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Why Prayer?

How does it fit into God's plan for humanity?

Throughout the scriptures, we see a pattern for prayerful living that involves lifting up one's gaze unto heaven. The practice of prayer is meant to develop within the human soul a near constant state of dependence upon the LORD and personal fellowship. Through this dynamic relationship, the Lord progressively reveals (or manifests) Himself to individuals and communities who then are called to respond in ever-deepening love, trust, and obedience. Through this revelation and response dynamic the believers are able to experience first-hand knowledge of God's care for their lives (through His transcendent and immanent providence).

Prayer as A Way of Life

The scriptures delcare how prayer is not to be seen as an act of piety to be performed as a means to an end. Prayer is a lifestyle, a disposition, a way of life. (See James 4, Hebrews 4, etc.)

James 4:8a

"Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you..."

(1) Invitation

"draw near to God"

(2) Promise

"and he will draw near to you"

It is interesting to note, how the default human nature can be so slow to draw near to the Lord until great distress comes. This is not the ideal pattern. Instead, the scriptures declare that the Lord has always desired for His people to draw near Him, and to live in close fellowship with Him.

(3) Conditions

Does the prayer of your lips match the prayer of your life?

James 4:2-3, 8b

"...You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions."
"...Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."

Dealing with the Root Issues (Faith/Obedience)

Hebrews 11:6

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

Psalm 103:7

"He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel...

Hebrews 4:11-13

"Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account."

Throughout scripture we are called to live by faith not by sight, trusting in God's word above all else. The root pattern of sin and disobedience is an offshoot of the deeper issue of a lack of active trust and dependance upon God for each situtation. Through a life-style of prayer one learns to actively depend upon and receive help from the Lord that retrains our subconscious thoughts that are prone to mistrust the Lord our maker and His way of caring and providing for us. Thus the restless wilderness of our hearts is transformed into a garden (or resting place) where we fellowship with God and receive from Him.

Hebrews 4 (A Twofold Pattern)

Hebrews 4:16

"Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

I. Transcendent Dependence (Upward/Godward):

"approach God’s throne of grace with confidence" Heb. 4:16a

  • This is similar to the concept of Practicing the Presence of God, or the scriptural command to remember the Lord.

II. Providential Receiving (Downward/Manward):

"so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Heb. 4:16b

The Lord's Prayer Outline (intro)

We can take the Lord's Prayer as a teaching outline for all the major categories of Prayer:

I. Transcendent Dependence (God-based):

  • Hallowed be thy name... (Doxology or true worship)
  • Your kingdom come... (Intercession)
  • Your will be done... (Surrender or Consecration)

These three petitions are helpful means of grace for aiding one in practicing God's presence.

II. Providential Receiving (Needs-based):

a. Daily Provision & Thanksgiving

  • Give us this day our daily bread

b. Daily Forgiveness & Relinquishment

  • Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors

c. Daily Perseverance & Purity

  • And lead us not into temptation,

d. Daily Protection & Deliverance

  • but deliver us from evil

I. Transcendent Dependence (Practicing God's Presence)

Becoming more aware of God's presence and activity and joining in what God is already doing.

a. Doxology or true worship

b. Intercession

c. Self-Surrender & Consecration

II. Providential Receiving (Finding Help)

a. Daily Provision & Thanksgiving

  • To commit ourselves to trust in God's providential care.

Phil. 4:6

"do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."

b. Daily Forgiveness & Relinquishment

  • To cast one's cares upon the Lord.

1 Peter 5:7

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

c. Daily Perseverance & Purity

  • To Withstand Trails, Testings, & Temptations

See Matthew 26:41, Mark 14:38

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

d. Daily Protection & Deliverance

  • For Deliverance from All that is Evil

Hebrews 5:7

"During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission."

Teachings on Prayer: