Prayer #1

Steve Viars December 28, 1991

- today we're going to begin looking at the fourth topic -
    God's Provision Through Prayer

- INPUT - what is the proof that a person has truly learned
          something? (when it has changed his/her life)
- these basic truths are just that -- basic truths
    - but a question we're all going to need to ask is - is
      this basic truth, (for some of us we're talking about a
      truth we've heard about and studied about for years)
        - is that basic truth one that we've genuinely
          learned because there is clear evidence of change
          and growth?

- Any time we approach this subject, I think most of us could
  say - that's an area I can work on.
    - let's look carefully at these verses and seek to find
      things we need to know, and ways we need to change in
      this critical area

I. Why Should Christians Pray?

    - INPUT - what reasons might someone give to support the
       idea that Christians shouldn't/don't need to pray?

        - The Lord already knows us, loves us, is aware of
          our needs, prayer won't change anything, God has
          already decided what He is going to do, etc.

    A. It Delights Our Lord

        - you may know somebody that seems like they're never
          satisfied--or at least you have trouble "reading
          them" and knowing if they're satisfied
            - the Lord is not like that - He tells us what
              "delights" Him

        - Prov. 15:8 - READ

        - prayer is not just what God is due, or what He
          expects--it's His delight

        - if a person had the ability to ask the Lord - "What
          do you think of so and so, Lord", if that person
          was a praying person, the Lord would say--I'm
          delighted

        - word "delight" is used throughout the Bible to
          refer to God's pleasure, will, desire
             - cf. Psalm 103:21 - "Bless ye the Lord, all ye
                   hosts, ye ministers of His, that do His
                   pleasure."

    - a good question to ask here - Did you delight the Lord
       today?  Have you delighted Him this week?

    B. It demonstrates the presence of the Holy Spirit

        Romans 8:9 - now if any man hath not the Spirit of
            Christ, He is none of His
        Gal. 4:6 - And because ye are sons, God hath sent
           forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts,
           crying, Abba, Father

           - point is - A person who is truly indwelt by the
               Holy Spirit will be a praying person. Of
               course a person who prays may not be indwelt
               with the Holy Spirit, but a person indwelt
               with the Holy Spirit must pray.

        - some other passages that go along with this idea:

            Rom. 10:9, 10, 13
            Acts 9:11

    C. It develops our discipleship

        - People who pray are like our Lord
        - I John 2:6 - He that saith he abideth in Him ought
              himself also so to walk even as He walked.

        - clearly, as you study the Scriptures, you see that
          our Lord had a regular and significant prayer life

        1. His public ministry began in prayer

            - Luke 3:21, 22 (from NIV)

        2. His ministry was characterized by prayer

            - Luke 5:16 - withdrew Himself into the
                wilderness, and prayed

        3. His ministry ended in prayer

            Luke 23:34 - Father, forgive them, for they know
                not what they do

            Matt. 27:46 - My God, my God, why hast thou
                forsaken me?

            Luke 23:46 - Into thy hands I commend my Spirit

  INPUT - what applications should we take away from these
      verses?

    D. It's a sin not to

        I Sam 12:23 - (The Israelites have just rejected
           Samuel/and God by wanting a king so they could be
           like the other nations - Samuel is making a
           "farewell speech") - Moreover, as for me, God
           forbid that I should sin against the Lord in
           ceasing to pray for you (see next page)
    - What point should we take away from this verse?
       - cf. "sins of omission" - James 4:17 - to him who
              knows to do good, and doeth it not, to him it
              is sin.
        - sometimes we think about sin only as outward acts
          or words
            - these verses make it clear - its possible to be
              sinning just by not doing something we should
              be doing

    - how many of us could honestly look at our fellow
      believers here, or our missionary families, or those in
      special needs and say - "God forbid that I should sin
      against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you"

    E. So that we don't "miss out" on God's blessings

        James 4:2-3 - ...ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye
           ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that
           ye may consume it upon your lusts.

        - One of the things I liked about the Living Nativity
          is that it caused us to have to do a lot of praying
            - we had to - there was so much about it that we
               simply could not control

        - I'm sure that's one of the reasons that the Lord
          blessed, because we asked Him, too

        - aren't you glad we didn't fall into the "you have
          not, because you asked not" category?


    F. People are lost

        Romans 10:1 - Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer
           to God for Israel is that they might be saved

        - we studied back in the book of I Timothy about
          evangelistic praying (I Tim. 2:1-4 - "...for this
          is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our
          Savior, who will have all men to be saved, and to
          come unto knowledge of the truth"

        - INPUT - if we're not growing in this area of
             evangelistic praying, what might this indicate?

               - hell isn't that bad?
               - that person won't be saved anyway
               - the "old fashioned gospel" won't work in the
                   90's
               - God couldn't use me in that person's life
               - someone else will tell them (and pray for
                   them?)


    G. Essential To Victory

        Eph. 6:17-18

 

    H. New Testament Church did

        - Acts 2:42


- overall message is - there are many, many reasons why a
    believer should pray - and why he/she:
      1) should be growing in this area of life
      2) should be placing a significant amount of emphasis
          on this facet of the Christian life

- but remember what we said earlier - the test of whether
    someone has genuinely learned something or not is whether
    they are putting those truths into action

- so one question we need to ask is - have all the reasons
   God gives us for praying motivated you to grow in thise
   area?
- if God were going to rate you in this area (on a scale of
    one to ten) how would He rate you?

- let's talk now about:

II. Hindrances To Prayer

    A. "I don't take the time."

        INPUT - what does I Thes. 5:17 say about this? - READ
           - God wants us to be in a constant, prayerful
             attitude so that at any time we would be able to
             speak to Him in close fellowship.

        - We've been talking the last couple weeks about
            Bible study, and many of you have asked for some
            information on how to order the
            books/commentaries that have been suggested
        - I'm assuming from that that there are some folks
          who are going to seek to make Bible study more of
          an emphasis/priority this year.

        - one good study to do would be to look at all the
          occurrences of the phrase "mine hour" in the gospels

        - one thing you find there is that while Jesus was
          obviously very busy, He was never too busy to pray
        - that's an amazing thought when you think about it
           - never has anyone had a more important job
           - never has anyone had a better excuse to be "too
             busy" to pray
           - never has anyone had cause to get caught up in
             sideline issues that resulted in a less effective
              prayer life

         - but over and over you see the Lord focused on His
           hour, and God's desire for His life
         - He was "goal-oriented"
             - as a result, there were many things He didn't
               get involved in because they didn't fit into
               His Father's goals
             - there were other things He did tirelessly
               because they did fit into His goals

- now we're not talking about spending three hours a morning
  in prayer
- Pastor spoke about this during Stewardship month - we're
   not going to drag out some old illustration about the guy
   that began his day with 4 hours of prayer and all the rest
- but the other side of that is - our Lord wants us to spend
    regular, organized, uninterrupted time praying to Him

   - Question we have to ask - Is the time I spend in prayer
       pleasing to the Lord?

    B. I lack a clear conscience

        - Psalm 66:18 - "If I regard iniquity in my heart,
              the Lord will not hear me"

        - I Peter 3:7 - (learner)...that your prayers be not
              hindered

        - Heb. 10:22 - (READ)


        - point is – un-confessed sin will hinder our prayer
            life
            - next week we'll study a model prayer where
              Jesus taught His disciples to pray. One of the
              things we'll learn in that passage is that
              confession is part of the prayer process.

            - Matt. 5:23-26 shows just how important (READ)

    C. I ask amiss

        James 4:3 - INPUT - how does this verse explain the
            phrase "asking amiss?"


        Phil. 4:19 - what does God promise to supply in that
           passage?

        cf. Matt. 26:39, 42


    D. I pray in the wrong name

        John 14:13 - What is required when we pray?

        John 16:24 - What does God desire for us as we pray?

    E. I do not believe God

        Matt. 7:7-8


        I Peter 3:12


        James 1:6-7

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video