Harbor Lights Sermon  Sep 2011

Pray Comprehensively

 Continuing on our series on prayer, we'll look at some examples in the New Testamen that we can apply. But it's important to mention that to first approach God we must be in a reconciled relationship with Him. Else, it says in Isaiah 59:1,2 "Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear." But if you have trusted in the Lord Jesus to reconcile you with God, you have no such barrier to be concerned about. For as Paul wrote in Romans 5:1,2 "Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." For "God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood." Rom 3:25 Thus John speaks of the status of those of us who are Christians saying, "To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father— to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen" Rev 1:6,7 And it's in that capacity in the priesthood of all believers we have the priviledge of praying on behalf of others in cooperation with the Spirit of God to accomplish God's purposes, "who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1Tim 2:4

But if you have not yet come to put your faith in Christ personally, it is written that "Everyone who calls on the name of theLord will be saved." Rom 10:13 We enter into the kingdom by praying in faith, and we live in the kingdom faithfully praying. But in the New Testament letters we don't find the authors praying that the Christians would be saved. Because the Christians are already saved. Part of what it means to put your faith in Jesus as your Savior is to not worry about your salvation status. Thus the prayers in the New Testament letters are focussed more on issues of growing in spiritual maturity and one's effectiveness and fruitfulness in this life "while we wait for the blessed hope— the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." Tit 2:14

In fact, speaking of worry, it's written, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Php 4:6,7 So the first thing to pray about are the things that you're worried about. And you can keep praying about those things until you gain peaced of mind. For God doesn't want us to be worried about stuff, as I mentioned previously, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1Pet 5:7

And if you're experiencing suffering it says James 5:13a "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray." God cares about how you're feeling. Though suffering can also bring its benefits in affecting our character. Peter prays, "May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you." 1Peter 5:10 But the apostle John writes to his Christian friend saying, "Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well." 3John 1:2

Howver, most of the Christian prayers in the Bible are not about materials things but about spiritual things. For the physical is temporary, but the spiritual eternal. Thus for example Paul prays for the Colossians saying, "We
do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light." Col 1:9-12 And this I will now pray also for you.

And to Thessalonians he writes, "We constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." 2Thess 1:11,12 And this I will not also pray for you. And as Paul also wrotel, "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word." 2Thess 2:16,17

The early Christians were also commended for their active participation in the ministry of the gospel. To the Philippians he writes, "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now." Php 1:3-5 And I found Paul's prayer for Philemon particularly interesting. For he said, "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ." Phm 1:6 For when we are active in sharing our faith, not only does it benefit others, but also we ourselves grow in our understanding and convictions concerning every good thing we have in Christ.

And if not personally sharing your faith, you can all be active in the mission which should be on the mind and in the heart of every Christian, the purpose God has given us as Christians to propagate the gospel of Christ so that people might be saved.1Tim 2:4 Pray for Society along these lines, as Paul instructed Timothy, "I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1Tim 2:1-4 And apart from the knowledge of the gospel people cannot be saved. Therefore as Paul writes to the Colossians, "Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak." Col 4:2-4

So pray for open doors, pray for the swift and safe propagation of the gospel. For while this country offers perhaps the least hostile environment to the gospel due to the constitutional right of the freedom of speech, most of the rest of the world, particularly Islamic areas are extremely hostile to the gospel. Paul asked the Thessalonians to pray for his ministry team. He says, "Brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you;and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith." 2Thess 3:1,2  And pray that the gospel may be preached with boldness. Paul advises the Ephesians to "pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak." Eph 6:18-20

Also just before he died Jesus prayed an extensive prayer found in John chapter 17. Among the things he prayer about were his accomplishments.

John 17:
vs 4 I glorified you on the earth
vs 4 I have accomplished the work which you have given me to do.
vs 6 I revealed your name to the people whom you have given me out of the world.
vs 9 I pray for them.
vs 12 I protected them and kept them safe
vs 14 I have given them your word
vs 18 I have sent them into the world
vs 22  I have given them the glory that you gave me
vs 26 I have made known to them your name

Before we die we might want to prayerfully review our lives with respect to what you have accomplished for the Lord in anticipation of that day when the Lord will say to us, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!" Mt 25:21


Hymns:

TO GOD BE THE GLORY
IN CHRIST ALONE
MAKE ME A CHANNEL OF YOUR PEACE

Jul 29,2015