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For The Week Of: October 2, 2022
Over the next few weeks let us look at ourselves and the
congregations where we worship
1. This lesson is the third in a series entitled "Spiritual Wellness"...
a. In which we examine our spiritual wellness in regards to serving God
b. Our spiritual checkup so far has checked our hearing and reading
c. It continues with checking our praying
2. Jesus told a parable about a persistent widow... - Lk 18:1-8
a. His purpose: "that men always ought to pray and not lose heart" - Lk 18:1
b. His concern: "when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" - Lk 18:8
3. Our prayer life is an important indicator of spiritual wellness...
a. It is an expression of our faith in God
b. It reveals if we have lost heart in our service to God
[So as before, I raise the question, "How Well Do You Pray?", observing first that there are...]
I. DIFFERENT TYPES OF PRAYERS
A. THOSE WHO NEVER PRAY...
1. This includes atheists and agnostics
2. But also Christians who have lost heart and faith - cf. He 3:12-13 -- Jesus was concerned that people not reach this point
B. THOSE WHO PRAY SPARINGLY...
1. A 2007 Pew Forum U.S. Religious Landscape Survey revealed that 60% pray once a day
2. That means that 40% of Americans do not pray on a regular basis -- This demonstrates that Jesus' concern was not unwarranted
C. THOSE WHO PRAY SELF-RIGHTEOUSLY..
1. Like the Pharisee in Jesus' parable of two men who went to pray - Lk 18:9-14
2. Who take pride in how much they pray, or the length of prayers - Mt 6:5-8 -- These are hypocrites that give religion a bad name
D. THOSE WHO PRAY SELFISHLY...
1. People who use prayer only to make personal requests
2. When prayer is to be made for all men - 1Ti 2:1 -- Many people use prayer only as a personal "gimme" tool
E. THOSE WHO PRAY EARNESTLY...
1. Vigilant in thanksgiving, praying for others - cf. Col 4:2-3
2. Like Epaphras - Col 4:12
This is the kind of praying Jesus Himself did, and wants us to do!
[Why is it important to pray like Epaphras and Jesus? There are many reasons...]
II. IMPORTANCE OF PROPER PRAYING
A. FORGIVENESS OF SINS...
1. The Christian can find forgiveness through the blood of Christ - 1Jn 1:7-10
2. Thus the erring Christian is told to repent and pray - Ac 8:22 -- Don't we want the assurance of knowing that our sins are forgiven?
B. PEACE OF MIND...
1. The antidote to anxiety is prayer - Php 4:6
2. Christians will find their hearts and minds guarded by the peace of God - Php 4:7 -- Don't we want the peace of mind and heart that surpasses understanding?
C. STRENGTH TO LIVE...
1. Paul prayed that the Ephesians might be strengthened in the inner man - Ep 3:14-16,20
2. When we need to be strong, Christians can likewise pray for themselves! -- Don't we want the power that is beyond our comprehension?
D. OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE...
1. Paul realized God provided him opportunity to teach others - 1Co 3:5 (NASB)
2. He therefore requested prayer that such opportunities would continue - Col 4:3 -- Don't we want the Lord to give us opportunity to lead others to Christ?
E. BOLDNESS TO SPEAK...
1. When the apostles needed boldness, they prayed and God delivered - Ac 4:23-31
2. When Paul needed boldness, he asked for prayers in his behalf - Ep 6:19-20 -- Don't we want boldness when we speak to others about Christ?
F. WISDOM TO GUIDE...
1. Wisdom is not knowledge, but insight that makes the best use of the knowledge one has
2. The Christian is promised wisdom through prayer without doubting - Jm 1:5-8 -- Don't we want the wisdom that comes from above?
G. HEALING FROM SICKNESS...
1. Those who are sick should ask elders to pray for them - Jm 5:14-15
2. Those who have sinned should confess, and we should pray for one another - Jm 5:16 -- Don't we want the aid of God when in need of physical or spiritual healing?
H. TRANQUILITY AND PEACE...
1. The Scriptures proclaim God has ultimate control over the nations - Dan 4:17; Ro 13:1-7
2. Thus we are to pray, that we may lead quiet (tranquil, ASV) and peaceable lives - 1Ti 2:1-4 -- Don't we want to live in peace and tranquility, and for others to as well?
[The benefits of prayer are many! How then can we improve our prayer life? Here are some ...]
III. STEPS TO BETTER PRAYING
A. PRAY SYSTEMATICALLY...
1. Consider the practice of two great men of God - Psa 55:17; Dan 6:10
2. They made it a habit to pray at set times during the day
a. It would not hurt to imitate them
b. For example: three times daily - morning, noon, and evening -- At the very least, make time each day to spend in prayer
B. PRAY SPONTANEOUSLY...
1. Prayers should not be limited to set times
2. Paul and Silas prayed when faced with trying circumstances -
3. Nehemiah prayed silently on the spur of the moment - Neh 2:4-5
4. The Israelites prayed to God in the heat of battle - 1Ch 5:20 -- We should pray whenever and however the occasion calls for it
C. PRAY SECRETLY...
1. As Jesus taught by precept, in His sermon on the mount Mt 6:5-6
2. As Jesus taught by example, in finding solitary places to pray - Mk 1:35 -- Not that public prayer is wrong, but secret prayer is strong!
D. PRAY SIMPLY...
1. Many words are not necessary - Mt 6:7
2. Our Father already knows our needs - Mt 6:8; Ro 8:26-27
3. Jesus illustrated how simple prayer can be - Mt 6:9-13 -- Prayer need not be long and complicated
E. PRAY STEADFASTLY...
1. As taught by Jesus - Lk 11:5-10; 18:1-8
2. As taught by Paul - Ro 12:12; Col 4:2 -- Steadfastness in prayer was a major concern of Jesus and His apostles
F. PRAY WITH POSTURE...
1. The Bible describes various praying postures - e.g., Lk 18:13; Ac 20:36
2. While there is no official posture for prayer, posture reflects humility, reference -- Prayer is a state of mind, which can be enhanced by bodily position
1. Prayer is...
a. A wonderful privilege, a powerful privilege
b. A needed privilege, an often neglected privilege
2. Prayer ought to be practiced...
a. "always with all prayer and supplication..." - Ep 6:18
b. "earnestly...being vigilant in it with thanksgiving" - Col 4:2
Indeed, we should "pray without ceasing" (1Th 5:17).
As an indicator of spiritual wellness, "How Well Do You Pray?"