Monday, October 10, 2005

Prayer



Prayer
“Why, and How Does it Work?”


Prayer is so important to the Christian life. Listen to what Tom Watson (the writer not the golfer) had to say about prayer: “It is one thing to pray, and another thing to be given to prayer… Prayer is a glorious ordinance, it is the soul’s trading with heaven. God comes down to us by his Spirit, and we go up to him by prayer.” But we need to make sure that we understand what we are doing when we pray. We must understand why we pray, how we pray, and we must understand how God uses our prayers.


(*Today I want to look at the first two of these questions and on Thursday we will look at the third.*)

Why do we pray?

Scripture commands us to pray.

The reason we pray, first and foremost, is because God’s Word commands us to pray. All through out Scripture we are exhorted to pray. In fact, Jesus gave us an example of praying in Matthew 6:9-13:
Pray then like this:
"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Surely this implies that we should be praying. And if that wasn’t enough, in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Paul tells his readers that we should pray without ceasing. That is, we are always to be in an attitude of submission to God.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.


If we do not pray for something we might not get it.
This may seem like a strange or even selfish thing to say. Jesus spoke on this issue in Matthew 7:7-11. He said ask and it will be given to you. This is exactly what James says in James 4:2. His readers were unable to obtain what they wanted because they went about it in the wrong way. They used lust and fighting to get what they wanted instead of asking God. What is interesting is that James not only addresses their lack of prayer, but also their method of prayer. When they did pray, they prayed only to fulfill their worldly passions. This goes back to what Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Prayer is not only action, but an attitude of submission to God. Now when we look at Matthew 7, and this passage we see that when we pray within God’s will God will answer that prayer.


How do we pray?

To the Father, through the Son, assisted by the Spirit.

Jesus instructed us to pray to the Father (Matthew 6:5-15). And we should pray to the Father through the Son. Jesus Christ is the mediator. He is the one through whom we address the Father. Through his atonement for our sins, and his provision of righteousness before God we are able to boldly approach the throne of God. And we are reminded in Romans 8:26 that Christ has sent the Holy Spirit to assists us in our prayers (This makes the doctrine of the trinity quite relevant in our prayers.).

A-C-T-S.

“Acts” is an acronym used to describe the basic elements of prayer. It is not an exhaustive checklist for your prayer life, but it has been helpful to me. And because prayer changes us (Not God) we will see how each aspect affects our own lives.

-Adoration: We were created to worship, and we must use that capacity to worship God in our prayers. We must pray in truth and adoration using the facilities that God gave us for his glory (John 4:24). And no one can spend time before God in adoration and not be changed by the experience.

-Confession: Scripture tells us that if we confess our sins God will forgive them (1 John 1:4). And Paul tells us to examine our self and confess our sins before partaking in the Lord’s Table (1 Cor 11:23ff). We are not telling God what he does not know; we are acknowledging it for our own sake. And we are changed by the realization of our sin in light of God’s holiness.

-Thanksgiving: Part of Paul’s exhortation in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 is to give thanks in all situations. In are thanksgiving we are submitting to the will of God. We are saying that even though we are going through trials we are thankful because we know it is your will. So, when we are giving thanks in all situations it is easier to see the work of God’s providence in all situations.

-Supplication: Mt. 6:11. In supplication we bring our needs, and the needs of others before God. In supplication we are participating in the “priesthood of believers.” We are imitating the work of Christ who intercedes for His people.

These are just a few introductory thoughts on a subject that should impact your everyday life. There is so much that God's Word tells us about prayer. Which tells us there is so much that we should be praying for.

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