Understanding Prayer

PURPOSE: To edify and armor members of the body through a greater understanding of why we need to pray and knowledge of what God does for us and in us through prayer.
Prayer is the spear of the armor in Ephesians 6, it is one of the “weapons” of 2 Corinthians 10:4. The believer should understand that PRAYER ATTACKS THE DEVIL!
INTRODUCTION - Public (corporate) prayer is essential to the body of Christ. Family prayer edifies the home. Private prayer is necessary for the individual’s spiritual life. Private, personal prayer is a privilege extended by God. (Note its absence among the Ten Commandments of Ex 20). Our relationship with God is intensely and intimately personal. Our salvation is individual. Our judgment is individual. It is not possible to love God and not pray. It is common to claim to love God and not pray. Just as faith without works is dead, love without prayer is dead. Prayer is a discipline which strengthens the spirit as exercise strengthens the body.

            As a loving Parent Who knows better than we do, God’s response to prayer requests may be “Yes”, “No”, or “Wait”. Thus, all prayer is subject to the sovereign will of God AND all Scripture regarding prayer is within the context of God’s will. A spirit of prayer is submissive to God’s will and allows us to accept a “No” without anger.  It is critical for us to understand that not all prayer involves requests. A prayer may contain only thanksgiving ((which IS praise (Heb 13:15)).

           Far too many Christians are unable to pray effectively because of un-Scriptural teaching which leaves them attempting to communicate with God in pseudo-religious language restricted by “rules” about prayer and desiring to impress God with how holy we are. They have been told “How To Pray” (activity) without understanding what they are really doing. Prayer must be without pretense. We should pray in times of strength as well as times of weakness. We are “little children” spending time with our loving, merciful, trusted, protecting, providing, heart-knowing, understanding, gracious and wise Father. We are not revealing secrets to the Omniscient One, we are fulfilling our purpose. We were created for His pleasure (Rev 4:11), unto good works (Eph 2:10), AND fellowship (1 Co 1:9 and 1 Jn 1:3).

WHAT IS PRAYER? - The approach of the soul to the heart of God. When we pray we offer ourselves to God. Our soul is in communion with God and involves both mind and spirit. Prayer is to the soul what breath is to the body. It is the expressway to God’s heart. It is the door to our house of love. Prayer is two-way communication. Prayer is mutual indwelling. It allows us to be ministered to AND to minister to others. Prayer allows us to understand what it means to be in the presence of God. Prayer gives us strength, comfort and inner healing. This spiritual strength is necessary to do God’s will. Without it we can be like shiny new cars with no fuel. Capable and looking good on the outside but without power. Nothing but unrealized potential, unable to compete in the race, or unable to finish without refueling.

             We are told to “Pray without ceasing (1 Th 5:17) because prayer is an attitude.

 - "without ceasing"=Gr."adialeiptos"="without omission", "permanent", "without interruption." Used only by Paul in the N.T. also used in 1Th 1:3, 2:13 and Ro 1:9. Used in adjective form in Ro 9:2 ("continual")  and 2Ti 1:3.

     - "Pray" = Gr."proseuchomai" - Restricted to prayer to God.

     We obviously cannot physically be in continual prayer. It is only in the Spirit that we can "pray without ceasing." Prayer must necessarily not be mere utterance of words. It cannot be limited by timing, location, position or circumstance. Prayer consists of connection to and through the Holy Spirit to elevate our hearts and minds to a communal state with God. It is thus possible for us to be engaged in prayer while carrying out our daily activities and obligations. Prayer is anattitude. It is a necessary part of our Christian walk to express ourselves to God in words, but we must not think of it as the fulfillment of this verse. What we receive from God and how we receive it is the essence of the heart to Heart communion. Not only are words not required for prayer (Ro 8:26,27), excessive output (i.e., focusing on our own words to the extent that the communication becomes one-way as a monologue) may limit Divine input (NOTE: Praying in tongues is the Holy Spirit joining and supplementing us in prayer not interceding). God's ministry to our spirit makes prayer a privilege afforded by Grace. We are allowed to be in God's presence, not forced.

     - Prayer, as an offering to God, must be unblemished, and therefore, must be completely truthful (Jas 3:13-18; Ps 145:18).

     - Prayer includes thanksgiving and praise (Ps 100:4). The heart and mind, as well as the tongue, can give praise (See Ps 30:12a; 138:1). In fact, our very lives can/should constitute praise to God (the true meaning of Ro 12:1,2). We are completely able to "pray without ceasing" IF we walk (abide) by/in the Spirit as faithful servants and children.

WHY SHOULD WE PRAY?

  •          To renew our strength
  •          To unburden ourselves
  •          To praise and honor God
  •          To seek blessings for ourselves and others
  •          To confess / seek forgiveness
  •          To obtain mercy and find grace
  •          To spend time in the presence of God
  •          To remind ourselves of our weaknesses
  •          To close the space created between us and God by sin
  •          To seek direction from God for our lives
  •          To make righteous choices/decisions

SHOULD WE KNEEL? - Jonah prayed while in the belly of a fish (Jonah 2:1). To document more fully, read the following partial list of relevant Scriptures:

WHY MUST WE PRAY IN THE SPIRIT?

    Because God is Spirit (Jn 4:24 omit “a”) and we are flesh. Spirit and flesh are incompatible (Gal 5:17) and therefore cannot commune without a third element. It is the Holy Spirit which enables us to commune with God. In the natural world, think of oil/grease and water not mixing. If we introduce a soap or detergent we are then effectively able to wash dishes, etc. The dishwater itself, scientifically is known as an emulsion. Two elements which otherwise don’t mix being brought together by a third element known as an “emulsifying agent”. The Holy Spirit is the emulsifying agent which allows us to commune with God. Without it, there is no mixing/communion.

WHAT IS SUPPLICATION?

    In Phil 4:6 "supplication"= Gr."deesis" - A specific spoken petition from one who needs to One Who can "supply". This word does not apply to written requests. Supplication, by definition, asks “If You will”, not “If You can.” This necessarily includes an attitude of humility. Supplication can in no way be a demand.

WHAT CAN HINDER PRAYER?

 Because God looks at the heart of one who prays, attitude, faith and motivation are factors. We must achieve some standard of acceptability to be allowed in His presence. Anything which hinders our prayer is a sign of trouble for our spiritual walk, our righteousness, and our peace. We cannot "pray without ceasing" under any of the following conditions:

  •          Unforgiveness   Mk 11:24-26
  •           Doubt   Jas 1:5-7
  •           Lack of faith   Heb 11:6
  •           Disobedience   Pr 28:9
  •           Carnality   Jas 4:1-3
  •          Marital Discord   1Pe 3:7
  •           Insincerity   Mal 1:7-9
  •           Inhumanity   Pr 21:13
  •           Iniquity    Ps 66:18

 PRAYER FOR OTHERS – Jas 5:16  Luke 22:31,32

Intercessory prayer is not restricted to specific trials and circumstances. It is an everyday part of our spiritual walk. Let’s look at Col 1:9-14 to see examples from Paul of what we can pray about for others.

1.      The knowledge of God’s will
2.      God’s wisdom
3.      Spiritual understanding
4.      Godly living
5.      Fruitfulness / Good works
6.      Increased knowledge of the Lord
7.      Strengthening through God’s power
8.      Endurance with patience and joy

 FOR INDIVIDUAL UNDERSTANDING

Matthew 6:9-13 – The Disciples’ Prayer

Daniel 10:1-15

(Peter) Mt 14:25-31

(David) 2 Samuel 12:15-23

 

Understanding Worship

    Man must realize that God is the object of man’s worship (Jn. 4:24). The word means “worthship” or “worthiness”. The emphasis is NOT on the worshipper, but He Who is worshipped. Worship is giving, not receiving. Since God is the object of our worship, He has the right to specify and stipulate what kind of worship He accepts. Just because worship is offered does not necessarily make it acceptable. John 4:23-24 tells us that worship must emanate from the spirit. We are to acknowledge God from the heart. Since we can worship God by godly acts, worship itself is not necessarily spiritual - Its SOURCE is spirit. Note “will worship” in Colossians 2:8-10, 16-23 referring to worshipping the way we want. John 4 also clearly says spirit and truth (not “or”). Truth is God’s word, so He must be worshipped according to His word. There are many examples in scripture of God judging those who fail to worship Him as prescribed. Ignorant and vain worship are condemned (Matt. 15: 1-9). Hence, we must know the God we seek to worship and worship Him according to the truth revealed in the Bible. Praise is part of worship, but worship can be joyful or sorrowful (2 Samuel 12:19, 20).

QUESTIONS: At the conclusion of a worship service, does the message have you talking about the preacher or talking about God? Are you concerned with whether you enjoyed it or whether God was pleased? Are you concerned with what you got out of the service or with the quality of your worship?

SCRIPTURAL EXAMPLES OF PEOPLE IN WORSHIP

1. Abraham’s Servant (Gen 24:26-27, 48, 52) - Being led by God, accomplishing his mission

2. Moses (Exodus 34:4-9) - Obedience, petition

3. Gideon (Judges 7:13-15) - Gratitude, deliverance

4. Job (Job 1:20, 21) - Sorrow, humility

5. David (Psalm 5:7) - Reverence

6. Wise men (Matthew 2:11) - Adoration

7. Man with unclean spirit (Mark 5:6) - Recognition, acknowledgement

8. Blind man (John 9:38) - Healing, restoration

ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURES

Exodus 34:14
For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

1 Chron 16:27-29

Glory and honour are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place. Give unto the LORD, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

2 Kings 17:36

But the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice.

2 Chronicles 29:28
And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.

Psalm 95:6
O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

Psalm 99:5

Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy.

Matthew 4:10
Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

John 4:23
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

Revelation 14:7
Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

Revelation 15:4
Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.