Tag Archives: Prayer

Sentence Sermons

There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who think they are sinners and the sinners who think they are righteous. ~Blaise Pascal

A puritan is a person who pours righteous indignation into the wrong things. ~G. K. Chesterton

Faith refers to Christ. Holiness depends on faith. Heaven depends on holiness.  ~Alexander MacLaren

True faith rests upon the character of God and asks no further proof than the moral perfections of the One who cannot lie. It is enough that God has said it.  ~A. W. Tozer

Faith must have adequate evidence, else it is mere superstition. ~A. A. Hodge

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither. ~C. S. Lewis

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. ~Jim Elliot

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays. ~Soren Kierkegaard

One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons. ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil … I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life. ~Moses

Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen. ~Hebrews 11.1

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. ~Jesus of Nazareth

 

The Secret Place

There is a place where thou canst say, “Arise”
To dying captives, bound in chains of night;
There is a place – upon some distant shore –
Where thou canst send the worker and the Word.
Where is that secret place – dost thou ask, “Where?”
O soul, it is the secret place of prayer!
   ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

Prayer grants us entrance into the Holy of Holies. Prayer is a privilege that lifts us above the clamoring noise of the world and transports us into the very presence of the Majesty on High. The amazing thing about prayer is that God requires no prescribed style or form, no mantras to be repeated over and over by rote. He simply calls us to bring ourselves before Him just as we are!

There is no pretentiousness with God. We can’t fool Him. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our hearts and the intentions of our hearts. Prayer is the secret place where we can go and unburden our souls before the One who knows all our burdens and invites us to cast them upon Him (1 Peter 5.7).

In his book on prayer, Richard Foster says prayer is ordinary people bringing ordinary concerns to a loving and compassionate Father…no pretense to be more holy, more pure or saintly than we are… To believe that God can reach us and bless us in the ordinary junctures of daily life is the stuff of prayer…the only place God can bless us is right where we are, because that is the only place we are!

 – grace to you all and peace, Bill

 

Unceasing Prayer

Paul instructed believers to “pray at all times” (Ephesians 6.18) and to “devote yourselves to prayer” (Colossians 4.2). He urged the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5.17)…the Philippians to stop being anxious and instead, “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (4.6)…the Colossians to “devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (4.2)…the Ephesians to arm themselves to combat the spiritual darkness in the world around them, “with all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (6.18).

Unceasing prayer is essential to the vitality of our relationship with God and our ability to function as God’s called out people in the world. “Pray without ceasing,” what does that mean? To “pray at all times” obviously doesn’t mean we are to walk around praying in noticeable or formal ways every waking moment. Neither does it mean we are to devote ourselves to reciting ritualistic patterns and forms of prayer.

To “pray without ceasing” refers essentially to recurring prayer – not non-stop talking.  “Ceaseless prayer” is living in continual God-consciousness: When we are tempted, we hold up the temptation before God and ask for His help. When we experience something good or beautiful, we immediately thank the Lord for it. When we see evil about us, we ask God to use us to make it right according to His will. When we meet one who does not know Christ, we ask God to help us be effective messengers of the Good News. When we encounter trouble, we turn to God as our Deliverer. Life becomes a continually ascending prayer: all life’s thoughts, deeds, and circumstances become an opportunity to commune with our Heavenly Father – in that way we “set our minds on things above, not on the things that are on the earth” (Colossians 3.2).

– Bill

 

Prayer, the Center of Christian Experience

Prayer has always been at the center of the Christian experience.

Immediately following the Lord’s ascension, the eleven apostles returned to Jerusalem, and Luke records, “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers” (Acts 1.14).

At the conclusion of the great events on Pentecost—the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the preaching of the gospel, and the response of the three thousand—the text states, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2.42).

When Peter and John told the brethren of their arrest for publicly preaching Jesus as the resurrected Messiah, “when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4.31).

When Peter was imprisoned by Herod, “prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God” (Acts 12.5).

Prayer was their source of power. Their complete dependence upon God, as expressed by their frequent and fervent prayers, enabled them to accomplish the unimaginable—the saturation of their world with the gospel of Christ.

– Bill

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened,
so that you will know what is the hope of His calling,
what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.

These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
which He brought about in Christ,
when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him
at His right hand in the heavenly places,
far above all rule and authority and power and dominion,
and every name that is named,
not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Ephesians 1.18-21

 

The Privilege of Prayer

Prayer grants us entrance into the Holy of Holies.

Prayer is a privilege that lifts us above the clamoring noise of the world and transports us into the very presence of the Majesty on High.

There is no pretentiousness with God. We can’t fool Him. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our hearts and the intentions of our hearts.

Prayer is the secret place where we can go and unburden our souls before the One who knows all our burdens and invites us to cast them upon Him (1 Peter 5.7).

In his book on prayer, Richard Foster says prayer is ordinary people bringing ordinary concerns to a loving and compassionate Father…no pretense to be more holy, more pure or saintly than we actually are. We don’t try to conceal our conflicting and contradictory motives from God — or ourselves. And in this posture we pour out our heart to the God who is greater than our heart and who knows all things – “in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater that our heart, and knows all things” (1 John 3.20).

To believe that God can reach us and bless us in the ordinary junctures of daily life is the stuff of prayer. The only place God can bless us is right where we are, because that is the only place we are!

– Bill

 

 

Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my groaning…

…heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, for to Thee I pray. In the morning, O LORD, Thou wilt hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch (Psalm 5.1-3).

Scripture instructs us to “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5.6). David reminds us that God forgets not “the cry of the humble” and “…though the LORD is exalted, yet He regards the lowly” (Psalms 9.12; 138.6).

When life knocks us to our knees we discover we are in the best position to pray. Burdened by the weight of civil war, Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said, “I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction I had nowhere else to go.”

Eugene Peterson has written,

“Untutored, we tend to think prayer is what good people do when they are doing their best. It is not. Inexperienced, we suppose there must be an ‘insider’ language that must be acquired before God takes us seriously in our prayer. There is not. Prayer is elemental, not advanced language. It is the means by which our language becomes honest, true, and personal in response to God. It is the means by which we get everything out in the open before God.”

Answer me when I call, O God…be gracious to me and hear my prayer (Psalm 4.1).

– Bill

 

We Are to Pray

Head-Bowed-in-PrayerWe have examples in the Scripture of praying for those in sickness that they may be healed. This involves too the continuance of life. We are to pray for our daily bread, to pray for wisdom, to pray for power to control our evil tempers and unholy passions, to pray that we may be kept from temptation, from the persecution of evil men, that our brethren may be delivered from evil and evil men, and we are to pray that our own sins and the sins of our brethren may be forgiven.

We are to pray that the Gospel may have free course and be glorified, that an opening may be given to those who preach the Gospel.

We are to pray for rulers and for all who are in authority, that Christians may be enabled to lead lives of godliness in peace and quiet. They are to pray to be kept back from sin. They are taught to pray that it shall rain when season of drought and blight fall upon the land.

We are to pray for the Spirit of God. We are to pray for wisdom. In old times they prayed that God would give neither riches nor poverty, but such things as would keep His servants from harassment or care, or want, or temptations of great riches.

We believe such prayers ought to be fervently and earnestly made now and our lives made to harmonize with the prayers. These occur to us as we write, and with more thought and Scripture examination it might be indefinitely extended.

We will venture the assertion, it is the right and duty of every Christian to pray for any and everything for which he can work. He ought to labor in no calling or object in which and for the attainment of which he cannot pray.

The true objects of prayer are many. The great difficulty in prayer is in praying with the true design or spirit and in praying in faith and in keeping ourselves in such condition that God will hear and answer our prayers.

All our prayers ought to be presented in the spirit of which the Savior prayed. Our petitions ought to be made in the spirit, that we desire them answered if according to the will of God. That is, our wishes ought to be held in strict subservience to the will of God.

God somethings fails to answer the prayers of his dearest children. This is no evidence that those prayers are not heard or are offensive to God.

–Adapted from David Lipscomb
Gospel Advocate, Oct. 19, 1871, p. 963f.

“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Luke 18.1

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12.12

“…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints….” Ephesians 6.17,18

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.“ Philippians 4.6

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5.14-15

 

Thoughts from the Handbook of Prayer

April 17, 2016

Scriptures Used

Colossians 3:2 – “Set your minds on things above…”

Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ…”

Isaiah 57:15 – “…I dwell in a high and holy place…”

Mark 11:9 – “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Philippians 2:8,9 – “He humbled Himself…for this reason, God exalted Him.”

Psalm 106:6 – “[I] have sinned….”

1 Peter 1:16 – “You shall be holy…”

Leviticus 20:7 – “Consecrate yourselves….”

Isaiah 11:1-5 – “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him….”

Psalm 40:1 – “He inclined to me and heard my prayer…”

Psalm 19:14 – “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight….”

 

 

 

 

 

Ceaseless Prayer

Praying HandsTo “pray without ceasing” refers essentially to recurring prayer – not non-stop talking.  “Ceaseless prayer” is living in continual God-consciousness: When we are tempted, we hold up the temptation before God and ask for His help. When we experience something good or beautiful, we immediately thank the Lord for it. When we see evil about us, we ask God to use us to make it right according to His will. When we meet one who does not know Christ, we ask God to help us be effective messengers of the Good News. When we encounter trouble, we turn to God as our Deliverer.

Life becomes a continually ascending prayer: all life’s thoughts, deeds, and circumstances become an opportunity to commune with our Heavenly Father – in that way we “set our minds on things above, not on the things that are on the earth” (Colossians 3.2).

Persistent, continual prayer welling up from the innermost part of our being is what moves the heart of our compassionate and loving Heavenly Father. Jesus’ promise to His people is this: “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you” (Mark 11.24).

— Bill

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3.14-21

 

Counter-culture: Sermon on the Mount

“Do not be like them…”

John Stott has observed, “Some people make the glib claim that they live by the Sermon on the Mount. One wonders if they have ever read it. More common is the opposite reaction, that the Sermon is a beautiful ideal but hopelessly unpractical, being unattainable. Tolstoy to some extent combined both responses, because on the one hand he longed to see the Sermon acted out, while on the other he acknowledged his personal failures.

The essence of the Sermon was Christ’s call to His followers to be different from everybody else. “Do not be like them,” He said (Matthew 6.8). The kingdom He proclaimed is to be a counter-culture, exhibiting a whole set of distinctive values and standards. So He speaks of righteousness, influence, piety, trust, and ambition and concludes with a radical challenge to choose His way.

Pagan Prayer

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (Matthew 6.7, NIV)

The Greek verb battalogeo is variously rendered “to use vain repetitions,” and “to keep on babbling.” It occurs nowhere else, and nobody knows for certain what it means. Some scholars think it was derived from a King Battus, who stuttered, or from another Battus who was the author of tedious and wordy poems. Most, however, regard it as an onomatopoeic expression, the sound of the word indicating its meaning. Just as battarizo meant “to stammer” and barbarous was a “barbarian,” whose language the Greeks could not understand, so battalogeo might simply mean “to babble.”

The reason why Christians are not to pray like pagans is that we believe in a living and true God. We are not to do as they do because we are not to think as they think. If the praying of the Pharisees was hypocritical and that of the pagans mechanical, then the praying of Christians must be real – sincere as opposed to hypocritical – thoughtful as opposed to mechanical.

In the “Lord’s Prayer” Jesus provides a model of what genuine Christianity is like. Matthew records that He gave it as a pattern to copy –

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this…” (Matthew 6.7-9.)

Jesus taught us to address God as “Our Father in heaven.” This implies first that He is personal. He may be, in C. S. Lewis’s well-known expression “beyond personality,” but He is certainly not less. Second, He is loving. He is not the kind of father we sometimes hear about – an autocrat, playboy, drunkard – but one who fulfills the ideals of fatherhood in loving care for His children. Third, He is powerful. What His love directs His power is able to perform.

It is always wise, before we pray, to think first about Him to whom we are praying – our Father who is in heaven.

–Bill

(from Through the Bible, Through the Year
by John Stott
, pp 191-201)