Tag Archives: prayer

DOES PRAYER REALLY HELP?


If we come to fully understand Prayer then we will grow in our relationship with God. We will see change – We will see something happen. GROWTH that can not happen any other way.

DOES PRAYER REALLY HELP?

Let us go to the Bible & answer these 2 questions:

What Is Meant By Prayer?

&

What Is Meant By Help?

DOES PRAYER REALLY HELP?

Prayer is not about stuff & God is not the cosmic ATM where you walk up, pull out your I Am A Follower Of Christ Card & say “Give me stuff”.

God wants to give you things … scripture teaches that God gives awesome gifts, but the FUNDAMENTAL Element of Prayer is Communion – It is about Learning –

Its About Learning:

  • Who God Is

  • Who You Are

  • What God Wants For You &

  • What God Wants From You In Order To Benefit Others

We should not hesitate to ask God – If we are sick, We Should ask – If someone has needs, We Should ask – If we need a job, We Should ask …

Jesus says Ask For These Things – Ask for them in my name & if it is according to God’s will it will be given to you. Mt. 7:11

There is an important key – God’s Will

If you mean by PRAYER … An arrogant attempt to change God’s will & plan to conform to MY schedule, MY desires & MY wants.  That is not True PrayerThe Bible teaches Prayer is something totally different.

WE SEE AN ACTUAL PRAYER IN HOLY SCRIPTURE, IN JOHN 17

Jesus begins with himself, or does he? Vs. 1 “Glorify your Son”  but Vs. 3 tells us why, “that they know you the only true God, and (know) Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

Vs. 5 John 17:5 (ESV) “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” Again, He is talking about Himself but notice He is praying about God’s will. God, these are the things I understand you want & I am expressing my submission to your will.

He then begins to pray about the disciples,

John 17:8-19 (ESV) 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you …

Vs. 11 “… but they are in the world” & Jesus prays, keep them safe (vs. 11b , 12) …

Vs. 14 “the world has hated them …” vs. 15 Keep them safe.

Vs. 17 Sanctify them in the TRUTH – Your word is TRUTH

Vs. 19 “I consecrate myself that they also may be sanctified in TRUTH.”

(Truth Is A Very Big Word & Very Important Word)

Then He then begins to pray for (vs. 20) You & Me “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,

  • that they all be one (in the same way Jesus & the Father are one)

  • that they may be in us (so that the world may believe)

  • that they may become perfectly one (so that the world may know …)

  • that they may be with me where I am to see … Glory

  • that the love with which you have loved me may be in them & I in them

THE POINT OF PRAYER IS TO KNOW STUFF . . .

What Does The Bible Mean By PRAYER?

It Is Communication,

It Is The Way By Which We Know Things

Not Get Things But Know Things

It is easy to understand why people get confused about this –

In the process of knowing things We actually Get Things along the way.

Matthew 6:33 (ESV) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

IN PRAYER YOU ARE LIVING OUT  THAT VERSE

COMMUNICATION WITH GOD IS TO GET SOMETHING FROM GOD

THAT SOMETHING IS KNOWLEDGE

THAT KNOWLEDGE IS ABOUT GOD And Along The Way Other Things Happen.

Am I Teaching the TRUTH?

How Do We Know This Is The Case?

Not just from Jesus’ prayer – He is the Son of God – so maybe His prayer is not the kind of prayer we should pray –

The disciples ask Him . . .

Luke 11:1 (ESV) Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

We find this both in Luke 11 & Mathew 6. This is often called “The Lord’s Prayer” but this is a prayer to be prayed by His followers. The disciples said “Teach US to pray” & Jesus said “When YOU pray say …

Matthew 6:7-13 (ESV) 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Read this SLOWLY and it becomes easy to see what prayer actually is in this model.

  1. Our Father in heaven …” Prayer is actually worship. Who God is & Who you are. He is your Father, a family relationship built upon LOVE & Authority. You are an adopted CHILD of the King. That is a WONDERFUL thing.

  2. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Jesus adds to that thought, “hallowed”, the idea of being HOLY – The very name of God is Holy. So in proper prayer we recognize His place. Him being the Father, you are the child – He is Holy – you & I … not so much.

  3. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Recognizing He is the Ruler – He is the King. Everything that we ask for, everything we do, everything we ask, we ask as His servant to His will. He is King every hour of every day. Through PRAYER we recognize His Place & our place.

  4. Now – What are we to ask for? “Give us this day our daily bread”. Jesus never taught to ask for tons of stuff. Give us fancy cars & a boat & A lot of money, Give me a promotion at work … “Give us this day our daily bread” Give Us Our Daily Needs – Provide For Us Our Needs. That is the idea the “daily bread” represents. It Is Your Father’s Will That You Have Your Needs Fulfilled.  And our experience often is that we find we have more than we need, we have enough to share. I have come to believe that the FUNDAMENTAL Will of the Father is to give you what you need. Jesus actually told the disciples, told us, that our Heavenly Father knows what we need even before we ask Him. A Holy Prayer, A Non-Selfish Prayer Simply Ask For What You Need.

Think with me for just a moment – What is it that YOU need? Do you need more channels, Do you need your phone? I think I do. I am looking at a computer screen right now. We are using electronics & PowerPoint projectors and lighting & a sound system. Do I need all that to preach from God’s word this morning.  Even this building. The 1st century church grew & flourished & exploded by meeting in small mud brick homes. Think about what it is that you need & how much more you have than you will ever need. We are to pray for our needs to be met.

THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL NEED WE HAVE . . .

  1. The very next verse in this prayer, vs. 12 “Forgive us our debts” That is God’s will, that our sins will be forgiven. It is His will that you be forgiven – That you obtain salvation. How do I know that it is His will you be forgiven, He sent His Son who lived the example, who had no Sin of His own yet went to the Cross, paid the debt for your sin on the Cross so that you & I could obtain forgiveness & then rose from the dead on the 3rd day to PROVE that He did what He said He came to do. When we pray “Forgive us of our debts” we should be reminded that the most fundamental need we have is for forgiveness & That He Provided The Way

  2. This model prayer not only serves to remind & teach us who God is & who we are & that we are to be in submission to the Lord & King – It not only reminds us that we have a fundamental need of forgiveness but it also teaches us we are to mold our character into being a people of forgiveness. “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” The debts we owe are many & varied & serious & we are to be ready & willing to forgive those who have done the same to us. This is a petition, God make me like your Son, make me like You. Make me a person of forgiveness, mold my character.

The pattern we see throughout this prayer:

We see Who God Is – HOLY

We see God’s Will is the important part. We Are To Pray “Your Will Be Done . . .”

God’s Will for me is that:

  • My Needs are met –

  • My sins are forgiven –

  • My character is shaped in such a way that I can forgive others.

Does Prayer Really Help – Depends Upon What You Mean By PRAYER

If You Mean By Prayer … An Arrogant Attempt To Change God’s Will & Plan To Conform To MY Schedule, MY Desires & MY Wants.                   Then No.

BUT If you mean by PRAYER … That we are to conform our will to His & not His will to ours, then YES, PRAYER does Help – IT ALWAYS HELPS – 

What I mean by HELP is that you become more like God, Not you getting more stuff.

Paul Says Something Amazing About Prayer In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (ESV) 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I wonder how welcoming that was to Paul. I also wonder, would that be a welcome thing for you to hear? If you had Terminal Cancer, MS, chronic illness, something you considered to be “a messenger of Satan” – something you pleaded with the Lord about & God says to you . . . “My Power Is Made Perfect In Your Weakness And My Grace Is Sufficient For You.”

Is That OK With You???

Is That OK With You???

Paul, after hearing that from his LORD, is able to continue to grow in his life in Christ … “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Did Paul’s prayer Fail or did it HELP?

2 Cor. 2:7b Paul prays, he pleads with the Lord & the answer is NO (If Paul prayed & the answer was NO then you & I are going to get some No(s) from God). Our question is, “Does It Help?”

The answer to Paul’s prayer was NO – I am not taking this away from you.

I want you to be able to see that NO from God is not a failure & more that that – NO actually helps Paul. His thorn in the flesh remained with Paul but it showed Paul – It taught something to Paul that was far greater.

Paul gains an insight that lasts . . .

Physical healing is great but temporary. Those of us that have infirmities, can be rescued, – but only temporarily. Jesus “rescued” Lazarus in an amazing way John 11:43 & we may desire that, but at some point Lazarus was carried back to the grave. TEMPORARY!

By God’s plan, Through God’s Love, Paul learns something that lasts beyond his own lifetime.

My Grace Is Sufficient For You”

That is an incredible TRUTH that transcends, outlast, goes far beyond physical healing of ANY kind.

It is tremendous! I wonder – could Paul have learned this any other way?

Could Paul have come to understand the Power of God’s Grace Being Sufficient For Him, Had That Thorn In The Flesh Not Been Given To Him? His suffering produced something great in Paul. The denial of his request to God – the NO – produced something even greater. 

Deliverance From Pain – Deliverance From Difficulty – Deliverance From Hardship

All Of It Is Temporary – GRACE IS FOREVER!

PAUL LEARNED THAT, BELIEVED IT, AND DID HIS BEST TO TEACH IT TO YOU!

SO, did Prayer help? Absolutely Prayer Helped. I believe Paul would not have learned about this Powerful Grace – This Amazing Grace had it not been for the Power Of Prayer.

Make No Mistake – Prayer Is Powerful

1 John 5:14, 15 (ESV) And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

CONFIDENCE that if we ask “according to His will . . .”

CONFIDENCE – Not Just Hope – Confidence & Knowledge, those are the words John uses to tell us that God helps us through prayer.

So Does Prayer Really Help?

If by Prayer you mean communication with God to find out His will & If by Help you mean conforming our will to His will so that we can serve the Kingdom of God then:

YES Prayer Helps – It Helps In A Very REAL Way b/c prayer is not about getting Stuff.

If your FAITH is such that you know God’s will for you is simply what is BEST for you.

GOD’S WILL FOR ME IS THAT:

MY NEEDS ARE MET – MY SINS ARE FORGIVEN –

MY CHARACTER IS SHAPED IN SUCH A WAY THAT I CAN FORGIVE OTHERS

HE NEVER FAILS in KNOWING, GIVING & DOING what is BEST – If you are seeking is to be conformed into God’s will then Prayer Never Fails

Let’s Pray – Father, we are so thankful for this gift of prayer. Remind us to pray often, Teach us to seek, listen & learn your will. Strengthen our faith in You so that we can trust you for our needs & seek you so that we may grow & become more like you, more like Jesus. Grant us the wisdom to understand what we need is Forgiveness – Not More Stuff. In Christ’s name & through Him we pray.

 

The Prayer of Jabez I Chronicles 4:9-10

0004Oh, that you would bless me!

It’s interesting that he is not just asking for blessings, but he is asking for many blessings. 

He is crying out for the wonderful, unlimited goodness that only God has the power to give.

He is leaving it all up to God on how to bless him.

We must ask to receive many of the blessings that God has waiting for us.

Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

James 4:2 “You desire and do not have, so you murder.  You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.”

So why don’t we ask?

Oh, Enlarge my Border

Can I really ask God to increase my opportunities in life?  Can I ask God for help in taking more territory for Him?

No matter how many times we hear that God can do anything with us, we still are not sure that we want God to work through us.

Let’s Remember God’s Power

Zechariah 4:6 “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.”

My willingness and weakness plus God’s will and power equals my expanding territory.

Oh, that Your Hand might be with me

How does true dependence upon God feel?  Well it can be very frightening. 

Do you remember a time when your kids really depended upon you? 

It is the same when we depend upon God.

Letting Go

2 Corinthians 3:5-6 “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

Paul is dependent upon God, it is not his abilities or skills that are spreading the gospel, it is his willingness to let God use him that is bringing about this enabling.

Seeking the Power of God

Read Acts 4:23-31  Now Read Acts 2:42-47

You and I are always one plea away from inexplicable, God enabled exploits. We can have God given enthusiasm and boldness.  It is up to us.

Oh that you would keep me from harm

Matthew 6:13  “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Our best weapon against Satan in not ourselves; it is the power of God.

2 Corinthians 5:9-10 “So whether we are at home or away, we  make it our aim to please him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”

Summary

Ask God to bless you how He sees fit.

Ask God to increase your territory and your service.

Ask God to be with you because we realize that we cannot do this work alone.

Ask God for protection.

 

Jesus, the One and Only: Glorified in His Church Colossians 4:2-6

Two Lessons Today

Christians are to practice positive activities such as praying. We must make prayer a priority as did Paul in his letters.  Our schedules are packed with so many less important activities that we fail to find time to pray.

Christians must act wisely toward those who are lost.  We are to be lights in a world of darkness.  The lost can observe the lives of Christians and learn the ways of Jesus: to be fair in business dealings, gracious toward the unkind, helpful to those in need, careful in speech, pure in heart, and Christ like in all that we do.

Let us now look at some people who were named by Paul in the final few sentences of this letter.

Those Who Stayed  vs. 7-9

Tychicus and Onesimus were sent to the Colossian congregation to give a report.

Vs. 10-11. Notice that Paul specifically says they were a comfort to him.

Some of you have the gift of Mercy. You are the ones who take time to visit hospital patients, shut-ins, and others who are going through hard times. You have people into your homes and invest yourselves in the lives of others. This is the way the church was designed to function.

Read Colossians 4:14, 15

Dr. Luke and Nympha were probably more financially well endowed than others who worked with Paul. They were willing to share their wealth as well as their time and talents. Luke helped Paul with physical ailments and — as a well educated and a gifted writer — he wrote the books of LUKE and ACTS. Nympha provided her home as a place for the Church to meet.

The One Who Prayed  4:12, 13

The positive changes that have happened will continue to happen, they let us know that we should never underestimate the importance of Prayer in the Church.

The One Who Strayed: vs. 14

We don’t learn much about Demas from Colossians or i Philippians.  We do however learn something negative about him in II Timothy 4:10 “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world…”

Whatever happened, Demas took his focus off of Christ, and ruined his witness.

I’ve been in the Church community all of my life, and in the work of the church since I became a Christian.   — and there’s one thing I’ve seen way too often. I’ve seen good, sincere Christian people … people who serve in a Congregation for many years, building it up and encouraging everyone. Then something goes wrong — (they get angry over something … or they get tired of something … or someone offends them) — and they leave the church in a way that effectively tears down anything good they had accomplished. In fact, the way they walk out the door taints their memory for everyone left behind.

Summary

Verse 17 “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”

That is an appropriate charge for every Christian. What is the work YOU have received from God? Let me tell you, whatever your work assignment, it won’t be complete until you leave this world to be with the Lord.

So, until that day, will you faithfully keep doing the work God has given you to do — This year — This month — This week — Today?

 

These are the Days of Elijah: Where Could I Go? I Kings 17:8-24

The Prayer of Elijah

James 5: 17, 18 “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.  Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.”

In context, James is saying that we should pray fervently for the spiritual problems and physical sicknesses of others because prayer works.

Observations about prayer

First, we should be on our knees all the time.  Paul says that we are to pray “without ceasing.” That is, we are to pray all the time.

Second, most don’t really learn prayer until we face crisis.  When things  seem under control we control them.  But when life seems out of control, we pray.  Well, life is NEVER under control!  We must pray all the time!

Elijah asks God two things

First, Elijah asked God “Why?”  The widow blasts Elijah with deep feelings of distress.  She blames Elijah, but she really blames herself, “Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”

Read I Kings 17:20 again. 

He can’t answer the widow’s question; he has no answer.  He has seen God’s work in the his past—at Cherith and Zarephath.  But the protection and provision of God seems to unravel and the man of God has no answer for this mother in pain.  So where can he go but to the Lord?

What God wants from us is relationship.  He doesn’t need anything from us, including information.  He doesn’t need us to check in with Him so that He can keep tabs on us—He is aware when we rise and when we sit.  (Psalm 139:2)  He already knows what we need before we ask Him. (Matthew 6:8) What He does want is intimacy with us. 

He wants us to rely on Him and give ourselves to Him.  As we struggle in prayer through hardships, trials and difficulties, we come to know our God.

Second, Elijah asks for God to please work!

First, Elijah prays a persistent prayer.  Three times he repeats his request.  It is not enough for him to place a hand on the boys head; he stretches his body across the boy.  Elijah is praying for all he’s worth here.

Second, he prays a powerful prayer.  He doesn’t ask God to comfort the widow in her loss; he asks for God to raise the dead!  He asks for something so amazing that if it happens there is no doubt that God is at work.

Lesson for us?

We are taught here to pray persistently and powerfully.  Our job in prayer is not to figure out in advance what God does and doesn’t do or will and won’t do.  Our job is to pray.

Extremes in prayer

“Name-it-and-Claim- it” view which sees prayer as a magical incantation. If prayer is done right, then you name it and claim it.  This sees God as a celestial vending machine where you pop in a prayer and out comes a blessing.

“Shot-in-the-Dark” view sees prayer as a hope against hope. Basically prayer is self-meditation or self-medication that focuses on our priorities and gets our thinking straight.  It may actually even help, but don’t get your hopes up.

What we need to do is to: Humbly seek God, fully accepting His total sovereignty.

In prayer, I accept that God can do whatever I ask Him to do; in prayer I accept that God is totally sovereign to refuse my request.

Summary

God answers prayer. He really does. James assures us that this is one of the lessons that we are to learn from Elijah.  And thus he assures us that these are the days of Elijah as well.  When you and I face the droughts and famines of our lives, where can we go but to the Lord?

God assured us two thousand years ago that He loves us more than life itself—that is the message of the cross. Today we offer you the invitation to the cross.

 

Disciples Together: Together in Prayer

Prayer…

Look at the early chapters in Acts, and you see an emphasis on prayer.

Prayer for them wasn’t just an act of worship—it was the context of life.

Church was not only together in fellowship; they were together in prayer.

Together in Prayer;  Jerusalem

What were they doing during their ten day cooling off period? Attend training seminars? Taking geography or language crash courses?  No, they prepared for ministry by devoting themselves to prayer (1:14)**

In Acts 4, the church experiences overt opposition for the very first time. The Sanhedrin tries to intimidate the apostles into silence. (Acts 4:21)** How would fledgling church deal with opposition? Prayer! (4:23-24)**

Together in Prayer;  Paul and Prayer

There is a lot of emphasis in Paul’s letters on Prayer.  Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:6 and I Thessalonians 5:16-18 for example.

The longest of these prayer postscripts is found in Colossians 4:2-4.**(Pew Bible page 1254)

First, we must be WATCHFUL, “being watchful and thankful.” Word is here literally means “to stay awake.”

Second, we must be THANKFUL, “being watchful and thankful.” NASB has, “keeping alert in it [prayer] with an attitude of thanksgiving.”

Paul doesn’t just tell Colossae to pray in general, but to pray for him (4:3-4)**

Paul in the next verse tells them to act with wisdom to outsiders (4:5)**

Summary

The church must never allow our community prayers to become formality. The early church prayed together in times of crisis, decision & ministry. Continual prayer kept the church from being lulled to sleep by the world.