THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 5-26-02
LESSON TITLE: "WHAT IS PRAYER?"
We are excited to have you with us today for the Living Word Program. What a glorious Lord's Day morning it is.
As always it is an honor and privilege to have you with us. We are thankful you have chosen to join us as we commit this time to the things of God.
It is our hope and prayer this morning that we may each participate and do our part to make this time acceptable before Him and according to His Word. Now let's begin by talking to God through prayer!
As followers of God it is important that we realize that this world is not our true home. In fact, as one song says, "we are just passing through, our treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue." This morning we want to begin with a song that tells us that as long as we have God, our home is anywhere that He is. So, won't you join in with the congregation and do your part as we sing together, "Anywhere is Home."
(SONG # 1)
I know you have heard it a hundred times before, but now your going to hear it again - we are so blessed in this country to have the many physical blessings which we do. I was again reminded of how great America is, as I had the opportunity to visit with many of our brethren in some third world nations of Africa. Most who are living in extreme poverty situations, at least in comparison to what we have.
When you first arrive and begin seeing the situation your first response is how can I help these people get out of this situation. However, as you reason through the situation you soon realize that there is nothing you can really do to help millions upon millions improve there social standard of life. The task would just be to enormous and unachievable. Then you realize the most important need which all people have, which you can help with, that is, knowing Jesus Christ. It would be impossible for me to bring the millions I passed on my journey, up to the social standard that we live at, but I have something better for them, that will insure them of eternal life! Again, that is Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Think about my last statement for just a moment, "knowing Jesus Christ and Him crucified," does this statement sound familiar? Remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2, "and I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." Here we find the greatest possession that we can give to others in this world, that is, the knowledge that Jesus Christ died for all, that we might be saved.
You see helping those of this world in a physical way will only satisfy the physical for a short time. The problem is the physical vanishes away or will end! However, the spiritual knowledge of Jesus Christ and obedience to His will makes one immortal. How about that, would you like to live forever? Paul told Timothy, "but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel," 2 Timothy 1:10. Jesus Christ and His will found in the gospel, gives life and immortality!
One final verse by Paul really brings our thoughts home this morning. In 1 Corinthians 2:9, notice what he told the brethren at Corinth, "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him." You and I as humans can not even fathom the great things God has prepared for us, as we strive to be His faithful children. The promises and blessings are hard for us to even comprehend, but the fact is God is there, He does love us, and we will receive that which He has promised.
You see, this knowledge is the greatest gift or blessing I could give anyone in this life, no matter what their physical condition is. God loves them, He is there for them, and He will reward them if they choose to do His will.
Today we have a very special guest speaker with us who is no stranger to our regular viewers. We are honored and excited to have brother Dennis Smith with us, who was host of this program for many years. He is now one of the ministers of the North National Church of Christ here in Springfield, Missouri. We appreciate his willingness to be with us and we look forward to his message this morning.
This Lord's Day, we will begin a new series of study which is of the utmost importance for a true follower of God. Our new series is entitled, "Prayer!" The first topic in our series on prayer will answer the question, "What Is Prayer?" So, please continue with us this morning and in a few minutes brother Smith will return with this study from God's Word.
Now let's join in our second song of the day. The name of the hymn is, "Be with Me Lord."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Dennis Smith
Thank you, Ray, for that good introduction and thanks to you who are watching our program this morning. We hope that you'll stay tuned with us because we have a very important subject to talk about and that of course is the subject of prayer as brother Ray has already mentioned.
I'm sure that every one of us would agree today that the one thing that we need in this country as much as anything else is for each person who wears the name of Christ to remember to make their petitions of prayer to their God on a day to day basis. Ray has asked me to talk on the subject of "What is prayer?", and let me just say early on in the lesson this morning that prayer is one of the means of communicating with God. Of course there are other ways. One of which would be to read our Bible and to be in fellowship with the saints of God, but the one that is the most personal is the great privilege we have of offering our petition to God through the avenue of prayer.
As I thought about what we need to say this morning, a passage from the Old Testament came to my mind from the book of Psalms 145, verse 18. It's a very important passage and so I'm going to read it twice for emphasis sake. So listen very carefully as I read that for you. "The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth." Yes. Let's read that again. "The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth." And that will be the text that we'll be using this morning as we share our thoughts with you.
I think we could all agree that one of the great problems that we have down through the ages of time which is also a problem that we quite often have in relationship to people and that is simply a lack of communication. This is true not only in individuals, mothers to daughters, fathers to sons, husbands to wives, but it's also true in such things as nation to nation. There is a lack of communication which often times leads to some difficult situations. But the same thought could be true in regard to staying in communication with God. Here again is one of the main reasons for prayer and one of the main privileges we have of the Lord allowing us as His children to call upon Him in prayer. You see, the truth of the matter is that God being our heavenly father, that is for those of us who are Christians, He wants us to offer our prayers to Him. In fact, He wants us to bring our problems and our troubles and our sorrows to Him when they occur. That's a normal situation because any father would want to know about the problems of his children. I think Jesus must have had this in mind in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 7 when He said, "Ask and it will be given unto you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you."
The same thing no doubt was on the mind of Paul in Phillippians chapter 4 at verse 6 when he said, "Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God."
Equally so and the writer of the Hebrews letter, no doubt the apostle Paul also verifies that thought when he said, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of problems."
Yes, God wants us to bring our problems and our difficulties to Him through the avenue of prayer. That's again another means of communicating with our God.
But as we quickly return back to the text of our lesson from the 145th Psalm, "The Lord is nigh to all them that call upon Him in truth." You see, the subject of communicating with God, or prayer if you will, is like all other scriptural matters. It must be governed by truth. Here, the Psalmist many years before Christ came and thousands of years ago from our time, he lets us know that God is there to hear our prayer but we must pray to Him in truth. Well, the question comes up, "What is truth?" Well Jesus answers that question in John chapter 17 and verse 17 when He said, "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy Word is truth." So beyond any shadow of a doubt, the Bible being the Word or the truth of God informs us on everything that we need to know on spiritual matters and certainly that is true in regard to the subject of prayer.
Again, Jesus said in John chapter 14 that if we would ask what we would in His name, then He would hear that prayer and would answer that prayer. So one of the conditions of our prayer is simply the fact that we must go to God through the avenue of Jesus Christ our Lord.
But James in his epistle puts another condition upon our prayers and that being in James chapter 4 along about verse 14. He says that we must ask these things according to the Will of God. You see God knows by far more, better what we are in need of than we do ourselves, and so when we ask God for a certain thing, we must always say, "if it be your will."
But as we go back again to that thought in 145th Psalm, the latter part of that now being the fact that we must call upon Him in truth, there is another condition that we need to understand, and that is before we can call Him our Father, we have to be one of His children. Someone said, "Well, aren't we all the children of God?" Well, in that sense of His being our Creator, that is true. But on the other hand, as you move into the New Testament, we find the subject of the new birth comes to play. Jesus said in John 3, verse 3 and 5, "Except you be born again, you cannot enter the kingdom of God." So we're talking about the new birth which puts us into Christ and we do that of course through the avenue of faith. Again, I think we might refer to what has sometimes been called "The Lord's Prayer" that you'll find in Matthew chapter 7 and Luke chapter 11 which really is not the Lord's Prayer for say, but simply a model prayer or an outline for us to follow. In that case, the disciples came to our Lord and they said, "Teach us to pray." Then Jesus said in those two texts, "After this matter, therefore pray ye our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name..." and so on as I mentioned is often called "The Lord's Prayer."
The point we're making here is before we can call anyone our father, especially God, we need to become and be one of His faithful children. We do this of course through the same process of any other relationship that we have to God. It is a faith situation. Remember in Hebrews chapter 11 and verse 6? "Without faith it is impossible to please God for those that come to God must believe that He is and that He is the rewarder of those that diligently seek Him." So again, we come to God in prayer through the avenue of faith, the same faith that caused us to confess Christ before men, the same faith that caused us to repent of our sins and the same faith that caused us to obey the words of Jesus when He said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned."
That brings in another passage which again we refer you to the book of James and James chapter 1 and verse 6 on this same subject of prayer. He said, "But let him ask in faith nothing wavering for he that wavereth is like the wave of the sea being driven with the wind and tossed." Of what value would it be my friends, for us to offer a prayer to God and not believe that He would be willing to not only hear that prayer but to answer that prayer according to His will?
But again, we go back to that thought of obeying Him and calling upon Him in truth. Here is another condition that I think is involved in that. Now keep in mind prayer, and I'll go back to our original statement, is nothing more than a communicating with God. We stay in communication with God because we love Him. We communicate with our families that may be in some distant land because we love them and the more we communicate with them, the more we increase that love. But when we fail to communicate with them, then sometimes our love for them grows cold and so it is with God. So what I'm talking about now is the importance of being right with God, now as children of God being faithful unto Him in our relationship to Him.
You know, common sense ought to tell us that we just can't ignore the Lord in our everyday walk of life. We just can't live any kind of a life that we want to live and then when some emergency comes along we can tune God in, we can turn Him on as we turn on our television sets and so forth. There is a passage of scripture in 1 Corinthians chapter 4 and verse 2 that fits this situation as well as others. But let me share it with you now as we think in terms of being faithful in our relationship to God and, "Prayer," Paul says, "moreover is required in stewards or in servants that a man be found faithful." The subject of faithfulness to God is throughout the Bible.
One of the great verses in Revelation 2 and 10 says, "Be thou faithful unto death and thou shall inherit the crown of life." So you see, going back to that Psalm again, yes, we need to call upon God but we need to call upon Him in truth. Again, the reason for that is because God wants us to communicate with Him and at the same time as we are communicating with Him, He wants us to be faithful in His service.
The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 and verse 58 says, "Be therefore steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord for as much as you know that your labors are not in vain in the Lord." So yes, God wants us to call upon Him. He wants us to be His children, and He wants us to be faithful children. When we do that, we have the greatest promise as well as blessings as Jesus said in John 14, "If we ask God for these things in His name, then He will hear us."
So what we'd like to do here in the few moments that we have left is to just kind of summarize what we've said thus far. Number 1 again, the great need, the great need to communicate with God or to stay in touch with God and that again is the purpose of prayer. Of course, we have several things that we ought to pray for. We ought to pray for those who are in authority. We ought to pray for those who are sick. We ought to pray for kings. And the list just goes on and on. There is no limit as to what we can pray for. Of course, if we pray according to conditions that we've mentioned already in our text. But to communicate with the Lord, we must also realize and I keep bringing this up that it is so imperative that before we can call Him Father that we are indeed faithful children of the Lord. You know, let me put it to you in another way. As we are citizens of this great land of ours and Ray mentioned that in the outset, we have the privilege of going to the polls of voting. We have many other privileges as being citizens of this country. By the same token, when we are approaching the king, the almighty king, we have to become citizens of that kingdom in order to do that. And I think that makes sense and of course this is exactly what the Bible tells us. So what we'd like for you to do this morning and throughout the rest of this series on the subject of prayer that you get your Bible down and you follow right along with us and understand that we can't always do everything the way we'd like to do it because God has put certain requirements there that we have to abide by. Again, we go back to that point of "the Lord is nigh to all them who call on Him, to all them that call upon Him in truth." And you know another thing I might throw in very quickly is one of the great advantages of prayer is that we can pray anywhere at anytime because we realize that God is very close to us. He is near to us and everything that we do.
We appreciate so much you're watching the program this morning and we encourage you to stay tuned every Sunday morning at 7:30 for "The Living Word" program. Thank you so very much.
(SONG # 3 - "Blessed Assurance!")
Again, let me thank you for choosing to be with us this morning. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.
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As Christians may we all acknowledge what prayer truly is, by committing ourselves more every day to using this avenue of communication to God - speaking to our creator on a more regular basis.