Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Simplicity of Prayer - It must be first

The Simplicity of Prayer – It must be first for the waiting disciple

1          I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

The preeminence of pray is in Jesus’ witness to the importance of praying.  In Luke 18, Jesus gives one of the most riveting examples of perseverance in prayer leaving no question of His support of the preeminence of prayer to face a hostile world in which God’s people need to have patient endurance.

Luke 18:1-8
1  And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;  2  Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:  3  And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.  4  And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;  5  Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.  6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.  7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?  8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (KJV)

This passage teaches us that we are disciples tasked with waiting.  We are not good at this. 

The waiting disciple must not consider his life of prayer – exactly what is taught here – ever to be complete while on earth.  Our expression of faith is the continual observance of the prayer of faith even when we do not see an end in sight.

James 5:13–15
13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. 14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

The prayer of faith dictates that we see God’s answer; even when, faith is the only evidence to support our vigilance in prayer.  Prayer is the vision of faith; it is often the expression of our greatest hopes.  As we faithfully come back to God in prayer, He shapes our physical reality conforming us to His will.

Because we pray over and over the same prayer requests of vision and hope, it is all too easy to cease praying because of the tedium of repeated rehearsal of the same thing.  It is much like weariness of doing the same job, day in and day out.  We can actually lose our enthusiasm to pray because we lose the freshness and joy of the prayer request.

The act of repetitive prayer can be our greatest enemy.  We stop viewing prayer as our vision of faith, and we, in discouragement experience prayer as the greatest sign of our total lack of communication to God since there is no reasonable time frame – our thoughts – for response.

However in Jesus illustration the woman came repeatedly.  The imperfect tense implies that she did not stay in front of him continually, but she never stopped coming, over and over again.  It was not a continuing action – she never left his presence, but a repeated action without ceasing – she would not stop coming into his presence.

The believer must continually do the action of prayer.  Not a mindless almost comatose action of a cultish, swooning follower, but it is the action of an alert, intelligent mind seeking guidance at every juncture of service.  Moses gives a wonderful example of continued approach to God about the same matter.

Exodus 5:22–23
22 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.

The burning bush was only the beginning of Moses many confrontations with God because of Israel.  From the point of his commission, Moses came repeatedly before God about his role as leader and intercessor for Israel.  At one point, he grew weary of his role and struck the rock twice.  The weariness of constant approach even with constant answer can overcome the meekest of men.

Numbers 20:6–13
6 And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto them. 7 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. 9 And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. 10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? 11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. 12 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. 13 This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the LORD, and he was sanctified in them.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Simplicity of Prayer - Its form is simple

The Simplicity of Prayer – Its Form is Simple

Matthew 6:9–13
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Some practice saying this prayer as part of their religious practice.  Some church congregations even say the prayer in unison as part of their worship ceremonies.  However, in no place does the passage suggest that this prayer instruction be a ritualistic religious ceremony.  This is simply a human invention of the prayer instruction.

There is a more scriptural understanding by a thorough analysis of the prayer’s structure.  There is a natural flow to the prayer.

1.    Adoration of God
2.    Authority of God
3.    Appeal to God.

These three structural elements are quite adequate for a prayer life.

Adoration of God

The believer should always fall humbly in obeisance before the living God.  We must fall back acknowledging the unique purity and sanctity of His name.   The believer’s communications must begin with recognition of the holy, separated state of our sovereign.  There is none like Him, and that alone must lead our expression when we enter his presence in the courts of Heaven.

Psalm 29:1–2
1      Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty,
        Give unto the LORD glory and strength.
2      Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name;
        Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

Authority of God

May our adoration spill forth in complete submission and recognition of His right to reign.  We must assert our desire and dedication to His jurisdiction over Heaven and earth.  We must pledge allegiance to the totality of His spoken, written, and personal will being exercised on earth as it is Heaven.

Daniel 4:34–35
34 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: 35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

Appeal to God

After recognizing His Name and His sovereignty, it is now appropriate to petition our God.  As we stand in His presence, we yield to His daily care of our being, and nothing beyond the day.  Then we, appeal for continuation of this wonderful state by acknowledge the daily need to keep in accord with both God and man concerning our personal behavior.  We then appeal to His guidance to prevent us from foolishly walking into the pitfalls which could jeopardize the glory of such union.

Jeremiah 33:1–3
1 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying, 2 Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is his name; 3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.