The Master on Prayer

Part 1

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

agf-blanco.com

            For this study, I encourage you to read Mat 6:5-15 before continuing on.  Before we begin, may I ask: Do you pray daily? Do you pray for your spouse, children, church, friends, & pastor? Do you pray for our leaders, the persecuted church, missionaries and foreign missions? Do you pray for great revival in our community & country?  If you don’t, you are likely in the majority of Christians.  Prayer is the most powerful – yet most unused – weapon a Christians has. As Watchman Nee said, “Our prayers lay the track down which God’s power can come. Like a mighty locomotive, his power is irresistible, but it cannot reach us without rails.”

            Jesus said His house will be a house of prayer (Mt 21:13).  In the Old Testament, this was the tabernacle/temple.  But now, we are His Spiritual House (1Pt 2:5, 1Cor 3:16). The Christian is to be the house of prayer.  The question is, are we?  Prayer should be a top priority for the Believer.  E.M. Bounds said, ““What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use— men of prayer, men mighty in prayer”.  He wrote this in the 1800’s.  How much more does this apply today!  Oh, if the church could be stirred to really pray!

            The Believer must know that prayer does not “Put God out”.  It is not a bother to Him.  He wants us to pray. He wants to commune with us. He tells us to call on Him; to knock; to seek; to ask; to come.  Did you know our Prayers are like incense offered to God (Ps 141:2, Act 10:4, Rev 5:8, 8:3-4)? Yes, our heart-felt prayers are a good smell to Him! “Prayer is the greatest of all forces, because it honors God and brings him into active aid.” Bounds.

            Jesus starts out by telling us not to pray as the hypocrites (Mt 6:5, 23:14).  Some prayers are speeches, not intended for God’s ears, but for men’s (Lk 18:11-12).  They are only for show. This does not honor God, and they will not be heard. There is a place for true public prayer from the heart; but even that praying must start in the “prayer closet”.  The prayer closet is any place you can be alone and quiet before God (Mt 6:6).  A place only He sees and hears.  This is essential.  This is real.  Why? Because if you don’t truly believe God hears and answers prayer, you won’t waste your time praying when unseen.  Jesus gave us an example to follow concerning secret prayer (Lk 6:12, Mt 26:36, Mk 1:35, Lk 5:16).  If Jesus needed it, how much more do we?

            Prayer is not to inform God of the situation.  He already knows it.  Prayer is humbling yourself and recognizing your dependence on Him; and involving Him in the situation (Mt 6:8, Ps 38:9).  We are not to pray repeating the same phrases over and over again like the pagans (Mt 6:7, Act 19:34, 1Ki 18:26).  That is using prayer as a magical formula.  There is no faith in that kind of praying. However, the Bible does not teach that we shouldn’t pray for the same thing until we get the answer, but only that we should not repeat the same phrases over and over in one sitting.  Even Jesus prayed more than once.

            When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray (Lk 11:1), He gave them a pattern or outline (Mt 6:9-13) to follow, which is known as The Lord’s Prayer.  We know this is a pattern, because Jesus would not violate His own teaching by repeating this prayer all night before The Father.  This basic outline is very beneficial to us in our personal prayer life.

            Here is a simple breakdown: We acknowledge that God is our Father, that He dwells in heaven, and we pray His name would be exalted, hollowed, revered & honored in this earth.  We pray for His Kingdom to come – as it has spiritually, that it would physically – and that His perfect will would be done in our life and on this earth, just as it is done in heaven.  We pray for our provision, and that of our brethren, and we confess any known sin, and ask help to forgive those who have sinned against us.  We ask that God lead us out of temptation (Mt 26:41), and for His deliverance from all evil.  We then Praise Him and acknowledge that the Kingdom, all power and all glory are His forever.

            By faith, we will receive whatever we ask in prayer (Mt 21:22).  God is not like an unjust judge, but rather He will hear and answer our prayers speedily (Lk 18:1-8).  I pray we take away these three things today: 1. We are to pray often. 2. We are to pray in solitude. 3. We are to pray knowing God accepts, delights in, and answers our prayers.  “The prayer power has never been tried to its full capacity. If we want to see mighty wonders of divine power and grace wrought in the place of weakness, failure and disappointment, let us answer God’s standing challenge, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not!” (J. Hudson Taylor).  Selah. 

   The Master on Prayer

 Part 2

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

agf-blanco.com

            1Ti 2:1-2 “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” This week we will talk on intercessory prayer.  Andrew Murray said on intercessory prayer, “Prayer has a twofold use: one, to obtain strength and blessing of our own life; the other, the higher and the true glory of prayer, for which Christ has taken us into His fellowship and teaching, is intercession. There prayer is the royal power a child of God exercises in heaven on behalf of others and the kingdom”.

            Intercessory prayer is simply to pray to God on the behalf of others (Rom 15:30).  We begin to intercede when we move from praying for ourselves, into praying for the needs of others.  It is part of the privilege of our role as priests. The role of the priest is to speak to God for men.  All true Christians are priests now (Rev 1:5-6, 1Pt 2:5).  As priests, we speak unto God for men.

            In the Old Testament, God was always looking for an intercessor.  He looked for one to stand in the gap between He and the people.  He looked for a mediator (Eze 22:30, Jer 5:1, Isa 59:16, 63:5).  Abraham was that kind of man (Gen 18:22, 20:17).  Moses was that kind of man (Num 11:2, 21:7).  So was Job (Job 42:10), Daniel (Dan 9:16), and others.  They were intercessors.  They pleaded to God for the people. They were types of Jesus.

            In the New Testament, Jesus, our High Priest, has become our intercessor with The Father (Heb 7:25, Rom 8:34), through the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:26).  What does this mean? It means that our intercession as NT Christians is different than that of the OT.  In the OT, their intercession was almost always about pleading with God not to destroy or pour out judgment on the people, because the Lamb of God had not yet been judged in their place.  A normal man had to stand in the gap and plead for mercy.  Now Jesus stands in the gap, forever living to make intercession for us.  His death on the cross satisfied God’s wrath (Isa 54:8-10).

            It is essential for us to realize this.  Too often, New Testament Christians pray like Old Testament saints.  They pray as if Jesus has not come.  They pray as if The Father is totally ignoring what he put His Son through on the cross.  They pray as if Jesus isn’t standing in the gap for us 24-7.  They pray as if Jesus never said, “It is finished!”.  They pray as if God’s wrath has not been satisfied by Jesus’ death.  Essentially, they pray as if nothing changed 2000 years ago on a hill outside the city gates of Jerusalem.  However, everything changed!

            God is not fuming in Heaven, looking to judge someone.  He judged sin in His Son already.  God pleads with man through His children, “Be reconciled to Me.  I have reconciled Myself to you (2Cor 5:19-21)”.  This is not the day of wrath.  This is not the day of vengeance (Isa 61:1-2, Lk 4:18-20).  God’s wrath against sin was poured out on Jesus on the cross.  That sacrifice settled the account.  If man rejects that payment in this age, he will pay for himself in the age to come.  He is storing up wrath against the day of wrath.  There will be a judgment day, but that is not today.  In this age, God’s purpose for His children is to spread the Gospel, so men would be reconciled to Him.

            Concerning intercessory prayer: there is no prayer of intercession in the NT that I am aware of where someone is pleading with God not to pour out His wrath and judgment.  Yet, how many NT intercessors do you hear pray this all the time?  I’m not being critical – I have prayed the same way.  But if we’re going to follow the NT example, we need to pray as they prayed.  Below is a list, though not exhaustive, of NT prayers or prayer Scriptures.  I believe if we would pray for one another – our spouse, our children, our church, our community, our pastor – these following prayers every day, we would see radical transformation in our lives.  I pray you take the challenge.

            Our intercession now, is letting Jesus pray through us.  It is praying in the Spirit.  It is praying according to the finished work of Christ; The Word; The will of God.  We see in NT prayer:  For the Christians to know all they are and all they have in Christ (Eph 1:16-23, 3:14-21); For healing of the sick (Jam 5:15-16); For prosperity (3Jn2); For signs and wonders to confirm the Word (Act 4:29-31); For leaders (1Tim 2:1-2); For the harvest (Mt 9:38); For open doors to ministry (2Thess 3:1, Col 4:3); For boldness of speech (Eph 6:18-19); That we would love one another (2 Jn 5); For our love to abound (Philp 1:9); That we would be sincere (Philp 1:10); That we would be filled with all the fruits of righteousness (Philp 1:11); For wisdom (Jam 1:5); That we would do no evil (2Cor 13:7); That we would be completely sanctified (1Thess 5:23); That we would be filled with all knowledge, wisdom; and spiritual understanding (Col 1:9); That a brother in sin would be restored (1Jn 5:16, Jam 5:19-20).  That we would present our bodies a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1);  That there would be no division among us (1Cor 1:10); That we would avoid those that cause division (Rom 16:17); That Christians would submit themselves to their pastors (1Cor 16:15-16, 1Thess 5:12-13); That men would be reconciled to God (2Cor 5:20); That we would walk worthy of our vocation (Eph 4:1); That we would walk pleasing to God more and more (1Thess 4:1); That we would listen to and obey the Word of God (Heb 13:22); That we would abstain from fleshly lusts (1Pt 2:11). 

            Again, this is not a complete list, but enough to get us started interceding the New Testament way. Selah.

The Master on Prayer

Part 3

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

agf-blanco.com

            Luk 11:5-13  “And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;  For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.  I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.  If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?  Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

            This must be looked at in context.  Far from being a comparison, it is actually a contrast. Unlike this so-called “friend” who won’t help you unless you shamelessly pester him; God is a good Father.  Ask Him and receive; seek and find; knock and it will be open.  Will He give you something bad when you ask Him for good? No.  We must understand this.  Many Christians attribute good as chance, but bad as coming from God.  This is the opposite of the truth.  Good is from God.  He doesn’t give bad when we ask for good.

            Three things are very important for us to know about prayer. 1. God’s Promise – God answers prayer! 2. God’s Example – there are many examples of answered prayer in Scripture! 3. God’s Condition – There are Scriptural conditions for answered prayer we must heed in order to be effective!

            1. God answers prayer.   Jer 33:3 says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (see also Ps 145:18-19, Jn 14:13-14, 15:16).  Joh 16:23-24  says, “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.  Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”  God wants us to call on Him in Jesus name. He wants us to ask.  He wants to show us mighty things.  He wants our joy to be full.  We need only believe this and act on it. He proves this by Biblical example.

            2. Examples of answered prayer.  Act 4:29-31 says, “ And now, Lord, behold their threatening: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. (see also Act 9:11, 40; 28:8, 1Sam 1:27, 2Kin 6:17-18, 4:32-33).  There are so many examples of God answering prayer, I couldn’t possibly list them all here.  But this is enough to show God answers when we call Him.

            3. Conditions for answered prayer.  The Bible lists several conditions we must meet if our prayers are to be answered.  These are: 1. We must seek Him with all of our heart (Jer 29:12-13, Heb 11:6).  There must be no half-heartedness in our prayer life.  2. We must not doubt (Mk 11:23, Jam 1:5-7). 3. We must believe we have received the answer when we pray – not when we see it (Mk 11:24). 4. We must forgive (Mk 11:25).  5. We must pray according to God’s will.  This comes through knowing God’s Word (1Jn 5:14-15, Jn 15:7). 6. We must believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and love the brethren (1Jn 3:22-23). 

            When we cooperate with God in prayer, we are sure to get our answer.  Pray everyday.  Have a prayer list.  Pray for specific people.  Pray for specific things.  Lift up God’s Word to Him.  He is willing and able to answer all of our prayers prayed in accordance with His word.  Do not faint in prayer.  Press in and get your answer.  God hears and God answers.  Believe it and receive, or doubt and do without!  Selah.

The Master on Prayer

Part 4

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

agf-blanco.com

            Col 4:12-13 says, “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, salutes you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.  For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.” Wouldn’t we all want an Epaphras? What comfort and strength it would bring us, to know there is someone who has a great zeal for us, and always labors passionately for us in prayer.  Someone who perseveres in prayer for us; who never quits; who presses in, no matter the circumstances.  I would suggest we all be an Epaphras, if we want an Epaphras.  It is to emulate Christ, Who is the chief intercessor for us.

        We are exhorted often in God’s Word to persevere in prayer (1Thess 5:17, Col 4:2, Rom 12:12, Lk 18:1, 21:36, Eph 6:18). We are to continue, stay persistent, press in, overcome, not quit.  Since there are so many exhortations to persevere in prayer, we can safely assume there is a temptation to not persevere; to quit; to give up.  It’s one thing to know you should persevere – it’s another to know how to persevere.  Today we will learn some tips in persevering in prayer.

            1. Don’t be anxious, but rest in God.  Philp 4:6-8 tells us that we overcome anxiety through prayer.  When we give all of our worries, concerns, and cares to God through prayer, God’s peace that passes all understanding keeps our hearts and minds.  Anxiety will cause you to fail in prayer – rest, peace, and confidence will cause you to persevere.

            2. Know God’s grace is sufficient.  In 2Cor 12:7-10, We are told that Satan gave Paul a thorn in the flesh (persistent persecution – Num 33:55, Jos 23:13, Judg 2:3).  When he prayed for it to be removed, God told Paul His grace is sufficient.  God’s grace will sustain you.  We will not always get instant answers to prayer.  Although sometimes it is a fight, God’s grace will sustain you through the trial until your answer should appear.  This truth will help us persevere.

            3. Be angry at Satan – not God or people. 1Ti 2:8 tells us we are not to pray in anger, but Eph 4:26-27 tells us to not let the sun set on our anger.  In fact, we are commanded to be angry.  Is this a contradiction? No.  We do not wrestle against flesh and blood (Eph 6:12).  We are not be full of wrath toward people, and certainly not God.  However, we are to hate evil, hate Satan, hate sin.  We are to have a holy hatred, and the sun should not set on our wrath and hatred for Satan and every evil way. Some Christians need to get some fight in them.  Take your authority.  Resist the Devil is what we are commanded – not run from him.

            4. Know there will be satanic hindrances. In Daniel 9:20-23 & 10:12-13, we see Gabriel was hindered for 21 days by demonic forces before he arrived with Daniel’s answer; while the time before he was there instantly.  Even Paul the Apostle was hindered at times by Satan (1Thess 2:18).  Don’t let these hindrances cause you to give up.  Persevere!  What if Daniel would have quit praying on day 20?  We must not quit.  We must continue in prayer, knowing our answer is on the way!

            5. Put on the full armor of God (Eph 6:10-17).  If a soldier is to persevere in battle, he must be properly armored.  So, the Christian must be suited in the full armor of God to remain steadfast in the battle.  You put on the full armor by meditating on each piece until it becomes reality to you.  The truth of God’s Word, the belt which holds everything together. The breastplate of righteousness, covering the heart that is covered in God’s righteousness.  The shoes, planted firmly on the foundation of the Gospel of peace.  The helmet of salvation, protecting the mind, giving assurance of eternal life.  The shield of faith, stopping the flaming spears of lies and evil thoughts Satan’s forces fire at us daily.  The Sword of the Spirit, God’s Holy Word spoken from our mouths, which is sharper than any two-edged sword, that drives away the enemy.

            Though not an exhaustive list, these are some very important principles to implement in your Christian life to help you remain steadfast in prayer.  If you have been failing to persevere, I assure you, if you will apply these principles, your prayer life will change radically.  Set yourself to praying.  Become a prayer warrior.  See the power of God manifest in your life!  Set aside time every day to pray, and expect to see the impossible come to pass in Jesus Name! Selah.

   The Master on Prayer

  Part 5

 

By Pastor J.D. Link

agf-blanco.com

           Psalm 1:2-3 says, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Blessed is the man that meditates in God’s Word.  But what is meditation? Let’s get into God’s Word.

            Meditate: Hebrew – Ponder; imagine; murmur; mutter; study; speak; Greek – Revolve in the mind; imagine; picture.  So, by Biblical definition, meditation means we are to think on, ponder, imagine over and over, mutter, speak, utter the Word of God and the truth it contains. Like prayer, this should be done day and night (Josh 1:8, Ps 1:2), or “without ceasing”. However, like prayer, there is a time for the meditation closet – just like the prayer closet. A time set aside, wholly devoted to meditation. This could be a part of your prayer time, or a separate time.

            Many Christians fear the word meditation, because it immediately conjures images of Hindu Gurus, Buddhist Monks, & New Agers.  Therefore, they somehow think meditation is not Christian.  They might think you’re dabbling in the occult or crossing over to the dark side if you meditate.  That is absolute foolishness.  No less than 20 verses of Scripture contain the word meditate or meditation. We modern Western Evangelicals with our super busy lives and often superficial faith, miss out on the deeper Spiritual Christian life because we avoid meditation.

            When should we meditate? Well, in one sense, we should do it all day – like prayer (Jos 1:8, Ps 1:2, 119:97, 1Thess 5:17).  But in particular, the Bible talks about evening meditation (Gen 24:63, Ps 119:148).  I wouldn’t make it a law, but it’s practical. Meditating after all the daily duties are fulfilled is wisdom.  Finishing off your day reflecting on God is the path to a good night’s rest, and a good start to the next day.

            With what should we meditate?  Our mouth and our hearts (Psa 19:14, 49:3).  Remember, meditation is picturing, imagining – which is done in the heart; and muttering, which is done with the mouth.  You picture God and His Word, and you speak His Word. On What should we meditate? 1. God’s Word (Psa 119:15, 23, 48, 78)   2. God’s Works (Psa 77:12, 143:5) 3. God Himself (Psa 63:6, 104:34).  Speak His word slowly, thinking on it; meditate on all creation, look up at the stars – the vastness; Think on the One Who spoke it all into existence, and holds it all in His hand. 

            What are the benefits of Meditation?  Profit, prosperity, success, longevity, great understanding and wisdom –  just to name a few (Josh 1:8, Ps 1:1-3, 1Tim 4:15, Ps 119:99). So we see that meditation is a Biblical thing, a good thing, a blessed thing, a Christian thing.  Don’t be scared away from meditation because some others use it in another way. 

            So, how do we meditate?  Here are some practical steps you can take to help you start.

  1. Like for your prayer time, turn off phones, computers, tv; lock doors, pull blinds, etc. Most of us will find this task alone to be difficult – just do it!
  2. Relax. There is nothing that can’t wait for 15 – 30 minutes, or more, if you make time. If something is really pressing on your mind, then write it down, and write the time you’ll take care of it – then forget it!
  3. Get comfortable (sit in a chair or lay on the floor). Take some slow, deep breaths. You’ll find yourself feeling good just by doing this. Purposefully relax all the muscles in your body. It will take several minutes just to relax when you first start out.
  4. Once you are relaxed, start going through Scripture meditations (I will include some at the end). Say each one slowly. Ponder each one. Do not rush through it. Roll it over in your mind. See it fulfilled in yourself. If you catch your mind wandering, just bring it back to the Scripture meditation and keep going. Remember to breath deep and relax.
  5. I would recommend doing this every day; but if you can’t, a least 3 times a week. Commit 15 minutes to doing this – preferably more. An out-of-control, wandering mind will take time to tame – but you can do it! Most of us do not even realize how undisciplined we are in our thoughts until we start trying to meditate. Just don’t get discouraged and quit. It is an exercise, and like all exercise, it is tough to do at first, but it yields positive results, and eventually you will actually look forward to doing it! It is good for you – spirit, soul, & body. 

            Thank You God: That I am Your child – Gal 3:26, That You love me – Rom 8:39, That You accept me – Eph 1:6, That You have blessed me – Eph 1:3, That You have saved me – Rom 10:9, That You have given me eternal life – 1Jn 5:11, That You have forgiven me – Col 2:13, That You have eternally redeemed me – Heb 9:12, That You have eternally perfected me – Heb 10:14, That You have made me complete in Jesus – Col 2:10, That I can do all things through Christ – Phip 4:13, That I am more than a conqueror – Rom 8:37, That I am always caused to triumph – 2Cor 2:14, That I have the victory – 1Cor 15:57, That greater is He that is in me – 1Jn 4:4, That I am a world overcomer – 1Jn 5:4, That I am an heir of God – Rom 8:17, That You gave me the measure of faith – Rom 12:3, That You gave me Your power –  2Tim 1:7, That You gave me Your joy – Jud 1:24, That You gave me Your peace – Jn 14:27, That You made me righteous – Rom 5:19, That You gave me Your grace – Jn 1:16, That I was and am healed – Isa 53:5, 1Pt 2:24   That I am surrounded with favor – Ps 5:12.