THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 6-16-02
LESSON TITLE: PRAYER: WHO MUST PRAY AND WHY?
What a privilege we have this morning to join in the study of God's Living Word. We welcome you to our program and we thank God that you have chosen to be with us today. We are excited about this opportunity we have together this morning to glorify our creator. May we each do our part to make this time acceptable in His sight and according to His Will. Now, let's approach our Father's throne in prayer.
What a wonderful privilege we have as Christians to lift up our voices in praise to God. Furthermore, what a sweet smelling savor the fruit of our lips is to our Creator. So, this morning won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together our first hymn of the morning. The name of the song, "Jesus is Tenderly Calling!"
(SONG # 1)
Notice the beautiful words spoken by Jesus in Matthew 7:20, where He said, "therefore by their fruits you will know them." Scary isn't it! Jesus here is telling us that it is through our fruit that we are seen to be faithful or unfaithful. What does the Son of God mean here by the word fruit? Well, think with me about a tree, let's say an apple tree. If you plant it, then it brings forth apples and if it is a good tree it will bring forth the best apples - after its own kind. Now, let's apply that to us. If we are of Jesus, we are products of Him and after His kind. Furthermore, as we are planted in this world to work for our heavenly Father we must also bear fruit just like the apple tree. If we are good trees we will produce that good fruit after our own kind, which we have already clarified as being Jesus. But why is this so important.
To answer this question let's continue reading from Matthew 7, and hear what Jesus went on to say after telling us we are known by our fruit. In verse 21, we read, "not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven." Now we see the importance of being able to see good fruit. Jesus says it's not enough to just say you are a follower of Him or that you love Him, the proof is in the fruit we bear from our faithful labors in His vineyard.
You might again say, "but Ray, is this really important?"
When you drive around Springfield what do you see on almost every block that you pass? Well, most of us would probably say restaurants, and you would be right, but besides that what do you see? I see many, many different types of churches. The tricky part is that they are all claiming to be of God, yet they are all teaching different doctrines. Can they all be right, yet teach something different? Can they all be wrong? You remember what we began with this morning, we are known by our fruits. If we are of Jesus our fruit should also be like Jesus, not us! Isn't this why Paul said, "imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ," 1 Corinthians 11:1. Paul was not saying that you were following him by imitating his example, he was saying you are imitating Christ by following his example.
Let's go to the Bible to see what God wants, so we will know which churches are standing on God's Will and which churches are not! If you and I go to God's Word and determine those marks that identify the Lord's church as being His, we can then know if the church we are a part of is that same church which Jesus built or something merely made by man. Will you accept the challenge to study God's Word to see what His true will is?
Today we will again continue our study from God's Word concerning "Prayer." Our next lesson in our series this morning is, "Who must pray and why?" So continue with us and after our next song I will return with this lesson from God's Word. It's now time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "He Leadeth Me."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Thank you for continuing with us this morning as we again have the opportunity to look into the pages of God's Word. We've been looking at the topic of prayer, and so far we've had many good lessons in trying to understand what prayer is in relationship to the child of God. We've been able to so far see what prayer is, specifically the communication that we have today of speaking with our God. We've been able to look even in more detail about who we pray to, looking at God the Father and speaking to God the Father, that is through Jesus Christ the Son. As well as we've seen the ability that the Holy Spirit has to intercede on our behalf to God with groanings that maybe we are unable to know or understand our needs that we have. And also besides that, we've been able to look at the purpose of prayer in trying to understand again really what prayer is for in so many aspects of the child of God's life. We are able to accomplish so many great things with the hand of God involved in our lives as well as working with us primarily again through His Word as He teaches us and as He answers prayers in different ways that He chooses as He is God our Creator.
But this morning we want to look at specifically the concept of why we should pray and in trying to understand now who prays and why we pray. Then the next few weeks we are going to actually deal with those who pray and who are heard, those who will be answered and so on and so forth as we conclude our series over the next several weeks together.
But as we consider who must pray, the answer probably is pretty simple. But we want to again base all of our thoughts and our knowledge in Biblical things, so we start in the book of Genesis from the very beginning. We are reminded that from all times the people who were known as followers of God spoke with God. In the beginning we know that they primarily dealt word to word or in a sense face to face, hearing the voice of God as well as speaking themselves to their God.
We can go all the way back to the Garden of Eden to find this to be the case. In fact in Genesis chapter 3, you might remember that Adam and Eve were in the garden and after sinning that actually God came to the garden and He was walking in the garden as the Bible tells us. In fact, in verse 8 of chapter 3, it says there that "They heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of the day and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden, and the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, 'Where are you?' So he said, 'I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself.'" We won't go into all of the details of the story that we're so familiar with, but here again we see the communication that was taking place between God Almighty the Creator in heaven and one of His children, His first creation, that is again of man as well as He later talked not only with Adam, but also with Eve and as we even see with the serpent. We see during these times that communicating with God was very, very direct.
We can go on from Adam and Eve and we can see that even with Cain and Abel again that God spoke directly to them. In fact, you might remember the conversation that He had with Cain in asking Cain about his brother and where was his brother, Abel.
We can go on from there and we see men like Seth and we see men like Noah, a man again who was commissioned by God to build a great and a vast ark.
We can go on from there, not only Noah, but talk about Abraham. Abraham, a man who again worshipped God and did what God asked him to do and who was found faithful as we read in the Hebrew letter, but a man also who had sons, Isaac and Jacob, who again spoke to God and communicated with Him as well as built altars and worshipped their God according as they had been told by Him.
And then we come to Moses, and really I bring these things to our attention because during the period of Moses, we began to see a little bit of change. Moses, as he brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt as they were in really a dire straight of slavery and they were brought out and crossing the Red Sea and wandering there for sometime, arrived at Mount Sinai where their God, again speaking directly with Moses face to face, word to word, and Moses responding to Him also then gave what we know as the Ten Commandments, the Law of God, the Law of Moses and really those laws there that deal with that period of people, the Israelites as they began to follow as we refer to also as the Old Law, the Old Testament. We have today recorded for us the Old Testament, those things that they were given to follow, that they were given to have as a part of their lives, as a part of what their following God was all about. But here again as we look back to Moses, we see that at that period of time that there was a new type of situation it seems that was set up because God gave a new law. He actually chose one tribe, the tribe of Levi to be over all the other tribes as far as in religious matters and to carry out the things that God had asked them to carry out in a religious sense as far as worship and sin offerings and other types of offerings as far as for grain and many of the blessings that God gave them.
But then again as we move forward from that, we know that it was after that time with Moses that it seemed that God began to deal somewhat more through the priest rather than individual people. We know that during the period of Joshua that God spoke with him and still throughout times dealt primarily with some individuals even during the times we could say of the judges as He spoke directly to them or to some of the individuals even that we might talk about like King David and others of the kings that God again spoke with. But things still began to change because He wasn't dealing with all of His servants. In other words, on a personal basis, speaking with them directly and them responding.
One verse that actually helps us to understand this thought can be found over in the Hebrew letter. If you'll turn in your Bibles there, we see here in this book many again that it was written by Paul or at least a very close associate begins by reminding us of how God dealt and spoke with people and how they spoke with Him in latter times. But notice there in verse 1 as it says, "God who at various times and in various ways spoke in times past times to the fathers by the prophets." Noticed here that it clarifies for us the period of time when God not only spoke maybe to Moses and then through the priests and through the law that was given in many ways to Moses but then also the prophets are mentioned and how that God through many different men like Jeremiah and Isaiah actually spoke directly to the people. In this, He was able to teach the people and tell the people what was required of them.
So God, yes, during different periods handled things it seems in very different ways. Early on, we see that He dealt directly with all of His followers. But then after the time of Moses, as He still dealt directly with the leaders, it seems that He really spoke again through the fathers or leaders to His people. And then as it says there in verse 2 of Hebrews chapter 1, it says, "But in this last time has spoken to us by His Son whom He has appointed heir of all things through whom also He hath made the world." So today, He talks about another period, another time, the Christian Age, that today He speaks to us through His Son Jesus Christ which has now been delivered to us as Jesus said through the giving of the comforter there, the Holy Spirit, recorded well for us in the books of John, John chapter 14, 15 and 16 all deal with that, how the apostles then received it, how later as we read in the book of 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17, as well as the book of Peter that the Word was delivered to us, that is the Word of God in a written form. It was inspired of God and from God. And then again we bring all of this about to understand that that's how God then communicates with us today. And then when we ask the question of "How do we communicate?" or "Who should communicate?" Again, it's the same answer that we've already looked at in these examples thus far this morning, those who follow God, those who love God. Those who want to be obedient to Him must communicate with Him. It's not a choice as we are followers of God. If we want to be pleasing in His sight, if we want to be found faithful, we are commanded to communicate with Him, to talk to Him. You might first of all think and say, "Well, but God knows everything anyway. Why should I tell God something that He already knows?" Well, because God has told us to. He has commanded us to and He has given in His Word the clear references and really illustrations as well as commands that again show us very strongly and urgently the need that we have to pray.
Now what I would like to do as we understand then the need that we have as those that love and believe and want to follow God, to pray, and anyone who wants to be a follower of God must also pray, understanding also that God has always spoke to His people and has given His people a way to speak back to them such as the avenue of prayer and in other methods and ways in other ages. Now we come to the point of also saying, "Why must we pray?" I know that we've been touching and kind of hitting on some of these ideas in some of our other lessons. Some of these lessons might overlap in some areas and there is nothing wrong with that. Again, the thoughts been reinforced over and over will help us to understand again the great need for prayer. But I would first again suggest to us that because of the commands that the Bible has, we have to pray. Why should we pray? Because God says so. We read several of the writers, especially in the New Testament since we are in the Christian Age that help us with this very thought.
In fact, you might remember there in the book of Thessalonians as Paul talked to the Thessalonian brethren in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 and verse 17 that he said that "we are to pray without ceasing." Pray without ceasing. In other words, those who are followers again must pray. How? Without ceasing. A continuous prayer life for God, to God, and on the behalf of ourselves as well as others that we pray for as well as our needs and so on and so forth.
We'll actually have a lesson in about a week or two that will help us know exactly how people prayed in the Bible, and we'll look to that a bit later. So I won't get into that in detail right now.
But let's also continue the thought as we look to the next verse, verse 18. Not only do we need to pray without ceasing, but he said, "In everything give thanks." In everything give thanks. You might remember we use this verse also in connection of understanding that we do it through the name of Jesus Christ as it goes on to say. But in everything give thanks. So we are to pray and we are to speak to God and we are to always give thanks. We're to always make requests and supplication. We are to always let God know our needs although He is great enough to know. We are to with our own mouths be willing to come before Him and say for ourselves what we have need of and again primarily so that we can then thank Him, thank Him so much for not only being our God and being so great and wondrous, but thank Him then for what also that He has given us.
Let me also just remind you of a few other verses that we have mentioned in the past. But there in the book of Philippians chapter 4 and verse 6 again talking about prayer, how that we must pray, how that we must communicate with our God. We can also talk about the verse in Ephesians chapter 6 and chapter 6 and verse 18 again talking about how that we as people of God are to pray to God as often as we can, to speak to Him, to make requests, to make supplication, on and on and on we see that the Bible talks about followers praying to God. So the Bible commands us and gives us plenty and ample commands and examples that show us that followers did pray. So we pray because God has asked us to.
But we also pray because it's the best way to communicate with our God. If I were to ask you how do you communicate with others in your life? You would say it's through speech, maybe through writing, through letters, through different avenues. If I asked you how you communicate with your earthly fathers and mothers, well it's obviously many times face to face with words, the use of sentences and so on and so forth. So the best way we can communicate with God again is by again as we have become accustomed to, bowing our heads, closing our eyes and praying to God, speaking to Him, just as we would speak to one of the earth, our earthly fathers and mothers, speaking to Him as we love Him, showing Him honor and respect but at the same time understanding that He is a loving Father, a spiritual Father, a Father that cares for us and wants to hear from us and wants to know our needs and hear our words of praise unto Him.
So yes, we pray because we're commanded. We pray again because we have that great privilege and so that we can speak to our God and so that we can communicate with Him as He has communicated with us in different ways, but we also pray because we have the great opportunity to know that God hears our prayers. We've also touched in many ways on this. He is a great hearer of prayers. The Bible says over and over in many different verses that I won't take the time to read now because we don't have sufficient time. But there in the book of John chapter 9 and verse 31, it talks about how that God hears our prayers. Again, followers of God, not sinners, but those who follow God.
In the book of Mark again we find that those who follow God, in the book of Mark again, in Mark 11 and verse 24 that helps us to understand again that when we ask, that He hears us and that when He hears us He answers our prayers. We could also look at verses like 1 John 5:14 that help us to know that God not only hears, but He will answer if we are faithful. So another reason that we pray is because we know that God is listening and when we know that God is listening, we know that He has promised to give us specifically the petitions that we as for if they are not contrary to and they do not go against His Will. But let me also offer that we pray because ultimately we want to be able to have the relationship with God that will someday give us the opportunity for eternal life. When we communicate with God and He knows us and we know Him and He speaks to us and we speak to Him and we have again that relationship that will allow us to be one with Him just as Jesus was one with the Father, for us to be one in them, then again it's that communication that will give us someday the privilege and opportunity, not only the blessings that we have on this earth, but of eternal life in heaven with that King of Kings and that Lord of Lords. There with the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, all those who have gone on before and were found faithful. What a glorious day it will be someday when not only are we able to use the avenue of prayer to speak directly to God, but when we are able to stand before His almighty throne and speak with Him and to let Him know what we think of Him and for Him to communicate with us face to face just as He spoke with Moses and others in earlier times.
Why not accept the great privilege that you have as one who loves God to speak with Him knowing that all who speak will be heard, and knowing that if we are faithful, He will hear us and answer our prayers because in all of these things, we must strive to glorify God and bring Him the glory that will someday again give us the ultimate reward that He has so amply promised us.
(SONG # 3 - "Heavenly Sunlight!")
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 all mankind of this earth understand the importance of prayer to God, because without prayer how can we communicate with our Creator?