IT IS TIME TO PRAY
Matthew 6:9-13, 1 Peter 5:6-7 PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH 30 August 2020
Many people have a difficult time developing a strong prayer life in their Christian walk. Sometimes prayer is stronger when things are a struggle. If that is true, then we should be a praying people right now! The concept of prayer is fairly simple. Someone once said, “I don’t feel like praying”. Their friend said, “Well, why don’t you talk to God about it.” Prayer is simply talking to God.
If you are struggling with your prayer life, I want to encourage you that God hears your prayers. We will talk about how He answers every prayer He hears a little later.
*You do not have to pray in any specific way, using holy words or repeating any religious phrases. God wants to hear from you, in your words, what your need is.
*You do not have to pray in any specific place, any place you spend time with the Lord is holy ground. Pray while you are working. Pray while you lie awake at night unable to sleep. Pray while you are driving. Pray when you see someone in need. You can be sure of one thing. No matter where you are when you pray, God is there.
*You do not have to have someone else pray for you. No one is more important to God than you are. However, there is power in numbers. It is appropriate that we ask others to pray with us about our need. God is pleased to see His people all praying together for one another.
*You do not have to pray a long prayer - the Lord’s Prayer is rather short. Only about 65 words. In fact, the Scribes and Pharisees were condemned by Jesus Himself, for their long and loud prayers (Matthew 23:14)
*You do not have to pray a beautiful prayer - just speak from the heart. God is not impressed with prayers that are full of flowery empty words. He wants to hear your concerns, plainly and simply.
There is no perfect prayer. The important thing is that you take time to pray.
Now, let’s look at what the Bible says about prayer. We will begin with one of the most familiar prayers in the Bible - the model prayer - often called the ‘Our Father’ prayer or The Lord’s Prayer.
Matthew 6:9-13 – Let’s say it together (KJV) is the version most know it.
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
That prayer is precious to us because it is a prayer that is taught to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a prayer most of us learned as a child. This prayer teaches us about our daily prayer life because it teaches us to pray.
- It teaches us to pray to our Father - He is our Father - not a remote, uncaring person. He loves us and cares for us as his children.
- It teaches us to pray to our Father in heaven - He is close enough that we can feel His presence, but He is also in heaven - outside of the temporary world in which we live. So we are taught the comfort of nearness and the power of God.
- It teaches us to praise God. Hallowed means Holy - God’s name is holy and we worship a holy God. This acknowledges how awesome God is and that we want to serve Him every day.
- It teaches us to desire the kingdom rule of God in our lives. As people of faith we have given our life to God and He is our Lord, our Ruler, and our Sovereign.
- It teaches us that we seek for God’s will to be done on earth - in our lives, and in the lives of others.
- It teaches us to trust God to supply our daily bread - our daily needs. Sometimes that trust can be hard, but Jesus taught us to pray about that too. We should also pray for those around us to have their daily bread as well.
- It teaches us to seek God’s forgiveness - something all of us need every day. It also reminds us to forgive others. We cannot enjoy the forgiveness of God while holding grudges and a bitter spirit toward others.
- It teaches us to reject the temptations to sin that we all face, and be devoted to God. It reminds us that there is an enemy who tempts us and he does not love us like God does. God wants to save us while the enemy wants to destroy us.
- It teaches us to honor God as truly more powerful and glorious than anything else we know.
- It teaches us to say Amen - let it be so. In other words, as Jesus prayed – “not My will, but thine be done.” It’s not a very long prayer, but it is so powerful.
Prayer is something that some feel intimidated by, but you never have to be shy or hesitant in your prayers. The Bible tells us that we can come to God in prayer with a confident spirit.
Hebrews 4:16 says, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.” There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
Prayer is meant to be a time to find true help from a willing Father who is able to give us what we need. At the throne of God we will find two essential things that give prayer such great power:
Grace - God’s favor we cannot earn – As the Hebrews writer says, it is a ‘throne of grace’ that we come to.
Mercy - God withholds what we really deserve and is merciful to us.
Do you need to pray about something? I believe we all do, all the time. Daily I receive requests for prayer from people I know, some I don’t know. These come from churches, from Facebook Friends, from my students, from family and old friends. It is obvious the need for prayer is out there. And often, people who are not themselves praying people, will call out to people who are praying people to pray for their need. So, people know the power of prayer, but don’t often use that communication with God for help for their need.
I think we are seeing a lot of that now for most of this year. This world is in a crisis. People need someone or something to depend on.
You may know someone who has tested positive for this virus and needs healing
Someone you know has lost his or her job and they are struggling financially.
Many people have become afraid and anxious about the events surrounding this pandemic. They cannot see any hope.
The events of these past months have weighed heavily on the minds of some folks and need help and healing mentally.
Millions of people are trying to cope with this pandemic without knowing the One who can provide solid help and comfort. These are lost and need the Lord.
Aside from the pandemic, others are hurting because their children are neglecting the Lord, or have never come to know Him as Lord.
Prayer is the answer to each of these situations and for each of these persons.
Psalm 50:15 says, “Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”
Think about your greatest need when you go to God in prayer. Take that to Him. He wants to hear you ask for His guidance in your situation.
An invisible virus has caused distress around the globe. Many are struggling to find hope. They are living in discouragement.
The troubles of loneliness, anger, stress, pain, disappointment, and addiction are leading people to lives of despair. Yet there is one thing I know. When we can give all of this to God who hears and answers, we can experience peace.
Listen to the Word of God talk about how prayer blesses prayerful people:
Give All Your Cares to the Lord
Hear Peter’s encouraging words about prayer:
1 Peter 5:6-7 “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
We have to keep on giving all our worries and cares to God!
We do this in prayer - we lay them all at His feet and ask him to relieve our worried hearts.
Pray about your concerns of the virus. Pray about your community and those who are lost. Pray about our families. No matter what time it is – it is a time for prayer.
Experience Peace From God
Hear Paul as he writes to the church at Philippi: Philippians 4:6-7 (NASB):”Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Everything we worry about should become a prayer. If a situation is important to you, it is important to God. When we turn it over to him and thank him, something amazing happens.
“Peace that passes understanding” will guard our hearts and minds.
We may not understand where that peace comes from, but we know that this promise is that God can give it to us. This is a time when we need peace. This is a time for prayer.
Keep On Praying
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 “Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
What would prevent us from continuing to pray about a need in our lives? We may be tempted to stop praying if…
We see nothing happening as a result.
Things even get worse than they were before we prayed.
Too much time goes by and we think either God didn’t hear our prayer, or that He doesn’t care.
All of these reasons may seem valid in our minds. But, in reality, God answers every prayer we pray. But, our prayers are answered in different ways. There are three answers to our prayers.
1. YES – the answer comes in a timely manner when we pray. On the other hand, if we don’t pray, nothing happens.
2. NO – God answers our prayers in the way which is best for us, although we may not see what is best for us.
3. LATER - God not only knows what is best for us, he also knows WHEN it is best for us. God doesn’t work on our timetable. He sees what is ahead and determines the best timing for us and for His glory.
“God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil.” - E.M. Bounds
Is God shaping your world by prayer?
Our world surely does need His mighty power to battle this virus and all the struggles that go along with it.
Prayer teaches us to lean on the Lord.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not lean on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.