THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 6-9-02
LESSON TITLE: PRAYER: "WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF PRAYER?"
Good morning! Thank you for joining us today for God's Living Word. I hope everyone had a great week. And I hope you are ready to begin this new week with a day of service and offering to your God.
As always, it is our commitment through this program to proclaim the simple truth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - which is confirmed for us in the Bible. I hope you all have your Bible's handy and I hope you are ready to worship God together as we sing praises to His name and study from His wondrous word. Now let's begin by talking to our Father in prayer!
Let me take just a moment this morning to bring to your attention a Gospel Meeting which starts tomorrow, at one of the congregations which supports this program. We hope everyone will make plans now to be with the brethren in Oldfield, Missouri, for this time of service and offering to God. This meeting will begin on Monday the 10th and will go through Sunday the 16th. The times for service are at 7:30 each evening and on Sunday regular services hours will be observed, which are 10:00 a.m. and again at 6:00 p.m. This year the Oldfield congregation has a father and son team doing the speaking, there names are Bill and Craig Richardson. Please feel free to contact me if you need any more information on this Gospel meeting.
At this time we want to begin our songs of praise. Won't you join in with the congregation as we together sing our first song of the morning, its name, "Christ, We Do All Adore Thee."
(SONG # 1)
Have you met those people before who just don't seem to care much about God or religion? I have and it just amazes me that anyone could reject God or His will, especially knowing the rewards that are in store for those who obey Him. Many even go so far as to making fun of or laughing at religion - making comments like, "who believes in that stuff" or "I'm not going to waste my life on some church." Isn't it our duty as followers of God to let these types of people see God in us. Then hopefully, through our example, they will be able to see the light and want to know more about our Jesus.
Isn't it also amazing how patient our God is with this type of a person. He continually waits with open arms for anyone who will come to His fold. Paul told Titus about this aspect of God in Titus 2:11, there it says, "for the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men." God's grace is extended to all men, no matter who they are or what they have done. The Hebrew writer said, "but we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone," chapter 2, verse 9. How wonderful it is to know that Jesus suffered death for everyone!
What greater example do we have of this than that of the apostle Paul. As you know, before Paul was Paul, he was called Saul and he actually worked against the cause of Christ. He talked bad about Christians, he persecuted them and he did everything he could to keep the church from growing. It was Paul himself that said, "this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief,"
1 Tim. 1:15.
So, some might say, "but why does it really matter?" Well, let me tell you! We all will be judged by our words and deeds. In Mark 12:37, Jesus said, ""for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Also in Colossians 3:17, Paul said, and "whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the lord!" Now you tell me why it matters?
This morning we have a guest speaker with us who is the minister for the Curry St. Church of Christ, in West Plains, Missouri. We are always happy to have brother Ivie Powell with us as we continue our series of study which is helping us to know more about "Prayer." Our specific topic of study today will answer the question "What is the purpose of prayer?" So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together brother Powell will lead us in this study from God's Word. The name of our next hymn, "He Lives!"
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ivie Powell
"The churches of Christ salute you," Romans 16:16. Thank you very much, brother Sullins. I appreciate very much the invitation of once again being with you and we would like to invite all of you in the area to visit us at the Curry Street church of Christ. Our services this morning: Bible study at 9:30; the morning assembly at 10:30; then back again at 6:00 for the evening service, and we also have services every Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m.
I know of no subject that is more important to the Christian than the subject of prayer. Why should a person pray? Is it just mental gymnastics or beyond that? Some people have the idea that God speaks to them directly, but ladies and gentlemen, the only way that God communicates to the human race is through His inspired inerrant all-authoritative Word of God. When we turn to the Word of God, the Bible lets us know that prayer certainly is important. Our Lord has set the example for us as one that should pray. And when we turn to scripture, we find in Matthew chapter 7, actually verses 7 through 11 that we are to "ask, seek and knock" and therefore when we ask, seek and knock, we find that God will give us those things that we need.
Two verses of scripture that mean a lot to me and I'm sure they will to you as well are found in 1 John chapter 5, verses 14 and 15. Notice carefully the importance of what is stated here. "And this is the confidence that we have in Him that if we ask anything according to His Will, He heareth us, and if we know that He heareth whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him." So when we pray to our heavenly Father, it is contingent upon His Will. We're not to ask for things that are wrong. So the purpose of prayer, one of the purposes of prayer is of course communication with the Father.
In order for that to take place, one must be a child of God. It is rather shocking for one to turn to John 9:31 and to learn that God heareth not a sinner's prayer. One, if he is a worshipper of God and doing the Will of God then God will hear him, and therefore it is absolutely imperative that one become a disciple of the Lord. And one does that by not only "accepting Christ as the Son of God," John 8:24, "by repenting of their sins," Luke 13:3, "confessing Christ as the Son of God," Matthew 10:32, and "being immersed for the remission of sins their sins," Acts 2:38. Therefore, being a child of God, they are able to request of God their hearts desires and prayer gives us many blessings.
In the book of James, when we turn there we find that "the Lord told them that the reason they did not receive is because they did not ask," James 4 and verse 2. He also informed them in verse 3 and following that many of them when they did ask, they were asking amiss. They were not asking for the right purpose. And so we have to have the right purpose in mind.
And then not only that, we find that when we go to God, we do not go to God directly. We're not able to do that. Jesus Christ who is our High Priest is the one that petitions the Father in our behalf. When you turn to 1 John chapter 2, John says, "My little children, He does not want us to sin, but if we sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." In other words, Jesus Christ is our attorney. He pleads our case to the Father.
Now with that in mind, Hebrews chapter 4 lets us know that "we have not a High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities," and then he says, "but was in all points tempted like as we are." He then says in the 16th verse, "let us (we Christians) therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." So we're able to go to God through our High Priest, Jesus Christ, and we obtain mercy and find grace in time of need.
Another purpose in prayer is that we might petition our heavenly Father for others. In James the 5th chapter and the 16th verse, James lets us know that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. In other words, there is much working in that prayer. If that is true of one Christian, then just think how true that would be of a large number of Christians. We pray that the doors might be opened for the furtherance of the gospel. When you turn to Colossians the 4th chapter, you will notice that Paul is actually requesting that brethren pray for the purpose of opening doors. "Continue in prayer," Colossians 4, verse 2, "and watch in the same with thanksgiving." Now why? "With all praying also for us that God would open unto us a door of utterance to speak the mystery of Christ for which I am also in bonds." And so children of God can pray that doors will be opened. They can pray for those who are sick. They can pray for safe travel as Paul did in Romans chapter 1 and verse 10. And so prayer gives us the great privilege of releasing our hearts desire unto Almighty God.
1 Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing." In other words, be of a prayerful attitude.
Romans 12:12, "Be instant in prayer."
And so the purpose of prayer is that we are letting God know our heart's desire. And then also when you think of prayer itself, it helps us to avoid temptation. Now Satan is out to destroy your soul. He wants to see you spend eternity in damnation with him. It is God's desire that you go to heaven. And therefore in this life, we will be tempted. In prayer, we are able to help be directed away from the things of the world. Matthew 26:41, praying there "lead us not into temptation." The mind of Christ in Phillippians 2:5 is the mind that a child of God is to possess. Now when you turn to Psalms 66, you'll find a very interesting statement by David in the 18th verse, and that is "God will not hear us if there is iniquity in our hearts." So the child of God, as he goes to God in prayer, asks our Father in heaven to forgive us of our sins.
Look at 1 John 1, look at verse 7. "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sins." Well, what happens when we sin? Well, dropping down to verse 9, He lets us know that "if we confess our sins," of course repenting of our sins, "and confess them to the Father, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." And so we go to God in prayer for the purpose of asking Him to forgive us of our sins.
Case in point, Acts chapter 8. Simon the Sorcerer became a child of God in verse 12. Then, he saw that through the laying on of the apostle's hands, miraculous gifts were given, he wanted to purchase or buy that gift. And then it was that Peter told him to repent and pray God that perhaps the sin of thine heart might be forgiven thee. So children of God do sin and when we sin we are to repent of those sins, confess them to the Father, and the blood of our Lord will cleanse us of our sins.
Another thought I'd like for you to consider as to the purpose of prayer. It helps us with that enemy - worry. It's hard not to be concerned. Isn't it? 1 Peter 5, verse 7, "Cast in all your care," King James says. American Standard renders it, "All of your anxiety upon Him for He careth for you." God really does care for you and for me. It is not a question of how much does God care. It's really a question of how much we care. God has provided a means whereby that He is going to encourage us that we can unload all of our heart's desires and troubles at the throne of grace.
If you have your Bible, two verses that always meant a lot to my grandmother and I'm sure they mean a lot to all Christians, Phillippians 4:6 and 7, "Be careful or be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known unto God." Now notice the next verse. "And the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
My friends, it is so consoling to know that when we go to God through our High Priest, Jesus Christ, and we pour our heart's desires into our heavenly Father that Christ at the right hand side of the Father is pleading our case to the Father. And if it is in accordance to the Will of God, He will grant us those things that we need.
And in Hebrews 13, the latter part of verse 5. When the Lord said, "I will never leave thee, I will never forsake thee." Therefore when we are walking to the valley of the shadow of death, which we will, it is so consoling to know that we can pray to God as Stephen did. Before he died, he died with prayer on his lips.
Then also, the child of God can have great confidence that God will hear him. I remember a story that the great evangelist Wendell Winkler told regarding another great evangelist Gus Nicholls. A man in the congregation in Jasper, Alabama would not pray to God. When asked, he thought that you know he was just not worthy or fit for God to hear his prayer, and the story is told that brother Nicholls told the man, "I want you to go out one night when the moon is out and the stars are brightly shining. Go into the deep, dark part of the woods and then when no one else is around, I want you to raise your fists to heaven and curse God and dare Him to strike you dead." The man said, "Oh, I would not do that." Brother Nicholls said, "Why?" The man said, "He might do it." He said, "Now, that's your problem. You think that God is going to strike you dead for doing what's wrong, but you don't think God is going to help you to do what is right." Now that's a great illustration, friend. God does not want any of us to be lost. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness but His long-suffering toward us not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance," 2 Peter 3, verse 9. God is not as the atheist and the skeptics and the agnostics portray Him looking down on us just waiting for us to make a mistake so He could say, "Uh huh, I've got you. Now you're going to be lost." God wants us to be saved. And therefore it is so consoling to know that we can pray to God and He will hear us. It is strengthening to know that wherever we go, God is there.
Now I mentioned a moment ago about the reaper "death." We can only go so far with an individual when they're dying. We may hold their hand. We may read scripture. We may pray to God for them. But then, it finally gets to the point that it is that individual and God.
In Luke the 16th chapter, two men died. One prepared. One unprepared. The rich man and the poor beggar Lazareth. Both men died. Both woke up after they were dead. There's life after this life, my friend. And we find that the Bible lets us know in Luke the 16th chapter that angels bore away the soul of that poor beggar in Abraham's bosom in Paradise Valley. And so it is that when we as faithful children of God leave this life, we are given the confidence and the assurance that God will lend His ear to us that He will help us in times of temptation and He will do everything He can to save our souls.
Another point I want to bring out regarding the subject of prayer and that is that we need to understand that in 1 John 4, verse 4, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world." Now my friend, the devil cannot make us do anything that we do not want to do. The idea that the devil made me do it and I have had no control over the situation, that is not true. We find that "the devil can only persuade us to do anything through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life," 1 John 2:15 through 17. And therefore, we can resist the evil one. When you turn to 1 Peter chapter 5, you'll notice that the devil is described as a lion in verse 8 who is waiting and trying to destroy us, but then in verse 9 whom resists steadfast in the faith. So the devil can be resisted. One of the great means of resisting the devil is praying, using scripture, maybe it is literally running away with prayer and scripture in our hearts.
My friend, have you ever prayed for Saddam Hussein? Have you ever done that? Have you ever prayed for Bin Laden? That they would learn the truth and become a child of God. My friend, the greatest message of New Testament Christianity is that all people can change if they're willing to do the Will of God. Every child of God should pray for the furtherance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Every child should be praying for those children of God who have wandered away from walking in the light. And we should pray that we will ever be busy in the Lord's vineyard.
Yes my friend, these are some of the reasons why we should pray and the purpose of prayer. It strengthens us. It motivates us. And it helps us as we go through this life to know that God is with us.
When is the last time prayed? It is our prayer that you will be with us for Bible study this morning at 9:30, the morning assembly at 10:30, and back again tonight at 6:00 and Wednesday night at 7:00.
Thank you for being with us and until we have the opportunity of being with you again, we bid you a very pleasant good day.
(SONG # 3 - "Peace, Perfect Peace!")
What a wondrous time we have had together in participating in the things of God. 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.
Now let me ask if you have any questions or comments about today's lesson? Maybe, you would like a free transcript or a free cassette tape of this program? Possibly, we could assist you with free Bible materials or free Bible correspondence courses? No matter what your need is, please contact us at the following address:
The Living Word
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Springfield, Mo. 65803
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As we all need to understand more what prayer is all about, so that we may address our God in a way that is pleasing in His sight.