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Prayer

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Jesus teaches us to pray

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Today is a special day for our church family. We have welcomed 9 new people into our church family as members, and we are launching into our biggest outreach of the year, Super Summer Slam.
Many of us have been praying for weeks, for the Lord to provide good weather, to make all of the plans and preparations to come together, to work in the hearts of kids and their parents to come to know Him as their Lord and Savior, and that we might see some of them come to church so we can continue to help them grow in the knowledge of our wonderful savior, Jesus.

Is prayer time special to you?

Is prayer time special to you?

Prayer is important, and special for all of us who believe in Jesus. At least it should be.
How special is prayer to me? How special is it to you? How important is it to us? How much time do we spend in prayer a week? A day?
Today, I want us to begin to see how precious that time is, and to look at what Jesus taught us about prayer.
Pray

Jehoshaphat

I have been reading through the Bible with my family this year, like some of you who have also been following our annual reading plan.
Recently, we were reading about Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles. In chapter 20, there is a vast army made up of three different armies that united to attack Judah.
When Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah heard about it, they were scared.
Jehoshaphat called for a fast for all of Judah, and the people came together to seek the Lord in Jerusalem.
Jehoshaphat prayed to the Lord, and I love the way he concluded his prayer…
2 Chronicles 20:12 NIV
Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

“We do not know what to do...”

Jehoshaphat had the right idea. Instead of trying to muster up some troops, instead of laying out a battle strategy, instead of preparing the city defenses, he cried out to the Lord, saying, “We do not know what to do.”
I’ll admit. I am a doer. I see a problem, I see a project, and I want to attack it. I want to solve it. I want to tackle it and get it done.
Doers never want to admit they don’t know what to do. Instead, doers just start, and figure it out as they go. That can lead to problems down the road when you don’t think things through properly.
The problem with doers, like myself, is that prayer can very quickly become an after-thought. Instead of looking to God first, we just plow ahead.
I applaud Jehoshaphat, because I think he was a doer like me. When you look at what is written about him, he seems like a doer.
But on this occasion, he didn’t just jump into action. He cried out to the Lord, and encouraged everyone in Judah to come together to cry out to the Lord.
And instead of just doing, he prayed, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Our eyes are on you

While Jehoshaphat did not know what to do against this huge group of three armies, he knew that God did. He knew that God could take care of this great army.
So, he and all Judah said, our eyes are on you. We want to see what you are going to do. You who brought our ancestors out of Egypt. You who we have heard so much about, we are watching and waiting to see what you are going to do.
The only way we are going to have success is if you do something.

Asa

Jehoshaphat had likely learned this attitude of not relying on his own plans, or just forging ahead, and instead looking to the Lord through watching how God worked to save Judah in the days of his father, Asa, when another huge army had come to attack.
In , Asa had an army of 380,000 men. But Zerah the Cushite came with an army of thousands upon thousands, and 300 chariots (the tank of the day). You get the idea that Asa was way out-matched.
But even though he was out-matched, he was out there, as a faithful king with his army to do what needed to be done.
However, even though he was faithful to be out there, he knew there was no way they would be successful on their own.
So, Asa cried out to the Lord,
2 Chronicles 14:11 NIV
Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.”
2 Chron 14:

“Lord there is no one like you”

What a short, honest prayer. He told God exactly why he was coming to Him. He did not go to another king. He did not go to mercenaries to fight on their behalf. He did not go the route of trying to bribe the Cushites with tribute.
He went to the Lord who is there to help the powerless against the mighty.

“We rely on you”

They were out there with their large shields and spears, and 80,000 of them with small shields and bows. But they were not trusting in their armament. They were not trusting in their battle strategy.
They were relying on God to work a miracle. And they told Him so.
That day, God did provide the miracle. And I believe that spoke to Asa’s son, Jehoshaphat, who learned from that example to trust the Lord.
We can trust Him because He is the one who wants to strengthen and save those who are committed to Him.
Unfortunately, later in his life, when another king was threatening him, Asa decided to trust another king. He sent all the silver and gold from the Lord’s temple, and from his own palace and sent it to another king to fight against the king who was invading Judah.
That day, instead of relying on the Lord, he relied on another man.
It was on that occasion that a prophet came and told Asa,
It was toward the end of his father’s reign when a prophet told Asa,
What is God looking for?
That is back-ground for what God said in , when Asa failed to trust God when the Assyrians came.
2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”
2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”

God is seeking... fully committed hearts

Before, Asa had relied on God. Now, he started relying on himself. The prophet told him that he was wrong for doing this.
God wants to strengthen and come to the aid of people who are relying on Him.
He wants to come to the aid of people who say, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes on are you.”
But sometimes, even those who do so well on one occasion, fall away, and stop relying on the Lord. Prayer becomes stale and old, and eventually, prayer is left behind as we rely on ourselves or others.
God says He is actively looking, He is seeking those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.
Fully committed: They trust in Him and act for Him.
Before, Asa was fully committed. We saw how He trusted God. We saw how he acted in faith, and took out his measly army against the vast horde, and then trusted God for the results.
After that victory against the Cushites, the prophet Azariah told Asa,
2 Chronicles 15:2 NIV
He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.
2 Chronicles 15:1–2 NIV
The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.
He was told that God would be with Him. However, God is not going to act for them if they forsake Him.
God seeks those who are fully committed, but when we stop trusting in the Lord, He isn’t going to act on our behalf.
Asa forgot that, and though he had a great victory, later he had great defeat.
Thankfully, Jehoshaphat learned from that example, so he was fully committed to the Lord, and cried out to God saying, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
Just like Jehoshaphat was fully committed to the Lord, and cried out to God, we need to come to God, saying, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

What about you and me?

Jehoshaphat said, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
Is that what I say? Is that what you say? Or, do we trust our planning skills, our ingenuity, our abilities, our wisdom, our strength, our...
God is looking for us to be fully trusting Him instead of our planning skills, our ingenuity, our abilities, our wisdom, our strength, our...
Well, what are we trusting in? God says, He wants to be the One we trust instead of ourselves.
This is a theme over and over in the scriptures. I encourage you to find verses that speak about that this week. Like… “some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Or, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.”
This is a theme over and over in the scriptures. I encourage you to find verses that speak about that this week. Like… “some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Or, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.”
I think this is one of the main benefits of prayer. It is our time to stop focusing on our planning and our striving, and to remember, we need to look to the Lord. He is the One who will bring success.
I am not knocking proper preparation, or effort in doing things. Proper effort on our part often can lead to what looks like success.
But I am looking for more than just what looks like success to the world. I am looking for what God would call success: work that leads to peace and joy; work that leads to fruit of our labors that has truly lasting benefits for eternity. For that kind of success, I need more than just my planning and effort. I need to know what the Lord is wanting, what He says is success, and I need Him to work it out so that I have success.
Asa had it right. He had his army out there to do battle, but He prayed to the Lord, and said, we rely on you.
This is what David found,
We need to do proper planning and preparation, but we need to rely not on those things, but on the Lord.
1 Samuel 18:13–14 NIV
So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.
Asa and Jehoshaphat found true success when they trusted the Lord. And they are not the only examples. Look at all those who were successful in the Bible, and you will find that this was true of them.
And this wasn’t just true of David. Look at all those who were successful in the Bible, and you will find that this was true of them.
As I thought of their examples, I saw a direct correlation to our own work at Super Summer Slam.
Why was David so successful? Because his heart was fully devoted to God.
We are going into battle. Not against the kids. No, against real spiritual forces who do not want these kids or their families to hear about, and know the One true God.
One of the ways we know that is from all of the Psalms David wrote. In those Psalm, we see how David loved and sought after the Lord. He constantly cried out to the Lord. In other words, David constantly prayed!
Honestly, the spiritual army against us is a lot bigger than the 120 people in this church. If we could see what we are up against, we would be scared-spit-less.
David knew how precious prayer was, and he really
But like Asa and Jehoshaphat, if we recognize God is the Almighty who comes to help the powerless against the mighty, and we rely on Him and in His name go out, He will fight for us. If we say, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you,” we will see Him working in ways we never expected or anticipated.
Transition
Did I tell you the end of the story with Jehoshaphat? God told them to go out to face the enemy, but that they would not have to fight them. They just had to stand there.
When they went out, the army was gone. The three armies who had allied themselves to destroy Judah fought against each other!
If our eyes are on Him, He can and will do things we never expected nor anticipated.
So let’s get our eyes fixed where they need to be. Let’s take some time to pray, and learn the benefit of turning our hearts to Him, and trusting in Him.
So, today, I want us to take time to look at prayer, and to spend time praying.

The Lord’s Prayer

To do this, I want to focus on the Lord’s prayer, in encourage you to open your bibles to that passage.
As we go to prayer, I want us to remember that Jesus taught us how to pray. We want to pray, and tune our hearts to relying on God instead of ourselves. Too often, even prayer can be turned into something I am doing as a part of my plans. Or, we get focused on the magnificence of how someone prays.
Prayer is not to focus on the one praying. Prayer is not to just be another checkbox on my list, or my strategy to make my plans work.
Jesus taught us how to pray, so, let’s do it His way.
Jesus instruction on prayer starts in verse 5, where He begins by telling us things that we should not do in prayer.
Luke 19:10 NIV
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
John 4:23 NIV
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
Luke 13:7 NIV
So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
Ezekiel 22:30 NIV
“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.
Jesus bought this precious gift of prayer for us
2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”
Hebrews 10:19–22 NIV
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
Heb 10:19-
God is near to those who call on His name.
Psalm 145:18 NIV
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Approach with confidence
Hebrews 4:16 NIV
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
God hears our prayers
1 John 5:14 NIV
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
2 Chronicles 20:12 NIV
Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
2 Chron 2:20
Matthew 6:5 NIV
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
Matthew 6:5-
We don’t have to use special words, or flowery language that calls attention to us as “beautiful prayers.”
Prayer is to focus us on God.
Matthew 6:6 NIV
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Prayer is not to be a way to call attention to me.
We don’t have to use special words, or flowery language that calls attention to us as “beautiful prayers.”
Prayer is to focus us on God, and get our hearts looking to him instead of ourselves.
Matthew 6:7
Matthew 6:7 NIV
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
Matthew 6:8 NIV
Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
When we pray, God is not looking for long, drawn out prayers where we keep saying the same things over and over. God is not looking for some repetitious prayer that we say without any meaning.
God is not looking for us to babble, saying things repetitively, or without meaning. He wants us to talk plainly to him.
And, it is not like He needs full explanations and background information. He knows it all.
Matthew 6:9 NIV
“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
We do need to remember we are praying to our Father.
The bible tells us that,
John 1:12 NIV
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
Those who believe in Jesus are children of God. He is a Father to us—a perfect father. He cares for us.
Peter wrote, , Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you.
A father cares for and provides what his children need. Not always what they want, but what they need. What is going to be good for them.
God does that. He gives us what we need like a good Father.
He really wants to hear from us. He is not too busy for us.
I’ll admit, I am not the best example in this area. How many of us fathers get caught up in the moment of all we have to do, and we don’t have time to hear? How many of us had fathers like that?
But that is not God. He wants us to come. So, Jesus taught us to pray...
Matthew 6:9 NIV
“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Do you know Him as Father?
When you pray, realize just how special it is that you get to call the Lord and Creator of all the universe, your Father! Wow!
Remembering who He is, should put our hearts into an attitude of awe, “Hallowed be your name.” That is the proper attitude.
As we recognize how great and exalted he is,
Matthew 6:10 NIV
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 9:10 NIV
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.
While Jesus tells us on other occasions to ask for what we want, on this occasion He teaches us to specifically be seeking what God wants.
And what does God want? What is God’s will?
1 Timothy 2:4 NIV
who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
That is what God wants! God is just and must punish all wrongdoing. That is why He sent Jesus to die to pay the penalty for all that we have done.
And that is why for all who will believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection as a payment for their sin, God will forgive their sin, and accept them as His children.
So when we pray, and ask for His will to be done, we need to pray that people will come to know Him as their Savior.
We also know that it is His will for those who are saved to be sanctified.
1 Thessalonians 4:3 NIV
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;
God’s wants His children to be distinct in this world. He wants us to be more and more like Him as we grow in our faith.
We also know that God’s will is:
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 NIV
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
:1
So, praying, we are doing His will, and we can ask that we would learn to rejoice, pray and give thanks in all situations, and all times. We can pray that we would pray and tune our hearts to His more!
Matthew 6:11 NIV
Give us today our daily bread.
We can and should ask Him to provide what we need. Too often we think of ourselves as our providers. Certainly, God does use our faithfulness to work and earn to provide. But do we remember that God is the One who gives us success in having a job, and earning a living?
God is our true supplier. We need to pray, and recognize Him as the provider.
Matthew 6:12 NIV
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
As we pray, we do need to be forgiven, and we need to consciously forgive, just as God in Christ has forgiven us.
Matthew 6:13 NIV
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
And, we are in a world full of temptation to go our own way.
Just like Asa did well, and later turned away, we too can do well and then go off on our own.
We need to pray continually, acknowledging our propensity to go away.
Psalm 91:1 NIV
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Heading 1

Jesus bought this precious gift of prayer for us
Hebrews 10:19–22 NIV
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
God is near to those who call on His name.
Psalm 145:18 NIV
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Approach with confidence
Hebrews 4:16 NIV
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
God hears our prayers
1 John 5:14 NIV
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
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