What Actually Happens When We Pray?
Heritage, January 1, 2006
- mom has a computer.
- doesn’t understand it, doesn’t like it and so does not use it.
- Could it be that the same thing is true with prayer?
o better we understand what happens when we pray and the more we know about prayer, the more we will pray
o what actually happens when we pray?
o hope is to encourage all of us to pray more and more effectively
- different kinds of prayer. Some we understand
o prayer of confession
o most difficult - intercession and asking.
o "what happens when we pray asking - whether for others or ourselves?"
o Does God change His mind?
o If He knows what I need, why does He still want us to pray?
help us to be more bold and more accurate in our prayers.
o busy with his sheep, minding his own business and enjoying his family
o told to leave his home and family.
o "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."(Gen. 12:2,3)
o obeyed God and left for another land.
o no children
§ remembered God's promise that "
§ wondered how
§ God appeared to Him
§ Abraham prayed - Genesis 15:2, "But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?""
§ God answered one of his own children would be his heir.
§ years went by - no children.
§ Sarah suggested that he take Hagar
§ Abraham did this and Ishmael was born.
§ When Abraham was 99 years old,
§ descendent would not be Ishmael
§ seemed too much to believe,
§ when he was 100 years old, the promise was fulfilled
- took 25 years for Abraham to pray and reflect and live and pray again until he understood what God had known all along.
- Sometimes, it is not a matter of understanding, but of accepting God's will.
o garden of Gethsemane.
- one thing that happens when we pray
o something takes place in us.
§ Our understanding grows
§ our will is changed.
o struggle in prayer,
§ we pray,
§ get an impression,
§ act on the understanding we have,
§ pray some more,
§ talk to someone,
§ act on our changed understanding,
§ pray some more,
§ finally, understand and accept what God is doing.
o wanted to become equipped to do God's work.
o didn't know what kind of work,
o mission assignment.
o pastoral work
o wanted to teach.
o took about 10 years
- not one quick prayer.
- Hebrews 5:7 - "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission."
- first impression we receive may not be the complete one.
- keep on praying repeatedly until peace comes and God's way is clear.
- learn to listen to God
- see all the ways in which God speaks to us.
o audible voice
o His Word,
o direction given by others
o doors He opens and closes.
- "It is the strongly personal relation with God in which those mediators stood that underlies these intercessory prayers."
- confess and worship and approach God regularly and then in the context of a relationship with God, we will learn to pray in such a way that we will come to understand and accept the will of God in our lives.
- Daniel - a spiritually sensitive man.
- third year of Cyrus king of Persia,
- mourning, fasting and prayer.
- concerns of his prayer were the place of God’s people in the work and plans of God.
- three weeks in prayer
- Daniel 10:12, 13, - "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia."
- a spiritual battle.
o See all prayer like this
o See no prayer like this.
- there is a battle.
o Daniel 10
o Ephesians 6:12 - "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
- Our prayers are a part of the warfare.
o period of struggle and the period of Daniel's praying is both three weeks.
o Ephesians 6:13-20 - recognition of the spiritual battle,
o 6:18, - "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."
o II Corinthians 10:3-4, "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds."
- Intercessory Prayer,
- Sue Doty.
- prayer walk
- X-rated movie house, video shop and bookstore.
- prayed specifically against the evil of pornography.
- city had ordered the theatre to close down.
- Prayer was involved in a spiritual battle against evil.
- I Peter 5:8 - "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."
- II Corinthians 2:11 - "in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes."
- Lord's prayer - "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
- we pray from victory, - I John 2:14 says, "...I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one."
- Elijah - land of Sidon - home of a widow
- her son become ill and died.
- Elijah took him to his room, laid him on his bed and prayed,
- stretched himself over the boy three times
- Lord heard Elijah's cry and the boy lived.
- At the end of the chapter, - "Then the woman said to Elijah, "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your mouth is the truth."
- God hears our prayers and chooses to answer
- why he does not answer more often.
o according to his purposes & for His glory
§ in the story - so that the woman would come to understand that Elijah was God's man.
§ John 9:1-3, - "why was this man born blind? who sinned?"
§ Jesus answered, ""Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."
- may not always understand,
- learn to accept that God knows what he is doing.
o Acts 7, - Stephen's martyrdom
o A few chapters later, - Peter released from prison.
o Why did one apostle die and one live?
§ Acts 8:4, - Stephen's martyrdom, - "Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went."
§ Acts 12:24, - Peter's release, - "But the word of God continued to increase and spread."
- According to His will and to His glory, God responds to the requests we make in answer to prayer.
- Hebrews 4:16 - "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
- Matthew 6:7,8, "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."
- God is not our personal big vending machine in the sky,
- the sovereign Lord of all the earth.
- God knows what He is doing.
- Can we trust Him?
- learn to give thanks to Him for what He has done.
- 10 lepers,
- What happens when we pray?
o Sometimes we are changed.
o Sometimes we are part of a spiritual battle.
o Sometimes God agrees that the time is right to act so that His name will be glorified and a miracle takes place.
o be bold in praying and asking,
o pray out of a growing love relationship with God,
o keep on praying
o trust Him.
- Luke 18:1 - "Then Jesus told his disciples ... that they should always pray and not give up."