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Basic Training: Our Lifeline of Prayer

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Training to be good soldiers… Our theme verse once again is , which gives us the standard that we are to live by if we want to be good soldiers. “3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” We are training to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ so we can guard ourselves from being entangled in the affairs of this life and so we can please God as we face please our Commander as we face the temptations and hardships that our adversary brings. Last week I talked about the idea of drawing near to God as we face our battles each day. Our main emphasis was on remembering what God’s word says about the specific sins that we deal with so we can use those passages in our fight. But we also touched on an idea that I would like to go into more detail talking about today… As we go out into war, one of the most important things we need to remember is that we have access to our commander and to our God at ALL times for help and for strength. HE gives us the ability to come before him before we go out into battle so we can be prepared for the battle, and also while we are in the heat of battle, we can call Him into battle at any time to help us conquer our temptations… We have, as God’s people, the great lifeline of prayer…
I wonder if sometimes we really see how important prayer is… I know that I often see in my own life that prayer becomes an afterthought… it is one of those things that gets pushed to the backburner and I do it when I get the time to do it… You may have the same struggle…
· But one thing is the case as we look at scripture, and we have talked about this idea before, PRAYER WAS VITALLY IMPORTANT TO JESUS AND HIS EARLIEST DISCIPLES! It was indispensable. It was not put off. It was their lifeline that carried them through their lives here… They would probably look at our prayer lives and say, “no wonder you are so luke-warm… no wonder you fall into sin so much… it’s no surprise that you are not growing like you should… you are not praying as you should!”
· Let’s take a few moments to be reminded of Jesus and His disciples’ devotion to prayer.
· First, let’s consider Jesus. Prayer was important to our Lord. Prayer was so important to our Lord that He prayed at least once all night long before His choosing of the 12 (). And He made sure that he spent time alone with the Father in prayer (). In , we are told, “Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” Jesus
· At the darkest moment of his earthly existence, He spent time in prayer; in the garden before his suffering; while he was on the cross. If you knew that you were going to die tomorrow, would the first thing that you would think of doing is go to God in prayer for a long period of time? Or if you were undergoing great pain and suffering, would you take time to focus your mind on the God who gave you life? This is what Jesus did. More than one time on the cross, He prayed to His Father…
· Then we have Jesus’ disciples. We talked a lot in our organic Christianity series about their devotion to prayer… We talked about how, in , the Apostles showed prayer was a high priority by not being distracted from their important work of ministering with the word and focusing on prayer.
· Jesus’ early disciples would even make sacrifices to spend time in prayer! There were times that they would fast so they would have more time to focus on prayer… Three times in the book of Acts we are told about brethren fasting, and even doing so together at times while they spent time worshipping the Lord… This is something you just hardly ever see today… We wouldn’t even want worship to go too long because we want to go and eat lunch as close to noon as we can let alone skip meals to spend time together praying about the work that God wants us to do or in making important decisions that affect the church here, such as appointing leaders, choosing an evangelist to bring in to work with the church, etc…
· Jesus and His disciples show us how important prayer is, not just when we are going through trials… He shows us that we need prayer in order to have life spiritually… Prayer is such an important part of building our relationship with God. Communication in any relationship is vital for it to prosper and grow… For some reason, we see that this is important in our family relationships and in our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, but why is it that our communication with God is not seen the same way at times? If we want to be like Jesus and his earliest disciples, we will work to follow in their devotion to communicating with God through prayer.
· The second point I would like us to consider for a moment goes along with what we were just talking about. Why was it that Jesus and His disciples were so devoted to prayer? It is because they knew the “power” that prayer has…
· Prayer itself is not a powerful thing, but it is the God who we pray to who is powerful and makes it so prayer accomplishes things. Prayer connects us to the power of God… to His ability to deliver and strengthen…
· In , Paul says… “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us...” ()
· This is a great passage on prayer, but don’t misunderstand it… Whenever Paul says “according to the power at work within us…” he is not talking about our power or ability,” he is talking about the work of God within us… He has talked about this power a couple times already in the epistle… At the end of ch1 and into ch2, Paul talks about this great power that is available to those who have faith in Christ… In 1:19-20 he talks about this immeasurable great power and might that God has. The same power that was seen in raising Jesus from the dead, Paul shows in chapter 2, is available for us to give us life and so we can able to walk in good works.
· Also, in chapter 3, in Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, he says in v16, “[16] that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (ESV)… He prays for God’s Spirit to work within God’s people to strengthen them so that they can show the faith and love that they need to and so that they can understand the love of Christ.
· Back to verse 20. There is one other point I would like to make from this passage: Do not limit God! Paul says here that God not only is able to do what we ask, He is able to do “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think”.
· There is not a sin that God cannot help you overcome… There is not one good thing that He cannot do!! He is able to soften hearts… He is able to give you strength to over come sin… He is able to help you grow and be faithful to Him… He is able to heal and work miracles… He is willing to move mountains Jesus says in response to the faithful requests of His people… And He is willing to do more than we request…
· I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this point, because later on this year I am, Lord willing, going to do a whole series on the Lord’s prayer in . With this said Jesus in this section does show us some important points that we need to think about regarding what we need to show in our hearts as we pray to God… And these are all seen in the prayers of Jesus and his early disciples…
· We need to pray in a way that shows:
o You desire to know God… One thing that is different in this prayer than what the Jews were used to is the intimate nature of it… Jesus tells His disciples to call God their “father.” This word shows a couple things, one of those things being relationship… There is a special relationship that we have with God that needs to be seen as we pray to God…
o You desire to see God’s will done… A big focus of this prayer in verse 10 is seeing God reign…
o You depend on God for sustenance physically… It is ok to pray to God about physical things! We need to trust in Him to provide us these things daily. We can only work to have the money to get food because God gives us that ability…
o You depend on God for deliverance… He is the only one who can deliver us from sin and forgive us…
o You care about others… This prayer is an “us and our prayer”. It is definitely a prayer that we can pray on our own, but it is given to us in the text in a way that shows we are in this together… We pray together and are concerned about these things, not just for ourselves, but for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
· These are the things that Jesus instructs His disciples to pray in this prayer…
· Is there something we can do to help you grow in your relationship with God? We can help you with your prayer life… We can help with overcoming sin because of the God who dwells with us…
· And if you have not yet become a Christian, we can help you to experience God’s great power to forgive today if you would like to be baptized into Christ…
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