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The Spiritual Discipline of Prayer

Recorded on April 7th, 2019

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Whether you are a new Christian or a well-established Christian, we sometimes wonder if we are praying correctly. And sometimes prayer can be intimidating. You are NOT alone in your fears, but should we be afraid? Hear how God loves us even with our faults!

Transcript of Sermon:

[Music] the scripture this morning is from Matthew 6:5 through 15 and wouldn’t you pray do not be like the hypocrites for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others truly I tell you they have received their reward in full but when you pray go into your room close the door and pray to your father who is on scene then your father who sees what is done in secret will reward you and when you pray do not keep on babbling like pagans for they think they will be heard because of their many words do not be like them for your father knows what you need before you ask him this then is how you should pray our Father in Heaven how would be thy name your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven give us today our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one for if you forgive other people when they sin against you your heavenly Father will also forgive you but if you do not forgive others their sins your father will not forgive your sins the word of God for the people of God thanks be to God well good morning all my name is Alan roots and I’m kind of stepping in for pastor ELISA today while she’s off at school Janet and I have we kind of split the duties now you get to hear me stumble over over everything we’ve been hearing about the spiritual disciplines during this Lenten season so far we’ve heard about the spiritual discipline of meditation the spiritual discipline of fasting spiritual discipline of study of the word of God and today we will hear about the spiritual discipline of prayer when Pastor Elissa asked me to speak and told me that the discipline that I was to speak on this week was going to be prayer I thought oh that’ll be easy and indeed it is fairly easy the hard part is whittling down the subject to 15 to 20 minutes for a message there have been countless books written about prayer throughout the history of Christianity and even before I would imagine the first reference to prayer was in Genesis 426 when Seth son of Adam and Eve praised God for his son eNOS there probably was somebody there that said did he do that right maybe I should write a book about prayer now I found one site that had a hundred and eleven books about prayer that were listed and those are the ones that are still in print over the years there have been many books on prayer written that are no longer available except for in antique bookstores or in personal collections there are also the numerous books that have just chapters about prayer in them now in February of 2008 when I lived in MO South Carolina I enrolled in a class to the church and it was titled lay speakers leading in prayer now I remember how afraid don’t scratch that how terrified I was of that class there were so many questions and concerns that went through my mind what if I mess up the prayer what if I get the prayer out of order should I use $64 words or just speak as I normally would what if it’s not long enough what if I forget what I want to say what if it’s too long what if nothing makes sense what if I really mess it up now before taking the class on prayer I didn’t know how to pray if someone asked me to pray I would get all tongue-tied and I wouldn’t know what to say I would repeat myself I would have dead air in the middle of the prayer and I wouldn’t make sense to listen to the listener I had all these fears and concerns but that was before taking the class on prayer you know after taking that class my fears were actually increased after taking a class on how to pray I found there is supposedly a specific way that we are to pray that there are different formats for prayer I discovered that your prayers need to follow this specific format because if you don’t if you don’t get it right God won’t listen to you I say that tongue-in-cheek now I tried to find the book that went along with that class just to look at it once again but it seems to have gotten lost over the years funny though all the other books that I needed for classes are there in a folder but that particular one is missing maybe that’s a good thing because prayer is such a large subject here are a few trivia facts and I give credit for these facts to Joe Carter from the Gospel Coalition did you know there are 650 prayers listed in the Bible there are approximately 450 recorded answers to prayer in the Bible the first time prayer is mentioned in the Bible is Genesis 426 the Bible records Jesus praying 25 different times during his earthly ministry now in the Bible Paul mentions prayer 41 times although prayer can and should be done from any bodily position the Bible lists five specific postures sitting standing kneeling with one’s face to the ground and with hands lifted up now in Jesus model for how his disciples should pray he provided five areas of focus and this is what is in the Lord’s Prayer that God’s name be honored God’s kingdom come that God’s provision is given that God’s forgiveness is granted that God’s deliverance will be provided the eighth item is the Bible list as many as 9 main types of Prayer prayer of faith prayer of agreement or corporate prayer prayer of request or petition prayer of thanksgiving prayer of worship prayer of consecration or dedication prayer of intercession or praying for someone else prayer for imprecation or curse I didn’t know about that one and praying and the spirit the last trivia thing here is the word Amen makes its first appearance in the Bible and numbers 5:22 in that passage God commands it to be said by a person who was yielding to his examination now there are different formats for prayer and because of my book from my class on prayer is missing I had to resort to the internet I found online an article about prayer now it starts out with a simple format for prayer and as you know we all want to keep it simple the morning prayer to vote 10 minutes as a minimum as early as possible in the morning adoration think on the greatness of God please bear with me here Thanksgiving go over your mercies think on them till you glow with gratitude dedication you are dedicated to God already with whole life vows you belong to God guidance ask God for guidance all through the day even the things you cannot foresee will be better met because of his discipline intercession pray for others praying without method is not serious prayer when you get to heaven and realize that all prayer did on all that prayer did on this earth you will be ashamed that you prayed so ill the casual remembering of people in need or prayers only for ones dear ones or prayers that are too general can all be overcome by a prayer list kept up to date and daily used petition Jesus taught petition or praying for ourselves but keep petition to a minor it place meditation it’s a good thing to conclude prayer as well as to begin it with meditation keep brooding on love wisdom beauty joy light peace power freedom and holiness I him may help here evening prayer plan for some minutes at the end of the day confession things will come to your mind which will not be pleasant to recall don’t bundle your sins together with forgive all my sins name them if you can thanksgiving every evening will bring its occasion for gratitude to God for minor prayers answered and for help to the day let the day close with a warm inward awareness that God has indeed been with you all through the day before sleeping commit yourself to God again father into thy hands I commend my spirit and then finally review the day run over it backwards in the recollected presence of God and you will almost certainly have a double need now due to his length I felt the need to edit it somewhat now I’m not saying this format is bad it’s probably good if not great for some folks but for me my old fears were relived how these instructions stress me out what I thought what if I get forget part of it what if God doesn’t like what he hears or I get out of order now if you were truly searching for a simple format to pray by the cleanest and simplest form that I have seen is the axe method of Prayer adoration confession Thanksgiving and supplication a CTS adoration give God praise and honor for who he is as lord over all confession honestly deal with the sin in your prayer life Thanksgiving verbalize what you’re grateful for in your life and in the world around you supplication pray for the needs of others and yourself now when we think of prayer when we talk of Prayer what are we really referring to isn’t prayer simply a conversation with God there are many different formats for prayer all of which are fine but what does God want from us when we look at King David and the Psalms what was David doing he was having a conversation with God all prayer is just that having a conversation with God it may be praising God for his miracles or thinking thanking God for what we have or asking God for forgiveness for what we may have done wrong or it may be asking him for what we need we pray about what’s on our mind and in our hearts what we truly need and the Holy Spirit will guide us in the name of Jesus sometimes the answer will come immediately sometimes it may take a while and sometimes like it or not the answer is no I found one reference that said there are three expressions of Prayer vocal prayer meditation and contemplative and contemplative prayer I also found a reference that said these types of prayer are wrong contemplative prayer silent prayer listening prayer intentional prayer and yoga are all dangerous anti-christian forms of incorrect prayer now did you any any of you catch the contradictions there between the two who’s right and who was wrong and I never knew that yoga was a form of prayer but maybe in my case that’s a good thing if we carry on a conversation with God and that conversation is being respectful if we are showing our love praise and honor for God as we speak with him I have a hard time imagining that God doesn’t hear us I believe God hears all of our prayers whether they are in the correct format whether they are set in haste or if they are planned out I believe God hears us I do not believe we need a format for prayer I do not believe that prayer should be I do believe that prayer should be a more natural conversation with God today’s message is the discipline of prayer when we speak of a discipline of Prayer we’re referring to a controlled pattern of behavior most of us have certain times when we pray first thing in the morning just before bed before meals as we travel to work when our spouses are driving we pray at certain times during the day week month or year some of us are very much disciplined when it comes to prayer and others of us are not but all of us pray we all talk to God and we all tell God our troubles we might confess our sins we might ask for a way to pay a bill we might ask for health but we all talk to God how many of us listen after we have asked God to hear our prayers do we get up and go about our day-to-day routine or do we sit for a while and silence and listen do we listen for the answer to that of what we just prayed about in the book celebration of discipline the chapter on prayer says beginning point and learning to pray for others is to listen for guidance and if we are still we will learn not only who God is but how his power operates now there’s a lot of books out there on the market that want to teach us how to pray it’s entirely possible that some of you have one at home right now in fact I have a few books on prayer myself I found that in my tablet or electronic library I have three books and although I didn’t look on the bottom shelf of my bookcase at home or even out in the garage I found three books on prayer on my bookcase now I believe that I believe that one of the most asked questions by Christians both new and old is how do you pray when I said that I only have six books total on prayer I didn’t include one other book our Bibles our Bibles teach us how to pray not only that but our Bibles teach us how not to pray our Scripture this morning from Matthew 6 told us how not to pray and how to pray don’t pray for show what Jesus is saying in Matthew is that we need to pray with humility obedience truthfulness and confidence Jesus is warning us against being a boisterous windbag that is only talking to hear themselves talk the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector is another example of how not to pray from Luke 18 9 to 14 to some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else Jesus told this parable two men went up to the temple to pray one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector the Pharisee stood stood by himself and prayed god I thank you that I’m not like other people robbers evildoers adulterers or even like this tax collector I fast twice a week and I give a tenth of all I get but the tax collector stood at a distance he would not even look up to heaven but beat his breast and said God have mercy on me a sinner I tell you that this man rather than the other went home justified before God for all those who exalt themselves we’ll be humbled and all those who humble themselves will be exalted yeah I have a couple commentaries on the book of Matthew and Luke at home and I tried to read them I will say this if you need to fall asleep at night these may be good books to have around with that said the commentary on Luke says good works are good but the heart of the true servant recognizes that even in our best deeds we have done only what we ought to have done true humility doesn’t keep track of good works but focuses on confession and repentance there’s a few things about prayer that I’ve heard that have stuck with me throughout the years one of them being that God is not Santa Claus when we pray to God for something we shouldn’t expect that a materialistic item will automatically appear and what I think of this I’m reminded of the Janis Joplin song Oh Lord won’t you buy me Mercedes Benz I’m sure you might remember it and miss Joplin goes on in the song to ask for a color TV a night on the town now it’s only a song and was not supposed to be a prayer but isn’t that how we may think of God sometimes I know that I have Lord let me win the lottery was I serious no but yes also Lord the church could use that 10 percent there is no such thing as a bad prayer as long as it’s done with humility obedience truthfulness confidence and respect God doesn’t judge us because we forget to include aunt Jodi’s arthritis in our prayer and we had to go back to the prayer to God with APs God won’t hold it against us because we got nervous tongue-tied and our words were too smooth the silk God doesn’t care if we can’t find the right word to explain our feelings he already knows how we feel the next question the next question is why why should we pray one thing about prayer is that it is a way that we honor God we honor God by talking to him we honor God by the acknowledgement that we believe in him and His Son Jesus Christ by a way of Prayer we are saying that there is only one supreme creator and sovereign God one article that I read said we pray because prayer is the heart of God I’m sorry prayer is the key to the heart of God we find intimacy with God through communicating with him and prayer prayer is the only way to a real and personal relationship with God the reason we pray is to worship God from Psalm 95 6 and 7 come let us bow down and worship let us kneel before the Lord our maker for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture the flock under his care when we are hurting and we pray to God prayer lifts us up it gives us hope because prayer is a dialogue with God we are opening up to a relationship with God that relationship is based on trust we trust that God is there for us that God knows what we do and that God cares about us you know there’s a lot more that can be said about prayer a lot of other questions that probably need to be answered one of those questions is who who needs to pray the answer to that is everyone we all need prayer at different times we all need to have someone pray for us and at different times we all need to pray for someone else there are all there are so many people that are hurting in our world so many people are afraid to talk to God because they don’t think they know how all we need to do is start a conversation God is listening amen let us pray My Lord God if you have an extra moment thank you for all that you do for us as your people Lord we know we are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination we just ask that you continue to be with us as we try and do your work in this world all men you