Saturday, June 07, 2014

3 Reasons to Pray - Prayer Summer 2014

I'll make mention of these 3 reasons when I speak at Olivet Baptist in Lansing tomorrow, June 8. 

#1 – In the Old Testament people prayed
  Abraham prayed.
o   Gen. 20:17 - Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again,
·        Isaac prayed.
o   Gen 25:21 - Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.
·        Jacob prayed.
o   Gen 32:8-10 - Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’
·        Moses prayed.
o   In so many places!
o   Ex. 10:18 - Moses then left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord.
o   Num. 11:2 - When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down.
o   Num. 21:7 - The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
·        Samson prayed
·        Hannah prayed
·        Samuel prayed
·        David prayed
o   Nathan hears from God… and after Nathan shares this with David.
o   2 Sam. 7:18 - Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said: “Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?
·        Elisha prayed
·        Hezekiah prayed
o   2 Chron. 32:34 - In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the Lord, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign.
§  Where prayer focuses, God’s power falls.
·        Solomon prayed
o   Solomon… as smart as he was… needed the Lord.
o   2 Chron. 7:1 - [ The Dedication of the Temple ] When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.
§  Sometimes where prayer focuses, fire falls down.

·        Ezra prayed
o   Ezra 8:23 - So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.
·        Nehemiah prayed
o   Neh. 1:4 - When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
·        Job prayed
o   Job 42:10 - After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.
·        Psalms – the word “prayer” is used a bazillion times in the Psalms.
o   Here we see that David was a prayer maniac.
·        Isaiah prayed
·        Jeremiah prayed
·        Ezekiel prayed
·        All the prophets prayed!
·        Jonah prayed
o   Jon. 2:1 - From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.
·        Daniel prayed
o   Dan. 6:11 -  Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.

If all these people in the OT who were greatly used of God prayed…  
who are we not to have a praying life?

#2 - The early church prayed.

·        Acts 1:14 - They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

·        Acts 2:42; 46-47 - 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles…   Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts… And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
o   They didn’t have an “evangelism program.”
o   Because you don’t have to advertise a fire.
o   In prayer, God lights a fire in the hearts of praying people.

·        In times of crisis… they prayed. Acts 4:24 - 23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. 
o   They all just started… praying!

·        Acts 12:1-3 – When King Herod arrested some members of the church, put James to death (with the sword)…, and then imprisoned Peter…  the J-followers rallied to Peter’s cause by interceding for Peter.
o   Acts 12:5 - Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
o   The result was that an angel was sent to Peter to free him.
o   Acts 12:9 - Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision.

·        Peter’s custom was to stop for prayer at noon every day. About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 
o   How long did Peter pray?
o   We know that while he was praying he became hungry.
o   He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 
o   Then, two men show up…   it’s off to the house of Cornelius (Roman/Italian centurion)… and the evangelism of the Gentiles and the Roman Empire has begun.
o   Cornelius, the first Gentile convert to Jesus, heard the gospel because Peter was a man of prayer.
§  It happened during Peter’s regular, daily prayer time.
o   Wild and crazy and amazing things happened when the early J-followers prayed!

·        In Acts 16, in the city of Philippi, Paul and Silas were jailed, beaten, and put in stocks.
o   In the midst of their suffering we read: About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken.
o   While they were praying and singing hymns! You rarely hear of this kind of God breakout in a church committee meeting.
·        When the early church prayed, they saw God intervene.

o   Could this happen today… if the followers of Jesus… actually prayed instead of saying they believe in prayer but complain they just don’t have time to pray?
o   Paul had an actual prayer life.
o   Paul prayed.
o   Rom. 1 - God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times;
o   Rom.12:12 -  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
o   1 Cor 7 – “Devote yourselves to prayer.”
If all these people in the early church who were greatly used of God prayed…  
who are we not to have a praying life?


In Scripture we see that...

a.   Jesus “was often found in prayer, not merely on formal and public occasions, i.e. when attending the synagogue, but informally and in private contexts, sometimes in lonely places.” (N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 149)

b.   Jesus spent time in solitude. Jesus began his ministry by spending 40 days alone in solitude and prayer (Mt. 4:1-11).

c.    Before choosing the 12 Jesus spent the entire night alone in the desert hills praying (Lk. 6:12).

d.   When he heard of John the Baptist's death Jesus "withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart" (Mt. 14:13).

e.   After feeding the 5000 he dismissed the crowd and "went up into the hills by himself" where he prayed (Mt. 14:23).

f.     After a long night of work, "in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place" (Mk. 6:31).

g.    After healing a leper, Jesus "often withdrew to the wilderness and prayed" (Lk. 5:16).

h.   Before his time on the cross he went alone to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed (Mt. 26:36-46).

i.             Lk 22:39 -  Jesus went out as usual [as was his custom]  to the Mount of Olives, to pray…

If our Lord took times of solitary prayer 
out of his own need to be in contact with the Father, 
should we do any less? 
If I don't have time to pray, 
who do I think I am, All-Knowing God Almighty?

The logic of prayer looks like this:

1.   If I am a follower of Jesus, then I will have a prayer life like Jesus did.
2. I am a follower of Jesus.
3. Therefore, I have a prayer life as Jesus did.


2 Chronicles 7:14

13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.