2. A Heart for Prayer
Intro: Before we start today, I’d like somebody to remind me what we’re studying in this class. “How to Think Like Jesus”. And what was it that we talked about last week? A Heart for the Lost. Because remember that if we are going to think like Jesus, we must first of all develop a love for the lost, like Jesus had. Today, we’re going to study the second thing we need to think like Jesus – A Heart for Prayer. So let’s begin in prayer.
A. I Jn.5:14-15
Look first of all at I Jn.5:14-15. In this passage we learn that God answers our prayers because we are His children. Let me ask you this: Can God answer the prayers of a lost person? The answer, I believe, is yes. We can see times in the Scriptures and throughout history that God has answered the prayer of an unbeliever, but it was always with the result that they believed on Him and then received Him as their Savior. God can answer the prayer of an unbeliever, but He is under no obligation to.
Next, look at Jn.14:13-14. Jesus tells us here, “Y todo lo que pidiereis al Padre en mi nombre, esto haré, para que el Padre sea glorificado en el Hijo.” In his life on earth, Jesus was always trying to bring glory to His Father. And so He does when He answers our prayers. All of Jesus’ life was lived for the purpose of glorifying His Father. We’ll be looking at that area more in the next two weeks.
C. Lk.11:5-8,9-13; Matt.7:7-11
Look now at a passage in Luke. In this passage, Jesus asks the people He was teaching, how they would respond if they knew that somebody had a need, or even just a desire. He says, which of you who has a friend who is hungry would refuse to give him something to eat? The answer is obvious. None of us would do that. So Jesus then says, “If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to those who ask you, how much more will your Father who is in heaven?” God our Father loves us. And He is ready and waiting to give us the things that we ask for. But His desire is for us to ask those things of Him; then He will give us those things He already wants to give us. What a privilege we have in prayer to call upon the power and love of our Heavenly Father.
D. Mat.6:1-13; Lk.18:10-14
This next passage speaks not only of prayer, but of our Christianity in general. Matthew 6:1 says, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Jesus was speaking here of the religious practices of the Pharisees. Listen to what this passage says about them. When they came to the temple to give, they would sound a trumpet so that everyone would gather around to see what they were giving to the poor. Jesus says, “They have already received their reward.” The praise they received from men was the only reward they would receive. Jesus says, “When you give, do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” The idea He is trying to communicate is that your giving is a personal matter between you and God. We are to give what God tells us, to whom God tells us, and when God tells us. And consider this. Someone once said, “You have never truly given, until you have given to somebody who can never repay you.” Jesus said, “When you do anything for the least of people, you did it unto me; and when you don’t do something for the least of people, you didn’t do it unto me.” Then Jesus applies the same principle to prayer. He says, “Don’t be like the Pharisees, who stand in the temple and on the street corners and pray loudly with long prayers so that people will hear them. But when you pray, go into your closet and pray to your Father who hears in secret and will reward you openly.”
He then gives them a sample prayer, which we know as “The Lord’s Prayer”. Jesus did not intend to give them some type of magic words here, but rather, a demonstration of our attitude in prayer. In this prayer we see worship (“Our Father…hallowed be thy name”), surrender (“Your will be done”), petition (“Give us this day”), repentance (“Forgive us our sins…”), guidance (“Lead us not into temptation”), protection (“Deliver us from evil”), and praise (“Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever”). When we pray to God with this attitude, He hears us.
Look now at another passage in James very briefly. This passage tells us first of all that often we don’t have what we need, because we have not asked for it. I ask you this, as I often ask myself: “Is prayer to you a first reaction or a last resort?” Too many times, I find in my own life that prayer is just a last resort. It’s like, “Well, I’ve tried everything else, so I guess I should just pray about it now. But no, prayer should be our first reaction to any situation. Then notice in verse 3, that it is possible for us to ask for the wrong reasons. In this case, God will not answer out prayers. Biblical prayer is not like a genie in a bottle who will grant us any 3 wishes we want; biblical prayer is to request the right thing for the right reasons and receive the answer from our Father in heaven.
F. Lk.18:1-5; I Ths.5:16
When should we pray? I Thessalonians 5 tells us to “Pray without ceasing.” We have talked about how Jesus would often teach in parables. Well look at this parable in Luke 18. Luke tells us, “This parable Jesus taught that men should always pray and not lose heart.” It is the story of a widow who comes to an unrighteous king, begging for justice against her enemy. The king refuses, but she continues to beg him. Time and time again, she asks him. Then eventually, the king grants her request, so that she will stop asking. This is the attitude we should have with God in prayer. Never give up. Pray and pray and pray and pray until God answers, because He has promised that He will.
G. Mat. 21:21-22; Jms.1:5-8
Now comes the most important element of prayer – faith. If we are to learn to pray effectively, we must pray with faith. This is something that God has been teaching me in the past few months. Matthew 21:21 says, “If you have faith and do not doubt… whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Lastly, listen to this verse about God’s power to answer prayer. “Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…”
I. A prayer of Jesus – Gethsemane/John 17
As we close today, I want us to examine one of the prayers of Jesus. We know from the Gospels that Jesus was often in prayer, regularly and consistently. We one of those prayers is actually recorded for us in John chapter 17. It was Christ’s prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. Have you ever wondered what Christ was praying for that night, when He saw the cross before him and his disciples all around Him? He prayed for so long that they fell asleep 3 times. We see in His prayer His human fear combined with His humble surrender. He prays in Mark, “Father, if it is possible, take this cup away from me; but not my will, but yours be done.” Look now at His prayer in John 17. “Father, the hour is come. Glorify your son, that your son may glorify you.” Again we see that Christ’s main desire on earth was to bring glory to His Father in heaven. “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world,” Jesus prayed for His disciples. “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” Now listen to this: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;” Who is that? That is you. Jesus prayed for you. He prayed for me. Because somewhere, if we were able to follow the trail all the way back, we have heard about Jesus through the testimony of the 12 disciples. Peter preached the gospel at Pentecost and 3,000 people were saved. They then went out across the world preaching the gospel. And that same gospel was passed down through the years, and eventually, somebody told you about this Jesus. You believed on Jesus through the testimony of the disciples. Jesus prayed for you in the garden that night. What an amazing thought!
So if we are going to think like Jesus, we must begin by developing a Heart for the Lost. And then, we must have a Heart for Prayer. If Jesus Christ, the Son of God, needed to spend time in prayer, how much more do we? Remember that one of Jesus’ purposes for coming to earth was to give us a perfect example to follow. A heart for prayer will help us to think like Jesus. Let’s pray…