Spiritual Discipline of Prayer #2 (10-10-20)
This is our second week on the spiritual discipline of prayer, and I pray both your reading, and last week’s study, are helping you grow in this vital practice.
Today, we will continue going through the Lord’s Prayer and talk about the other two areas of a balanced prayer life.
Matthew 6:11 “Give us this day our daily bread”
This brings up the third area of a balanced prayer life: ASK!
Jesus models for us that we are to go to our Father and ASK Him for our needs. The problem is we often, in sin, want God’s things more than we want God, so we treat Him like a genie in a lamp or a rich grandpa in the sky.
So, about what should we pray?
Philippians 4:6 (NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.
All things exist from God and happen through Him and for Him. So, if all things exist from God and happen by his sovereign decree, then why would we not engage Him in everything?
We need to ASK more than we do.
Matthew 7:7-8 “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 the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
First: Know your Father in heaven loves to hear and respond to His children. What is cool about praying for the little things is it is a beautiful walk you are sharing with God in the daily ins-and-outs of life. It is a recognition that He is able in all things.
A good reminder when bringing your request to God is to bring your need, not your greed. Now, how often do you find yourself wanting to talk to God in prayer but do not know what to say? When this happens, pray Scripture! Jesus prayed Scripture from the cross, quoting Psalm 22:1.
Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? …
Scripture is also how God speaks to us! This is the beautiful way we hear from our Father in heaven who loves us.
Back to the Lord’s Prayer:
Matthew 6:13 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Here we discover another thing for which to pray. This is a prayer for ongoing sanctification—to grow away from evil, sin, and selfishness. It is a prayer that acknowledges that God is sovereign and over all things. It is a prayer to be strengthened and to be kept from sin and temptation. Do you pray before hardships come so that you are prepared for God appointed suffering and strengthened in your heart against sin and idolatry?
Why should we ASK?
You can be motivated to prayer because:
- You think you deserve what God can give you. Often, people who are good at praying do this because they have a confidence in God’s obligation to fulfill His promises based on a good track record or righteous deeds.
- You have a desperation to have an over-desire fulfilled. When good things become ultimate things, there is a loss of inner contentment. There are some things that become such a must-have (such a non-negotiable) that we will prevail in constant prayer out of pure anxiety and fear to have or to keep them.
Or we can be motivated to prayer because God calls us to lean on Him and do life with Him.
In this, our hearts lose their self-sufficiency! We are dependent on Him. In this, our hearts are welled up with praise as we rejoice in Him being the Author of our blessings. If we pray about more of life, we will rejoice more about the basic things of life and not just the big things.
Why should we pray?
Because He wants us to, and He will answer! Do you trust Him when you pray? Do you trust that He will answer? It is important that you see God as faithful and that He will hear and answer your prayer!
Three ways God always answers our prayers: Sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes later. We need to always remember that prayer is answered in God’s time and in His way, not ours.
Luke 1:13 (NLT) But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son and you are to name him John.”
If it’s not fast enough for you, you need to stop and remember and be ok with the fact that it is going to happen when God wants it to happen! He can do anything!
We must have confidence, in Him, that nothing is too big for GOD.
1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
For whom should we pray?
Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread
“Our” is not just “me” and “my”. It is “us” and “our.” Community and society—those who do not have enough to eat. Acknowledge all I have is from God—it is His provision.
Jesus also teaches us to:
Pray for our enemies.
Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”
Pray for our friends:
Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
We need to be praying for each other:
When appropriate, lay a hand on his/her shoulder and pray. Why lay hands? Because it makes the prayer stronger? Nope! Because it is a sign of love, intimacy, affection, care, and a sign of community.
Pray for strangers:
Most people I ask to pray for, are very open to it. Prayer can be a great tool to love on others. You know Jesus, and they don’t. Praying for them is a great act of love.
How should we come to God in prayer?
Reverently, but boldly in prayer:
Hebrews 4:16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
In John 12:27-28 Jesus says, “My soul is troubled.”
Do you know it is ok to be open and honest with God when you are struggling?
When should we pray? Can I ask God too much?
Matthew 7:7 (NLT) “Keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”
Do you see the true value and importance of prayer?
Let me ask you, how often do you pray? This is a sign of how powerful you believe prayer is.
Consistent prayer is key! To teach us this, Jesus told this story in Luke 18.
Luke 18:1-8 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
If you know something is in God’s will, keep praying; do not lose heart; keep interceding; keep going to the source.
Finally, the fourth part of a balanced prayer life is YIELDING PRAYER!
After we have praised Him, thanked Him, confessed and repented, asked Him for the needs of our life and longings of our heart, we recognize that He is the One with the best perspective to the situation we are asking about.
So, we must YIELD TO HIM—TRUST IN HIM.
This is our asking for God’s will. Jesus models this when He says, “… your will be done …”
We have talked a lot about what prayer is. Prayer is our opportunity to recognize God is in control. Submitting to that control is to ask for things with the knowledge that the outcome is His to decide, and that is what we want in the end!
Matthew 6:10 “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Stop for a second and just think about what Jesus is thinking about as He says, “Your kingdom come …” In Christ, we are residents of God’s eternal heavenly kingdom. We live for a new King. What this means is we make kingdom decisions and have kingdom desires. We have eternal eyes for things in instead of temporary eyes.
So, the question is: What does YIELDING prayer look like as kingdom citizens?
- Solitude—enjoying time with God
Not just yielding prayer but yielding lifestyle. One that enjoys slowing down and getting alone with God in prayer and spending time with Him. Solo time in God’s word and in prayer is a form of yielding. Really devoting time to God and recognizing He is in control and He is the power source for living and the feast our hearts long to enjoy.
- Satisfaction—God is our greatest desire and prize, so our prayers reflect this priority.
What we ask for and plead for reveals the worship of our heart. If God’s creations (money, things, house, car, skills, status, friends, family, etc.) are the deepest affections of our heart, then that is what we will ask for and long for from God—but that is idolatry.
However, if God, Himself, is the deepest affection of the heart, then His glory and will is what we will ask for constantly in prayer. We will yield to Him in the tough times or when other treasures might be lost or taken because, in the end, it is God who satisfies.
We need to remember that God’s will is not always our will.
When we pray for God’s will to be done, we shouldn’t be trying to manipulate God into rubber-stamping what we have already decided to do. The Bible tells us that our hearts are wicked and “… deceitful above all things …” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Most of the time, what we want to do is not what God wants us to do.
Jesus is charging us to truly mean it when we pray, “Lord, your will be done!” He modeled this for us in the garden!
Jesus did not want to be mocked, beaten, have his flesh torn off, and suffer a slow death on a criminal’s cross, but rather than demanding His way, He prayed, “… Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42). This is a yielding prayer.
Honestly ask and then honestly yield to God who knows best. The question is: Do you truly want what God wants? Or are you just saying that?
In another moment, Jesus had a similar honest yielding!
John 12:27-28 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
Does Jesus say, “Get me out of this struggle!”? NO. He says, “Father, glorify your name.”
Yielding prayer is a huge part of the Christian life that far too many don’t truly practice enough. I pray it becomes a central part of your prayer life from this day forward.
As we draw to a close, I want to help you put the pieces together of the four main parts of Jesus’ prayer and the four parts of a balanced prayer life. They actually form an easy-to-remember acronym. It’s “P.R.A.Y.”
- Praise (adoration)—Thanking God! It is not about you, but all about God for who He is!
- Repent (confession) —Confessing sin and asking for forgiveness. Experience renewal!
- Ask (supplication) —Asking God earnestly for your needs and letting Him know your concerns.
- Yield–Leaving it in God’s hands! Trusting His deliverance and timing and wanting His will to be done.
- We exist for God’s glory. He is the greatest Treasure we can know or enjoy.
So, the authentic response of a heart that is satisfied is worship, praise, and thankfulness.
So, we Praise Him (adoration)—thanking God!
- Even though we are forgiven in Christ, we still sin and make selfish decisions when we cast our hearts onto God’s stuff above God. We need to CONFESS and REPENT and thank Him for forgiving us.
So, we Repent—agreeing with God that it was sin and rethinking our strategy for living in light of the gospel while taking a new path.
- God wants us to demonstrate faith in Him. He wants us to demonstrate our dependence upon Him. Prayer is a powerful thing. Our prayers do matter—they are not just exercises in faith.
He eagerly awaits hearing from you.
So, we Ask (supplication)—asking God earnestly for our needs and letting Him know our concerns.
- Finally, God’s view and desire is far greater and more holy than ours. To YIELD to God and trust in Him is the only way we have true peace in a world of pain and suffering.
To want His glory and fame above our safety and selfishness is always a better life.
So, we Yield—leaving it in God’s hands, trusting His deliverance and timing and wanting His will to be done.
I pray that this four-letter acronym will be a help to your growing in, and practicing, the spiritual discipline of prayer. May God be glorified in and through us as we commit to be faithful in prayer.
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC