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Sunday, April 27, 2015 am                                            Perfection 2015 Index

 

GOING ON TO PERFECTION 2015 (29)
The Christian and Prayer (3)
How to Pray

 We are studying the necessity of prayer in our lives as Christian.  Having identified what prayer and noted attitudes of acceptable prayer, today we want to address some practical things we can do to make our “prayer life” stronger.

 I.                     With a godly life and attitude – see last week.  Let us remind ourselves that prayer begins with an understanding of what God demands for our prayers to be heard – faith, obedience, humility, submission, reverence, understanding, sincerity, patience and effort on your part.
Beyond that what are some practical things for us to consider when we pray.

 II.                  Where to pray

a.        1 Timothy 2:8 – pray everywhere.

b.       Publicly – as a part of our assembly.  1 Corinthians 14:15, Luke 18:9 – two men went into the temple, etc.

c.        At times we can say prayers in public other than the assembly – do not be ashamed of Him – Matt. 10:32-33. 
This does not mean you have to “make a scene” In fact Luke 18:11-12 condemns such, as does Matthew 6:5, 7.    Are you willing to quietly bow your head and say a prayer in a restaurant?  You can still do that here (for now).

d.       Praying with others – Acts 20:36, 21:5 – Paul prayed with others as he was about to depart.
In times of trouble – brethren came together and prayed – Acts 12:5, 12

e.       Privately – Matt. 6:5-6 – go in your closet.  This is where genuine prayer develops.  Public prayers can be deceitful, but when it is just you and God there is nothing to hide. 
Even Jesus, on numerous occasions found a secluded place to pray – Luke 5:16

 III.                When to pray

a.        1 Thess. 5:17 – pray without ceasing.   There is no set time to pray in scripture, just as there is no set place.   In the Bible we have noted prayers in the morning, in the evening, lengthy prayers, short prayers, with meals, in private and in public.

b.       But we should pray persistently – we need to pray often - 1 Thess. 5:17 – don’t abandon prayer.  This implies it is to be done regularly.  Again consider Luke 18:1 men ought always to pray. 
Luke 5:16 – it was the custom of Jesus to pray regularly. 

c.        Sometimes spontaneously – when there is a need. 
Again, 1 Thess. 5:17 – have a mind to pray when needed. 
In Jerusalem prayers were offered as Peter was presented to them – Acts 4:24-25 – as soon as Peter and John were released when they reported to their brethren, they prayed.  There are times of rejoicing or sorrow when a spontaneous prayer is needed.    Also Acts 12:5 & 12 where Peter is in prison and brethren are praying for Him. 
Consider Acts 20:36-37 – where Paul is praying with the Ephesian elders as he is about to depart.

d.       A Planned time to pray

                                                   i.      It has been suggested by some that we set aside time regularly – ideally, on a daily basis to pray to God.  This is certainly a practice that can help us to pray as often as we ought to.

                                                  ii.      Matthew 6:6 speaks of going into the closet which seems to indicate it is something you find time to do regularly.  We are not given a specific timeframe, but we have seen that it must be done regularly – both by example and command.
Jews pray 3 times a day and there is scriptural precedence for such  (cf. Daniel 6:10, Psalm 55:17). 

                                                iii.      How to do this: Set aside a time and a quiet place that you will devote to prayer.  Luke 5:16 – Jesus prayed in a deserted place.   Remove all distractions.  NOTE: This is also a good time to engage in private Bible reading and study.  More on that next month. 
“But I am too busy to pray like that.”  NO!  You are too busy NOT to pray! If you genuinely don’t have time to pray, perhaps you need to examine your life or priorities.

 IV.                  Detailed

a.        Previously we have addressed the content of our prayers.  How the model consists of much of the things we pray for including praise, thanksgiving, supplications and intercessions for ourselves and others, both spiritually and physically. 

b.       There are many examples of what and who to pray for in scripture.   Here is a short list:

                                                   i.      Philippians 4:6-7 – be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer and supplication…

                                                  ii.      God’s will to be done – Matt. 6:9-13

                                                iii.      Necessities – food, clothing, shelter – Matt. 6:11, 1 Tim. 4:3-5,

                                                iv.      When we are about to eat a meal -  Mat 15:36 ( 7 loaves & fish), Acts 27:35 – Paul on a ship

                                                  v.      Good health and for the sick – 3 John 2, James 5:13, 16

                                                vi.      Safe travels – Acts 21:5, 20:36-38, 1 Thess. 3:11 – “direct our way to you”

                                               vii.      Forgiveness of sins – Matt. 6:12, Acts 8:22, 24

                                             viii.      Dealing with temptation – Matt. 6:13, Luke 22:31-32

                                                ix.      Deliverance from persecutions and enemies – 2 Thess. 3:1-2, 2 Cor. 1:8-11, etc.

                                                  x.      Freedom to worship and serve God without tyranny – 1 Tim. 2:1-2

                                                xi.      Knowledge, wisdom and understanding – James 1:5-6, Col. 1:9-10, Phil. 1:9-10

                                               xii.      Salvation of the lost and other matters related to evangelism (see our lesson tonight)

                                             xiii.      For brethren who help us (both spiritually and financially)  - Phil. 1:3-5

                                             xiv.      Choosing elders – Acts 14:23

                                               xv.      At a baptism – Luke 3:21

                                             xvi.      For the church – cf. Eph. 1:15-17, Phil. 1:3-4, etc

                                            xvii.      In worship – during Lord’s supper, etc – 1 Cor. 11:23-26

                                          xviii.      For love – Phil. 1:9

                                             xix.      For patience – Col. 1:9-11 (longsuffering)

                                               xx.      Joy instead of discouragement - 1 Thess. 3:9-10, Phil. 4:6-7

                                             xxi.      For God’s grace – 1 Cor. 1:4

                                            xxii.      Sanctification – John 17:17

                                          xxiii.      Unity – John 17:20-23

                                          xxiv.      THIS LIST is not exhaustive, but it demonstrates a variety of things we can pray for – as recorded in scripture.  NOTE: IN all these, they are according to His will!  Not selfish, etc.

c.        Some have suggested a “prayer strategy” – to pray for everything is usually not plausible in a single setting.  Nor is there command that demands that every prayer include everything we ought to pray for.  This has prompted some to think about what to pray for and when. 
Some have developed lists – of what they need to pray for and designate various times for various things -
 For example: You might pray for one specific thing (with some detail) each day of the week
- One day for concerns of the church,
- One day for our leaders and society,
- One day just to thank God and praise Him,
- One day for your needs and blessings – both spiritual and material.
- One day for the needy and suffering,
- One day for the lost and reaching them, and
- One day for your family.  This is just an example

d.       Another suggestion is to write down what you need to pray for to help you organize your thoughts and requests.   Recently I heard of someone who recorded their answered prayers – something that can build up one’s faith and cause thanksgiving toward God.

e.       NOTE: These are SUGGESTIONS!  Nothing more or nothing less.  A “liberty” in giving some direction in how to pray.  Such things can certainly help us to be praying earnestly, always and with vigilance (Colossians 4:2, James 5:17, etc.).

 V.                  Other thoughts on prayer

a.        Posture – there is no set posture in which to pray.  The Bible describes numerous postures –
1) Kneeling (Luke 22:41, Acts 9:40)
2) Standing – Mark 11:25 OR sitting (1 Kings 19:4 – Elijah)
3) Bowed heads – Luke 18:13, 1 Chron. 29:20
4) Eyes raised up – John 17:1
5) Quietly – Hannah 1 Sam. 1:12-13 – Hannah, no sound
6) Hands raised “lifting up holy hands” – 1 Tim. 2:8
NOTE: The posture is NOT the issue - but it should be such that there is reverence and removal of distractions.  That is why some make it a habit to close their eyes and bow their heads as we pray – to remove distractions and humble oneself before God.

b.       Prayers can be simple – Matt. 6:7-8 – God doesn’t need the many words, but He expects you to pray for what you do need.  They need not be long, though as we learn to pray more, our private prayers become more detailed.

c.        As you begin a spiritual work – be it Bible study, worship, teaching another, going to a brother with a concern, etc. – start with a prayer!  It never hurts to enlist God with such endeavors. 

d.       We must do our part – another worthy study is God’s part in answering prayer.  A study of scripture shows clearly that God can and does, but as we mentioned last week we should not expect a miracle, NOR should we expect Him to do our part.   A part of God working within natural means (providentially) is us doing what we ought to be doing in a given circumstance.  For example in prayers:  While we ask, “Give us this day our daily bread” – are we willing to work to get it? (Matt. 6:11, cf. 1 Thess. 4:11, 2 Thess. 3:10, etc.)
When we pray that He be with us in our travels – will we drive responsibly?
When we ask for wisdom (James 1:5, Col. 1:9) – will we turn to His word to learn His will?
When we ask Him to help a brother in need – will we do what we can to help with that (cf. James 2:14-17)
When we pray for peace and unity with our brethren – will we work at it?

The importance of prayer is not something we should trivialize or dismiss.  It is crucial to strengthening our faith in Him and going on to perfection.  Never forget that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much.” (James 5:16)  Do you pray as you ought to?