Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

                                                                 11-11-04

PRAYING LIKE JESUS/Ten Principles Of Prayer

   

 Luke 11:1-11:13

 
Have you ever thought about your prayer life?

 

Have you ever examined it and wished that you could be better at communicating with God?

 

Have you ever just felt like there were times when your prayers were just hitting the ceiling and bouncing right back down?

 

I wonder if you’ve ever stopped to consider whether there is any power in your prayers.

Illustration:


I read about a small Oklahoma town that had two churches and one distillery.

 

Members of both churches complained that the distillery was giving the community a bad image.

 

And to make matters worse the owner of the distillery was an out spoken atheist.

 

He didn’t believe in God one bit.

 

The church people had tried unsuccessfully for years to shut down the distillery.

 

So finally they decided to hold a joint Saturday night prayer meeting.

 

They were going to ask God to intervene and settle the matter.

The church folks gathered on Saturday night and there was a horrible thunderstorm raging outside, and to the delight of the church members lightening hit that old brewery and it burned to the ground.


The next morning the sermons that were preached in both churches were on the power of prayer.


But the insurance adjusters promptly notified the distillery owner that they were not going to pay for the damages because the fire was an act of God and that was an exclusion in the policy.


The distillery owner was furious and he sued both churches claiming that they had conspired with God to destroy his business.

 

But the churches denied that they had anything to do with the cause of the fire.


The presiding judge opened the trial with theses words: “I find one thing in this cause most perplexing-we have a situation here where the plaintiff, an atheist is professing his belief in the power of prayer, and the defendants all faithful church members are denying the very same power.”

It seems that sometimes as Christians we pray asking God to do certain things, either in our life or the lives of others, only to be totally surprised when God answers our prayers.


So where do we start if it is our goal to establish a legitimate communication with God?

 

The bookstores are full of books that are aimed at leading one into a prayer relationship with God but, how does one know what is valid and what isn’t?

 

I can relate to Lee Strobel when he said, and I quote: “I treated prayer as if it were a spiritual smorgasbord.  I took a little of this authors ideas, a bit of advise from that pastors sermon, applied some miscellaneous Bible verses, and mixed it with some counsel of well meaning friends.  The result was an imbalanced and half-baked prayer life that left me starving for something more satisfying”

 

We can find all too many sources that would endeavor to lead us into an intimate prayer life with God, but who can best describe to us the principles of proper prayer better than the master communicator Himself, Jesus, the son of God.

 

He spent more time in successful, active communication with the Father than anyone else.

 

If we will listen to Him, the pathway to powerful prayer will be revealed to us.

I. Learn The Basic Principles Of Prayer-Prayer 101
(Luke 11:1)
1Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
2So He said to them, When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

3Give us day by day our daily bread

4And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation But deliver us from the evil one.

5And He said to them, Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves;

6for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him,

7and he will answer from within and say, Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you.

8I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

9So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

10For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

11If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?

12Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

13If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!

A. There must first be a desire to learn what you think you already know. (vs. 1)


1. The disciples had prayed previous to asking Jesus to teach them the power and peacefulness of prayer.


2. But as they circled around Jesus that day, they realized that there was something different about the way He prayed.


3. He would not give them that day a sacred formula to be repeated over and over, but He would give them a consistent pattern for prayer.

 

B. I am convinced that most Christians learned to pray in one of these ways:


1. By some other person’s example.


2. By our own meaning.

 

C. Now!  Look at the principles Jesus laid out for powerful prayer.


1. "Our Father" I find it interesting here that Jesus would teach us this phrase because Jesus Himself never uses that phrase.

 

He is heard referring to God as, "The Father", "My Father", or "Your Father", because He is the true Son of God, but you and I are to refer to Him at least as "Father" and at best as "Our Father" since we are adopted into that royal family.

 

It is a term likened to daddy or poppa.

Principle #1: We are instructed to approach Him with tenderness.

2. "In heaven" Jesus reminds us here that we are not approaching an earthly father that is limited in his capabilities or his presence.

 

We are approaching the very Father of all creation.

 

He is our heavenly Father and because of that we are created in His image (Gen 1:26).

Principle #2: We are instructed to approach Him with reverence.

3. "Hallowed be Your name"

 

Not many could claim this title although it is given to us the task of being set apart (sanctification) for service to the glory of God.

 

Jesus is certain to remind us that our Father is free from all impurities.

 

He is totally separated from all evil.

Principle #3: We are instructed to approach Him with respect.

4. "Your kingdom come"

 

It is a difficult thing to go to God in prayer knowing that you are at odds with the ministry of the kingdom.

 

We are then simply laying before Him a monstrous hypocrisy if every day of our lives we are hindering and thwarting the advance of His kingdom.

Principle #4: We are instructed to approach Him with devotion.

5. "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven"

 

In one sense the will of God is done whether we like it or not.

 

Yet in another real sense, all believers do not always carry out the will of God.

 

The interesting fact is that we cannot see His will done without first letting Him rule in our day-to-day lives.

 

He must be Lord and King and we must seek to enlarge His kingdom.

 

The whole concept then, seems to be one that is quite foreign to us.

 

It is an appeal for us to voluntarily give up our wills here on earth so that His heavenly will might be accomplished.

 

Philippians 2:5: Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

Principle #5: We are instructed to approach Him with humbleness.

Everything up to this point deals with the ATTITUDE of prayer

The following deals with the RELATION of prayer

6. "Give us today our daily bread"

 

If we are in the right attitude for prayer then this next petition sets us in the right relation towards God’s gifts.

 

God is not a God that wants His followers to be in want, but notice that our needs are only addressed after we have given our wills over To the Father.

Illustration:


God appeared to Solomon in II Chron. 1:7 and told him he could ask for anything he wanted.

 

Most of us, if put in that position, would have ask for things that would be beneficial to us, but because Solomon was in the will of God, he ask for something that would help others.

 

He asked for wisdom to lead God’s people into His will.

You and I will find that our desires dwindle, as the Fathers will is exercised.

 

It is then that we can ask God to provide for our needs and be totally assured that He will do so.

 

After the wisdom of God was given to Solomon so were the added blessings of God.

Principle #6: We are instructed to approach Him with
thankfulness.

7. "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors"

 

I’m afraid that this principle carries with it some baggage.

 

Sin is a debt that causes a heavy burden.

 

If not dealt with, it can totally weigh a person down until he /she is totally ineffective as a Christian.

 

It seems that we are encouraged to pray for those that have sinned against us.


Luke 6:28: "pray for those who spitefully use you"

 

It goes on to imply that if we are unwilling to relinquish our grudges and hatreds towards those that have wronged us, we might not be so pious as to expect God to lighten the burden we carry.

Principle #7: We are instructed to approach Him with
forgiveness.

8. "Lead us not into temptation"

 

Is there a sense here that God would actually lead us into temptation?

 

To understand this you have to understand that this word carries a dual meaning.

 

I guess the Revised Version has a more accurate interpretation for it says, "bring us not into temptation"

 

The first meaning is trial, sometimes we are given trials that are meant to test our faithfulness.

 

The second meaning is actual incitement, inducement, seducement, and allurement in the direction of causing one to commit an actual sin.

 

In the first case God does not tempt us, He tries us.


James 1:13: Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.


Understand this, that God will never leed you into anything that He does not plan to lead you out of.

In the second case we are subjected directly to the source of temptation, usually the allurements of Satan and we must cling then to the truths of God’s word found in I Cor. 10:13


13No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Principle #8: We are instructed to approach Him with an Awareness.

9. "Deliver us from the evil one"

 

It is interesting to me that many of the things we consider to be evil, are not.

 

It has been said that poverty is not evil, Suffering is not evil.

 

The only real evil is sin.

 

It is the evil one who pushes us toward this sin.

 

I’m reminded of this story I read.


Illustration:


Someone told of a church that believed in sinless perfection once you trusted Jesus Christ into your life and were baptized.

 

A visitor to that church heard this teaching and asked to be baptized.

 

He was tired of dealing with his habitual sin without any success.

 

Unfortunately, it was in the middle of winter and the river was near frozen.

The man with much persistence got the Elders to baptize him in the river.

 

After the man and two Elders came out of the freezing cold water, the man was so excited, he said, "I feel so good, I’m not even cold."

 

One Elder turned to the other and said, "He’s lying, we have to do it again."

Until we recognize that God is our Father and we are His children we will never understand just how evil sin is.

 

Without a proper prayer relationship with our Father we are doomed to fall prey to the evil one.

Principle #9: We are instructed to approach Him with helplessness.

10. "Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever"

 

Isn’t it only appropriate that we, give God the credit He deserves?

 

It is all about God, the master creator of the universe.

 

It is His power that brings all good things to conclusion in our lives.

 

It is God and God alone that deserves the glory.

 

For who else but God could actually bring us through prayer to a place of eternal peace and security.

Principle #10: We are instructed to approach Him with genuineness.

Application:

What do you ask God to do in your prayer?

 

So many times we are guilty of saying, "God supply my needs", "God supply my wants", "God make things turn out the way I want them to".

 

Have we forgotten that the great God of heaven and earth has needs also?

 

He needs to know that you love Him.

 

He not only wants you to tell Him this, He wants you to prove it by serving Him faithfully.

 

He needs to know that you desire to fellowship with Him.

 

This involves spending time with God.

 

It’s more than just a passing comment.

 

Sometimes it means spending time in prayer talking to Him and sometimes it means shutting up and listening to what He has to say.

 

He needs to know that you are devoted to Him.

 

That means choosing Him when you have a choice.

 

It’s amazing just to think that God wants to answer your prayers, but He desires for you and me to be in the proper attitude for prayer.

 

In the coming months ahead you are going to be asked to pray for specific things.

 

Do it with the right attitude; do it with the expectation that He is going to do it, and God will answer your prayer.

The Empty Chair

A man’s daughter had asked the local pastor to come and pray with her father.

 

When the pastor arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed.

 

The pastor assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit.

 

"I guess you were expecting me," he said.

 

"No, who are you?"

"I’m the new pastor at your local church," the pastor replied.

 

"When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up."

"Oh yeah, the chair," said the bedridden man.

 

"Would you mind closing the door?"

Puzzled, the pastor shut the door.

"I’ve never told anyone this, not even my daughter," said the man.

 

"But all of my life I have never known how to pray.

 

At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it always went right over my head."

I abandoned any attempt at prayer," the old man continued, "until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, "Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus.  Here’s what I suggest.  Sit down on a chair, place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because he promised, "I’ll be with you always." Then just speak to him and listen in the same way you’re doing with me right now."

"So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful, though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm."

The pastor was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old guy to continue on the journey.

 

Then he prayed with him, and returned to the church.

Two nights later the daughter called to tell the pastor that her daddy had died that afternoon.

"Did he seem to die in peace?" he asked.

"Yes, when I left the house around two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me one of his corny jokes, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange, In fact, beyond strange--kind of weird. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on a chair beside the bed."

Pray like Jesus prayed; PRAY WITH POWER.

 

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