The Basics of Prayer

The Basics of Prayer

January 12, 2014

 

INTRODUCTION

Prayer: Fervent prayer has the power to shake up our world

  • Through prayer we have access to the Sovereign Lord
  • Prayer is an invitation for God to involve Himself in our world
  • Prayer impacts me disproportionately

 

Fervent prayer is not just one moment of intensity, but an ongoing aspect of our relationship with God

The Mission of Asbury Church: leading people to become fully devoted followers of Christ who worship God enthusiastically, connect with the family of God regularly, grow in their faith consistently, serve others unselfishly and share their faith effectively

KEY POINT:  Prayer needs to be a part of our daily devotion to God

 

Text: Luke 11:1-13

Setting – Passage begins with Jesus praying

“Teach us to pray…”

Discipleship: following the pattern of the Master

 

  • Jesus expects His followers to prayer

“When you pray…”

Prayer provides a vital link between heaven and earth

There is no way we can be the people He has called us to be or accomplish the purpose He has given us apart from prayer

ASK…SEEK…KNOCK…  Present continuous tense

 

  • Jesus teaches that God is more willing to answer our prayers than we are to ask

Parable: if that’s what one is willing to do out of obligation, imagine what God will do for those He loves!

Not because I have to but because I get to

 

Bringing our expectation in line with our praying

“He who asks receives, he who seeks finds and to him who knocks the door will be open”

 

KEY POINT:  Prayer needs to be a part of our daily devotion to God

 

Learning from the model of Christ

Not a magic formula, but a form to help us pray well

 

Five Key Aspects to Effective Prayer

 

1.    Relating

“FATHER…”

Our approach to God is predicated on our new relationship with God through Christ Jesus – FATHER (ABBA)

Not formal but personal

 

Galatians 3:26-4:7  The Message

 

Worshipping Him for who He is and thanking Him for what He has done

 

2.    Revealing

“Your Kingdom come…”

Prayer is about discovering God’s way, His will

The Holy Spirit reveals God’s truth, His way

 

Interaction with God’s Word: praying the promises of God

Revelation is to bring realignment

Revelation without realignment results in rebellion

 

Surrendering of our agenda for His

Only in the center of His will will we discover the fullness of life we were create for

 

3.    Requesting

“Give us this day our daily bread…”

Opportunity to bring our needs before Him

 

Daily bread: sufficient for the day

Receiving His portion of grace for where we are at and what we are going through

 

4.    Releasing

“Forgive us our sins…”

To forgive is to release

Sin binds: keeps us from the fullness of His purpose for our lives

Hinders relationship with God and others

Allowing the Spirit to search our hearts (Ps. 139:23-24)

Confession (1 John 1:7)

“…as we forgive those who sin against us”

Forgiveness is releasing others from the debt that they owe us

Forgiveness is a decision

Forgiveness does not make a wrong right but seeks to right a wrong

 

5.    Resolving

“Lead us not into temptation…”

Commitment to honor Him, walk in His way

To resist temptation, to avoid evil

 

Determination: making decisions to honor Him

 

Let nothing come between You and me

 

CONCLUSION

KEY POINT:  Prayer needs to be a part of our daily devotion to God

  • Jesus expects His followers to prayer
  • Jesus teaches that God is more willing to answer our prayers than we are to ask

 

“The fervent, effective prayer of the righteous avails much…” James 5:16

 

The 21 Day Challenge:

Praying 21 Minutes for 21 Days

Setting aside time to connect with Christ

 

Relating: Worshipping Him – 4 Minutes

Revealing: Interacting with his Word – 6 Minutes

Requesting: Laying out your request – 4 minutes

Releasing: Dealing with sins – 4 minutes

Resolving: Commitments for the day – 3 minutes

 



Holy Thursday (Part Two): Towel and Basin

The Christ-followers gathered with their Master for the last time before the circumstances and events of that night would overwhelm them.  Unaware of the approaching darkness, they gathered in an upper room to remember the Passover: how God delivered His people from bondage.  It was there that Jesus “showed them the full extent of His love” (John 13:1).  It began unexpectedly…

“…so He got up and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.” (John 13:4-5)

Though the disciples we’re unaware of the approaching darkness, Jesus knew the path He was to take: a journey marked by indignity.  Yet this indignity was not outside His understanding or control: it would be something He freely submitted Himself to.  And so He took a towel and a basin – freely…willingly…lovingly.

The position He took was one of a servant.  It is the position no one aspires to have.  For our world believes greatness is found in position and power, influence and affluence.  Yet Jesus came to serve – to embrace indignity so our dignity may be restored.  He laid aside the glories of heaven for the indignity of earth, to pay the price for our sin…our indignity. He came to make a way for people to find their way back to God.

The indignity of this foot-washing was not lost on Peter: “You shall never wash my feet!”  Never.  Yet to reject His indignity is to reject His love and the only path for our redemption and restoration.

Indignity was not the destiny He deserved but the one He chose because He loves us so much.

As you prepare your heart for this Easter weekend, allow His love to wash over you again.



Holy Thursday (Part One): Silver Coins

In a little while, we will reflect upon the events of that evening before the arrest of Jesus, but we will begin with one Christ-follower who became disillusioned with his master.

“Then one of the Twelve – the one called Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I hand Jesus over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver” (Matt. 26:14-15).

It’s hard to imagine that one who had walked with Jesus and experienced his love and power, would for such a little price reject and betray the Son of God. Why would he do such a thing? Because Jesus didn’t meet his expectations; and the intentions and demands of Christ did not line up with his desires. And so for a temporary sum, he walked away from an eternal gift.

As we prepare our hearts for this Easter season, the decision of Judas confronts us with the reality of our own nature: What do we do with our disappointments and unmet expectations regarding Jesus? What do we do when His intentions and demands run contrary to our wants and wishes, or even with what culture dictates? For what price will we walk away from the eternal to embrace the temporary?

As you journey today, take a moment and reflect on these things. Reaffirm your commitment to Him and allow His Spirit to strengthen and encourage you as you align your life with His.



The Unconventional God

The Unconventional God

God uses unlikely people to accomplish unlikely tasks in unexpected ways.  When you read through the pages of Scripture, you will find account after account of people whom God used in great ways in spite of their apparent imperfections.  Gideon is one such example.

Read Judges 6-7

As we read through this passage we discover God has a plan for our troubles but His strategy is often unconventional.  Even though we might get ourselves into trouble because of our own choices, God, by His grace, desires to intervene in our situation and bring us back to Himself.

We can also see God’s plan flows through individuals who allow Him to transform their lives and direct their steps.  Gideon’s story reminds us that God knows where we are, what we are and what we can be with His presence in our lives.  Even though Gideon was hiding from others, God knew exactly where he was and met him in that place.  What a wonderful truth and promise: God knows where we are and He meets us there!

The Bible’s portrait of Gideon reveals a flawed character: the struggles with fear and insecurity, questioning the person and purpose of God, and the need for continual reassurance to move in the right direction.  Yet even though God knew exactly who Gideon was, God still saw what he could be and declares him to be a “Mighty Warrior.”  There is a potential that God sees in each one of us: a picture not determined by our circumstances or condition but by the Creator.

In living out that potential, there’s a few things we need to do:

We need to know God personally

What changed Gideon and redirected the course of his life was a face-to-face encounter with God, an encounter initiated by God Himself.  Even today, God desires to meet with us face-to-face – that is the reason Jesus came and died on the cross for our sins so we can have a relationship with Him.  And this relationship makes all the difference: it allows us to face life with renewed hope.

Even though the nation was experiencing an uncertain future, Gideon discovered a peace that transcended his situation and circumstance.  This is the peace Jesus promised his followers because of their relationship with Him:  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

We need to deal with the sin issues in our lives

One of the first things God asked Gideon to do was to deal with the idols in his father’s house.  Gideon grew up under the influence of his father’s belief system which involved the mixing of the worship of God and the gods of the nations around them.  For God to accomplish His best in Gideon’s life, he needed to confront these issues and purify his faith in God.

Even today, in a world which tries to mix the worship of God with the values of a culture that espouses ideas antithetical to God, it is important for us to deal with the sin issues in our own lives.  Sin results from the choices we make when we set ourselves up in the place of arbiter of right and wrong, believing we are better suited to decide the path to blessing than God is.  It started in the Garden of Eden when Eve believed God did not have her best in mind and so chose for herself.  Instead of finding true blessing, death was set in motion and could not be called back.

It is important for us to deal with the sin issues in our lives because we can never fully experience God’s purpose for us unless we yield our lives to His leading.  This begins with our returning to our God and experiencing His grace and forgiveness by faith – it is the path of repentance.  Repentance begins with a recognition and confession of our sinfulness and the separation from God it causes.  We then receive His forgiveness and reorient our lives from our relationship with God.  This involves bringing our thinking, feeling and acting in line with His Word.

We need to be clothed with the Spirit

In order for Gideon to accomplish the purpose God had for him, he needed to experience the empowering of God’s Spirit in his life.  Judges 6:34 tells us “the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon.”  The words “came upon” literally mean “to clothe”.  Jesus would tell His disciples after His resurrection that they needed to “stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).  This clothing was the empowering of the Holy Spirit to live the life we were called and created for.

In Acts 1:8, Jesus reminded his followers that “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…”  This power is the unleashing of God’s divine potential in our lives to accomplish the purpose which we were created for.  If we are going to accomplish His purpose we need to be filled with His Holy Spirit – that presence which makes all the difference!

We need to partner with people of faith

The last thing to note about living out God’s potential in our lives is the importance of journeying with people of faith.  Gideon could never accomplish the purpose of God by Himself, he needed to partner with the right people: people who believed in a great God who could do great things.  Accomplishing the purpose of God in our lives involves both a personal commitment and a corporate connection.  Personal commitment provides motivation and partnering with people of faith multiplies our influence.

The Unconventional God still uses unlikely people to accomplish unlikely tasks in unexpected ways.  We need to encounter Him daily and allow Him to examine our hearts and lives so we may live purely for Him.  We need to seek the filling of the Spirit each day and connect regularly with people of faith.  In doing so, I believe God will amaze us with who He is and what He desires to do in and through our lives.  So take a moment right now and call out to Him and ask the Unconventional God to use you.