THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 6-10-01
LESSON TITLE: WHAT ARE THE GOD GIVEN AVENUES OF ACCEPTABLE WORSHIP? "PRAYER"
Welcome to our program this wondrous Lord's day morning. As always, it is a privilege to have you with us for the Living Word. Thank you for choosing to be with us for this time of offering to God.
Today, we have the opportunity together to worship and praise our God. Together we will glorify our creator through songs of praise and through the study of His perfect Word! What better activity could we together engage in this morning for the sake of our God. I hope each of us will do our part to make this time together acceptable in His sight. Now, let's approach our Father's throne in prayer.
This morning we again want to begin by mentioning one of our sister congregations which help financially to make this program possible. Today, I would like to introduce you to the Branson Church of Christ in Branson, Missouri. This congregation of our Lord has been involved in this work for many years now. We really appreciate their continued love and support of this work of our Lord.
If you have opportunity, please take advantage of meeting with these brethren in one of their regularly scheduled weekly services. They come together on Sunday mornings for a Bible study at 9:00. This is followed by a worship service at 10:00 a.m. and another worship assembly is offered at 6:00 on Sunday evenings. A mid-week Bible study is also offered on Wednesday evening at 7:00. If you need further information feel free to contact me or their minister brother Kevin Macky at 1-417-334-3866. We again thank this congregation for their continued support!
This morning we want to start with a song which reminds us of the importance of faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "Living By Faith!"
(SONG # 1)
When we talk about faith or having faith in God, we all know this means we must follow His Will! When I think of following God's Will, I think of the many things He asks me to do as a faithful servant in His Kingdom.
One attribute that really stands out in my mind this morning is found in Ephesians 4:32, where Paul said, "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you." What a beautiful verse this is as we learn that we are to be forgivers of others. But you might wonder, "What should motivate me to forgive others?" Well, the same verse answers that question as the writer said, "just as God in Christ forgave you!" You see, we forgive because we have been forgiven.
I am sure that Paul got this information directly from God, because we see that same idea presented by Jesus Himself in the Lord's prayer, which is found in Matthew chapter 6, and verse 12. There as Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He said, "And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors." Again the idea, "God forgive us, because we have learned from you how to forgive others.
A final verse which really drives the point home is found in the same opening, just a few verses down - verses 14 and 15. There we read, again in the word's of Christ, "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Again listen to our Savior's Word's - Forgive and be forgiven! But verse 15 is the real key, when He said, "If we don't forgive, we will not be forgiven!"
As followers of God we must all realize the importance of forgiving, because the only way God will forgive us of our many sins is when we learn to forgive others. And why shouldn't we be required to do so, because we are to be like our Lord, as those who are striving to be Christ-like! Are you forgiving others in your life so that Christ can forgive you?
Our topic today will again focus on our series concerning worship! Our specific study of the day will focus on Prayer, as we continue to answer the question, "What are the God given avenues of acceptable Worship?" So stay with us this morning and in a few minutes I will return and lead us in our thoughts of the Day. Now it's time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "In Vain In High And Holy Lays."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Thank you for continuing with us this morning. We want to continue our series on worship as we've been discussing together over the past several months. So far, we've been able to see many different interesting ideas about worship. We've been able to find out what worship is, what it's all about, the ones who should worship, the one who should be worshipped (obviously that being God). We've also seen that there are some types of worship which are unacceptable before God, and we've also looked into the Bible and found what acceptable worship is before God. What we've been doing the last few weeks is we've begun to look at the avenues of worship in trying to really dig into the word of God and understand what it was that they did in the New Testament, the New Testament times, the first century of the church. What was it they did to worship their God that again was found so pleasing before Him and acceptable according to that which they had learned in the apostle's doctrines. We might remember in the book of Acts chapter 2, the very day that the church began. We find there that it says that they continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrines. What were those doctrines? They were the things which the Holy Spirit had taught the apostles that the apostles in turn taught the people.
This morning though as we want to continue, and we want to build on those avenues of worship. We've looked so far at preaching and this morning we will look at the avenue of prayer, the importance of prayer in the life of a Christian and the life of one who chooses to follow his God or her God in order that they might again be found acceptable before Him, in order that they might receive the rewards that He has so richly promised us if we do that which is according to what He has asked in the Bible.
Now if you'll look with me beginning in verses 14 and 15 of 1 Corinthians, we find there that in chapter 14 the apostle Paul deals with prayer there and really helps us to see an introduction, I believe, to what our discussion is this morning, because it reminds us again of the importance of prayer and what prayer is all about as we begin our discussion on prayer this morning. But if you'll read with me again chapter 14, we'll read verses 14 and verses 15. It says there, "For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit and I will also sing with the understanding." In these verses the apostle Paul was speaking to Christians, the Christians that were at Corinth and meeting at Corinth and as he spoke to them, he told them in relationship to prayer, he told them that when they prayed it had to be in a way that was understandable, something that he would do with an understanding, something that made sense not only to him but also that made sense to God and to anyone who may have heard him. There also was a word that was used here that he would do it in spirit. Obviously this goes right to his heart, to his mind. This helps us to understand that he would do it with an attitude that was appropriate before God. So when he prayed, what did he do? He would pray with the right spirit, the right heart, attitude, and in the right way so that God might be praised and glorified as well as understanding completely what he was doing and God understanding what was being received from him.
As we also look though at prayer, we might ask, "Well then, what is prayer?" Well simply, prayer is our communication to God. We know many verses in the Bible that tells us that God has delivered His revelation to us through the inspired word, that is, the Bible. In 2 Timothy 3 verses 16 and 17, we find there that "all the scripture is inspired of God and is from God and profits us and guides us in all things." Peter told us that holy meant we're moved by the spirit to deliver the word of God to us, that perfect law of liberty as James said in James 1:25. We have that revelation today given to us by God, and God speaks to us through His word.
Now how do we speak to God again? It is through prayer. God asks us to be individuals that pray to Him and that speak to Him. This is not something that is new in the New Testament only. This is something that God has asked throughout all periods of time, by all followers and all different dispensations that is, the different ages that we find in the Bible, the different ages such as the Patriarchal Age in the very beginning, the Law of Moses as it was delivered at Mt. Sinai, and again here in the Christian Age.
But if you'll look with me in the book of Psalms, we'll find that David understood very clearly what prayer was all about as we look in the Psalm 16. The first three verses help us immensely to understand even at this early day that prayer was very clear in his mind, what it should do and what it should accomplish. If you'll look there with me in verse 1 it says, "Preserve me, oh God, for you I put my trust in. Oh my soul, you have said to the Lord. You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart from you. As for the saints who are on the earth, they are excellent ones in whom is all my delight." Here we find several things I believe that are being said and clarified as far as what was taking place in this prayer. Notice very clearly here first of all the address that the Psalmist gave, the great Psalmist David. Here over and over, notice the words that he uses, "Oh God." He mentions here, "My Lord." He very clearly puts himself prostrate, lays himself out before his creator, before his God because he knows He is the giver of all. Not only do we see the avenue that he mentions who God is and he gives Him great praise and glory and places Him up on the throne, but we also find that he puts his own self in place as he mentions here "me, " as he mentions here, "I will put my trust," as he continues on to say that he has been "guided by God" as to what he should do. So we see here that also there is an important part of prayer in the one who is giving the prayer, not only the receiver who is God but also the giver of that prayer.
It is very important that that individual again understands and presents Himself properly in attitude and in the right way and as we've already seen with the understanding. Why? So that God again can receive all praise and all glory. A final thing we find here are the items that are specifically mentioned in this prayer. We see that he asks for help. He asks and reminds God of the great trust that he has because of what he has seen in his life. We see that he mentions here that He is the preserver, that He is the helper of all those excellent ones, that He is the one that will do all things. So finally here we find that prayer was to ask requests, to tell God what we need and even at this time what David needed. So David very clearly addresses who the prayer is to, that is God. He addresses that he is the one coming before Him, that he is bringing the prayer before His God and then as we see specifically he mentions an awareness of those things that were needed by him, in other words that were needed in his life to make him a more effective servant in the kingdom of God.
But we might also ask some questions. What is prayer for besides this? What are some verses that we might look at again in the New Testament that would encourage us to understand more about prayer? I think the book of Hebrews does a fine job in helping us to understand this. In Hebrews chapter 4 and verse 16, we find here the author, many believing that author to be Paul, telling us that we should approach the throne of grace. In other words, that we should come before and prostrate ourselves before God and pray and speak to Him there before that throne of grace. What is prayer for? It is so that we come before God, that we approach His throne and that we again are mindful of who He is. Again we might think of the Psalmist in these verses because in about 130 or more of the Psalms, we see that God is praised and addressed very primarily throughout those Psalms. In fact, throughout the first verse of every one of those Psalms deals with again this concept of God and who God is and clarifies that who is being spoken about or talked about is the almighty creator, again that being God Himself. So we do the same. We approach that throne of grace. We approach the almighty God and we have the same opportunity to praise and to glorify Him. That is the main purpose of prayer again. That is the ability that we have to let God know that we are His servants, that we truly love Him because we are doing what He has asked and we are doing it in a way that again uplifts Him and praises Him.
We might also look in the book of Matthew chapter 6 because there we find the Lord's prayer is given to us, and in that prayer again very beautifully it is put how Jesus teaches His disciples to pray. In fact, it was His disciples that said, "Lord teach us so that we might know how to pray to our God." Then Jesus teaches them by example as we find throughout the scripture in order that they might pray properly. I want you to be reminded exactly of the words that He continued to use there as He said, "Our Father who art in heaven, Thy will be done." Again, even notice that the son of God Himself continually addressed the Creator, that is the Father, the giver of all. Now you and I know that the son was involved in creation, but remember that it was according to the will of the Father. So we know yes, that the Father is the one that we address and that's why even in Gethsemene that Jesus Himself as He cried and sweat and there were drops of blood and water that came forth from Him, that He prayed and spoke to God. Why did Jesus pray? He prayed because as with us, it was the avenue of communication, Him being a human, that He would use in order to communicate with His God.
You might then wonder, "Why should I pray?" Well, we've seen that God commands it. That would be the easiest answer because God has told us to through His inspired writers. In 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verses 16 and 17, we find there that we are to pray without ceasing. In fact, in everything we are to give thanks. God has told us through the apostle Paul that prayer is something that should be in our lives continually. Our lives should be as if they are a prayer example before the world and for ourselves and even before God as He looks down and sees what we do and what we strive to do for Him.
I like how it's put in the book of Ephesians chapter 5 and verse 20 because there again Paul addressing the Ephesian brethren says that he was to "give thanks always for the things of God through the name of the Father and our Lord and savior Jesus Christ." Here again, the opportunity that we have to give thanks to the Father and notice here as we give thanks to the Father that here even Paul clarifies in the book of Ephesians that it's in the son's name. Now would it be that we pray through the son? Well obviously because the Bible tells us He is our mediator. He is the go between. He is the one that is our High Priest as the book of Hebrews says. So when we pray to the Father, we go through only one man and that is one God, that being the son of God, Jesus Christ in order that we might reach the Father.
I want you to turn with me now again to another book that Paul wrote to a church, the church at Philippi. So let's turn to the book of Philippians because in the book of Philippians we again can find some great and encouraging words that help us to understand why we should pray. In Philippians chapter 4 and verse 6, we read that Paul tells these brethren the following. He says, "Be anxious in nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." Here we find that we are to pray and why are we to pray? He says here so we can show our thankfulness and so we can make requests. How many of us need things in this life? Well, it might be whether we need things or whether we want things, but there are many things we need and want in this life. This verse tells us we can ask God for those things and He will hear us and He will answer prayers and furthermore, that is why prayer is so powerful. Not only because God is there and we can speak to Him, not only because we can ask Him what we have need of, but because He has promised us that if we pray, He will not only hear us but He will give us those things that we have asked for.
In fact, James said this very thing in James 5 and 16 when he said, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." When the righteous pray, God hears and when God hears, God answers prayer.
I want you to turn quickly to the book of John as we close our remarks this morning, and begin to look at a few verses here to help us understand the power of prayer. In John 14, notice there what verses 13 and 14 say. "And whatever you ask in my name, I will do that the Father may be glorified in the son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it." Jesus said, "If you ask anything in the name of the Father, He will do it." Very clear. There's no need for explanation there. In verse 7 of chapter 15, "If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done to you." Very clearly, prayers are heard. Prayers are answered. In verse 16, we can see again the same idea in verses 23 and 24 as He said this, "And in that day you will ask me nothing. Most assuredly I say to you whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full." Over and over and over we could read verses that would help us to understand this. 1 John 3:22 again tells us "if we ask, God hears and He will answer our prayers." That's what prayer is all about, that we acknowledge who God is, that we thank Him, that we praise Him, that we magnify and glorify Him, that we tells Him the things that we have need of knowing that in all of this, He not only hears us but He answers us, but He answers our prayers according to His will. And why according to His will? Because obviously God knows much more than we. We at times might wonder, "Why has God answered my prayer in this way?" Well we must understand that He is the Almighty. He is the Creator. Not that He does not hear prayer. He hears prayer and He answers prayer, and He answers it the best for you and me because our God is an all-knowing God. Must we all pray according to His will?
(SONG # 3 - "Jesus Is All The World To Me!")
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me also invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.
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May we all realize more every day the importance of and the power of prayer in our lives as Christians!