were 2000 pastors and their wives present. When surveyed the average person there prayed on average for less than 5 minutes each day. The pastors and their wives averaged less than 7 minutes each day. We go to God when we are in need, but daily communication with our Father is Heaven is lacking and it is really easy to make people feel guilty about failure in prayer. That is absolutely not the intent of this sermon. But … we do need to recognize that prayer is important and if regular prayer is missing from your life, something is missing. If you are not following the example that Jesus has set us for prayer, then something is missing. It’s okay to recognize that something is missing, it is not okay to ignore it and remain complacent. So today … we are going to be looking at prayer and there are three things that I want you to see when it comes to prayer. PRAYER IS EXPECTED First, prayer is expected. I said the same thing about reading the Bible, it is expected. Jesus assumes that if we are following God, we will be readers of His Word. If we are following God, we will also pray because that is God’s will … and His will is good. When I say that things are expected … I know that this causes people to tense up a bit. People immediately say, “The only thing expected of me is that I have faith in God. The only thing expected of me is that I believe that God is Lord and He has saved me.” Great, then that means that you also believe what He teaches and that you recognize that He is Lord and so you desire to be obedient to His will. And God’s will is that you pray. JESUS EXPECTS US TO PRAY Don’t think of prayer as an impersonal requirement though. We have a personal Lord that when He speaks to us He consistently speaks in a way that shows the He naturally expects us to pray … MATTHEW 6:5 … And when you pray LUKE 11:9 … So I say to you: Ask … seek … knock LUKE 18:1 SLIDE 6 – SCRIPTURE 1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. God loves us so much that He personally appeared to us. He came down, as Christ, to walk with us … to talk with us … to make Himself known to us. SLIDE 7 – TITLE While He was here, making Himself known, He talked about the importance of prayer and He demonstrated the importance of prayer through how He prayed to the Father in Heaven. He even went so far as to put His Spirit in us so that when we do not even know the words to say, the Spirit can intercede and pray on our behalf. Jesus expects us to pray. GOD’S WORD MAKES IT CLEAR THAT GOD EXPECTS PRAYER But it’s more than that … God’s Word makes it clear that God expects us to pray. COLOSSIANS 4:2 SLIDE 8 – SCRIPTURE 2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. When we continue with steadfastness, we are devoted. Be devoted to prayer. When you make something a priority, when you will sacrifice for it, when you will give time to it, then you know you are devoted to it. God expects us to be devoted to prayer. 1 THESSALONIANS 5:16-18 SLIDE 9 – SCRIPTURE 16 Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. While devote yourself to prayer emphasizes prayer as an activity, pray without ceasing reminds us that prayer is a relationship. This verse doesn’t mean that the only thing we do is pray, but it means that communicating with God should always be on the forefront of our minds. When I hear good news, I can’t wait to call Jen and “rejoice” with her. I want to celebrate with her. When I hear bad news or when I am concerned or when I need help or advice … I can’t wait to call Jen and get her thoughts, advice, direction. She is on the forefront of my mind. God should be even more so on the forefronts of our minds. We should pray without ceasing. As we go through life, we should have continually be celebrating, mourning, questioning, venting … speaking … with God. SLIDE 10 – TITLE There are many scriptures on the importance of prayer, but these two are direct commands. That means: too little time, too many responsibilities, too many kids, too much work, too little desire … none of these exempt us from the expectation to pray. God expects us to be devoted to prayer and to pray without ceasing. A DIVINE INVITATION That being said … like pause here … because for some that is too much. We begin to get in our heads, “prayer is just an expectation, it is just a daily check list, it is an ‘I can’t eat until I pray’ kind of thing.” Yes, prayer is expected of us, but prayer is expected of us because we need it. Do not think of the expectation only as a divine command, it is also a royal invitation. HEBREWS 4:16 SLIDE 11 – SCRIPTURE 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. Prayer is in invitation from God for us to draw near to Him and to receive His mercy and His grace and His help and His guidance and His direction and His will and His purpose and His love for our lives. Jesus prayed. Jesus, when He took on flesh, prayed with such urgency. LUKE 5:16 SLIDE 12 – SCRIPTURE 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. Why? Because what Jesus was doing was demanding and He knew that prayer is needed. Prayer is expected because prayer is needed. We will not be like Jesus without prayer being an important part of our lives. SLIDE 13 – TITLE PRAYER IS LEARNED Here is the next thing I want you to see about prayer; prayer is learned. Many people are discouraged with prayer because they don’t know where to begin. They don’t know how to pray. It is all very confusing to them. Well, good news, prayer is learned. To pray as a maturing Christian, and to pray effectively, we must say with the disciples in Luke 11:1 “Lord, teach us to pray.” How do we learn to pray? BY PRAYING First, by praying. If you’ve ever learned a foreign language you know that you learn it best when you actually have to speak it. The same is true with prayer. There are many good resources for learning how to pray, but the best way is to practice prayer is to pray. I can listen to someone play guitar, I can read about playing the guitar, but until I pick the guitar up and begin to play … I will not actually be able to play the guitar. The Holy Spirit is our guide and as we begin to read, the Holy Spirit guides us in the truth of scripture. As we begin praying, the Holy Spirit guides us into deeper more mature prayers. BY MEDITATING ON SCRIPTURE Another way we can learn to pray is by meditating on scripture. I’ve heard it said that meditation is the missing link between Bible Intake and Prayer. I told you last week that meditation is not an emptying of our minds, rather it is focusing our minds on God’s Word and keeping it at the forefront of our minds as we go through life. Often we read the Bible, close it, and then try to shift into prayer. Psalm 19 is a great scripture showing the link between the words of God, meditating on them, and praying to God about them. PSALM 19:7-14 SLIDE 14 – SCRIPTURE 7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; SLIDE 15 – SCRIPTURE 9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 10 SLIDE 16 – SCRIPTURE 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. SLIDE 17 – SCRIPTURE 13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. SLIDE 18 – SCRIPTURE 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. After we intake scripture, meditation allows us to think deeply about what God has said to us. We think deeply about it, we digest it, and then we are able to speak to God about it and have a meaningful prayer. We pray about what we have encountered in the Bible, that has not become personalized through meditation. SLIDE 19 – TITLE We learn to pray by meditating on scripture and then praying to God about it. BY PRAYING WITH OTHERS Another way we learn to pray is by praying with others. The disciples learned to pray not only by hearing Jesus teach about prayer, but also by being with Him when He prayed. Let’s look at Luke 11:1 where the disciples say, “Lord teach us to pray.” LUKE 11:1 SLIDE 20 – SCRIPTURE 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." They were with Him when He prayed and because of His praying they wanted Him to teach them how to pray. We can learn to pray by praying with other people who can model true prayer for us. That is one of the great benefits of the prayer call. Even if you are not comfortable enough or able to pray verbally … you can still call in and listen to the prayers and pray in spirit. When I say that we learn to pray by praying with others … I am not saying that we can pick up new words or phrases to use in prayer. As will all learning by example, we can pick up bad habits as well as good ones. I have heard people pray who never seem to pray an original prayer. Every time they pray, they pray things that they have heard others pray that sounded elegant or eloquent. Like it’s shiny phrase ready for the picking. MATTHEW 6:7 SLIDE 21 – SCRIPTURE 7 "And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. These kinds of prayers are rarely from the heart. In these prayers God is often not the audience being addressed, rather these prayer are offered to impress the other people who are listening. When we pray with other believers we want to learn principles of prayer, not phrases for prayer. We want to learn the heart of what they are praying for, not just holy words to say. SLIDE 22 – TITLE Example: On the prayer calls when we prayed for the different communities around us … this is something I took to heart both last year and this year … one of the men on the prayer call works with a lot of ministers and churches, so when we pray through the communities he prays for them by name and he prays for the situations that they are going through and for the great things they are doing. Some of these things I would not know to be rejoicing about or to be praying on behalf of had this person not shared these things from their heart. Their prayers have allowed me to learn new things to be praying about. These prayers also remind and refocus me on the global Kingdom of God. Every time I am on a prayer call, no matter the topic, someone prays for an aspect of that topic that I had not thought of or that I had forgotten. It helps guide my prayers for the rest of the day as we pray through these differences focuses for the month. We can learn to pray by praying with others. No matter how difficult prayer might be for you now, if you will persevere in learning how to pray you will always have the hope of an even stronger and more fruitful prayer life ahead of you. PRAYER IS ANSWERED The final thing I want you to see with Prayer is that prayer is answered. Another reason people do not pray is that they do not feel that it is effective. They do not believe that praying actually does anything. JAMES 5:13-16 SLIDE 23 – SCRIPTURE 13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. SLIDE 24 – SCRIPTURE 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. SLIDE 25 – SCRIPTURE 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Prayer is powerful and effective. God answers our prayers. He says, “Ask and you will receive.” SLIDE 26 – TITLE So why do people doubt prayer? - Because not all prayers are answered exactly like I want them to be answered. Because not all people prayed for our physically healed. Because not all people prayed for survive in this life. Please do not think that if you pray to be healed physically and God does not heal you that there must be something wrong with you. That you must have weak faith. That could be part of the issue. You might not be praying a genuine prayer of faith in God … but that does not mean it is always the case. An unanswered prayer also does not mean that God is not listening or that He does not care. - - Sometimes what is going on in our lives is punishment and the repercussions of our choices. David prayed for the life of his son, but his son was already going to die because it was the consequences of his sin. Sometimes what is going on in our lives, even if we don’t recognize it … it is for good. At the time it may seem bad, but there is actually goodness in it. Sometimes when our prayers seem unanswered it is just because it is not yet time, it is not the best time for the prayer to be answered. It does not mean that it will remain unanswered, it merely means … wait. Important things to note about answered prayers or seemingly unanswered prayers: - God is a good God God is sovereign God’s will is always going to be better than our will, even if we don’t understand it The more you learn to pray, the more you draw close to God, the more you understand that we may outcry to God … but at the end of the day we trust His will and we desire His will so we begin to pray for His will. WALKING POINTS As we leave here … missionaries and missionaries in the making … I want to remind you that every great movement and sending in the Church was initiated with prayer. Prayer is expected, because prayer is powerful … will you take time and pray? Prayer is learned, just like any type of communication and relationship, it must grow … will you learn to pray? Prayer is answered, even if it is not answered how we hope it to be answered … will you persistently pray for God’s good and perfect will?