Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

How's Your Prayer Going?

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How's Your Prayer Going?

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How's Your Prayer Going?

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Prayer is communication with God and Christ came in part so He could experience what we experience in order to help us. How we pray is important to God.

Sermon Notes

These are the notes taken live during services as captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing. This is not a word for word transcript. For the exact wording, please consult the audio recording.

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Greetings to you brethren! It is good to be with you. I would like to ask you a question. When we see each other after being apart, we often ask, “How are you doing?” I met some today that said that. It gives us an opportunity to discuss good or bad things in our lives. We may ask questions about specific situations we share. How is your praying going? If you were to grade yourself, what would your grade be? Do you feel that you really know how to pray? Could you teach someone else how to pray? You have to start with this. Realize you are praying to God. You would have some kind of answer. Our children are a good place to start. We should teach our children how to pray. Who will teach people during the millennium and white throne judgment to pray? That will be one of our responsibilities as God’s people. There will be those who never learned to pray. Are you ready for that assignment? Could you teach Prayer 101? The 101 class in college is the simplest class.

In the Bible, God gives us a lot of instruction. He is very concerned that we learn to pray properly. He is a fabulous teacher. It doesn’t come naturally. It is not an instinct. But learning it is one of the most worthwhile things we can learn in this life. Nothing can compare. Christ gave us a parable. He told a story that teaches a lesson. People remember stories. They are something we can grab onto and remember. This one tells us some humorous points about prayer. It gives us deeper insight into how God thinks. Let’s review why we pray. What is the purpose for prayer? Prayer is talking to God. Communication is necessary in any healthy relationship. There must be communication. God wants a relationship with us, His children. He is creating a family. Prayer is a tool to develop a healthy strong bond with God. Why do parents teach their children to talk? It allows them to develop a close family relationship. We understand it on a physical level. It is true on a spiritual level as well. There is closeness that comes with good communication. A feeling of interacting in a meaningful way. It is not only enjoyable, parents can use the relationship to teach their children lessons. How to avoid obvious mistakes and be successful in life. God enjoys our company. He enjoys listening to us. We need to talk deeply to Him because it deepens the family relationship He wants to have with us. As parents, you know it is great when your kids can come and talk to you. Another foundational point on prayer. There are conditions we must meet for prayer to be answered. When we pray for forgiveness of our sins, we must forgive others.

In the model prayer, Christ said to ask God to forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us. Do they have to ask us to forgive them? Did the Jews and Roman soldiers ask Jesus to forgive them while He was hanging on the cross? No. Yet He prayed for them that God would forgive them. We don’t have to put ourselves in a position for them to harm us again. Another condition: We are not to call attention to ourselves when we pray. We must come in a right and humble attitude. When we do so, we know He will hear us. He will hear us when we pray for others as we pray for ourselves. God knows us and loves us and responds in an appropriate way. He hears, and He will answer. Here is another requirement for answered prayer: 1 John 3:22 1 John 3:22And whatever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
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Obedience is a key factor in answered prayer. The two are connected. If we want God to answer our prayers, we must obey Him. Obedience is a condition. We must meet it for our prayers to be heard. That doesn’t mean God expects us to be perfect. No human has been perfect except Christ. We all sin. But God wants us to make a sincere effort every day to live His way of life. God loves people. That is why He created us and put us on this earth. He wants a family. He is much more merciful that we understand. We must show Him that we are sincere and striving to live a life of obedience.

Luke 11:1-10 Luke 11:1-10 [1] And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. [2] And he said to them, When you pray, say, Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your 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 to them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves; [6] For a friend of my 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 you. [8] I say to 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 needs. [9] And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. [10] For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.
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Vs. 1 – The disciples realized that Jesus left them regularly to pray. They came to ask Him to teach them to pray. They made this request more than once. They needed to learn more about prayer. They asked for help. What did Christ say? They really did know something about prayer. They knew John taught his disciples to pray. They went to someone who could teach them better than anyone else – Christ. We can read His words and be taught by them. It is important for all of us to review and be reminded of the basics. Vs. 2-4 – Jesus was training His disciples to pray so they could later teach others to pray. He told them a story to help them understand more about God. He taught them not only how to pray, He answered another question before they asked: How can we know our prayers will be heard and answered? Vs. 5 – This is where the parable begins. Vs. 6 – This was a different time. They didn’t have Frigidaires. They didn’t have a stack of food. There was no Motel 6; no Quik Trip. You only had the food in your home. Vs. 6 – He didn’t have a cell phone, so his friend didn’t know he was coming. They had to shop more often. Vs. 7 – He meant, it is too much trouble. He had been disturbed at midnight. It was not a convenient time. Vs. 8 – The man outside didn’t go away. He kept knocking on the door. Persistence is from Greek meaning shamelessness. Refusing to take denial. He was going to get it one way or another. G335 ἀναίδεια anaideia an-ah'ee-die-ah' From a compound of G1 (as a negative particle (compare G427)) and G127; impudence, that is, (by implication) importunity: - importunity.

Thayer Definition: 1) shamelessness, impudence Part of Speech: noun feminine A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from a compound of G1 (as a negative particle [compare G427]) and G127 You can imagine the looks on the faces of these guys. The man on the outside is beating on the door; the man on the inside is plugging his ears. Pretty soon, he is going to wake up the neighborhood. The lesser of two evils is to get up and give him the bread. Christ was not saying that God is like the man who didn’t want to get the bread. He doesn’t answer prayers to get rid of us. He answers because He is kind and generous and good. Remember, God is always ready to hear our prayers. He never sleeps; it is impossible to disturb Him. If someone who doesn’t want to help us will eventually get up and help, how much more will God help us when we ask? This parable helps us understand how God feels. Vs. 9 – Christ gives us important insight. Another translation says, ask and keep on asking; knock and keep on knocking; seek, and keep on seeking. It is great to have friends who say if you need help, give me a call. But this is God that says that. My phone is never busy. Call at any time. Keep on asking. Be persistent. Because the man in the parable asked for three loaves and persisted, he received three loaves. We should not conclude that we will get exactly what we asked for. What He is promising that we will receive an answer. There is no promise that the answer will come right away. He will always answer. His answer might be yes. Often it is. Sometimes it is yes, but not right now. We need to keep on asking. We know that the time is coming when God’s kingdom will come. Or the answer may be no. “No” is just as much as an answer as “yes”. When God says no, it is not a cold "no". It is because He knows something even better for you. Paul gave us an example of this.

2 Corinthians 12:1-10 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 [1] It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. [2] I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. [3] And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows;) [4] How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. [5] Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in my infirmities. [6] For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he sees me to be, or that he hears of me. [7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [8] For this thing I sought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. [9] And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me. [10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
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Three times Paul pleaded with God to remove a physical problem God had given him to keep him humble. The answer was no. Paul accepted it. He showed his spiritual maturity in accepting no. God is the parent. He knows our needs better than we do. It is just like we are with our kids. The man knocking on his neighbor’s door asked for what he needed. Do we have complete confidence that God knows what He is doing? We must grow to completely accept God’s answer to every prayer. That He is all wise and never makes a mistake. Six weeks from tomorrow, those who are baptized will gather for the most solemn day of the year – the Passover. On that evening, Christ was falsely accused. John 13:1-17 John 13:1-17 [1] Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them to the end. [2] And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; [3] Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; [4] He rises from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. [5] After that he pours water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded. [6] Then comes he to Simon Peter: and Peter said to him, Lord, do you wash my feet? [7] Jesus answered and said to him, What I do you know not now; but you shall know hereafter. [8] Peter said to him, You shall never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash you not, you have no part with me. [9] Simon Peter said to him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. [10] Jesus said to him, He that is washed needs not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and you are clean, but not all. [11] For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, You are not all clean. [12] So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said to them, Know you what I have done to you? [13] You call me Master and Lord: and you say well; for so I am. [14] If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet. [15] For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. [16] Truly, truly, I say to you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. [17] If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.
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Vs. 8 – In those days, travelers walked in sandals. The roads were not black top. They would come in and remove their sandals and have their feet washed. Vs. 17 – Jesus instituted this ordinance to demonstrate His unconditional love. He demands that we love and serve each other. As we search our homes and vehicles for leaven, are we also looking inside at our relationships with each other? Are there any unresolved conflicts with our brethren?

1 Corinthians 11:17-31 1 Corinthians 11:17-31 [17] Now in this that I declare to you I praise you not, that you come together not for the better, but for the worse. [18] For first of all, when you come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. [19] For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. [20] When you come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. [21] For in eating every one takes before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. [22] What? have you not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise you the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. [23] For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered to you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: [24] And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. [25] After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do you, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of me. [26] For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord's death till he come. [27] Why whoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. [28] But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. [29] For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. [30] For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. [31] For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
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As we prepare of the Passover, we should ask ourselves, “Are there any of my brethren whose feet I would not want to wash?” Do we not want to be with anyone around us? If we have that attitude, we must take care of any problems between us and our brethren before the Passover. Matthew 26:26-30 Matthew 26:26-30 [26] And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. [27] And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it; [28] For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. [29] But I say to you, I will not drink from now on of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom. [30] And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
American King James Version×
I said earlier, we need to grow to the point where we trust God’s answer to every prayer. We must know He is loving and kind and never makes mistakes. Remember what Christ said when Judas betrayed Him in the garden? Matthew 26:36-41 Matthew 26:36-41 [36] Then comes Jesus with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, Sit you here, while I go and pray yonder. [37] And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. [38] Then said he to them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even to death: tarry you here, and watch with me. [39] And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will. [40] And he comes to the disciples, and finds them asleep, and said to Peter, What, could you not watch with me one hour? [41] Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
American King James Version×
I want to ask, why did Jesus single out Peter, not James and John? Matthew 26:31-35 Matthew 26:31-35 [31] Then said Jesus to them, All you shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. [32] But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. [33] Peter answered and said to him, Though all men shall be offended because of you, yet will I never be offended. [34] Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, That this night, before the cock crow, you shall deny me thrice. [35] Peter said to him, Though I should die with you, yet will I not deny you. Likewise also said all the disciples.
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Vs. 35 – Peter was so confident of his own loyalty to Jesus. But Jesus knew he had no idea what was coming. Matthew 26:42-46 Matthew 26:42-46 [42] He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, your will be done. [43] And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. [44] And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. [45] Then comes he to his disciples, and said to them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. [46] Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that does betray me.
American King James Version×
As a human being, Jesus knew what was coming. As a human being, He wanted to avoid the suffering He would go through. But His attitude was submissive. Not My will, but Yours. We are told that Jesus existed before the world was created. He was a God being just as the Father was. John 1:1-3 John 1:1-3 [1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] The same was in the beginning with God. [3] All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
American King James Version×
He was called the Word. Other scriptures tell us He was God and did the creating.

Ephesians 3:8-9 Ephesians 3:8-9 [8] To me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; [9] And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
American King James Version×
Jesus Christ was the one. Colossians 1:12-18 Colossians 1:12-18 [12] Giving thanks to the Father, which has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: [13] Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: [14] In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: [15] Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: [16] For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: [17] And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
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Hebrews 1:1-2 Hebrews 1:1-2 [1] God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, [2] Has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
American King James Version×
Both of these scriptures also tell us that Jesus created all things. Why did Jesus come to earth? He came to experience what it is like to be a human being. To be a baby in the womb. To have parents and siblings. To be hungry. To experience pain and death. But why? Why would the Word come to earth as a physical human being? Hebrews 4:14-16 Hebrews 4:14-16 [14] Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. [15] For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. [16] Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
American King James Version×
What a wonderful and loving God we have! Not only does He want to give us all things that are good for us, He has Jesus Christ before Him to represent us. God answers prayer. It might be yes. It might be yes, but not right now. It might be no. “No” is just as much an answer as “yes”. But when God says “no”, it is not a cold “no”; it is “no” because I have your best interests at heart. Something else is better for you. God loves us. He wants to hear from us often. When we pray, we should realize we are talking to God. Some pray with a set prayer they use every day. That is not how we should pray to God. That is not really prayer; that is rote memory. When we pray, our prayers should be earnest and persistent. He will answer!