In looking at several key New Testament passages that refer to prayer, I find a common theme that informs what the purpose of prayer is for us. In short, prayer is about us getting help from God.
Hebrews 4: 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 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.
- Be Devoted to Prayer
- Make it a spiritual discipline
The idea of praying three times a day kind of a thing.
Creating a positive habit for good
The goal is to get our minds focused away from the natural to the spiritual.
A spiritual discipline is an action that we participate in that may be “unnatural” that creates a strength in us that is useful!
“ I don’t know what to say” start there, tell God that.
God, I want to connect with you in prayer.
Then dig in and persevere!
- How often should I pray?
Jesus does not teach us how often to pray.
He says, “When you pray.” He habitually goes away to pray Himself.
There is an assumption that every person will need regular times of private prayer.
Luke 5: 15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Why would Jesus do this?
- The first church was devoted to prayer
These things are the regular activities of the Body of Christ.
Acts 2: 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
Bible study, fellowship, worship and prayer. Of all of these, prayer is the most difficult to me. I have heard that men struggle with prayer often, and it is true for me. Perhaps we are more “things” oriented or more action oriented. It doesn’t matter. We need prayer in our lives in order to connect with God.
You might think, I would like to be devoted to prayer. And then you set out to do so. Perhaps you set aside a regular time, but then you forget and get discouraged. When building a habit it takes time. Give yourself permission to forget and start again, and again, and again. If you don’t quit then prayer will work it’s power in your life.
Colossians 4: 2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
- Be watchful and thankful
Matt 26: 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
If you don’t watch then what? Prayer will not do what it is supposed to do in our lives.
If you aren’t thankful then what? Prayer will not do what it is supposed to do in our lives, because prayer is meant to connect us to God!
- Prayer Connects Us to God
Ok, I keep saying that prayer connects us to God, what do I mean by that? I mean that we gain an awareness of God that is personal, not just philosophical. We see God at work.
- To God’s power
Spiritual warfare is begun in prayer.
Ephesians 6:10-13 & 18-20
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”
Elijah was a man just like us and he prayed and it didn’t rain! The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective! James chapter 5
- To God’s wisdom
James 1: 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
John 16: 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
- To God’s goodness
II Cor 12: Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Ephesians 1: 15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[f] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
- To God’s love
Ephesians 3: 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a]in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
III. We are Made to Fellowship With God
Would you like to have a closer more connected relationship with God. One where you understand and appreciate his character better and better?
- God took walks in the garden
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
God is there at His own initiative revealing Himself to Adam. I believe God wants to do this for you as well. How will this work?
My understanding of God’s patience comes from my having to wait for Him to act. It comes from an understanding of His patience with me. It comes from the knowledge of Scripture. Scripture understanding can be philosophical, but when God speaks to us in prayer, it is personal.
- Temple fellowship offerings
There is an offering brought to the temple and it is killed, cooked and eaten there. It is a fellowship offering. You see, God isn’t interested in you just knowing that you are sinful and need to change. God is interested in you knowing Him!!
The “True” Lord’s prayer from John 17:
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
- I stand outside and knock
15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
Awareness of need: Am I poor blind and naked or am I rich, insightful and able?
God stands outside of our lives. He does not force His way in.
God knocks, He seek entry to our lives
We must open up, He will come in!
The promise is fellowship. It’s a meal.