INTRO: Two men went up into the temple to pray. Here are two men who are engaged in admirable activity ... that of prayer. Yes, the two men were very different. But they both sought the ear of God in prayer. Are you happy with your prayer life? Do you pray as often as you think you should? Do you feel comfortable speaking to God through prayer? Is prayer an essential pare of every days activity for you? To help us to come to a better appreciation of prayer consider:
I THE PENITENCE OF PRAYER ... HAVE MERCY
A. Lk 18:13 - God be merciful to me a sinner
1. here is a man recognizing his greatest need ... forgiveness
2. v. 14 tells us his plea came from penitence ... for he was justified, made whole in his prayer
3. penitence in prayer and humility are inseparable - and this parable notes the contrast between humility and pride (note Acts 9:11)
B. Prayers for forgiveness must be penitential if we are to be forgiven
1. Lk 18:11 - is there the sound of humility, Godly sorrow here?
2. to ask Gods forgiveness without true change of heart leading to changed living is pointless ... mockery
3. God, forgive me is no magic formula ... penitence is the activator
II THE PAUSE OF PRAYER ... MORNING, NOON AND NIGHT
A. Ps 55:17 - Evening and morning and at noon will I pray...
1. the pause that refreshes - is really the pause of prayer
2. David, busy man that he was, had his set time of prayer
3. Daniel was predictable in his pause of prayer (Dan 6:10,11) - he wasnt too busy, too frightened to pray (Isa 40:31)
B. New Testament prescribes no set frequency of prayer
1. but Jesus & apostles paused often to pray - see Mk 1:35; Acts 10:9; Acts 20:36
2. and in the pause was (is) refreshing of the spirit
3. Ps 23:3 - ...he restoreth my soul... - communion with God in prayer is certainly restorative - so, Rom 12:12c ... continuing instant in prayer
III PREVENTIVE PRAYERS ... AVOIDING DISASTER
A. Mt 26:41 - ...pray, that ye enter not into temptation
1. vigilance of and in prayer - watching and alert
2. a praying person who is constantly communing with God has greater resources upon which to draw in temptation
3. but the apostles slept and were subsequently overcome by trial!
B. Watching in prayer is frequently encouraged for disciples
1. 1 Pet 4:7 - Col 4:2 - ...watch in the same...
2. we cannot totally avoid temptation - but we can fortify ourselves against it by praying often
3. Mt 6:13 - do not abandon me to temptation ... stand by me in it (cf. 2 Tim 4:16,17a)
IV PROVINCE OF PRAYER ... PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING
A. Phil 4:6 - ...in everything by prayer and supplication...
1. in what part of ones life does prayer not belong?
2. answer: prayer belongs in every part of our lives
3. every legitimate phase of life is of interest to God
B. Consider the provinces mentioned in the model prayer:
1. Mt 6:11-13
a. daily bread - a mundane, secular need, interest
b. as we forgive - personal relationships
c. deliver us - spiritual concerns
2. and the lesson is that prayer belongs in each province or realm of life
3. in nothing must (or, should) we go it alone ... because in everything we do God is interested and concerned (could that be inherent in the words, Our Father....?)
CLOSE: Really, the question begins to form along these lines. How can I get along without prayer? And the answer is, I cannot. Perhaps each of us needs to have a rediscovery of prayer in his life.
Cecil A. Hutson
4 January 2004
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)