July 5, 2019 ● 19-31
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)
You do not have because you do not ask. (James 4:2b)
We live in a world dominated by wireless communications. Regardless of whether you use texting, Snapchat®, e-mail, Twitter® or other methods, our world is dominated by wireless communication. It is interesting to read some of the books of the New Testament because many of them were actually letters written to either specific churches, a group of churches, or individuals. Think about it, a world with no electronic communications whatsoever. The Book of Romans, for example, was a letter, written by the apostle Paul to the church in Rome. This letter was given to a woman named Phoebe to be taken to the church and read to them (Rom. 16:1-2). The Book of Revelation, written by the apostle John, was a letter addressed to seven specific churches, to be read to them, in what we know today as the country of Turkey (Rev. 1:11). However, from the beginning of time, the ultimate in wireless communication has always been prayer (Gen. 4:26).
Regardless of where we go or what situation we are in, we are always connected to God through prayer. God is always on-line and waiting to hear from His children. Unfortunately, this most critical facet of the Christian’s life is left untapped.
Jesus taught His disciples about prayer because He was a man of prayer Himself.
Luke 5:16: But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.
Luke 6:12: It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.
When Jesus taught His disciples on prayer, He taught a truth that is often missed. In Matthew 6:5-9 Jesus said, “When you pray” (v. 5), “But you, when you pray” (v. 6), “and when you are praying” (v. 7), “Pray then in this way” (v. 9). Notice what Jesus was saying? Jesus never for one moment thought His disciples would not pray! He was not telling them to pray, He was instructing them on how to pray and what their prayers were to include.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17); “I want men in every place to pray” (1 Timothy 2:8). James wrote that, “the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16)
The purpose of prayer is for the people of God to reorient their lives to the will of God, allowing His Holy Spirit to transform them day by day into vessels He can use. Prayer must take priority in our lives if we hope to see God work through us and the church. In order for prayer to be effective, we must be willing to pay the price.
Paying the price means you hold prayer as more important than other things in your life. Paying the price means you understand that not to pray makes the Christian, and the church, spiritually weak and ineffective for the kingdom of God. Paying the price means you will set aside as much time as needed every day for spending time alone with God, and for Him to speak to you.
Many people have a hard time praying, not knowing where to start or what to include in their prayers. Others think they have to use King James Version language in their prayers, such as, “Oh Lord, thou art a wonderful God.” Who talks like that? Prayer is conversation with God. Prayer is also communion with God, being still and allowing God to speak to us.
There is no one formula for praying and there is no set amount of time someone is to be in prayer each day. I simply tell people they need to pray daily for whatever needs to be prayed for, however long that is. Jesus gave His disciples some guidelines in Matthew 6, and those guidelines are good for us to follow (but not pray exactly what Jesus told His disciples because He did not tell them to pray that specific prayer):
Honor God as holy (v. 9)
Pray that His will be done (v. 10)
Ask God to provide for your needs today (v. 11)
Ask for forgiveness, and be forgiving (v. 12)
Pray for strength through temptation (v. 13)
Adoration of God (v. 13)
Here is another easy way to structure your prayers, using the word ACTS1:
- A – adoration. Begin by praising God.
- C – confession. Proper prayer includes confessing our sins before God and asking for His forgiveness.
- T – thanksgiving. Find things to thank God for.
- S – supplication. What are your requests before God?
I have also found it useful to divide my week up into specific prayer days. Here is what I pray for:
- Sunday – the church services, the messages, decisions
- Monday – the preaching ministry God has entrusted me with
- Tuesday – our deacons
- Wednesday – the youth ministry, our Wednesday night service, TeamKid
- Thursday – our Sunday School teachers and Director by name
- Friday – my family
- Saturday – Sunday’s services, personal preparation for delivering those messages.
I read an article from crosswalk,com written some years ago on prayer. Included in this article was some information on roadblocks to prayer from Dr. Mark Johnson, chief psychologist at the Central Jail Complex of Orange County California at that time2:
- Disobedience. Why should God give you His ear when you have chosen to plug yours to His commands and His leading?
- Secret sin. Why should God offer a helping hand if you’re holding one behind your back clutching sin?
- Stubbornness. Why should God give in to you while you are refusing to give in to Him?
- Self-indulgence. Why should God pour out His favor if you have decided to keep all of it for yourself?
- Mistrust. Why should God answer prayer if you continue to mistrust Him and remain a doubting Thomas?
The Christian that does not pray becomes a spiritually weak Christian, and is missing out on some wonderful communion with God. The Christian that does not pray is unprepared and unequipped to serve and live for God on a daily basis.
I want to encourage you to establish, along with your daily time in God’s Word, a prayer time as part of that quiet time. Learn to pray without ceasing, pray with and for your friends, your church, your family, and for God’s will to be done through you.
Without prayer the Christian life, robbed of its sweetness and its beauty, becomes cold and formal and dead; but rooted in the secret place where God meets and walks and talks with His own, it grows into such a testimony of divine power that all men will feel its influence and be touched by the warmth of its love. Thus, resembling our Lord and master, we shall be used for the glory of God and the salvation of our fellowmen3.
1 The prayer acrostic ACTS is not original with me, I do not know where it originally appeared.
2 “Roadblocks to prayer”, www.crosswalk.com, Aug. 21, 2000 (internet, accessed July 2, 2019).
3 “Christ Commanded Us To Pray”, E.M. Bounds, The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer, Book Five: Purpose in Prayer (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1990), 365. I would highly recommend you buy of copy of this book, it is an incredible resource on prayer!