Growing Through Prayer
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)
TEXT: Luke 11:1-4
1. Shortly before the Israelites crossed the Jordan River
a. and marched into the Promised Land,
b. Moses said to them, "The Lord our God is near us
whenever we pray to Him" (Deuteronomy 4:7).
2. Loved ones, we cannot see God's form.
a. We can't hear His voice.
b. We can't reach out and touch Him because He is spirit (John 4:24).
c. But He is near to us when we pray to Him.
3. All of the great Old Testament heroes
a. were men and women of prayer,
b. and God responded to their prayers.
4. Moses prayed, and God spared the Israelite nation (Exodus 32:11-14).
a. Joshua prayed, and the sun stood still (Joshua 10:12-13).
b. Hannah prayed, and God gave her a son (1 Samuel 1:10-11).
5. Solomon prayed in a dream, and God gave him great wisdom and
a. understanding, plus riches and honor (1Kings 3:5-15; 4:29-31).
b. Elijah prayed, and God sent fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:36-38).
c. Hezekiah prayed with bitter tears, and God added fifteen years to Hezekiah's life (1Kings 20:1-6).
6. Jonah prayed, and God delivered him from the stomach of a fish (Jonah 2).
a. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego prayed,
b. and God saved them from the fiery furnace (Daniel 3).
c. Daniel prayed, and God closed the mouths of lions (Daniel 6:10-22).
7. James said, "When a good person prays hard, great things happen"
8. Brethren, when we are right with God, He hears our prayers.
Our Lord Jesus Christ Knew the Power of Prayer
1. If you are a good student of the Bible you must be impressed
a. with the importance of prayer in the life of Jesus Christ.
b. No less than 14 times in the Gospel narratives
c. is mention made of the prayers of our Lord,
d. with the greatest concentration in Luke’s Gospel.
2. If Jesus, the perfect Son of God,
a. saw the need for prayer in His life,
a. how much more ought we?
3. One morning, Jesus woke up early, while it was still dark,
"and went to a place where He could be alone and pray" (Mark 1:35).
a. After this, He and His followers traveled throughout Galilee
b. preaching in synagogues.
c. So, Jesus' Galilean ministry began with an early-morning prayer.
4. In fact, every major event in Jesus' ministry was connected with prayer.
a. From the day of His baptism to the hour of His death,
b. His ministry was saturated with prayer.
5. The Lord prayed for Himself (Matthew 26:39).
a. He prayed for His disciples as a group (John 17:6-19).
b. He prayed for them personally (Luke 22:31-32).
6. He prayed for the church of the future,
a. which includes you and me (John 17:20-26).
b. And He even prayed for His enemies (Luke 23:34).
7. Jesus was praying at the time of His baptism (Luke 3:21-22).
a. Jesus chose His twelve apostles after spending the night in prayer
b. Jesus was praying on a high mountain when "His face began to change"
c. and "His clothes became shining white" (Luke 9:28-29).
8. While instituting the Lord's Supper, Jesus prayed (Luke 22:17-20).
a. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus agonized in prayer
b. until "sweat dripped from His face like drops of blood " (Luke 22:40-46).
9. When Jesus was nailed to the cross, He prayed,
"Father, forgive them. They don't know what they are doing"
a. Just before His death, Jesus prayed, "Father, into your hands
I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46).
b. Nobody else ever prayed like Jesus prayed.
10. Jesus set a new standard for prayer.
a. He set an example for us to follow (1 Peter 2:21).
b. Little wonder, then, when He had finished a period of private prayer,
c. a disciple requested: “Lord, teach us how to pray” (Luke 11:1).
11. So what can we learn about prayer from the example and teachings of Jesus?
First, WE LEARN THAT We Must Pray in Faith
1. Jesus said, "Have faith in God. . . . And I tell you to ask for what you want in
prayer. And if you believe that you have received these things, then they will be yours" (Mark 11:22-24).
a. Our prayers are effective when we believe
b. that God is already doing something in response to our requests.
2. James said, "But when you ask God, you must believe. Don't doubt Him.
Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea. . . . People like that should not think that they will receive anything from the Lord" (James 1:5- 8).
3. Without faith, prayer is a waste of time.
Next, WE LEARN FROM THE EXAMPLE AND PRAYERS OF JESUS THAT We Must Pray with a Submissive Heart
1. Solomon said, "When people do not listen to God's teachings, He will not
listen to their prayers" (Proverbs 28:9).
a. If we won't listen to God's requests, He won't listen to ours.
b. Peter said, "The Lord watches over those who do what is right,
and He listens to their prayers, but He is against those who do evil" (1 Peter 3:12).
2. If we turn a deaf ear to God's commands,
a. He will turn a deaf ear to our prayers.
b. If we love our sins and refuse to give them up, our prayers are useless.
c. If we are unwilling to repent of sin,
d. then God is unwilling to give us the things we ask for (John 9:31).
3. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, "Father, if you are
willing, please don't make me drink from this cup. But do what you want, not what I want" (Luke 22:42).
a. Jesus didn't want to die on the cross any more than we would.
b. He prayed, "If it is possible, don't make me drink from this cup"
c. But even in the face of death, Jesus surrendered His will to God.
4. Did God hear Jesus' prayers? Yes.
a. Did God answer Jesus' prayers? Yes.
"God answered Jesus' prayers because of His great respect for God"
b. Did God always give Jesus what He asked for? No.
c. It was God's will that Jesus should die for the sins of the world.
5. God always answers the prayers of His children,
a. but only in keeping with His own wisdom and purpose (1 John 5:14-15).
b. No matter what we ask for, or how much we want it,
c. we should always pray, "Not my will, but yours be done."
Third, WE LEARN FROM THE PRAYERS AND EXAMPLE OF JESUS THAT We Must Pray with a Forgiving Spirit
1. In His model prayer, Jesus taught His followers to pray, "Forgive our sins,
just as we have forgiven those who did wrong to us" (Matthew 6:12).
a. Then, He added, "If you don't forgive others, then your Father in heaven
will not forgive the wrongs you do" (Matthew 6:15).
b. Jesus set us an example
c. when He prayed for the people who were killing Him (Luke 23:34).
2. If we want God to forgive our sins,
a. then we must be willing
b. to forgive those who sin against us.
Fourth, WE LEARN FROM THE TEACHING, PRAYERS AND EXAMPLE OF JESUS THAT We Must Pray Sincerely
1. In His Sermon on the Mountain,
a. Jesus said that we must not be like the hypocrites
b. who love to stand and pray loudly in the synagogues
c. and on street corners in order to be seen by other people (Matthew 6:5).
2. And we must not be like those who "say the same things
again and again. They think that God will hear them for the many things they say" (Matthew 6:7).
a. If we are not careful, our prayers will become routine.
b. We will say the same things over and over again,
c. and the words will lose their freshness and meaning.
3. When we pray, we should use our own words and phrases,
a. not the words and phrases of others.
b. We should talk to God in prayer as if we were talking to Him face to face
4. Jesus prayed to God "with loud cries and tears" (Hebrews 5:7),
a. and God heard His prayers.
b. How long has it been (if ever), since you have fallen down on your knees
c. and poured out your heart to God with cries and tears?
Fifth, WE LEARN FROM THE EXAMPLE AND PRAYERS OF JESUS THAT We Are to Keep Praying with Thanksgivings
1. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul said, "Don't worry about anything.
But pray and ask God for everything you need,
always giving thanks" (Philippians 4:6-7).
a. God wants us to ask Him for anything and everything we need.
b. No need is too small for Him to consider.
c. No need is too big for Him to handle.
d. When He answers, we should give thanks.
2. Paul said, "Never stop praying" (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
a. If we want to grow spiritually, we must stay in touch with God.
b. We must talk to Him in prayer.
c. We must keep the line of communication open at all times.
d. We must pray often and under all circumstances.
3. Why did 1st century Christianity sweep across the Roman empire
a. like a grass fire on a hot summer day?
b. Why were the Roman swords--that conquered the world—
c. unable to stop the spread of Christianity?
d. What made the pagan world sit up and listen to the Christian message?
4. It was the fearlessness of the believers!
a. Most of them were common, ordinary men and women.
b. Many of them were slaves with no rank, no money, and no power.
c. Yet, they were bold, daring, and fearless.
5. They were scattered everywhere by persecution,
a. and they went everywhere telling the Good News about Christ (Acts 8:4).
b. What was the secret of their boldness?
c. What gave them their courage?
6. It was their prayer life.
a. Prayer releases us from fear.
b. Prayer is what equips us for the battle against Satan.
c. Prayer arms us for the fight (Ephesians 6:11-18).
7. Peter and John were arrested and put in jail for preaching about Jesus.
a. As they were being released, the authorities warned them
b. not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus any more (Acts 4:18).
8. Peter and John went straight to the other apostles
a. and told them everything the authorities had said.
b. Then, they all prayed together (Acts 4:23-30).
c. As they finished praying, "the place where they were meeting shook.
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they continued to speak God's message without fear" (Acts 4:31).
9. Early Christians got their boldness from God.
a. They prayed privately, and they prayed in groups.
b. They met together at the temple and from house to house (Acts 5:42).
10. Under threat of death,
a. they continued meeting for worship and prayer.
b. They changed the world because they prayed.
11. Prayer helps us crucify our old sinful self.
a. Prayer plugs us into the power of God
b. and enables us to separate ourselves from this sinful world.
c. Prayer makes it possible for us to live the new life.
In Closing, WE WILL GIVE A FEW Practical Suggestions
1. Prayer, like Bible study, requires planning and self-discipline.
a. It is wise to schedule prayer time;
b. otherwise, we can get so busy that we neglect our prayer life.
c. My scheduled prayer time begins about 6 am each morning.
2. It also is wise to keep a current list of our needs
a. and the needs of others –
b. people who are sick, dying, or mourning the loss of loved ones.
3. When we fail to pray, we deprive ourselves and others
a. of the greatest source of power in the universe.
b. Prayer is a vital part of the new life.
4. In ancient times, devout Jews set aside three hours a day for prayer.
a. Jesus prayed night and day.
b. Early Christians followed His example and became a praying people.
c. With God's help, they turned the world upside down.
d. Loved ones, so can we.
e. LET’S PRAY!