Developing Practical Skills in Prayer
1. We’d like to begin a series today on the subject of PRAYER – these studies are designed to further enhance our Worship Service Study of Reaching New Heights Through Our Faithfulness to Pray.
Note: Explain why we want to do this series – tie it to Reaching New Heights
- This is where progressive sanctification enters the picture – we all need to grow in this area!
- Our plans to include times of prayer in our ABF (individual, small groups, random prayers, specific topics, specific ministries, etc.
[Suggestion: Keep a prayer journal for answers to prayer throughout this year]
2. Martyn Lloyd – Jones wrote:
Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face with God.” – MacArthur’s, Alone With God, p. 7.
- in fact, for most of us, if our spiritual walk was measured by our prayer lives, we probably wouldn’t be doing so well
3. I’d like to begin our study with a series of questions for us to consider.
* I would encourage you to ask these to your family/spouse/children
1) How would you define prayer?
“Talking to God as you would to a beloved friend – without pretense or flippancy” – MacArthur, p. 7
- prayer is an activity, it involves the will of man, our heart and mind (inner man) and is done in a spirit of faith that God is Who He says He is
2) What would be our adversary’s view of prayer, and why? - He constantly introduces errors into our understand of and commitment to prayer
- He will never tell you that prayer is NOT IMPORTANT, but he will instead tell you . . .
- Prayer is not as important as …
- You can try, but you probably won’t get your answer (seed of doubt)
- Something else . . . is more important (activity – in fact, he’s the one that makes it easy for us to think “I’m too busy to prayer”
Note: Mention book by Bill Hybels, Too Busy NOT to Pray (great book to read)
3) What are some erroneous beliefs about prayer?
- It’s designed to make get God to do what you want Him to do [to get what I want]
- To show others how spiritual I am (it’s just a routine ritual for others or personal pride)
- The only time you can really appreciate prayer is when you’re in a trial or when things are NOT going very well for you!
- In short, you don’t NEED to pray unless you NEED to!!
4) What emphasis does the Bible give on this subject, and what passage(s) could you give to support your answer? (various answers)
- The Bible places an HEAVY emphasis on prayer!
- You see the emphasis on the life of Christ and in the Epistles – and the OT
- Genesis 20:17 And Abraham prayedto God; and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his maids, so that they bore children.
- Psalm 5:3 In the morning, O LORD, Thou wilt hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayerto Thee and eagerly watch.
- Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, and prayfor those who persecute you
- Luke 6:12 And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayerto God.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17 pray without ceasing
Point: 296 verses from a Bible Works word search deals w/ prayer through the entire Bible!
Q: Is that the kind of emphasis I give prayer? My family? Our church?
- if the answer is no, then what do I need to do to change (reach new heights)
5) Why don’t we pray? Why is this area of Christian discipline so difficult an area in which to grow? (various answers)
- It’s work – it takes effort and personal discipline
- It’s spiritual warfare – Eph. 6 – we usually stop @ the last piece of armor – keep going
- Ephesians 6:18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
- Lack of desire – to grow in any area of our spiritual live, you have to really WANT to do it! All of us make time for what we think is important – our choices reveal our priorities
- if you really WANT to spend time praying, you will give up something else to get it done!
- No plan to follow – i.e. some don’t pray because they haven’t thought through a plan to follow and ‘make it happen’
Read the following quote by Martyn Lloyd-Jones:
“It is the highest activity of the human soul, and therefore it is at the same time the ultimate test of a man’s true spiritual condition. There is nothing that tells the truth about us as Christian people so much as our prayer life. . . . Ultimately, therefore, a man discovers the real condition of his spiritual life when he examines himself in private, when he is alone with God. . . . And have we not all known what it is to find that, somehow, we have less to say to God when we are alone than when we are in the presence of others? It should not be so; but it often is. So that it is when we have left the realm of activities and outward dealings with other people, and are alone with God, that we really know where we stand in a spiritual sense.”
- Next week, we’ll be studying: Avoiding the Hindrances to Prayer
4. I do want to make the point that prayer is not THE most important thing in our relationship to God – it is a KEY part in the relationship, but there is something more important than us talking to God!
Q: What is it? Answer: God talking to us through His Word!
- but prayer is one of the major disciplines of the Christian life – just like memorization, meditation, study, evangelism, serving, etc.!
- I need it // You need it // Our church needs it // our ABF needs it // our community, country, military, leadership, missionaries . . . .
5. Purpose of this series:
- To help us develop a more biblical understanding of God's purpose and goal in prayer
- To motivate individual believers to pray more and to pray in a more biblical manner
- To help us as a church family grow in our focus and practice of corporate prayer
6. Lesson to learn: When you think about what characterized the NT church, one of those characteristics was prayer!
- Corporate prayer is probably a reflection of our individual prayer (i.e. individual drives the other)
- If we think we can ‘run the church’ without help from God, we are very deceived!
Note: Recommend the following books to read:
- MacArthur’s book, Alone with God, and Too Busy NOT to Pray, Bill Hybels
7. Here are some ways to help you develop practical prayer skills in your life:
[Adapted from Partners in Prayer, John Maxwell, Thomas Nelson Publishers]
1) Preparation time – slow down on purpose for a second, stop and think about what you are about to do;
- Mark 6:31 And He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while." (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)
- the main idea is for you to be ready to meet with God (prepare your heart
- to put off the cares of this world and concentrate on what you’re about to do;
Example: Get your head in the game before you run out onto the field!:
2) Bible Time – reading the Word is basic to the Christian life
- yet reading/studying the Word will do awesome things in your walk with God;
- consider some of the passages in the Psalms about prayer, or a few verses in the NT, etc.,
- but the Word helps to prepare your heart for more effective/sincere prayer!
- Jeremiah 15:16 Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.
3) Meditation Time – remember the words of the Psalmist:
- Psalm 1:1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.
4) Intercession time – this is simply praying for others
Q: Why should I pray for others before I bring MY requests to God?
> That’s the mind of Christ according to Phil. 2 – review those verses!!
> Paul even instructed his young son in the faith, Timothy to pray for others:
- 1 Timothy 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
5) Petition time – this asking God for your personal requests – in faith and submission to His divine will for your life
- sometimes the answer is YES – other times it’s NO, or “WAIT” and/or “keep on asking and demonstrating your faith!”
- Matthew 7:7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
- John 15:7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
6) Faith time – believing that God can do something that you can’t do, and God knows something that you don’t know!
- Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
- James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
7) Praise and Thanksgiving Time –
Praise = recognizes God for Who He is
Thanksgiving = recognizes God for what He has done
- this actually fulfills our purpose for being created – to praise
- Psalm 150:6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
* Short version:
A = Adoration – praising God for Who He is
C = Confession – admitting any sins (known or forgotten) – I john 1:9
T = Thanksgiving – thanking God for specifics –what He has done
S = Supplication – or requests made to God (specific and by faith – yet with the attitude of ‘not my will, but Your will be done’
PRAYER TIME – we can TALK about praying, or we can DO IT!
> Let’s DO IT – eagles fly, so LET’s GET UP THERE!!!