Victoria - posted on 07/02/2010 ( 7 moms have responded )
(A sermon I gave recently)
Prayer it is so important for us as Christians. It’s a direct line of communication with God. Whether a big long prayer or a very short prayer, whether a vocalized prayer or one said in our thoughts, prayer plays an important part in our Christian walk.
Today we are going to look at six important aspects of prayer. So if we can turn to Ephesians 6, we are going to look at verses 18-20.
(NIV) Eph 6:18 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. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
The six keys we will look at today are:
1) Pray in the spirit
2) Pray on all occasions
3) Pray persistently
4) Pray for the saints
5) Pray for your leaders
6) Pray with direction
So firstly what does it mean to pray?
The Greek is proseuchomai (pros-yoo’-khom-ahee) and means,
Intercession, urge, beg, ask, petition, go before, request entreat, plea.
So to start with it’s going before God. Generally it’s asking, begging, entreating him for something, either as intercession on someone else’s behalf, or for our own lives.
These six keys we will look at today are How’s, When’s, Who’s of prayer rather that What’s.
1. Pray in the Spirit
The first key is found at the begging of verse 18.
“And pray in the Spirit”
What does it mean to pray in the spirit? With all that is within you, don’t just pray by mouth or surface thoughts, allow God to lead you in prayer. He already knows our needs, wants and desires even before we know them, so we need to trust God. Not only that, but even when we don’t have words to say, God will still hear our prayer.
Ne 2:4 The king said to me, "What is it you want?" Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king.
Here we see Nehemiah shooting of a quick prayer to God, we don’t know exactly what he prayed at that time, possibly something like is now the time to speak to the king or not, but it was done within his spirit to God.
Jude 1:20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
Ro 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
Maybe our words fail us and we have no idea what we should be praying well as it says here, the spirit, that being the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. He’s in direct communication with our spirit, so what’s it to us if he by-passes our thought and speech and goes to work on our behalf.
1Co 14:2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no-one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.
This would be the case of praying in tongues, speaking to God, no-one understands no even the speaker, but God understands what the spirit is saying.
Praying doesn’t have to be with the intelligible words of man, God hears our prayer, it might be on word “help!” “need!” “please!” It might be without words, in your heart, it might be through groans or tongues, that is why it is important to pray in the spirit. When we try to use our own intellect & speech pattern we are limited to what we can say.
2. Pray on all occasions
The second keys is also found in verse 18.
“on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”
We are told to pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. That could be a need, a want, a desire, a circumstance, that is all kinds. We are unlimited to what we can bring before God in prayer as long as it doesn’t fall into sin & unrighteousness, we can come before God with it. Does that mean we’ll get it, it will happen? Well put it this way God will answer our prayer with His perfect knowledge and in regards to His will being done on earth as it is in heaven. He already knows everything, so He knows how best to respond, but we are still to come before him on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
Ps 66:17 I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. 18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; 19 but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.20 Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
God won’t reject our prayer, but again, He will answer it in regards to His perfect knowledge and will.
The Psalms are great for prayer, we see all through them how David went before God, in times of need and want, in times of joy and singing being fourth his requests to God for mercy and relief as in the case of Ps 4.
Ps 4:1 Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.
In times of joy as in Ps 108;
Ps 108:1 My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul. 2 Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. 3 I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. 4 For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.
When we read about Daniel in Daniel 6:10
Da 6:10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened towards Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.
The first thing he did when he prayed was give thanks to God, just as we are told to do in Philippians 4.
Php 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
On all occasions in everything, whether in times of need and distress, or times of joy and prosperity we should come before God and present our request.
3. Pray Persistently
The third key is also found in verse 18.
“always keep on praying”
The Message says “Pray hard and long.” The amplified “with strong purpose and perseverance” and the new living translation “be persistent”.
Now this isn’t repetitive prayer, it’s determined and not giving up. Lets take a look at Luke 18.
Lu 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’4 "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’" 6 And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?
That was persistent before and unrighteous person, how much more can we expect from a loving God & father.
Ac 1:14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Constantly in prayer.
1Th 5:17 pray continually;
2Ti 1:3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.
Again, constantly….These words paint a great picture without explanation.
So we need to be persistent in our prayer, we need a healthy prayer life.
4. Pray for the saints
The fourth key is also found in verse 18, pray for the saints.
“for all the saints.”
Now this has application to praying for each other, but also for the church at large. Brother and sisters both in Canada and across the world. We don’t know what their circumstances are, but our prayers can touch their lives.
Php 1:4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.
“For all of you”, not just those who are with us.
1Ti 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—
“For everyone” That could be someone in china or Peru.
Eph 1:16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
Remembering others in our prayers is important, it’s that concept that if one part of the body is suffering the whole body suffers, well if we need prayer, so do others.
5. Pray for the Leadership
The 5th key is found in verse 19. Paul asks that they pray for him, which is representative of leadership.
“Pray also for me”
We often over look praying for our leadership. We almost forget that just we ask and require them to prayer for us and our circumstances; they need and require us to pray for them. Whether it’s for their situation or just for their ministry we should always keep our leadership at all levels in prayer. We find Paul and the brothers asking for prayer on more than one occasion.
2Cor 1:11a, as you help us by your prayers.
As leaders we are helped by prayer.
1Th 5:25 Brothers, pray for us.
The prayers of the righteous avails much, that’s not just the prayers of the leaders, but the prayers of the righteous for the brethren and for the leaders.
Heb 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.
18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honourably in every way.
So pray for us, your leadership, whether Lay Ministers, Licensed Ministers, Ordained Ministers, Board members, WoN Executive or even Worship Team members, all are in forms of leadership and will benefit from our prayers.
6. Pray with Direction
The 6th and final key is found in verse 20. Paul directs them to pray in a particular direction.
“Pray that I…”
Where as it’s not always necessary to pray in a particular direction, if we know specifics is can be a real plus, not for Gods benefit, but for ours and anyone else who might hear what we pray. It can be a source of confidence and a real faith builder.
Mt 6:7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
Babbling usually happens when we have no direction. When we look a couple of verse down in that same chapter of Matthew, Jesus even gives us direction on how we should pray.
Mt 6:9 "This, then, is how you should pray: "’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 today our daily bread. 12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
Once again we can really benefit from have a direction to pray, Jesus often prayed with complete direction, “Be Healed!”, “Be Clean!”, “ Receive” your sight!”, “Come Out!”
John 11:41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me." 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"
We like Jesus need to have confidence that when we pray God hears us. When we pray in the spirit, on all occasions as we pray persistently for the saints, our leaders and with direction, God hears us and He will answer in accordance with His perfect knowledge and will for our lives.