"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." --Hebrews 4:12-16
There’s no telling how much the world has changed as the result of the silent prayers of Christians throughout history. Prayer is powerful! John Wesley recognized that power when He said:
"Give me 100 preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergy or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the
on earth. God does nothing but in answer to prayer." kingdomof Heaven
Bob Bedford wrote:
"Praying isn’t designed to change the heart of God to bring us what we want as it is to discern the heart of God and change our hearts to what God wants."
I have seen the world has changed greatly in my life time. The high-tech world that we live in today was only seen in science fiction movies, if at all, when I was a child. Things are happening so fast today that its hard to find time to keep up.
This high-tech madness has gotten into the spiritual world also. We want to text-message God or just send Him an e-mail. One of the fads for young people today is using abbreviations to talk to each other. God isn’t interested in your text-messaging or your e-mail or your abbreviated talking but He wants you to come become Him humbly.
Jesus gives us a pattern of prayer in Matthew 6:9-13:
"After this manner therefore pray ye: 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, for ever. Amen."
Eugene H. Peterson says in well in the Message Bible, Matthew 6:5-8:
"Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God , and you will begin to sense his grace.
"The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant . They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you , you can pray very simple."
Jesus, in teaching His disciples to pray, said for us to begin with praise: "Hallowed be thy Name." Just in the book of Psalms the word "praise" (or "praised" or "praises") is used more than 150 times. There are many ways to praise the Lord. Let me share one with you:
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. --Psalm 100The Hebrew word for "praise" here is "hymn." It is very interesting to me that the words for "thanksgiving" and "praise" in this chapter in the Hebrew are very much alike.
Praise - a hymn.
Thanksgiving - adoration; or a choir of worshipers.
I have found that a good way to get into the spirit of prayer is to began with good music. Sometimes I even try singing if I don’t have access to music. Sometimes I just make up songs of praise. (No, I have not lost my mind!)
I could not help but take notice of the fact that the last verse of this great chapter the Psalmist caught a vision of God’s greatness.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
While I am giving Him adoration He is giving me revelation!
In Psalm 66 we can see this again:
Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:
Sing forth the honour of his name:
make his praise glorious.
Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works!
through the greatness of thy power
shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.
All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee;
they shall sing to thy name.
Come and see the works of God:
he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.
He turned the sea into dry land:
they went through the flood on foot:
there did we rejoice in him.
He ruleth by his power for ever;
his eyes behold the nations:
let not the rebellious exalt themselves.
O bless our God, ye people,
and make the voice of his praise to be heard:
Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.
For thou, O God, hast proved us:
thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.
Thou broughtest us into the net;
thou laidst affliction upon our loins.
Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water:
but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
I will go into thy house with burnt offerings:
I will pay thee my vows,
Which my lips have uttered,
and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.
I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings,
with the incense of rams;
I will offer bullocks with goats.
Come and hear, all ye that fear God,
and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.
I cried unto him with my mouth,
and he was extolled with my tongue.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
But verily God hath heard me;
he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.
Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer,
nor his mercy from me.
In this psalm you can find both praise and revelation.
When we share with Him our petitions, He shares with us His promises.
We must never put petitions before praise!
And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. --I John 5:11-15
I have chosen this passage because there are some false ideas about prayer that I think need our attention.
I want to share a list of things that I read about prayer that I think will be very helpful. (This list is from the Beacon Bible Expositions .)
- Fellowship with God and His people includes the confidence that prayer accomplishes things.
- Prayer is sharing with God the desires of one’s heart.
- The confidence the believer has is that if he asks anything according to God’s will, he is heard.
- Not everything the Christian prays for does he get.
- Prayer must be within the will of God.
- It is unreasonable to suppose that God will do something He does not want to do just because the Christian prays.
- What is heard is what was asked for in His will.
- If one asks in His will, He hears in His will.
- The Christian with his limited knowledge often projects a solution in prayer that is not God’s way.
- God does not and will not change His mind because the Christian thinks he has a better idea.
Dr. U.E. Harding said: "God can see better than He can hear." What He meant was that God heard what the Christian asked and also saw His heart and what it really wanted and answered more in response to the heart than the mouth. We have a right as a child of God to come boldly before His throne in prayer but we must be willing to let God answer the way that He sees best.
God has given us the promise that the Holy Spirit will help us to know how to pray.
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. --Romans
While I give Him my petitions He gives me a promise of help with my praying. The Lord knows I need all the help I can get.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
The word "grace" is found twice here. Grace - the divine influence upon the heart.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. --Hebrews 11:1
From the Message Bible:
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.
Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.
While I am exercising my Faith He is exercising His faithfulness.
To exercise faith is to take our hands off and watch God work. He doesn’t need our help He just needs us to obey Him.
"Faith has to do with reality that is not accessible to our senses and which lies beyond the grasp of reason!" ( Beacon Bible Exposititions)We can put our faith in a God who is omnipresent. We must understand that God is always present at every point with His entire being.
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." --Isaiah 57:15
God is omnipotent. He can do all that He pleases to do. He has unlimited power!
Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: --Jeremiah 32:17
But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. --Psalm 115:3
God is omniscient. He has perfect knowledge of all things.
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his chancellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. --Romans 11:33-36
Why can’t we trust a God who is always present with us and who has unlimited power over us and who has perfect knowledge of us?
The arm of flesh will fail us.
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. "
"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." --Matthew 6:19-21, 27-34
Beacon Bible Expositions closes this text like this.: "Because of our High Priest’s sympathy, we can come with confidence to His throne. It is a throne of grace. There we obtain mercy- a reference to forgiveness for the past- and grace to help in time of need- a reference to the future."
I say to you today, come before His throne empty handed and with a heart that is willing to obey. God loves you and He cares!
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord:" --Jeremiah 29:11-14
Let me close with this thought from Vance Havner:
"We carry checks on the bank of heaven and never cash them at the window of prayer. We lie to God in prayer if we do not rely on God after prayer."