Sunday, September 13, 2015 am                                        Perfection 2015 Index


The Christian and Prayer
What is Prayer?

 Today we resume our study of our theme for the year.  This year we have been addressing how Christians need to be growing.  We have noted that it requires a proper mindset and removing whatever obstacles stand in our way.  In our previous lessons we address God working in our lives.  This month we want to address the subject of prayer.  We will devote 3 lessons to this topic.  Such will only touch the hem of the garment of what the scriptures teach about prayer –

Today we want to note what prayer is and why it is important in our lives.  Next week we will address what makes prayers acceptable to God – attitudes, actions, (who can pray), etc.  Finally, we will briefly discuss HOW we should pray, noting some elements that will make our prayers effective. 

 I.                    What is prayer?

a.        Defined - in its simplest sense it is the way we speak to God.   It is a petition addressed to God.  James 1:5, says, “let him ask of God.”  God communicates with us today through His word.  He has provided the avenue of prayer as the way for us to communicate to Him.

b.       It is described in numerous ways in scripture – at times using the word prayer, but at other times in ideas that would include prayer

                                                   i.      Asking, seeking and knocking – Matt. 7:7-11

                                                  ii.      Crying out to God – Luke 18:6-8

                                                iii.      Letting your requests be made known to God – Philippians 4:6

                                                iv.      An act of faith – James 5:15, 1:6

                                                  v.      Incense to God – Rev. 5:8, Psalm 141:2

                                                vi.      Lifting up one’s soul to God – Psalm 25:1, “To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

                                               vii.      Pouring out your heart before Him – Psalm 62:8, “Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

                                             viii.      It is raising one’s voice to God – Acts 4:24, 31

                                                ix.      Coming before the throne of grace – Hebrews 4:16

                                                  x.      Spiritual sacrifice and the fruit of our lips – Hebrews 13:15

                                                xi.      It is an act of worship – John 4:24, 1 Cor. 14:15, etc.

c.        Prayer is an extremely important work of the Christian.  It is something that is to be engaged in regularly, deliberately, thoughtfully, and thoroughly.    It is an act that will have a direct bearing on how strong one’s faith is.   Yet, for many it is a neglected task or something we struggle with – Because of our busy lives, it is sometimes forgotten about or done with little thought.  It is used by some only in cases of emergency and abused by others for selfish wants. 
Yet in spite of this, we need to find time to pray properly. 
Prayer is an acknowledgment of the authority and power of God.  It is an act that demonstrates our need for Him in our lives, as well as our trust in Him. 

d.       Its importance is seen in prominence in scripture
Early men began to “call upon the name of the Lord” (Gen. 4:26, 12:8, etc.).  Often this expression was associated with sacrifices, but it is clearly one appealing to God. 
- Prayer was a part of the Mosaic Law, though often intercession came through the priesthood. 
- David continually engaged in prayers (many of his psalms are prayers)
- Elijah was a man of prayer (James 5:17-18),
- Daniel prayed to God regularly (even when it caused him trouble – Dan. 6:10),
- Both Ezra and Nehemiah prayed to God after the Babylonian return of Judah (Ezra 7:27, 8:23; Nehemiah – 2:4, 4:4, 9, etc.)
- Paul continually prayed and taught the importance of prayer.  We will see some of this in our study.
-  Jesus is the ultimate example of prayer – some 15 times of prayer are recorded in the gospel accounts.  He prayed in the morning (Mark 1:35) and in the evening (Matt. 14:23).  He prayed long prayers (all night) at times. (Luke 6:12)  Luke 5:16 tells us He prayed often.  He prayed in times of distress (the Garden) and joy (Luke 10:21).  He prayed on the cross (Luke 23:34).  He prayed in worship (i.e. the Passover instituted- cf. Luke 22:14-20), etc.   John 17 records a prayer as He prepared for His death – petitions for Himself, His disciples and all who believed in Him.   His example is worthy of serious consideration, especially when you consider that He was the Son of God and yet He saw the need to pray continually.  If He needed prayer, what does that say about us?

 II.                  Types of prayer – 1 Tim. 2:1

a.        1 Timothy 2:1-2, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

b.       There are several words in the New Testament (and Old Testament) that describe different types of prayers that are to be offered.    Many passages in describing our need for prayer will include more than one word (such as the 4 listed above) – Acts 1:14, Eph. 6:18, Phil. 4:6, Colossians 4:2, etc.)

c.        Prayers – the most common word is προσευχάς, (proseuchas) and is most general in its meaning – “to speak or make requests to God” (LN 33.178);  a petition addressed to a deity (BDAG).  In the Bible it is always addressed to God.
Jesus in the Garden rose up from His prayer and told His disciples to “Rise and pray” (Luke 22:45-46)
Acts 2:42 speaks of the early church continuing steadfastly in prayers…
Ephesians 1:16 Paul made mention of brethren continually in his prayers
Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

d.       Supplications – δέησις, (deēsis) is a word as described as a divine entreaty or urgent request.   The word is sometimes translated prayer(s) or supplications.  It is a more intense word than “prayers”.
This is descriptive of someone who is serious in their prayers as they address needs both for themselves and for others.
 Romans 10:1, Paul’s heart’s desire and prayer to God was the salvation of Israel. 
Ephesians 6:18, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—
James 5:16 says, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Hebrews 5:7 uses this term (prayers) to describe Jesus praying to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.   When He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear…” He earnestly desired, “Let this cup pass from Me” but He still submitted to His will.

e.       Intercessions - ντεύξεις, (enteuxeis) describes a formal petition, usually on behalf of another.
The word is found here (noun form) and in 1 Tim. 4:5 where it is “prayer.”
The verb form of this word is used to describe how Jesus intercedes for us – Heb. 7:25, “He always lives to make intercession for them”; Rom. 8:27, 34 also
As Christians we are to think about others and their needs.   Our prayers need to reflect this – Matt. 5:44 (even our enemies), James 5:16 – pray for one another, etc.  The text we are examining (1 Tim. 2:1-2) here indicates prayers on behalf of leaders (not exclusively godly ones) and for all men.

f.         Giving of thanks – (thanksgiving) - εχαριστία (eucharistia) – expressing gratitude for our benefits and blessings. 
 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;” (Colossians 4:2)
For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving;” (1 Timothy 4:4)

Our prayers are typically filled with requests to God.  As we approach Him there needs to be gratitude for what He has already done. 

g.        There are other words used to describe prayers but these are the main ones and they demonstrate what prayer is about.

 III.                Prayers consist of

a.        “The Lord’s prayer” – Matthew 6:9-13.  In this prayer Jesus was teaching His disciples HOW to pray.  It was not designed to be a ritualistic chant, but teaching about what we should pray for.   IN Luke 11:1-4 the disciples are requesting, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught His disciples.”  We then have an example SIMILAR, but not exact, to Matthew 6:9-13.

b.       Typically, we describe the contents of a prayer should consist of:

                                                   i.      Adoration – praising God.  As Jesus began teaching how to prayer, the first thing mentioned is “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.”  God is praised for His greatness.  I would do us well to remember this both in our public and private prayers.  Most prayers include requests of God for help in our lives and our concern for others.  BEFORE making these requests, adoration REMINDS you WHO you are addressing.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,” (Ephesians 3:14–15)
When Peter was released from prison, the disciples prayed to God.  They began, “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them…” (Acts 4:24-26)
In our study of the psalms we find constant praise directed toward Him.

                                                  ii.      Your kingdom come, Your will be done – there should also in our prayers be an acknowledgement of His will being accomplished.  A reminder to us that even though we have petitions for Him, we will accept His answer.  Consider Jesus in the garden!

                                                iii.      Give us this day our daily bread – here we find the supplications and intercessions.  WE have needs and we turn to Him with our needs.   Note the “us” which means we have concerns for others as well.

                                                iv.      Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive… - Confession is a purpose of prayer for the Christian.  1 John 1:9 calls for us to confess our sins and they will be forgiven. 
We also find here the godly attitude we ought to possess.

                                                  v.      Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil – more supplications and intercessions – this time spiritual.  Let us remind ourselves to consider our spiritual needs, perhaps even more than our physical needs – 1 Tim. 4:8 – bodily exercise profits little.

                                                vi.      Thanksgiving – not directly mentioned by our Lord in His example, but we have already seen the need for gratitude.

                                               vii.      For Yours is the kingdom… - again we have submission to His will

                                             viii.      Amen – so be it.

 IV.                Christians need to be praying

a.        God wants us to pray to Him – that is overwhelmingly demonstrated in scripture. 

                                                   i.      He provided this way for us to approach Him – 1 Tim. 2:5, Heb. 4:14-16

                                                  ii.      He wants us to turn to Him – 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to cast all our cares upon Him.

b.       Importance – we have seen how important it is.  We are told in James 5:16 that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.  
The relationship between prayer and the strength of one’s faith cannot be overemphasized.  As one man said a number of years ago, “7 days without prayer makes one WEAK.”
Prayer does so many things for yourself and for others.

c.        Commanded – 1 Thess. 5:17 – “pray without ceasing
Rom. 12:12 – continuing steadfastly in prayer (Col. 4:2)
Ephesians 6:18 – as a part of our “spiritual armor” we are to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.
Luke 18:1, Jesus taught a parable about how “men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”
You CANNOT obey God if you don’t spend some time with Him in prayer.

 These are some preliminary thoughts about prayer in the life of a Christian.  May its importance be impressed upon our minds and hearts and may our actions demonstrate our desire to please Him.  Are you praying as you ought to?