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05 December 2011

The Essentials of Effective Prayer 05 December

Give us this day our daily bread.  Matt 6:11 (KJV)

This week we will discuss telling God about our needs. We’ve already talked about the first two elements of prayer – worship and allegiance.

We will examine the words of the Master as He explains, in parable form, how we should pray:

And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. 2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. 5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. 8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. 9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Luke 11:1-10 (KJV)

Why did the friend get out of bed to give bread? Because of importunity (persistence). Jesus gives us a great promise in these verses, but He also tells us that we have to ask persistently. Cry out to Him. Pour out our hearts – not just use Him as an “Christian insurance policy”.

Have you ever persistently prayed, and then watched God answer? Tell me about it! I’d love to know.

Does Jesus give us carte blanche to ask for anything we want? A house? Winning the lottery? A new car?

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 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. 1 John 5:14-15 (ESV)

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8  By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. John 15:7-8 (ESV)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:4-7 (ESV)

God expects us to act responsibly and ask according to His will. And how do we know what His will is? By reading the Bible, studying, and praying. The cycle which leads to knowing God better.

Paul gives us a formula for happiness:

1.       Rejoice in God;
2.       Be reasonable;
3.       Don’t worry;
4.       Pray, and
5.       Receive God’s peace through Jesus

That seems, on the surface, to be simple. But is it really? The rejoice part is easy – when we are on the mountaintop. It’s not so simple when we are in the lowest valley. It’s in the valley, however, that we receive the most nourishment; the most teaching; and the strength to climb up that mountain. So rejoice in the Lord always!

I once had a job that I loved. I worked there for 10 years. One day, I was called into the boss and was told that “my relationship with [company] was severed”. The boss gave me a wonderful letter of recommendation – and told me the reason I was fired was to give the wife of another employee a job! I was devastated, of course. I thought about all the things I wanted to do – scream, shout, tell people how badly I had been treated. I didn’t. I calmed down and thanked God for my time there. Of course, I was now in need of a job but felt that God wanted me to wait (not a task in which I excel!). So I did. The days were long and dry. I felt I needed to do something. I was in a valley and it didn’t seem like I could see the bottom of the hole, much less the mountains above. I waited. And waited. I got creative again and started making jewelry. Praising God for my valley, I began to feel calm. One day, I needed a small part for a piece I was working on. I got my keys to go to the store and felt very strongly that I should wait. AAAAAAGGGGGH! I put down my keys and waited. And prayed some more, thinking that God had saved me from an accident by making me wait. This went on for several hours. Finally, I felt that I could go. As I walked into the store, the owner mentioned that her teacher just quit and she was now in need of a teacher. I was hired! Without applying for a single position, waiting on God, I found a new job and a new passion. Not only did He give me a mountaintop experience, He showed me that if I rejoice and pray and wait, He has a plan for my life!

How about you? Are you worrying about the rent? The job? The kids? Are you anxious about that next raise? Or are you asking God to get you through? What difference will it make when you decide to cling to His promises and simply trust?

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