What is Prayer?
Posted on 09/16/2007 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (may not contain everything found in the audio above)
Good morning and welcome to Abundant Living Ministries CyberChurch! If you're a first-time visitor, we want you to feel welcomed and at home, and to know that our purpose for gathering here today is to magnify and exalt the name of Jesus, to point others to him, and to invite, seek after, and experience the presence of the one True and Living God.
Let's all stand to our feet and start this service with prayer.
Lord God, thank you for today, and for this opportunity to gather together from every part of the globe to seek after you.
We take a few minutes now to pray for those who have requested public prayer this past week.
We pray for healing for HoneyB's friends. You know the situation, and you have the solution. We ask that you minister to these friends through HoneyB and through whoever else you bring across their paths.
We pray for Dianne's friend who is going through tests over the next few days and weeks. We ask for a good report from the doctors, and that you would bring healing and restoration, and the presence of the Living God, to this friend.
We pray for Rolene and for her family. We ask that you draw her husband back to you. Bring him to the end of himself, and may he be closer to and more on fire for you than ever before. We also pray for their financial situation since he just lost his job. Show yourself to them as their all-sufficiency, their answer for every need, and the only one who can fulfill their heart's deepest desire.
We pray for Kevin who says he has been struggling with homosexual lust for many years, and is ready to be set free. You have transformed too many to count who have struggled with this any any other bondage, and it is your will to establish your life-breathing Kingdom order in Kevin's mind so that he can become the man of God you created him to be. Bring people into his path who will minister to him, and we ask that you bring him complete deliverance, in the name of Jesus.
And now Lord, we pray for all the unspoken requests, and for each one here, pour out your Holy Spirit upon us, and continue that good work you have begun in each and every one of us.
And it's in the precious name of Jesus we pray.
Click-touch the pulpit for a notecard, and let's continue in the presence of the Lord.
I LOVE TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE
I love to be in Your presence
With Your people singing praises
I love to stand and rejoice
Lift my hands and raise my voice
You set my feet to dancing
You fill my heart with song
You give me reason to rejoice
TAKE ME IN
Take me past the outer courts
Into the Holy Place
Past the brazen altar
Lord I want to see your face
Pass me by the crowds of people
And the Priests who sing your praise
I hunger and thirst for your righteousness
And it's only found one place
Take me into the holy of holies
Take me in by the blood of the lamb
Take me into the holy of holies
Take the coal, touch my lips, here I am
I LOVE YOU LORD
I love you Lord
and I lift my voice
To worship you
O my soul, rejoice!
Take joy, my King
in what you hear
May it be a sweet, sweet sound
in your ear
Thank you Lord for your sweet presence here today.
Speak to us now through your Word, revealing yourself to us by your Holy Spirit.
Thank you Lord. Amen.
You may be seated.
Last week we talked about what is usually called "The Lord's Prayer," and discussed how this model prayer is actually an outline for direction as we talk with God every day.
Lord willing, we'll spend the next few weeks looking a bit more in depth at the various components of that model.
Today, I'd like to introduce the next few weeks by talking a little about prayer, and my prayer is that a foundation will be laid upon which God can build in us a solid prayer life.
Why should we pray? Isn't prayer for the preacher, the ministers, and the little old lady with nothing else to do? Isn't prayer for the evangelists, the Sunday school teachers, and the missionaries? Isn't prayer just for me when I'm getting ready to eat, or at church on Sunday?
For the answer to this, we should contemplate the fact that the Bible was not written just for the preacher, the evangelist, the missionary, and the little old lady with nothing else to do. Rather, the Word of God was written for YOU.
So when 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, "Pray without ceasing," to whom is God talking? Well, he's talking to you and to me.
You see, we were created for God's pleasure, and so we could walk daily with him, talking and communing with him as father and son, or friend with friend. And our disorientation which comes from not fulfilling that basic purpose and need, causes so many problems.
We lose or never have clear direction and focus. Our priorities begin to get confused. We all to often are visited by doubt and confusion. We stumble and fall, and seem to lack the power vital to living a Godly life.
Everything just isn't right when our relationship with God isn't right. When we're not walking in that daily fellowship with him, nothing else can be as it should be.
And so we fellowship with God. We talk with him, commune with him, and are conscious of his presence with us just as we are conscious of a dear friend walking close beside us.
And we call this fellowship "prayer."
Now it's important to point out that we're not talking about prayer in general. After all, people in all religions pray. Rather, when we use the word "prayer," we're just talking about interaction with God.
And it's also important to point out that we are indeed talking about interaction with GOD, Jehovah God, the God of the Bible, not just some universal force, or a higher self, or the saints, or Mary.
The Bible never tells us that if we hail Mary and pray to her, she will grant us special favors and assistance. In fact, if she were to be granted a trip to earth, few who treat her in that manner would believe it's her, because she would probably be quite unhappy about such adolation to say the least.
The Bible also never tells us that if we recite the Lord's prayer or count beads, we'll be any closer to God or will accomplish anything at all. In fact, Jesus says in Matthew 6:7, "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words."
God doesn't want lip service or religious rituals. He wants a real, genuine, always-on relationship with you.
As we talk over the next few weeks about the outline Jesus gave us for prayer, we will delve a bit deeper into the various elements of our prayer life. But today I'd like to briefly touch on a few of them, and then we'll close.
The model prayer begins with praising God's holiness. And praise is all throughout both Old and New testaments. The book of Psalms is full to overflowing with praise. And praise flows out of a receptive experience of the presence of God.
Praise breaks chains and bondages. It can shatter oppression and darkness. And it confuses the enemy.
There is never a single moment of time in which both praise and worship are not rising up to God. While praise is something that can be given to anyone for doing well or posessing something good, worship is something that should be given to God alone.
When we think of worship, we often envision bowing down, or prostrating one's self on the floor in the presence of the one they are worshiping. And Jesus told us that the Father seeks those who will worship him in spirit and in truth.
Worship is humbling yourself before your great and mighty God. And it is also a lifestyle. When Jesus said God seeks those who would worship him in spirit and in truth, he did not just say "spirit," for otherwise we could say that our spirit is always worshiping God or that we worship him on Sundays. He did not just say "truth," for otherwise we could dry up all the Scriptures and eat Bible raisins for lunch every day.
Instead, Jesus said God is searching for those who would worship him... how? In spirit, and in truth.
Truth speaks of that which is real. God wants us to worship him with our spirits, for God is a spirit; but he also wants to us worship him in truth, for real, in ways that are solid and unfaltering -- with every word, action, and deed.
Scripture tells us in First Thessalonians 5:18, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." This does not say, "God just wants you to give thanks before you eat, or when something really good happens to you," but rather, "In ALL things, give thanks!" No matter what is going on in our lives and in the world around us, we need to choose to give thanks.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
God wants us to make our requests known to him. All too often, we worry instead. But God, who already knows our need, is waiting for us to talk to him about it so he can give us peace, direction, discernment, and provision.
Prayer is not just about talking, it's also about listening. Sometimes we need to just wait in his presence, listening for his voice, and watching for his Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 40:31 says, "But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint."
We tend to want to ask God for what we need and then move on to our various activities. But God wants to spend time with us. And sometimes we need to just wait.
Intercession can be explained as "standing in the gap." And it implies that there is indeed a gap. There is a space, a separation between someone and God. Or perhaps there is a closing space between someone and the enemy.
A definition of intercession I found at higherpraise.com is this: "Intercession is the act of going on behalf of someone else who needs help from Almighty God, to be merciful and gracious unto someone else and not self. "
It can be for healing, to avert judgment, for deliverance, for restoration, for leading to repentance, and for reconciliation and salvation. When Jesus told us to pray that God would "give us this day our daily bread," he did not say "give me this day my daily bread," but instead said "give US this day OUR daily bread." God wants us to care about others, and to stand in the gap for their needs.
We can interceed for our nation, asking that God hold back his wrath, and that souls would be saved, those in bondage to the enemy would be delivered, and that revival would sweep over our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities, and our lands.
and 7. Rejoicing
Philippians 4:4 says, "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice!" The Christian life is not a life of penance and drudgery, for it is not a life of religion but of living relationship. Rather, Jesus said in John 10:10 that it was the enemy, not him, who came to steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus came to give us life in great abundance. He wants us to rejoice!
Some have said that prayer is not something you need to do separately from everything else, but is just a way of life that you do all the time. But this is only partially true.
While we should be continually communing with God, and while this is a form of prayer, Jesus said, "When you pray, go into your room and close the door." This tells us that there are times of prayer during which we get alone with God and praise, worship, thank, request, wait upon, interceed, and rejoice with him.
And this is what we will be talking about for the next few weeks.
Let's close with prayer, as the ministry team comes to stand across the front.
Lord, thank you for your Word, and that you desire an every-moment relationship with us. Thank you that you not only allow us to come to you in prayer, but you desire us to pray, and delight in the time we spend with you.
I ask that you guide us as we explore this issue of prayer over the next few weeks. Reveal your Word to us. And draw us ever closer to you.
And we ask these things in the name of Jesus.
This altar is open. Feel free to step out of your seat and come stand or kneel at the front and spend some time in the presence of the Lord. If you need prayer or ministry, instant message someone on the ministry team.
You're all invited to join us next door in the room to your left for a time of fellowship.
May God bless you and keep you, drawing you into his presence, enriching your life of prayer and making you more like Jesus. Amen.