Prayers Gift

“And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:21-22)

The gift of prayer is the blessing that we can communicate with the God of the universe, the Creator of all, and the God of love who sent His only begotten Son to redeem us from our sin bondage. Such a wonderful amazing God who is beyond our complete comprehension is worthy of our praise and deserving of our gratitude. “Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” (Psalm 100:4) God is holy, He is set apart from His creation and because of His righteousness is unapproachable by sinful man. Yet His purpose since the fall of man is to restore us to a right relationship with Him. We are the object of His love and He desires intimate fellowship with each one of us. By sending His Son, Jesus, to redeem us from the wage of our sin we can through Him reach God. Jesus is the King of kings, the greatest prophet, and our High Priest that through Him we can communicate with our Heavenly Father. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” (Hebrews 4:14)

Through prayer we can offer our sacrifice of praise and worship to our God in heaven. We can confess our sins against Him be lead to repentance and receive forgiveness through the blood sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Through prayer we can petition God for the needs we have in life here in the world. And through prayer we can pray for others that God in His enduring mercy will lift them up. Prayer is our communication with the living God and Creator. Communication is the foundation of any relationship and without communication relationships will fall apart. Our Lord and Savior Jesus had a continual prayer relationship with the Father as He lived in the Father’s will. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38)

Prayer leads us in our participation in the works of God, and gives us power over the evil forces in heavenly places. Prayer is available to us at any time and place as God is ever present. When we approach God in prayer His awesome presence keeps us humble. As was Isaiah. “Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5) Through prayer we can fully experience God and though we have faith on an intellectual bases prayer pulls in to an emotional level with Him. Prayer fulfills our emotional needs, as C. S. Lewis says. “God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.”

The answer to our prayers is a testimony to others and a tremendous witness for the glory of God. Therefore, prayer will strengthen the bonds between us and other believers. Prayer succeeds where the efforts of men fail.  The most selfless gift we can give to others is to pray for them in intercessory prayer. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16) As the Apostle Paul urged Timothy to pray for everyone. “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men.” (1 Timothy 2:1)

Too often prayer is the last resort when it is the first line of defense. We are told to pray for those who persecute us. “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44) When trial, afflictions, sorrow, and suffering come into our life we will find the answer in our prayers. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” (Romans 12:10-13) There is no occasion in our life that cannot be enhanced by prayer to our Lord. “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18) We need not go through life in worry and suffer anxiety over the trials that will surely come upon us when we can seek our Heavenly Father who knows what is best for us. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) We should be devoted to prayer as our Lord was that we can accomplish the good work that He has given us to do for His Kingdom. “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2) Therefore, we are to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Prayer is a time for cleansing the soul. It is a time we can come to God and ask Him to reveal to us the faults that are displeasing to Him. As we travel through this world there are things that affect us that we may not be aware of that are harmful to our spirituality. There are things that we do that are sinful to our Lord and we may not know it. The subtitle attacks of the adversary may go unnoticed by us as the heart is itself deceitful and we cannot truly know it. “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

In prayer we can ask the Lord, as David did, to prepare our hearts and reveal to us the obstacles that hinder our relationship with our God. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

As we confess our sins to seek forgiveness we too should confess our faith in our Lord. This is necessary for a continuing revival of relationship between us and our Lord. The foremost relationship that we have in this world, the relationship that will remain with us in eternity, is the priority relationship that we have with God. “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

We were lifted up out of the darkness into His light. We could not come to the light of His truth until He saved us from the darkness. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us that we could be made free from the bondage of sin. This is our testimony, this is our confession that we share with all that will hear, that we share between us and our Lord. “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:1-8)

It is good to pray in God’s Word and pleasing to Him. His Word is the food that our spirits are nourished by. What life do we have if our bodies live on fat while our eternal spirits are starved into death? Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) We are bound for the Kingdom of Heaven yet we remain in a darkened world full of evil by the god of this world. We need to see our way through and that is possible by the light of His truth, by the instruction of His Word. “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

As in prayer we ask for God’s forgiveness it is also a time to forgive others who have transgressed against us. We are all creatures of God’s love and He has forgiven us we should also forgive others. Jesus made it clear that if we accept His forgiveness and do not forgive others we will not be forgiven either.  “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:15)

Our prayer life demonstrates that God is first in our life. By involving Him in every aspect of our life He will assure that we travel though on the path that He has prepared for us. “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6) This is our assurance that we have place no other gods before Him and that we are serving Him with all our might. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)

There are times that the Lord asks us to do something and we fail Him as we think we have the better idea. Then we become convicted and have that burden upon us. Prayer is the right time to confess our disobedience and get back in line with God’s plan. By our obedience to His Word we express the love that we have for Him. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)

Living a righteous life in this world is never easy. There are many traps and snares that Satan has laid before the saints of His Kingdom. There are so many that it would not be possible to list them all and they are the work of Satan’s masterful deceitfulness. Television and pop music just to mention a couple. The old saying that we are in the world but not of the world applies here and it sets us in conflict with the world. Paul tells us that we are not to be of the world or allow ourselves to be conformed to it. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) Prayer to our Father in Heaven is the source of power that we need to hold fast to our confession of faith in Jesus Christ. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)

We all have those sinful habits that are hard to break. That plaque us at every step. They are a burden to our walk in the faith. They are a weight upon our souls. We are not without hope. The old saying goes and it is true, “take it to the Lord in prayer.” “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

When we pray to our Father in Heaven we must always remember that He searches the heart. “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:10) Prayer is worship and we must worship our God in truth. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, August 20, 2016

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