The Essentials of Prayer
Christian living is a life of calling upon God.
Christian living begins with baptism into Christ. Baptism into the death,
burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of all Christian
experience. We seek to renew the baptism experience each week as we
observe the Lord’s Supper by recognizing and renewing our lives to the
basic principles of baptism as we focus upon the death, burial and
resurrection of Christ. However, it is our calling upon God through prayer
between baptism and our weekly renewal through the Lord’s Supper that
gives substance to Christian commitment.
Initially it is through prayer that our
commitment and worship give way to a life completely devoted to God’s
purpose. When our lives give way
to our initial commitment to God something amazing happens. Our worship
and commitment to God become the overflow of our personal walk with God.
Psalms 23 was written as a result of God overfilling the psalmist cup. His
praise was the result of his cup running over with God’s provisions. God’s
overflow became the motivation for his psalm of praise. When this happens
we begin to discover the joy of calling upon the name of the Lord through
a life of worship.
type of worship begins outside the sanctuary in the context of a daily
walk with God through the dangerous valleys of life. All the beautiful
psalms David wrote and the music he sang and played grew out of his
personal walk with God. Even the victories he won in his battles were an
overflow of his personal relationship with God. God’s power was exerted in
David’s life because of David’s commitment to walk in the light of God’s
“Blessed are those who have learned to
acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD. They rejoice
in your name all day long; they exult [revel, rejoice, triumph] in your
righteousness. For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you
exalt our horn. Indeed, our shield belongs to the LORD, our king to the
Holy One of Israel.” (Psalms 89:15-18 NIV)
Paul reaffirms this
principle in Rom. 12:1 as he encourages us to offer our lives as a living
sacrifice. If our worship is to be a biblical worship, it will be a way of
life, the willing and daily sacrifices to God of everything we are,
everything we have, and everything we do.
This approach to
worship is exemplified in Jesus’ model for prayer.
Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not keep on
babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their
many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need
before you ask him.
“’This, then, is how
you should pray:
"'Our Father in
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in
Give us today our
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have
forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into
but deliver us from
the evil one.'
“For if you forgive
men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive
your sins” (Matthew 6:7-15 NIV).
the essentials for coming to God through prayer.
Prayer Based Upon Relationship
Christian living is based upon a Fatherly relationship.
It is this relationship we have with God which
motivates our prayers. Jesus’ encourages us to be so bold in prayer that
we call upon God as our Father. God is our Father. We are his children.
The Fatherhood of God is not something merely recognized through Christ,
but it was established in creation. In Luke’s genealogy of Christ Luke
refers to Adam as the son of God (Luke 3:38). We are the children of Adam;
therefore we were God’s children in creation.
The Fatherhood of God
was lost when Eve sinned. God wishes to restore it through his redemptive
work through Christ.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be
called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does
not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are
children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we
know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as
he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is
of God says volumes about who God is, and who we are.
God being in heaven doesn’t mean he is far from us. It doesn’t mean he is
an absentee Father, for he knows what we have need of before we ask. He is
not in heaven trying to dodge his responsibility to us. He is there
orchestrating the world through his sovereignty to fill our deepest needs.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or
drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important
than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds
of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your
heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? NIV
I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks
receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be
"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake
instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you
then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who
ask him!" NIV
God is a Father
who hears our faintest cries. I
would like to read to you a story I ran across just before class:
“The cat had kittens
on the trundle bed in the downstairs guest room. We didn’t think that was
such a good idea, so we collected them and placed them on rags in a
cardboard box in front of the kitchen fireplace until we could come up
with something more suitable.
“But the mother cat
had a mind of her own. We watched with amusement as she entered the
kitchen silently, stood on her back legs, front legs on the box, sniffing
for her babies. Then leaping nimbly over te side, she checked them over,
picked one up by te back of the neck, leaped out, and quietly returned it
to the trundle bed. This was repeated until all that was left was the runt
of the litter.
“She did not come
back. She may have been exhausted from her efforts, or she may have been
busy playing lunch counter to the others.
“Finally the tiny
scrap in the bottom of the box let out more of a squeak than a mew. It was
almost a non-sound.
soundlessly, the mother cat appeared, bounded in and out of the box, the
littlest kitten in her mouth, and carried it back to the guest room.
“Three doors, two
rooms and two hallways away, and yet she heard. And it wasn’t even a
“Nor are our prayers
necessarily full-fledged prayers—or even articulated cries for help.
According to the Bible, God responds to our sighs, our tears and our
murmurs. Even our longings can be interpreted as prayer.
“John Trapp said in
commenting on Psalm 145, “The Lord is near to all that call upon Him; yea,
He can feel breath when no voice can be heard for faintness.” (Ledgacy of
a Pack Rat, “by Ruth Bell Graham, Oliver-Nelson Books, Nashville
Tenn. Via Decision Magazine.)
Prayer Based Upon God’s Sovereignty
sovereignty is what makes his name worthy to be hallowed.
Sovereignty simply means that God is Lord of Lord, and King of Kings—God
fully controls the universe. When you pray imagine yourself kneeling
before the ruler of the universe. You have seen and heard children brag
about their fathers being able to do anything; well our heavenly father
can do anything. Try to imagine God ruling the universe as a loving Father
directing the world affairs to provide for the needs of his children.
God’s sovereignty meets out justice to the evil as it protects the
righteous from an evil world.
words and deeds are against the LORD,
defying his glorious presence.
look on their faces testifies against them;
parade their sin like Sodom;
do not hide it.
have brought disaster upon themselves.
Tell the righteous it will be well with them,
they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.
Woe to the wicked! Disaster is upon them!
will be paid back for what their hands have done. NIV
LORD is my light and my salvation--
shall I fear?
LORD is the stronghold of my life--
whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me
devour my flesh,
my enemies and my foes attack me,
will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
then will I be confident. NIV
God’s rule upon
earth is the essence of salvation.
Jesus says, “Hallowed be your name; your kingdom come; your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.” The faithful prophets of old had no doubt
about who ruled world affairs. They didn’t always understand why he ruled
the way he did, but they believed he ruled.
Praise be to you, O LORD,
of our father Israel,
everlasting to everlasting.
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power
the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom;
are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
are the ruler of all things.
your hands are strength and power
exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
praise your glorious name.
"But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as
generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only
what comes from your hand. 15 We are aliens and strangers in your sight,
as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without
hope. 16 O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided
for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and
all of it belongs to you. 17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and
are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and
with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people
who are here have given to you. 18 O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham,
Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever,
and keep their hearts loyal to you. 19 And give my son Solomon the
wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees and
to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have
Then David said to the whole assembly, "Praise the LORD your God." So they
all praised the LORD, the God of their fathers; they bowed low and fell
prostrate before the LORD and the king. NIV
Testament clearly and emphatically teaches God rules on earth and in
heaven. The New Testament
emphatically teaches God’s sovereignty extends far beyond this world.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love
him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God
foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son,
that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he
predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he
justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be
against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us
all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God
who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-more
than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also
interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger
or sword? 36 As it is written:
your sake we face death all day long;
are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved
us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor
demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither
height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to
separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. NIV
Prayer Based Upon Our Willingness to Obey
Jesus teaches us
to pray that God’s will be done on earth in heaven, i.e., we must be
willing to allow God to rule in our personal lives.
have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple
"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 will I hear from heaven and 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.
"As for you, if you walk before me as David your father did, and do all I
command, and observe my decrees and laws, 18 I will establish your royal
throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, 'You shall
never fail to have a man to rule over Israel.'
"But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given
you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot
Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple
I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of
ridicule among all peoples. 21 And though this temple is now so imposing,
all who pass by will be appalled and say, 'Why has the LORD done such a
thing to this land and to this temple?' 22 People will answer, 'Because
they have forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers, who brought them
out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving
them-that is why he brought all this disaster on them.'" NIV
Prayer Requires Dependence upon God
Jesus teaches us
to pray, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew
6:11 NIV). God’s sovereignty does little for us if we can’t bring
ourselves to fully depend upon God.
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust
destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for
yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and
where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also.
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body
will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will
be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great
is that darkness!
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the
other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot
serve both God and Money. NIV
We must depend
upon God to deliver us from temptation. Jesus taught to pray, “And lead us
not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”
(Matthew 6:13 NIV).
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is
faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But
when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand
up under it. NIV
God is deeply aware,
and sensitive to our spiritual struggles. He knows how to deliver us from
an ungodly world.
if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,
putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not
spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people,
but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he
condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and
made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if
he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of
lawless men 8(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was
tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)- 9
if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and
to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their
punishment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt
desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. NIV
Requires Forgiveness for Others
Jesus teaches us
to pray to, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”
(Matthew 6:12 NIV). It is
impossible to understand or receive forgiveness without understanding the
need of others to be forgiven.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along
with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. NIV
based upon relationships.
Forgiveness is the oil that relationship must have to work smoothly.
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge
others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be
measured to you.
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no
attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother,
'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a
plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your
own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your
brother's eye. NIV
elements in prayer are:
Prayer is seeking
God’s rule in your heart. After all,
the true church today, i.e., salvation, is nothing but the reign of God in
the hearts of humanity.
Prayer is depending
upon the sovereignty of God for your daily sustenance.
developing the attitude of Christ toward those who have sinned against
Prayer is seeking
God’s help in overcoming temptations.
qualities define the essence of Christianity.