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OUR LORDS PATTERN FOR PRAYER
Intro: In my humble opinion, perhaps the greatest need in the church is for more pray-ers. We need more prayer warriors! We need more believers who will devote themselves to seeking the Lords face in prayer.
Ill. The story is told of two lumberjacks - an older and a younger - both known for their expertise and speed. The younger challenged the older to a contest to see who could cut down the most trees in one day.
The contest began. The younger man, with his vim, vigor and vitality, began in earnest chopping down one tree after another without stopping. He soon noticed that the older lumberjack chopped trees for one hour then took a fifteen-minute break.
At the end of the day when the felled trees were counted, the older lumberjack had chopped down one-third more trees than the younger lumberjack.
Puzzled, the younger lumberjack asked the older, How could you, taking a break every hour, cut down more trees than I did cutting nonstop all day?
The older lumberjack responded, Because when I stopped, I sharpened my ax.
A lot of us are just like that, we spend our time chopping away in the Lord's work, never accomplishing much for Him and all the time we are simply using a dull ax. If we do not take the time to pray, we can never expect God to enjoy Gods power on our lives nor can we expect Him to bless our efforts.
As John Bunyan said, He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.
Or as James of Jerusalem, our Lords half-brother said, From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your membersYe lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts, James 4:2-3.
In truth, it is often easier to get Christians to do almost anything than it is to get them to pray. Thats a shame! It is prayer that brings us into Gods awesome presence, Heb. 4:16, Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
We need that time spent with Him because it is God Who answers prayer. It is God Who changes circumstances and touches lives. It is that special time spent in prayer before God that marks the difference between mediocrity and greatness in the Christian life!
In this passage, the disciples desired to learn more about prayer, and in response, the Lord laid down a pattern for prayer, and taught his men some lessons concerning prayer, that are as fresh as if they had just been spoken. I want to share some of those lessons with you today. I would like to preach on the subject Our Lords Pattern For Prayer.
I. V.1 HOW THIS PATTERN IS DESIRED
These men wanted to learn how to develop an effective prayer life. They had a desire for prayer. Would to God that He would raise up a generation in our day that had a burden to seek Him in prayer!
The disciples had just witnessed Jesus praying, they noticed the closeness he had with the Father. They witnessed the miracles that He performed after prayer, (Feeding 5,000 - Matt. 15; Transfiguration - Luke 9; Raising Lazarus - John 11) They saw the power of prayer lived out and the glory it brought to God and they wanted the same power in their own lives.
Note: Their request is not just about how to pray, but they specifically say, Teach us TO pray. We need to learn to pray!
Baptist preacher John Bunyan said, You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed. Prayer should be our first resort, and our first priority. How we need to beg God for a burden to pray!
They remembered John the Baptist - (Ill. What we remember about him) They remembered his prayer life! They saw his prayers result in God being honored and glorified.
These men had a profound desire for a prayer life that was powerful and that brought glory to the Lord.
They had a right motive! They wanted to see the Lord glorified through their praying like he was through the prayer life of Jesus and like He had been through the prayer life of John the Baptist.
A proper motive is absolutely necessary if prayer is to be effective! You see, the proper motive for prayer is not to get our will done in Heaven, but to get God's will done in the earth, through us, 1 Cor. 10:31!
Note: Too often we spend our time in prayer seeking a change in our circumstances. In truth, we need a profound change in character!
I. How This Pattern Is Desired
II. V. 2-4 HOW THIS PATTERN IS DESCRIBED
Ill. This prayer is called The Lords Prayer, others refer to it as The Disciples Prayer, but it is really The Model Prayer!
1. Prayer Is About Resting Our Father which art in Heaven - Ill. Who He is and what He can do! Jer. 33:3. Ill. Prayer doesnt change anything, but God does! Ill. He is our Father, 1 John 3:1-2! We can rest in that relationship!
2. Prayer Is About Reverencing Hallowed be thy name - 1 Thes. 5:18; Eph. 5:20; Phil. 4:6 Ill. Always take the time to worship the Lord in prayer! Too often we run into the throne room with our wish list and forget just to love on Him!
3. Prayer Is About Reigning Thy kingdom come - The furtherance of His works and His glory! (Church; Saints; Lost!) Prayer allows us to participate in Gods kingdom work around the world!
Ill. I am sorry I am late today, said a clergyman visiting an aged parishioner, but I have been all round the parish.
Why, said the old woman, that's just where I've been!
But you cannot walk, exclaimed the astonished minister.
Ah, said the old saint, You see, my soul isn't bedridden! So I just go round the parish every day in prayer, while I lie here.
4. Prayer Is About Resigning Thy will be done - 1 John 5:14-15. Ill. Whos will do you really want?
5. Prayer Is About Requesting Give us this day our daily bread - Phil. 4:6; Jn. 14:13; 15:16; 16:23 Ill. He will answer, and often in shocking ways.
Ill. When Peter was in prison, the church prayed and God moved in sovereign power to release him, Acts 12:3-17. The Puritan Thomas Watson said, The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer fetched the angel.
Ill. During a morning worship service, in a certain church, a woman named Ellen noticed a nice looking man sitting by himself on the back pew. As a single woman she had a vested interest in meeting him. She approached him with an extended hand and said, Hi. I'm Ellen. He took one look at her and bolted out the door without saying a word.
The following Sunday he returned to church and made this apology: My name is Bob Price, and I owe you an apology for my rude behavior last Sunday. You see, my deceased wife's name was Ellen, and I had been praying, 'Dear God, please send me another Ellen.' When you approached me and said, 'Hi. I'm Ellen,' I lost it.
Bob and Ellen have now been married twelve years and are both very thankful for the way God answered Bob's prayer.
6. Prayer Is About Releasing Forgive us our sins; for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us There is a two-fold message here.
1.) We are to release our sins - 1 John 1:9 Ill. Not my neighbors sins, but my own!
2.) We are to release the sins of others - Matt. 6:15; Eph. 4:32 Ill. Regardless of what they may have done or said to you; or done or said about you!
7. Prayer Is About Relying Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil This is another two-fold request.
1.) A Request for guidance - John 16:13 Ill. We need His guidance to make it through this pilgrim journey; but I am glad He promised it to us, Psa. 37:23!
2.) A Request For Deliverance And Victory - 1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 2:14.
8. Prayer Is About Rejoicing Matt. 6:13b For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, for ever. Amen A good portion of our prayer time is to be spent lifting up Him and praising His name. (Ill. Read the Psalms and hear the heart of the Psalmist as it is lifted repeatedly toward Heaven in praise to His Name.
Note: Prayer can be described by the acronym FACTS. F=Faith; A=Adoration; C=Confession; T=Thanksgiving; S=Supplications.
William Lee once wrote, It is not the arithmetic of our prayers, how many they are; nor the rhetoric of our prayers, how eloquent they may be; nor the geometry of our prayers, how long they be; nor the logic of our prayers, how argumentative they may be; nor the method of our prayers, how orderly they may be: it is fervency of spirit which availeth much!
I. How This Pattern Is Desired
II. How This Pattern Is Described
III. V. 5-13 HOW THIS PATTERN IS DISCHARGED
1. V. 5-10 It Is Discharged Through Steadfast Prayer - This is a promise of success! He will hear you and He will answer you, Isa. 65:24! Just keep knocking; He will answer in His time! Ill. v. 6 - All verbs are present, active, imperatives. Keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. Ill. Luke 18:1-5.
When we pray, we must believe God for the answer! (Ill. James 1:6-7; Mk. 11:24) Proper praying is an act of faith! We must believe or we shall never receive. When we come before the Lord in prayer, we are to pray in faith and expectancy. We are to pray believing that God will hear us and that He will answer our prayer in His time, in His way!
There was once a small town that had historically been dry, but then a local businessman decided to build a tavern. A group of Christians from a local church were concerned and planned an all-night prayer meeting to ask God to intervene.
It just so happened that shortly thereafter lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground. The owner of the bar sued the church, claiming that the prayers of the congregation were responsible, but the church hired a lawyer to argue in court that they were not responsible.
The presiding judge, after his initial review of the case, stated that no matter how this case comes out, one thing is clear. The tavern owner believes in prayer and the Christians do not.
2. V. 11-12 It Is Discharged Through Specific Prayer - (Ill. Luke 11:5 - 3 loaves!) How will you ever know unless you pray for exactly what you need an answer for?
Ill. In its early days, Dallas Theological Seminary was in critical need of $10,000 to keep the work going. During a prayer meeting, renowned Bible teacher Harry Ironside, a lecturer at the school, prayed, Lord, you own the cattle on a thousand hills. Please sell some of those cattle to help us meet this need. Shortly after the prayer meeting, a check for $10,000 arrived at the school, sent days earlier by a friend who had no idea of the urgent need or of Ironside's prayer. The man simply said the money came from the sale of some of his cattle!
3. V. 13 It Is Discharged Through Simple Prayer - He honors the prayer that trusts Him like a child trusts a parent. God is not interested in our rhetoric or in our powers of oratory. He is not impressed by pour command of King James English. God is honored by simple, childlike prayer that honors Him as Father and recognizes His power and willingness to hear and answer.
Conc: In this passage, Jesus has given us a template for our prayer lives. I want to ask you to take your prayer life and place it alongside the Lords template for prayer. How well do they line up today?
Scottish Pastor Robert Murray McCheyne one said, What a man is on his knees before God, that he is, and nothing more. That is a very frightening, but true statement! What does that statement say about your prayer life.
It may be that you have some prayer needs in your life; this would be a good time to bring them to Him.
It may be that you are out of fellowship with God and your prayer life is hindered as a result, Psa. 66:18, this would be a good time to get that fixed up.
It may be that you have never even been saved; this would be a good time to come to Him for that need as well.
If your prayer life is like mine, there is plenty of room for improvement. I think this would be a good time for us to begin the process of renovation in our prayer lives. If He has called you to refine your praying so that it more closely fits His pattern, then I invite you to come before Him and work on that matter.