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“Perspectives on Prayer - 4”

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Putti Sok told her Christian college friends, "Leave me alone and quit praying for me." Putti described herself as a "Cambodian Buddhist girl," even though she was born in Long Beach, California and grew up in Dallas. "I figured I was Buddhist because my parents told me I was Buddhist," she said. "I thought Christianity was just a religion for Americans." Eventually Putti came to consider herself "an evangelistic atheist," challenging others to prove that God exists.
When Putti started her college education at the University of Texas in 2008, one of her goals was to build deep relationships. She succeeded in that, but some of her new friends were Christians who were active in a student ministry. During her sophomore year, Putti "hit a wall." "I began to see that everything I was doing was becoming meaningless," she said. "If what I was doing didn't have eternal meaning, then it was all in vain." She began to think, "If God is real, he should be able to hear my prayers." Each night she began to pray that he would help her understand what she had been hearing from her friends because it seemed like foolishness to her.
Then one day Putti entered a closet in the student ministry building that had been turned into a prayer room. Inside she found a bowl filled with pieces of paper with the names of students' friends. One after another she looked at the slips of paper and found her own name written on the slips.
She knew how strongly she had urged her friends not to pray for her and yet they had faithfully loved her and prayed for her anyway. She burst into tears that day in the tiny prayer room. "God was softening my heart then," she said. The next night she felt that God was asking her for a specific response, so she finally prayed to receive Christ.
"All of a sudden, I had a desire to go and share with people," she said. "God is real, and he has changed my heart." Putti is currently studying in preparation for full time ministry.
A very important aspect of our prayer lives is praying for other people. Now this is and has been a very very difficult aspect of prayer, especially recently. One person after church was asked if he liked the church he just attended and the response was. I like the church it is a cool place except for one thing: people. If only we could enjoy church without people. If only I could worship God without people. Now of course he did not mean all people, but the point was clear. The disdain for people is a reality in the body of Christ today. It is not just unfortunate, but it is unbecoming of what it is to be a Christian. Another interesting development that I have witnessed over the years, where there is more care for animals than there are for people.
I was watching a movie with a group of people. We watched a man kill a dragon who was evil and killing people. When the dragon died she said “I know that the dragon was evil, but I am still said it died.” Then and interesting twist…the dragon turned into a person. I asked do you still feel sad… “She said…nope.” We all laughed, but it all ended with silence.
The reality is this… we cannot have church without people… because the church is people. This why I continue to advise against those who do not come to church and say that they have church by themselves at their house away from other Christians. We need to understand that the people of Christ as seen as so much Christ himself that Christ identifies the church as himself.
Acts 9:3–4 NLT
As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”
Let us never forget the summary of the law...
Matthew 22:37–40 NLT
Jesus replied, “ ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Let us also not forget ...
1 John 4:
1 John 4:19–21 NLT
We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.
One of the most extraordinary principles that we come to find when we study the prayer life of the Apostle Paul, is his constant praying for others. It is not wrong to pray for oneself, look at the psalms, but are spending enough time praying for other people, especially those whom you might not want to pray for. Just look at the the scriptures, there are many instances of thanksgiving and prayer for others by the Apostle Paul...
1 Timothy 2:1 NLT
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.
1 Timothy 1
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever.
What We Pray for Them
Do We Pray for Them
Christ Prayed for Us
The first thing we will explore is how the Bible must be our standard for what it is we pray, when we pray for others. Second, we need to spend some time looking deep inside as to why we might not pray for others like we should. Finally, we will see how Christ made sure to keep us in the Father’s mind as He prays for us.
Thesis: Though sin and the pattern of this world cause us to lose heart in other people for various reasons, it is the intersession of our Lord Jesus at the right hand throne of the Father that will cause us to see the importance of the body of Christ and seize every opportunity to pray for others in accordance to the will of God.
I. What We Pray for Them
- Seek what is best for the people of God.
A. Hopefully by now we are all convinced that we should be praying for other people. Our prayer life will never be more than a simple retreat house if all we do is seek to find strength for ourselves. We we desire our prayer life to be like Christ or the Apostle Paul, we will pray for others. But it is also important to note what it is that Paul inspired by God prays for. What is best for the people of God?
B. How doe we find out what is best? The Scriptures. And let me say it this way… It is important to submit to God’s definition for what is best for His people. Not what I think, what we think, what society thinks, what dr. Phil thinks.
C. So think about it… How else are we supposed to know what is best if we do not know the prayers of the scriptures? The scriptures shape the way we are to view God, how we are to treat others, shape our fundamental beliefs in Christ, why not how we should pray. How bout an exercise this week? Lets look at what it is that Paul prays for when it comes to others and compare it to what it is that we normally ask for. Examples...
Ephesians 1:15–18 NLT
Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
Romans 15:5–6 NLT
May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 3:14–18 NLT
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.
Ephesians 3:14-
Ephesians 1
2 Thessalonians 1:11–12 NLT
So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:
D. Lets think about it this next week.
In the fall of 2005, my 9-year-old son, Austin, had his tonsils removed. Before the surgery, an anesthesiologist came in to start an IV. He was wearing a cool surgical cap covered in colorful frogs. Austin loved that "frog hat." When the doctor started to leave, Austin called out, "Hey, wait."
The doctor turned. "Yeah, buddy, what do you need?"
"Do you go to church?"
"No," the doctor admitted. "I know I probably should, but I don't."
Austin then asked, "Well, are you saved?"
Chuckling nervously, the doctor said: "Nope. But after talking to you, maybe it's something I should consider."
Pleased with his response, Austin answered, "Well you should, 'cause Jesus is great!"
"I'm sure he is, little guy," the doctor said, and quickly made his exit.
When Austin's surgery was finished, the anesthesiologist came into the waiting room to talk to me. He told me the surgery went well, then said, "Mrs. Blessit, I don't usually come down and talk to the parents after a surgery, but I just had to tell you what your son did."
Oh boy, I thought. What did that little rascal do now? The doctor explained that he'd just put the mask on Austin when my son signaled that he needed to say something. When the doctor removed the mask, Austin blurted, "Wait a minute, we have to pray!" The doctor told him to go ahead, and Austin prayed: "Dear Lord, please let all the doctors and nurses have a good day. And Jesus, please let the doctor with the frog hat get saved and start going to church. Amen."
The doctor admitted that this had touched him. "I was so sure he would pray that his surgery went well," he explained. "He didn't even mention his surgery. He prayed for me! Mrs. Blessit, I had to come down and let you know what a great little guy you have."
A few minutes later, a nurse came to take me to post-op. She had a big smile on her face as we walked to the elevator. "There's something you should know," she said. "Some of the other nurses and I have been witnessing to and praying for that doctor for a long time. After your son's surgery, he tracked a few of us down to tell us about Austin's prayer. He said, 'Well girls, you got me. If that little boy could pray for me when he was about to have surgery, then I think maybe I need his Jesus, too.'"
II. Do We Pray for Them
- Prayer for others demands a good look at our own hearts.
A. How can we effectively pray for others if we have in effect resentment toward them? I guess the fair rhetorical question is, how often do we pray for people whom we resent? How hard it is to pray for those who is responsible for our bitterness. This is why we struggle. Sin in our hearts. And this gives us insight into a deeper barrier.
Isaiah 59:1–2 NLT
Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.
Isaiah 59:
B. What so often cuts us off from effective intercession is sheer bitterness, nurtured resentment, grudges, and a desperate want of forgiveness. This is unfortunately common among us, despite the fact that it is the Lord Jesus himself who teaches us...
Mark 11:25 NLT
But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”
Carson, D. A.. Praying with Paul (p. 56). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
C. Unconfessed sin, nurtured sin, will always be a barrier between God and those he has made in his image. And you know what, I get it, sometimes when we try to clean up relationships that have gone bad, the other party remains unwilling. But that is between that them and Christ; you and I must watch our hearts.
Carson, D. A.. Praying with Paul (p. 56). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
D. Not long ago a pastor counseled a woman who, twenty years before, had been the victim of four years of incest, her own father the brutal culprit. Eventually her father went to jail. The scars on this woman’s personality and faith were gathering to a head twenty years later. Her own husband did not know any of this history and therefore offered little support or understanding. They lived increasingly isolated lives, and the woman’s faith shriveled until prayer became impossible, worship mere fakery. As she and the pastor worked through this background, one of the critical steps she had to take was to forgive her own father. That did not mean she was assuming his guilt; it meant she had to deal with her own bitterness and rage. For this she needed the Lord’s forgiveness, and in this context she needed to forgive the man who had abused her. This forgiveness had to be total and unqualified—and expressed to him, regardless of whether he responded in repentance or in wretched self-justification and anger. In fact, he chose the latter course, which did not make the woman’s part any easier. But the Lord gave her strength to forgive, and that forgiveness was a decisive turning point that led to a restored relationship with her husband, to renewed joy in her Lord, and to revived praying.
E. Of course, the principle extends to every area of life, not just to the bitterness aroused by memories of incest. How can we intercede for our church if we secretly hold some of its members in contempt? How can we meaningfully pray for revival if what we want is some abstract blessing called revival and do not particularly care to see people revived? If we harbor bitterness and resentment, praying is little more than wasted time and effort.
F. This is the time to examine your own heart, honestly and humbly. It is always the time to do so but especially when you seek to approach the God whose holiness and forgiveness are the immutable standards for his people.
III. Christ Prayed for Us
Carson, D. A.. Praying with Paul (p. 57). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Carson, D. A.. Praying with Paul (p. 56). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Carson, D. A.. Praying with Paul (pp. 57-58). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Carson, D. A.. Praying with Paul (p. 57). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Carson, D. A.. Praying with Paul (p. 57). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
- Father forgive them for they know not what they do.
A. How are we doing when it comes to other people in our lives? Getting along? Not getting along? Suffering from bitterness, resentment, holding onto a grudge? If you have not noticed it already, it will affect your prayer life.
B. But I know how hard it is to overcome the hardness and bitterness. It is the result of this horrible thing called sin, the flesh, our sin nature. Our rebellion against the Lord comes with serious consequences. Our disdain for other people comes with serious consequences as well. The consequences are not just serious, but eternal.
C. But the greatest thing that could ever happen happened when Christ came into this world to seek and save that which was lost. Christ prayed for us. While on the cross he prayed Father forgive them for they know not what they do. What amazing words for us today. What Christ did for us… we all nailed him to the cross, brought to us life and life more abundant.
D. Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures … The saying is trust worthy and deserving of full acceptance...
E. He became sin who knew no sin that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.
F. The promises continue for us today. If we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him...
G. Our Lord bought to himself a people. A royal priesthood and a holy nation. His church. And the church is not a building, but a people. Pray for each other. Pray for others. And know that our Lord intercedes for us at the right hand throne of the Father.
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