Foundational Prayer

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Essentials of Faith Series Part 2 "Foundational Prayer"


Foundational Prayer

Colossians 4:2-4

Amen and Amen
I heard a story the other day about a man who encountered some trouble while flying his airplane. He called the control tower and said, "Pilot to tower, I'm 300 miles from the airport, six hundred feet above the ground, and I'm out of fuel. I am descending rapidly. Please advise. Over." "Tower to pilot," the dispatcher began, "Repeat after me: "Our Father Who art in heaven...'"
Prayer is an untapped resource, an unexplored continent where untold treasure remains unearthed. It is talked about, preached about, more than anything else, and yet it is practiced less than anything else. And for the Believer, it remains one of the greatest gifts that our Lord has given us outside of salvation.
Would you pray with me?
If you are in agreement, let us say Amen.
This morning, we begin the second week of our sermon series, Essentials of Faith.
What I call the essentials of faith are those things that are needed to live our lives to walk worthy of the Lord.
These are essentials that every Believer should believe and practice as we live out this life.
I know that the beginning of the year is the perfect time to speak about such subjects and sermons that are often overlooked but essential to our faith.
Last week we began with fasting, and I introduced the call for a corporate fast of the church to start the year off right by placing God first at the beginning of the year. Tomorrow begins our fast and lasts 14 days.
We learned how fasting is an act of worship to God, and as such, fasting creates a hunger for God as we replace that hunger with spending time with God and His Word. Fasting also prepares us for God's work throughout the year. We also discussed how there is great power in corporate fasting or congregational fasting.
God’s gift of fasting disconnects us from those things in life that distracts us from Him. Therefore, as we fast and pray our connection to God becomes stronger, because we don’t have those distractions holding us back.
We discussed the four types of fasting:
The full fast- this is what your doctor has you do before lab work.
The partial fast- giving up certain foods for a period of time.
The absolute fast- eating drinking nothing for a period of time.
Then there is the Electronic fast- fasting from your games, social media, tv and more.
During the 14 days of fasting we are asking you to join us by choosing to fast the full 14 days, or to fast on certain days. The type of fast is up to you along with the time.
This week we are talking about fasting's partner, which is prayer. Prayer and fasting go hand in hand. Throughout the Word of God, we see this connection between prayer and fasting. In the Old Testament, Ezra called for a fast they as cried out to God, and the Bible says that God granted their request.
In the New Testament, we find in the book of Acts, the Church in Antioch prayed and fasted, and the Holy Spirit set apart Barnabas and Paul for God's work.
Fasting and prayer go hand in hand. Therefore today, I want to preach to you the word of "Foundational Prayer."
If you have your Bible with you today, and I hope that you do, I ask that you open it with me to the New Testament book of Colossians. Colossians chapter 4.
If you are unfamiliar where the book of Colossians is, you can find it by first locating the New Testament books of 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, then you will find Colossians. We will be in chapter 4 this morning.
Paul begins his closing remarks to the Believers of the Church in Colossae by addressing the foundations of prayer. The Gospel came to the city Colossae when a man named Epa-Fras heard Paul preaching one day at Ephesus. He became a believer in Jesus like many of us today. He went back to his hometown and began preaching and telling people about Jesus. Which then started a church. A few years later, Epa-fras goes out to find Paul because the church has started to listen to outside influences – false teachers saying that Jesus is a nice guy, but for you to be religious, you have to be and have more than Him. They need something more than Jesus.
Let me ask you, has someone ever told you that you are not religious enough?
Years ago, when I was searching for God in my life, I had a person tell me that I wasn't worshipping God "quote-unquote" the right way. And that turned me off about Church.
So I know that things like that happen in Biblical days even in today's church.
I recently heard a story that a person went to another and told them they could not wear specific clothing in church. Some people tell others that they are not good enough for church or tell others that a church isn't good enough for them. And that is not true. Listen, we are a church of imperfect people, being made perfect through the work on the cross and resurrection of Christ.
So what Paul did was he wrote this young church, reminding them that there may be many people out there who think they are the saviors of the world, many false teachers, but there is only one true Savior named Jesus Christ, and it is through Him that receive eternal salvation.
Now I know that some people think that being spiritual means that a person goes one day from not being religious to being religious or that a religious person is one who prays every day--- and that's not it. What it means is when we go from being dead in our trespasses against God, to being alive through Christ, then our faith begins to mature through our relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Then we begin to have a deeper relationship with understanding Christ more and applying it to the non-spiritual places in our lives, the more complicated areas of our lives, such as our marriages, being husband, wife, father, mother, our families, in our work environment, and even in our neighborhoods.
Our faith grows and matures through this process of a relationship. It is not about religion; it is about the relationship.
So this early church was struggling in some areas. Paul closes his letter reminding them that their responsibility is to KNOW Jesus personally and to grow relationally with Jesus, which comes through prayer and communication to God.
So Paul addresses this personal connection, the congregational prayer, giving the church some essential foundations of prayer.
Well, if you are there in Colossians Chapter four, begin reading with me from verse 4. This is the Word of God, and it begins like this.

"Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; 3 meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak."

I believe what Paul is saying here is that prayer is essential for the church as well as an individual development in Christ.
F.B. Meyer, the author of the Secret of Guidance, said,
"The great tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer."
He is talking about our failure to communicate with God. If we are truthful about our spiritual condition, we find that prayer can be one of the most undisciplined areas of our lives. I believe we are undisciplined because we fail to see the benefit or the results of prayer.
Prayer develops our relationship with God, strengthening our faith, especially when combined with fasting.
Paul understood prayer and its power.
Prayer was unquestionably a part of his daily life, and if you read through the books that Paul wrote, you will find that over and over again, he calls us to pray.
We find that in our scripture today is the perfect connection to combining prayer with fasting. Although it does not say to pray and fast, the steps that Paul speaks about undoubtedly will increase as we fast and pray.
Which brings us to our take-home truth today



In today's world, we are seeking hope as we reckon with a global pandemic, racial injustices, and an economic crisis that is happening to us all. Many of the hardships are being wrapped into our daily challenges of life.
Today, more than ever, prayer is an essential element in our lives and faith. We should turn to God for direction and the choices He wishes us to make for ourselves and His Church.
Look at it this way; our bodies run out of energy and need to be replenished. It is the same spiritually and the same for the church. We cannot live a vibrant, energetic, and active life of faith when we run out of spiritual strength.
Prayer helps us renew that spiritual strength daily. The Apostle Paul needed to be replenished daily for himself. He also knew it for the church, and as such, he gave the church specific instructions on the foundation of prayer.
Notice with me that the four steps we take from Paul's instructions to the church.

Four Foundations to make prayer essential in our lives and to make it the life blood of the Church.


Notice with me the very first part of verse 2; "Continue earnestly in prayer."
Now those words "Continue Earnestly" in other versions they are described as: DEVOTE yourselves to prayer." or "Continue steadfastly in prayer."
"Continue earnestly" is one word in the original language. It is translated to "persist in, to persevere, to be constantly diligent, or remain devoted to or to give unremitting care to." It carries with it the idea of dedication.
Of the ten times theses words are used in the New Testament, four of them have to do with being devoted to prayer being persistent to prayer.
Paul's words imply that we are already doing and should keep doing the practices of what we are already doing.
Keep doing what you are doing, but now add to it be devoted to prayer. We find that Paul uses the same language that is found in Acts chapter 2:42 the Bible gives us a detailed description of what the people of God were like in the 1st church; "they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers."
The Bible tells us several things about prayer; the word Pray is mentioned 313 times in the Bible depending on the version you read; prayer is used 114 times, prayed 45 times, praying 20 times for 512 times prayer is mentioned in the Bible.
God not only expects us to pray, but His Son Jesus taught us how to pray the Lord's prayer in Luke 11:1-4. We are told by Paul to "pray without ceasing." 1st Thessalonians 5:17
Ephesians 6:18-20 we read, "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."
God expects the Believer to be in an active prayer mode in LIFE, AND the church is supposed to be a prayerful church; it is an activity that we do continually. To continue earnestly and steadfastly in prayer means that not only we are devoted to prayer but we pray with persistence.
Think about when Jesus taught about the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18. He spoke of this parable so that the disciples would always pray and not become discouraged.
The widow was seeking justice from her adversary, and the Judge would not give it to her. She continually came to him requesting justice, over and over and over again until he finally gave her justice because she persisted.
She was so devoted to the cause that she became relentless, persistent with her request.
Jesus related this to prayer, teaching us to be persistent, devoted, earnestly in prayer.
Folks, prayer should come before anything we do, in our personal life and the life of the church. The church should be an example of what to do. We should be an example of prayer; we should lead people to pray for everything in their lives, no matter what it is. So Paul explains that we must continue to be loyal- unchanged, faithfully engaged, persistent when it comes to prayer.
First, we must pray with persistence.


Notice those words that the Apostle Paul wrote in V2 "Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it."
In the original tex the word is to watch, which translates to being alive and active.
It seems to reason that if you are persistent in something, you are passionate about it.
In fact, Paul says we should be vigilant or be watchful; it is the opposite of laziness. This describes passionate prayer.
When we look at Jesus, we find that He was passionate about His prayer life; it was something He was always doing.
S.D. Gordon, in his book, Quiet Talks on Prayer, wrote; How much prayer meant to Jesus! It was not only His regular habit but his resort in every emergency, however slight or serious. When perplexed, he prayed. When hard pressed by work, he prayed. When hungry for fellowship, he found it in prayer. He chose his associates and received his messages upon his knees. If tempted, he prayed. If criticized, he prayed.
If fatigued in the body or wearied in spirit, he had recourse to his one unfailing habit of prayer.
Prayer brought him unmeasured power at the beginning and kept the flow unbroken and undiminished. There was no emergency, no difficulty, no necessity, no temptation that would not yield to prayer.
And every time we see Jesus praying, He was praying with passion.
In Luke 3:1, at His Baptism, while He was praying, heaven was opened. Passionate prayer opens Heaven.
In Luke 6:12, before He called His disciples - He spent the whole night in prayer. Passionate prayer gives direction.
In Luke 9:29, at the transfiguration - And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. Passionate prayer enables us to experience the glory of the Father.
In John 17, in His high priestly prayer - Passionate prayer impacts the lives of others.
In Matthew 26:39 in the Garden of Gethsemane - It is only through passionate prayer that we can pour out our hearts to God.
In Luke 23:24, as He hung on the cross - a life that is lived in passionate prayer will enable us to maintain that spirit, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
Jesus always prayed with passion because He knew who He was talking to, and He knew that prayer to the Father is a powerful thing and not something to take lightly.
Prayer from the heart, that's what passionate prayer is.
Jesus has taught us through His example how to pray with passion, and the Apostle Paul affirms it.
Passionate prayer is not about the lofty words; it is about what is in our heart, asking, searching, seeking, longing to speak to and to hear from God.
As we fast, we should be passionate as we seek God's purpose and will for His church and us.
To be effective in prayer, we need to develop a passion for prayer; we must pray with persistence and passion.


Look back to our scripture at verse 2 "Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;"
At the beginning of Paul's letters, he always with the exception of one letter begins by praying and thanking God for them and their achievements.
Paul was thankful for the church in the opening of this letter even while he was in prison. Paul is thankful for the men that helped him reach out to other people and churches.
Paul also expressed how much we should pray with a thankful heart.
Ephesians 5:20 Paul writes that thanksgiving is the natural result of being filled with and walking under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Philippians 4:6 tells us to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”
1 Thessalonians 5:18, we read “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Colossians 3:17 says that as believers, everything we say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus as we give thanks to Him.
Paul told Timothy in 1st Timothy 4:4 - says that food and marriage are good things given to us by God and are to be received with thanksgiving and gratitude.
The problem I see, the world is no longer thankful; they have become entitled. Many churches and leaders have become infected with the entitled bug of the world.
On Wednesday night, I talked about the shoe-box prayer. Were people have managed to fit God in a shoe-box and store the box on a shelf.
When things are going well, there is no need for Him, but when the stuff hits the fan, they take the shoe box and open it and pray to God, then they put the shoe-box back until the next disaster.
That sense of entitlement brought sin into the world; it is what made Cain kill his brother Able.
That sense of entitlement is the very reason the religious leaders stirred up the people so they could kill the Son of God.
However, the Word of God says that we should come before Him with a thankful heart putting aside anger, wrath, malice, lust, pride, sin.
What are we to be thankful for? The Bible tells us that we are to be thankful for what Jesus did on the cross, thankful for all the great things God does for the church and us. Thankful- not just in the moment of Salvation and Baptism. But in all regards of Life.
Having a thankful heart tells God of our dependence for Him.
It helps our relationship.
It communicates gratitude - proper attitudes.
It generates humility Before the Lord our God.
We must pray with persistence, passion, and a thankful heart for prayer to be essential.


Look at what Paul says in verses 3-4 "meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak."
Paul tells the church while praying with persistence, passion, and thankful heart, to intercede for them.
That is what intercession means. Intercessory prayer is basically praying for others; it is praying for God's will to be done in other people's lives.
I never knew what that meant for years until it was explained to me.
Paul is seeking intercessory prayer from the church.
Now notice with me that Paul is seeking specific prayer. He did not say pray for me an unspoken prayer; God knows what it is.
He specifically asked for prayer to share the Gospel, for God to open a door, in his present circumstance. Amen?
For God to open a door to share the Gospel in His present circumstance.
Billy Graham said that the secret to each crusade has been the power of God’s Holy Spirit moving to the prayer of millions of His people around the world.
The prayer opened a door for Billy Graham to share the Gospel to millions of people.
We are called to pray with persistence, passion, with a thankful heart, and for others.
Now that we understand the foundations of prayer, I want to turn our attention to this year's congregational prayer guidelines. Just as I called the church to congregational fasting, I am calling the church to a time prayer. These 14 days of prayer and fasting.
Too often, when we talk about prayer, we discuss personal prayer, either the lack of it or a how-to discussion to better our prayer life, and that is needed. However, what we see from this letter that Paul wrote to the church is this; Paul is seeking the church as a group of believers to pray for him.
In the book of Acts 4:31 After being released from the religious leaders, Peter and John went back to the church, and the church prayed for boldness. Also in Acts, we see the Disciples praying together to replace Judas as one of the twelve. Also, we see the new church meeting together and devoting themselves to prayer Acts 2:42.
The New Testament has several illustrations of congregational prayer.
Although there is not a lot of literature about congregational prayer and its effectiveness, there are many benefits to congregational prayer.
Congregational prayer creates unity in the church.
It creates one minded focus on the vision and mission of the church.
It's linked with the effectiveness of sharing the Gospel.
It brings the power of God.
It has great power when connected to fasting.
During the 14 day prayer and fast and beyond, we call the church to pray together for these seven prayers. In fact, these are for the year 2022.
You can reference your prayer and fasting card for our prayer guidelines for 2022.
I want us to pray that God would open up a door in each of these prayers! 2022 is about God opening doors.
1. For the Holy Spirit to anoint the church leadership with wisdom and endurance.
2. For each of us to have an active role in reaching our communities with the Gospel and spiritual renewal.
3. For God's focus to seek and invite young families to church and for God to be at the center of our growth.
4. To give each of us a heart of generosity for the church and ourselves to reach our spiritual and financial goals.
5. For those in our families who need salvation, healing, and spiritual renewal.
6. That God would use each of us and the church to bring a new spiritual awakening in North County, Saint Louis, and MO.
7. Each of us will be an example of unity in the church, my life, and community.
Remember that prayer is essential to our faith; as such, we are to pray with persistence, passion, a thankful heart, and intercession for others.
Join us during the next 14 days by selecting a day, a lunch, several days, or times to fast from food. For those who cannot do that, fast from your favorite TV shows, games, electronics. Spend that time reading the Word and praying through our prayer Guidelines and connecting to God.
Let's begin the year off right with our focus on God and His will.
Father as this year begins we ask this year to open doors to a greater relationship with you, for personal growth, for church growth. A door to be opened to reach our communities with the Gospel, to create unity in our church and the communities we live in.
Open doors Lord God for salvations and baptisms, evangelism and membership growth.
Amen and Amen
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