21 Jan. 2018 – Tony Mace: Prayer (3), Philippians 1:3-11 and Colossians 1:3-12

 

PLACE, PRACTICE AND POWER OF PRAYER

PHIL 1:3-11 and COL 1:3-12

A little about the setting;
Paul is writing to both churches and it is around 60-64 AD
He is a prisoner of Rome under house arrest.
He was called to Philippi by a vision Acts 16:9-12
He had a fatherly care for the church and regarded them as his children.
The church at Colossae was planted by Epaphras but Paul still cared for this as he did with Philippi.
Going to look at 3 aspects of Prayer:
Place
Practice
Power of prayer

PLACE
As Paul is a prisoner in Rome, his isolation physically did not deter his enthusiasm and want to encourage the church and we obtain a little insight to some of his daily life:
Rom 1:10 “Always in my prayers…”
Phil 1:4 “Always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all”
Col 1:3 “We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying for you in our prayers.”
1Thes 1:2 “We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers.”
2 Tim 1:3 “I thank God in whom I serve with a clear conscience, the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day.”
His life is a life of prayer even though he is under very strong restrictions as to where he can go.
It shows you don’t have to be physically present to pray.

But it is not just about our physical place it is also about how much emphasis we place on prayer in our Christian life.
Romans 8:15 “but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons and daughters by which we cry out Abba, Father.”
Intimates that as a Christian communion with God through Christ in prayer is part of our life..
In his book “Does prayer change things” R C Sproul says:
Prayer is to the Christian what breath is to life.
Alan commented last week if you don’t breathe you die!!
Prayer is a means of growth and communion with God and requires work but sometimes the importance we place on prayer can take prayer to a place of lesser importance.
Paul places a great amount of importance in time and energy in prayer and us as individuals and also corporately need to work towards that model and example – Jesus Christ Himself.
See Luke 22:39-62…”Jesus took some disciples to the Mount of Olives and said “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Jesus went on to say if You are willing remove this cup from me YET not my will but your will be done.” He came back and found them sleeping and once again said to them to pray that you may not enter into temptation. “
So let’s look at Peter as an example:-
He tried to stop the soldiers by drawing his sword and cut of an ear and then went on to deny Christ.
Is it true of Peter that it can be said of us – we fall in private long before we fall in public?
Where do you place prayer?
Be encouraged, start small and be regular and ask for Gods help through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Luther said that he prayed regularly for an hour every day except when he experienced a busy day – then he prayed for 2 hours.
Just as Paul placed a lot of emphasis on prayer, then we also in both church and personal life need to place it high.
2nd miracle
Son with an intercussepsion of the bowel. Prayed without ceasing 1Thes 5:16-18
Rejoice always
Pray without ceasing
In everything give thanks: For this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus.

PRACTICE
Prayer was an important part of Paul’s life and also very much part of the life of Jesus on earth.
Prayer is action, whether it is in the serene quietness:
Ps 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”
Or in the midst of turmoil and uncertainty:
Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus stills the sea when the disciples became afraid.
When we pray we are not passive observers or even neutral,
James 5:16 “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
If prayer is action then we need to look at the word ACTS.

A – Adoration
Is to express our adoration and praise to God. What was your first love like?
Love-struck teenager – story.
I wrote poems and a diary when I first became a Christian and filled 2 reasonable size notebooks.
So how do we express our love and adoration to God?
We need to read His word, be motivated by the HS and understand what God has done through Christ.
When we begin our prayers in adoration, we set the tone for coming to God.

C – Confession
1 John1 v 9 says “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
This repentance and confession needs to be of the contrition kind, not the attrition kind.
E.g. child caught in act of disobeying parent saying sorry, please don’t spank me. Attrition is repentance motivated by fear of punishment, like the sinner who confess’ his sin to God – not out of remorse but to try and secure a ticket out of hell.
BUT true repentance reflects contrition which is Godly remorse for offending God, here the sinner mourns his sin, not for the loss of reward or for the threat of judgement but because he has done injury to God!
See Ps 51 David did not ask God to consider the circumstances that produced his sin, he did not minimise the gravity of the sin in God’s presence, there was no rationalizations of self-justification, v3-4 “ For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge”NIV
He then pleaded for restoration – v10 “Create in me a clean heart.”
When we sin, our only option is repentance through confession, without which there is no forgiveness v16-17 “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.17 The sacrifices of God are [3] a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
Forgiveness should never be a surprise as God keeps His word and promise but we should be amazed by His grace and mercy though.

T – Thanksgiving
In Phil 1:3 Paul was truly thankful to God and we should be able to reflect our thankfulness in our prayers.
Romans 1:21 “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened”
In short God is honoured by thanksgiving and dishonoured by the lack of it.
What have you to be thankful for today? Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Saviour? Are you thankful for what He has done?
Luke 17:16-19 talks of the 10 lepers healed and one goes back, “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
See the consequences of being thankful?

S – Supplication
Is to humbly ask, pray, entreat.
Phil 1:9-11 Paul asks for a variety of Christian attributes – love, knowledge, discernment, sincerity.
It is through praying that our lives are enriched and attuned to God to know His will. Both corporate and individual prayer enriches the lives of the saints.
We need to act as a church and as an individual.

POWER
Hebrews 11 gives a catalogue of men and women of faith summarised in vs33-36 “who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women
received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.”
The bible doesn’t catalogue the heroes of the power of prayer but here are a few:-
Gen 32 by prayer Esau’s heart changed toward Jacob so that they met in a friendly manner.
Ex 7-11. Prayer of Moses – God brought and removed the plagues of Egypt.
Joshua 10. By prayer Joshua had the sun stand still.
Judges15. By prayer Samson’s thirst quenched by God who brought water out of the hollow.
Judges 16. By prayer Samson’s strength restored to pull down Dagon’s temple and kill more philistines that day than he did in his life.
1Kings 17-18. By prayer Elijah prayed no rain for 3 1/2 years then by pray caused it to rain.
2 Chron 14. Asa’s prayer for God to confound the armieas of Zerah.
There are many more examples of the power of pray and also in the NT answered prayer on healing and miracles;
John 9:31 “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.”
John14:13. “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
John15:7. “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
1 John 3:22. “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.”
1John5:14 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us”
It is not mere asking but:
Trusting in God
Reverence to God
Obedience to His will
Communion with Christ
Remember Jesus prayed for Peter, about Judas and for Simon Peter. He is our high preist
Heb 4:14-16 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f] 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.
Some reasons as to why we pray:-
Because God commanded it, and He is glorified when we pray.
It prepares our hearts for what we will receive from Him.
Much is accomplished.
To adore Him, praise Him, express wonder at His majesty, sovereignty, and His mighty acts.
To confess our sins, to experience grace, mercy and forgiveness.
To thank Him for all He has done.
To make known our supplications to Him.

To summarise:

The Place of prayer:-

Both physical and emphasis.

The Practice of prayer:-

Adoration
Confession
Thanksgiving
Supplication

The Power of prayer

14 Jan. 2018 – Alan Frauenstein: Prayer (2) – Praying In The Spirit, Ephesians 6:14-20 and Jude 19-22

 

Praying in the Spirit

Continuing with our theme of Prayer, our topic today is “Praying in the Spirit”. Last week Louise looked at what the Psalms teach us about prayer and next week Tony will be looking at the place, practice and power of prayer.

But today our topic is Praying in the Spirit and we will seek to answer 3 questions:

  1. Why should we pray in the Spirit?
  2. What is praying in the Spirit?
  3. How should we pray in the Spirit?

We will focus on two passages of Scripture that refer specifically to praying in the Spirit.

 

Ephesians 6: 14 – 20

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

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.

Jude 19 – 22

19 It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. 20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; 21 keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 

 

Why should we pray in the Spirit?

 

  1. To strengthen ourselves in the power of God.

Paul tells us it is how we are strengthened in the power of God, how we harness and direct the power of God in the battle against the enemy.

In the build up to describing the full amour of God, at verse 10 he says “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power”.

Prayer is the seventh piece of armor. In Scripture, seven is the number of completion. This means that one can be suited up with every other piece of armor and yet still lose the battle.

Paul is saying you’ve got the belt, the breastplate, the shoes, the shield, the helmet and the sword – now PRAY in the Spirit.

Prayer is the arena, the amphitheater the energy and the atmosphere in which we wage war. Believers must live in prayer at all times in order to win this spiritual battle.

 

  1. To Keep ourselves in the Love of God

 

Jude tells us it is what will keep us in the love of God!

Verse 20 tells us “But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life”.

 

Jude’s message is all about perseverance how to fight the good fight and take hold of eternal life; how to keep the faith and finish the race; how to endure to the end and so be saved.

 

Notice that this perseverance is something we do! It involves our action – we build ourselves up on the foundation of faith, we pray and we keep ourselves in the love of God.

The onus and obligation rests on us – you and me!! We do these things – individually and collectively.

So by praying in the Spirit we build our faith and we keep ourselves in the love of God.

 

  1. To Be Kept in the Love of God

 

Jude reveals another truth, a deeper truth about perseverance.

Verse 1: “Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ.”

Notice the word, “kept.” Here is the idea of perseverance again, only it is not the Believer who is keeping himself. He is being kept!

Verse 24: in the well-known doxology: “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy”

Notice the words “keep you”, again we have our perseverance attributed not to ourselves, but to someone else.

WHO? verse 25: To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, keeps us in His love both now and forever.

So our perseverance to eternal life is BOTH God’s doing (we are “kept,” verse 1 and God is able to keep us, verse 24) AND it is our doing (verse 21) by praying in the Spirit.

 

Prayer is the means of grace designed by God to keep us from falling into disbelief and to bring us safely to eternal life. Isn’t that amazing!

Prayer is the means of grace designed by God to keep us in relationship with Him. Salvation by grace to give us new eternal life and prayer by grace to sustain that life.

 

God, the creator of the universe, all knowing, all powerful, who was and is and will be for all of eternity, loves us and by His grace He sustains us.

Folks, this is how prayer works. You see, if God runs the world according to his own holy authority and inscrutable wisdom, why would we pray for Him to do one thing or another?

If God is the final authority in all matters why ask Him to do anything for us?

 

Because by grace the sovereign God has chosen to relate to us through prayer.

While God’s action is decisive, our action is dependent but both actions are essential.

 

It’s the same as if someone was to say that since God is the decisive giver of life, then I don’t need to breathe. I promise you if you stopped breathing it won’t go well with you! Breathing is the physical means that God designed to sustain physical life. So if you stopped yourself from breathing you will die!

In the same way, just as breathing is the physical means that God uses to sustain our physical life, so too, prayer in the Spirit is the spiritual means by grace that God uses to sustain our spiritual life.

So, by praying in the Spirit we:

  1. Strengthen ourselves in the power of God.
  2. Keep ourselves in the love of God.
  3. Are Kept in the love of God.

 

What is praying in the Spirit?

The Greek word translated “pray in” can have several different meanings. It can mean “by means of,” “with the help of,” “in the sphere of,” and “in connection to.”

So, praying in the Spirit is praying according to the Spirit’s leading and guiding.

It is praying for things the Spirit leads us to pray for and when we do this we pray in His will and with His power.

So it is praying:

  • by His direction and
  • in His will and
  • with His power.

Paul brings these three concepts together very succinctly in Romans 8: 26 – 27:

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

So the Spirit helps us by empowering our prayers through His intersession v 26 and according to the will of God v 27.

When our prayers are motivated by selfishness, greed or ignorance we are not praying “in the Holy Spirit” but “in the flesh” or in our own sinful nature, and accordingly, in our own strength.

Which is not to say we should not pray for ourselves. Certainly the Spirit will lead us into praying for ourselves – known as prayers of supplication. It is not arrogant to pray for your own needs, in fact God welcomes us with open arms when we take our genuine requests to Him.

Philippians 4: 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition (or “supplication” in the King James translation), with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

1 John 5: 14 – 15 confirms the confidence we can have when we pray in God’s will:

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

In summary then, when we pray in the Sprit we:

  • Pray according to His Direction
  • Pray in His Will (the will of God) and
  • We pray in His power (the power of God)

 

How should we pray in the Spirit?

So, if we are to pray in the spirit at all times and if our prayers are to be guided by the spirit, what does this look like? How can we be sure that we are being guided by the spirit and that it is in fact the Holy Spirit guiding us?

Let’s look closely at Ephesians 6: 18 and 19 see what characteristics we can identify.

1.     Prayer in the Spirit Is Perpetual and Constant

Paul says that we should “……….pray in the Spirit on all occasions…………” NIV.

King James Version says 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,

Two issues are being raised here:

  • Perpetual: When you pray, pray in the spirit. So allprayer should be in the Spirit. It is not one form of prayer among many! Paul says it is the way all prayer is to be offered.

and

  • Constant: Pray a lot – often – on all occasions. We must live in constant prayer. We should pray often and repeatedly – in every circumstance and situation. Living in continual GOD CONSCIOUSNESS. Our life becomes a continually ascending prayer, a perpetual communing with our heavenly Father. POPCORN PRAYERS

2.     Prayer in the Spirit Is Varied

“..with all kinds of prayers and requests…”

When the Spirit of God leads our prayer, he leads us into various types of prayer – thanksgiving, worship, intercession, confession, lament, and corporate prayer. All these types of prayer have the power to defeat the enemy.

In particular, the practice of corporate prayer carries much power. Consider what Jesus says in Matthew 18:19-20, “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

Jesus teaches that corporate prayer carries tremendous power, and that when it occurs, God is with us in a special way.

There are some things God does only when his people pray together.

The Lord’s Prayer is a good model of the variety of ways the Spirit can leads us into praying:

  • “Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name” calls us to worship.
  • “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” calls us to pray for missions, evangelism, and discipleship.
  • “Give us this day our daily bread” calls us to pray for personal needs, both our/others.
  • “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” calls us to confess sin ours/others.
  • “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” calls us to pray for spiritual protection from temptation and the devil.

It is a good practice to pray often through the Lord’s Prayer.

3.     Prayer in the Spirit Is Watchful

“……be alert…….”

Be watchful, be alert. This is military terminology – PICTURE a soldier on duty watching!

How do we be alert? We use our natural senses, our eyes and ears, and we stay tuned in to the Spirit’s promptings.

Notice that we are on watch for two things, in any war there is both defensive and offensive:

·        We watch to discern the work of the evil one.

Has someone stopped coming to church or home group? Pray for God to draw them back. Is there discord in the body of Christ? Pray for unity. Is someone looking discouraged? Pray for joy for them.

But we don’t only look at what Satan is doing, we also look our for what God is doing:

·        We watch to intercede on behalf of what God is doing.

Is God changing somebody’s heart? Let us give thanks and pray. Is he stirring a revival? Let us praise and intercede. Is God doing a healing work? Let us give thanks.

4.     Prayer in the Spirit Is Persevering

We’ve already looked at how Jude encourages us to persevere that we may keep ourselves and be kept, in the love of God.

Paul confirms this: “…..always keep on praying…….”

Prayer in the flesh is often short-lived, but Spirit-led prayer is persevering. Many of our blessings and victories come only through persevering prayer.

Persevering prayer is also needed because of the spiritual forces we are fighting against.

Remember the story of Daniel ch 10, who petitioned God for three weeks and then an angel appeared. The angel said that God had sent him with a response when Daniel first began to pray, but he was caught up in a war with the spiritual forces over Persia (modern day Iran).

We must persevere in prayer because we are engaged in a spiritual war.

As you know, here at FBC we have been praying for years for the salvation of family members and relatives or friend who have walked away from God. We must persevere! Louise mentioned last week the mother who prayed for 27 years for her daughter before she came back to the Lord!

Don’t give up! Spirit-led prayer perseveres.

5.     Prayer in the Spirit Is Universal

We are to “keep on praying for all the saints.”

We are in this war with millions of other Christians we do not know but we must intercede according to the knowledge we have and as the Spirit leads.

We intercede for the Christians in our church, our nation, and all the nations on earth. For the persecuted Church. We must especially pray for our pastors and spiritual leaders and missionaries who are the target of special attacks by the enemy.

These believers in the front line need our prayerful support. In military logistics it takes 7 support personnel to sustain one soldier in battle.

This is a real war and we are not in it by ourselves so the Spirit will lead us to continually intercede for other believers.

6.     Prayer in the Spirit Is Bible-based

Paul did not have the New Testament as we do today, so he asks for prayer for “words”.

But we do, and since scripture was inspired by the Holy Spirit it is no surprise that He continually encourages people to pray over the Word of God.

If you live in the Word of God, reading it every day, memorizing portions to carry with you, meditating on it and savoring it, then your prayers will be shaped by the Word.

So we take what we know about the Spirit’s will from scripture and saturate our prayers with it.

7.     Prayer in the Spirit Is Gospel-Centered

Paul’s prayer request is that he will “fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.”

He is in prison but he doesn’t ask for release, he is more concerned about the spread of the gospel!

Prayer in the Spirit is consumed with the spread of the gospel.

This also reflects our own need for boldness in witnessing.

Most Christians struggle with fear in sharing God’s Word. We feel inadequate, we fear the response of people, we fear persecution, for example, in the form of job loss. This is also true for some preachers who sometimes hesitate to preach the full counsel of God, especially in an age where his Word is widely rejected, where some issues are not “politically correct”.

Let us continually call on the Holy Spirit to empower his people to share his Word with boldness, for God’s kingdom to be built, and for the evil one’s kingdom to be destroyed.

Conclusion

I think that one of the main reasons why so many of us don’t have a significant life of prayer is not because we don’t want to, but rather that we don’t plan to.

Busy lives! Jobs – businesses to run, children to raise – it never ends. But we can’t afford to squeeze Jesus out of our busy lives, we can’t afford to allow our prayer life to suffer. It is exactly that – our prayer LIFE! It is our means of grace. It is the means designed by God to keep us in Him unto eternity!

We MUST PERSEVERE! When life gets us down, through sickness, depression when tragedy strikes, business fails or job loss, when loved ones walk away, when we feel absolutely shattered by what life’s circumstances in this broken world throws up at us – we must persevere in prayer.

Even when we are so downhearted and depressed, when life is bitterly cruel and so unfair and unjust and God seems so far away that we don’t know what to pray, we don’t even feel like praying, we can pray in the strength of the spirit. We can cry out “Abba Father” and know that the Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8). We cry out from the heart with groaning too deep for words and the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.

Folks, there is a race to be run and a fight to be fought. If you want renewal in your prayer life YOU must plan to see it.

The Holy Spirit inspires and leads us at odd times and in a variety of ways, not only when we sit down to pray, so planning to pray or having a set time to pray and keeping a prayer list are good ideas. Keep a prayer journal. Use the Newsletter prayer items.

Here at the start of a new year, let us take time to rethink our priorities and how prayer fits into our daily life. Set a time. Set a place. Choose a portion of Scripture to guide you.

Application Questions:

  1. How is God calling you to grow in constant prayer?
  2. Are you as involved in corporate prayer as you could be?
  3. Are you watchful in your prayer life? What is God doing around you? How is he calling you to intercede? What types of distractions commonly keep you from being spiritually alert?
  4. How can you be more faithful in praying for all saints?
  5. Are you praying for the preaching of the Gospel? Are you actively seeking ways to speak out for God, by word or deed?

God Bless You All

 

7 Jan. 2018 – Louise McLachlan: Prayer (1), Psalm 5:1-3

 

Prayer– The ‘Lifeblood’ of our Relationship with God – Psalm 5:1-3

Why prayer?

·         Short 3 wk series on prayer

·         We want to earnestly seek the Lord for His plans/ministries for FBC rather than have a good idea/thought then seek the Lord’s blessing on it.

·         To see the Lord achieve His purposes/goals/vision at FBC & build the church He wants.

·         Link to Mon night prayer mtgs where we have already started that process. Come along & see what the Lord will do. Love many more to come so we can build a strong foundation in prayer for all we do.

Likewise for Sunday morning prayer for services.

 

Dr. Wilbur Chapman often told of his experience when, as a young man, he became pastor of a church in Philadelphia. After his first sermon, an old gentleman said to him, “You’re pretty young to be pastor of this church. But you preach the Gospel, and I’m going to help you all I can.” Dr. Chapman thought, “Here’s a crank.” But the man continued: “I’m going to pray for you that you may have the Holy Spirit’s power upon you. Two others have covenanted to join with me in prayer for you.” Dr. Chapman said, “I didn’t feel so bad when I learned he was going to pray for me. The 3 became 10, the 10 became 20, and 20 became 50, the 50 became 200 who met before every service to pray that the Holy Spirit might come upon me. I always went into my pulpit feeling that I would have the anointing in answer to the prayers of those who had faithfully prayed for me. It was a joy to preach! The result was that we received 1,100 into our church by conversion in three years, 600 of whom were men. It was the fruit of the Holy spirit in answer to prayer!”

Background:

(a) Prayer is at the Heart of our Christian walk

(b) Total trust and faith in our God

(c) Lifeblood – without it empty/dependence on self.

Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude- an attitude of dependency, dependency upon God.. It is a dependency on God that drives us to prayer.

 

Psalm 5: Verses 1-3 Read:

Listen to my words, O Lord, consider my groaning and sighing.
 Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You I pray.
 In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice;
In the morning I will prepare [a prayer and a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart].

 

Prayer comes out of the depths of our relationship with God:

·         Our commitment to pray, to see God move, lead & guide and answer prayer is a highlight of that relationship.

·         True prayer is deeper than our words

·         Prayer is thoughtful, flowing from the heart

·         If that is so, do we truly believe in prayer? Or do we just believe in prayer in times of emergency? Many people only pray when they are confronted with something extremely difficult or unmanageable in life.

·         Coming into the presence of God can calm our spirit and soul! Shouldn’t this tell us something about prayer? That we need more time in His presence in order to calm us while living in this hectic world?

·         So, why pray? Because in prayer we bow, we humble ourselves before Him. We admit our need. We admit our helplessness. We admit we need Him, His strength, His help, His blessing, His mercy and grace. AND WE DO! We do every day.

·         Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

·         ― E.M. Bounds, The Complete Collection of E.M Bounds on Prayer is personal. The prayers of my preacher, or of my friends or parents, won’t do. Note the words in Ps 5: `my words,’ `my meditation,’ `my cry,’ `my voice,’ `my prayer,’ `my King,’ and `my God.’

·         “The goal of prayer is the ear of God,” a goal that can only be reached by patient and continued and continuous waiting upon Him, pouring out our heart to Him and permitting Him to speak to us.”

·         Prayer is the breath of our spiritual life; and where there is no prayer that life is either threatened or deceased altogether.

·          “God is vitally concerned that men should pray. Men are bettered by prayer, and the world is bettered by praying. God does His best work for the world through prayer. God’s greatest glory and man’s highest good are secured by prayer.

David’s emphasis on morning prayer:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David’s Commitment to Morning Prayer

 

David asks Adoni Yahweh, our Father God to hear his prayer. He asks that God will respond to his words, and consider his thoughts, and addresses Him personally, as both his King and his God. and declares that He is the One to whom he prays and Who is able to do what he asks. He points out that his prayer is not haphazard. It is ordered and disciplined.

And he wants God to know that he will be on the watch for His response and direction and on the watch so that he does not sin. He begins each day with prayer, for he recognizes that he must go into the day with God.

Prayer Takes Preparation (v. 1)

“Give ear to my words, O Lord”. Prayer is more than a recitation – prayer cries out to God, expecting Him to hear and David didn’t want to waste his words – he was determined to have his prayer reach God

“In the morning … in the morning …”. One of the ways the Hebrews emphasize something is by repeating it. If they say it once, they mean it, of course, but if they say it twice, they really mean it (and if they say it three times it is ultimate, like “holy, holy, holy” is the Lord; which means that He is ultimate in holiness. So the fact that David repeats “in the morning” here shows the emphasis that he put upon it. It was “in the morning” that his prayer would rise up to God.

 

Jesus serves as the great model for us. He was busier in ministry than any of us will ever be in our lives And yet Jesus made it a priority to get up early and seek God and pray. We should do the same thing. We should tell the Lord, “In the morning, You will hear my voice.”

Mark 1:35 “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

The Order of the Morning Prayer

 

The words “order my prayer” are also very revealing. In Hebrew this is the same root word which describes how the priests “laid in order” the morning sacrifice, which was the very first act of the day in Israel.

So David is saying that just as the priests “ordered” the morning sacrifice as their first duty of the day, HIS first duty of the was going to be to let God hear his voice in prayer!

“I will arrange my prayer before You;” Just as the priest lays out the morning sacrifice. I will arrange my prayer.

“I will marshall up my prayers,”

I will put them in order, call up all my powers, and bid them stand in their proper places, that I may pray with all my might, and pray acceptably.

David didn’t have a “wait and see” attitude toward morning prayer.  He didn’t think, “If I get to bed at a decent hour and if I get up in time, I may spend some time in prayer.”  No, David was planning on crying out to God in the morning, so he tells God, ‘In the morning You will hear my voice.”  

 

We find this same commitment to seeking God in the morning in other Scriptures as well. 

Psalm 88:13: But I, O LORD, have cried out to You for help,  And in the morning my prayer comes before You.

Psalm 59:16: But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength;  Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, 

For You have been my stronghold  And a refuge in the day of my distress.

We see that there is great precedent for seeking God in the morning through prayer.  

 

Notice how David describes his prayer time in Psalm 5:3.  First, “In the morning I will prepare [a prayer and a sacrifice] for You”  There’s the inference of planning and even structure.  Here David says that he will “order” or prepare his prayers to God. 

 

Our spirit in prayer

Psalm 5:3 ends with David saying that he will wait in expectation for an answer to his prayer. A picture of David offering his prayer and then looking all around him for the answer. David is offering a prayer in faith and not in doubt.

This is excellent example of the type of spirit we must have in prayer. Many times we have a spirit of hopelessness and not a spirit of expectation/faith which the Lord is looking for when we approach the throne.

That spirit of expectation would mean more persistence in prayer and our prayers would have more urgency.
We may need an attitude change when approaching God in prayer.

 

David’s priorities in prayer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A sense of urgency:                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In verse 1 David says, “give ear to my words.” We should notice that this is not the only way to offer prayer to God.

In verse 2 we see that David is also crying to God. Our cries are heard by God as well. This reinforces our knowledge that God knows our suffering, our anguish, and our hurts, and hears and sees us in our times of struggle.

We learn that we can approach God even with pain that cannot be put into words. God does not hear us simply because we begin with “our Father in heaven” and close with “in Jesus’ name.”

God hears when we approach with a right spirit. And Alan will be talking more about this next week.

David does not begin by trying to plead his own righteousnessThis gets us nowhere with God. It is only by God’s mercy that we can have any standing with God and are not destroyed.

In Titus 3:5 we read that it is according to God’s mercy that we are saved and not by our works of righteousness.

Because of God’s mercy we can be led in His righteousness, guidance and direction. We show true wisdom to ask God to guide our lives.

 

The psalm immediately begins with a sense of urgency on David’s part. Notice the words David uses: give ear, consider, and listen. To give ear has a literal meaning of “broadening the ear” as with the hand. The word “listen” literally means “to incline the ear.” So David is asking the Lord to perk up His ears to the things that David is about to pray.

 

David is not merely going through a prayer routine as he begins to speak to God. David has an intensity and urgency in his prayer.

How often our prayers merely come from a sense of routine and not a sense of urgency.

When was the last time that we prayed to God with such urgency that we said “Give ear to my words, O Lord?” We have that right and ability to do so, yet how rarely do we do that.

David shows us that to approach God in prayer, we ought to have intensity and not a prayer formula.

In the New Testament, James refers to Elijah who “prayed earnestly” that it would not rain, and it did not (James 5:17 -18). It is that kind of urgency that receives answered prayer.

Pray with commitment – pray through

Reuben Archer Torrey was an American evangelist, pastor, educator, and writer. Torrey wrote: “Oh, men and women, pray through; pray through! Do not just begin to pray and pray a little while and throw up your hands and quit; but pray and pray and pray until God bends the heavens and comes down.”

When David says, “In the morning, O LORD”, that word “LORD” is the Hebrew word Yahweh; the personal name of God. It is the name God gave Moses when he asked Him His name.

David’s commitment to prayer came out of his personal relationship with God. He wasn’t just praying to “any” lord or god. He was praying to Yahweh, the God whom Genesis says created the heavens and the earth; the God who told Moses His name, and brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt; the God whom David knew personally, whom he referred to when he said, “Yahweh is my Shepherd.”

 

This God promised a Messiah, and He came in the Person of Jesus Christ, who, when confronted by the Jewish religious leaders, said, “Before Abraham came into being, I AM!” JESUS is the “I AM”! He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.”

And when we follow Jesus as our Lord & Savior, we know that “I AM” God personally — and want to talk with Him every day. Our prayer time is not just a “religious deed”, but the expression of the personal relationship we have with God — just like David’s was.

 

Pray with Persistence We can see a persistency in the prayer David is bringing to God. David was not praying on one morning. David saying “in the morning” he was saying that he was praying every morning.

Jesus taught the need for persistence in prayer. In Luke 18:1 we are told that Jesus “spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”

 

In the psalms, we can see the many desperate situations David found himself in. Yet David still relied upon prayer, repeatedly asking for the Lord to answer.

 

and eagerly watch”

 

The idea is, I am going to pray — and then I am going to look up, and watch, and see what God will do in response to my prayer.

Our prayers must be prayers of faith if they are going to please God. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please Him.” So if our prayers are going to please God, they must be prayers of faith. Like David, we should pray — and then watch expectantly to see what He does in response.

Unfortunately, many of our prayers are not “watchful”, expectant prayers. They are just “rote”; “routine.”

I know that there have been times when I haven’t really expected anything to happen; so am almost surprised when something does happen!

It’s like the disciples in Acts 12, who were gathered in Mary’s house, praying for Peter to be released from prison after James had been killed.

The Lord DID hear and answer their prayers miraculously, as an angel set Peter free from prison. He went through Jerusalem to Mary’s house where everyone was gathered, and when the servant girl answered the door and ran and told them that Peter was at the door, they wouldn’t believe her! In fact, they told her, “You are out of your mind!”

Peter just stood out there knocking, and they finally let him in, and it says “they were amazed.” They were NOT a good example of what David is talking about in Psalm 5:3. They were NOT “eagerly watching”!

But it does not change the fact that we SHOULD expect an answer. We should pray in faith like David did. He said “I will order my prayer to You, and I will eagerly watch”! He wasn’t just praying as a routine religious act; he expected God to do something — and we should too!

 

Let’s spend the first part of our praying in thankfulness/praise before lifting up our requests to God — and then watch and see what God does in response.

A good question for each of us to ask ourselves: “Is there a prayer request I have, which I am just praying on ‘auto pilot’ — but I am not really expecting God to do anything about it?”

Or, are you and I looking around expectantly every day, watching to see what God will do? That’s what David did — and that’s what we should do as well: pray — and then “eagerly watch”!

 

And that is what you and I must do, if we are going to spend time with God to begin our day. It is not just going to “happen”; we have to be committed to do it, and plan to carry it out. We’ve got to set our alarm for the time we need; we have to have our Bible and notebook and prayer list ready; we need to have a plan for what we are going to do. But most importantly you and I have to be committed for it to happen. It has to become our priority in 2018 and beyond.

 

Today is our 1st Sunday in 2018 & no doubt some will have made new year resolutions.

It’s a great time too, to be committing ourselves to deepening our relationship with God and for committing ourselves to pray as David did and see our Lord truly move in each of our lives, and here at FBC.

There is a sheet with some questions/thoughts you might like to consider as a follow up to today and next week, Alan will be talking about praying in the Spirit. Tony Mace will preach the last sermon in the series on January 21st on the Place, Practice and Power of prayer.

We are going to move into communion now and today we would like to pray for each person as you come forward. We also have someone who can bring communion to you if you feel unable to do that.

Alan, can you please pray before we serve each person.

31 December 2017 – Ross Woodhouse: Our Resolve in Life’s Challenges, Psalm 62

 

“Our Resolve in Life’s Challenges

Psalm 62

In Psalm 62, in the chaos and the beat up and the difficulties that David was facing, the image he has given here with “my soul…” – the phrase that set’s up the balance of the Psalm – is stillness; is being still, before the Lord

…It is, “all my trust and confidence is in you Lord no matter is happening around me or to me”

It’s a similar picture in Exodus 14 when the Egyptians were chasing down the Israelites, who “mob Moses in the panic”[1]…Moses encourages the people “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…the Lord will fight for you, you need only be still” (Ex. 14:13)

And more well known in Psalm 46:10…”Be still and know that I am God”[2]

Being still…the principle at the centre of the Psalm, is not doing nothing, it is however setting the order of our life around confidence and trust in God, in the first instance

Stillness, silence, rest, our souls being refreshed…these to us (and yes I’m generalizing) I want to suggest are foreign practices…in this day where work and recreation and family, as important as these are, have become all-consuming…we’re busy, busy, busy!

I read part of an article recently titled “How to create space for God”…actually the only part I read, was the title, I couldn’t get past the sad fact we have to have such things written about, but we do…busy, busy, busy, God is pushed to the mere margins of our day. One of several definitions of worship I have is: worship is being conscious of God in every aspect in every part of my day, despite my circumstances.

Anecdotally, well, actually not…worship, prayer, personal discipleship, growing relationship with the Lord are for many, being replaced by other priorities and pursuits. Where is the place for God in our lives?

If we profess to follow Christ, he IS our life!

Where is the place for such a consciousness of God that we are constantly reflecting on questions such as: How is God with me right now? Where is God leading me? What is God saying to me? Is God pleased with me? In our relationship with God do we muddle along with such things?

To ancient Israel, these were familiar and necessary practices. Silence was essential in order to learn what Yahweh’s will and purposes were for the people. Stillness was respectful; it meant the people were giving God the respect he was owed…

If relying on human strength and subjecting ourselves to frantic activity, taking greater precedence over being still….before God…what does that say of who ultimately our trust is in, where our priorities are and who we draw strength from?

This Psalm will cause us to examine ourselves…it will reset our thinking of God and our expectations of him

…we’re dealing with our spirituality today….

With David, we see someone who had that deep gut level assurance, that God is close…in the chaos and the beat up, the enemy does all this stuff, attempts to pull him down…but, “he is my fortress, I never will be shaken”

(READ Ps. 62)

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down— this leaning wall, this tottering fence? Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies: With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Surely the lowborn are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie. If weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath. 10 Do not trust in extortion or put vain hope in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them 11 One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, 12 and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.”

David, as we can see is under attack of some kind, there is a group of people looking to dethrone him as king, making life miserable in the process, possibly Saul’s family or a group of other conspirators…as best we can tell…he’s at breaking point!

But we can see in the way he’s framed his words something of the resolve of David to remain focussed on God despite his circumstances…David knew God, and all that he is, is greater, than any battle or challenge that life can bring, he had confidence in the Lord (62:10-12)

Take another look at some of the words David uses to speak of God and are evidences of that confidence?

…my rock… my salvation… my fortress… mighty rock… … glory… strength… refuge and mercy….we’re clearly all appropriate to David’s difficult circumstances

David is undeterred by any threat of the enemy like the one envisioned here…in fact his statements of faith and confidence in God, turn into a prayer at the end: “power belongs to you God, and with you is unfailing love…you reward each person according to what they have done” God is the judge. God is the vindicator. David is able to give it all to God!

Therefore what can this Psalm teach us about our relationship with God, about worship, the dependency he wants us to have in/on him, the trust he wants us to have in him…

I want to suggest there are 3 avenues that could be keys for us, in finding our way to this deep level of trust, faith we see in David…

1) We need to seek God in the face of difficulty and life’s challenges…

May sound simple and easy but is not our natural tendency. The idea is not to run away from or avoid challenges, but to seek God as we face into them. God here is described as a rock, a refuge, a fortress, a place of rest and safety who is reliable, permanent and constant.  When we make a commitment to trusting Christ our lives ought to reflect and manifest that trust, despite the inevitability of trials.

You see life as a Christian is not ignoring or invalidating the difficulties we face…but part of the paradox of living as Christ followers is not to turn inward on ourselves but to reach out to God. This doesn’t happen naturally initially, certainly doesn’t happen without learning, practice…and being intentional

When we read scripture and the stories and lives of God’s work in many of the characters, we see they were just ordinary people, people who lived with the same strains, sins and struggles we do, yet found ways to live a devoted faith life in the process….David was one of those

….Look at what Paul says in 2 Cor 1: 8-11 …My friends, I want you to know what a hard time we had in Asia. Our sufferings were so horrible and so unbearable that death seemed certain. 9 In fact, we felt sure that we were going to die. But this made us stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting God, who raises the dead to life. 10 God saved us from the threat of death,  and we are sure that he will do it again and again…

…2 Cor. 4:7…”We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored. The real power comes from God and not from us. 8 We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. 9 In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again.

In times of trouble we can confidently call on the Lord because he cares for those who rely on him…start today…

2) We need to seek God acknowledging our dependence in and on him…

My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. This is worship!

As believers, we grow and mature, we become more dependent on our heavenly father.  At least that’s what maturing as Christians is. Some of us really struggle with this though…relating to God at all can prove to be a road block, because it is a natural tendency to relate to God through what may have been or are poor or unhealthy relationships with others.

God, by the Holy Spirit and through his son Jesus have the ability to rebuild broken trust, betrayal and heal broken wounds. We need to be willing to engage in that process…healing….

…Otherwise our lives can be like the leaning wall or a fence that ‘may fall at the slightest touch’.

“Ross, you have no idea what I’ve been through, what I’ve put with…no I don’t”…(SORRY)…does God want you to carry that burden or does he want you to be free of it?

This psalm invites us to risk trusting…It encourages us to commit ourselves to God’s care. we can trust God, he is faithfulstart today…

3) We need to seek God… ‘pouring out our hearts to him …’

There is a price we need to pay when it comes to ‘Pouring out our hearts’. It involves a complete emptying of ourselves, exposing our inner selves; our needs and feelings. It is based on/in trust that the other person (in this case the Lord) will listen, care, understand, empathize and respond to us, and not mock, ridicule, judge or reject us.

(P) Men for a moment…some of what I’m talking about today might be appear to be very, well, soft, touchy feely, feminine even…David was a man in touch with his own vulnerability, and feelings and knew how to express that before God, he was a battle-hardened warrior, a man’s man…a man after God’s own heart!

David says that we can pour out our souls to God because he is our refuge.

The encouragement is for us to be still, regularly take stock, to take our troubles, our concerns, our weaknesses and sickness and “pour” them out to God. Nothing you have done or have said will surprise him…he knows, but he wants to hear it from us…you know his grace is momentary. Imagine what life would be like, living with a daily attitude of ‘pouring out’ to God? I don’t believe this is a static thing, it’s something we do in perpetuity…we pour out, pour out, to receive, to receive…work, recreation, whatever…

2 Cor. 12:9…To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me 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…

In his mercy he doesn’t give us what we do deserve…but in his grace he gives us what we don’t deserve! WOW

Conclusion

Read thru the Psalm again, slowly…as you do asking the Holy Spirit to show you a word…to speak to you…

Important I remind us all…we confuse our faith-walk with Jesus if we think there’s nothing we need to do…maturity, learning and growing in God takes commitment, desire and sacrifice: we need to pro-active!

Are we standing at a crossroads, are we sitting on the fence spiritually, things a bit dull….discipleship taken a back seat….are we confused about where we’re at with God, are we giving lip service to our dependence and trust in God…are we walking in his immeasurably-moreness, in the Spirit…?

To find rest for our souls, we need to choose to give (pour) all of our concerns, insecurities, relationship difficulties…to God …God is unimpressed by our attempt to limp through life devoid of any acknowledgment or reliance on him…

Remembering our faith is not in our expectations of what God may or may not do…Our faith is directed to God. Faith is asking God to strengthen and guide us through circumstances, helping us keep our eyes on him. Faith is not expecting God to do what we want him to do. Faith is asking God to do, what He wants to do, in us!

Take a moment to consider where you’re at in relationship with the Lord…this is a day and a year ahead to enact faith, rise…

TAKEAWAYS

Choose to rely on God in all circumstances

Choose to earnestly call on God in times of trouble

Choose to set your heart on God

Choose to trust in God’s reward

Choose to seek God in tough times, to depend on him deeply; our confidence in him needs to be habitual

Choose to pour out your hearts to him

 

What does it look like for you today, for God to be your rock, to be still in him, for your soul to find rest in him?

[1] NIV Comms, Psalms

[2] Also Ps. 94:19 “My anxiety was great within me, but your consolation brought joy to my soul”