THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT

Program Air Date - 6-2-02

LESSON TITLE: WHO SHOULD WE PRAY TO?

WELCOME

Thank you for joining us for the Living Word Program on this wondrous Lord's Day morning. It is always a privilege to have you with us for this time of offering to God. We welcome you to this service for our Creator.

Today, we have the opportunity together to worship and praise our God. This morning we will glorify our Lord through songs of praise and through the study of His perfect Word. Won't you do your part to make this time together acceptable in His sight. Now, let's begin our praise to God in prayer. (Prayer)

The greatest story ever told is in relationship to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This morning we want to sing a song which reminds us of just how important the story of Jesus is. So, won't you join in with the brethren at this time as we sing together, "I Will Sing The Wondrous Story."
(SONG # 1)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

James asked a question in chapter 3 and verse 13 of his book. There he said, "who is wise and understanding among you?" Oh, to be wise! Usually when we think of wisdom we think of success, power, or control, but really this is not what we find in the Bible. Our society has taught us that wisdom is of this world, but again this is not what we find in God's Word. In fact, the very opposite is true. In the same verse that we read earlier, James went on to say, "let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom." Does this sound like power and control. The inspired James said that good conduct, good works and gentleness are a part of what true wisdom consists of. In the same chapter, James continues his thoughts in verses 14-18, where he goes on to confirm that true wisdom is of God and not of earthly things.

When we focus on God and His will we start down the road to becoming wise. True wisdom comes from not only knowing what God says and what He wants, but being able to practice what He says and wants in our everyday action. You see wisdom is really learning to make the best use of our knowledge, in Christ Jesus.

Now back to power. Solomon said this in Proverbs 24:5, "a wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength." Here we see that strength and power are an outcome of true godly wisdom, but they do not produce wisdom in and of themselves. We also further see the extent of the strength of wisdom in chapter 12 and verse 18, of the same book. There Solomon said, "there is one who speaks like the piercing of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health." Over and over in the Bible we see this same idea being promoted, how a wise man accomplishes good and promotes health, but on the other hand, the foolish choose to reject God's wisdom for the world's wisdom.

It is this same Solomon who prayed to God for wisdom, to lead God's people properly. Let's read together, 2 Chronicles 1:7-12, so we can see how this great story unfolded. "on that night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, 'ask! What shall I give you?' and Solomon said to God: 'You have shown great mercy to David my father, and have made me king in his place. Now, O Lord God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?' and God said to Solomon: 'because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life; but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king; wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like.'" Now I hope you are beginning to see what God's wisdom is like! Also notice the great rewards from God in response to one proving their wisdom before Him.

Another great example of God's wisdom is found in Joshua 24:15, when he confronted the people as to whether they would serve God or reject Him. Notice what Joshua said in this verse, "and if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Here we see true godly wisdom. Putting the Creator above everything and anyone else. Standing on the promises of God and not this earth. This morning we will consider our next lesson in our series on "Prayer." Our specific topic of study today will deal with "Who Should We Pray To?!" So please stay with us through our next song and after that I will return with this study from God's Word. Now it's time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "Almost Persuaded."
(SONG # 2)

LESSON

Speaker: Ray Sullins

Thank you for continuing with us this morning. We now have the opportunity to look again into our series on prayer. We've already been able to look last week together with brother Smith at the topic of really what prayer is and understanding that that's how we communicate with God. Really, one of our most special avenues to talk to God so that we might really make our requests of Him and be able to thank Him and so on and so forth. And I again in the book of Psalms, we find that so many of the Psalms deal with this very same type of ideology. In fact, we find that many of them are psalms of worship. Some are dealing with prayer. Some are dealing with praise and just on and on we could go about this book of psalms.

In fact, if you'll look primarily with me at this time at the psalm 17, we find there that it deals in the first several verses specifically with a prayer that David was making to God. Just for your own information, too, that might be interesting. Of the 150 psalms, 136 of those psalms actually begin in the 1st verse with God. I think that shows us that David really understood who his creator was and that he needed to address his creator. Even in the other 14 psalms that would then equal the 150, even in those in the 2nd verse, he then addresses also his God, his creator. So even if he didn't do it in the 1st verse, he always did it in the 2nd verse, which again shows us that David understood who God was, that he was trying to acknowledge Him as the Almighty God, the Creator and really the essence of all, the all important God. And we need to do the very same thing as we address our God.

But if you'll look with me there in Psalms 17. Notice what it said there in verses 1 through 9. "Hear a just cause, oh Lord, and attend to my cry. Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips. Let my vindication come from your presence. Let your eyes look on the things that are upright. You have tested my heart and have visited me in the night. You have tried me and have found nothing. I have proposed that my mouth shall not transgress. Concerning the works of men, by the words of your lips, I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer. Uphold my steps in your paths that my footsteps may not slip. I have called upon you for you will hear me oh God. Incline your ear to me and hear my speech. Show your loving, marvelous kindness by your right hand. Oh you, who have saved those who trust in you from whose you are able to rise them up. Keep me as the apple of your eye. Hide me under the shadow of your wing. From the wicked who oppresses me, from my deadly enemies who also surround me."

As we read here, David talked clearly about this God that he served and pleaded and begged with Him as you can hear in these verses that He would hear him. And then acknowledged in the same verses that God not only be requested to hear him, but that He would hear him and that He would care for him and protect him and guide him. And furthermore as we saw there in the last verse, verse 9, that really even his enemies would be cared for by God. So again, God is there for those who will pray to Him and God will hear us just as He heard His servant here, David, in order that we might be able to pray and ask those things that we will. So notice as we talk about who we must pray to, we find that David addressed the Almighty Creator in heaven.

We might also go over to the New Testament and look there in 1 Corinthians chapter 14 and verse 15 because Paul there again was talking about prayer as well as singing and he says his conclusion was that we must pray with the spirit and we must pray with the understanding. You see, when we pray to God, it must be with the right heart and attitude and it must be with an understanding that is proper and worthy and acceptable before God. So again, when we ask the question, "Who should we pray to?" Does it make a difference. Certainly it does, because we must pray with the understanding. We must know what we are saying and we must know who we are addressing. I can't imagine that David, as he was such a great servant as we have just read, I can't imagine that he would be praying not knowing whom he was praying to especially after we said that all the psalms addressed God specifically in name mentioning Him as the Almighty God, the Almighty Creator.

So we must know who to pray to so that our prayer might be acceptable. You might say, "Well, okay we've said that we pray to God and we can all accept that. But do we need to be even more specific?" Well I think in Bible terms, yes. We find that really that when they prayed to God that they addressed the Father. You see in the Godhead or the Trinity as we might refer to it also today, we have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Would it be right then for us to pray to the Son? Would it be then for us to pray to the Holy Spirit? Would it be right for us to pray to the Father? What is it that the Bible tells us? Who was it that David was addressing as he spoke of this Yahweh, this Almighty, this God, this King and Lord of Lords? Well, we might also find this answer throughout the Bible, not only in the Old Testament as we've looked there, but also in the New Testament. And where I'd like to start to answer the question of who specifically must we pray to in the Godhead, we begin with what Jesus said and that's in the book of Matthew chapter 6.

Matthew chapter 6, we find there that Jesus taught His disciples how to pray in the great Sermon on the Mount. In fact, if you'll look there in chapter 6 and verse 9 with me, He says there, "In this manner, therefore, you should pray, Our Father in heaven, hallow it be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors and do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, amen." You see, Jesus here in teaching how to pray addressed whom. He addressed the Father, the Father God. In fact, He says, "Our Father." And where? "Who art in heaven." At this time, Jesus was on the earth and He was praying to His Father as well as our Father as we find in scripture. Then notice as He goes on through the prayer that He says, "Hallow it be your name." He doesn't say, "My name." He says, "Father, your name be hallow." Then He says, "Your kingdom." Then He says, "Your Will be done." And on and on and on, He addresses the Father in His prayer. And let me remind you that as in the beginning He said, He said, "This is how you ought to pray." He didn't say, "When you pray as my servants, you pray to me." He says, "Here is how you ought to pray. You should address our Father in heaven."

There's a parallel verse found over in Luke chapter 11 and if you'll look there you'll find that in comparison really the same thing was said except the disciples there in verse 1 were asking Jesus, "Lord, how shall we pray? Whom should we pray to?" Now His own disciples were asking this and Jesus didn't say, "You pray to me or you pray to the spirit." Jesus said, "Pray to our Father who art in heaven." So again, we find that scriptures show us that when we pray to God, we are specifically praying to Father God. Now if you are still not convinced and you say, "Well Jesus was on the earth and He couldn't pray to Himself or they couldn't pray to Him at that time because He wasn't yet in heaven, so maybe that's what it was all about."

Well let's look further then into other scriptures when Jesus had already ascended back to heaven and when His apostles were carrying on according to His inspiration with the Holy Spirit, what they should according to His Will. Notice what Paul said in Ephesians chapter 5 and verse 20. Here very clearly he tells them about prayer as the following, "Giving thanks always for things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Notice there that specifically he says that we are praying to God the Father in what? In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I want to look at another verse just a few chapters over in fact in a book there which we find of Colossians and really a very familiar verse because there in Colossians verse 17 of chapter 3, he talks about doing all that we do in not just our word but in deeds. But notice what it says there. "In whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through Him." There again in that passage we see that Jesus lead these men, these inspired men, according to the Holy Spirit and they said that we pray to the Father through Jesus Christ. Well now this simply makes good sense as we continue on to notice that he says similar things in the book of Philippians chapter 4, verses 6 and 7 and we pray always through Jesus but we give thanks to who? The Father. Also, in 1 Peter 2 and verse 5 where it says, "All things are really done to God again through Jesus." This only makes good sense because Jesus was that mediator. He was that one who was sent to us so that He could be between us and the Father. And that's exactly what scriptures tell us.

In fact, if you were to look in several of the gospel accounts, for instance, John chapter 12 verses 49 and 50, we find there that Jesus was saying, "What I say is from the Father. My Will is not my own will. My words are not my own words, but they are from the Father." You see, Jesus came and He said, "Glorify my Father. Don't glorify me." Jesus came and He said, "Don't serve me." He said, "I am your servant. You serve God." So again, if we'll look at the whole picture and we can understand clearly who we are to address in prayer. We shouldn't say, "Jesus, how are you doing?" and talk to Jesus. We should say, "God, God the Father, hallowed be your name." And then at the end as we have clearly seen in the book of Ephesians as well as Colossians and as we can clearly see in other places, it is in the name of Jesus. Why? Because He is our mediator.

I want you to look at a verse that might help you specifically with Him being our mediator. That is in 1 Timothy chapter 2 and verse 5. It says there, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and man and that is the man, Jesus Christ." There again, there's a Father in heaven. There are men on earth. The one between is Jesus Christ. So when we address, we address the Almighty Father just as Jesus says, "All I do is according to the Will of the Father." Just as Jesus told His mother as they were in Jerusalem, "Don't you know I must be about my Father's business?" Not "my business," but "my Father's business." Again, in all these things, we clearly see that we are to address God the Father in prayer and through the name of Jesus knowing that He hears us, knowing that He will answer our prayers and do all that He has promised to do.

Let me also finally mention in our closing seconds that the Spirit is involved. In fact, in Romans chapter 8 and verse 26, we don't pray to the Spirit, but it talks there in Romans 8:26 about how that He also intercedes for us with groanings of the heart and soul that really we don't understand. Things that we don't even know that we need. He is there for us. But we don't pray to Him. He is the intercedor, just as Jesus. So when we pray to God and we ask a question, "Does it matter who we pray to and who must we pray to?" Let's answer that correctly by saying, "We must pray as Jesus said to pray, our Father in heaven." And then at the end of the day when we finish our prayers, let's say in the name of Jesus Christ because it is only through Him, His sacrifice, His death, and His blood that was shed on the cross that we are able to pray at all and to communicate with our God who has promised us everything on this earth.

Let's all strive everyday to know more about what God would have us to do and to be people who pray and talk to God as He has commanded us through His Word, the Bible.

(SONG # 3 - "Each Step I Take!")

CLOSING COMMENTS

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 as Christians study more and teach more about the need to know how to pray. So that we may each approach the throne of God in a worthy manner and according to His Will!
(Program closing)