INTRO: When thou prayest... In conversations with numerous fellow disciples I think I hear agreement that prayer is a much neglected Christian resource. Both the study and the practice of prayer are often mentioned as needing more emphasis. And when I think of the position of prayer in maintaining our communication with God, I must agree. Prayer is one of the greatest power points in a Christians life. But if prayer is neglected, how are we to receive the blessing of prayer? In the brief moments of our study consider these prayer points.
I. PRIVACY OF PRAYER ... IT IS NOT FOR SHOW
A. Mt 6:5-7 - ...enter into thy closet...
1. not an injunction against public corporate prayer (cf. Acts 4:31a)
2. but the motive of prayer is the issue here
3. Pharisees loved to be heard & seen ... that is what they sought in praying ... They have their reward
B. Public & private prayer must be properly motivated
1. flowery prose, long speeches ... not necessary in praying
2. prayers should be honest, sincere, simple addresses to God
3. and prayer forms (vain repetitions?) must not creep into our prayers ... we need to speak personally to God
II. PREREQUISITE OF PRAYER ... AN OBLIGATION FOR ME
A. 1 Jno 3:22 - we receive...because we keep his commandments
1. we need to understand, appreciate what John is saying here
2. he plainly says some prayers are not going to penetrate into Gods presence ... which prayers are they?
3. those of Christians not obeying, not pleasing God!
B. God, Youve just got to answer my prayer!
1. whoa ... not so fast! how have you been living?
2. too often folks only want God when they have trouble ... how religious they become then (until the crisis passes)
3. if you want the power of prayer, give God your life in obedience ... prayers power depends on established, maintained relationship with God
III. PRESERVATION OF PRAYER ... GOD, HELP ME!
A. Acts 16:23-25 - ...at midnight Paul and Silas prayed...
1. when life tumbles in upon us, what do we do?
2. some folks just go to pieces (we have become breakdown prone) - any escape will do ... drugs, suicide, mental disorders
3. there is, however, another hopeful possibility ... prayer
B. Place the problem before our powerful, almighty, caring Father
1. that is what Paul and Silas did (think of Rom 8:28 here)
2. for many of us times will come when everything in our lives seems to collapse ... there is only one sensible thing to do then ... pray
3. Ps 18:3-6 - prayer (with confidence) is a strong anchor ... an invaluable aid in passing through tempestuous seas of life
IV. PATIENCE OF PRAYER ... WAIT AWHILE
A. Jas 5:17,18 with 1 Ki 18:41-44 - ...there is nothing...
1. Elijahs prayer was not immediately answered
2. rain did not begin with the first breathing of prayer ... and the servant sounded a bit despairing
3. but the rain did come ... in Gods time & way! and what is more, Elijah knew that Gods answer would come
B. Does the now generation have a problem with waiting?
1. listen: Ps 77:9 - do we feel this way?
2. an answer - the right answer- will come from God - but it will come when He and we are ready for it (we want the answer now; but God may see how unready we are for the answer now!)
3. patience is so necessary in every aspect of life - we must not become impatient with God
CLOSE: Are we making progress in prayer?
I know not by what methods rare,
But this I know: God answers prayer.
I know not if the blessing sought
will come in just the guise I thought.
I leave my prayer to Him alone
Whose will is wiser than my own.
Cecil A. Hutson
14 December 2003
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)