First Steps in Christ–Step Six–Prayer

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STEP6--Prayer

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STEP SIX

PRAYER

Now that you have started a spiritual relationship with God, you should talk with Him often. In fact, the Word of God commands believers to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17, Page 1850). In this study, we will focus upon the activity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in prayer.  Jesus diligently taught His disciples as they ate together, walked together, and lived together. He taught them with illustrations, symbols, parables, sermons, demonstrations, and object lessons. He also taught them how to pray through His prayers and the prayers He gave to them. In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus told His disciples how to pray as part of His longer teaching called the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1, Page 1506 to Matthew 7:29, Page 1512). Now let us look at this important prayer given to the disciples of Jesus.

“Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” │ Matthew 6:9, Page 1509

The Model Prayer

At the request of the disciples, Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. Disciples long to pray and the Holy Spirit moves believers to pray. The twelve disciples watched Jesus praying, and then wanted to learn how to pray. So, after Jesus had finished praying, they asked the Lord Jesus to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1, Page 1620)..

Unity

“Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven” │ Matthew 6:9, Page 1509

Jesus started the prayer with unity: “Our.” He includes Himself in “Our” and links every believer to one Father. We know that God eternally exists in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In this passage, God the Son instructs us to pray to God the Father. Jesus implied that His Father, through Jesus Himself, will be the Father of every believer and every believer is His child. We pray together as one family.

Hallowed

“Hallowed be Your name.” │ Matthew 6:9, Page 1509

As we pray, we should always keep in mind that we must reverence (respect deeply) the name of God. It means we should never pray flippantly, or without giving it serious attention. It also means we should pray with an attitude of worship.

Your Kingdom

“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” │ Matthew 6:10, Page 1509

Jesus taught us to pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. He instructed us to pray for the kingdom of God to come. When we pray, we should always focus our minds upon God’s will enveloping our will so that we seek God’s kingdom. Until Jesus returns and sets His feet upon the Mount of Olives, we will not see the final fulfillment of this prayer. Until then, we remember that Jesus said His kingdom was not of this world. We understand that as believers, we live in the spiritual kingdom of God with Christ as our King, seated at the right hand of the Father until we see all of His enemies subjected to Him. Then He will reign physically upon the earth and we shall reign with Him. Until then, we pray for the Kingdom of God to come to earth, just as we pray, even so come, quickly, Lord Jesus. Maranatha.

Daily Bread

“Give us this day our daily bread.” │ Matthew 6:11, Page 1509

Only God can provide your daily bread. He expects us to pray every day for the food we need that day. This verse illustrates how God provides everything we need, every day. Even before you pray, He knows your needs and never wants you to worry about having enough to eat. He always provides, every day. We give thanks at meals to remember His provision of the food before us. In public, we do not pray too long or too loud so that we avoid drawing unnecessary attention to ourselves. We pray to say we love God for feeding us and thank you. Now a related subject of using your money arises that we should review carefully.

Forgiveness

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” │ Matthew 6:12, Page 1509

Jesus taught that forgiveness is a two-way highway with different lanes. He meant that: (1) God forgave us on the day we were born again of all of our sins; and (2) God forgives us for having dirty hands after we sin, so we need to confess our sins as believers, and experience the forgiveness of sins and the cleansing from all unrighteousness; and (3) we need to forgive everyone who owes us anything, not just money. Jesus wants you to feel forgiven every day and every time you pray. God has forgiven every sin in your life–past, present, and future at the moment of your salvation. He forgave you because you have faith that Christ died for your sins. So, why do we pray here for God to forgive our sins? Jesus draws our attention to the need to remember God’s forgiveness and to confess our sins to Him. He then teaches us to pass that forgiveness to others. Just as God has forgiven you, so you should forgive others.

Temptation

“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” │ Matthew 6:13, Page 1509

Jesus prayed that we would not be led into temptation. We should always pray for God’s leading in our lives. God promised never to lead us into temptation. In this verse, Jesus directs us to count upon God to deliver us from evil. While He tempts no man, God always controls the strength and severity of every temptation for the believer. He will never allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to endure, and will provide a way of escape from every temptation so that you do not have to sin. In this world, evil will always surround us. Only God has the spiritual power to deliver us from evil.

Power and Glory

“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” │ Matthew 6:13, Page 1509

Jesus also attributed power and glory to His heavenly Father. Part of our prayer lives should be focused upon victory and positive living. As we live in the power of God, who has all power and demonstrates it in love to the world, we give glory to God. He alone remains worthy of all worship, and He empowers us to live Godly lives for Him. Our prayers reflect His power and recognize His glory forever.

Amen

“Amen.” │ Matthew 6:13, Page 1509

As we close our prayers, we say “amen.” “Amen” means truly, or so be it, and we use it to agree with others in prayer, and as a personal seal upon our prayer that we have finished praying and mean the prayer. When we pray together out loud, saying “amen” lets others know you have finished and everyone can join with your prayer by saying “amen.”

Principles of Prayer

God also provides important principles for disciples to follow in learning how to pray. We should pray for everything. We should pray all the time. We should pray for ourselves and others. We have so much to pray that we should devote serious time to praying.

The night before Jesus went to the cross, He spent time teaching His disciples many important truths. He explained to them that He was going to His Father, and His disciples would rejoice. He also taught them new things about prayer.

The Name of Jesus Principle

“In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now, you have asked for nothing in My name;” │ John 16:23-24, Page 1688

Jesus changed the prayer life of every disciple. As He prepared to die on the cross for our sins, He taught His disciples to pray in His name. Before this teaching, the disciples had never prayed in the name of Jesus. When Jesus had previously taught His disciples to pray, He did not close the “Lord’s Prayer” with any reference to Himself. On the night before Jesus died, changed things and taught His disciples to pray in His name. He told the disciples that they could ask Him anything in His name, and He would do it (John 14:14, Page 1685). Jesus promised that God takes your prayers seriously. So should you. We do not go to God in prayer, for we are always in the presence of God. Every word we utter God hears. God has a special design for our prayer life. Why do we pray “in the name of Jesus?” The short answer is because Jesus told us to pray that way. The reason behind that phrase “in the name of Jesus” comes from this passage. We pray in the name of Jesus to identify our requests to God as if they came from Jesus. It helps us to think of our prayers as if Jesus is praying them. When we focus upon what Jesus wants, it makes us pause and think that we should not be seeking our will in prayer, but rather that we would do the will of Jesus and the Father. We can certainly express what we want to God, but then we submit what we want to conform to what God wants from us. Prayer helps us commit our wants and desires to God’s plan for us. Remember, He loves us and will not withhold any good thing from us.

The Joy Principle

“ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” │ John 16:24, Page 1688

Jesus instructed us to ask in prayer so that our joy may be made full. This verse means that we pray in the name of Jesus so that we may be made happy. Jesus did not promise that you would live in happy circumstances. He never promised you that people you love would not grow sick, or be paralyzed, or get divorced, or fall into terrible sin. He did promise you, however, that prayer would be a constant source of joy for you. When we bow in prayer, Jesus lifts our spirits to Himself and gives us a hug and a blessing. Joy only comes from one source: God. Never get confused and imagine that any created thing can be the source of ultimate joy. I know that many good things from God make us happy. He intended His gifts to cause us to praise and worship Him in gratitude. Yet, we should always keep in mind more than the gift, or more than the blessing itself. God should be the ultimate source of our joy, for He deserves all the emotional credit in our lives. His presence in our lives and our ability to communicate freely with Him should be the ultimate source of joy. That joy from God should also be growing in our lives. Prayer helps us develop that joy by developing our relationship with God.

The Keep Principle

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.”  │ John 17:5, Page 1690

Jesus prayed to His Father just before His arrest. He asked that His Father would leave us in the world, but He also petitioned the Father to keep believers from the evil one (John 17:15, Page 1690). We learn from this passage that Jesus deliberately left us on earth, and that satan, the evil one, would oppose all that we do for Christ. Through prayer, we ask God to keep us from evil and the evil one. Do you have a sin habit you find hard to break? Start with prayer. Let God work on your thinking, your emotions, your desires, and your attitudes. In prayer, in the Name of Jesus, God will transform your thinking and your emotions and your behavior will follow your thinking. Jesus prayed that the Father would keep us from the evil one.

The Holiness Principle

“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” │ John 17:17, Page 1690

Jesus not only prayed for us to be kept from the evil one, but that we would be be made holy. Sanctify means to make holy–to separate you for God’s use. He revealed that God’s word is truth, and so God’s word produces holiness in us. We learn how to be holy from the Word of God, and it also produces holiness in us. God uses the term “sanctify” in this passage to describe the ongoing process of becoming completely holy. Of course all of our sins were forgiven the moment we received Christ as Lord and Savior. God calls us sanctified because of Christ’s holiness in us. But we still struggle with sin in our lives. Jesus prayed about sanctification in our daily lives. If we say we have no sin, then we deceive ourselves and the truth of God is not in us. Jesus, who never sinned, prayed for holiness and so should we. We should pray that God would produce more holiness in us, and set us apart for His use. You should pray for my holiness, so that God can use me to His glory. Likewise, I should pray for your holiness so that God can use you for His glory. Holiness comes from God through the Word of God. Prayer produces interludes of quietness for the Word of God to permeate very busy lives.

The Unity Principle

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” │ John 17:20-21, page 1690

Jesus prayed for our unity as believers. Jesus wants us to be one just as the Father and Son exist as One. Jesus prayed for unity so that the world would believe that the Father sent the Son to save the world from sin and for the world to find eternal life in God. Through spiritual unity, centered upon Jesus Christ and His teachings, the Church of Jesus Christ proclaims one God in Three Persons and turns the world upside down with the love of God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit have never been divided in purpose and never separated in love. Nothing will send a stronger message to a lost world than the unity of believers sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The unbelieving world will hear the message of faith in Christ more clearly when proclaimed with one voice witnessed by one church. Through prayer we unite together to ask for God’s unifying blessing to be poured out upon the Church of Jesus Christ.

The Love Principle

“and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”  │ John 17:26, Page 1690

As Jesus prayed on the night before He died, Jesus concluded His prayer with love. He wanted the love He receives from the Father to be in believers. He implied that to know the Father is to know the Father’s love. Jesus also prayed that each believer would know that Jesus indwells them. Through the indwelling presence of God, we know the love of God. Jesus made it an extreme priority in His prayer to set the example of praying for love. God wants you to appreciate His love, and to be nurtured in that love all the time. Even as Jesus prepared Himself to offer the supreme sacrifice of love, by dying on the cross, He prayed for love. Jesus wanted us to know about the love of the God the Father and God the Son. He linked that love to God’s presence in our lives. Through the Name of the Father, and in the Name of Jesus Christ, we know love and pray for love. In prayer we receive blessings in Christ. So, pray without ceasing.

The Supply and Multiply Principle

“Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for the food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;” │ 2 Corinthians 9:10, Page 1813.

Paul visited the city of Corinth in Greece and wrote them some letters after his visits.  He boasted about their ability and practice of giving money to others for help. In the context of giving money to God for His use, Paul wrote about the “supply and multiply” principle. He explained that God supplies seed to everyone. All the money you have came from God, because He supplied it. He also gave you your food, every bit of it. We pray for a daily supply of food. The key to giving is to have faith that God will both “supply” your needs, and He will “multiply” your money. As you allow God to multiply your money, He will direct you to sow it into God’s harvest for your righteousness. He does not mean that your money will send you to heaven. The key word is harvest here. God will use your money for His harvest and it will increase your righteousness showing that you are living in right relationship with God. Well, the question comes, how much should I give to God? Ten per cent as a tithe? No, we no longer live under the Old Testament law, because Jesus fulfilled the Law (Galatians 3:23-24, Page 1823). Paul provided excellent guidance about giving (1 Corinthians 16:2, Page 1803). On the first day of the week, set aside money as God has prospered you so that you can be ready to give. You must always give your money to elders who will use your money for God’s purposes. The amount you give relates to how much God has blessed you. Make your giving a matter of continual prayer, applying the “supply and multiply” principle described above.

Just as Jesus taught His disciples to pray, so also Paul described how the Holy Spirit works through prayer.

The Private Principle

“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” │ Matthew 6:5-6, Page 1509

Jesus taught His disciples to avoid hypocrisy in prayer. Hypocrisy means we say one thing, but do another. We are two faced. In this case, Jesus meant that we should pray in private. We should never seek to draw attention to ourselves as we pray. I pray in public every day at the beach. Yet, I try not to draw attention to myself or the other people praying. I also pray in private every day. God said if we pray to be noticed by men, then we have our reward already. If we pray in private, the our Father will see what we have prayed in secret and reward us.

The Precise Principle

“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” │ Matthew 6:7-8, Page 1509

Jesus taught His disciples to pray precisely, and avoid meaningless repetition. You may like to copy the prayers of others, but be sure that you pray your own prayers, meaning every word from your heart. You do not need to offer long prayers, or many words. God does not need your many words to help you. Be precise in your prayers and get to the point. God knows what you need even before your ask in prayer.

The Powerful Principle

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” │Romans 8:26-27, Page 1769

God understands that we do not know how to pray as we should. So, do not worry about how you are going to pray or what others will think about you when you pray. Instead, count upon the Holy Spirit to help you pray, each time your pray. Not only does Jesus stand with you in prayer, but the Holy Spirit helps us to pray. The Holy Spirit intercedes with you in prayer. Intercedes means that the Holy Spirit stands between you and the Father. As He stands there, He groans too deep for words as He searches your heart, and acts according to the will of God. The Holy Spirit searches the hearts and know what the mind of God is. The Holy Spirit, as we pray, matches our hearts and prayers with the mind and will of God. When you do not know how to pray or what to say, count upon the Holy Spirit to help you pray. Remember that God loves you and you never pray alone. You see, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all actively participate in every prayer you offer.

The Persistence Principle

“I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.” │ Matthew 6:5-10, Page 1621

Jesus told the story of a friend who needs some bread to feed a traveler staying at his home. He goes to his neighbor at night and asks for three loaves of bread. The neighbor tells him not to bother him and to leave him alone. The man continues to ask for food and his persistence pays off with the loaves. Jesus used this story to show us that we must pray with persistence. We must not give up praying, but keep on praying until God gives us a firm answer. Persistence in prayer counts.

The Productive Principle

“You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” │ James 4:1-3, Page 1890″

Jesus wants our prayers to be productive, to produce holy results in our lives. In order to pray productive prayers, we must understand problems with some prayers and how our motives hinder our prayers. We can also overcome quarrels and conflicts through prayer.

James understood that believers have quarrels and conflicts among themselves. Their own pleasures cause conflicts and wage war among the members of the Body of Christ. Believers fight among themselves, brother against brother, and sister against sister, and so on. Prayer can help solve problems and wars in the church. Prayer can help you get over your own problems with yourself and other people.  You must be very careful about what you pray for. James points out that lust and envy lead to all kinds of sin. When your own desires control you, then they lead to evil deeds. In contrast, prayer to God will produce right relationships with other believers and avoid evil behavior in you. But, you must ask, in the name of Jesus, with the intercession of the Holy Spirit, and according to the will of God, for the things God wants to give you. If you do not ask, then you will not have. When we focus upon our own wants and pleasures, we tend not to pray. When we do not pray, our lives get worse. So ask today.

James also explained that you must ask with pure motives. God knows your motives when you pray, and if your lust for things drives you prayers, then count upon God to do His will (and not your lustful will) in your life. God never promised you He would fulfill all of your lusts and satisfy all of your pleasures. Instead, God asks you to consider your motives when you pray. Pray seeking His will, and not your lusts and your pleasures. The joy of Christ, born of doing the Father’s will, lets us know real happiness when we pray. Jesus lives within us and we make requests in His name. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us and conforms our prayers to the will of God.

What a privilege to talk with God at all times. Hallelujah !

 

 

First Steps in Christ–Step Six–Prayer