Faithlife Sermons

How Should We Pray?

Secret Church: Prayer  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Intro

Many instructions about how to pray
We avoid lots of them.
We don’t think about lots of them
We don’t actively try to learn about lots of them
We don’t actively try to apply lots of them
Here are some important things to consider.
(Kind of left overs from the list)

Fasting

You purposefully don’t eat and/or drink for a specified amount of time
Used in the OT for suffering or disaster
There is a natural sense in which you are so upset you can’t eat
This is different. This is intentional, for a purpose

Why Fast?

Some think it gives you a heightened sense of awareness
Meditation, focus, trances, cult practices
Some think it is for discipline
If you can control your bodily desires, you can control your spiritual ones
Dependence
Personally, I think these others are partly right
Awareness: we use food/drink/sex to quiet (or numb) ourselves
Discipline: we use food/drink/sex to distract (or entertain) ourselves
In Scripture Jesus calls us away from relying on others things/faith in other things.
Fasting forces you into a place where you aren’t hiding anything— no distractions, no numbness
Why do you get hangry? Maybe because you actually are selfish and you think that its ok to be rude and unchrist-like if you feel uncomfortable?
Why do you eat when your bored? Maybe because you think that its ok to use your taste buds or your sexual organs to give you some experience to distract you from the spiritual responsibilities you have: working or praying?
Inward Devotion
Jesus always taught/showed fasting as about a private inward devotion toward God
Not out loud in front of other— secret, between just you and God
Not about the food itself— about your spiritual state
Are you using the food correctly?
To fuel you to work for God’s glory? To enjoy and give thanks that he is so awesome?
Or are you using food to pull you away from God with distraction and entertainment?
Today
We can use fasting to check our spiritual state.
This is something that we use every single day.
Is it pushing us toward God or away?
Are we using it for growth like He intended or harm?
And it comes in a million forms....

Praise and Thanksgiving

Praise and Thanksgiving Overview
We are commanded to praise God and be thankful often
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God
- Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
- But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
This is the REASON: to praise
Its the example we are given:
The crowd joined in attacking [Peter and Silas], and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.
Its an amazing sequence of events, but notice the prayers in the cell after being beaten and unfairly imprisoned: Praying and singing hymns.
The Philippian Jailer Converted
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27
This is the attitude of thankful, humble Christians
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Praise and Thanksgiving Prayer
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Thinking about Praise and Thanksgiving in prayer made me realize: all prayer is praise and thanksgiving. All prayer is worship.
We ask because we know he has the power
We ask because we know he is good
We ask because we know He is holy and we are not
We ask because we trust him (at least a little) to take care of us
Prayer as worship
If my son asks me to play- its because he loves me and wants to spend time with me
If he asks for my help— its because he knows I am able
If he asks for food— its because he knows I will care for him
If he asks for support— its because he depends on me
When we converse with God it is worship.
Specifically
But as we are specific in thanking Him, it is stretches us to our limit of joy
gives us a glimpse of Joy an Praise linked
Think about how when you are truly thankful:
You are loud about it, moved by it, excited, inspired and given passion by it ($ for college)
Moved by it, Excited, inspired and given passion by it
Expression is the reality- you aren’t thankful if you don’t show it
Excited, inspired and given passion by it
You should approach prayer worshipfully, purposefully giving thanks in what you say and how you say it. In that way, you can see where your heart is and if your are just giving lip-service or if you truly are thankful.
Ask yourself often: What does an absolutely thankful prayer (about whatever I’m about to pray about) sound like?

Unanswered Prayers

What if God isn’t answering me? What if He seems far away? What do I do when I am praying and nothing is happening?
I think the answer to this difficult question is very simple: Do you trust God?
If you do, then prayers that seem to go unanswered you trust are answered and you move forward as best you can
If you don’t
You worry, feel scared, feel angry, feel abandoned, feel hopeless, feel joyless, and live for a different purpose
But, that feels to simple
What about when God
Lets your mom die
Watches a disability come into your life
Sees pain grow through a disease and affect you daily
What about when all your plans fall through
“trust God” seems thin
But, I think that is because we have a thin understanding of the word “trust” or of the word “God”
Trust, faith, believe, depend on
Means there is nothing else. There is no plan B. There is not another option.
Confident and comfortable and joyful in resting what He provides for you
God
He is the creator and the sustainer.
The Alpha and the Omega
He is outside of time
He owns all the resources
He is everywhere at once
He is here right now
He is listening
And He loves you
Prayers are not unanswered. But sometimes our faith is so weak and our belief so small that our ears and our eyes don’t open all the way to know His answers.
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