Volume. XXX, No. 17
Sunday, 25 October 2015


Understanding Prayer (Part 2 - Final)


4. We are commanded to pray & promised that it is effective
One major reason we must pray is because we are commanded to pray. In the Confessions of Faith 21.3 it is stated: “Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, is by God required of all men”. Prayer has characterised God’s people. Prayer is not one of the Ten Commandments, but appears that from the beginning it has been ingrained in the covenant relationship. In like manner God has through the Scriptures enjoined and commanded prayer on numerous occasions. We know that prayer is part of the worship that God requires, that mankind being created in God’s image and likeness, are by nature meant to pray to Him (Ps. 65: 2). Jesus commanded those who would follow Him: “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Lk. 18: 1). Again in Ps. 50: 14, 15 “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me”.
Since we are commanded to pray and bring our petitions before Him, it would be a matter of rebellion, disobedience, stubbornness and unbelief to fail to pray.

5.  Prayer builds relationship with God
It is a fact that joyful hope and patience in affliction go against the grain of our own natures. This results in despair and self-pity taking over life so easily. It is in such hard times that as Christians we turn to God for help. This can be done in no other way but through prayer. As mentioned above, we pray in order to thank God for the blessings, to praise God, to confess sins, and to seek God’s guidance. However, there is another reason we pray to God. This is to ask God for help which may be the most natural prayer of all. Sometimes the Lord will answer our requests for help in the exact way we asked. But it is not always that God answers our requests in the way we expected. Either way, the Bible counsels us to remain faithful in prayer. Prayer connects us with God. This is why it is said that prayer builds relationship. Prayer strengthens this relationship between God and us. It is when one has a good relationship with the creator God that hopefulness and patience become a little easier, especially when that Someone is the Creator and Sustainer of the creation.

6.  How should we pray?
The first rule for prayer is that our minds and hearts must be properly prepared to enter into the conversation with God.  God has invited us into a wonderfully intimate relationship, “to unburden our cares into God’s bosom.”  (Institutes III, XX, 5) This means letting go of cares and thoughts that take us away from “pure contemplation of God.”  (Institutes III, XX, 4)  Our minds are to rise above such thoughts.  “We are to rid ourselves of all alien and outside cares, by which the mind, itself a wanderer, is borne about hither and thither, drawn away from heaven, and pressed down to earth…but (instead) rise to a purity worthy of God.”  (Institutes III, XX, 4)
The second rule for prayer is to come to God with “sincere affection of heart.”  Calvin wrote, “Prayer itself is properly an emotion of the heart within, which is poured out and laid open before God, the searcher of hearts.”  (Cf. Rom. 8:27)  “The Heavenly Teacher, when he willed to lay down the best rule for prayer, bade us enter into our bedroom and there, with door closed, pray to our Father in secret.  (Matt. 6:6)  By these words, as I understand them, he taught us to seek a retreat that would help us to descend into our heart with our whole thought and enter deeply within.  He promises that God, whose temples our bodies ought to be, will be near to us in the affections of our hearts.”  (Cf. II Cor. 6:16)    (Institutes III, XX, 29)
The third rule for prayer is to come with humility depending on the grace of God.  We come with an attitude of submission.  With humble and sincere confession of guilt we trust in the mercy of God. The Lord Jesus Christ said “…for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Lk. 18: 14).  We realize that the gift of prayer is ours only because God is gracious.  By the grace of God we come with “a pure conscience” resting in God’s forgiveness not in our merit.
The fourth rule is that we pray with confident hope.  We pray with “a sure hope that our prayer will be answered.”  We come with faith because God’s “kindness and gentle dealing have become known—indeed, have been intimately revealed.”  (Institutes III, XX, 11)  We come to God in Christ who is our advocate, mediator and guide.  The risen Christ is our intercessor.  (Institutes III, XX, 17)  We are to pray “‘in the Spirit with watchfulness and perseverance.”  (Institutes III, XX, 12)
Praying with consistency. The Bible teaches us to pray unceasingly (1 Thess. 5: 17). This does not mean literally praying without ceasing though the idea is good because it is possible to pray without stopping. But what the text means is to be in the habit of praying regularly. Praying without ceasing means having a set time on each day during which you communicate with your God. In order to develop this healthy habit in our lives, we needs first to realise what time is best for us to pray. What works for others might not possibly work for everyone.
It is important to spend more time in prayer. However, it is not the length of time one takes praying but the quality of time one spends communicating with God. For instance it is said that Dr Martin Luther spent 2 times every day in prayer, and this benefited him; but we don’t know how long the Lord Jesus Christ, the disciples and other apostles prayed.
When Jesus was approached by the disciples to teach them how to pray, He taught them to pray to God as our Father, simply and directly, but trusting God to answer our prayers in the way that is best for us. Jesus Christ is the mediator between us and God, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2: 5, 6). Therefore, we do not need anyone to stand between us and God - we have direct access to God as we pray through.
Jesus gives stern warning against hypocrisy in prayer - that is, when we try to impress others with our prayers. Also, we don't pray with the aim of pressuring God to give us what we want.
The more we read the Bible, the more we understand God’s values, plans and purposes. As a result, our prayers will be more shaped and informed by the will of God. All our prayer comes under the simple request, "Your will be done", taken from the “Lord’s Prayer".
Praying in the name of Jesus
Christians become children of God and are brought into a personal relationship with Him through faith in Christ (Eph. 2: 8). It is our relationship to Christ and being in Him who is at His right hand of God the Father as our advocate that allows us the privilege of not only coming into God’s presence through prayer, but of being heard. Anticipating His death, resurrection, and ascension to God’s right hand, Christ told the disciples that they were to pray to the Father in His name. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4: 12). Thus, the biblical pattern for prayer is to pray to the Father in the name of the Son, and in the power or control of the Holy Spirit. Jesus taught His disciples to pray in no other name but His name (Jn. 14: 13, 14; 15: 16; 16: 23, 24). Praying in the name of Jesus is all about qualification and access. This point is well emphasised by Paul in Eph. 2: 18 “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father”. Esther in 4: 9 – 16 acknowledges that no one can walk into the presence of a King unless permission has been granted, otherwise that would be definite imprisonment or death. Doing something in someone else's name has two implications. First, you come by the authority of the other person. You are not coming in your own authority but because someone else authorized you to take these actions. When David fought Goliath, he came unto him "in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied" (1 Samuel 17:45). He was not coming in his own power or authority but in that which belonged to God alone. This gave David the authority and ability to fight against the giant Goliath…and win. Second, when you come in someone’s name, you come in his stead. The person to whom you come is expected to react to you, not on the basis of who you are, but as if the person who sent you was there himself. They are to treat you as they would treat the one who authorized you to come. When David sent servants to Nabal to ask for food, "they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David" (1 Samuel 25:9). Therefore, when Nabal insulted David's servants (who came in David's name), he insulted David just as directly as if he had spoken to him to his face.
The Bible nowhere instructs believers in Christ to pray to anyone other than God. The Bible nowhere encourages, or even mentions, believers asking individuals in heaven for their prayers. This concept is blatantly unbiblical. Hebrews 4:16 tells us that we, believers here on earth, can "approach the throne of grace with confidence." It is declared in 1 Timothy 2:5, 6" For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." There is no one else that can mediate with God for us. If Jesus is the ONLY mediator that indicates other saints cannot be mediators. They cannot mediate our prayer requests to God. Further, the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ Himself is interceding for us before the Father: "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25).

Rev Alfred Ngoma

More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

Kitchen Roster - Today: Group A. Next Lord’s Day: Group B. Please see Sis Megan Lim if you are not sure which group you are in.
*After worship service, please help to put away hymn books, Bibles, chairs and to clean up the premises.
*Adult Sunday School & History of Doctrines will resume next Lord’s Day. All are encouraged to attend.
*Ownership of the Stone Mansion at 82 Wattle St, Fullarton, will be transferred on Friday, 30 Oct.

Prayer Items
Journey mercies: Deaconess Purdee Yeo (S Korea); & others arriving safely at their destinations.
Church activities in the past week.
Visitors & new worshippers.
God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

Praise & Thanksgiving
Health & God’s healing - Pastor Ki; Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev Patrick Tan (S’pore); Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; & others in affliction.
Special Prayer: Rev George van Buuren (heart failure)
iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne.
House of Hope, Cebu - Pastor Roel M Allocod, staff & volunteers; treatment & salvation of drug addicts; Provision of car & sufficient funds for ministry.
New Life BPC (London) - Dr Carl Martin; God’s guidance & encouragement for congregation.
Providence B-P Church, Mawson Lakes - Ps David & Sis Susan Weng, & congregation.
Youth & Assistant Pastor for Hope B-P Church.
Journey mercies: Mr Jun & Mrs Peggy Park (Fiji); & those who are travelling.
Pregnancy: Sis Isabelle Ng.
Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.
Jobs: Those seeking for jobs in Adelaide.
Persecuted believers in Islamic countries.
God’s guidance: purchase of new church property.
Australia: God’s wisdom for our political leaders. People to repent and turn to God.
God’s guidance & provision of a permanent location for our church, office & fellowship activities.

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063