Faithlife Sermons

"When You Pray....." (Part Two)

"When You Pray"  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Part two on the model of prayer that Jesus set for the church and the necessity of doing it!

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Open with the Skit Guys video, “The Skinny on Prayer”

OK, we are continuing tonight with our lesson on praying, that we started last Wednesday evening.

This of course, as we read last Wednesday, is coming from the gospels of and .
Now for those of you who were here or may not have been, I want to revisit the opening of this teaching which was given as part of the great Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel. (This being the first of the Five Discourses within the book of Matthew.)
Matthew 6:5–7 NLT
“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.
Last week, I mentioned that many of the religious zealots of Jesus’ day and time, loved to stand in the public gatherings and make sure that they were seen and heard praying elaborate prayers, for the accolades and approval of those witnessing their prayers.
To this, Jesus said that we should only seek the attention of our heavenly Father and never for the approval or attention of others. (Jesus didn’t condemn or forbid public prayers, as in a worship service or a time called for corporate prayer. He is, however, speaking out against those who have a stronger desire to build up their status with men VS their stronger desire to build up their relationship with God!)
You shouldn’t seek to make sure that your prayers are being heard from the ears of others!
Two boys were spending the night at Grandma's house. At bedtime, the two boys were saying their prayers when the youngest one began praying at the top of his lungs: "I PRAY FOR A THOMAS THE TRAIN SET! I PRAY FOR AN ELECTRIC SCOOTER! I PRAY FOR A NEW SPIDER-MAN ACTION FIGURE!!!" His older brother leans over and says "Why are you shouting? God isn't deaf." The little brother says "NO, BUT GRANDMA IS!!!"
His older brother leans over and says "Why are you shouting? God isn't deaf."
The little brother says "NO, BUT GRANDMA IS!!!"
Jesus also spoke out against the vein, repetitious prayers, as the pagans did. The thought behind this was that if you said over and over again, it would invoke the urgency and produce an effect.
The Bible does say, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
A righteous man’s prayer (someone who is morally right and strives to live under God’s precepts), his prayer, is powerful and has great effect; but the babbling and repetitious mantras of a religious hypocrite are vein and completely devoid of any power or authority from the Father.
In Ecclesiastes we read, “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words. For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.”
There is true power in a humble and sincere prayer to God!
The atomic bomb is a very powerful weapon. Its great explosive force comes from a sudden release of nuclear energy through fission. On August 6, 1945 the USA dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and three days later on Nagasaki, Japan. These two atomic bombs dropped over Japan killed around 92,000 people, and brought an end to World War II, now talk about power? That is great power. That was great power, but God has more power than that. In one prayer a hopeless King Hezekiah prayed over Jerusalem’s entrapment, God sent one angel and killed 185,000 of the Assyrian army, overnight! (THAT IS THE POWER OF PRAYER WHEN ENTRUSTED THROUGH FAITH INTO THE HANDS OF GOD!)
And Jesus, as with public praying, did not condemn or forbid long, or even some repetitious prayers, as long as the petition and the desire was to draw near to the Father and to communicate solely to and with Him.
Luke 6:12 ESV
In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
In the Garden of Gethsemane account, we read,
Matthew 26:43–44 ESV
And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.
Your prayers to God are to be just that; TO GOD and FOR GOD!
In fact, when you look at the start of Matthew and chapter 6, you see a recurring statement across several areas, not just our prayer life, but in terms of our giving to the needy and our praying and our fasting. Jesus said that we were to do these things in secret and private, without the recognition of others and then the Father who sees in the SECRET would REWARD you!
And as I mentioned last Wednesday, one of the greatest rewards of our Heavenly Father, in terms of our prayer life, is that, as Jesus said, He would REWARD us; which means that He must have heard our prayers and recognized them and turned His attention and power towards us in that situation.
God recognizes piety and humility, not impiety and pride!
In saying that, let me stress to you what the Bible says draws the eyes and the ears and attention of the Lord to someone and their prayers.
In David says this,
Psalm 6:9 NIV
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.
Why? Why did God accept David’s prayer? Well, the Bible tells us that David was a man after God’s own heart. David’s heart’s desire was to be with and where God wanted Him. He wanted to please God!
2 Chronicles 16:9 NLT
The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.”
tells us, “The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
Psalm 34:15 ESV
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.
2 Chronicles 7:14–15 ESV
if 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 and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.
1 Chronicles 5:20 ESV
And when they prevailed over them, the Hagrites and all who were with them were given into their hands, for they cried out to God in the battle, and he granted their urgent plea because they trusted in him.
Psalm 6:9 NIV
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.
Are you seeing what it is that draws God towards a person’s prayers?
Someone whose heart is committed to Him
Someone whose strives for being found righteous (that is, in right moral standing before God!)
Someone who humbles themselves and truly seeks the face and favor of God and who has a truly repentant heart!
These things are catalysts that ignite your prayers! These things are the fuel for the bonfire that you make when you are stranded and need help and you make a fire to draw attention to where you are! GOD SEES THESE THINGS AND RESPONDS TO THEM!
And one more thing that I mentioned last week; when you pray and ask Him for something, (and you must ask Him if you expect to receive from Him; James said, “You do not have, because you do not ask”; and when you ask, you MUST BELIEVE!
James 1:6–8 ESV
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

And so, with the understanding of what it is that draws the eyes of the Almighty towards us, as well as what can limit our prayers to Him, let us now look at Jesus Christ, Himself, and His prayer life and the examples He gave to us to pattern our prayer lives with the Father after.

Look first at
Mark 1:35 ESV
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
Mark 6:46 ESV
And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.
Matthew 14:23 ESV
And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
Luke 6:12 ESV
In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.
Luke 5:16 ESV
But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
Can anyone tell me what common thing these verses all disclose about Jesus and His prayer life?
Jesus had a place to go and pray! He went to specific places, based on where He was at and He prayed there!
How many of you know that it is important that you have A PLACE to go to, so that you and the Father can talk to one another?
We have dedicated places for football game viewing and video game playing (MAN CAVES), dedicated spaces for eating and working, we set aside spaces within our homes just for crafts and hobbies. (Some of you have a specific room in the house, where you like to go and peak out of the window and watch the neighbors!)
And yet, do you have a place that you go to, (your set aside), your go to spot, where you spend time praying to your heavenly Father?
Many people caught on to this concept after the movie, The War Room came out, and began making closets into prayer rooms.
It can be any place that you set aside to spend time with God. (That’s the great thing about God; He and He alone is omnipresent and so, wherever you go to, to pray........HE IS ALREADY THERE WAITING ON YOU!)
The place that you pray and set aside for prayer is up to you and really, geographically, it is irrelevant. More important is that you make it a priority to do so: The Bible shows us people praying in caves, on rooftops, in jails,in homes, in gardens,on mountains and below them, in boats, inside of fish, in the wilderness and even on a deplorable and horrible cross! The point is, just pray!!!!
And in line with this same concept of having a specific place to pray with His Father at, there comes another highly important point. In those passages, you see Jesus setting the time aside from His friends and family and the world and going to spend that time with His Father. God was the priority in Jesus’ life and because of that, Jesus set the time aside to spend with Him!
Can we say the same thing? Is God and spending QUALITY TIME with Him a PRIORITY in our lives?
I know that whenever life really begins to eat up our free time and we feel the strife coming between us, my wife and I will say, “OK, that’s it; we are setting aside a date night, so that we can spend time together. Just the two of us!”
That time with my soul mate is crucial and I recognize that. And if I recognize the necessity of spending time with my soul mate, then how much more should I recognize and set aside the time to spend with the creator of and lover of my soul?
We must make this priority number one in our lives! (We can set aside time for just about anything and everyone else and yet so many of us give Him the table scraps of our time!)
And we do this without even thinking about the fact that He and He alone is the one who holds our lives and the time that we have, in the palm of His hands!
We worry about disappointing our bosses, because we think that they hold our jobs, our careers in their hands and so we bend over backwards to please them. Yet, this is not even remotely true. The only authority that any man/woman has over you, is that which God enabled him/her to have.
Set aside and prioritize your time with God and regard it as crucial and absolutely necessary and all of the other things in life will work according to His will and plan for your life! Entrust it all to Him!
Romans 8:28 NKJV
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
The steps of a righteous man are ordered, according to the LORD!
Psalm 37:23 NLT
The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.
What this verse says CANNOT be said of any other person that is involved in your life!
OK? So, we must set aside the time and the place, DAILY (everyone say DAILY), to spend time with our heavenly Father in prayer!
And don’t get hung up on the position, the posture, that you are in when you pray, because neither the Bible, nor Jesus, Himself, taught of one correct way. (We find Jesus standing, sitting, prostrate in several situation when He was praying to His Father.)
Three ministers were talking about prayer in general and the appropriate and effective positions for prayer. As they were talking, a telephone repairman was working on the phone system in the background. One minister shared that he felt the key was in the hands. He always held his hands together and pointed them upward as a form of symbolic worship. The second suggested that real prayer was conducted on your knees. The third suggested that they both had it wrong--the only position worth its salt was to pray while stretched out flat on your face.
By this time the phone man couldn’t stay out of the conversation any longer. He interjected, "I found that the most powerful prayer I ever made was while I was dangling upside down by my heels from a power pole, suspended forty feet above the ground!”
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One more thing that I really want to mention here (and I know that this isn’t exactly where I was planning on going with tonight’s lesson, but none the less, it is imperative to stress), and that is the necessity of knowing and recognizing His presence in your life.

And what I mean is this. When your life takes a turn and trying circumstances and various trials come upon you, (as they will and as the Bible says they will), it is crucial that you can recognize Him and His presence in your life and instantly know that He is there with you!
This recognition of His presence and the assurance and confidence that comes with it, can only come through intimacy with Him. And intimacy with Him only comes from spending time with Him in prayer and reading His word!
God desires the deepest level of intimacy with us and this comes from us reaching out and spending time praying to Him. (READ/ OR HAVE SOMEONE READ FROM ; especially 1-10)
Once you understand that and believe that His presence is with you wherever you go and whatever trials you face, then you can face those situations with confidence and know that whatever happens, GOD HAS YOUR BACK AND WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU.
One preacher said it this way, “I would rather be in the most dangerous place in this world and yet in the will of God and in His presence, than to be in the most luxurious and secure place in the world, but out of His will and His presence!”
The most dangerous place and situation that you will ever find yourself in, is out of His presence and away from the covering of His mighty wings of protection!
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day.”
The author of Hebrews tells us, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. So do not throw away your confidence; it holds a great reward.”
Friends, when you know God and you know His presence is about you and around you, then you are in the most powerful position in the universe!
And with this thought, comes one similar to it and yet another reason that we should be praying constantly.
When you and I pray, fervently and continually, we are literally bringing God and His omnipotent presence into the midst of whatever circumstances we are praying about!
When you pray, say for your child, or your spouse, or your friend, you are putting into their midst something that would not otherwise not be there, working on their behalf for them. YOU ARE LITERALLY BRINGING GOD INTO THEIR SITUATION!
How many of you know and believe, that when God walks onto the court, the game changes in favor of your team and not the enemy’s? AMEN?!
Jesus told His disciples before He left this earth, in
John 14:13–14 AMP
And I will do [I Myself will grant] whatever you ask in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], so that the Father may be glorified and extolled in (through) the Son. [Yes] I will grant [I Myself will do for you] whatever you shall ask in My Name [as presenting all that I AM].
WHY WOULD YOU NOT WANT THIS FOR YOUR LIFE AND YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS?!
It comes through PRAYER!
And consider this, in closing, (before I give you your homework assignment this week), when you pray and petition God, angelic warriors are dispatched on your behalf to carry out the will of God!
When Peter was in prayer and he and the church was praying over his situation, an angel from the Lord showed up and freed him.
When Daniel was in the lion’s den, God sent an angel to shut the lions mouths so that they could not harm him.
When Paul was on the boat and the storm came, Paul told the men that the Lord had sent him an angel and that they would be saved.
You change the course and nature of people’s atmospheres, when you pray and God’s holy warriors show up and invade that space! The last place that the devil and his minions want to be, is locked into war with the angelic hosts of heaven, all because some praying saints called down the power from above!
The laws of spiritual warfare are largely in our favor when we are praying and interceding: if one can put a thousand to flight and two can put ten thousand to flight, etc!
But if we are not praying, then this dispatch of the heavenly hosts are not being sent out!
In and 8 we see this happening as the prayers of the saints have risen up and before God and are filling golden bowls and are likened to that of incense rising up before God. And an angel, as the saints prayers have risen and collected before the throne of God, takes the golden censer and collects fire from the golden altar and throws it down upon the earth as God’s holy judgement in answer to the prayers!

So, your homework for next week, is this. I want each of you to pick ONE thing, (it can be a person, or a situation), but I want you to pray about this and then look up in the Bible, a verse that you feel led and drawn to, that relates to your request, your prayer situation. Then you are going to pray over that situation all week and speaking that verse over it. Then we will discuss this some next week!

Also, if the Lord so leads, I will be breaking down the Lord’s Prayer (The Disciple’s Prayer), as I thought I was going to do for tonight!
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