Changing The Way We Pray
“Changing the Way We Pray”
Focus: Story of Person Needing Prayer…Folks Praying for Obvious--Nothing
How many times do you find yourself wanting to Pray for Someone/Situation but are at a Loss as to know What to Pray? In my experience I’ve found people struggle in the area of Prayer for one of several reasons: Superficiality (God, please bless ______.) Or come with a Ready-Made Solution to Offer God (Dear Lord, please let ______ get this promotion. She needs it because….) Often we Don’t Know What to Pray because God answers in Different Ways (To Heal or Not to Heal!). And how do we pray for the Needs of the World—the Middle East; Natural Disasters & Famine/Starving Kids; Darfur… What are we to make of the Cataclysmic things seemingly taking place à the Economy fallout; Nuclear Threats by rogue nations; the Wars?
Last weekend: Launched series from Colossians on CHANGE & spoke about Changing our Priorities. Making a Decision to Put God 1st, Letting God Transform us From Inside Out.
Today à Changing the Way we PRAY. By time we walk out of here, we believe God is going to give us some Specific direction in the way we pray, esp. for others.
TS: In the Bible there are a number of Prayers recorded to Help us learn how to address God in ways that bring about Change. One such Prayer comes from 1st chapter of Colossians uttered by a man named Paul for a church in his day. Two significant things about Paul’s Model Prayer:
1. Had Deep Concern for this group of people à Being Misled by false teachers
2. He had NEVER Met them! à Praying for Total Strangers
So in this General Prayer for Christian brothers/sisters we Can Learn some Specific Applications for All those we Pray For.
Colossians 1:9-14 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Before we Get Into the Meat of What this Teaches Us about Prayer, a Couple of Things we Can Learn that Might Change the Way we Pray
· “We have not stopped Praying for you and Asking…”
This is Petitionary Prayer, or Intercessory
· God calls you/me to Pray For/Ask on Behalf Of One Another! …
o Over 100 prayers are recorded in the Bible (For: City, Deliverance, Miracles, Leaders, Forgiveness, Strength, Wisdom, a Bride!, Prosperity, Longer Life, Enemies, Healing, the Return of Christ…)
o Prayer is the Characteristic of the People of Faith – the Backbone of Anything with Eternal Significance – Our Lifeline to God!
So What Did Paul Pray For in this Model Prayer when Interceding for Others?
|What to Pray for Others|
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with à the knowledge of his will…
Ø They Would Be Filled with the Knowledge of God’s Will!
In NT Language, “to be filled with” means to “be controlled by”
· Filled with Anger = Controlled by Anger
· Filled with Jealousy = Controlled by Jealousy
· Filled with the Spirit = Controlled by the Spirit
Paul prays, then, that these Christ-followers would be Controlled by the Full Knowledge of God’s Will! (Directed – Guided by What God Wants)
(illus.) Know what MIND-SPACE is? Marketing term. Coca-Cola has a Percentage of Your Mind: When you think of Soda, what comes to mind?!
Some call it Mental Real Estate.
How much MIND-SPACE does God have in you? How much Mental Real Estate does His Will for You occupy?
God Wants You to Know His WILL. His PLANS. Did you know that? Do you believe that? God wants to bring His Friends into His counsel.
Ø Abraham – Genesis 18:16-19
Then the men got up from their meal and looked out toward Sodom. As they left, Abraham went with them to send them on their way. “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” the Lord asked. (“For Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.”)
Ø Psalm 25:14 TNIV “The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.”
NASB “The secret (counsel, intimacy) of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he will make them know his covenant.”
Ø Jesus – John 15:13-16 (There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.) I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.) You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go & produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.
Do you Believe God Wants you to Know his Will? That He Wants to Reveal…?
Eph. 5:17 “Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
PRAY for the People you know Going through a Difficult/Perplexing Time…to Gain knowledge of What God is Up To—His Will for their Circumstances. For using their Circumstances in a way that Blesses Others, Brings Glory to His Name, Gives a Testimony.
But, you ask, How do I Know How to Pray God’s Will? How do People Discover It?
è v. 9 “…God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom & understanding.” [Pause]
As we study God’s Word & as we Pray, we Discover NEW & EXCITING
Truths about God’s Will for His People!
We Understand the WILL of God through the WORD of God!
(Not ONLY way, but Primary Way)
General Will of God vs. Specific Will of God
The GENERAL Will of God for All His Children is given Clearly in Bible
The SPECIFIC Will of God for any given situation must always agree with what
He has already revealed in His Word!
The Better we know God’s General Will, the easier it will be to determine His Specific Guidance in daily life!
God doesn’t Expect you to Seek Visions/Wait for Voices. He wants you to go Deeper into His Word & thus have Greater Wisdom/Insight concerning His Will.
To “have all wisdom”—NOT to know All things, but to have All the
Wisdom necessary for making decisions & living to please God.
[(illus.) the Moral Warehouse of Principles]
(Children learn best from watching Parents…We from Stories in Life [Bible])
So Paul prayed for WHAT? That they would Be Filled with Complete Will of God,
through All Spiritual Wisdom & Understanding
|Notice WHY he prayed for this. What Happens when people Understand God’s Will?|
Verse 10 “And we pray this in order that you may
live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way”
Ø To Honor God & Please God in Every Way!
The BEST Place to Be is in the CENTER of God’s Will for Your Life!
THINK about it. When Someone KNOWS the Will of God for their Life, their
Circumstances, there’s a PEACE/FREEDOM to Operate Within. They KNOW
their Lives are Pleasing God! They are, then, FREE to Live – to Act.
Augustine: "Love God with all your heart—then do as you please."
(illus.) Study done with School Yard Children & Fence…
GraceSplashes – Kim ends with a Prayer & Bible Verse: Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.
Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
So if the WHAT we are Pray For = to Be Filled with God’s Will…
And the WHY = to Please God in Every Way (so they can Choose in Peace)
Then HOW are our Prayers for Others to Turn Out?
IOW, What Does It Look Like When We’ve Discovered God’s Will & are
Living in that Peace of Pleasing Him in Every Way?
|How to Pray Specifically|
There are 4 Specific things Paul says it Looks Like to Please God in What We Do:
1. bearing fruit in every good work
2. growing in the knowledge of God
3. Being Strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience
4. Joyfully Giving Thanks to the Father for Saving You in Christ
1. Bearing Fruit in Every Good Work
Ø For Producing Good Things Out of Every Circumstance!
“Bearing Fruit” – Of all the Biblical Metaphors for God’s People (Body – Temple – Priesthood – Bride – Sheep/Flock) It’s the Metaphor of the VINE & BRANCHES that reveals God Has Made Us to Bear Fruit for His Glory.
And that Fruit means Good Works. Doing Good.
One Thing we Know about God = He is Able to Produce GOOD out of BAD
² Joseph – “You meant it for evil; but God meant it for Good!”
² Romans 8:28 – “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
(illus.) Popular Teenager Finds God through Tragedy
PRAY for Whatever the Situation—Family Member with Cancer – Friend facing Divorce – Unjust Situations in our Community/Around the World—PRAY that God would Produce Good Things out of otherwise Terrible Circumstances. That those Believers who are Involved would Bear Fruit for God in this.
2. Growing in the Knowledge of God
Ø For Growth in Knowing God!
What do you say when invited to pray for a situation you don’t know how to pray?
o In hospital with someone facing surgery with no guarantees it will work
o For family who has a teenager making bad choices
o Parents being told their child will have a significant birth defect
One of the Main Things I’ve learned to pray = “God, bring this family closer to One Another and closer to You.” [“Use these circumstances to draw us close…”]
(illus.) John Ward, Leslie Kio’s Dad, died unexpectedly. Bob Finch’s words to grieving parents: “God, too, knows what it’s like to lose a son. You know something of the heart of God more than the rest of us do. You are closer to God’s heart right now than ever before.”
Growing in our Knowledge of God = 1) Learning More Accurately Who God is,
2) Getting to Know God More & More
God is after One Thing: Our HEARTS. For us to Know-Enjoy-Experience Him!
PRAY that through the Circumstances/Difficulties others are facing, they will Draw Nearer to God/Know Him in a Way they Did Not Before/Could Not Without
3. Being Strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience
Ø For Strength to be Patient & Persevere!
Wanna Know what to Pray for People? Strength! Patience! Perseverance!
Paul reminds us here There is a Power at our Disposal that is Unlike any other Force anywhere. Uses 2 different words: “power” & “might”
“Power” (dunamis – ‘dynamite’) = spiritual vitality
“Might” (kratos) = power that overcomes resistance
We usually think of God’s Glorious Power being revealed in Great Feats of Daring —parting the Red Sea, God using a few hundred men to overthrow a vast army, Paul raising the dead. But the emphasis here is on Christian Character.
This God-Given STRENGTH produces Great Endurance & Patience.
These are Translated differently in different Bible versions; but Difference =
“Patience” – “Endurance when Circumstances are difficult”
“Endurance (Perseverance/Longsuffering)” – “Self-Restraint”
“Patience” has to do primarily with Circumstances
“Endurance” has to do with People
“Patience” = Not Easily Succumbing Under Suffering. The Power to Cope & be
Content in All Circumstances. It is the Opposite of Complaining, Grumbling.
“Endurance” = Self-Restraint which does not Hastily Retaliate
A Lack of Patience often results in Losing Heart – being Despondent
A Lack of Endurance often leads to Wrath or Revenge
(illus.) Robert Coles shares a beautiful example of endurance in his description of the experience of Tessie, one of four African-American girls who initiated school desegregation in New Orleans in 1961. They were six years old, and for months federal marshals had to escort them to their school. Each morning they endured adults spitting out obscenities at them as they were led through a crowd of protesters. More than once, someone in the mob yelled out a death threat.
One day when Tessie was worn down by the strain and tried to beg off going back to school, her grandmother gave her an inspiring pep talk. She lamented that she could not go with her and “call those people to my side, and read to them from the Bible, and tell them, remind them, that He’s up there, Jesus, watching over all of us — it don’t matter who you are and what your skin color is.” At this point she stopped briefly to swat at a bee that was buzzing around the kitchen. She picked it up still alive; but instead of squashing it, she took it outside and let it free.
She then connected her rescue of the bee to her granddaughter’s situation.
You see, my child, you have to help the good Lord with His world! He put us here — and He calls us to help Him out. That bee doesn’t belong here; it belongs out there. You belong in that McDonogh School, and there will be a day when everyone knows that, even those poor folks — Lord, I pray for them! — those poor, poor folks who are out there shouting their heads off at you. You’re one of the Lord’s people; He’s put His Hand on you. He’s given a call to you, a call to service — in His name! There’s all those people, scared out of their minds, and by the time you’re ready to leave the McDonogh School they’ll be calmed down, and they won’t be paying you no mind at all, child, and I’ll guarantee you, that’s how it will be!
The grandmother’s lesson sank in. Tessie herself said, “If I can help the good Lord and do a good job, then it’ll all be okay, and I won’t be wasting my time.”
Patience IS NOT Complacency! It is “Endurance in Action”
Not Sitting in Rocking Chair waiting for God to do something;
It’s Soldier on Battlefield Keeping On when Going Gets Tough;
Runner on Racetrack Refusing to Give Up when it Hurts!
Our TENDENCY is to QUIT when Circumstances/People become Difficult.
Remember This Quote (Dr. Raymond Edman, late president of Wheaton College):
“It is always too soon to quit.”
PRAY for People to be Strengthened by God’s Mighty Power so they Will Endure when Things Get TOO TOUGH to go on! Pray for their Patience & Perseverance.
4. Joyfully Giving Thanks to the Father, (who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.)
Ø For a Grateful Heart in Seeing the Big Picture!
Sometimes what People Need more than anything else is to Take a Step Back and view Things from a Different Perspective. To See from a Higher Vantage Point. To place their Circumstances in the Context of What God is Doing, or Has Done For Them.
When Peter/John tried to do Right Thing by introducing people to God’s Son who could Completely Change Their Lives if they asked Him to, instead an uproar broke out and in the end they were Thrown into Prison. After an angel miraculously released them, they returned to preach, but then were brought before the local court (Sanhedrin) for Questioning & Flogging.
Instead of Grumbling & Complaining for being Misunderstood/Mistreated:
The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Acts 5:41 NIV
What a Perspective!
Cindy Wall—sister of Scott Wall (not Cindy, wife). Tell Story.
Here is an email I received from Howard Porter about the experience.....
A friend and new sister in Christ, Cindy Wall went to be with the Lord yesterday, 9/24/08. That she died is not out of line with the fate that we all face. That she died suddenly in the prime of her life was a shock to many who knew and loved her. That she died while still on a spiritual high from her baptism and celebration of her relationship with her Lord Jesus Christ is the fact that brings much joy and celebration.
Cindy had been Christened as a child, but as a "new creation in Christ" she wanted to be baptized as a sign of her new faith and birth into the kingdom of God. Her insistence on the date for her baptism, 9/19/08, was because it was the anniversary of her Christening as a child. Her Pastor at Cornerstone UMC, Rusty Hutson wanted her to wait and be baptized with several other a few weeks later. That date just wouldn't work - he was to be out of town at a conference with other members of the church staff. But Cindy was insistent - that had to be the day. The thought that one of the 'techno-geeks' could work out some sort of remote hook-up encouraged her even more. So, with the assistance of technology provided by Skype, a hotel exercise room in Indiana as the 'pulpit' and the backyard pool of her best friend Kim Scarborough, Cindy was baptized that Friday wearing a tee shirt bearing the words "My Prince Will Come for Me."
The Sunday after, in our community group, she shared part of what the baptism meant to her. As a single female, she wanted to be married and live 'happily ever after' with the man of her dreams. As a new creation in Christ, she said that she was at peace about 'the marriage thing' because she knew that she was now married to the THE man who would provide for her and love her regardless.
Yesterday, Cindy left this world, headed for the honeymoon with her Prince who came for her, just as he promised.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
[Finish Story from Beginning…]
If we’re Going to Pray for Others to Give God MIND-SPACE for knowing/being directed by His Will for their Lives/Circumstances;
So that They Will HANDLE LIFE Honoring/Pleasing God in every way;
We’ll be Praying for them to Produce Fruit of Good Things from All Circumstances;
To Grow in the Knowledge of God;
To Be Strengthened with Patience/Perseverance;
To Develop Grateful Hearts – Seeing from a Bigger Picture!
Now, you have people on your heart right now you’re concerned about. How have you been praying for them?
Let’s take time this morning/evening to PRACTICE Prayer for those People & Circumstances God has laid on our hearts…
Invite you to the altar rails (both sides) for an Extended Ttime of Directed Prayer…
Suggested Prayer Points
- For God to give New Insights for their Situation to more clearly Understand His Will/Purposes for What they’re Facing. What is God up to? Want me to learn?
- What course of action would best Honor God, Please the Father, Bring Glory to His Name and a Testimony to my Friend?
- For them to See/Produce the Good out of the Bad. To regain Perspective on their situation and Trust God to work all things together for His purposes. To believe they will one day be Thanking Him for the Way He heard & answered their prayers.
- For Growing Closer to God through all this. For growing closer to Others around them.
- For Strength to Persevere. For Patience in the midst of Sufferings/Trials.
- End with a Prayer of Thanksgiving for God being on our side, Saving us for all eternity through Christ, for Forgiveness & Clean conscience, for New Life in His Family.