INTRO: It is amazing to me how much the Bible says about prayer and praying. It is no wonder that entire books can be, and have been, written about this one subject ... for, indeed, the subject is extensive. The more I study the subject, the more I see of what a marvelous blessing God intends prayer to be for us. Yet, it is a blessing which may be too rarely claimed by us Christians. It is unthinkable to me that a child would rarely speak to his father. Yet, when it comes to speaking with our heavenly Father, do we become generally uncommunicative? Consider these thoughts about prayer.
I PRESENCE IN PRAYER
A. 1 Ki 18:26-29 - ...nor any that answered...
1. I have little doubt of their sincerity, fervency, desire in prayer
2. so much was at stake for them and their gods
3. but there was no answer ... imagine their dismay
4. note v. 27 - their god just wasnt there ... no presence
B. By contrast - Ps 145:18,19 - The Lord is nigh...
1. Jehovah is nearby ... always within earshot!
2. we may find our prayers ineffectual and begin to think God may not be present after all ... but Isa 59:1,2 may suggest a problem for us
3. 1 Pet 3:12a - His ears are open to the prayers of the righteous
4. its a wonderful mystery that God can be everywhere at once ... listening to, dealing with all of our prayers at once (this is one great difference between Jehovah and the would be gods)
II PARTNERSHIP OF PRAYER
A. Perhaps we think mostly of prayer as a solo matter
1. it is just a matter between God and me
2. and certainly that is true in much of prayer
3. our concerns and personal matters are of great concern to us ... and are on our minds ... and in our prayers - Phil 4:6
4. but there is another dimension of prayer
B. 2 Cor 1:11 - Ye also helping together by prayer for us...
1. refer to 2 Cor 1:8-10 ... delivered from despair by God
2. but he attributes the deliverance also to great partnership of prayer (see also Rom 15:30)
3. there is definite power in praying in partnership!
4. prayers with anothers is an entering into that persons circumstances; it is offering aid to him; it is giving of a very special kind
III PREPARATION OF PRAYER
A. Great works require much preparation to succeed
1. thought, planning, ground work ... preparation
2. without preparation there is not much hope of succeeding at anything of value and meaning
3. in fact, we do spend a good bit of time preparing for so many things
4. but one vital aspect of preparation is easily overlooked
B. Acts 13:2,3 - ...when they had ... prayed ... they sent them away
1. so much can be learned from the Antioch church
2. mission minded, benevolent, concerned about growing
3. but look how they prepared to succeed ... by praying
4. what might be the subject of prayers of preparation?
a. 2 Thes 3:1 - that hindrances to preaching be removed
b. Col 4:3 - that opportunities for teaching will be present
5. Lk 6:12,13 - even Jesus prepared for important moments by praying
CLOSE: It seems to me that this particular lesson on the subject of prayer should conclude with a text from the book of James ... one which we have doubtless mentioned in earlier lessons. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). And could I also refer to Mt 7:11 - If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
Cecil A. Hutson
14 March 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)