The Key to Prayer
Greeting and Introduction.
- Introduce myself
- Thankful to be here
- Encourage people to take notes because:
- something for your quiet time or devotion time
- ask the Lord to make truth real in lives
- ask the Lord to help us continually practice these truths everyday
Open your Bibles and turn to 2 Chronicles 7: 12-16.
CONTEXT of this passage.
- Solomon has just completed the New Temple.
- He made a prayer of dedication of the Temple to God in. In fact a good example of a man praying to add to your notes can be found before this passage in 2 Chron 6:12 - 42 when King Solomon stands before the temple to pray the prayer of dedication of the temple. King Solomon expresses very notable truths about God that we should remember
- consuming and uncontainable presence of God,
- faithfulness of God,
- the mercy of God
and King Solomon goes own to pray to God about man's nature to sin and asks God for His mercy and forgiveness ahead of time. Solomon uses prayer as a means to communicate his Earthly requests back to God in Heaven in order to invite His presence into the lives of the Israelites, to find favor in the eyes of God.
- After he finished praying, the glory of the Lord filled the Temple and all of Israel saw it and Everyone worshiped.The fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices Verse 1 of Chapter 7 says
- Then Solomon and everyone offered a humongous sacrifice, 22,000 oxen, and 120,000 sheep.
- The Levites used the musical instruments to give praise to the Lord.
- Then Solomon consecrated the court in order to hold the sacrifice because the bronze alter was not big enough for the offerings.
- Then they had a feast and assembly (kinda like homecoming). (I don't know what they would have eaten) (Mention some home cooking)
This went on for almost a month and then the people went to their tents.
Solomon is finished. He has built the temple, prayed over the temple, and then God’s glory came down. They worshiped, sacrificed, and ate and fellowshipped and then went home.
He and the nation of Israel have done all they can do to worship and praise God.
Then the Lord appeared to Solomon, the Lord is ready to respond to Solomon.
Again, all this had gone on for nearly a month after Solomon’s dedication prayer and the Lord chooses to speak to Solomon. This is where are text picks up; it is the response of God to Solomon's prayer.
Lets start reading in 2 Chron 7: starting with verse 12.
12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.
13 “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people,
14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
15 “Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.
16 “For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995, S. 2 Ch 7:12-16
Practically everybody uses prayer.
Prayer has been defined as a devout petition TO (one could say a committed appeal or request) or a spiritual communion WITH God or an object of worship. [REPEAT THIS]
This makes sense to those of us who belong to or practice a particualr religion.
- Christians pray to Jesus
- Jews pray to God
- Muslims pray to Allah
- Hindus pray to multiple Gods
Most religions, cults or belief systems all have some type of deity or higher being or unseen force that they try to communicate with.
But did you realize that by this definition, even an atheist, prays. I would like to take a moment and show that to you.
- If we look back at the Definition. It has two parts to it that deal with a relationship to an object of worship
- request TO an object of worship.
- spiritual communion WITH an object of worship.
So we have two simple aspects to apply to prayer
- the request
- it is spiritual
Now lets look at prayer in the perspective of what an atheist may encounter.
Keep in mind the atheist believes that
- their is no diety, or higher power;
- he believes that mankind is the only consciousness there has been or ever will be.
- That everything that exists in the universe is only physical - that is, tangible, visual, detectable, traceable and so on. This is how they rule out the existence a God. Because God, in their limited knowledge, does not exist in the any of these physical forms.
Physical is the opposite of Spiritual .
Our conscience within our physical body, however, is not physcial. It must therefore be Spiritual. That is why it is part of what makes up our spiritual being, not our physical being.
The atheist, just like anyone else, will ask himself consciously, “why do good things or bad things happen to people?"
- He is asking himself, his own conscience-being, his spiritual side, this particular question, this request if you will.
- This question would literally produce endless answers if mankind was meant to be the only source of information to provide an answer to that difficult question.
- But the question he asks, by its own simple and direct nature, is an absolute question, that requires an absolute answer from one source. It is the type of question that cannot be satisfied by multiple answers. The answer to this great question would have to come from one source.
So, in the atheist's question to himself, he is unkowingly praying to himself.
He has met the two-fold nature of prayer.
- The Request, because he is petitioning, or asking himself for an answer
- The Spiritual, because he is speaking to his own conscience, not another person.
This is how the atheist becomes an idolator because of his worship of himself.
- He places himself above God.
- He creates a god in his own mind, the god that is himself, from which all standards, values, truth, and peace forth.
The atheist, when he asks himself such a question, is
- Expressing a desire to hear a response, or receive communication from something within himself.
- Seeking a source of knowledge, peace, and joy; rather than seeking a response outside of him.
? The expression, "there are no Atheists in Foxholes".?
Why would that expression hold any water?
Combat is a
- hopeless situation
- one place where a person would have to ask why
- one place where the big question of eternity is asked by people
This is when the atheist, faced with the reality that his physical life on Earth may end in the blink of an eye, begins to ask the big question about what happens after he dies. Once he is faced with that reality, he soon learns the other reality that the answer to that question is not within him and that it must be outside of him. In order to find some type of answer, his pride and doubt start to fade away because fear has taken over and pushes him into spiritual survival mode and he seeks a God outside himself to save him from the potential death that he faces.
I go to this length of to put into perspective the reality of prayer within each of us, no matter our faith or level of spirituality.
All of us pray in some way or another.
For the Christian, God has provided for us in His word the way that He expects us to pray. In this passage of scripture, God gives us four distinct components that make up a KEY to unlock the barriers that allow our prayers to be heard by God and to allow Him to work in our lives in response to our prayers.
I use the terms key and unlock and lock to give the illustration or word pictures used to describe the purpose and function of a lock.The purpose of a lock is to protect something that is valuable.
As Christians, we should hold our prayers and prayer life as something precious, something of the highest spiritual value with regard to our relationship to the Father. This is the primary means by which we commune or communicate with God. We make our appeals to God, we make our "requests known to God" (Phil 4: 6) , in order to invite His presence and His power into a particular situation in our life or the lives of others we know.
God, I believe, also sees our prayers as something valuable to Him do to what He can do
They are valuable to him because of
- the intimate communion we achieve with Him through prayer - becasue of His Holy, Perfect, and Loving nature, is a power of unequal worth in just the very response itself that we receive from God.
- The changes that come when the power of God is introduced into something is also immeasurable - consider this the same power that brought a flood of destruction upon the world is the same power that brings rain to end a drought, or healing to a body to rid it of cancer.
Prayer is a valuable asset in the life of a Christian, and things of value often require preparation and work in order to gain access to and be used effectively.
- I want to give you the image of a lock
- because the internal pieces of the lock will unlock the lock once they have been moved by the notches on a key.
- The key to unlocking the power of prayer is crafted to follow a four part design outlined in God's reply to Solomon in today's scripture.
So Title this sermon "The Key to Prayer"
Let's look first at God's nature as He reveals Himself to Solomon regarding how He (God) looks at prayer and His people.
Read Verse 12- God told Solomon that He heard and chose the temple as a house of sacrifice.
ALL the Blood sacrifice that they had offered.
- That was the only atonement for sin before Jesus came to this Earth.
- If ALL of Israel was going to win the favor of God, they had a lot of sacrifice to offer up.
So things are good so far for King Solomon.
He knows that
- God has accepted the blood sacrifice
- God could have left it at that. He could have said “Just keep my commandments and keep sending the sacrifices and you will be OK”.
But he didn’t. Look at Verse 13
God goes further to remind Solomon just who He is; who Solomon is trying to communicate with. He reveals HIS nature regarding
- HIS sovereignty,
- HIS authority and
- HIS rule over the EARTH.
He says IF “I”.
Right from this point here, God wants to establish the fact that we cannot predict or think for God. He is saying "don't expect me to be what you want me to be because I AM different, HOLY, set apart, from you. Then God gives specific examples of how much control He has.
- Shut up the Heavens so there is no Rain Drought- he controls the elements (The Lord brought drought by the word of Elijah 1 King 17: 1) (opposite, Noah and the Flood, God made it rain 40 days and 40 nights)
- Command the Locust to devour the land Locust- he controls the insects (The plague of Locusts over Egypt in Exod 10:13-14)
- Send pestilence among my people Pestilence- he even controls the diseases and germs (Lord sent a pestilence over Israel in 2 Sam 24:15)
You can put any number of things that are outside of our control (just like the atheist in combat)and plug it into that part of the verse and it means the same thing.
Why is that?
The reason is because God IS God.
He is LORD,
He is THE RULER not “A” RULER.
He can do what He wants.
He is the sovereign ruler of the universe, this is His creation.
We can’t change that, and we have to accept that.
So in other words God says “If I do what I please, you are gonna have to deal with it”
Now if we tried to do that with folks that we have dealings with everyday both on a casual and serious level, pretty soon we wouldn’t have any friends.
Seems pretty unfair.?
But with God, our IDEA of fairness does not apply because we are not on the same LEVEL as GOD.
He is Worthy and We are Not. We have to give up our rights when we truly bow to Him because of His sovereignty. His Right to reign over us.
But He is not a typical King. HE does not NEED US like a King needs people in his Kingdom just to have someone to rule over.
He is more like a good, honrable, unique King, who seeks to know those in His Kingdom. He wants to be near us. He made us to fellowship with Him, to worship Him, and communicate with Him. And when we make Him our LORD, we serve HIM, like a servant to a KING. We should want what HE wants.
So like a Good King, what He does is he tells us, His people, what it takes for you and me to communicate with Him.
Verse 14 is where we begin to see the
FOUR Clear and distinct Conditions or components that are needed in order for Him to hear us.
So get ready to write this down or highlight in your Bible whatever so you can pray over this later.
So below the title of the sermon, write this down The Four Parts of the Key(repeat)
God makes it clear that these conditions are not optional
God is saying clearly If my people do these things I will hear from heaven, I will do what you have asked of Me.
1. Number 1 First Part: “Put myself in the Correct position” (repeat) –Being Humble. Humble themselves
- Humility in view of God’s Authority. The picture that God gave Solomon of His Sovereign control and Lordship over the Earth. The truly AWESOME power and control that our Father has. If you truly try to understand God and Who he is and What he is you cannot help but be driven to your knees by the Majesty and Honor that God deserves from all of us.
- Humility because of His judgment of our sin and the gift of salvation He gave. We are condemned to death in our sin (Rom 6:23). We are not worthy to approach God in our own strength. Jesus said that we are judged already by God (John 3:18). But because of Jesus, we approach a throne of grace. By God’s grace, His Mercy, he sent us our salvation. HE loved us so much, He made a way for to approach His throne in someone else strength, Jesus Christ. So we should be on our knees HUMBLE before Jesus too, for what He did for us. God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three in one. If you’re afraid you’ll get confused about whom to worship, just pick JESUS J The Bible says they all three existed at the same time and Jesus said “if you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father” Jesus walked this Earth to show us the way, He shed His blood to pay for our sin, and He rose from the grave to conquer death and become a living Savior for us all.
- Humility in Service to others, putting others before you. In John Chapter 13, Jesus showed His disciples that He loved them. His disciples knew that He was the Son of God, that He was their Lord. Yet, Jesus humbled Himself to serve His disciples, whom He called His FRIENDS. He did what was perhaps the most humble thing He could do not only as a service to them, but as an example to them. He washed their feet. He washed feet that were covered with dirt. They were probably sweaty and gave off a bad odor, but, this custom was always welcomed by those who had the privilege of having their feet washed by someone, so that they wouldn’t have to do it themselves. Then Jesus gave the disciples the new commandment…to Love one another…THE WAY I HAVE LOVED YOU. In other words, BY MY EXAMPLE. Put others before you. Humble yourself.
- The Bible even gives benefits to being humble when it says in 1 Peter 5:5 and 6 that “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” and to “humble yourselves under the mighty “hand of God”..There is that picture of authority…”that He may exalt you at the proper time” that says HE not ME.
2. Number 2. 2nd Part “Offer the Correct petition” (repeat)– Pray .
- A petition is a request or an appeal to someone. Through Faith Speak to Him. Make your needs known to Him.
- Many of us have this part down pat already. We just have to get this part into the right order of things before God will listen. Jesus said in John 15:7 “If you abide in Me and MY WORDS abide in you ASK whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” Notice even hear, Jesus teaches a certain order for our petition. He said ABIDE then he said ASK. We should ASK THROUGH Jesus who lets us approach the glorious Throne of God’s Grace.
- When we abide in Jesus and let his word abide in us, we begin to know who Jesus is, and we begin to learn and understand His will for us. Then we can pray His will back to Him and He will answer a prayer that brings about His will.
It’s praying to know the will of the Father and asking Him to help us do what He calls us to do for His Kingdom.
3. Number 3. 3rd Part “Have the Correct Direction” (repeat)– Seek my Face The correct view,
Seeking is the concept of looking or facing something that we look at.
Are we looking or seeking to see own benefit, or to bring Glory to God?
Are we looking for satisfy ourselves, or satisfy God.
Matt 6:33 says to Seek His Kingdom First.
Not mine, not yours, not the church, not the latest social or political movement, but HIS Kingdom.
Because Jesus said “these things will be added to you” Provision.
Provision to do what He has called you to do.
Provision to become a better disciple.
Provision to become a better servant.
Provision to give us what us need, even IF we don't want it.
So after we have ASKED for something in Faith, through Jesus, we need to start SEEKING Him.
Two Reasons for this:
1st Because Jesus said so.
He commanded it.
He didn't encourage us, he said it directly...SEEK FIRST....
Jesus is giving us instructions about what we are supposed to do from our place in the Kingdom of God.
2nd To keep us from doubting God.
We can put the responsibility on God because He will prove Himself faithful.
He will build up your faith because you will begin to see answers to your prayers and you’ll get to go back in your prayer journal and say “YES LORD, I REMEMBER when you met my needs and I know you’ll do it again”.
This keeps you focused on obedience. So that God is glorified. There’s that being Humble again. Let God have authority over your Life so the He is responsible for it, and not you, then you are free to obey Him. You are free of worry because you serve a big GOD. One who knows your needs before you do and He is ready to meet them ALL…if you’ll let Him.
4. Number 4.last Part, and the most important The Correct Condition-Repentance (repeat) Turn from their wicked ways
What is the biggest obstacle between us and God?
God calls us to REPENTANCE Ezekiel 18:30 "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct,” declares the Lord God. “Repent and turn away from all your transgressions..." and then in verse 32 it reads declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.”
We must turn away from our Sin.. Sin blocks the relationship that God desires to have with each one of us because God hates sin.
He loves us so very much, be he does hate sin.
- He hates the way that sin puts us in Bondage.
- He hates the way it smells on His children
(ILLUSTRATE) Have your kid’s ever come in from playing outside, sweaty and dirty and then they try to give you a hug???
You love them and you wanna hold them but what do you say???
You need to get a bath!!!.
But once they get done with that bath, they come back, smelling clean and fresh, and you’d never know they even went outside, you completely forget what they just smelled like and looked like. Why? Because you delight in seeing your children clean. Then, you can let them sit on the couch and watch TV with you. You don’t mind spending time with them. You don’t mind talking to them, listening to them, hugging them.
When the child goes to the bath tub to go get cleaned up, he is ready to change, he is ready to turn away from smelling dirty.
When we’ve been playing outside in the world; in the sandboxes of lying and stealing and blasphemy we get dirty and God sees it; or running through the playgrounds of alcohol, or drugs, or pornography and adultery we begin to give off a bad smell and God is the one who smells it.
He always wants to be able to get closer to us,
He always wants to talk to us,
He always wants to listen to us,
He always wants to Hold us in His mighty Arms,
but He can’t always do that.
Why can't he do that?
Because We aren’t always clean. This is just a fact. We still sin.
The Bible says that we are lying if we say we don’t sin.
The Bible says “we all have sinned and fall short of God’s Glory” we miss the mark of being as good as God. We can never be good enough in God’s eyes. Jesus said there is only one good and that is God
When we don’t repent from these things, then we are still dirty in His eyes, we still smell bad to Him, and that keeps us from God
But, when we, as God's children repent, we are making a deliberate change or a turning to get the smell of sin off of us so the we can be like the child who gets to sit next to the father and spend time together.
And where repentance stops, that is where Jesus Christ takes over. It is Jesus's death on the cross, the shedding of His blood that takes away our sin.
Repentance is the descision and the action of admitting sin is sin and turning away from.
But Jesus sacrifice for us is what cleans us, makes us white as snow in the eyes of God, it makes us acceptable to God.
Jesus lived a sinless life while He was on the earth. Jesus was perfect in every way.
He was born from a virgin and was the Son of God, the same God that can not stand our sin.
But God loved us so much, He wanted to make a way to pay for the sins of the world, that he sent his son Jesus to be the payment for our sins. (John 3:16, Rom 5:8)
Because of this Jesus went to the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.
All of our sins.
For all people who would believe in Him.
Jesus did this because He loved us.
Our repentance from sin in our life is what God wanted to make sure we knew would be the last and most important part of the key to unlock the power of our prayers.
We can be humble
We can pray
We can seek God
But if we don't turn away from our sin.
if we don't see sin the way God sees it, then we are not truly seeking to create a heart for what the Father wants.
God wants us to have the closest fellowship that we can possibly have with Him, and that comes about through our repentance and rejection of sin.
We know that these four parts will work because lays the conditions of this agreement in the next two verses.
In verses 15 + 16, He said that Now His eyes would be open and His ears attentive to the prayers and the His eyes and His Heart would be there perpetually…forever.
The Lord was talking to Solomon about the temple, the place where He would dwell. Solomon longed to have that fellowship with God restored. To have his presence dwell there continually as Israel source of strength and in order to worship God, who he knew was worthy of ALL worship and Praise.
When we accepted Jesus as our Savior, we became a temple for the Holy Spirit, the person of God and Jesus that works in us to allow us to enter into the presence of God, so that He can talk to us and teach us His will. But just like God, the Holy Spirit and Sin cannot exist together within our hearts without a conflict, a struggle within you. You not only have to be humble, you not only have to pray, you not only have to seek His face, but you have to get the sin out of your life, to allow the God to communicate with you.
Those who may need to confess some sin in their life.
- Just some personal prayer time with God to get back on track.
- A time to repent from your sin to get back in fellowship with the Lord
Those who may not understand what I have been talking
- You may not know what sin is
- Sin is the things that God has told us not to do (10 commandment) Ex 20: 1-17
- All of us have sinned (Rom 3:23) - lied, stolen, taken God's name in vain (the 10 commandments) and we do not meet God expectations
- these things, sins, are punished by death-the bible says the wages of sin is death, eternal death of our spirit. This death is in Hell. It is eterenal.
- Like I said, Jesus came to pay for our death with His death on the cross. He dies in our place so that we wouldn't have to die. But he did not stay dead. On the third day, he came back to life. He rose again from the grave. He defeated death so that he could contie to be our savior until his return.
You may be having questions starting within right now that you need an answer to. If you are having questions about death, or eternity, or about God's acceptance of you. You need to get your answers today.
No one is guaranteed tomorrow.
You are not even guaranteed tonight.
I invite you to come and talk to me.