Today, the first Sunday of 2019, we begin a new message series called “Prayer Adventure.” Last Sunday, our message “Listen for Direction” was about getting godly direction for the New Year. It was about setting godly goals or resolutions for this year. One of the most important goals was for each of us to build our relationship with God. A relationship with any person is built through communication. We communicate with God through prayer and reading His Word. For many people prayer is difficult. For others prayer is boring and they only do it when they’re in trouble.
In our series Prayer Adventure, we want to have our eyes opened to see what prayer is really about. Perhaps some of what we learn you may already know. Yet, our head knowledge about prayer needs to be translated to our hearts and actions. Prayer is talking to God. Now, we all know that, right. But let’s let that sink in. Prayer is you and I, finite human beings, communicating with the creator of the universe. A god who is all loving, all powerful, all knowing and everywhere present.
Why then isn’t prayer more of an adventure? I think one of the primary reasons is that for many, prayer is simply about presenting your request to God. Prayer is a monologue in which you do all the talking and God is supposed to listen and give you the answers you want on your prayer list. God is not going to play that game with you. He is God and you are not. Many of the things on our prayer lists are things that God is not interested in doing, so we get no answers and begin to wonder if prayer really works.
Let’s watch a short video about how not to pray called “Coffee with Jesus.” Prayer was never intended by God to be a monologue by you. God intends prayer to be a two-way conversation like you would have with another person.
Today, my message is entitled “Prayer Conversation.” Prayer is a time in which God speaks to you and you respond back. It is an adventure, because you never know what God and you can accomplish through prayer. Just as human relationships deepen as they grow, so your relationship with God will grow deeper the more time that you spend with Him in prayer.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV) Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Prayer is meant to be a time of rejoicing and a time of giving thanks no matter what you’re going through. Prayer is meant to be not just once a week on Sundays, nor just once a day in your quiet time, but prayer is meant to be a continuous activity. Always having a listening ear to hear God’s voice and a heart to respond to Him in prayer. So let’s learn more about Prayer Conversation and how to …
A simple acronym that will help you have the right priorities in prayer is JOY, which stands for Jesus, Others and You. All three are important in prayer, but we need to give Jesus first priority, then others and put ourselves last. What was the acronym demonstrated in the video “Coffee with Jesus?” I think is was YO, yourself first and foremost and then a few requests for others. So in our first point today, we’re going to put Jesus first in order to build our relationship with Him. To do that we must …
Psalm 63:1 (ESV) O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
David wrote in Psalm 63 about his desire to know God better. Knowing God better is not a passive activity, waiting for God to do something. The desire to know God better is should lead us to earnestly seek Him. David likens seeking after God to searching for water when someone is famished with thirst. Without a burning desire to know God better, you won’t build your relationship with Him. Notice that this verse likens life without God as living in a dry and weary land without any water. Without God you’re living a life with unquenched thirst, a life of fainting for the lack of God’s living water. We need to grow in our desire to know God better.
Mark 1:35 (ESV) And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
Jesus gives us the best example of how to have a relationship with God. Jesus’ days of ministry were always very busy, with people clamoring for His attention non-stop. So, Jesus rose very early in the dark morning, when few people were awake. He left others behind and went to a solitary place to spend time praying with His heavenly father. The relationship of Jesus with the Father was His top priority. Jesus said that He only did what His Father told Him to do. He only spoke what His father told Him to speak. Jesus took time on a daily basis to be alone and have conversation with God. Building a relationship with God isn’t easy, so we must learn to …
Hebrews 13:15 (ESV) Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
What is a sacrifice? An Old Testament sacrifice was when a believer took one of their animals, killed it and offered it to God as a burnt offering. So a sacrifice is when you give up something of worth to you and give it to God, even though it might be difficult. A sacrifice of praise is an aspect of prayer when we praise God no matter what circumstances we may be going through. We choose to praise Him, both in the good times and the bad times. Praise is the natural fruit of those who are growing in their relationship with God.
Do you have a strong desire to know God better this year? If not, pray and ask God to increase that desire. If you do have the desire, that’s great. Now, you must make time for God on a personal level. The foundation of your personal relationship with God is a daily quiet time where you can get away from distractions and pray and read God’s Word.
A morning time before the demands of the day is a good time as we see from Jesus’ example. If you wait till the end of the day, other things or tiredness may crowd it out. Keep a record or journal of your quiet times. Record the time, the Bible passage and something of what your conversation with God was about. You might have someone else, a spouse or friend keep you accountable by checking up with you on how you are doing with your quiet time. Your top priority in prayer is to build your relationship with Jesus. The second priority in JOY is others.
We all naturally gravitate to praying for ourselves. While that is part of prayer, Jesus would have us prioritize praying for others.
1 Timothy 2:1 (ESV) First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,
This verse speaks of a number of types of prayers, which we’ll discuss in more detail in another message. Basically, we should pray with all kinds of prayers for all people. Why would God give us a command like this? Because most of us tend to pray only for ourselves and our families. As we’ll see, God’s purpose for your life extends far beyond your immediate family. He wants you to have a kingdom impact on many other people. The way that you can have maximum effect is only through prayer. Interestingly, God’s Word tells us one class of people that we should prioritize.
1 Timothy 2:2 (ESV) for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
As we pray for all kinds of people, we should be sure to pray for people in positions of authority. This verse explains to us what we should pray for them. We should pray for leaders in government, in business and in the church. We are to pray that believers would lead godly lives that would not be hindered by these leaders, but would actually be helped by these leaders. What is God’s ultimate purpose in these prayers for all people, especially leaders?
1 Timothy 2:3-4 (ESV) This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Our prayers will be used by God to save people and help them come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:8 (ESV) I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;
How are we to pray? We are to pray lifting holy hands. Holy hands refers to having hands unstained by sin. In other words, our lives must be righteous in order for our prayers to have maximum effect. A right heart is a heart in good relationship with God. Secondly, those who pray should pray without anger or quarreling. Our relationships with other people should also be in good order. We must have forgiven those who have hurt us and not be argumentative or angry with others. A right heart is a heart in good relationship with other people.
One of the ways that we encourage you to pray for others is by offering a Prayer Guide. This guide is available as a web page that is updated on a weekly basis. The Prayer Guide is a list of topics that you can pray for others, along with a growing number of Scripture references that pertain to the prayer topics. We encourage all members and regular attenders to join our Prayer Team by committing to pray for our church family at least 5 minutes a day. If you haven’t already joined the Prayer Team, you can join by texting the word “Pray” to the number on the screen 636-442-0210. You will receive a link to the Prayer Guide, as well as receiving regular prayer updates via text. We’ve talked about praying for Jesus, others and finally yourself. To do that we must
There are many ways that the devil seeks to discourage believers in prayer. Oftentimes, he simply gets us so busy with other things that we forget and think we don’t have time to pray. Big mistake. Another scheme of Satan is to discourage us from praying because the answer doesn’t seem to be coming quickly enough. Yet, Jesus taught that we must persevere in prayer and …
Luke 18:1 (ESV) And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
In this parable a widow was being attacked in some way by an adversary. She asked a judge to help her, but he refused over and over. However, the widow persisted in petitioning this judge until finally he gave her the answer she requested. Jesus praised the widow as an example of how we should pray to God. Even though the answer may not come as quickly as we would like, we must keep on praying until the answer comes. We must not become discouraged and lose heart and quit or we will not receive the answer. We must persevere in prayer by not giving up and by …
Colossians 4:2 (ESV) Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Other translations tell us to be devoted to prayer. Prayer must be a top priority in our lives We are to be watchful and alert in prayers. In another message in this series, we’ll be talking about prayer warfare. The Bible tells us that prayer is spiritual warfare. What happens in warfare if you’re not alert and watchful to the enemy’s activities? If you’re not watchful, you are going to fall for his schemes and suffer the consequences. On a practical note, if you’re not watchful and alert, you’ll fall asleep when you’re seeking pray.
Yet, even as we are devoted to prayer and watchful, we must be continually giving thanks to God who has given us the ability to pray. We are thankful both for the privilege of praying to the Creator of the universe and for the answers that He give to our prayers. God will always answer prayers that are prayed according to His will. As we pray for ourselves and our family, we must learn to persevere in prayer for the long haul.
Today we’ve talked about prayer as two-way conversation with God. We’ve focused on what our priorities are to be in prayer. Yet, there is much that we need to hear from God in order to pray according to His will. The only prayers that God will answer are the prayers for the things God wants to accomplish. We can learn the general principles from God’s Word of God’s will. We learn the specifics of those principles by learning to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
So, in this New Year, 2019, let’s make a renewed commitment to building our relationship with God, both individually and as a church family. Get on the church Prayer Team and grow in praying for others. As your prayers bless others, God will bless you in return. You won’t be left out. Finally, let’s encourage each other to persevere in prayer. To be devoted in prayer and pray until the answer comes. I’m looking forward to the Prayer Adventure that God has for us in 2019.