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Lesson 7: The Prayer-Filled Life (Part 1)

Written by: Biblical Studies Foundation    Posted on: 04/09/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

                                            Lesson 7:                                     The Prayer-Filled Life                                             (Part 1)

                                  Praying Biblically and Effectively

                                          Introduction

      One of my favorite portions of the Bible is Psalm 119. One reason is that in these 176 verses, the Psalmist       points us to the irreducible. By this I mean he focuses on the two most basic elements of our spiritual lifeùthe       Word and prayer. Just a casual reading of this Psalm shows this, but note the following facts:

            Except for verses 1-3 and 115, every other verse (172 verses) is a form of prayer addressed to the             Lord. It provides us with a marvelous illustration of how to pray.             In addition, the Psalmist uses ten different terms for the Word of God and all but verses 90, 122, and             132 mention at least one of these terms. The large number of terms is designed to call our attention to             the sufficiency of GodÆs Word and the number of ways God has designed it to meet our needs. Most             study Bibles give a list of these with a basic explanation of each term in the footnotes to this Psalm.

      Psalm 119 teaches us the truth that, regardless of what life brings, God has given us two sources that are       totally sufficient and contain everything we need: (a) We have GodÆs holy Word that gives us wisdom from       God, and (b) we have the awesome privilege of prayer that brings the power of God into oneÆs life for       strength, courage, endurance, and deliverance along with spiritual growth and change.

      Further, the Psalmist teaches us that the Word and prayer are like inseparable twins because, as the Word       reveals God, His all-sufficiency, infinite goodness, love, mercy, and grace, it also reveals man in his       insufficiency and total need. But in the process of this, God also offers man the opportunity (through His       revealed plan of salvation in the Savior) to come humbly to Him in prayer for His direction and supply.

      As I read this Psalm, I am further challenged by some other observations. First there is the way the Psalmist       consistently turned his focus on the Lord rather than the problem he was facing at any given time, regardless of       its nature. A second observation is his constant dependence on God to answer (lead, direct, sustain, deliver,       etc.), but never just according to his own personal desires or wants. His prayer was that God would answer       according to His Word. Let me illustrate:

      First, in at least fifteen places we have a clear contrast where the Psalmist calls out to God regarding a       particular problem, but he always turns his gaze immediately to the Lord and His Word. He gets his eyes off       the problem by keeping his eyes on the Lord through the Word. Note the following illustrations from Psalm       119:23-24, 51-52, 61, 59-70, 78, 141-143, 161.

      Second, though the concept of praying according to the Word is implicit throughout this Psalm, some 15 or       more times the Psalmist specifically makes his requests dependent on the principles of GodÆs Word with       phrases such as, ôaccording to Thy Word.ö Note the following examples in verses 25, 41, 58, 116, 145, 156.

      What is the point? In view of the rest of this Psalm, the Psalmist was not simply praying, help me because you       have promised in the Word to do so. For the Psalmist, prayer wasnÆt just a matter of ônaming and claiming.ö       Rather, he was praying that GodÆs purposes and plan might be accomplished in his life. He wanted GodÆs       deliverance, of course, but in ways that would honor the Lord and produce spiritual change and growth in his       own life. Psalm 119 is one prayer after another, but always according to the principles, purposes, and       directives of the Word. Note in verses 59, 67, 71, 75 and 133 how the Psalmist was committed to what God       was doing in his life and this commitment controlled and directed the way he prayed.

      Third, repeatedly the Psalmist prayed for insight and ability to both understand and apply GodÆs Word. He       recognized his complete inability to properly understand and respond in faithful obedience apart from the work       of God. Verses 17-19, 26, and 33-38 will illustrate the point.

      Our last lesson was devoted to the Word-filled life and it is only fitting that we now focus on the prayer-filled       life as another key element of GodÆs gracious provisions that are so vital for our spiritual journey. For the most       part, the first section of this study will be little more than an outline on some of the key principles of the Word       on prayer. The verse references are self-explanatory when read in connection with the content of the outline.       This will be followed by an exposition of a few key passages on prayer.

                                      The Nature of Prayer:                                     Worship and Service to God

      The basic meaning of the English word ôworshipö (originally ôworth + shipö) is ôto act in accord to the worth of       something or someone.ö Worship is in essence anything we do which honors God, demonstrates devotion to       Him, and acts in accord with who and what God is. In John 4:21-24, the word for worship is proskunew       which means ôto kiss the hand, do reverence to.ö It referred to an act of obeisance or reverence whether to       express respect and devotion or make supplication.

                John 4:21-24 Jesus said to her, ôWoman, believe Me, an hour is coming when                 neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. 22 You                 worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation                 is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers                 shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be                 His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit                 and truth.ö

      When we go to God in prayer, we are doing honor to Him in that we recognize Him as the all-sufficient one       and ourselves as truly insufficient or inadequate. This is suggested in the primary and general words for prayer       in the New Testament. These are proseucomai, the verb found 85 times, and proseuch, the noun found 37       times. Pros means ôtoward,ö and eucomai means ôto make request, invoke.ö These two words are only used       of God in the New Testament. The preposition pros adds the ideas of direction, closeness, or approaching       God to make requests. Certainly as the general and primary New Testament words, proseucomai and       eucomai contain the idea of worship in the sense mentioned.

      However, prayer, as a further evidence of reverence and honor for God, must also be seen as service and       ministry. In Philippians 3:3 the word for worship is the Greek latreuw which basically means ôto serve.ö

                Philippians 3:3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God                 and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,

      When Satan offered the Lord Jesus the kingdoms of the world if He would bow down and worship him, the       Lord Jesus responded by using both proskunew and latreuw. This should broaden and give us some interesting       insight into the concept of worship. True worship in spirit and truth, regardless of the nature, includes service to       God. Note JesusÆ reply when Satan tempted Jesus to bow down and worship him in Matthew 4:10: ôThen       Jesus said to him, æBegone, Satan! For it is written, ôYou shall worship (proskunew) the Lord your God, and       serve (latreuw) Him only.öÆö

      Worship is not simply something we do in religious ceremonies and rituals in which we are supposed to be       demonstrating devotion to God. Regarding several words in the New Testament which contain the idea of       worship, Vine writes:

                The worship of God is nowhere defined in Scripture. A consideration of the above                 verbs shows that it is not confined to praise; broadly it may be regarded as the                 direct acknowledgment to God, of His nature, attributes, ways and claims, whether                 by the outgoing of the heart in praise and thanksgiving or by deed done in such                 acknowledgment.89

      We might note how latreuw is used in the New Testament.

            Latreuw was used of temple service in Hebrews 9:9, ôwhich is a symbol for the present time.             Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper (literally, ôthe one             who did the serviceö) perfect in conscience.ö             Latreuw was used of any kind of service to the Lord in Hebrews 9:14, ôhow much more will the blood             of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your             conscience from dead works to serve (latreuw) the living God?ö             Latreuw was used of the service of oneÆs life accompanied by reverence and awe as in Hebrews 12:28,             ôTherefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we             may offer to God an acceptable service (latreuw) with reverence and awe.ö             Latreuw was used of the preaching of the gospel, ôFor God, whom I serve (latreuw) in my spirit in the             preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of youö (Rom.             1:9).

      Though prayer may take on various forms and roles, all prayer is clearly an aspect of worship in which we       demonstrate both reverence and service to God as an expression of the believerÆs priesthood and ministry as       an ambassador of Christ.

                              The Types and Role of Prayer as Worship

      (1) Confession of sin. We can immediately see how confession is a form of worship or reverential fear in that       it is a response to the holiness of God. It acknowledges not only that God is holy, but that unconfessed sin       forms a barrier to fellowship and hinders GodÆs answer to prayer. Obviously, if our prayer is to be effective,       sin must be dealt with. Prayer, to be effective, needs to begin with confession where we acknowledge sin to       the Lord (cf. Isa. 59:1-3; Psa. 66:18).

                Psalm 32:5 I acknowledged my sin to Thee, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said,                 ôI will confess my transgressions to the LORDö; And Thou didst forgive the guilt of                 my sin. Selah.

                1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins                 and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

                Isaiah 59:1-2 Behold, the LordÆs hand is not so short That it cannot save; Neither is                 His ear so dull That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have made a separation                 between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that                 He does not hear.

      (2) Praise.

                Hebrews 13:15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to                 God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.

      (3) Thanksgiving.

                Ephesians 5:20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus                 Christ to God, even the Father;

      (4) Intercession. Praying for others in specific requests in service to God as a ministry of the priesthood He       has given us.

                Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience,                 desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.

                1 Peter 2:5 and 9 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house                 for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through                 Jesus Christà . 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a                 people for GodÆs own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him                 who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

                Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heartÆs desire and my prayer to God for them is for their                 salvation.

      (5) Petition. Prayer for our own needs in acknowledgment of our inadequacy and His sufficiency.

                Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication                 with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

                                    The Divine Order of Prayer

      (1) We pray to the Fatherùour PROVIDER.

                John 16:23-26 And in that day you will ask Me no question. Truly, truly, I say to                 you, if you shall ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in My name. 24                 Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that                 your joy may be made full. 25 These things I have spoken to you in figurative                 language; an hour is coming when I will speak no more to you in figurative language,                 but will tell you plainly of the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I                 do not say to you that I will request the Father on your behalf;

                James 1:17 Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above,                 coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting                 shadow.

                Ephesians 1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give                 to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.

      (2) We pray in the name of the Sonùour ACCESS. (Cf. also John 16:23-26 above.)

                Ephesians 2:18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.

      (3) We pray in the power of the Holy Spiritùour MEANS.

                Jude 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in                 the Holy Spirit;

                                      Categories of Prayer

      Understanding that the Christian life is a spiritual warfare, the following, based upon praying according to       military objectives, is suggested.

      (1) Strategicùlong-range goals.

                Colossians 1:9-12 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not                 ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His                 will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may walk in a manner                 worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work                 and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according                 to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12                 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the                 saints in light.

                Matthew 9:37 Then He said to His disciples, ôThe harvest is plentiful, but the                 workers are few.ö

      (2) Tacticalùimmediate goals and needs.

                Colossians 4:2-4 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of                 thanksgiving; 3 praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open up to us                 a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I                 have also been imprisoned; 4 in order that I may make it clear in the way I ought to                 speak.

                Ephesians 6:19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the                 opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,

      (3) Logisticùphysical and support needs (cf. also Jam. 5:13-20).

                Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made                 fervently by the church to God.

                Acts 13:3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them,                 they sent them away.

                Philippians 1:19 For I know that this shall turn out for my deliverance through your                 prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

      It has been my observation that most people and most prayer meetings focus primarily on logistical needs,       particularly as they relate to illnesses. Our prayers often lack in vision for the great strategic and tactical       objectives for which the Lord has left us here on earth. In fact, when we pray for the logistical needs of food,       clothing, jobs, health, etc., what is our motivation? Is it primarily our comfort and pleasure? Or is it for the       provision of God so we can fulfill His purposes for the body of Christ in the Great Commissionùevangelism       and building people in Christ for ministry? The prayer life of the believer ought to revolve around: (a) who we       areùambassadors of Christ, (b) where we areùon temporary assignment in the world, and (c) why we are       hereùto represent the Lord Jesus to a dying world.

                                        Times of Prayer

      (1) Private

      Scheduled:

                Psalm 5:3 In the morning, O LORD, Thou wilt hear my voice; In the morning I will                 order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch.

                Psalm 88:13 But I, O LORD, have cried out to Thee for help, And in the morning                 my prayer comes before Thee.

                Psalm 119:147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Thy words.

                Matthew 6:6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have                 shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in                 secret will repay you.

      Spontaneous:

                Nehemiah 2:1-4 And it came about in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of                 King Artaxerxes, that wine was before him, and I took up the wine and gave it to                 the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. 2 So the king said to me, ôWhy is                 your face sad though you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart.ö Then I                 was very much afraid. 3 And I said to the king, ôLet the king live forever. Why                 should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my fathersÆ tombs, lies                 desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?ö 4 Then the king said to me,                 ôWhat would you request?ö So I prayed to the God of heaven.

                Psalm 56:3 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee.

                1 Thessalonians 5:17 pray without ceasing;

      (2) Family

                Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will                 not depart from it.

                Ephesians 6:4 And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them                 up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

      (3) Team

                Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made                 fervently by the church to God.

                Acts 16:25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of                 praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;

      (4) Public

                1 Timothy 2:8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands,                 without wrath and dissension.

                                  Prerequisites for Effective Prayer

      There are prerequisites for prayer. We cannot just go dashing into the presence of a holy God in just any       spiritual condition. I grew up on a small cattle ranch in East Texas and obviously, in the process of working in       such an environment, our boots could become pretty filthy. My mother used to say, ôYou donÆt come into this       clean house without either cleaning or removing your boots. This is not a horse stall!ö She was right and to do       otherwise was being inconsiderate of her and the place we lived in together. The Lord made a similar point in       John 13 when He washed the feet of the disciples. When our feet are dirty, a picture of the sin that occurs as       we walk down the streets of life, we cannot have fellowship with Him and prayer is a vital element of       fellowship (cf. John 13:1-17). See Appendix 4 for a brief overview of the believerÆs need of daily cleansing       from John 13:1-17.

      Note the following important prerequisites for effective prayer:

      (1) Personal relationship with Jesus Christ as oneÆs Savior.

                John 14:6 Jesus said to him, ôI am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes                 to the Father, but through Me.ö

      (2) Walking in fellowship: Sins confessed and Spirit-controlled.

                Psalm 66:18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;

                1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins                 and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

                Ephesians 6:18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with                 this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

      (3) Living by the Word (cf. Ps. 119).

                Proverbs 28:9 He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer                 is an abomination.

                John 15:7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish,                 and it shall be done for you.

      (4) Praying in faith trusting in the will of God.

                Matthew 21:22 And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.

                Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to                 God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

                James 1:5-8 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all                

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