Monday, March 29, 2010

Jesus Prays - The Disciples Grow

Jesus Prays – the Disciples Grow

Intro.: I wish I could have been around to hear Jesus.

  1. I wish that I cold have been part of the crowd on the hillside that day when he taught his followers the Lord's Prayer.
  2. I wish I could have seen Jesus perform one or two of His miracles.
  3. I wish I have heard Jesus tell parables in person.
  4. There is even part of me that wishes I could have been in the upper room that night when Jesus met with His disciples for one last time before his crucifixion.  Oh, I would never qualified to be one of the twelve – but maybe one of the servants that took care of preparing the table that evening.
  5. But I cannot, I can only read about Jesus conversation that evening in John 13-17. 
  6. As Jesus ended the evening, He prayed – He prayed about His own relationship to God, He prayed for His disciples, and He prayed for the church.
  7. During the next few minutes, I would like to look at the first two of these – reserving Jesus' final words about the church till next week.

Read John 17:1-19


  1. Jesus connects with God
    1. It has been busy week – a week that would leave a mark on the disciples, on the early church, and on the disciples.  
    2. It had begun with Mary washing the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume on Saturday afternoon, followed by Sunday's ride into Jerusalem with Jesus seated on the back of a donkey colt.
    3. But now, on Thursday evening, the disciples had gathered with Jesus for an evening meal.  
    4. The meal itself had started with an act so disgusting that the disciples would not allow it to happen until Jesus told them He must wash their feet.  And, then, over the next few hours, as they ate, Jesus teaches the eleven who remain with him for one more time.  He says those wonderful words that have brought more than one person to faith, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man can come to the Father, but by me.”  
    5. But now the hour is late, it is almost time to leave the upper room, And Jesus begins to pray.
    6. It is not the Lord's Prayer, but a prayer that has been highly regarded by the church for many years.  
      1. In the 1500's the Jesus' prayer found in John 17 came to be known as the “High Priestly Prayer” - a title that is still used in the headings of many Bibles.[1] 
      2. John Knox, a leader of the Protestant Reformation in England the founder of the Presbyterian church, called it “The Holy of Holies, in the temple of Scripture”.[2]
      3. Warren Wiersbe, a well known preacher in the 20th Century, called it, “the greatest prayer ever prayed on earth and the greatest prayer recorded anywhere in Scripture. John 17 is certainly the “holy of holies” of the Gospel record.”[3]
    1. Jesus is on the verge of returning home.  As we read the gospels we are often drawn to Jesus' humanity.  But we must never forget, that Jesus began life and finishes life in heaven.  

(Ill.) The prayer begins, “Father, the hour has come ..”  This contrast with the rest of the book of John – till now Jesus has reminded us that the “hour is coming” - but now it has arrived.  The time he has been preparing his disciples for is here.

    1. Now that the time is here, He asks, not once by twice, for the glory that really His, the glory that really belongs to Jesus be restored.
      1. Verse 1 says it first, “glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you.”
      2. But then in verse 5 he repeats that thought, “...glorify me in you own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
    1. As Jesus approaches His own death, we are reminded that Jesus is not only human, he is totally God.  He put aside His glory, he put aside the part of Him that made him look like God, in order to make the sacrifice that was necessary for our salvation. 
(Appl.)  We must never forget, that just as Jesus was totally human, he is also totally God.  It may be that as we come to the celebration of Easter that we are reminded of this fact more than at ant other time, but it is a truth that does not change with the seasons of the year.  Jesus Christ is totally God and Jesus Christ is totally God. 
  1. Jesus connects with His disciples
    1. Jesus begins by connecting himself to God.  He then helps us to understand the role of the disciples after His death.
    2. The eleven men left in that room were unique.  They had been chosen – God had given them, Jesus had shared himself with them.  Verse 6 reads, “I have manifested myself to the people whom you gave me out of the world.”  

(Appl.)  A person who makes disciples does one thing – he or she teaches.  He does that by words – Jesus has been doing that all evening.  A person who makes disciples also teaches by doing.  He walks alongside the disciple – and shares the hurts of life.  Both the disciples and disciplers.  It is a two way street.  Part of making disciples is showing, demonstrating, modeling, how I handle the pain and hurts of life, how I handle life's loses, how I handle life's joys.  At the same time, I need to be present when others are hurting or when others are celebrating.  Jesus had done that – we need to do the same as we face our own lives.

    1. Jesus also acknowledge that there would be certain amount of protection allocated to the disciples.  Look at the words Jesus uses as He prays – keep, kept, guarded, keep.  

(Ill.)  Someone has pointed out that it isn’t the ship in the water but water in the ship, which sinks ships. A ship can ride out the most severe storm so long as it isn’t capsized or punctured so that water gets inside. There may be a great external threat, but if the water can be kept out, the ship will remain afloat. It’s just so with the spiritual life of a Christian. We are in the world, but not of the world. All around us, and often very close to us, there are immoral and unspiritual elements which, if allowed to penetrate our defense, will surely “sink” us. Those elements must be kept out at all costs. We must be strong to keep the world out of our hearts and lives. John says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:15), and then identifies those things more closely as the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.” The problem isn’t the Christian in the world, it’s the world in the Christian. Whatever takes our eyes off Christ, discourages us from serving Him in the church, or compromises our spirituality and morality in any way, can destroy us. “O soul be on thy guard; ten thousand foes arise.”[4]

    1. With the exception of John who was exiled to the Island of Patmos, the other ten men died difficult deaths.  The prayer to protect them was not for physical protection, but for spiritual protection.  All eleven of these men remained faithful till their deaths to Jesus Christ.  We too, with God's help, can remain faithful to God.
    2. Finally, Jesus asks God to sanctify his disciples.  When used in secular literature, santify means to “set apart” for a special purpose.  It might be grandma's vase or a favorite toy.  So, as believers, we are set aside – set aside for God's use.
    3. But santification also refers to our becoming more Christlike – as believers we are not to be stagnant, but growing, changing, becoming increasingly like the Jesus that we meet in scripture.  Will we never be like him, not till we die.  But we will also never stop becoming like him.

Conclusion:  As believers -

  1. God has chosen us to serve Him
  2. God will protect you as you depend on Him
  3. God will give you what you need to grow into who he wants you to be


[1]Barton, J. and Muddiman, J. (2001).  The Oxford Bible Commentary.  New York: Oxford University Press.

[2]Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[3]Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[4]AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Jesus Teaches Us To Pray

Jesus Teaches Us To Pray

Intro.: I had a professor in seminary who told the story of aunt that died.
  1. He had the hardest time trying to figure out how she died -
  2. One person suggested she died by drowning
  3. Another told the family it was from a heart attack
  4. And then then came the real story – she died from drowning.
  5. Coincedently – all three were right.  You see the aunt had a heart attack, lost control of her car as traveled home near a lake or stream, and drove into the water and drowned.
  6. We have four gospels describing the events of Jesus' life – each one from an individual who saw that life from a different perspective. 
  7. That the Lord's Prayer is slightly different in each of the two gospels in which it appears should not alarm us.  It may mean that the two writers heard different versions of the same story – or Jesus may have quoted the prayer on two separate occasions.

Read:  Matthew 6:9-15


T.S.  Today, I want to look at three lesson that we can draw from the Lord's prayer.
  1. Lesson #1:  Jesus encourages private and corporate prayer.-
    1. Last week we looked at Jesus' introductory preaching on prayer.
    2. Bottom line in those introductory remarks – “Don't be like the hypocrites who pray to be heard, but pray in private and God will hear you.”
    3. But I neglected to mention something last week.  Jesus, as He is speaking, is on a hillside, preaching to his disciples and the crowd that followed him.  He is in the midst of the “Sermon on the mount.”
    4. So what does Jesus do – immediately after telling His followers to pray in private, he begins to pray, “Our Father Who art in heaven...”  “Our Father”?  It does not sound like a private prayer.  I sounds like a corporate prayer.  A private prayer might better begin, “My Father Who art in heaven.
    5. But there is a second point here – the audience was full of spiritual elite, in fact the church leaders probably were not there, unless it was collect evidence to convict Jesus later of heresy. No, the people on that hillside that day were ordinary people. People like you and me – people who had struggle with relationships, people who had to struggle with health, people who had to struggle with family problems with no easy answers.
    6. It is to these people that Jesus says, “Pray in private” and pray “Our Father ...” together.  It was to you and me that Jesus was saying, “Pray in private” and pray “Our Father ...” together.
(Ill.)  Someone has said prayer is much like an iceberg - 88% of our prayer life should be private, personal prayer, unseen by others.  And, like an iceberg, only 12% of prayer life should be seen by  others.[1]  I don't know how accurage these percentages are – but the author did acknowledge that as believers we cannot only pray in private and our only prayers cannot be when we are with others.
    1. As believers, we will be having private, personal time with God. And we will have time in which we are praying with other believers.
  1. Lesson #2:  Our prayers will focus on God 
    1. If you read through or listen to the Lord's prayer, you will find that it naturally divides into two basic parts.  
    2. The first part draws our attention to God:

Our Father, who art in heaven,

   hallowed be thy name.

   Thy kingdom come,

   thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.[2]

    1. Though he is speaking to ordinary, common people, the model prayer that Jesus presents does not focus on them or their needs. Rather it focuses on God.  
    2. It stands in stark contrast to a version of the Lord's prayer written by a man insensitive to the things of God:

Our brethren, who art on earth,

Hallowed be our name.

Our kingdom come, our will be done

On earth, for there is no heaven.

We must get this day our daily bread;

We neither forgive nor are forgiven.

We fear not temptation,

For we deliver ourselves from evil.

For ours is the kingdom and the power

And there is no glory and no forever.


    1. As I look at this prayer, I feel helpless and hopeless.  If my whole future, if the future of this world, depends on me, we are in great trouble.  I cannot give this world what it needs.  Forgive me if I say the same is true of you.  
    2. But the prayer that Jesus gave us, does not leave me feeling helpless and hopeless.  The prayer allows us to turn to an all-loving God that loves even myself or yourself more than we love ourselves.  The prayer allows me to turn to an all powerful God that is able to respond to every need that I have.  The prayer allows me to turn to a God that knows me better than I know myself.  

Our Father, who art in heaven,

   hallowed be thy name.

   Thy kingdom come,

   thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.[4]
  1. Lesson #3:  I can bring my own needs to God.
    1. There is a close connection between Lesson 2 and Lesson 3.  We have an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God – and the amazing truth is allows us to bring our needs to Him.
    2. That of course is the basic underlying truth of the last part of the prayer.  
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
   as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
   but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
    1. It would be a sad world if we served an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God that did not care for us.  
    2. But, instead, he says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.[6]
    3. Today we baptized little lily – in doing so we cannot forget the words of Jesus to the children, Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”  And he laid his hands on them and went away.[7]
    4. We cannot be like the pastor in Boston who did not quite underlying importance of the Lord's Prayer --

(Ill.)A minister parked his car in a no-parking zone in a large city because he was short of time and couldn’t find a space with a meter. So he put a note under the windshield wiper that read: “I have circled the block ten times. If I don’t park here, I’ll miss my appointment. Forgive us our trespasses.”

              When he returned, he found a citation from a police officer along with this note: “I’ve circled this block for ten years. If I don’t give you a ticket, I’ll lose my job. Lead us not into temptation.”[8]

    1. The Lord's Prayer is not a way to manipulate God – but it is a model of how we are to come to Him.  The model allows us to acknowledge who He is and recognize our dependence on Him.



[1]Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.


[3]Lyman Abbot as quoted in Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.



[6]Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

[7]Matthew 19:14-15 (ESV)

[8]Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Jesus' Principles For Prayer

Jesus' Principles For Prayer

Introduction:  I did not learn to write until my senior year of college.

  1. Oh, I had English during all four years in high school.
  2. I had even taken and passed freshman English in college.
  3. During my first three years of college, I had written many, many papers.
  4. But it was not till my senior year of college that I learned to write.
  5. Our teacher began from scratch – we began by writing sentences and then paragraphs and then research papers.
  6. And when I learned to write, I learned to think. 
  7. It had to built step by step.
  8. And that is the way Jesus introduced his disciples to prayer.  He is on a hillside presenting what you and  call the “Sermon on the Mount”.  In just a few moments He will be giving the Lord's Prayer as a model prayer – but before he does, he has a few words to share with those who are following Him.

Read:  Matthew 6:4-8

More Like Jesus

William Howard Doane was a wealthy nineteenth-century industrialist who entered the business world at age sixteen and was president of his own manufacturing company by age twenty-nine. But his real love was music, and he sang solos and directed choirs at various churches around Cincinnati. At age thirty, Doane suffered a terrible heart attack which took him to the edge of the grave. As he recovered, he felt God wanted him to devote more of his time to the ministry of Christian music.

He began compiling and publishing hymn books, and writing musical scores for hymns and gospel songs. But Doane didn’t feel he could compose words suitable to his melodies, and he was always looking for Christian poets who could write lyrics for the Gospel tunes. In November, 1867, in New York, he was asked by Rev. Dr. W. C. Van Meter to write a hymn in celebration of the anniversary of a rescue mission. Doane quickly came up with a melody, but could find no suitable words.

Kneeling in his New York hotel room, he asked God to send him a poem suitable for the anniversary celebration. He also prayed for a poet who could supply an ongoing stream of suitable verse. As he prayed, he heard a knock at the door. Opening it, he saw a messenger boy who handed him an envelope addressed to Mr. William Howard Doane. The letter read: Mr. Doane: I have never met you, but I feel impelled to send you this hymn. May God bless it. Fanny Crosby.

Thus began a relationship that gave the church some of its greatest Gospel hymns: “To God Be the Glory,” “’Tis the Blessed Hour of Prayer,” “Tho’ Your Sins Be as Scarlet,” “Pass Me Not,” “Near the Cross,” “Savior More Than Life To Me,” “Rescue the Perishing,” “Will Jesus Find Us Watching?,” “Safe in the Arms of Jesus,” and more.

The one enclosed in the letter that day was quickly embraced by congregations around the world:

              More like Jesus would I be,
              Let my Savior dwell in me,
              Fill my soul with peace and love,
              Make me gentle as the dove;
              More like Jesus while I go,
              Pilgrim in this world below;
              Poor in spirit would I be;
              Let my Savior dwell in me.
              More like Jesus when I pray,
              More like Jesus day by day
              May I rest me by His side,
              Where the tranquil waters glide.1
  1. Don't be hypocrites
    1. There is a something about the word hypocrite that just irritates me.
    2. I don't want to be known as a hypocrite – yet, in my heart, I know I am one.  I do not always speak the way Jesus would have me speak, I don't always behave the way that God would have me behave.  I am a hypocrite.
    3. And now Jesus tells me to not pray like a hypocrite – Jesus is pretty clear about what he means.  Don't stand in the street corners to be seen.  In some ways, these hypocrites were showoffs.  They were braggerts – “look how good I look when I pray – pat me on the back – congratulate me for my holy words.”   

(Ill.)    A hypocrite is much like the tree in our back yard.  From a distance it look tall and straight.  It has limbs that go way into the sky.  But on the inside it is dying.  No nourishment is reaching the needles – they are brown and dead.  And though it looks good on our property,  it is deceiving.  At some point we will need to cut that tree down and dispose of it.  It is a hypocritical tree -

    1. In some ways we are all hypocrites – but as believers we never claimed to be perfect; what we do claim is to be forgiven.  We being each service with a “Prayer of Confession” - why?  Because we know that each of us falls short of what God wants from us.  
    2. Perfect people do not need to confess, perfect people do not need forgiveness.  But we do confess, we are forgiven.  We are fogiven hypocrites – and that is the message we have for our broken world.
    3. Jesus also gives us instructions on how not to avoid being hypocrites - “go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
    4. It seems amazing, that as Jesus begins to introduce his disciples to the Lord's prayer, the prayer that is said more than any other in corporate worship, he tells them to go spend time alone with God.

(Ill.)  I think I know why this resonates with me.  Earlier this week I took an on-line test offered by the publishers of the Upper Room devotional.  The test helped me find out what kind of faith I have – the result was that I am called a “mystic”.  One of the characteristics of a mystic is that they appreciate the quiet presence of God.  For  me, spending time alone with God is a good thing.  But that means that there are others, perhaps it includes you, who will struggle to find the time and a place to spend time alone with God. 

    1. This past week I have spent time examining Jesus' prayer life – do you realize that the vast majority of Jesus prayer time was spent alone.  There are only four of Jesus' actual prayers recorded scripture, only four times were people present to record Jesus' prayer.  Most of the time we have images of Jesus being alone or trying to be alone so he can pray.2 
    1. Can we do any less?
  1. Don't be like the gentiles
  1. I often make a big mistake – I fall into the trap of thinking that the longer I pray, the more impressed God will be with me and my prayer.  Boy do I have it wrong!
  2. The gentiles, one translation call them the heathen, are those who do not know God – those outside the community of faith.  They do not know the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings.  God may or may not heed their prayers – and here is why ... 
  3. You know why our prayers do not need to long drawn out affairs – because God knows what we need.  He is fully aware of how we hurt, of where we feel empty, of where we have holes in our souls.
  4. No, we do not pray because God does not know what we need.  We pray to show Him and to remind ourselves of our dependence on Him.  And the Gentiles, the heathen, do not have faith.  They have not yet truly depended on Him.
  5. We come to God as a child might come to daddy or mommy for a candy bar.  We come as children – for we are His children in needs of a parents protection.
  6. A child's vocabulary is limited.  There is a certain excitement, a certain trust, that a child shows as he or she comes to their parent.  The same must be true of us.  We are not asking for a candy bar – but we are coming to the one who loves us more than we love ourselves.

Conclusion:  There you have it --

  1. Don't be like the hypocrites that spend their time on the street corners
  2. Don't be like the gentiles or heathen that spend their time composing long and wordy prayers.
  3. Come to God in simple faith, expressing your faith, your dependence on Him.
  4. And then we are ready to have our prayers answered!



1 Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson's complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers. 2 Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

2010-03-07 Attitudes in Prayer

Attitudes For Prayer

Introducton:  You know, sometimes I feel kind of stupid.  The particular event that I am think about occurred some 38 or 39 years ago.  I had met with a prayer partner earlier in the day – in fact Steve Wong would eventually be the Best Man in my wedding.  As we chatted, he jokingly mentioned that a friend had commented on my poor memory by saying, “He would lose his head, if it weren’t screwed on.”  We laughed continued with our Bible Study and prayer and went our separate ways. 

It was later that evening that I had a date with my girl friend of the time.  As we walked away from the car, I turned to see that I had left the lights turned on.  After going back to the car to turn them off, I told my date for the evening about Steve’s comments earlier that day.  Big mistake – my date turned beet red.  You see, she was the one who had commented to Steve about my memory.   And now, 36 years later, I doubt that Sandra has changed her mind – she still thinks that I would “lose my head if it were not screwed on.”

The attitudes that we bring as we come together go a long ways in defining how people connect.  I want to spent time today looking at the attitude Paul brought as he came to God in prayer.  Let’s begin by turning to Romans 9:1-3.

Read:  Romans 9:1-3
  1. Three weeks ago, we began by looking three general principles that would guide our prayer – we suggested that prayer should be a praying people, who pray without ceasing, and that it is God who answers prayer.
  2. Then we spent a week each looking at Hebrew and Greek words that suggested that God wants all of us – especially, if you will remember, our emotions.
  3. As we approach the end of Lent, I want to spend time looking at two of Jesus’ prayers – The Lord’s Prayer, which we all know, and what is know as the “High Priestly Prayer” from John 17
  4. This week I want to look at a praying man – Paul.
T.S.  During the next few minutes, I want to look at Paul’s attitude as he comes to the Lord in prayer.
  1. Paul could have been angry.
    1. I think if I had been Paul, I would have been quite upset. 
In Acts 23:21, Paul is in jail cell in Jerusalem.  But there is a foul deed afoot – a group of his countrymen, fellow Jews, are planning to ambush Paul – they have vowed to not eat or drink until they had killed Paul.
    1. How do you love these kind of people? 
    1. Jesus was faced with the same decisions – arrested, charged with heresy, and sentenced to die on a cross.  I suppose one could argue that he was God – of course he could love those who sought to kill him.  But he was also man – He had all the same temptations we have.
    2. Or, you might choose to look at a man like John Wesley, the founder of our church.  Here is a man who stood for holiness, a man whose first ambition was to serve God.  And yet he was rejected by the very church he was attempting to serve – the Anglican church.  He could no longer preach in its pulpits.  He was forced preach in the streets, in the fields.  And out of those meetings came the beginnings of the Methodist Church.  How does a believer respond to this kind of adversity? 
  1. Paul chose to pray instead.
    1. The answer for Paul is found in Romans 10 – “Brothers, my hearts desire and prayer to God for them is that they be saved.”
    2. When Paul was under fire, his first response was not to retaliate – his first response was to pray. 

(Ill.)  Jon Courson tells of an incident in his life when he was called on to speak at a special church service – he had to fly to his destination – but it was far from an ordinary flight.  The turbulence was more than he was wanting and the flight attendants required all the passengers to remain seated for the entire flight. 

That night, as he spoke he renamed the airlines to “Horizon Scareways.”  That might not have been so bad, but when he went to the airport the next day, he found that three of the ticket agents had been in the audience that night – and they did not appreciate anyone renaming their employers company.  When Jon Courson asked for an aisle seat the answere was a swift and curt, “NO!”.  And as he began to board the plane, his disappointment turned to anger.  How could any company that prided itself on customer service treat a customer like that.  How could they treat HIM like that.  And what should have been a good flight turned from disappointment to frustration to anger.  This second flight was turbulent – not just because of the weather outside, but because of what was going on inside of his own soul.

It was then that he remembered that there was something he could do – he could pray.  He started to pray for the ticket agents – that they would have a good day, he prayed for the flight attendants – keep them safe and  alert throughout the flight, he prayed for the pilots, and while on the ground waiting for a transfer flight, Jon Courson started to pray for his fellow passengers – wherever they may be traveling.   And as he prayed, his heart started to change.  It started to soften, to relax.

    1. Life gets tough and people do get in the way of our peace.  But like Paul, we can pray for those who offend us, those who disrupt our day. 
    2. You know Jesus did the same thing – as He hung there on the cross, his words are words of prayer,  “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  When we feel abused, when we feel alone, when we feel down trodden, we, like Paul, like Jesus, can pray for  those around us.
  1. Paul chose to love instead.
    1. For Jesus there is a direct connection between prayer and love.  Matthew 5:44 puts it this way –
    2. “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  It is a two way street – if we really love those who persecute us, we will pray for them.  If we pray, we will grow to love those who persecute us.

I can’t but help wonder if I would be like the masses that followed Jesus?  Would I too l yelled “Crucify Him, crucify Him” as part of the crowd.  I know that I fall short of all He wants me to be even when there is not a cross in His future.  I betray Him every time I disobey, I betray Him every time I say or do something that maligns the name of Jesus.  Maybe I too would have been in that crowd that day that yelled, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.”

    1. But then, whether I have been disobedient or whether I had been part of that crowd, I hear the words of Jesus, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”  Jesus prayed me even as I betray Him.
    2. Can I do any less for those who hurt me?  Can you do any less for those who hurt you?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Prayer By The Book (Part II)

Prayer By The Book (Part II)

Intro.: In May 1757 Ben Franklin said, “Work as if you were to live 100 years; pray as if you were to die tomorrow.”[1]
  1. Franklin was reminding us of something that is easy to forget – that we are to pray.
  2. Life is sometimes difficult, life gets busy, a lot goes on, and it is easy to forget to pray.
  3. I don't know what got in your way this week.
  4. Car repairs, frozen pipes, sore arms, late to a doctor's appointment.
  5. But I know that we can take it God in prayer

Read   James 5:13-16


Trans:  I wan to continue with what I started last week.
  1. Last week we looked at three Hebrew words that helped us to understand the role of prayer in the life of a believer.
  2. This week I want to look at three Greek words  that will do the same.
T.S.  The New Testament, like the Old Testament, has several words that are translated “Pray” or “Prayer”.  Today I want to look at three of those words.
  1. The first word: proseuchomai (to pray) or proseuche (prayer)
    1. In seminary, if someone had asked me what was the greek word for prayer or praying, the only answer that a first year student would give would be proseuchomai.
    2. It is the most common word for prayer in the New Testament.

(Ill.)  To get an idea of how important this word is, take a look at Matthew 6, starting with verse 5.  Proseuchomai is used six times in the next five verses.  Matthew 6:5–9 (ESV)

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name ...”

Each time the word PRAY or PRAYER occurs, it is prosechomai.

(Appl.)  The word proseuchomai is always used when addressing God.  Other words have other uses and can refer to human communication – but not proseuchomai.  It serves as a reminder that prayer is not just words, but that we are truly making contact with the creator of the universe.  Whether it be over your dinner table, or as you read the scriptures, or as you take a minute to pray throughout the day, when you bow your head and pray, you have spoken to God himself.

              What a friend we have in Jesus,

              all our sins and griefs to bear!

              What a privilege to carry

              everything to God in prayer!

              O what peace we often forfeit,

              O what needless pain we bear,

              all because we do not carry

              everything to God in prayer.

  1. The second word:  euchomai
    1. Euchomai has the same root proseuchomai, like our words “make” and “remake”
    2. Euchomai means to wish or desire – in the NT it always refers to God, but the secular world did not limit its use to a request of God.  It could mean a request from the King or from a neighbor.    It might be the word that would be used if one desired a pound of flour.
    3. It will be no surprise to you that God wants all you have.  Your whole life is to be His.  I suppose it is easy to understand that he wants your love.  He wants you to commit your relationships.  He wants everything.  This includes our wants and desires.
    4. I think sometimes we try to live our lives separate from God. We have these hopes, these dreams – and we keep them from God.  Afraid to share them, afraid what he might do with them.
      1. For some, it may be a fear that God will not give us what we want.  He may not – but if I don't trust Him with my wishes and desired, I have not really trusted Him.
      2. Or perhaps our fear is that God will grant our hearts desires.  The very things we wish for, we are afraid that God will grant them.  

(Ill.)  “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matt. 21:22). There was once a righteous mother named Monica, and she had a dearly beloved son who spent his youth in vanity and wickedness, and fell from the true faith into false doctrine. That righteous mother prayed for him every day with many bitter tears. Years passed, and he left her in Africa, where they lived, and went to Italy. Every hope of his recovery seemed gone, and she told her grief to the bishop. “Fear not, Monica,” he said; “the child of so many prayers cannot perish.” After some time she heard of him at Milan, and she went after him, now an old woman and a widow, and found him still unchanged. Daily was she to be seen in the cathedral of Milan, kneeling in prayer for her boy, and giving abundant alms to the poor, that these her gifts might rise up as a memorial before God, and obtain for her what her heart desired. Finally, after years of long-deferred hope, her prayer was answered. One day, while her son was sitting reading in his house, a friend, an officer in the army, came in and talked to him about the holy lives of some people in Egypt, of how they lived to God alone; how they cared not for this world and its fleeting pleasures, but set their affections above on those celestial joys which alone can satisfy. When the young man heard this his heart began to tremble; he contrasted their estimate of life with his own; unable to restrain his tears, he rushed into his garden, flung himself under a tree, and burst into convulsive weeping. And when he had somewhat recovered himself, he took up the open book which he had last been reading, and his eyes fell on the words, “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying: but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:13, 14). Then this man’s heart yearned to tell all to his dear mother who, with perfect patience and trust in God, had continually prayed for her son from childhood, hoping against hope. Monica did not get to see the fullness of God’s long-deferred answer to her prayer here on earth, for she died soon after her son’s conversion. Her son’s name was Augustine, and this child of her prayers, became one of the greatest saints, bishops, and writers the world has ever produced.    What if that mother had kept the desires of her heart from God?[2]

  1. The third word: deomai
    1. In prayer we come to God, we bring our wishes and desires to God
    2. deomai means to ask – but it is stronger, it means to beg.
    3. There are lots of familiar passages that use this word.
      1. “Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.'”[3]
      2. In Luke 5, the leper comes and begs Jesus to cure him – yep its the same word.  Essentially, the leper is praying to Jesus.
      3. And the man whose son had convulsions in Luke 9 begged both the disciples and Jesus to cure his son.
    1. There is an urgency in this word – there is an emotional element in every one of these examples.

(Appl.)  God not only wants our desires, he also wants our emotions.  As part of my counseling training, we were given a little mnemonic to help remember the various kinds of feelings people have:  mad, sad, glad, ashamed, and afraid.  We in the west have been told to not be emotional – don't cry, don't get angry, “nothing to fear but nothing but fear itself.”  But God says give them to me.  Let me have your joy, your tears, your celebrations, your let downs.  Prayer lets me give Him my emotions, prayers lets him hear all of me.



[1]Franklin, Benjamin. May 1757, in Poor Richard’s Almanac. Carroll E. Simcox, comp., 4400 Quotations for Christian Communicators (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1991), p. 297. John Bartlett, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1855, 1980), p. 347.  Quoted in Federer, W. J. (2001). Great Quotations : A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced according to their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions. St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch.

[2]AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

[3]Matt. 9:38 (ESV)