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)

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