Good morning my friends. Leanna and I would like to welcome you to J and L Ministries study on prayer. As I have mentioned in the past, I feel God is preparing us for something big. Large. Gigantic!! I think as we get into this study on prayer, we will see why the last couple years worth of sermons are very important. I believe you will also see why those who follow these teachings will be separated from many churches all over the world. It is not that I or we should be in any kind of a contest, but for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord. My friends, I’m not sure about you, but I hope your main hope in life is to stand before God and want to hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” Amen?
Let’s turn to Ephesians 5:25-30 KJV and for us married couples and especially the men, we will see what the Bible says. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (28) So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. (29) For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: (30) For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
The amplified reads like this starting in verse 22 Wives, be subject (be submissive and adapt yourselves) to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church, Himself the Savior of [His] body. 24 As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, 27 That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless]. 28 Even so husbands should love their wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. 29 For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, 30 Because we are members (parts) of His body.
Friends, we have been studying the importance of heart issues for a reason. We want God to hear our prayers, yes? We most definitely want Him to see those prayers come to pass, yes? As we go through this study, we will find out why it is so important to have our hearts right if we want to have prayers answered.
How many of you have asked God for something and know that you know that you know that He answered it? How many of you have been praying for years and haven’t seen it come to pass?
Should we ask God for things we need, or for healing, direction or guidance? Some, and I have heard people say this, they don’t want to bother God with prayers for self. Well my friends, let’s look at this verse.
There are many verses in His word that say that God wants us to pray and He does hear us. Let’s look at some.
King David 2 Samuel 22:7 GW I called on the LORD in my distress. I called to my God for help. He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry for help reached His ears.
1 Kings 18:36-39 GW When it was time to offer the sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward. He said, "LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make known today that you are God in Israel and that I'm your servant and have done all these things by your instructions. (37) Answer me, LORD! Answer me! Then these people will know that you, LORD, are God and that you are winning back their hearts." (38) So a fire from the LORD fell down and consumed the burnt offering, wood, stones, and dirt. The fire even dried up the water that was in the trench. (39) All the people saw it and immediately bowed down to the ground. "The LORD is God!" they said. "The LORD is God!"
Matthew 5:43-48 MKJV You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." (44) But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you, (45) so that you may become sons of your Father in Heaven. For He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (46) For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? (47) And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax-collectors do so? (48) Therefore be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.
Mark 11:24 GW That's why I tell you to have faith that you have already received whatever you pray for, and it will be yours.
Isaiah 59:1-2 GW The LORD is not too weak to save or his ear too deaf to hear. (2) But your wrongs have separated you from your God, and your sins have made him hide his face so that he doesn't hear you.
Now let’s look at things that may hinder our prayers.
Psalms 66:17-19 GW With my mouth I cried out to him. High praise was on my tongue. (18) If I had thought about doing anything sinful, the Lord would not have listened to me. (19) But God has heard me. He has paid attention to my prayer.
So we see that sin has to do with whether or not God hears our prayers. Let’s look at some more verses.
Proverbs 15:29 GW The LORD is far from wicked people, but He hears the prayers of righteous people.
John 9:31 GW We know that God doesn't listen to sinners. Instead, He listens to people who are devout and who do what He wants.
Friends, we see from these verses that sin will stop God from hearing our prayers, but it also says: but if anyone is a worshiper of God He will hear them. We must realize how important it is to keep our lives right with God.
Let’s look at what else might hinder our prayers. Please turn to Mark 11:25-26 KJV And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (26) But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Matthew 5:43-48MKJV You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy."(44) But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you, (45) so that you may become sons of your Father in Heaven. For He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (46) For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? (47) And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax-collectors do so? (48) Therefore be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.
These verses alone show that we need to forgive those who might have come against us. There are times forgiving someone is not easy, but if we want to have that closer intimate relationship with our Lord, we have to. If we want God to hear our prayers, it is a must that we forgive.
Here is something that I notice others doing, or should I say not doing.
Praying in faith. Please turn to Matthew 21:21-22 ESV And Jesus answered them, "Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' it will happen. (22) And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith."
Faith is believing that you have received what you are praying for. If you doubt when you pray, you should not expect that you will receive anything from the Lord. Faith is more than believing God can answer or is able to answer your prayer. Faith is knowing that God has heard and the answer is on the way. I am going to have hate mail come to me from saying this, but we should not use the expression "If it by Thy will," for this is an expression of doubt. There is one place in the Bible where Jesus prayed saying that. No where does the Bible say we should pray IF it be Your will. We must pray with confidence that God has heard and the answer is on the way.
Mark 11:22-24 ESV And Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God. (23) Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. (24) Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Hebrews 4:16 ESV Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
James 1:5-8 ESV If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (6) But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (7) For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; (8) he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
So many times I hear brothers and sisters praying for someone or something, then minutes later in a conversation they say, "Well I hope this works out," or "I sure hope that this sister is healed from this or that." I even hear pastors doing this. Friends, stop doubting. You just prayed, now thank God for what He is doing.
This brings us to the next thing that hinders our prayers and we will end for today and pick up next week, as I don’t want to rush through this. We all need to thoroughly understand these things.
Let’s look at selfish prayers. So often it is easy to get on your face before God and begin to pour out your soul before Him and you find that you spend your time praying for your own needs instead of others. I’m not sure if many of you realize this, but did you know that we are supposed to pray for the lost?
1 Timothy 2:1-8 GW First of all, I encourage you to make petitions, prayers, intercessions, and prayers of thanks for all people, (2) for rulers, and for everyone who has authority over us. Pray for these people so that we can have a quiet and peaceful life always lived in a godly and reverent way. (3) This is good and pleases God our Savior. (4) He wants all people to be saved and to learn the truth. (5) There is one God. There is also one mediator between God and humans-a human, Christ Jesus. (6) He sacrificed himself for all people to free them from their sins. This message is valid for every era. (7) I was appointed to spread this Good News and to be an apostle to teach people who are not Jewish about faith and truth. I'm telling you the truth. I'm not lying. (8) I want men to offer prayers everywhere. They should raise their hands in prayer after putting aside their anger and any quarrels they have with anyone.
Church, did we catch this? How often do we pray for our leaders? Most importantly, how often do we pray for the lost? I know that I have mentioned this before, but someone new may be hearing or reading this. Leanna and I led a Bible Study a couple of years ago. Maybe 5 or years ago called The Way Of The Master. It is a series done by Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron. In this study, it shows different ways of approaching the lost and also things that we might ask them and then going to the Bible. It was an excellent presentation. When we were about to finish, one of the requirements was to go out and witness on the street and sadly, not one would do that. Most of them that attended have lost grown-up children.
One final thing. I’m sure all of you who are hearing my voice or who are reading these notes have spent some time in a church. I have been part of many churches through my 55 years and none of them spend much time in prayer. Yes, there have been a few that may pray several times throughout the service and only 2 of those churches mention the lost in prayer on a weekly basis, yet let me remind you what Jesus said in Matthew 21:13 GW He told them, "Scripture says, 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you're turning it into a gathering place for thieves!" You can also find the same thing in Mark 11:17 and Luke 19:46 and the scripture Jesus was referring to is Isaiah 56:7 GW Then I will bring them to my holy mountain and make them happy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, because my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.
Maybe it is just here in Maine that the church seems to be basically prayerless, but I doubt it. It seems like the majority of churches around here are more into serving dinners, loud music, quilting and so on than spending time in prayer.
Friends, praying is what we need to be doing. Praying with the right heart is so important and we will look at many more things next week that can hinder our prayers. Friends, time is short. The end of the world as we know it is coming to an end. We all need to know how to pray. We need to know what to pray for and we especially need to start praying every day for the lost souls.