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1. One of the important acts of worship is prayer. In prayer we make certain assumptions:
1) That there is a God.
2) That we need God.
3) That God hears prayer.
4) That God answers prayer.
5) That God loves man.
2. Prayer is powerful.
1) There is power in prayer because of the power of God.
2) James 1:17 - Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
3) Ephesians 3:20 - Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
3. Prayer must be accompanied with human endeavor.
1) A farmer might pray for a good crop, but he must do…
2) Luke 6:46 - "Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
4. In our lesson today we are going to see that if our prayers are going to be pleasing unto God they must be offered acceptably.
1) Knowing this very thing is what led the Lord’s disciples to say,"Lord teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1)
2) Let us set forth the same spirit of these disciples as we enter into our study.
5. In this regard we need to be aware that God is not just attentive to the words of our prayers, but He is also cognizant of our attitude that prompts those words.
1. Most certainly, sincerity is a basic, prime prerequisite of successful prayer.
2. Matthew 6:5 - "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
1) Praying without sincerity makes one a hypocrite.
2) These were seeking to attract the attention of men rather than God, thus their prayers were in reality addressed to a human audience.
3. Prayers are also insincere when they are prayers merely to ease one’s conscience.
Insincerity in prayer is soundly denounced in Matthew 15:7-9 = 7 You hypocrites! Well
did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 "‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart
is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship
1. To impress the hearts and minds of His disciples with the need for humility in their prayers, Jesus related the parable concerning a Pharisee and a Publican.
2. Luke 18:10-14 => notice the phrase "set all others at nought” = "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
1) The Pharisee was filled with pride, self-exaltation, and self-righteousness … he acted as though the Lord owed him.
2) The publican, on the other hand, knew his spiritual poverty and need for divine help.
3. James 4:6, 10 - But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
4. Proverbs 29:23
- One's pride will bring him low,
1. Must be intense in our prayer lives – not half-hearted and lethargic!
2. James 5:17 - 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.
3. Colossians 4:12 - Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.
1) "Fervently” comes from AGONIZOMAI, and this is where we get our English word "agonize.”
2) This we are to have a zeal and intensity in prayer.
1. Luke 11:5-8 - And he said to them, "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.
1) This parable is not intended to imply that God is reluctant in heeding our prayer.
2) The reluctance of the neighbor was real: the reluctance of God is only seeming.
3) The fact that God is willing to answer our prayers should be motivation to be persistent in our prayer life.
2. Persistency in prayer is also taught in Luke 18:1-8 - And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
1. Watchfulness and prayer go together and must not be separated.
2) Luke 21:36;
Colossians 4:2 - Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
2. To be watchful means to be constantly alert to need of prayer in our lives.
1) 1 Peter 5:8-9 - Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
2) Surely, one who is watchful concerning the devil is alert to his need of God’s strength through prayer in successfully withstanding him.
1. "I will pray with the understanding…” (1 Corinthians 14:15)
1) This passage has reference to a prayer in a public service that cannot be understood by the hearers.
2) It is absurd to pray publicly if one cannot understand.
3) Whether public or private we are not to set forth meaningless words.
2. Matthew 6:7-8 - "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.
1) The Lord is not condemning repetition – but vain repetition.
2) We must give deep thought to the words that we express in prayer.
VII. GODLY LIVING
1. Prayer is not a substitute for the Christian’s responsibility to serve God, but is a reinforcement of his worthy endeavors.
2. 1 John 3:21-22 -Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
3. Proverbs 15:29
- The Lord is far
from the wicked,
4. We must understand that when we are obedient that God doesn’t owe us an answer to our prayers – we receive God’s answer by grace.
1) But by the same token – we must be obedient if we want our prayer answered.
2) John 15:7
1. Matthew 16:24 - Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
1) These words of Jesus affirm that in living for and with Him, His disciples must deny everything in their lives that is contrary to the teachings of God.
2) Also, at times, we need to deny things that are right for the cause of Christ, for example:
a. We may deny ourselves of sleep because we stayed up all night in prayer.
b. We may need to forsake going to a ball game, because an important spiritual matter has come up.
IX. IN ACCORDANCE WITH GOD’S WILL
2. Prayer cannot be forceful unless it brings the human will into union with the divine will.
3. We do not pray in order to change God’s will – but to bring our will to God’s.
4. We need to realize that it is just as possible to pray a false doctrine, as it is to teach one or sing one.
5. We cannot pray for things that are contrary to the will and teachings of God.
1. If we are going to have a successful prayer life we must pray with sincerity, humility, fervency, persistency, watchfulness, thoughtfulness, godly living, a life of self-denial, in accordance to God’s will.
2. Are you having a successful prayer life?
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