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Topical Prayer: The Persons of God

Praying and the Persons of God

The Trinitarian Aspect of Prayer

“For of him, and through him, and unto him, are all things. To him be the glory for ever. Amen.” Rom 11:36

As we apply this verse to the experience of praying we can clearly see prayer’s relation to the Trinity:

1. We pray because Jesus opened the way. “of (ek) him the Jesus”

Jesus is our example and our access. John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Jesus’s death opened the way for all His people. For generations the veil in the temple symbolized the unapproachableness of a Holy God, but when Jesus died “the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake; and the rocks were rent.” Mt 27:51

The life, death and life again of our Savor Jesus is sufficient to dispel every hindrance to our coming to the Father. “Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand; and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Rom 5:1,2 We are persuaded that we have access to God and experience His unmerited benefits with great joy in the Glory of God now and yet to come.

Jesus made the way and the Spirit strengthens us that we may

approach the Father in a personal and intimate relationship.

2. We pray by means of the Spirit’s power within.“through (dia) him Spirit”

Jesus promised us an Advocate, or Helper (Greek is paracletos) “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” John 14:16-17 The world can not see the invisible but we can be like Moses, Heb 11:27.

Paul specifies that He will help us when we pray, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought:” Rom 8:26 and also in Eph 2:18 “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” and again in Eph 6:18 “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,” Jude says that we should be “building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost.” Jude 1:20 Because we are sons of God, He has “sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Ga 4:6

Jesus made the way and the Spirit strengthens us that we may

approach the Father in a personal and intimate relationship.

3. We pray to our Spiritual Father. “unto (eis) him The Father”

When Jesus taught us to pray He said, “When ye pray, say, Our Father.” Lk 11:2 Paul taught us that the Spirit enables us to be crying out to our Father. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Rom 8:15 We are to approach Him as our Daddy, whom we love and Who loves us dearly, just as an earthly Father love his little child.

We are not just servants, we are children and friends “No longer do I call you servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I heard from my Father, I have made known unto you. Ye did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” John 15:15-16

Jesus made the way and the Spirit strengthens us that we may

approach the Father in a personal and intimate relationship.

John chapters 14 -16 teach that we have an interacting relationship with

all three members of the Trinity. This is especially true in the exercise of prayer.

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

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.

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The Attributes of God in Prayer

When we pray we need to keep in mind the nature of our God. He is infinite in all His attributes and for all eternity we will be exploring what He is really like. Following is a listing of some of the attributes of God. Perhaps we should thank and praise God for each of these and for being the God that He is. “We shall find every attribute of God Most High to be, as it were, a great battering-ram, with which we may open the gates of heaven.” C. H. Spurgeon

The Bounties of God Isa 64:4 “For from of old they have not heard nor perceived by ear, neither has

the eye seen a God besides Thee, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.”

The Faithfulness of God Deut 7:9 “Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;”

The Foreknowledge of God Rom 8:29 “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren; ”

The Grace of God Rom 5:21 “…even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”

The Goodness of God Ps 25:8 “Good and upright is the Lord…”

The Holiness of God Rev 15:4 “Who, will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; For all the nations will come and worship before…”

The Immutability of God Mal 3:6 “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.”

The Justice of God Ps 89:14 “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Thy throne...”

The Knowledge of God Ps 147:5 “His understanding is infinite”

The Love of God Rom 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

The Loving-Kindness of God Ps 36:7 “How precious is Thy lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Thy wings.”

The Mercy of God Ps 119:156 “Great are Thy mercies, O Lord…”

T he Omnipresence of God Ps 139: “Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence?”

The Power of God Ps 62:11 “…power belongs to God”

The Solitariness of God Ex 15:11 “Who is like Thee among the gods, O Lord? Who is like Thee, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?”

The Sovereignty of God Is 46:10 “For I am God, and there is none other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’”

The Wisdom of God Rom 11:33 “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! ”

The Wrath of God Rom 1:18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…”

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To Whom Should We Pray?

Answer: The Lord God of the Holy Scriptures is the only God to whom we should pray. The Scriptures are the 66 books of the Christian Bible, beginning with Genesis and ending with Revelation. If you agree with this answer then another question arises. Since the God of the Bible is revealed as a Triune God, that is a God of three persons: “The Father” “The Son” and “The Spirit;” we now have to ask, “Which of the persons in God do we pray to.” We need to remember that prayer is more than asking. It is asking for things inclusively but not exclusively. Prayer includes praise, worship, and expression of thankfulness.

The last verse in second Corinthians is “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.” 2 Cor 13:14 Paul is giving his benediction in the form of a Trinitarian blessing. Each member of the Trinity has a unique relation to the believer and we should pray to each member of the Trinity in respect of His uniqueness

I. Prayer to the Father that loves us, “the love of God.” 2 Cor 13:14

Our Lord give us instruction to pray to the Father in Mat 6:9 “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” We are to show honor and respect for our Father.

John identifies us as children in 1 Joh 3:1 “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.” We really are children and should ask for the things that a child would ask of his Father.

“Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Gal 4:6 We are to pray to our Father with lively feelings and an in an intimate relationship. We are to acknowledge His love for us and live our lives as an expression of our love for Him.

II. Prayer to the Son that gives us undeserved blessing, “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor 13:14

It wasn’t the Father that laid down His life for us. “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us.” 1 Joh 3:16 we must express our love and appreciation to Jesus for giving His life for us. We should never tire of saying to Jesus, that is, praying to Jesus “Thank you Jesus for dying for me.” If we can talk to the Father we can talk to Jesus.

We have been called into fellowship with Jesus. “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Co 1:9 Prayer is that fellowship. Fellowship is sharing what we have in common. When we talk with Jesus about what He has done for us and how much we appreciate it and love Him, we are in fellowship with Him.

Jesus is simultaneously our Prophet, our Priest, and our King. We have communion with him as our Prophet, He teaches us by his Spirit. We consider him as our High Priest who is our advocate and intercessor with the Father, and we put our petitions into His hands, to be offered up by Him, perfumed with the much incense of His mediation. We acknowledge Him as our King and submit to His government. We seek the coming of His kingdom in all its power and sovereignty.

Saints have such communion and fellowship with Christ in His offices, that we have in some sense a share in them; that is, we are made by Him prophets, priests, and kings; prophets to teach and instruct others, and kings and priests unto God and his Father. “And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Rev 1:5,6 this gives us great need to pray to and fellowship with Jesus.

III. Prayer to the Spirit that has been sent to us, “and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.” 2 Cor 13:14

True praying is in the power of the Holy Spirit. 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 it seems very reasonable to ask the Holy Spirit to do what He has come to do and what we must have Him to do for us.

When we need guidance we should claim the ministry of the Holy Spirit and ask for His guidance. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.” Joh 16:13

The Holy Spirit was sent to be our helper, one who strengthens us. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” Joh 14:16 so we pray to Him for the strength we need to serve God.

“Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us” Rom 12:6 We should pray to the Holy Spirit to help us know and use our gift.

In Galatians we have named the fruit of the Spirit, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Gal 5:22,23 These things should be objects of prayer and since they are produced by the Spirit we should ask the Spirit to produce them and cultivate them in us.

Since “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 it is entirely appropriate for us to ask the Spirit to help us in our prayer life.

Since He is the Spirit of adoption, we can pray to Him to make us to be good children. We “have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Rom 8:15

Let’s not forget that we are praying to a tri-person God. We have not begun to understand the infinite and Divine riches we have in having a God like our God.

It might be good if we were to segment our prayer time (personal or corporate), isolating specified times to pray to and communion with each person of the Trinity.

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.

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Praying in the Name of Christ

Praying in Jesus’ name is not just saying the words “in Jesus’ name” or “in Christ’s name” in our prayers, nor closing our prayers with these words. Some think that their prayer would be ineffective without this phrase attached at the end. The words are not magical nor a secret pass code or an expression that especially gets God’s attention. Never do we find a command to say “in Jesus name” in our prayers. The only time this idea is used is in Eph 5:19-20 “always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” Here Paul is giving directions as to how the Ephesian church should conduct itself.

“In John 14-16 ‘in my name’ is used in connection with prayer in three different ways. First, there are reverences to asking the Father in Jesus’ name:... ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.’ 16:23... Second, one text refers to asking Jesus himself in Jesus’ name ...’If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.’ 14:14. Third, there’s a statement that the Father gives answers to prayer ‘in Jesus’ name’: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. ‘In My name’...Taken together the three groups of verses show that in my name somehow conditions prayer offered to both the Father and the Lord Jesus.” The God Who Hears, Bingham Hunter, p 193 Three things are done in Jesus name: 1.We ask the Father, 2. We ask Jesus Himself, 3. The Father gives. Surely this is something more basic than a simple formula. The context is John 14-16 and is our Lord’s final discourse where He is giving them their last instruction in spiritual things.

To pray in the name we must be abiding in a living relationship. When Jesus was on earth His command was “Follow me...” now while He is temporarily in Heaven the command is “Abide in me...” Abiding in Christ is a spiritual relationship that we have with Jesus, also the Father and the Spirit. It is based in the fact that we are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ and regenerated by the Holy Spirit so as to be holy in His sight and alive with a love for God.

Just as the branch of a vine or tree cannot bear fruit by itself so we cannot be fruitful unless we abide; that is stay in communion with our vine Jesus. Not to abide has serious consequences (Jn 15:6), but to abide makes us fruitful and we have the promise, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you” Jn 15:7 We cannot ask in Jesus’ name if we are not abiding in Jesus. So the condition of asking in Jesus’ name, and getting whatsoever we ask, is abiding in Him.

To pray in the name we must be abiding in the Triune God. Jesus references each member of the Trinity: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him...But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things...”14:23-25. “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

In chapter 15:7 Jesus says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” In chapter 16:23,24 Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”

To pray in the name we must be abiding in obedience. The context of Jn 14-16 seems abundantly clear that asking “in Jesus’ name” is a command for the child of God who is in obedience and fellowship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is what abiding in Christ is, living in obedience and communing with our God. When we live like this, our hearts are close to God’s and we can’t bear the thought of doing anything displeasing to Him. Our wills are surrendered to Him and we cannot want anything but His will, and when we pray we can ask what ever we want and He will do it. When one thinks of the benefits of such an intimate life with God, it doesn’t seem like a sacrifice at all. Before God ever answers a prayer we are so immensely blest that we accept what ever He does.

“The name represents the person; to ask in the Name is to ask in full union of interest and life and love with Himself, as one who lives in and for Him....when the Name of Jesus has become the power that rules my life, its power in prayer with God will be seen too...It is not to the lips but to the life God looks to see what the Name is to us....‘in my Name’ has its own safeguard. It is a spiritual power which no one can use further than he obtains the capacity for, by his living and acting in that Name...O come, and let us learn to pray in the Name of Jesus...O awake, and use the name of Jesus to open the treasures of heaven for this perishing world ” With Christ in the School of Prayer, Andrew Murrary, p 191-2.

“To pray in the Name of Christ is to pray as one who is at one with Christ, whose mind is the mind of Christ, whose desires are the desires of Christ, and whose purpose is one with that of Christ...prayers offered in the name of Christ are scrutinized and sanctified by His nature, His purpose, and His will. Prayer is endorsed by the Name, when it is in harmony with the character, mind, desire, and purpose of the Name.” Samuel Chadwick

Prayer is going into the secret place of the Most High and abiding under the shadow of the Almighty. Ps 91:1

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Jesus Teaching on Prayer

“He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceases, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples’” Luke 11:1 Some have said that prayer cannot be taught, it must be learned by experience. Jesus said nothing like this. When asked to teach prayer, He immediately began to do so in Luke 11:1-13.

Jesus is the Greatest Teacher

Jesus identified Himself as a “Teacher”. Today we hype the “Preacher,” “Pastor,” and “Evangelist” but seldom do we recognize the “Teacher.” Human nature goes for show more than know. Jesus was the greatest teacher.He taught both by lip and life. His life was one that frequently sent Him into seclusion. He was seen on His knees and He allowed Himself to be heard; for example, the intercessory prayer in John 17. He was qualified most by His Holy character. He knew His subject and His students completely and accurately. In the great commission Jesus said “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you...” Ma 28:19,20 He commanded “...that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.” Luke 18:1 So we are expected to teach the subject of prayer. Parents teach children, pastors teach members, mature believers teach young believers.

Jesus taught the Greatest Lessons

We must be sincere, and not have vain motives. Mat 6:5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.”

We must be humble. Luke 18:9-14 “And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

We must abide in Him. Jn 15:7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

We must obey Him. Jn 14:14,15 “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

We must have faith. Mark 11:24 “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.”

We must be right with our brother. Mat 5:23,24 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”

We must have persistence. Luke 11:5-10 “ 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.”

We must have privacy. Mat 6.6 “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.”

Prayer is the Greatest Experience

It has been said that “Theology is the Queen of the Sciences,” if that be so then “Prayer is the Queen of the Experiences.” What could be greater than a personal audience with the sovereign and holy creator of the universe.

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.

If Jesus, the perfect God - Man, felt the need of prayer, how much greater is our need for a prayer life.

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Jesus Teaches on Corporate and Answered Prayer

In Mark 11:15-25 our Lord gives some teaching on prayer: “Then they came to Jerusalem. Jesus entered the temple area and began to drive out those who were selling and buying in the temple courts. He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and the chairs of those selling doves, 16 and he would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 Then he began to teach them and said, ‘Is it not written: My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have turned it into a den of robbers!’ 18 The chief priests and the experts in the law heard it and they considered how they could assassinate him, for they feared him because the whole crowd was amazed by his teaching. 19 When evening came, they went out of the city. 20 In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered.’ 22 Jesus said to them, ‘Have faith in God. 23 I tell you the truth, if someone says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 For this reason I tell you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your sins.’”

1. Corporately -- A Rebuke v 17

Jesus rebukes the religious leaders for misusing God’s house. They had made God’s house an instrument for their own profit. He called them robbers and told them that God’s house was to be a house of prayer for all peoples. The one word that should characterize the people of God is “prayer.” The place where God’s people gather is not to be called a “house of preaching” or “a house of singing” or “a house of fellowship” or a house of anything else. The will of our Lord Jesus must be honored in the way we do Church. It is not to be used as one sees fit or for a select group but for all nations. The plan for God’s house, we know as the local church, is not limited to the Jews but has always been intended for all nations. We should not just have a prayer meeting but be a real prayer meeting that has God’s presence manifested and that any genuine Christian can feel a part of.

Our Lord gives us two requirements for answered prayer.

2. Vertically -- Faith toward God. v 22- 24

Faith is conviction or persuasion that something is true. The only way we can know God and truth is for Him to reveal Himself to us. We need to reason backwards, from effect to cause: 1. Faith is necessary to answered prayer. 2. Faith comes from God. 3. We must first go to God for faith. 4. Faith determines what we pray for. Our basic prayer should be, “God show us Yourself and what we should pray for.

“Have faith in God” in v 22 is a present tense verb meaning to be having, we should be holding on to as our possession, faith in God. Peter refers to his reader as “those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, have been granted a faith just as precious as ours.” 2 Pet 1:1

In v 24 we have four present tense verbs and one future tense verb “whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” This teaches us that a life of consistent and continuous believing prayer will result in having what we ask for. “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Mat 21:22

3. Horizontally -- Forgiveness toward man. v 25

Forgiveness of our brother or neighbor is necessary for God to answer our prayer. Jesus said “Whenever you stand praying.” Could this be a reference to corporate prayer when one stands to pray so the others can join in? If this is the case, then this exhortation is directed toward corporate prayer, the very thing He rebuked the people for not having. He continues in v 25 “If you have anything against anyone forgive him.” Before the one praying can ask for forgiveness of his own sin against God, he must forgive the one that has sinned against him. Neither our private nor our corporate prayer life can prosper when we have an unforgiving spirit towards those that have done us wrong.

Yes, they don’t deserve it but, then, neither do we deserve God’s forgiveness. God wants us to follow His example or in Peter’s words “partake of the Divine nature” 2 Peter 1:4 and forgive others that do not deserve to be forgiven as He has forgiven us. Not to do so has serious implications, even to the point of bringing the fact of our salvation into question. “So that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your sins.” Anyone who understands the great need we have for forgiveness from an infinitely holy and sovereign God will not risk losing it by not forgiving others. A person that will not forgive his neighbor evidences that he does not understand forgiveness and does not possess God’s forgiveness for himself. “Evidently God's willingness to forgive is limited by our willingness to forgive others. This is a solemn thought for all who pray. Recall the words of Jesus in Mat 6:12,14,15 “and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors…14 For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins.” A.T. Robertson

Our relationship to others is important enough that we should make it a specific matter of prayer that we ask God to reveal to us any relationship or attitude that would hinder our praying, especially in relation to the corporate prayer meeting. We will not have the manifest presence of God in our meetings when we have unforgiving attitudes to our brothers.

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How the Spirit Enables Us to Pray

by Thomas Boston (revised)

It is by the help of the Holy Spirit that we are able to pray: Gal 4:6, "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’" Rom 8:26, "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

There Are Two Kinds of Prayers.

First, A prayer that is the result of one’s own knowledge and gift of utterance. This is bestowed on many reprobates, and that gift may be useful to others, and to the church. But as it is merely of that sort, it is not accepted, nor does Christ put it in before the Father for acceptance.

Secondly, There is a prayer brought about in men by the work of the Holy Spirit, Zech. 12:10, "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication," and that is the only acceptable prayer to God. James 5:16, "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." The word "effective" is from the Greek word "inwrought." Right praying is praying in the Spirit. It is a gale blowing from heaven, the breathing of the Spirit in the saints, that carries them out in the prayer, and which comes the length to the throne of God Himself.

Spirit Helps Us to Pray Two Ways

1. As a teaching and instructing Spirit, furnishing proper matter of prayer, causing us to know what we pray for, Rom. 8:26, enlightening the mind to understand our needs, and those of others that we should pray for. The Spirit brings to our remembrance these things, suggesting them to us according to the Word, together with the promises of God, on which prayer is grounded, John 14:26, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." It is normal for the Spirit to lead the saints to pray for things they had known of but sometimes the saints are carried out in prayer for things which they had no view of before.

2. As a quickening, exciting Spirit, Rom. 8:26, “...the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.” or enables or qualifies the soul with praying graces and affections, working in the praying person a sense of needs, faith, fervency, humility, urgency etc. Psa 10:17, "Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear," God helps us bring to Him the prayer He can answer.

The man may go to his knees in a very unprepared attitude for prayer, yet the Spirit blows and he is helped. It is for this reason the Spirit is said to make intercession for us, namely, in so far as he teaches and quickens, puts us in a praying frame of mind, and draws out our petitions, as it were, putting them into the language which the Mediator presents.

Special Giftedness in Prayer?

This praying with the help of the Spirit is particular to the saints, yet they do not have that help at all times, nor always in the same measure; for sometimes the Spirit, being grieved, departs, and they are left in a withered condition. So there is great need for a breathing and filling of the Spirit, when we are to go to the duty of prayer. If there isn’t a gale blowing in the sails, we will tug at the oars but heartlessly and with little result.

Let no man think that a readiness and flowing of expression in prayer, is always the effect of the Spirit's assistance. For that may be the product of a gift, and of the common operations of the Spirit, removing the impediment of the exercise of it. On the other hand it is evident one may be scarce of words, and have groans instead of them, while the Spirit helps him to pray, Rom. 8:26. Neither is every flood of emotions in prayer, the effect of the Spirit of prayer. There are of those which puff up a man, but make him never a whit more holy, tender in his walk, etc. But the influences of the Spirit are humbling and sanctifying. Hence, says David, "But who am I, and who are my people, That we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You," 1 Chr 29:14; and, says the apostle, "We have no confidence in the flesh," Phil. 3:3.

All true prayer is exercised in the sphere of the Holy Spirit, motivated and empowered by Him. Eph 6:18

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

It is when we have failed and know not “what prayers to offer” or “in what way,” that the Holy Spirit is promised as our Helper. The Kneeling Christian

Come, Holy Spirit, come;Let Thy bright beams arise;Dispel the darkness from our minds,And open all our eyes.

Convince us of our sin;Then lead to Jesus' blood,And to our wondering view reveal The secret love of God.

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Praying in the Holy Ghost.”

“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith,

praying in the Holy Ghost,” Jude 20

Rom 8:26,27 “And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

Mark the grand characteristic of true prayer—'In the Holy Ghost.'

“The seed of acceptable devotion must come from heaven's storehouse. Only the prayer which comes from God can go to God. We must shoot the Lord's arrows back to Him. That desire which He writes upon our heart will move His heart and bring down a blessing, but the desires of the flesh have no power with Him. Praying in the Holy Ghost is praying in fervency. Cold prayers ask the Lord not to hear them. Those who do not plead with fervency, plead not at all. As well speak of lukewarm fire as of lukewarm prayer—it is essential that it be red hot. It is praying perseveringly. The true suppliant gathers force as he proceeds, and grows more fervent when God delays to answer. The longer the gate is closed, the more vehemently does he use the knocker, and the longer the angel lingers the more resolved is he that he will never let him go without the blessing. Beautiful in God's sight is tearful, agonizing, unconquerable importunity. It means praying humbly, for the Holy Spirit never puffs us up with pride. It is His office to convince of sin, and so to bow us down in contrition and brokenness of spirit. We shall never sing Gloria in excelsis except we pray to God De profundis: out of the depths must we cry, or we shall never behold glory in the highest. It is loving prayer. Prayer should be perfumed with love, saturated with love—love to our fellow saints, and love to Christ. Moreover, it must be a prayer full of faith. A man prevails only as he believes. The Holy Spirit is the author of faith, and strengthens it, so that we pray believing God's promise. O that this blessed combination of excellent graces, priceless and sweet as the spices of the merchant, might be fragrant within us because the Holy Ghost is in our hearts! Most blessed Comforter, exert Thy mighty power within us, helping our infirmities in prayer. (Morning & Evening, C.H. Spurgeon October 8 PM)

Lu 11:13 “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask (keep asking) him?”

Eph 1:13 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,”

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How does the Spirit Help us in Prayer

Jesus said “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever, ...But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.” John 14:16 , 26

The word “comforter” means “a helper, succourer, aider, assistant” There isn’t any place where we need help more than in the place of prayer. This is true both in our closet prayer life and in our corporate or group prayer experience. When Jesus answered the disciples request “Lord, teach us to pray,” He climaxed His answer with “ how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” The Holy Spirit us a variety of way to help us in our prayer life.

1. He introduces us to the Presence of the Father.

Eph 2:14-18 “For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in the flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace; and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and he came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh: for through him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father.”

2. He overcomes our reluctance, working in us the desire to pray.

Zech 12:9-10 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.”

3. He imparts a sense of sonship and acceptance that creates freedom and confidence in the presence of God. Gal 4:6 “And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. So that thou art no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”

Rom 8:14-16 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God:”

4. He helps us in the ignorance of our minds and infirmities of our bodies so that we can pray as we ought. Rom 8:26 “And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered;”

5. He takes our imperfect prayers and puts them in a form acceptable to our Heavenly Father.

Rom 8:27 “and he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

6. He lays special burdens of prayer on the believer who is walking in fellowship with Him.

Dan 9:1-3 “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans, in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years whereof the word of Jehovah came to Jeremiah the prophet, for the accomplishing of the desolations of Jerusalem, even seventy years. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.”

Principles and Practice of Prayer, Ivan French p 99.

Phil 2:13 “for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure.”

O watch and fight, and pray.

The battle ne'er give o'er.

Renew it boldly every day,

And help divine implore.

Ne'er think the victory won,

Nor lay thine armor down;

The work of faith will not be done,

Till thou obtain thy crown.

Fight on, my soul.....

George Heath

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The Cry of the Spirit: Abba Father

Gal 4:4-7 “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.”

There are only two other occurrences of “Abba Father” in the N.T. The parallel passage in Rom 8:15 “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” and in Mk 14:36 “And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.”

The word adoption (whuiothesia) as sons is a compound word of whuios son and thesis a placing and refers to a man's giving the status of sonship to someone who is not his natural child. In the Roman world adoption was an honored custom that gave special dignity and family membership to those who were not born into a family. Often a wealthy, childless man would adopt a young slave, who would trade his slavery for sonship, with all its privileges. God confirms believers as His adopted sons by giving the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of His Son. A human Father cannot give his own nature to an adopted child, but God can and does by sending His Holy Spirit to dwell within the hearts of believers.

The word translated “cry” is krazo occurs 59 times and means: 1) to croak, of the cry of a raven, hence, to cry out, cry aloud, vociferate 2) to cry out aloud, speak with a loud voice. All 59 occurrences refer to a verbal and sometimes an unpleasant outcry. This verse is not referring to an attitude or feeling of sonship, but vocal and energetic expression of our heart’s feeling to God. This has special significance to both our secret praying and corporate praying. In both we should be verbal and audible.

Like the term “In Jesus Name” which is not a formula that we say at the end of our prayer to make them more answerable, so the term “Abba, Father” is not a term that we begin our prayers with that sanctions what we are about to pray. “In Jesus Name” refers to the authority in which we pray and “Abba, Father” refers to the relationship in which we pray.

“Exhaustive research by biblical scholars-particularly I. Jeremias W. Marchel-has demonstrated that in all the huge literature of ancient Judaism there is not one instance of God being addressed in prayer with the word abba. He was called ‘The Lord Almighty,’ ‘The Holy One,’ ‘Sovereign of the World’ and many other exalted titles, but a word like abba was too personal, too familiar and intimate to be appropriate. The Lord was high and lifted up, the incomparable One. He was to be approached with reverence and awe. To call him ‘Daddy’ was unthinkable blasphemy. Yet Jesus prayed like this all the time.” The God Who Hears, W. Bingham Hunter, p 97

Prayer is the exercise of a relationship. When a child 3 years of age wants to talk to his parents, he simply talks in his own childlike way. The child does not reason within himself, since I can not talk like my parents or as good as my older brother or sister I will not talk until I am able to talk in a proper way. It is the relationship that motivates the child to talk and then it is experience that produces the ability. Do parents encourage the child to wait until he has sufficient ability to talk? Not a chance of that, the parent is greatly blest by the childlike efforts to communicate. This is one of the most memorable things of childhood. So it is in our relationship with God.

The Holy Spirit works in this crying, Abba Father, in two ways:

1. By inclining our wills and stirring our affections of love, faith, and delight. Phil 2:13 “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

2. By enabling us to exercise these affections in vocal prayer, that is speaking out of the abundance of the heart. We need both aspects of this ministry of the Holy Spirit. Rom 8:26 “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;”

He is acting in us, and we our acting by him. The act of “crying”, is caused by the Holy Spirit though realized in the believers vocal praying. He excites, encourages, and assists us to call God our Father. This we experience in the secret internal crying of our soul and of an open outward invocation of Him as our Father with much confidence, freedom, and boldness.

“Abba represents the essentials of the new relationship with God which Jesus offered men and women who believe on his name.

From the Father’s side, abba implies many things:

(1) his mercy, compassion and love for the child;

(2) his personal interest and consistent concern for its good;

(3) his willingness to provide the needs of and give protection to the child; and

(4) the use of his mature knowledge, judgment and wisdom in guiding and caring for the child.

On the child’s lips, abba signifies:

(1) an implicit willingness to love, honor, and respect the Father;

(2) an awareness of dependency on the Father;

(3) a sense of confidence in the Father’s judgment and trust in his integrity and abilities; and

(4) ready obedience to the Father’s desires and will, with corresponding acceptance of the Father’s right and responsibility to discipline for the child’s good,

In short, abba signifies the essence of what it means to have a personal relationship with God.” The God Who Hears, W. Bingham Hunter, p 98

This helps us understand the reason that our Lord in Lk 11:13 said “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

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The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with Groanings”

Rom 8:22-27 “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. The ultimate prayer experience to have the Holy Spirit pray through us.”

To “groan” here is “ to express grief by inarticulate or semi-articulate sounds” Note the three groanings in this context. Look at them as three concentric circles. 1. v. 22 “the whole creation groans” All parts of creation and especially humans, saint and sinner, feel the effect of sin. 2. v 23 “even we ourselves groan within ourselves” The child of God feels with greater intensity the ravages of sin. 3. v 26 “the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” Seeing the first two groans explains the phrase “in the same way” The creation groans, the believer groans, and thirdly the join with us and groans. The praying child of God has companionship and help in this groaning that characterizes life in this world. A groan comes not from the lips but from the heart. When we are praying in and with the Spirit it is from our heart with great passion. The psalmist said “I am benumbed and badly crushed; I groan because of the agitation of my heart.” Ps 38:8

“The entire structure of the passage in the original shows that the ‘intercession’ of the Spirit is not aside from us, as that of our High Priest; but that it is within us, mingling his energies with our own, and thus bearing with us the burdens too heavy to be borne alone. His work is entirely subjective, bringing the intercession of our Lord above into the desires and petitions of the Christian below; whereby they become the intercessions of the Spirit, who thus blends his Advocacy with that of Christ himself.” Theology of Prayer, B.M. Palmer, p 320

It is not that God needs us but that he desires to use us and our praying. He is the first cause of all things and He also uses secondary causes and means to accomplish His plan. In His praying through us He quickens and uses our individual powers of will, intellect, and affection. These are God’s infinitely loving desires finding expression through finite and human channels.

In this process of groaning there will be leading out in prayer for objects and person that otherwise would have been neglected, such spirit of prayer will come upon us just as there is need, and may sometimes even seem to be at the most unlikely time and place. How limitless are the possibilities of prayer when we have such a mighty, loving Helper! How certain we may be of the answer when He breathes the prayer through us! What wonderful fellowship this kind of prayer gives! We can only realize His ideal for our prayer-life by abiding in Him, and trusting Him moment by moment to pray through us with His own mighty intercessions. C.H. Spurgeon

“Though the infirmities of Christians are many and great, so that they would be overpowered if left to themselves, yet the Holy Spirit supports them. The Spirit, as an enlightening Spirit, teaches us what to pray for; as a sanctifying Spirit, works and stirs up praying graces; as a comforting Spirit, silences our fears, and helps us over all discouragements. The Holy Spirit is the spring of all desires toward God, which are often more than words can utter. The Spirit who searches the hearts, can perceive the mind and will of the spirit, the renewed mind, and advocates his cause. The Spirit makes intercession to God, and the enemy prevails not.” Matthew Henry

Even as Solomon built the temple he did not himself cut the timbers and carve the stone. He caused others to do the work. So the Holy Spirit causes us to pray. It is Him and it is us at the same time. When Solomon built the temple the stones were cut out far away from the temple structure. “The house, while it was being built, was built of stone prepared at the quarry, and there was neither hammer nor axe nor any iron tool heard in the house while it was being built.” 1 Kings 6:7 While our house or life of prayer is being built, by the Holy Spirit, we do not recognize the work as it is done quite and in secret. This is the way of the Spirit. He does great and powerful things in mysterious and subtle ways.

The Holy Spirit Himself intercedes for us, by causing us to intercede; He indites our prayers for us, not in a book, but in our hearts; He shows us our need, He stirs us up to prayer, He supplies us with arguments, puts words into our mouths, enlarges our hearts, makes faith strong in prayer, He enables us to come to God as our Father; and gives us liberty and boldness in His presence. This is done “with groanings too deep for words;” not that the Spirit of God groans, but He stirs up groans in the saints; which suppose a burden on us, and our sense of it: and these are said to be “unutterable;” saints, under his influence, praying silently, without a voice, as Hannah did in 1 Sam 1:13 “As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard.”

It is the working of the Holy Spirit that makes our praying successful. We can never be successful in our own energies. God must do the work and He will do it through us. The prayer that comes from Heaven will succeed in reaching back to Heaven.

Surely our Lord had this work of the Holy Spirit in mind when He climaxed His teaching on prayer with “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Lk 11:13

He is in us to inspire our desires and longings, to quicken our minds and hearts, and giving us prayers, to pray them through us. All effectual prayer is that which the Holy Sprit prays through us.

If the Spirit prays in us, shall we not share His “groanings” in prayer? The Kneeling Christian

In all states of dilemma or of difficulty, prayer is an available source. The ship of prayer may sail through all temptations, doubts and fears, straight up to the throne of God; and though she may be outward bound with only griefs, and groans, and sighs, she shall return freighted with a wealth of blessings! C. H. Spurgeon

You who never know what a groan is, or a falling tear, are destitute of vital godliness.

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Related Topics: Prayer