Posted in theology

How’s your prayer life?

By Elizabeth Prata

We always pray for the weak and the hurting. That is good. But please also pray for the strong, whom the weak lean on and don’t usually ask to be prayed for. As more people hurt, more people go to the strong. In other words, let’s all pray for each other.

I finished my Institute for Church Leaders course on the Practice of Prayer. It was excellent, so excellent! The ICL is online and part of The Master’s Seminary. Anyone can take classes, or take a certificate track (usually of 4 classes). The classes run $70 but at the end you take a survey and usually they give you $25 off the next one. Some classes are free. Other times they run a half-off sale. It is not financially burdensome to take any ICL course!

The idea is to help pastors raise up men for leadership, or lay-people interested in strengthening their walk. My prayer course was with Brad Klassen and was rich with truth and wonderful insights.

My next class I’m taking in the Christian Living Track for a certificate, will be Biblical Manhood and Womanhood taught by John Street.

Here are a few thoughts on Prayer. Even with all the joy I felt while learning these things, and the wonder of our opportunity to commune with the Triune God, and the conviction I felt that I don’t pray enough, I still don’t pray enough! But I want to be better.

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” (Ephesians 6:18).

What does prayer do? So MUCH. But here are a few:

It effects forgiveness and cleanses the conscience.

Prayer promotes holiness and mortifies sin.

Prayer taps God’s strength to meet daily needs.

Prayer gives opportunity to experience God’s goodness. (Gulp, this one really convicted me.)

JI Packer used to say, “The best way to diagnose one’s spiritual condition is to ask, ‘How’s your prayer life?'”

Prayer is not:

  • a wish
  • magic that “releases” God
  • mystical meditation
  • positive confession
  • self-help
  • a way to receive revelation

The impulse to pray is innate in humans and only in humans. We were created to have communion with God on a personal level. What a gift! What an opportunity!

We pray in gratitude for this great salvation, for a very present help in times of need, for our future with God… Prayers of gratitude in the Bible are–

2 Samuel 22:47-51, “The Lord lives, and blessed be my Rock; And exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation, 48 The God who executes vengeance for me, And brings down peoples under me, 49 Who also brings me out from my enemies; You also raise me above those who rise up against me; You rescue me from the violent person. 50 Therefore I will give thanks to You, Lord, among the nations, And I will sing praises to Your name. 51 He is a tower of salvation to His king, And shows favor to His anointed, To David and his descendants forever.”

Daniel 2:23, To You, God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, For You have given me wisdom and power; Even now You have made known to me what we requested of You, For You have made known to us the king’s matter.

Psalm 7:17, I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness And will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.

Psalm 9:1, I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.

Romans 1:8, First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the world.

1 Corinthians 1:4, I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,

Ephesians 1:15-16, For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;

I think I’ll end this here, so that I can go…pray!

Posted in theology

Prayer: What is it, how do we do it? A Tutorial

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

Yesterday I posted a critique of Beth Moore’s Instagram tutorial on prayer. There was some that was good in it and much that was concerning. That critique is here. Today I’m posting information I’ve learned from a course I’m taking at The Master’s Seminary track called Institute for Church Leadership. It is titled The Practice of Prayer and Dr. Brad Klassen is leading it. The class provides lay training for the local church. Previously I completed one track and earned a certificate in Sound Doctrine. Now I’m taking classes in the track in Christian Living.

The class is so rich with biblical concepts, practical guidelines, and is so highly exalting of Jesus that I wanted to share some of what I am learning. I’m 50% finished with the class so there is more to go, but of what I’ve learned so far, it’s tremendous.

I don’t think anyone, if asked, would answer a query about their prayer life with “It’s perfect! No need to improve!” We all can do better in praying. This infographic from Crossway asked 14,000 people about the state of their prayer life. Here are the results:

Source. Data collected in 2019.

Jesus prayed. The New Testament shows him constantly slipping off to a place by himself to pray, as seen in Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, Matthew 14:23. Jesus is the model for us in all things, since we are to pursue being Christ-like. If He pursued prayer, we should too. Therefore prayer should be a priority for us. In addition, there are many benefits to prayer for the willing and disciplined Christian:

  • Foremost, it effects forgiveness of sin unto salvation. It also cleanses the conscience of the penitent.
  • Prayer promotes holiness and mortifies sin, not just unto salvation but for every and any Christian afterwards.
  • Prayer taps God’s strength to meet daily needs.
  • Prayer gives opportunity to experience God’s goodness.
  • Prayer submits us to the will of God and acknowledges His sovereignty.
  • Prayer expresses true love for others; our hearts follow what we pray for.
  • Prayer acknowledges dependency for success in ministry.
  • Prayer renders the study of scripture effective.
  • Prayer indicates the condition of one’s soul.
  • Prayer gives God glory!

So, prayer is important. But what IS prayer? It’s not just slapping two hands together in thoughtless requests as you distractedly think of all the stuff you have to do that day. It’s not a mumbled request for traveling mercies as you hurtle down the driveway, late for work. All too often we relegate prayer to the last item on the list and then it gets short shrift, if we do it at all. I’m guilty of this.

Prayer is not a wish, magic that ‘releases’ God, a mystical meditation, or a way to receive revelation. We were created in the image of God to have communion with our Creator on a personal level, therefore prayer is natural to us. However, the Fall and the original sin has distorted our innate impulse to commune with the true God. (Romans 1:21, 25). We need to have a biblical concept of prayer.

As the creature communes with his Creator, he also fastens it to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, to the Intercession of Jesus Christ, and to the bedrock of the Word of God.” ~Dr. Brad Klassen, The Practice of Prayer.

We’ve looked at the importance of prayer, the benefits of prayer, what prayer is and is not. Now we look at the components of prayer.

In my class, Dr. Klassen recommended the ACTS approach. A stands for Adoration, C = Confession, T = Thanksgiving, S = Supplication. It follows the concept Jesus gave in the Lord’s Prayer.

Components of prayer ACTS: Adoration

Adoration renders to God the reverence, trust and love He deserves. Biblical prayers of adoration include Moses’ prayer in Deuteronomy 32:1-4; Job’s prayer in Job 42:1-6; Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 8:22-24, and Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9:4. You can review those prayers to see what adoration is and how these men structured their prayer. You can even use these prayers as a basis for speaking scripture back to God, something He loves. When we use God’s own verses by praying Scripture to Him, what we are doing is aligning ourselves with His heart and praying according to His will.

You can use those biblical prayers and others I’ll share under the C, T, and S acronyms,, by re-stating it, reading it directly to Him, allowing its concept to form a picture in your mind, or just meditate on the verse before you begin your prayer.

Components of Prayer ACTS: Confession

Confession is to express our agreement with God’s revelation of Himself and His assessment of us. Our confessions must be based on what God has already revealed in scripture about that sin. Don’t be general about your sin, saying , ‘O Lord, forgive my many sins…’ I’m guilty of this. I gloss over the sin and use generalities, as of it makes it less ugly to God. We’re not fooling God. He already knows about our sin. Confession is to acknowledge His sovereignty and omniscience by aligning our heart and mind with the ugliness He sees in that specific sin. So be specific in showing your hatred for that sin as it is expressed in His word.

We also confess Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, God incarnate, as in Matthew 16:16, John 20:28, Romans 10:9, 1 John 4:15.

Biblical confessions include the negative (our own sins) and positive (who Jesus is). Biblical confessions of sin can be seen in many Psalms, and also Psalm 32:5 and Daniel 9:13-20.

Components of Prayer ACTS: Thanksgiving

What can we thank God for? So many things! From ICL Class The Practice of Prayer

A definition of biblical thanksgiving (gratitude) is to “express our appreciation for the benefits or blessings to the one who is the source of such gifts, in a humble spirit of dependency.” ~Dr. Brad Klassen

Synonyms for thanksgiving are; appreciate, acknowledge, contentment, or ‘to bless’. Praying our gratitude to God cultivates an awareness, or an alertness, to intentionally observe the goodness of God and His undeserved mercies on us, the creatures, in our lives.

Biblical prayers of thanksgiving include 2 Samuel 22:47-51, Daniel 2:23, Daniel 6:10, Psalm 7:17, Romans 1:8, 1 Corinthians 1:4, Ephesians 1:15-16, and I’m sure you will find many more!

We are thankful for so MANY things! From ICL Class The Practice of Prayer

Components of Prayer ACTS: Supplication

Supplication or petition means bringing our requests for the needs of others and ourselves to God. Supplication is not only physical needs, for God knows what we need before we even ask Him. He is mindful of our physical needs (Matthew 6:25-32), though we certainly can and should ask for help with food, clothing, housing, and the like. It’s OK to bring our physical needs to Him in prayer. But don’t stop there. Ask Him to aid you in pursuing holiness, in sanctifying your walk, in being diligent in ministry, etc. As it’s said in Matthew 6:33,

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.

Biblical prayers of petition or supplication include, Philippians 4:6, Ephesians 6:18, 19,
I Timothy 2:1-4, 1 Kings 8:45, Psalm 28:2
, and many others.

Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed my quick tutorial on prayer. We looked at what prayer is & isn’t, the importance of the discipline, praying God’s word back to Him, the components of prayer using the acronym ACTS, and verses of prayer we can read, meditate on, and model.

Below please find good resources on prayer that may help you further as you engage with God in prayer. I hope you do. I hope I do! Personal communion with Him is a privilege, and a duty, and a loving act to a good and gracious Father.

Bibliography

Ten Reasons We Should pray Scripture to God

EM Bounds is known for his classics on prayer. Here is one that happens to be online. E.M. Bounds on Prayer

Simplify your Spiritual Life: Spiritual Disciplines for the Overwhelmed, book, Don Whitney

Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers, book, compiled by Arthur Bennett, Editor. Also online: here

Tim Challies’ chart in visual theology, 25 Attributes of God. You can include acknowledgement of these attributes day by day in your prayers as part of your adoration.

The Hidden Life of Prayer, David McIntyre, book available at Amazon etc., but also online for free.

The Doctrine of Repentance, Thomas Watson. A Puritan Paperback.

A Method for Prayer, Matthew Henry, online here updated in modern language, also available as a book to buy.

Susan Heck video tutorial, James Lesson 23 – Becoming a Woman of Prayer – James 5:13-18.

Susan Heck audio lessons: With the Master – (Prayer) On Our Knees

How to Pray, John MacArthur sermon.

Posted in theology

This is a funny scene in Acts

By Elizabeth Prata

Herod had arrested Peter. He was chained between two soldiers inside his cell, and guarded by a rotating squadron of soldiers at the door of his cell. When the Passover concluded that night, he was due for sentencing.

Meanwhile, “Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.” (Acts 12:5). The word fervently here means stretched to the limit, completely taut (like a stretched out muscle), or full potential. Fervently means these church folks were praying with all they had to the bottom of their soul.

Back at the prison, note that Peter was sleeping and so were the guards. So, this was the middle of the night, maybe 2:00 in the morning. An angel appeared inside the prison cell, shining his light all over, and Peter did not wake up. The angel had to smack him to wake him up. (Acts 12:7).

Continue reading “This is a funny scene in Acts”
Posted in theology

Do you get distracted when you pray?

By Elizabeth Prata

Do you ever get distracted when you pray? I do. I pray out loud to help me stay on course, but even then… lol. We are weak people. The spirit is willing but the flesh is so weak (Matthew 26:41).

On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; (Acts 10:9-10).

The sixth hour is noon. The word hungry here in the Greek is “very hungry”. Perhaps Peter had been busy all day preaching and teaching, and hadn’t eaten, and suddenly realized his hunger during the quiet moment of prayer. He was desiring to eat. Maybe Peter had requested someone make him a lunch, or he heard the hosts were preparing it below in the house because it’s a normal time to eat. In any case, Peter was praying but he was also distracted by thinking about food.

Continue reading “Do you get distracted when you pray?”
Posted in theology

Back to Basics: What is prayer?

By Elizabeth Prata

Prayer is a privilege and a responsibility for every Christian. Why? It is the way Jesus taught us to communicate with Him.

Rather than the wrathful gods of the Aztec era of human sacrifice, or the ancient Middle East where child sacrifice was required, or the Muslim god who is demanding but mercurial and untrustworthy, the One True God creates us to have a love relationship with Him. He wants to redeem us from our sinful state to dwell with Him in heaven. His Holy Word tells us who He is and how to love Him back, and His promises never fold.

In His Bible, He explains how to communicate with Him. Unlike the gods of old, all other gods as a matter of fact, (who are no gods at all) we can speak with Him at any time. He has told us He listens. From Genesis to Isaiah to Philippians, we’re told to pray to God.

“And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD” (Genesis 12:8)

“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:” (Isaiah 55:6)

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)

So what IS prayer, exactly? Why do we pray? How do we pray?

As Christian Research and Apologetics Ministry (CARM) explains, “Prayer is the practice of the presence of God. It is the place where pride is abandoned, hope is lifted, and supplication is made. Prayer is the place of admitting our need, of adopting humility, and claiming dependence upon God. Prayer is the needful practice of the Christian. Prayer is the exercise of faith and hope. Prayer is the privilege of touching the heart of the Father through the Son of God, Jesus our Lord.”

Why pray? “For one thing, prayer is a form of serving God (Luke 2:36-38) and obeying Him. We pray because God commands us to pray (Philippians 4:6-7). Prayer is exemplified for us by Christ and the early church (Mark 1:35; Acts 1:14; 2:42; 3:1; 4:23-31; 6:4; 13:1-3). If Jesus thought it was worthwhile to pray, we should also. If He needed to pray to remain in the Father’s will, how much more do we need to pray?”

He has made Himself known in three Persons, God, Jesus the son, and Holy Spirit. We can pray to all three or to one or to two. He is all the same. Any or all are appropriate to pray to. However, the Triune God is the ONLY appropriate person to pray to. The first Commandment says that He is the one true God and we shall have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:2-3). We do not pray to angels. (Revelation 22:8-9). We do not pray to saints such as the Catholic Church worships. (1 Timothy 2:5) We do not pray to Mary the mother of Jesus. (Luke 11:27-28). We do not pray to the dead, whose final condition is fixed. (Luke 16:19-31; Hebrews 9:27). We pray to God only.

How, then, shall we pray? Jesus answered this exact question in Matthew 6:9-13.

“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]”

It is not to say that unconscious repetition of this exact phraseology is the way to pray. Jesus pray ‘in this way‘. He began with a statement to whom He was addressing. He led with a praise. It is always proper to praise the Lord at any time but especially in prayer because it sets our heart condition rightly and reminds us of our position as submissive supplicants. This reminder helps us when the prayers are answered in a way we do not expect or in a timing we are uncomfortable with.

Give us this day our daily bread is a statement from Jesus telling us it is all right to ask for things to sustain us while we are living on earth. (Matthew 6:32-33). But you notice the prayer doesn’t say pray in a way where you ask for surplus, He is asking for daily bread. Not weekly bread. The manna that was given to the Hebrews in the desert was given daily. Asking for daily bread helps us not become greedy hoarders, too self-reliant, and it also is a way for the Lord to bless us daily!

Asking the Lord to forgive our sins is a way to remind us that before any prayer can be answered we need to ensure we are on the right side of God and not accumulating sins, and also that if we forgive others we are also on the right side of God. (Matthew 6:14-15; Mark 11:25). Why should He bless a bitter heart? He will not. (1 John 2:9).

“Lead us not into temptation” must be understood correctly. Barnes Notes: “God tempts no man. See James 1:13. This phrase, then, must be used in the sense of “permitting.” Do not “suffer” us, or “permit” us, to be tempted to sin. In this it is implied that God has such control over the tempter as to save us from his power if we call upon him.

 So don’t mindlessly repeat Jesus’ prayer exactly but let the power behind the concepts conform your heart to your own words. Know to Whom you are praying. Praise Him. Understand you position before Him as penitent, His kingdom within you and also your external destination someday. Ask for what earthly provision you need in humility, trusting Him to answer in faith.  Ask for unearthly provision such as release from temptation or protection from temptation.

Is there a proper bodily position in which we pray? Some prefer head bowed, others prefer to look up. Some pray with eyes closed, others keep them open. Still others pray silently, some prefer aloud. Standing, sitting, kneeling, walking,…all these postures are in the Bible. Here is a very short answer to the question of whether there is a commanded posture for prayer, at Grace to You.

The most important thing about prayer is that in order to communicate this way with God, you must be saved he does not listen to nor answer the prayers of the unsaved. (John 9:31; 1 Peter 3:12). The entire Christian faith is based on the fact that Adam’s sin separated us from our holy and righteous God. That separation includes communication and intimacy, including prayer. The most important utterance you will ever emit is the confession to Jesus, plea, or prayer for forgiveness of your sins God WILL hear that one.

that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

If you are new to prayer, don’t worry about fancy words or proper phrases. That is the utter beauty of our God. He hears the heart cry, understands the motivation behind what we are asking. He listens to all words fancy or not, as long as they are sincere. Don’t worry, just pray! It is a way to talk with Him. He doesn’t change by your prayer, but you are changed by praying. So don’t put it off another minute!

Further Resources

Praying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney

The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions by Arthur Bennett (Editor)

Spurgeon Quotes on Prayer, selected quotes from his sermons

Posted in theology

Pray for the strong as well as the weak

By Elizabeth Prata

We always pray for the weak and the hurting. That is good. But please also pray for the strong, whom the weak lean on and don’t usually ask to be prayed for. As more people hurt, more people go to the strong. In other words, let’s all pray for each other.

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” (Ephesians 6:18).

Posted in encouragement, theology

Prayerful interlude

By Elizabeth Prata

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18).

The wrath is already revealed, and they know it but suppress it. They can suppress the truth all day long, all a lifetime long, deceiving themselves that they have successfully avoided God, and thus, their judgment…but ultimately, when they are confronted with the Holy God, they will hide.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)

Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the commanders, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and free man, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. (Revelation 6:15)

There will come a day that no one will be able to hide.

Judgment Before the Great White Throne

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)

I often think about my life before salvation. Half my life will have been lived in rebellion to God (if I live to age 84, that is.)

I suppressed the truth, I rebelled, I was self-satisfied, I mocked God. Yet, before I was born, He had set me apart to become His trophy of Grace at the appointed year, day, moment, to glorify Him, redeemed and clean. (cf Galatians 1:15).

In the Garden He opened their eyes to see their own sin. (Genesis 3:7). Yet that opening plunged them into spiritual darkness, never again to see the glory of their Creator with wide-open eyes. At salvation He opens eyes, (Acts 9:18; Ephesians 1:18) to see Him in His glorious light, to know and understand spiritual things.

When He spoke to Adam and Eve after their rebellion, when He spoke to Noah, Abram, Moses…how is it that they did not just shatter into a billion dust motes, scattering across the four compass points like chaff? He is powerful, majestic, yet intimate.

My prayer today Lord is
for you to forgive
my critical mind
my craven heart
my lazy bones
Overlook my childish attempts to glorify you

Pardon my sins
perfidies
disobedience
Wash me in your love
clean my by your forgiveness

provide for me your comfort

send to me your angels

sanctify my prayers.

And He will, for I was plucked out of the darkness to dwell in His Light, eyes wide open, loving Him.

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19).

loveverse2

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

The Prayer Machinery of Heaven #7: The Debt

If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. (Psalm 66:18).

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).

Prayer straddles our lives both on earth when we pray and in heaven when Jesus hears. All week I’m focusing on prayer. It’s important. I need to do better in my life, and I can’t imagine a Christian who doesn’t think they can do better at prayer either.

Charles Spurgeon said,

Prayer meetings are the throbbing machinery of the church.

Last weekend, I was thinking of one of Spurgeon’s sermons, called God’s Providence. (#3114). Spurgeon likened the cherubim’s acts near the throne and the wheels within wheels as described by Ezekiel as machinery of Providence. He described, hypothetically of course, the wheels going up and down and left and right in tandem as the machinery of Providence carrying out God’s will and decrees. It’s an interesting thought, and Spurgeon is vivid about his descriptions.

This series of ‘prayer machinery of heaven’ is inspired by those two thoughts.

Please enjoy this scripture photo I made of the machinery of prayer. Under that will be some further resources on prayer suggestions.

prayer machinery 7

There are two ‘If’s’ there. If we confess, He is faithful to forgive. If we hold onto our sins and cherish them, He does not listen. Prayer is the vehicle of communion with the Lord, and dealing with sin is the oil that expedites the prayer or it falls to the ground with a thud.

In “The Lord’s Prayer” from Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus said “pray in this way” which includes instructions to pray for forgiveness of sin,

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)

Gill’s Commentary mentions the use of the word debts for sins

And forgive us our debts,…. Nothing is more frequent in the Jewish writings than to call sins “debts”; and the phrase, of forgiving, is used both of God and men.

And sins are debts, aren’t they. Strong’s Concordance explains the Greek word used here

And to Him we owe it all! Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe!!!

He paid the debt, and He set us free. We are mindful of the two ‘Ifs’ however, do not cherish sin, and confess it daily. What a privilege to pray. What a gift that He hears us.

 

Prayer Machinery of Heaven series:

Prayer Machinery #1: Introduction and Praying for Missionaries

Prayer Machinery #2: Praying for pray for our Elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc).

Prayer Machinery #3: Praying for each other

Prayer Machinery #4: How to Pray

Prayer Machinery #5: A focus on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is

Prayer Machinery #6: Persevering in Prayer

Prayer Machinery #7: The Two ‘If’s’ and the Importance of confessing Sin

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

The Prayer Machinery of Heaven #6

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. (Luke 18:1)

Prayer straddles our lives both on earth when we pray and in heaven when Jesus hears. All week I’m focusing on prayer. It’s important. I need to do better in my life, and I can’t imagine a Christian who doesn’t think they can do better at prayer either.

Charles Spurgeon said,

Prayer meetings are the throbbing machinery of the church.

Last weekend, I was thinking of one of Spurgeon’s sermons, called God’s Providence. (#3114). Spurgeon likened the cherubim’s acts near the throne and the wheels within wheels as described by Ezekiel as machinery of Providence. He described, hypothetically of course, the wheels going up and down and left and right in tandem as the machinery of Providence carrying out God’s will and decrees. It’s an interesting thought, and Spurgeon is vivid about his descriptions.

This series of ‘prayer machinery of heaven’ is inspired by those two thoughts.

Please enjoy this scripture photo I made of the machinery of prayer. Under that will be some further resources on prayer suggestions. Monday I suggested praying for the persecuted and missionaries around the world, with some resources to check out along those lines. Tuesday I suggested praying for our elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc), again, with resources. Wednesday I suggested praying for each other. Today focuses on how often to pray. Thursday I offered information about frequency of prayer. Friday we focused on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is. For this next-to-last picture in the series, I’ll offer some thoughts and resources on persevering in prayer.

I thought Barnes’ Notes said it well. There are different kinds of prayers and seasons for each kind. There are different attitudes of prayer.

Always – At all times. That is, we must not neglect regular stated seasons of prayer; we must seize on occasions of remarkable providences as afflictions or signal blessings to seek God in prayer; we must “always” maintain a spirit of prayer, or be in a proper frame to lift up our hearts to God for his blessing, and we must not grow weary though our prayer seems not to be answered.

Not to faint – Not to grow weary or give over. The parable is designed to teach us that, though our prayers should long appear to be unanswered, we should persevere, and not grow weary in supplication to God.

The parable is instructive for us, to never give up in prayer. Jesus receives prayer around the clock, every day, all the time. For us, it’s a battle to put hands together and carve out time to pray, Satan does not want us to pray. Jesus does. We have to work toward satisfying the one and not the other. Spurgeon again, said-

It is well said that neglected prayer is the birthplace of all evil.

I believe this. Jesus spent time instructing the disciples how to pray. (Luke 11:1-13). He spent time instructing through the parable of the importance of persisting in prayer. (Luke 18:1-8). Prayer is important. I need to do better in lots of ways- in my closet, in persisting, in focus, in content, and in earnestness and fervor. Lord, help me to pray.

prayer machinery 6b

Further Reading

Sermon Series: Elements of True Prayer

Valley of Vision devotional of Puritan Prayers (a wonderful wonderful resource!)

Tim Challies: Persistence in Prayer

Full of Eyes: Visual theology & exegesis of Colossians 4:2-4 being steadfast in prayer

Prayer Machinery of Heaven series:

Prayer Machinery #1: Introduction and Praying for Missionaries

Prayer Machinery #2: Praying for pray for our Elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc).

Prayer Machinery #3: Praying for each other

Prayer Machinery #4: How to Pray

Prayer Machinery #5: A focus on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is

Prayer Machinery #6: Persevering in Prayer

Prayer Machinery #7: The Two ‘If’s’ and the Importance of confessing Sin

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

The Prayer Machinery of Heaven #5

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. (Psalm 145:18-19)

Prayer straddles our lives both on earth when we pray and in heaven when Jesus hears. All week I’m focusing on prayer. It’s important. I need to do better in my life, and I can’t imagine a Christian who doesn’t think they can do better at prayer either.

Last weekend, I was thinking of one of Spurgeon’s sermons, called God’s Providence. (#3114). Spurgeon likened the cherubim’s acts near the throne and the wheels within wheels as described by Ezekiel as machinery of Providence. He described, hypothetically of course, the wheels going up and down and left and right in tandem as the machinery of Providence carrying out God’s will and decrees. It’s an interesting thought, and Spurgeon is vivid about his descriptions.

This series of ‘prayer machinery of heaven’ is inspired by that thought.

Please enjoy this scripture photo I made of the machinery of prayer. Under that will be some further resources on prayer suggestions. Monday I suggested praying for the persecuted and missionaries around the world, with some resources to check out along those lines. Tuesday I suggested praying for our elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc), again, with resources. Wednesday I suggested praying for each other. Today focuses on how often to pray. Thursday I offered information about frequency of prayer. Today let’s focus on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is.

In John Gill’s Commentary on verse 19, he writes,

He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him,…. That have the true fear of God put into their hearts; that fear him not with a servile, but godly fear; that fear the Lord and his goodness, and are true worshippers of him in a spiritual and evangelic manner; for the fear of God includes the whole worship of him, private and public: and the Lord grants to such whatever they desire of him, in his fear, under the direction of his spirit, according to his will, and in submission to it. Do they desire good things of him, temporal or spiritual? there is no want of any good thing to them that fear him; how should there, when such great goodness is laid up for them? Do they desire his presence, and the discoveries of his love? the sun of righteousness arises on them that fear his name, and his secrets are with them, and his mercy is upon them from everlasting to everlasting. Do they desire his protection from enemies? the Angel of the Lord encamps round about them, and the Lord himself is their, help and their shield;

he also will hear their cry, and will save them; that is, he will hear and answer their prayer, which they put up to him in their distress: they cry to him either mentally or vocally, in their troubles, and his ears are open to their cries, and they enter into them; and he regards them, and saves them out of them; out of their temporal and out of their spiritual troubles; he saves them with a temporal and with an eternal salvation.

We have such a good God who hears. Our fear and devotion to Him, and His careful attention and love toward us, makes a wonderful relationship. And that is what our religion is, not formalist with rituals and rules, but a relationship with a Holy God who cares.

prayer machinery 4

Further Resources

Essay: How’s Your Prayer Life? by Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones

Sermon S. Lewis Johnson: The Lord’s Prayer: A Primer for Prayer

Prayer Machinery of Heaven series:

Prayer Machinery #1: Introduction and Praying for Missionaries

Prayer Machinery #2: Praying for pray for our Elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc).

Prayer Machinery #3: Praying for each other

Prayer Machinery #4: How to Pray

Prayer Machinery #5: A focus on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is

Prayer Machinery #6: Persevering in Prayer

Prayer Machinery #7: The Two ‘If’s’ and the Importance of confessing Sin