Where the world comes to study the Bible

Prayer in the New Testament

But Prayer

In Acts 12:1-18 we have a story of a prayer meeting that got it’s answer

while they were praying.

“About that time King Herod laid hands on some from the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, executed with a sword. When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter too. (This took place during the feast of Unleavened Bread.) When he had seized him, he put him in prison, handing him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him. Herod planned to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison...” Ac 12:1-5

God is making darkness for His light to shine into, so that, we will better appreciate it and He will be more glorified. When diamonds are displayed it is done on a black background under bright lights. The black background gives contrast for the light that come through the diamond. God let all the circumstances build against these early Christians and especially Peter. He shines His grace and goodness on them and they sparkle for His glory. God is still bigger than all the circumstances even though they are combined in a single event. Things looked bad, the execution of James, the arrest of Peter and under heavy guard, the cruelty of Herod, the hatred of the Jews, but it is simply a matter of God having them where He wants them for His purpose.

 

Everything was about as bad as it could be—“But.” But someone prayed. “but those in the church were earnestly praying to God for him.” Not just a repeated prayer like “now I lay me down to sleep.” Nor, was it individual or momentary prayer. It was corporate prayer that was earnest. They had important things to be earnest about. So do we, the difference between them and the average church today is that they felt the urgency and they prayed. The average church today is content and unconcerned wile being surrounded with problems of eternal consequences. Luke says they were “earnestly praying.” Literally it could be translated “They were continually stretching themselves out.” This was no doubt some serious praying. This is the kind of praying that is necessary to advance the kingdom of God today.

In Eph 2:16 we have another “but,” the Divine “but” of our salvation that “And although you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you formerly lived according to this world’s present path, according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom all of us also formerly lived out our lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest… 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, 5 even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved!— 6 and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” We were lost , dead, hopless, worthless–“but God.” This made all the difference. The “but” of Eph 2 and the “but” of Acts 12 illustrate both the divine and human energies involved in advancing the Kingdom of God.

“On that very night before Herod was going to bring him out for trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the prison cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly!” And the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. The angel said to him, “Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.” Peter did so. Then the angel said to him, ‘Put on your cloak and follow me.’ Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening through the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 After they had passed the first and second guards, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went outside and walked down one narrow street, when at once the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, ‘Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from everything the Jewish people were expecting to happen.’ When Peter realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many people had gathered together and were praying.” Ac 12:6-12

In the Divine order of things prayer is the circumstantial cause of what is prayed for and realized. God could have delivered Peter without the prayer meeting. But “Through prayer God gives humankind the dignity of limited causality.” Pascal God could fulfill the “Great Commission” without our involvement but He gives us the priviledge of being involved, to give, to pray, and to sacrifice for His glory. God is the first cause and ultimate cause of all things and He includes in His plan instrumental and circumstantial causes.

“When he knocked at the door of the outer gate, a slave girl named Rhoda answered. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she did not open the gate, but ran back in and told them that Peter was standing at the gate. But they said to her, “You’ve lost your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was Peter, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” Now Peter continued knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were greatly astonished. He gave them a signal with his hand to be quiet and then related to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. He said, “Tell James and the brothers these things,” and then he left and went to another place.” Ac 12:13-17

It seems that it was harder for Peter to get into the prayer meeting that it was for him to get out of jail. I wonder if God feel like it is harder to get His people praying that it is to get His preacher out of jail. The answer was just too good to be true.., “You’ve lost your mind!” they said to Rhoda. There is nothing that encourages the people of God more than God’s answer to prayer, especially when it is their own prayer that He has answered. In our prayer meetings we need to prayer for specific needs and to share the answers to those prayers.

Prayer is at the same time the greatest and most unused resource that Christians have. It ought to be the first recourse and the most used resource we have. There is nothing that we cannot pray about. If it weren’t for times like these we wouldn’t pray at all. It is the trial and suffering that makes us pray. Many of us can testify that we do our best and maybe our only real praying when there is a crisis.

What is the state of our families and of our churches. When David saw the Philistine giant, Goliath, he expressed his concern and his brothers scolded him but he said, “What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” 1 Sam 17:29 There was a cause for David to take action and such is it with us. We can conquer all of our enemies and problems with prevailing prayer. History is replete with situations in which someone prayed. There are great needs today, will you be one that will pray.

God has appointed prayer as his way of dispensing, and our way of obtaining all promised good.

The Prayer Meeting and Its History, J. B. Johnston

A church is never more like the New Testament church than when it is praying.

He answered prayer–not in the way I sought

Nor in the way that I had thought He ought;

But in His own good way; and I could see

He answered in the fashion best for me.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Jesus’ Dying Prayers

Jesus prayed three times while He was on the Cross. We have all heard of “death bed” prayers. Jesus died a death completely different from the comforts of a bed. He used His dying breath to pray for others and commit Himself to God.

1. His prayer of intercession.

Lk 23:32,34 “Two other men, both criminals, were also led away to be executed with him. So when they came to the place that is called ‘The Skull,’ they crucified him there, along with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. But Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.’ Then they threw dice to divide his clothes.” It is easy for us to pray for those nearest to us that we love and who love us. We even pray for our friends. Our “Christianity” is not very Biblical if this is the only way we pray. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they?” Mat 5:43-46 Jesus could have prayed for the Father to extinguish his persecutors, He was not deserving of such treatment and it would have been right for God to end it all and throw the wicked men into Hell fire. Instead, Jesus prayed for their forgiveness. What an example for us in our prayer life. If we can’t pray for someone who hates us, then we haven’t really learned to pray. What about the person that has lied about us or cheated us out of something we should have had? Can our prayers stand the test?

2. His prayer of confession.

Matt 27:45,46 “ Now from noon until three, darkness came over all the land. At about three o’clock Jesus shouted with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” Out of Jesus’ darkest hour we can hear Him pour out His heart to God. Not the confession of sin, for Jesus never sinned and could not sin. “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corth 5:21 Jesus did not have any personal knowledge of sin and therefore had no sin to confess. But He did confess His true feelings to His Father. When all the world around us goes dark, can our voice be heard crying out to God? The Son of God that had never, from eternity past, known a moment of separation from the Father’s loving fellowship was now forsaken. Jesus suffered the loss of the presence of God for a short time so we would not have to suffer that for ever. In a time when things were the most opposite to everything He had ever known, He confessed His true feelings.. So must we, be completely open and honest with God. “And no creature is hidden from God, but everything is naked and exposed to his eyes to whom we must render an account.” Heb 4:13

3. His prayer of resignation.

Lk 23:46 “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And after he said this he breathed his last.” Each one of us is going to breath our last. None of us know when it will be, therefore, we should live as if each day were the day we would breath our last. Jesus was a dying sacrifice totally resigned to the will of His Father so should we be a living sacrifice totally committed to our Father’s will. “Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is your reasonable service.” Rom 12:1 This is the way to glorify God and satisfy our souls. Each morning when we awake we should, commit our lives into the hands of our Father, in every experience of our life we should commit it all to our Father, our every desire should be submitted to the sovereign will of our Father. “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal 2:20 Our prayer life should acknowledge our complete commitment to the will of God. We should verbalize this as Jesus did, we should express our love for our God and our desire to be completely committed to Him in everything and ask for His help to live such a life.

He prayed upon the mountain,

He prayed for you and me,

He prayed in humble dwellings,

He prayed beside the sea.

He prayed in early morning,

Prayed with all His might,

He prayed at noonday and at dusk,

He prayed all thro’ the night.

He prayed for those who scorned Him,

For those who killed Him, too,

He prayed, “Father forgive them:

They know not what they do.”

He prayed when He was lonely,

He prayed when He was sad,

He prayed when He was weary,

He prayed when He was glad.

He prayed for those in sorrow,

He prayed for those in sin,

He prayed for those in trouble

That they might come to Him

D.W.L.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Prayer Meetings

Condensed from a sermon by C. H. Spurgeon

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.”— Acts 1:14

The subject, therefore, this evening, suggested to me by the fact that we are going to meet for a day of prayer to-morrow, is that of prayer-meetings —assemblies of the people of God for worship of that peculiar kind which consists in each one expressing his desire before the Lord. Let us then go through very briefly: —

I. The Apostolical History of Meetings for Prayer.

They were, doubtless, every-day things. The first meeting for prayer which we find after our Lord’s ascension to heaven is the one mentioned in the text, and we are led from it to remark that united prayer is the comfort of a disconsolate church. Can you judge of the sorrow which filled the hearts of the disciples when their Lord was gone from them? They were an army without a leader, a flock without a shepherd, a family without a head. In the deep desolation of their spirits they resorted to prayer. They were like a flock of sheep that will huddle together in a storm, or come closer each to its fellow when they hear the sound of the wolf. Poor defenseless creatures as they were, they yet loved to come together, and would die together if need be. They felt that nothing made them so happy, nothing so emboldened them, nothing so strengthened them to bear their daily difficulties as to draw near to God in common supplication. Beloved, let every church learn the value of its prayer-meetings in its dark hour. There is but one remedy for these and a thousand other evils, and that one remedy is contained in this short sentence, “Let us pray.” One of the first uses of the prayer-meeting, then, is to encourage a discouraged people.

Again, if you look at the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, you will perceive that the prayer-meeting is the place for the reception of divine power. “They were all with one accord in one place,” making their prayer, and, as they waited there, suddenly they heard the sound as of a rushing, mighty wind, and the cloven tongues descended upon them, and they were clothed with the power which Jesus had promised them. Common fishermen became the extraordinary messengers of heaven. Illiterate men spake with tongues that they had never themselves heard. Now, the great want of the Church in all times is the power of the Holy Ghost. Now, if we want to get this, the most likely place in which to find it is the prayer-meeting. Oh! yes, this is the place to meet with the Holy Ghost, and this is the way to get his mighty power. If we would have him, we must meet in greater numbers; we must pray with greater fervency, we must watch with greater earnestness, and believe with firmer steadfastness. The next incident in this apostolic history you will find in Acts 4:31 and there you will see that the prayer-meeting is the resource of a persecuted church. Peter and John had been shut up in prison. They resorted to prayer, and we read that “when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness; and the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.” Anything that would make us pray would be a blessing, and if ever we should come to times of persecution again we must fly to the shadow of the Eternal, and keeping close together in simple, intense prayer, we shall find a shelter from the blast. In Acts 12 you find the prayer-meeting made a means of individual deliverance. Peter was in prison, and Herod promised himself the great pleasure of putting him to death. He was sleeping one night betwixt two soldiers, chained, and the keepers of the door kept the prison. But prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him. And so in the middle of the night an angel smote Peter upon the side, and raised him up, and his chains fell off; he put his garments about him; every door opened as he advanced, and Peter found himself in the street, and wondered whether he was awake, or whether it was a vision. In Acts 13:13 we find a prayer-meeting suggesting missionary operations. Whilst the servants of God were met together in fasting and in prayer, the Holy Spirit said, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them,” and when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. I think if we were oftener on our knees about God’s work, we should oftener do right, and the right methods and the right men, and the right plans would come to us. Oh! that we would but pray for such men, and, having got them, pray that God would make them full of himself, for they cannot run over with blessings to others, until they are full of blessing themselves. We should understand what the prayer-meeting is, if we did this. What was the first Christian service that was held in Europe? Do you know? Why, it was a prayer-meeting, in Acts 16. Paul went to the place where prayer was wont to be made by the river-side, and there he met with Lydia, and preached to her, and her heart was so opened that she received the truth. Very often, I do not doubt, in a Christian enterprise, the first foothold that a cause gets is the prayer-meeting. This, then, is the missionary’s lever; he begins with the prayer-meeting. I have gone through the early history of prayer-meetings, and shown you the extreme value of such to the Church of God.

II. What Are the Uses of the Prayer-meeting?

The prayer-meeting is useful to us in itself, and also very useful from the answer which its gets. It is a very useful thing for Christians to pray with each other, even apart from the answer. God has made our piety to be a thing which shall be personal, but yet he looks for family piety and makes us feel that all the saints are our brethren and sisters, and that, therefore, our meetings as Christian families, and as Christian Churches in the prayer-meeting, become the natural outgrowth of social godliness. The prayer-meeting sometimes also generates devotion. Some of the brethren may be very dull and heavy, but others who are at that time in a lively state of mind may stimulate and excite them. When you have been busy all the day, and are not able to shake off the cares of business, you get warmed up by getting near to each other in your prayers. And, more than that, the united fires being placed together on the hearth, the fire-brands are made to burn with greater power. There is a kind of divine force comes upon us sometimes at the prayer-meeting. Oh! it is a grand thing thus to be made fit again, with joints all oiled, and muscles all braced, and nerves all strung, for the battle of life. United prayer, then, serves this purpose, and therefore is it valuable. But, again, united prayer is useful inasmuch as God has promised extraordinary and peculiar blessings in connection with it, “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” God asks agreement, and, once the saints agree, he pledges himself that the prayer of his agreeing ones shall be answered. Why, see what accumulated force there is in prayer, when one after another pours out his vehement desires; when many seem to be tugging at the rope; when many seem to be knocking mercy’s gate; when the mighty cries of many burning hearts come up to heaven. When, my beloved, you go and shake the very gates thereof with the powerful battering-ram of a holy vehemence, and a sacred importunity, then is it that the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence. When first one, and then another, and yet another, throws his whole soul into the prayer, the kingdom of heaven is conquered and the victory becomes great indeed. The prayer-meeting is an institution which ought to be very precious to us, and to be cherished very much by us as a Church, for to it we owe everything. When our comparatively little chapel was all but empty, was it not a well-known fact that the prayer-meeting was always full? And when the Church increased, and the place was scarce large enough, it was the prayer meeting that did it all.

III. What Are the Hindrances to the Prayer-meeting?

There are some hindrances before the people come. Unholiness hinders prayer. A man cannot walk contrary to God, and then expect to have his prayers heard. Discord always spoils prayer. When believers do not agree, and are picking holes in each other’s coats, they do not really love one another, and then their prayers cannot succeed. Hypocrisy spoils prayer, for hypocrites will creep in, you cannot help it. But there are some things which hinder the prayer-meeting when we are at it. One is long prayers. It is dreadful to hear a brother pray us into a good frame, and then, by his long prayer, pray us out of it again. Long prayers spoil prayer-meetings, for long prayers and true devotion in our public assemblies seem pretty much to be divorced from one another. Prayer-meetings are also hindered when those who get up to pray do not pray, but preach a little sermon, and tell the Lord all about themselves, though he knows their own better than they do, instead of asking at once for what they want. Prayer-meetings are often hindered by a want of directness, and by beating about the bush. I did admire a prayer I heard last Monday night, in which a brother said, “Lord, the orphanage wants 3,000; be pleased to send it.” Prayer-meetings are sometimes hindered by a want of real earnestness in those who pray, and in those who pray in silence. I fear that much of our prayer is lost because we do not sufficiently throw our hearts into it. But the prayer-meeting may also be spoiled after we have been to it. “How say” say you. Why, by our asking a blessing, and then not expecting to receive it. God has promised that he will do to us according to our faith, but if our faith is nothing, then the answer will also be nothing. Inconsistency, too, in not practically carrying out your desires will also spoil the prayer-meeting. If you ask God to convert souls, but you will not do anything for those souls; if you ask God to save your children, but you will not talk to them about their salvation; if you ask God to save your neighbors, and you do not distribute tracts amongst them, nor do anything else for them, are you not altogether a hypocrite? You pray for what you do not put out your hand to get. You pray for fruit, but you will not put out your hand to pluck it, and all this spoils the prayer-meeting. Earnest prayer, however, is always to be followed up by persevering efforts, and then the result will be great indeed.

IV. What Should Be the Great Object of the Prayer-meeting, And That for Which We Should Seek the Answer?

First, it must be the glory of God, or else the petition is not sufficiently put up. Pray that King Jesus may have his own. Pray that the crown-royal may be set upon that dear head, that once was girt with thorns. Pray that the thrones of the heathen may totter from their pedestals, and that Jesus may be acknowledged King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And then, in subservience to that, let us pray for a blessing on the Church. We ought to exercise a little of our love for one another in praying for our fellow-members. Pray for the minister, for he needs it most; his necessities in that direction are the greatest, and therefore let him ever be remembered. Pray for the church officers: pray for the workers in all organizations: pray for the sufferers: prayer for the strong, for the weak, for the rich, for the poor, for the trembling, for the sick, for the backsliding, for the sinful. Yes, for every part of the one great body of Jesus let our supplications perpetually ascend. Then we should also pray for the conversion of the ungodly. Oh! this ought to be like a burden on our hearts; this ought to be prayed out of the lowest depths of a soul that is all aglow with sympathy for them. They are dying; they are dying; they are dying without hope. It is of no use my preaching to the people, my dear Christian brethren, unless you pray for them. It may be that you who pray have more to do with the blessed results than we who preach. He has given us his pledge that he will answer: believe it, and you shall see it, and you shall have the joy of it whilst His shall be the glory. Amen

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

"Pray without ceasing"

1 Thess. 5:17

(From Works of Ezekiel Hopkins, 1874, Vol. 3, pp 579-581)

1.

That may be said to be done without ceasing, which is done constantly, and at set times and seasons. So we have the word used, Gen. 8:22: "'While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter. and day and night, shall not cease:" that is, they shall not cease, in their courses and appointed times. So, here, "Pray without ceasing:" that is, observe a constant course of prayer, at fixed and appointed times; still keeping yourselves from any superstitious observations. And, thus, Exod. 29:42: the daily sacrifice is called "a continual burnt-offering;" and yet it was offered up only every morning and every evening, and yet God accounts it a continual offering. So here "Pray" continually, or "without ceasing:" that is, keep up frequent and appointed times for prayer, without intermission.

2.

To pray without ceasing, is to pray with all importunity and vehemence. So, in Acts 12:5, "the Church" is said to pray for Peter "without ceasing;" that is, they were very earnest and importunate, and would give God no rest until he heard them. So, also, in the parable of the unjust steward, which our Saviour spake on purpose to show how prevalent with God importunity is, Luke 18:1, it is said, that the Lord would teach them that they "ought always to pray:'' that is, that they ought to pray earnestly and importunity is not giving over till they were heard. So, also, I Sam. 7:7,8, the children of Israel entreated Samuel not to cease crying to the Lord for them: that is, that he would improve all his interest at the throne of grace to the utmost in their behalfs. So we are bid to "pray without ceasing:" that is, to be earnest and vehement, resolving to take no denial at the hands of God. But yet we must do other duties also, though we are vehement in this. We may learn how to demean ourselves in this case towards God, by beggars who betimes come to your doors and bring their work along with them: they beg importunately, and yet they work betwixt whiles: so also should we do: we should beg as importunately of God, as if we depended merely upon his charity; and yet, betwixt whiles, we should work as industriously as if we were ourselves to get our livings with our own hands.

3.

To ''pray without ceasing,'' is to improve all occasions, at every turn, to be darting up our souls unto God in holy meditations and ejaculations. And this we may and ought to do, when we hear or read the word, or in whatever duty of religion we are engaged: yea, this we may and ought to do, in our worldly employments. If your hearts and affections be heavenly, your thoughts will force out a passage, through the crowd and tumult of worldly businesses, to Heaven Ejaculations which are swift messengers, which require not much time to perform their errands in. For there is a holy mystery in pointing our earthly employments with these heavenly ejaculations, as men point their writings sometimes with stops [periods]; even now and them shooting up a short mental prayer unto heaven: such pauses as these are, you will find to be no impediments to your worldly affairs. This is the way for a Christian to be retired and private, in the midst of a multitude; to turn his shop or his field into a closet; to trade for earth, and yet to get heaven also into the bargain. So we read of Nehemiah 2:4, that, while the king was discoursing to him on the state of Judea, Nehemiah prayed unto God: that is, he sent up secret prayers to God, which, though they escaped the king's notice and observation, yet were so prevalent as to bow and incline his heart.

4.

There is yet something more in this praying ''without ceasing." And that is this: we may then be said to "pray without ceasing" when we keep our hearts in such a frame, as that we are fit at all times to pour out our souls before God in prayer. When we keep alive and cherish a praying spirit; and can, upon all opportunities, draw near to God, with full souls and with lively and vigorous affections: this is to "pray without ceasing." And this I take to be the most genuine, natural sense of the words, and the true scope of the Apostle here; to have the habit of prayer, inclining them always freely and sweetly to breathe out their requests unto God, and to take all occasions to prostrate themselves before his throne of grace.

Prayer worth calling prayer, prayer that God will call true prayer and will treat as true prayer, takes for more time by the clock than one man in a thousand thinks. Alexander Whyte

God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform;

He plants His footsteps in the sea,

And rides upon the storm.

.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;

The clouds ye so much dread

Are filled with mercies, and shall break

In blessings ’round thy head.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Behold he is praying”

Lessons from the conversion of Paul Acts 9:1-25

Acts 9:11 “And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he is praying,” The Greek says “praying for himself,” he wasn’t depending on someone else to do his praying. “God has no stillborn children; as soon as any are quickened by his grace, they cry unto him; prayer is the breath of a regenerate man, and shows him to be alive. He who before was breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of Christ, now breathes after communion with Christ and them.” Our Lord said “Behold” a new Christian praying.

Prayer is the initial experience in salvation. v 5

Note that- the first thing Paul does is acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This initial experience was initiated by God Himself. In v 4 the Lord begins this dialogue.

Prayer is instinctive to the Christian. v 5

Without thinking, Paul responded in prayer and in submission. We should have the habit of praying without hesitation or question. We just do it. Pray and Obey.

Prayer is natural to the Christian experience. v 5

Paul needed no lessons, no practice, no prayer book. The main way we can help one another in prayer is to set the example of a praying life and to exhort one another to do the same.

Prayer is dialogue. v 5

Three times the Lord speaks to Paul and he answers twice. Three times the Lord speaks to Ananias and he answers twice. We need silence and mediation in our prayer time. We need a still heart to know God’s presence.

Prayer is accompanied with obedience. v 8 & 18

Prayer is obedience and requires obedience. The genuine Christian’s nature is to pray obey. Note, that Paul first went to Damascus (v 8) and second was baptized (v 18) both are acts of obedience. If we are not praying, we are not obedient and if we are not obedient, then our praying will be in vain.

Prayer’s answer involves waiting, isolation, and fasting. v 9

The most effective praying is done in secret, where we are cut off from the world. Paul was 3 days sightless–sometimes effective praying involves loosing sight of the world and its interest. Out of our secret prayer life we can expect the presence of God in our cooperate prayer life and the power of God to be manifest in our service.

Prayer is how we know God’s Will. v 10-15

Ananias was a man in communion with God and God initiated the dialogue and the action. As we pray we learn the will of God.

Prayer is no contradiction to election and sovereignty. v 15

Prayer is God’s decreed means to accomplish His purposes. Paul was chosen but Ananias still went. So must we go and preach the Gospel because God has a plan, and that includes our praying.

Prayer results in being filled with the Holy Spirit. v 17

Both obedience and prayer are necessary to “being filled with the Spirit” which is something God does to us. We do not fill ourselves. God fills us as we pray and abide in Him.

Prayer is a means to produce change. v 21

In our natural state we do not pray; therefore prayer is a change that produces change. Isn’t that why we pray? Cp verse 1 with verses 19-21. Paul changed from threats and murder to preaching “Jesus is the Christ.”

Prayer produces growth & effectiveness. v 22

Because it gives exposure to the source of life. Cp Jn 15:1-5 Prayer and the filling of the Holy Spirit produce results.

The answer was on the way while Paul was praying, v 11. As we pray God may have the answer on the way.

In the prayer meeting, as nowhere else, are Christian graces thus brought together with powerful reactionary and reflective forces. The Prayer Meeting and Its History, J. B. Johnston

Faith, mighty faith the promise sees,

And Looks to God alone;

Laughs at impossibilities,

And cries, It shall be done!

C. Wesley

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Exceeding Abundant Encouragement to Prayer

Eph 3:14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,19 and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God. 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen.

Do you ever get discouraged in praying? Do you ever have an inner desire to pray fervently and victorously but just can’t get over being discouraged? The Bible is abundant with texts and testimonies to encourage us in prayer. It is probably true that, if we are discouraged from praying it is because we are not reading our Bibles.

This portion of Scripture is a great remedy for discouragement.

 

Notice first what Paul is praying for:

that we may be strengthened in the inner man,

that Christ may dwell in our hearts,

that we be rooted and grounded in love,

that we may know the love of Christ,

that we may be filled unto the fulness of God.

All these things are aspects of Christian character. If our character and our relationship to God are what they ought to be all else will be as it should be.

Paul recaps what he is praying for by giving his praying and us over to God, “Now unto him.” He recognizes that God is all-powerful. God is necessarily all-powerful (or omnipotent). He would not be God if He did not possess all and unlimited power. Paul is reminding God that He is able to do what he is asking, and encouraging himself and us at the same time. God’s power reaches to all things: past, present, and future; good and bad; in His will or out of His will; directly from Him or through deligated powers. The only thing that God cannot do, are things contrary to his nature and inconsistent with his will. “He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Tim 2:13

Paul encourages us to expect answers to our praying by saying that God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” If He can do above what we ask of think then certainly He can do what we ask or think. Sometimes He answers before we ask and other times it is after much asking. Sometimes it is what we can understand to be for our good and His glory and other times it is something we can’t imagine that can be for any good or any glory to Him. God is in total control.

This gives us great encouragement to go to God, and ask such things of Him as we want, and He has provided. Heb 4:16 says “Let us therefore draw near with boldness (free speaking) unto the throne of grace, “

All this He does as He develops Christian character in us “according to the power that works in us.” God has worked powerfully to deliver us from the wrath of His infinite justice and He is accordingly working in us now to make us what we ought to be and useful for His glory.

The conclusion of the apostle's prayer, in which the power of God is celebrated, is “unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen.”

Thou art coming to a King; large petitions with thee bring.

The Lord Has Heard and Answered Prayer

The Lord has heard and answered prayer

and saved his people in distress;

this to the coming age declare,

that they his holy name may bless.

The Lord, exalted on his throne,

looked down from heav’n with pitying eye

to still the lowly captive’s moan

and save his people doomed to die.

All men in Zion shall declare

his gracious name with one accord,

when kings and nations gather there

to serve and worship God the Lord

The earth and heav’ns shall pass away,

like vesture worn and laid aside,

but changeless you shall live alway,

your years forever shall abide.

You, O Jehovah, shall endure,

your throne forever is the same;

and to all generations sure

shall be your great memorial name.

Psalm 102:17-27 The Psalter, 1912; alt. 1990 mod.

Tune 1973 from the Oxford Books of Carols by permission of Oxford University Pess

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Bold Praying

Let’s do a word study. The Greek word parresia means “outspokenness, frankness, plainness of speech that conceals nothing” (Arndt & Gingrich, Lexicon of NT); “freedom in speaking without concealment, ambiguity, or circumlocution” (Thayer); “the speaking all one thinks, free-spokenness, as characteristic of a frank and fearless mind” (Critical Lexicon & Concordance) To sum up these definitions “boldness,” parresia, is, saying all that one thinks, in clear terms, not hiding anything or running in circles with our words, or more simply “unreserved & direct speaking.”

Bold or “unreserved & direct speaking” in our praying is necessary for effectual praying. Following are four occurrences of this word in the N.T. which encourage us in praying.

Bold Praying with Access and Confidence

Eph 3:12 “In whom we have boldness (parrhesia) and access with confidence by the faith of him.” Note the association with “access” and “confidence.” Access is the right or opportunity to get to someone. Confidence is trust in knowing that we can exercise our access and be accepted and not rejected. This access is with boldness, or “unreserved & direct speaking.” We can and should use the access that we have to God to say what ever we want to say. We should have a holy courage or confidence and trust that God will accept and hear us. We have no reason to have fear or a spirit of bondage.

Bold Praying for Mercy & Grace

Heb 4:14-16 “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly (parrhesia) unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” How can a defiled and sinful person approach God? He must first cleanse and qualify himself, but this he can not do to the satisfaction of an infinitely holy and vengeful God. The work of qualifying us must be done for us. There are two things that this text says we get by boldly coming: 1. Mercy, which is not getting what we deserve, that is eternal judgment and 2. Grace, which is getting what we no not deserve, that is, all “the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Eph 2:7

Bold Praying by the Blood of Jesus

Heb 10:19 “Having therefore, brethren, boldness (parrhesia) to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,” The blood of Jesus has cleansed us of all defilements so there is nothing to hinder us. If our coming to God depended on our own worthiness we would have great reason to fear. We have liberty granted to us by God on the basis of what our substitute has accomplished for us. To be timid in our approach to God would say that we don’t trust what has been done for us or that what has been done is maybe not sufficient. What a great compliment and glory it is to God for us to take Him at His word and come with “unreserved & direct speaking.”

Bold Praying’s condition

1 Jn 3:21,22 “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence (parrhesia) toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” also 5:14 “And this is the confidence (parrhesia) that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:” Jesus laid the foundation for this in Jn 15:7 “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” This is always the secret to answered prayer, even in the case of Jesus Himself. This abiding relationship is the assumed condition of all answers to prayer. So, what should be our responsibility in relation to prayer being answered? Simply this, “to abide in Him.” We are to be in constant obedience and fellowship and we can claim the promise “ask anything in my name, I will do it.” Jn 14:14

All four of these passages are in the Present tense, which is saying that we are to be continually having this boldness or “unreserved & direct speaking.” This is something that should be natural and normal to us which God would have us to experience on a continual basis. . My dear fellow-prayer “Let us have boldness with our great God.”

The Spirit imparts a sense of sonship and acceptance that creates freedom and confidence in the presence of God.

Behold the Throne of Grace!

Behold the throne of grace!

The promise calls me near:

There Jesus shows a smiling face,

And waits to answer prayer.

That rich atoning blood,

Which sprinkled round I see,

Provides for those who come to God,

An all-prevailing plea.

My soul, ask what thou wilt;

Thou cants not be too bold:

Since his own blood for thee he spilt,

What else can he withhold?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What wond’rous grace! who knows its full extent?

A creature, dust and ashes, speaks with God--

Tells all his woes, enumerates his wants,

Yea, pleads with Deity, and gains relief.

’Tis prayer, yes, ’tis ‘effectual, fervent prayer,’

Puts dignity on worms, proves life divine,

Makes demons tremble, breaks the darkest cloud,

And with a princely power prevails with God!

And shall this privilege become a task?

My God, forbid! Pour out thy Spirit's grace,

Draw me by love, and teach me how to pray.

Yea, let Thy holy unction from above

Beget, extend, maintain my intercourse

with Father, Son, and Spirit, Israel’s God,

Until petitions are exchanged for praise

Irons.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Mary’s Example in Prayer

The mother of Jesus exemplifies true praying. In Jn 2:1-11 we have the story of Jesus turning the water into wine. It begins ”And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine----” Now let’s see how Mary reacts to this situation.

1. “And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him” She goes to the right place with the need. Jn 6:68 “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”

2. “They have no wine” She was assuming someone else’s problem--she was being an intercessor. To pray for ourselves (i.e. our family and friends) only, is selfish and forsakes the responsibility we have in prayer.

3. “They have no wine” She states the problem. Prayer is simply telling it to Jesus and leaving it in His care and timing. 1 Pe 5:7 “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

4. “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.” Mary is rebuffed. Sometimes we are rebuffed when God doesn’t quickly answer our prayer. This is “trusting time.”

5. “His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” She had done enough. She did not try to influence or help Him or even express concern. Jesus knew the problem and that was enough.

6. “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” She did not concern herself with the means that Jesus might use. She is in submission to what ever Jesus does and in whatever way He does it. If we give God great liberty to work He will do great things in great ways.

7. “And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.” Jesus worked in the existing circumstances by using the six water pots. God can bless us right where we are and with what we have. Obedience where we are is our responsibility.

8. “Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water.” Jesus gave a simple and what seemed to be an unrelated command. Remember Naaman in 2 Ki 5:11 who said, “Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.” He was upset with God’s means but when he obeyed he was healed. Obedience is better than sacrifice.

9. “And they filled them up to the brim.” They obeyed as much as possible, “to the brim.” In 2 Ki 13:18,19 the prophet told the king to smite the ground, he smote only three time and the prophet rebuked him. We need to obey to the degree we want God to bless.

10. “And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.” Obedience is consistently required. Trust even when there’s risk of embarrassment and failure.

11. “When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was:” God normally works behind the scenes and with people that are not significant to the people of this world. Here it is the servants, the least esteemed, that God uses. Are we willing to be such to be used of God?

12. “But the servants which drew the water knew” “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” Jon 15:15

13. “The governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.” We never get the best until Jesus comes and becomes our Savior and Supplier. If we are feeling rebuffed and still waiting on God’s blessing, cheer up, “it will be worth it all when we see Jesus.” 1 Co 2:9 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” The good wine will come last and it must come from Jesus because of what He did for us.

14. “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory.” Rom 11:36 “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”

15. “and his disciples believed on him.” Seeing God work, glorify His name and meet needs always increases the faith of His people and glorifies God.

Let us pray that Jesus will come into our lives and work for His glory and our good.

You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed. John Bunyan

Oh, closer every day;

Let me lean harder on Thee, Jesus,

Yes, harder all the way.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Our Continual Responsibility to Pray

The Greek word proskartereo makes an interesting and helpful study on prayer. The dictionary gives great breadth in its meaning: “to be steadfastly attentive unto, to give unremitting care to a thing, to persevere and not to faint, to show one's self courageous for, to be in constant readiness for one, wait on constantly.” We put this together as: “To be steadfastly attentive to with constant readiness and unremitting care that one might persevere and show oneself courageous.” Five of the ten occurrences of this word are used in exhortations to pray. Nothing else has this degree of emphases. Not: giving of money, attending church, showing of hospitality, exercise of gifts, doctrine, or preaching. All five occurrences are in a continuous action tense, emphasizing the continual responsibility we have to prayer.

1. Ac 1:14 “All these continued together in prayer with one mind, together with the women, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” The first occurrence of our word is pre-pentecost and in preparation of pentecost. This is referring to corporate prayer. They continued “to be steadfastly attentive to prayer with constant readiness and unremitting care, persevering and showing themselves courageous” and the promised blessing of pentecost came in power and glorifying of God in Christ Jesus. The historical context was the beginning of an entirely new program in God’s eternal plan. Nothing could be more appropriate than this kind of prayer at this point.

2. Ac 2:42 “They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” After pentecost the believers continued “to be steadfastly attentive to with constant readiness and unremitting care, persevering and showing themselves courageous” in corporate prayer and the blessings continued to come. Sometimes we long for our churches to have the zeal and power that the church in Acts had. It seems obvious that Acts 2:42 contains the secret to their usefulness for God. Why and for how long will we continue in our own powerless ways?

3. Ac 6:4 “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word.” The leaders of the new born church took the necessary precaution “to be steadfastly attentive to pray with constant readiness and unremitting care, persevering and showing themselves courageous.” As they began to lead the church they understood the necessity of prayer. Prayer was so important to them that they delegated other necessary duties to others, so they could have sufficient time for prayer. What a change we would see in our churches if its leaders would protect their responsibility to pray. Most of our churches are run in the energy of the flesh and not in the power of the Spirit.

4. Rom 12:9-13 “Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another. Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality.” Paul is exhorting us to not be hypocritical, but sincere in expressing our love. When he says “ persist in prayer,” he is telling us to “to be steadfastly attentive to prayer with constant readiness and unremitting care, persevering and showing ourselves courageous in prayer.” The context suggests that this praying is “intercessory prayer” i an exercise of our love. Love is the identifying characteristic of the children of God, “Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples—if you have love for one another.” Jn 13:35 It is impossible for one to love God if he does not love his fellow Christian. 1 Jn 4:20 “If anyone says ‘I love God’ and yet hates his fellow Christian, he is a liar, because the one who does not love his fellow Christian whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” We must love and pray for our brothers and sisters in our Lord.

5. Col 4:2-5 “Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time pray for us too, that God may open a door for the message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may make it known as I should.” He adds emphasis by saying that we should “keep alert in prayer with thanksgiving” He also gets personal with the saints at Colosse when he asks them to intercede for him that they might have opportunity to “proclaim the mystery of Christ.” Paul is making thanksgiving and intercession integral parts of the kind of prayer we are to be devoted to, that is, “to be steadfast, attentive to with constant readiness and unremitting care, persevering and showing ourselves courageous.” We certainly have much to be thankful for, this in itself is sufficient to make our praying full and lively. Then again, Paul is the missionary and the Colosse Christians are to support him in intercessory prayer. Most of us know someone who is either on the mission field or in the ministry of a church that we could pray for. There are three ways to fulfill the great commission “go and make disciples of all nations,” Ma 28:19: 1. In person as Paul did. 2. In financial support as the Philippians did Ph 4:15, 3. In prayer as the Colosse Christians are exhorted to do.

Four of the above five occurrences are dealing with corporate prayer and the fifth (Ac 6:4) is dealing with prayer in the leadership of the Church. The basic lesson is that prayer should get its proper emphasis in our churches. Without it there is no hope for the presence and power of God.

A church is never more like the New Testament church than when it is praying.

A congregation without a prayer meeting is essentially defective in its organization, and so must be limited in its efficiency. The Prayer Meeting and Its History, J. B. Johnston

It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must pray patiently, believing, continue in prayer until we obtain an answer. George Mueller

Prayer is indeed a continuous violent action of the spirit as it is lifted up to God. This is comparable to that of a ship going against the stream. Luther

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Paul’s Prayer for the Colosse Christians

“For this reason we also, from the day we heard,

have not ceased praying for you and” Col 1:9-12

I. The Object of Paul’s prayer.

“asking God to fill you with the knowledge” Paul is praying for a completion and perfecting of that which God has begun in them. “To fill” is to carry into effect, bring to realization. Knowledge here is “a knowledge grounded on personal experience “ Paul want us to come into complete realization of our personal experience of God. “of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,” Paul is praying that we might have personal experience in “spiritual understanding” of the mysteries of grace. God gives us understanding in “things angels long to catch a glimpse of.” 1 Pet 1:12

II. The Purpose of Paul’s prayer involves two things.

1. Our Character “so that you may live worthily of the Lord” “I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called,” Eph 4:1 “to walk by faith in him;” 2 Cor 5:7, “to walk after his Spirit,” Gal 5:16, and according to His word, to have a way of life as becomes his Gospel, Phil 1:27, and worthy of that calling wherewith the saints are called by grace to the obtaining of his kingdom and glory. 1 Thes 2:12

2. His pleasure “and please him in all respects” In ourselves we can do nothing to please God, but because of Christ redeeming work for us, we have faith and love toward God that makes our works acceptable.

III. The Answer of Paul’s prayer.

Note four phrases that describe the action of knowing God’s will.“bearing fruit in every good deed,” children of God are trees that bear righteousness, they are a planting of the Lord and under the influence of divine grace they bring forth the fruits of righteousness. “growing in the knowledge of God,” When a Christian becomes full of knowledge, his capacity grows so there is room for more knowledge of God’s person and will. The cycle continues and will continue into eternity. “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might” Believers are weak in themselves, and insufficient to do or bear anything of themselves, but stand in need of strength from above, proportionate to the various kinds of services, temptations, and trials they are called unto. All power belongs to God, it is a perfection of his nature, and has been, and is gloriously displayed in many things; as in the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the upholding of all things in their being. “for the display of all patience” To bear patiently all afflictions and tribulations and wait patiently for the things promised by God, “to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, as we wait for the happy fulfillment of our hope in the glorious appearing” Tit 2:13 “and steadfastness,” to be slow to anger, and not easily provoked to wrath; to be ready to forgive injuries; and to bear long, and with patience, all reproaches and persecutions for the sake of Christ, and his Gospel; “with joy” with a cheerful spirit, or with joy in the Holy Ghost; to esteem reproach for Christ's sake above the riches and honors of this world; to rejoice when counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. “giving thanks to the Father” As Paul prays for us to be thankful for all things, so should we pray for ourselves and for one another, that we should be humble and full of gratitude toward God.

How does the contents of this prayer compare with the contents of our prayers. Our Spiritual needs are more important than our physical. We should be praying for ourselves and for one another that we might be full of experiential knowledge of God’s will in a spiritually wise and understanding way so that we may walk worthily of our Lord and please Him in all things as we bear the fruit of good deeds, ever growing in knowing Him, manifesting patience, steadfastness, and joy.

I asked the Lord that I might grow

In faith, and love, and every grace;

Might more of his salvation know,

And seek more earnestly his face.

I thought that in some favoured hour

At once he’d answer my request;

And, by his love’s constraining power,

Subdue my sins and give me rest.

Instead of this, he made me feel

The hidden evils of my heart,

And let the angry power of hell

Assault my soul in every part.

“Lord, why is this?” I trembling cried.

“Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?”

“Tis in this way,” the Lord replied,

“I answer prayer for grace and faith.”

“These inward trails I employ

From self and pride to set thee free,

And break thy schemes of earthly joy,

That thou may’st seek thy all in me!”

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Paul’s Requests for Prayer

Our Lord said in Mat12:34-37 “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” There is a definite correlation between what one thinks or the desires in His heart and what he talks about. This applies to one’s praying. We pray for, and ask others to pray for, what we hold dear in our hearts. If we are praying for health and wealth, then that reveals what is dear to us. The requests given out in our prayer meetings reveals what we are most concerned about. Some prayer meetings have been nicked named “an organ recital” because there are so many requests for hearts, kidneys, livers, gall bladders, etc. The first two requests the Lord taught us (Luke 11:1) to include in our prayers are “Father, hallowed be your name.” the honor and glory of God; and “Your kingdom come,” the success of God’s program in this world. After this we are told to pray “Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins...” It is helpful to review the prayer request that Paul had. Notice what he requested each of the following churches to pray.

1. The Romans--for His Service. Rom 15:30,32 “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.”

2. The Thessalonians--that God’s Word Might Prosper. 2 Thess 3:1-3 “Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”

3. The Thessalonians--for Deliverance. 2 Thess 3:1-3 “Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”

4. The Hebrews--for the Brethren. Heb 13:18,19 “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.”

5. The Corinthians--for their Gifts to Him. 2 Cor 1:11 “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”

6. The Ephesians--for His Preaching. Eph 6:18-20 “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

7. The Colossians--for an Open Door. Col 4:3,4 “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.”

Prayer 89 Bible Outline Studies, Basil Miller, p 54

The above prayer request could be an outline for our praying, personally of corporately. May we accept Paul’s request as if our own leaders and friends were making it.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Paul’s Prayers for Others

Intercessory prayer is the responsibility of all Christians and especially of Christian leaders. If one is sincere about wanting to help people to have a better relationship with God, he will pray for them. Genuine Christian love will cause one to pray for the one loved. Godly leaders will follow the example of our Lord and pray for the sheep. God has given us good example in Paul of how to pray for others. Paul prayed for:

1. The Romans - to come them. Rom 1:8-19 "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you." We are to pray for others with thankfulness conditioned on the will God. We should pray for others that we have never met, thanking God for what he has done in and with their lives. We should be consistent in praying for others, this shows true concern for them. We should pray that we might be able to make a contribution to their lives as God wills and for His glory.

2. The Thessalonians - to see them. 1 Thes 3:10-12 "Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you." We are to pray much "Night and day." We are to pray for God to direct us so that we might have the opportunity to help others in areas that lack and that they may abound in love for others.

3. Israel - that they might be saved. Rom 10:1-5 "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." We are to pray for the salvation of others, even for those who have rejected the truth and the Savior. Even though they have persecuted us and fought against God, we are still to pray for them.

4. The Corinthians - that they might be pure. 2 Cor 13:7 "Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates." We are to pray for the "holiness" of others in relation to God and for their "honesty" in relation to others without regard for our reputation.

5. The Ephesians - that they might have wisdom. Eph 1:16-19 "Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power." We are not to stop praying for our friends in Christ that they will be intelligent and knowledgeable about who God is and what God wants them to do, and what they have in Christ and how powerful God is.

6. The Phillipians - that they might abound in love. Phil 1:9-11 "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." We are to pray for others that they may increase in knowing God and in the ability to apply truth to everyday life without being offensive, and have the righteousness of Christ.

7. The Colossians - to know God’’s will. Col 1:9-11 "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long suffering with joyfulness." We are to continually pray for others to completely know God’’s will and live in a way that would honor our Lord in good works, ever increasing in knowledge of God strong in joyous patience and long suffering.

Prayer 89 Bible Outline Studies, Basil Miller p 55

Our praying for our spiritual brothers and sisters should be guided by the Holy Spirit, conditioned on the will of God, and for the Glory of Christ Jesus. It should be focused on the advancement of the Kingdom of God not on our pleasures and comforts.

---------------------------------------------------------


Intercession is the Noblest Work of God Entrusts to us Humans

T.W. Hunt

The power of the Church truly to bless rests on intercession--asking and receiving heavenly gifts to carry to men. of prayer, men mighty in prayer. Power Through Prayer, E. M. Bounds

In the fine and difficult art of prayer, intercession is undoubtedly the most difficult of accomplishment. As far as my understanding of these things goes, intercessory prayer is the finest and most exacting kind of work that it is possible for men to perform. Prayer, O. Hallesby, p 164

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Steadfast Devotion to Prayer

The Greek word for “steadfast devotion” is proskartereo, 6 of the 10 occurrences have to do with prayer, it means to be steadfastly devoted to, to give unremittingly to, to persevere and not to faint in, to be in constant readiness for.

Acts 1:14 “All these continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” Jesus’ last instruction to the disciples was “not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father...you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Ac 1:5 We can’t be sure of what they understood “ baptized with” to mean but obviously they were willing for it. Jesus further entices them with “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 1:8 I suspect that the last phrase “to the end of the earth” just blew their minds, but it didn’t seem to scare them. After Jesus was taken up from them into Heaven they quickly obeyed. They returned to Jerusalem and went to the upper room and our text describes what they did. They continued or they were steadfastly devoting themselves to prayer, they gave themselves unremittingly to prayer, they persevered and did not faint in their prayer, they were in constant readiness for prayer. Acts 2 recorded the unsurpassed events that resulted. The lesson is clear, if we give prayer its proper place, God will bless beyond our comprehension. “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,” Eph 3:20

Acts 2:42 “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers.” Verse 41 ends with “and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” This mighty work of God compelled these early Christians to continue or to be steadfastly devoted to prayer, to give themselves unremittingly to prayer, to persevere and not to faint in prayer, to be in constant readiness for prayer, as they had before this in 1:14. The result of their faithfulness to persist in doing what was right is recorded in v 43 “And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” It is both simple and mysterious. Nothing complicated about giving ourselves to prayer, but mysterious when we realize we don’t do it. It is obvious that they, plural, corporately gave themselves to the teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers. All four items have the definite article making it a matter of specific identity. If the first three are corporate, then the fourth is also. They were praying in “the prayer meetings” with steadfast devotion.

Ac 6:4 “But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” Now things have grown to the point that problems have appeared and some needs of the people are not being properly met. Priorities have to be identified and responsibilities have to be delegated. The apostles determined that their first priority would be to “give ourselves continually to prayer” that is, to steadfastly devote themselves to prayer, to give themselves unremittingly to prayer, to persevere and not to faint in prayer, to be in constant readiness for prayer, “and to the ministry of the word.” This they are doing together, corporately. We see proof of this in the plural “ourselves” and the fact that “ministry of the word” is a corporate ministry. They were not satisfied in each one having his secret time of prayer. They were serious and corporately laid hold of God in prevailing prayer.

Rom 12:12 “Rejoicing in hope; be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” The glory days of Pentecost are in the past, now it is tribulation times and the exhortation is to be steadfastly devoted to prayer, to give unremitting to prayer, to persevere and not to faint in prayer, to be in constant readiness for prayer, Note the flow of the context, v 1 “I appeal to you...brothers...” v 3 “I say to everyone among you...” v. 4 “as in one body we have many members,” v 5 “though many, are one body in Christ” v 10 “love one another with brotherly affection” v 12 “...be constant in prayer” v 13 “contribute” to the needs of the saints” v 16 “Live in harmony with one another” v 18 “...live peaceably with all men.” The entire context is speaking to the Roman Christians as a corporate body. The exhortation to be steadfastly devoted to prayer, to give unremittingly to prayer, to persevere and not to faint in prayer, to be in constant readiness for prayer is given to the corporate body of believers. We as a body of believers are to be rejoicing in hope, being patient in tribulation, and continue in prayer.

Eph 6:18 “Praying always at all times and in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” Paul is discussing the armor of God with which we should equip ourselves. After he names all the equipment, climaxing with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,” he brings it altogether by saying “pray.” That is, we are to be praying always at all times, we are not to cease and there is no inappropriate time to pray. Prayer must be in the Spirit and watch with a steadfast devotion to prayer, giving ourselves unremittingly to prayer, that we might persevere and not to faint in prayer, being constant readiness for prayer. It seems that Paul can not say enough about prayer and how important it is. Even with all the armor of God in place we still must pray.

Col 4:2 “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving;” We are to be steadfastly devoted to prayer, to give unremittingly to prayer, to persevere and not to faint in prayer, to be in constant readiness for prayer, and be careful to watch for all those things we should be thankful. We will never be without much for which to thank God.

If one understands the importance that the Bible attaches to pray, he is not surprised that six times such a strong exhortation is pressed upon us. If one does not understand the importance of prayer then he has these six exhortations to press him into the practice of prayer so he will understand. Both on the corporate and the individual levels we are to be steadfastly devoting ourselves to prayer, to giving unremittingly to prayer, to persevering and not to fainting in prayer, to be in constant readiness for prayer."

We have plenty of Biblical examples. There is a wrestling Jacob, a Daniel who prayed three times a day, and a David who with all his heart called upon his God. On the mountain we see Elias; in the dungeon Paul and Silas. We have multitudes of commands, and myriads of promises. We may be certain that whatever God has made prominent in His Word, He intended to be conspicuous in our lives. If He has said much about prayer, it is because He knows we have much need of it. So deep are our necessities, that until we are in heaven we must not cease to pray. CHS

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

The Ultimate Answer to Prayer

No doubt Genesis 15 is one of the greatest chapters in the Bible. It is the climax of God’s dealing with Abraham, known as the Father of the faithful. “After these things the word of Jehovah came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” Gen 15:1 cp Deut 10:9

When Abraham rescued Lot from the kings (Ch 14), he refused to take any reward for doing so. Abraham’s concern was not the spoil of battle; he was a man of principle and was occupied with the transcendent truths of God. The “word of the Lord” that here comes to Abraham was probably the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. He says, “I am.... thy exceeding great reward.” He Himself would be Abraham’s reward. Christ is our reward; He was our representative before the judgment of God when he died in our stead. Our reward is the fruit of His labors, we have His imputed righteousness and He is our intercessor for us now at the Father’s right hand. All the blessings of grace and glory are ours because of Him and His work for us, now and for all eternity.

“The word of Lord,” the incarnate Christ Jesus speaks to us with a similar message. In Luke 11:11-13 our Lord is teaching us about prayer. After He tells the story of the three friends, which illustrates intercessory prayer, He makes the analogy of a Father giving a son good things. “And of which of you that is a father shall his son ask a loaf, and he give him a stone? Or a fish, and he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he give him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give...” This is simple but profound and powerful logic. Of course a Father would not give a rock and a scorpion to his son who asks for an “egg sandwich.” Our Heavenly is not only as good as an earthly father; He is infinitely better. But notice how our Lord interjects a new and startling idea. Jesus identifies the object of the Father’s giving as “the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Just as Abraham had the person of God as His reward, which is infinitely better that all material and family blessings, so we can have the person of the Holy Spirit as our very own, which is infinitely better than all other things combined.

If the Holy Spirit is a gift of our Father then we can easily see the reasonableness of our asking for what He wants to give. The text says “...to them that ask.” Isn’t that the essence of what prayer really is, asking for what God wants to give. Why should we ask for the Holy Spirit? We must have the help of the Holy Spirit in wanting to pray. We must have His power in the exercise of prayer. Phil 2:13 “for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure.” We do not know what to pray for so we need Him to inform us and lead us in prayer. Rom 8:26 “in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought;” Prayer is an intimate partnership with the Holy Spirit, He give us boldness to wrestle and prevail, as Jacob in Gen. 32:24, to the overcoming of God’s reluctance to bless. Heb 4:16 “Let us therefore draw near with boldness.”

Ultimate prayer request is appropriate for the ultimate answer to prayer. We need to be begging God for a special relationship and presence of the Holy Spirit. Is not God, the Giver, more than all His gifts?

Only when we have the Holy Spirit as our Lord is teaching will our prayer life and our prayer meetings be what they need to be.

But it is the Holy Spirit of God Who is prayer’s great Helper. The Kneeling Christian

Prayer is an art, which only the Spirit can teach us. He is the giver of all prayer. C. H. Spurgeon

The biggest thing God ever did for me was to teach me to pray in the Spirit. Samuel Chadwick

Come, O Come, Thou Quickening Spirit

Come, O come, thou quick’ning Spirit,

God from all eternity!

May the power never fail us;

dwell within us constantly

Then shall truth and life and light

banish all the gloom of night.

Grant our hearts in fullest measure

wisdom, counsel, purity.

That we ever may be seeking

only that which pleaseth thee.

Let thy knowledge spread and grow,

working error’s overthrown.

Show us, Lord, the path of blessing:

when we trespass on our way,

cast, O Lord, our sins behind thee

and be with us day by day.

Should we stray, O Lord, recall;

work repentance when we fall.

Holy Spirit, strong and mighty,

thou who makest all things new,

make thy work within us perfect

and the evil foe subdue.

Grant us weapons for the strife

and with victory crown our life.

Heinrich Held, ca. 1664; Charles F. Gounod, 1872; Tr. by Charles W. Schaeffer,1866; alt; alt. 1961

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

We have Prayer because there was a Resurrection

Christ’s resurrection proves He has the power to fulfill His promises. Jesus said, “ ask what so ever you will and it will be done.” “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” Mk 11:22-24 A dead Christ could not make good on any promise, especially one like this. Only a resurrected and powerful Jesus can give all things we ask in prayer.

Christ’s resurrection was necessary so He could continue His work. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:12-14 He could not do it, what ever that might be, if He had not risen and gone to the Father. We could not do greater things than He did if He were not alive and working in us. There could not be answered prayer if He had not risen and ascended. But He has risen and there is answer to prayer. Praise God and the Lamb forever.

The first encounter with the resurrected Christ was to Mary as she lingered in the garden, after the others had left perplexed and discouraged, John 20:11-18 The Second was to the two on the road to Emmaus Luke 24:13-32 The Third was to the eleven after the two followers of Jesus talked to Him on the road to Emmaus, came to Jerusalem. Luke 24:33-49 Note the progression: Jesus showed Himself to one, then two, then to a small group and again eight days later, and then to 500 brethren. It seems that out of the 10 appearances of the risen Lord Jesus only three are to single individuals. What is the lesson in all this? Jesus revealed Himself more to the corporate gatherings. Have you ever noticed that many false religions are based on a supposed private revelation of Christ to their leader. Beware of such claims that do not allow for confirmation by others. Sometimes we are too blind to see and too dull to understand how Jesus is revealed to His gathered people through the preaching of the Word and prayer. It is when His people gather together in consideration of the resurrected Savior that He manifests Himself among them.

Christ’s resurrection and ascension was followed by prayer: Acts 1:8-14 “...but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said,‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.’ Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” We know the result of this is the first corporate prayer meeting: the birth of the Church and the conversion of thousands. The book of Acts is the story of a praying church. Would to God that we could be more like the churches in Acts and less like the churches in our day.

It took a resurrected Savior to send us the Holy Spirit “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you...But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.” Jn 16:7,13,14 The Holy Spirit has come because Jesus has been resurrected, ascended and glorified therefore we can pray in the Spirit. “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Rom 8:11 26 “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.” Rom 8:26

The physical resurrection is the basis of our spiritual resurrection. Paul said “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, ....But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Eph 2:1,4-6 Spiritual death is just as dead as physical death. Christ’s exaltation is our exaltation and when we follow him into the presence of God, it is with the same glory and dignity that He has. He is seated performing His meditoral and intercessory work. We are “seated with Him in the heavenly places” and this certainly must imply “heavenly functions” as well. “we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,” Heb 8:1 “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Heb 7:25 The resurrection has placed us with Christ in His intercessory work and we follow His example when we pray and intercede for others.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Prison Praying

“The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.” Acts 16:22-26

Note the striking resemblance to another prayer meeting recorded in Acts 4:31 “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”

Since there were two in attendance this was a corporate prayer meeting. Our meetings don’t have to be large to be effective. We all want to pray with such reality and power that it brings an earthquake but are we willing to live the life that prepares one for such praying? These kinds of results come from a life of total commitment, without counting the cost that is, reckless abandonment to God’s will. Jer 29:13 says “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Less than full hearted searching for God will not find His blessings. If we hold back on seeking God, He will hold back on blessing us. Successful living and praying comes with fervency and total commitment.

Our lives and our praying are inseparably connected. The way we live effects the way we pray. The way we pray effects the way we live. Our lives must be a continuous prayer and our prayer life must be lived out into everyday life. Lives of holiness and commitment make good soil for our praying to produce results. In Act 16 Paul and Silas had taken a bold stand for truth and for Jesus, even to the point of persecution. They had rebuked Satan and challenged the livelihood of evil men. Satan does not loose ground without fighting back. In v 20 the merchants take Paul and Silas to the rulers for teaching contrary doctrine and multitudes rose up against them. No evidence here of them trying to build a “seeker friendly” church. They seemed to be operating on the principle “It is better to be divided by truth than united by error.” Our prayer life, individually or corporately, will be powerless if we are compromising truths like God’s holiness and sovereignty.

This church began in a prayer meeting, note verse 13; their first gathering was for prayer and verse 16 indicates that they were in the practice of meeting together for prayer. It is not surprising when we find Paul and Silas praying when they found themselves in prison. That was the atmosphere in which this church at Philippi functioned. The “earth quaking” results of their prayer was not from a single prayer but from a prayer life, especially the prayer life of the corporate body. We like to rejoice in Elijah’s prayer on Mt. Carmel when he prayed only 62 words (1 Ki 18:36,37) and the fire of God fell and consumed the wet offerings and the water in the trenches. A great prayer and a great victory for God and His people, but we forget that Elijah had been alone with God for over three years. It takes a lot of faithful “behind the scenes” praying to make visible victory like Elijah’s or Paul’s. A church that prays in the lonely nights will see the blessings on Sunday mornings. “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.” Mat 6:6

I do not hear Paul asking Silas, “Brother Silas, please pray for my back it hurts so bad and I am afraid it going to get infected.” Neither do I hear Silas ask, “Brother Paul, these gashes on my head are giving me a migraine and I believe God wants to heal me. Please pray that I will have the faith to be healed.” God certainly can and does, in His sovereignty, heal our physical bodies. But these two were so busy praising and singing that they didn’t have any thought about their own physical condition. This is the kind of praying that we need. We need to be so absorbed with the things of the Kingdom that we have no care for our personal comforts.

Paul and Silas were experiencing the same thing that the other disciples had as recorded in Acts 5:41 “So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.” Our text says they “were praying and singing hymns of praise to God.” What were they praising God for? Simply, “that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

If they can pray and praise in the stocks, then surely we can do no less in our air-conditioned churches. The earthquake gave liberty to the prisoners. This illustrates what happens to the church when God’s praying people gain the victory in prayer. They get the freedom and power to serve God. Note the three prominent conversions in this story: Lydia (and her household), the slave girl, and the jailor. When the corporate body of believers are praying, then we should not be surprised when sin is dealt with, sinners are saved, and the church grows.

Later Paul wrote back to the Philippians and assured them that “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.” Phil 1:12

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

The Church Was Born in a Prayer Meeting

“Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mountain called the Mount of Olives (which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’’s journey away). When they had entered Jerusalem, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. Peter and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James were there. All these continued together in prayer with one mind, together with the women, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” Acts 1:12-14

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4

The element something is born in is the element it is to live in. The seed is placed in the ground to grow and produce many more seeds. A fish is hatched in the water to swim and does not want it any other way. An animal born in the wild is designed to live in the wild. The monkey is in the tree to swing with ease and delight. An eagle is born for great heights and comfortably floats in the thin air.

Man was created in the image of God to commune with Him and if he doesn’’t, he is the loneliest of all creatures. A child of God is so by birth. He is born confessing his sin and calling on the Lord for salvation. The first words Paul uttered were a prayer of submission. ““Who are You, Lord?”” Act 9:5 We began our spiritual life in praying for it and we must continue it in the same way. Our birth from above gives us a ““spiritual”” and a Godly nature. ““For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”” 2 Pet 1:4 We must then continue to partake of the Divine nature as we live in this world. ““If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”” John 16:7

The Church (the local and visible body of believers) was born in a prayer meeting. Yes, they existed as individuals before Acts 2, but as a functioning body of believer they began to exist in Acts 2, in a prayer meeting that had the manifest presence and power of God. The church began in the real presence of God and should continue in the experience thereof. Anything else is not the will of God. The church is to administer God's Kingdom through prayer. It is to commission labors by means of prayer “While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said,‘‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” Acts 13:2,3 The church is to requisition all the supplies necessary to keep the kingdom functioning and advancing. It is said that an army marches on it stomach but God’’s army marches on its knees. Our Lord teaches us in the model prayer to pray to the Father ““Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Mat 6:10 Implicit in this prayer is the request for everything that is needed in the administration of the Kingdom of God.

Peter teaches us that we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” 1 Peter 2:9 “A royal priesthood” is body of priests that intercede for others with royal dignity. This is what we do when we pray for one another. The exercise of this priesthood is God’’s will and way for the church to operate.

The church must continue in the atmosphere and function it was birthed in if it is to be effective spiritually. Most evangelical churches have little or no emphasis of prayer. Some have huge buildings and a staff of professional administrators but they are powerless in the spiritual dimension because they are not a praying people, “a body of priests.” Most would acknowledge that we begin the Christian life in and by the aid of the Holy Spirit but “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Gal 3:3
“A dynamic praying church must be built from the inside out, employing all four levels of prayer: the secret closet, the family altar, small group praying and finally, the congregational setting.” Developing your Secret Closet of Prayer, Richard Burr, p 19. The corporate prayer meeting is the most important meeting of the church. Jesus said “My Father’’s house shall be a house of prayer----” He didn’t say it should be a house of preaching, or singing and a lot of other good and necessary things. It is to be primarily and fundamentally a place of prayer. This is not where our praying is done in proxy by “the priest,” we are all priests, we all must pray. The corporate prayer meeting is the most important meeting of the church because it gives all the other meetings their effectiveness and creates an atmosphere of God’s presence.

Examine the book of Acts and see how frequently and fervently the church is in prayer and how powerful it is. “These that have turned the world upside down.” Acts 17:6 Prayer and power are inseparable.

The element something is born in is the element it is to live in.

A congregation without a prayer meeting is essentially defective in its organization, and so must be limited in its efficiency. The Prayer Meeting and Its History, J. B. Johnston

History confirms the truth that wherever evangelical and vital religion flourish, there lives the earnest gatherings for social prayer. The Prayer Meeting and Its History, J. B. Johnston

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Persistent Praying

“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart. In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” Luk 18:1-6

The “lose heart” or “not faint” is translation of ma ekkakeo = not to be utterly spiritless, not to be wearied out, exhausted. It occurs 6 times in the NT. Two of those occurrences compliment our text.

Gal 6:9 “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” It is encouraging to know that if we keep sowing our effort into the work of the Spirit we will reap the benefit in due time.

2 The 3:13 “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.” Prayer is the very best “good” that we can do, so for sure we should not let ourselves get weary of faint hearted in praying.

Matthew Henry reminds us “All God's people are praying people. Here, earnest steadiness in prayer for spiritual mercies is taught.” This rebukes those who pray not at all or seldom or just when it is convenient. If we pray only when it is convenient we will not pray significantly or sufficiently. Powerful praying comes only with great sacrifice and expenditure of time and effort.

We are to pray in the good times and in the bad times; Seasons of health and sickness; Times of victory and temptation; Whether people desert us or support us. Even when it appears that God has deserted us and not answered our prayers, we exhorted to not loose heart and become exhausted.

This is not to be understood, that a man should be always actually engaged in the act of praying, at every moment in private devotion to God, or attending public prayer with the saints. There is much else for us to do, religious, personal, and civil. The meaning is, that a man should persevere in prayer, and quit, or be dejected, because he doesn’t get an immediate answer.

Earlier in this gospel our Lord had taught persistence in prayer. “Then He said to them, Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him;’ and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 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. So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.” Luk 11:5-10

When did the interceding man stop asking—when he received what he needed. Not to lose heart means not to quit asking, not to quit seeking, not to quit knocking. Our Lord tells us, if we keep on asking, seeking, and knocking “it will be opened.”

God could answer our prayers speedy but many times He does not. Not because He doesn’t want to answer, but because we have not developed sufficiently to receive the blessing. God, Who is in sovereign control of all people and events, includes in His plan our asking for those things He wants to do. He moves us to begin our asking process at the right time so as to accomplish in us what He wants accomplished in perfect timing with when he wants to answer our prayer. “Men would pluck their mercies green, when the Lord would have them ripe.” God gives the answer in perfect timing with the asker.

“And the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?’” Luk 18:6-8

We are to put our complete trust in our Loving God. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Pet 5:6,7

Unanswered yet? The Prayer your lips have pleaded

In Agony of heart these many years?

Does faith begin to fail; is hope departing,

And think you all in vain those falling tears?

Say not the Father hath not heard your prayer;

You shall have your desire sometime, somewhere.

Unanswered yet? Though when you first presented

This petition at the Father’s throne,

It seemed you could not wait the time of asking,

So urgent was your heart to make it known.

Though years have passed since then, do not despair;

The Lord will answer you sometime, somewhere.

Unanswered yet? Nay, do not say unanswered,

Perhaps your part is not yet wholly done,

The work began when first your prayer was uttered,

And God will finish what He has begun.

Keep the incense burning at the shrine of prayer,

His glory you shall see sometime, somewhere.

Unanswered yet? Faith cannot be unanswered;

Here feet are firmly planted on the Rock;

Amid the wildest storms she stands undaunted,

Nor quails before the loudest thunder shock.

She knows Omnipotence has heard her prayer,

And cries, “It shall be done sometime, somewhere.”

Ophelia Guyon Browning

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Sound and Sober Praying

“The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit

for the purpose of prayer.”

1 Peter 4:7

Let’s look closely at the basis for Peter’s exhortation to prayer. “The end of all things.” The New English Translation has “For the culmination of all things is near.”

The Greek for “end” is telos and means termination, the limit at which a thing ceases to be (always of the end of some act or state, but not of the end of a period of time), the last in any succession or series, that by which a thing is finished, its close, the aim, purpose. So the word “end” means either the cessation of something or the purpose of something.

When Peter says “The end of all things” he is not referring to the end of time but to one of the following:

1. Of the universe when all things will be burnt up. 2. Of one’s eminent death 3. Of the OT economy. 4. Of the end of the age when Jesus returns.

Before we decide which he is referring to we need to examine “is near”or “has drawn near” which is in the perfect tense in Greek and describes an action which is viewed as having been completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated but has continuing results. The same word in the same tense is in Mat 3:2 “Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” John was preaching that the kingdom of heaven had already come and was there. Jesus' last cry from the cross, tetelestai ("It is finished!"), is a good example of the perfect tense, namely "It (the atonement) has been accomplished, completely, once and for all time."

Our conclusion of what this verse is saying is “The purpose of all things, that is the previous OT economy and the plan of God, has come to realization and is now with us. That purpose is the “Person of Jesus Christ,” he fulfilled the law and brought it to completion.” Now on the basis of all things have found their culmination in Jesus we are exhorted to “be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer”

The first exhortation refers to our mental state “of sound judgment.” The word sophroneo means to be of sound mind, to put a moderate estimate upon one's self, think of one's self soberly. Paul said it in another way in Rom 12:2 “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” This is fundamentally important in our prayer life. We must have the same mind as our Savior and pray in harmony with Him. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Jon 15:7

The second exhortation “be of…sober spirit” refers to our relationship to the world around us, nepho means to abstain from wine, to be calm and collected in spirit, temperate, dispassionate, circumspect, to exercise self control. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” 1 Pet 5:8

Paul in Eph 6:18 gives us a sharp contrast “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” Wine represents two things: joy and control. It is not going to excess with either that we need to strive for. We can be intoxicated with other things besides wine such as pleasure, business, pride, envy, anger, family, etc. The church today is intoxicated on crowds, music, drama, personalities, even preaching in contrast to what Jesus said, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.” Mar 11:17 A church can not be a “house of prayer” like Jesus said it should be and at the same time give allegiance to the methods and principles of the world.

We need to be of sound mind and sober spirit and watch for all opportunities for praying, both in private and in public. We need to be observant as to what we should be praying about for ourselves and for others, for such things as are agreeable to the revealed will of God, and watch for the Spirit of God to enlarge our hearts in prayer, and to assist us both as to the matter and manner of praying. We should expect God to answer and return to Him thanks for the mercy given.

The conclusion is that we are to be rightly related to our Savior my abiding in Him and to the world by discipline ourselves to do only His will. He is the culmination, fulfillment and purpose of all things. “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Col. 1:16,17 In the understanding of Jesus as given these two verses which is the basis of our praying.

If the life is not one of self-denial--of fasting--that is, letting the world go; of prayer--that is, laying hold of God then prayer is neither spiritual or profitable.

Andrew Bonar defined fasting as abstaining from anything that hindered prayer.

Prayer is the one hand with which we grasp the Invisible; fasting the other, with which we let loose and cast away the visible. Andrew Murray

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

The Kind of Spirit In Which to Pray

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Matt 6:9-13

What is often called “The Lord’s Prayer” is really a pattern prayer for us to learn how to pray. It is inspired having come from our Lord and is infinite having come from our God. We can never exhaust its blessing for us, and we should endeavor to pray in the spirit of this prayer. By “spirit” we mean, the spiritual attitude in which we should pray.

1. A Unified Spirit.

“Our” Not “my” but “our.” Jesus never prayed “our Father” here He is instructing us to say “our Father.” Jesus’ sonship or relation to the Father is different that ours. He is the unique son of God Joh 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,” “Only begotten means unique and unlike any other. But the children of God are all alike in the way we become the children of God and the way come to God. The prayer experience is on level ground. All of us have the same access and privilege. We should pray knowing that we not alone in our approach to God but that we come to God with others.

2. A Filial Spirit.

“Father who is in heaven” We can, and should at times, pray to the Son, Jesus Christ, and to the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. The primary direction of our prayers should be to the Father. We should look to Him as the one that gives us all things: life itself, substance for life, guidance in life, etc. We are to pray conscious of an intimate relationship with a loving Father.

3. A Reverent Spirit.

“Hallowed be Your name:” “Name” represents the person of the name and his reputation, his honor. It is of chief concern to the child of God that the honor of the Father be upheld. Some cultures put great significance on the family name and the dignity of the ancestors. We are to pray for God’s name to be honored in all the issues of life.

4. A Loyal Spirit.

“Your kingdom come.” It is God’s will and rule and authority that is the deciding factor. In all the issues of life, whether it is the kingdoms and nations of the world or the decisions of daily work and play we must strive to experience the rule or kingdom of God. Here we are taught to pray for the extension of God’s rule in the world.

5. A Submissive Spirit”

“Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.” Paul’s exhortation “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Rom 12:1,2 It is not the “sweet by and by” (as in “Your kingdom come”) but the “nasty now and now” that requires our sacrifice. We are supposed to pray that we and others will experience God’s will.

6. A Dependent Spirit.

“Give us this day our daily bread”

Mat 6:30,31 “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?” We are to pray for today’s need and tomorrow we can pray for its needs.

7. A Penitent Spirit.

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

Effective prayer requires that we have a valid relationship vertically and horizontally. Vertically with God. We cannot approach God without our sin debt having been satisfied. The only satisfaction that God will accept is the substitionary death of Jesus Christ. Horizontally with others. To not forgive others that have wronged us is to prove that we do not know what this is. A person that has experienced the forgiveness of God will be generous to forgive others. We are to pray for forgiveness and show our appreciation by forgiving others.

8. A Trusting Spirit

“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil”

Jam 4:14,15 “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” I do not know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow. We are to pray that God will guide us away from sin and Satan.

Some of the outline taken from Prayer Power Unlimited, J. Oswald Sanders p 110

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Agonizing Prayer

As Paul closed his letter to the Romans he asked for their prayers. “Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints; so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company. Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.” Rom 15:30-33

“Strive together with me” is the translation of the compound word sunagonizomai. It has the prefix sun which means with or together and agonizomai which means to enter a contest: contend in the gymnastic games, to contend with adversaries, to fight, to contend, struggle, with difficulties and dangers, to endeavor with strenuous zeal, strive: to obtain something. We get our English word “agonize” from this Greek word.

Paul is asking the Roman Christians to join with him in agonizing prayer as He goes to Jerusalem. Paul must have had some idea of the possible problems facing him.

agonizomai with out the prefix occurs seven times in the New Testament; lets look at how this word is used and how we might learn how to pray.

Luk 13:24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Jesus preached a different Gospel than what is commonly preached today. Today it is an easy gospel, “come down forward and make a decision.” The socially acceptable gospel is “God has a wonderful plan for your life that is free from pain and heartache.” But Jesus says for us to strive or agonize to enter a narrow door, and many will not be able to enter. There is a kind of praying that can only be realized by great struggle. We are to continue in our Christian life, especially in prayer, with the same fervor and zeal with which we came to know our Savior.

Joh 18:36 “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.’” Our word here is translated “fighting.” Our praying is to agonize and contend, even fight, as we would strive for the safety of a friend of family. We should pray unselfishly and heroically for others.

1 Cor 9:25-27 “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” Our word is here translated “competes in the games.” An athlete in training is very focused and committed to his training and uses self-control in all things. Here we see that prayer is something worthy of this degree of dedication. We are to agonize in prayer as the athlete does in his competition.

Col 1:28,29 “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” Paul’s experience of the power of God working in him resulted in a striving or agonizing to proclaim the glory of Jesus. There is a similar experience in agonizing prayer.

Col 4:12 “Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly (agonizing) for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.” This is agonizing intercessory prayer. Most Christians never get past the “now I lay me down to sleep” prayers, except when there is a crisis, like a sick child or terminal illness, facing us. We pray for our parents, children or friends, but to agonize in intercessory prayer for kingdom issues, well, that is another level of prayer that is seldom realized.

1 Tim 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” This could be translated “ agonize the good agony of faith.” We are to strive and agonize as the good soldier does in battle. We need to pray as if it were a matter of life and death, because it is. There are souls that need to be plucked from the burning. If we prayed like a soldier fighting, we would see much greater answer to prayer.

2 Tim 4:6,7 “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;” No doubt that part of Paul’s success was agonizing prayer. We will not be considered as successful and having kept the faith, if we do not agonize in prayer.

If what we have discussed here is real prayer, then most of have never really prayed. The best example of this kind of praying is our Lord the night before His death. In Luke 22:44 another form of our word occurs “And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.” Here it is agonia, which is the noun meaning a struggle for victory, wrestling, of severe mental struggles and emotions, agony, anguish. When our Lord saw the contents of the cup from which he had to drink He experienced great agony in soul. Sometimes we have to pray as He did, in great agony as we experience the will of God.

“… The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” Jam 5:16

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Corporate Boldness

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Heb 10:19-25

In his reference to “the holy place” the writer is thinking of public and corporate worship, not personal and private times of communion with God. The emphasis is that we don’t need the animal sacrifices nor the Levitical priesthood in our worship. The temple was probably still standing when this was written, so the writer is saying that we don’t need that temple and Levitical system. By now the gospel of Jesus’ accomplished work of salvation had spread into Europe and there were “churches” scattered in many cites, none of which needed to be concerned with the temple / Levitical system, it had past away for the new and living way. It is by the “blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh.”

We are given five exhortations in v 22-25:

1. v 22 “let us draw near”

2. v 23 ”Let us hold fast”

3. v 24 “and let us consider”

4. v 25 “not forsaking our own assembling together”

5. v 25 “encouraging one another

Who is the “us” here? In this context the writer is contrasting the old way with the new way. The old way is that of an individual (in the OT economy) bringing his sacrifice to the place of sacrifice, the tabernacle or temple. The contrasting parallel is the Christian (in the NT economy) bringing his spiritual sacrifice (1 Pet: 5 “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.) The parallel is of two economies or societies of faith. The one trusting for that which was to come and the other in that which has come. In both societies it is the individual coming to the place of corporate interaction and manifestation of one’s relation with God. In both there is a public place to come and assemble. In the OT it was the tabernacle or temple, in the NT it is the church. Now it is our responsibility to direct our spiritual experience toward the visible assembly, the church. “…this drawing near contains all the holy worship of the church, both public and private, all the ways of our access unto God by Christ.” John Owen

But what is the relationship of this passage to personal prayer and communion with God? Is it just to be applied to the believer’s personal life? No, we think it is more than applicable. Corporate exercise is not something separate from the personal and individual. It is the individuals’ actions brought together that make the corporate action. So for us to come boldly to the throne of grace corporately, we must be coming individually with the same interaction with God.

The teaching of this passage is that we should “draw near and hold fast” to this new way of coming to God. As we come together we should consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Even though some have forsaken the assembling together, we should encourage ourselves to be faithful.

As we come to pray and worship our God, let’s be reminded of the great things our God has done for us and be faithful and not grow weary in prayer and praise.

-----------------------------------------------

“If we pray among a select society of Christians, we draw near to God with holy boldness, something like what we use in our duties of secret worship. We have reason to take more freedom among fellow saints and whose hearts have felt many of the same workings as our own.” A Guide to Prayer, Isaac Watts, p 58

Nothing is more calculated to begat a spirit of prayer than to unite in social prayer with one who has the Spirit himself. Mighty Prevailing Prayer, Wesley Duewel

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Related Topics: Prayer