4: The Role of Prayer, Part 2

Dan Parks October 31, 2018

What is Christianity?  And what is the point?  Lesson 4: The Role of Prayer, Part 2

Biblically, a Christian is a disciple — in other words, a follower — of Christ.

To follow Christ, we must repent — in other words, turn, by faith

from selfishness to selflessness (seeking good for others),

from seeking what we want to seeking what God wants.

In short, we must turn from doing things our ways to doing things God’s way.

Again, the point of all of this: Reconciled, restored, mutually loving relationships with God.

John 3: 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Ephesians 5: 1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

2 Corinthians 5: 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

1 Thessalonians 5: 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.

Again, we don’t reconcile to stay estranged, right?  That defeats the purpose:

2 Corinthians 6: 1 As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.

James 5: 13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.

Ephesians 6: 18 … pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  …

And again, prayer is talking with God — & God is a Person.  So prayer is         talking with a Person.

We’re looking at four kinds of prayer, but they’re really just four types of talking:

A doration:               Praise — Acknowledging the greatness of God

C onfession:              Acknowledging our failures & shortcomings

T hanksgiving:          Acknowledging His goodness to us

S upplication:            Requests (for supplies) — Acknowledging our dependence on Him

Next up: Thanksgiving:

1 Thessalonians 5: 16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 2: 6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  …

Colossians 3: 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  …

Colossians 4: 2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

So what is thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is about acknowledging & appreciating a goodness or kindness, a gift or service.

In God’s case, it’s about acknowledging & appreciating examples of His goodness &   kindness, shown to us in His countless gifts & His tireless service:

Isaiah 12:            1 In that day you will say:

“I will praise you, O LORD.    Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away    and you have comforted me. 2 Surely God is my salvation;    I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song;    he has become my salvation.” 3 With joy you will draw water    from the wells of salvation.

 4 In that day you will say:

   “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;    make known among the nations what he has done,    and proclaim that his name is exalted. 5 Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things;    let this be known to all the world. 6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,    for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

Psalm 107:           1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;    his love endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say this—    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, 3 those he gathered from the lands,    from east and west, from north and south.

 4 Some wandered in desert wastelands,    finding no way to a city where they could settle. 5 They were hungry and thirsty,    and their lives ebbed away. 6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,    and he delivered them from their distress. 7 He led them by a straight way    to a city where they could settle. 8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love    and his wonderful deeds for men, 9 for he satisfies the thirsty    and fills the hungry with good things.

 10 Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom,    prisoners suffering in iron chains, 11 for they had rebelled against the words of God    and despised the counsel of the Most High. 12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;    they stumbled, and there was no one to help. 13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,    and he saved them from their distress. 14 He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom    and broke away their chains. 15 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love    and his wonderful deeds for men, 16 for he breaks down gates of bronze    and cuts through bars of iron.

 17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways    and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. 18 They loathed all food    and drew near the gates of death. 19 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,    and he saved them from their distress. 20 He sent forth his word and healed them;    he rescued them from the grave. 21 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love    and his wonderful deeds for men. 22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings    and tell of his works with songs of joy.

 23 Others went out on the sea in ships;    they were merchants on the mighty waters. 24 They saw the works of the LORD,    his wonderful deeds in the deep. 25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest    that lifted high the waves. 26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;    in their peril their courage melted away. 27 They reeled and staggered like drunken men;    they were at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,    and he brought them out of their distress. 29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;    the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 They were glad when it grew calm,    and he guided them to their desired haven. 31 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love    and his wonderful deeds for men. 32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people    and praise him in the council of the elders.  …

This one seems pretty straightforward, but we have underestimated its power.

Why is this important?  Why do we teach our children to say “thank you”?

How is it good for the people they thank?

Everyone appreciates being appreciated.

How is it good for them?

The practice of gratitude teaches us gratitude, makes us more

grateful.

And the same is true with God.  First, it’s just the right thing to do; God deserves our         thanks:

Psalm 100:        4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving    and his courts with praise;    give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Hebrews 12: 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe….

But it also has to be nice for God:

Matthew 5: 43 [Jesus:] “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Luke 6: 32 [Jesus:] “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”

“God’s exceeding desire to be loved comes from loving exceedingly.”  — John Chrysostom, from a sermon titled “Dead to Sin”

And it’s incredibly good for us — which, because “God Is Love” (1 John 4:8 & 16), He cares incredibly about.

Countless studies have noted how good gratitude (“Counting our blessings”) is for our mental &

physical health. And this is more than just feeling better; there’s a spiritual

component to this:

In our default self-importance, we expect to be served — we expect to have our  needs & even wants met.

Our generous, sympathetic view of ourselves leads us to believe we deserve good things.

Add to this our default self-absorption, & our tendency to take God’s goodnesses &     kindnesses — His “unfailing love,” His unceasing gifts & service — for granted (as     well as those of others who love us).

And the result is that we often barely notice all the good things we get — they all seem  right to us — but every unpleasant thing strike us as a notable injustice (“Not fair!”).

You see where this goes:      We start to feel very certain we deserve better than we get,

to notice God and others only as obstacles to our happiness,

to see every gift as just a fraction of what we deserve

& every unpleasantness as yet another instance of our endless

victimization.

This makes us like others less, & makes us less likable — it’s bad for us & everyone around us:

Romans 1: 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  …

2 Timothy 3: 1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

Gratitude works to break this ugly cycle; we find have so, so much to be thankful for, & it gets

harder & harder to take seriously our self-pity and self-righteous indignation.

Psalm 103:          1 Praise the LORD, O my soul;

   all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,    and forget not all his benefits3 who forgives all your sins    and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit    and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

 6 The LORD works righteousness    and justice for all the oppressed.

 7 He made known his ways to Moses,    his deeds to the people of Israel: 8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,    slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse,    nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve    or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,    so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west,    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Like adoration and confession, thanksgiving isn’t about religious rituals or play-acting; it’s about

acknowledging & reminding ourselves of God’s unfailing, undeserved

goodness to us.

And being purposeful about being grateful makes us more grateful—even spontaneously so.

As we develop the habit of looking at what we do have, instead of what we don’t,

our lives become more pleasant, & we become more pleasant.

It’s the oldest trick in the Book…

Genesis 3: 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

 4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Genesis 2: 8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

… look at what you don’t have, instead of all you do — & then believe God is holding out you.

And it’s ultimately an attack on our trust in God & our beliefs about His

motives.

And what is the antidote?

Romans 8: 31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

   “For your sake we face death all day long;    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Luke 12: 32 [Jesus:] “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

Jeremiah 29: 11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

John 10: 9 [Jesus:] “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Again, why does God do anything He does for us?

Job 41:             11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay?    Everything under heaven belongs to me.

Psalm 50:         9 I have no need of a bull from your stall

   or of goats from your pens, 10 for every animal of the forest is mine,    and the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know every bird in the mountains,    and the creatures of the field are mine. 12 If I were hungry I would not tell you,    for the world is mine, and all that is in it.

So what does love look like in return?

Luke 17: 11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to

return and give praise to God except this foreigner?19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

There’s a very big difference between being happy to get something (as all ten surely were)   & giving thanks for it (which only one did).

We can be very happy in a way that stays shallow & self-centered.  And God loves to make us

happy; but He always wants more for us than personal pleasure: He wants shared

joy.

Giving thanks turns our attention from our getting to God’s (& others’) giving

— from ourselves to the giver(s).  It turns the gifts from things we’re happy with, to gifts —

& ultimately people — we’re grateful for.

Giving thanks makes things personal for both parties.

And this is a move toward something better than the gift, & whatever fleeting pleasure it provides:

a stronger relationship, a source of joy in every circumstance.

Psalm 50:         23 He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me,    and he prepares the way    so that I may show him the salvation of God.”

This is a move toward:

1 Thessalonians 5: 16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

The disciple of Christ absolutely has reasons to “Be joyful always” & “give thanks in all circumstances.”

Even if nothing else, we always have this:

Ephesians 2: 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

1 John 5: 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Romans 8: 1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Ephesians 1: 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

John 14: 1 [Jesus:] “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  …”

Genesis 15: 1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:

   “Do not be afraid, Abram.    I am your shield,    your very great reward.”

John 16: 33 [Jesus:] “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Also this:

James 1: 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Romans 8: 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

In other words, thanks to God, everything in His followers’ lives — good & bad, pleasant & painful

— is either a gift or going to be, when He redeems it.

Genesis 50: 18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

And one of the ways He does this, even here & now: If we will let Him, God will use “all things” —

good & bad, pleasant and painful — to show us His faithfulness & draw us closer to Him.

Jeremiah 29: 11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

This is a good place to turn our attention to our last conversation type: Supplication. So what is         “supplication”?

We have considered Who God Is and who we are (& aren’t), what we’ve done and what   He’s done for us — & now we’re ready to make our requests.

This is one of the things real strengths of the ACTS model.  Granted, the segmentation is a little   artificial, doing them in a straight line is a little unnatural.

For example, confession should always lead us to praise & thanks for God’s grace & the          incredible price He paid for our forgiveness.

And adoration & thanksgiving should lead us to confession as the great love & faithfulness            of God exposes, by contrast, our own lack of love for Him and others — our smallness        & selfishness & vanity.

But so often we do so little adoring, confessing, or giving thanks.  So often our “prayers” are

focused only on us & what we want — on seeing our wills be done & our kingdoms

come (even though we end our prayers “in Jesus’s Name”).

The ACTS model pushes against this; it reminds us that we’re talking to a Person, not a vending

machine — in fact, the greatest Person of all, far greater in every way than we.

It reminds us to take a bigger, more Biblical view of prayer — which pushes us into a    bigger, more Biblical view of the God to Whom we pray.

When we ask someone for something, what we ask for, why we want it, how we ask, whom we ask,

            & the context in which we ask all matter:

Isaiah 59:          1 Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,

   nor his ear too dull to hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated    you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you,    so that he will not hear.

Notice: “will not”:

Luke 12: 1 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”

Psalm 139:        1 O LORD, you have searched me    and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise;    you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down;    you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue    you know it completely, O LORD.

To “not hear” is a deliberate choice on God’s part:

Proverbs 21:     13 If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor,    he too will cry out and not be answered.

Ezekiel 14: 1 Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front of me. 2 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 3 “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all? 4 Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: When any Israelite sets up idols in his heart and puts a wicked stumbling block before his face and then goes to a prophet, I the LORD will answer him myself in keeping with his great idolatry. 5 I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.’

 6 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!

 7 “‘When any Israelite or any alien living in Israel separates himself from me and sets up idols in his heart and puts a wicked stumbling block before his face and then goes to a prophet to inquire of me, I the LORD will answer him myself. 8 I will set my face against that man and make him an example and a byword. I will cut him off from my people. Then you will know that I am the LORD.  …

 11 “‘Then the people of Israel will no longer stray from me, nor will they defile themselves anymore with all their sins. They will be my people, and I will be their God, declares the Sovereign LORD.’”

Notice why God responds this way: He knows He is not their God

Isaiah 57:         13 [The LORD:] “When you cry out for help,    let your collection of idols save you!”

… but also: He wants to be (see vv. 8 & 11):

Psalm 81:            8 [God:] “Hear, O my people, and I will warn you—    if you would but listen to me, O Israel! 9 You shall have no foreign god among you;    you shall not bow down to an alien god. 10 I am the LORD your God,    who brought you up out of Egypt.    Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

 11 “But my people would not listen to me;    Israel would not submit to me. 12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts    to follow their own devices.

 13If my people would but listen to me,    if Israel would follow my ways, 14 how quickly would I subdue their enemies    and turn my hand against their foes! 15 Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him,    and their punishment would last forever. 16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;    with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

Isaiah 30:          18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;    he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice.    Blessed are all who wait for him!

 19 O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.

What does this teach us about prayer?

James 5: 13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

 17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

This is often quoted as a reason to pray — but how about to be righteous?

Matthew 5: 23 [Jesus:] “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

James 4: 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

 4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

This is not the only reason prayers seem to go unanswered.  But it is one reason.  God is not a genie,

& He is not manipulated.  Again, He “perceive[s our] thoughts from afar” (Psalm 139:2), &:

Galatians 6: 7 …  God cannot be mocked.

And this doesn’t mean God answers our prayers when or because we deserve it:

Job 41:             11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay?    Everything under heaven belongs to me.

Daniel 9: 18 “Give ear, O God, and hear…. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.”

But there’s a very real sense in which supplication was designed for God’s people & to

accomplish God’s purposes (which, because, again, “God Is Love,” are in everyone’s    best interests):

John 15: 4 [Jesus:] “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

   5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.  …

   16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.   …

John 16: 22 “…  Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.  …

   26 “In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”

Note the stated purposes here: God’s glory & our joy.  Also notice the qualifiers: What      does it mean to ask in His Name? to “remain” in Him (& have His words remain in us)?

Matthew 18: 20 [Jesus:] “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

Mark 9: 36 [Jesus] took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”  …

 41 “I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.”

Acts 2: 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Hebrews 10: 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 9: 7 … only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. 8 The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing.

Acts 19: 13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

 17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.

Colossians 3: 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

John 15: 9 [Jesus:] “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

They mean a lot of things, but they’re all related to true disciples of Christ trying to accomplish

His purposes in His power & grace.

As always, it’s relational — it’s all about being properly related to Him:

Hebrews 5: 7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

1 John 3: 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

And the Same is true of praying “in the Spirit”:

Jude 1: 20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Ephesians 6: 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  …  17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Romans 8: 5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

 12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 

To see the full set of notes, you can download them here.

Dan Parks

B.A., English Writing, DePauw University 
M.F.A, Creative Writing, The University of Alabama

Dan and his wife, Brooke, have attended Faith since 2015. They have two children, Anna-Claire and Isaiah, and live in the North End of Lafayette. Dan helps to coordinate Faith Church North's men's ministries and the greeting team