Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Privilege and Power of Prayer (part 6)

If we are going to have prevailing prayer it is going to happen as a result of what the Bible speaks of in Eph. 6:18 and Jude 20 - praying "in the Holy Ghost."

The Holy Spirit guides us in this area of prayer. He is the Spirit of wisdom (Isa. 11:2). We can go to God for wisdom. We don't even need to rely on our own wisdom. We can have God's wisdom. Indeed we desperately need His wisdom. How many Christians make a total mess of their lives simply because they don't think it's important to ask God for wisdom? The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of holiness (Rom. 1:4). We can pray for God's cleansing and forgiveness. Indeed we should pray for God to forgive us, we should confess our sins to Him (that means take His position against our very own selves and sin), and forsake our sin. To be holy simply means to be clean. Are you clean? There is a cleansing available through prayer and the Holy Spirit. We can have divine comfort through prayer and the Holy Spirit. In John 14:26 Jesus calls the Holy Spirit, the "other Comforter." We as Christian's should never feel lonely since God the Holy Spirit lives in our heart. He is our Comforter, He is always there for us. What a blessing! We can go to God during our trials and ask Him for His comfort and companionship. The Holy Spirit teaches us all things and brings all things to our remembrance concerning the Lord Jesus Christ's teachings. We can rely on the Holy Spirit to be our divine teacher. What a blessing it is to be able to pray "Dear Lord, help me today as I read your Word, show me and teach me..." God is interested in instructing us every time we open His Book. In the Holy Spirit is true peace and joy (see Rom. 14:17). We can should also pray for discernment through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10-16). We can ask God to cultivate spiritual fruit in our lives (Gal. 5:22).

So many use prayer only when they are sick and that is a crying shame. Our sinful nature is so corrupt against the things of God, that prayer is turned into a Hospital for physical ailments, rather than an action of securing spiritual blessings, and genuine communion with the Lord. Now the Lord did instruct us to pray for our "daily bread" and as well we should, but if God cares about our physical need (and He does) how much more does He care for our spiritual needs? Infinitely more.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Privilege and Power of Prayer (part 5)

II: The power of prayer:

Romans 8:26-27 "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

Notice our utmost helplessness in the area of prayer. Paul says, "we know not what we should pray for as we ought." He includes himself in that helplessness. There are many facets about prayer that we do know. For example, we know to pray to God the Father, through the name of His Only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit. But the matter or subject of prayer, the Bible plainly says: "we know not what we should pray for as we ought." How then may we pray? Who will help us in this vital area. The answer is in the text: it is the Holy Spirit.

It is the Holy Spirit who assists us or supports us in this matter of prayer. How proper it is for Him to be called the Comforter, or the paraclete (advocate, or one called along side). It is the Spirit "itself" who makes intercession for us. It is not a confluent matter. It is not that He uses our words, our thoughts, or our actions per se. Rather it is all the work of God alone. He, on our behalf, prays what we need, what we should ask for. This indeed is one of the most glorious works of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers.

If we are going to have genuine, prevailing prayer, it is going to be a result of what Ephesians 6:18 calls: "prayer and supplication in the Spirit." Jude 20 puts it as: "praying in the Holy Ghost."

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Privilege and Power of Prayer (part 4) - God Delights in Answering Prayers

In Deut. 4:29 we read "But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul." The heart is an important aspect of answered prayers. In fact, prayers can be described as a "heart-cry." Psalm 62:8 says "Trust in Him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us. Selah" The Bible tells us that God is the one who searches our hearts (see 1 Chr. 28:9; Ps. 139:1, 23; Jer. 17:10; 1 Cor. 4:5; Heb. 4:12-13). Jesus describes the heart of those who say they are believers but in reality are not in Matt. 15:8, here Jesus gives us insight into their hearts, mind you only God can do this: "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me."

Our hearts play a very important role in prayer. If you are going to have a prevailing prayer life, it will have to come from a clean heart. Now the Bible has stated very plainly the truth about our hearts. In Jeremiah 17:9 the Bible describes our hearts as being "decietful above all things" and "desperately wicked." This is the most natural and most sincere description of our hearts. But we as Christians are not left to such an heart. We are not to have a heart-life resigned to such conditions. The Bible declares to us that we can "purify our hearts" (see James 4:8). Not only may we clean our hearts, but rather it is a command that we should do so. And in doing so, God draws near to us.

If our hearts are filthy or sinful, God does not even hear our prayers. Psalms 66:18 says: "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Which 'heart' do you have? Both can and do 'pray.' Both can dutifully function the same way. But only the heart that is right with God merits God's blessing of answers to prayers. Proverbs 15:8 puts it this way: "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is His delight."

God delights in answering our prayers, Psalm 37:4 says: "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Again, God delights in granting us the desires of our hearts - but it must be understood that it is not because He is obligated to, as though He owes us an answer. It is not that God can be manipulated. It is not because we argue or bargain with Him or "talk Him out" of anything. Rather, as we delight in Him, He begins to influence us and change us, and that change touches our very character. Soon enough we begin to like what He likes. In other words our desires lines up with his desires. Our hearts desires lines up with His will. When this happens we can perfectly claim 1 John5:14 "And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, he heareth us."

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Privilege and Power of Prayer (part 3)

God commands us to pray, this makes prayer our solemn duty. It can also be said that God invites us to pray, and this then becomes our privilege. Prayer is both our duty and privilege. Consider these verses:

Jeremiah 29:12-13 "Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."

Jeremiah 33:3 "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."

Psalms 91:15 "He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him."

Psalms 145:18 "The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth."

Isaiah 55:6-7 "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."

Luke 11:9-10 "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."