The Believer’s Birthright

The Believer’s Birthright (Eph. 1-2)

        Acceptance by God, with access to Him 24/7,

        Blessing upon blessing upon blessing because I am His beloved,

       Confidence that I’ve been chosen by Him,

       Deliverance from the penalty and the power of sin,

       Enlightenment to understand spiritual things, and eternal life that will never end,

        Forgiveness of all my sin – past, present, and future,

        Grace for every situation and need,

        Hope for my tomorrows, a Heavenly Home be prepared for me,

        An inheritance that is kept for me in heaven,

        Justification so that in God’s sight I am right with Him,

        Knowledge of the truth,

        His love that will never let me go, His life that is abundant, full, and free,

        Mercy that gives me less than I deserve,

        Nearness regardless of where I am or what I’m doing,

        Oneness with Him,

        His power that’s unlimited and His peace that passes all understanding

        His quickening into new life within,

        Redemption from a meaningless, empty, superficial existence,

        The divine seal of His Spirit placed within me,

                …and the list keeps going on and on.

                                       Anne Graham Lotz, The Daniel Prayer

Sermon Notes: The Twelve Days of Christmas

 

We can attach Christian symbols to each of the gifts of the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” whether they were originally intended or not. That way when we hear it on the radio, in the mall, wherever, those symbols of our faith come to mind.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree. 

The first gift of this Christmas song is a partridge, a small bird similar to a quail or a grouse.  The original gift of Christmas is Jesus, sent to earth from God.  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.”  The partridge was known as a valiant bird, willing to fight to the death in order to defend its young.  The bird’s readiness to die for its young made it an ancient Christian symbol of Christ.  The pear tree represents the cross.

Jesus says in John 10, “I am the good shepherd…I lay down my lie for the sheep.

 

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me two turtledoves. 

For hundreds of years, Jewish families used turtledoves as offerings to God.  The gift of two turtledoves is a reminder of the sacrifice offered for Jesus by Mary and Joseph.  When Jesus was forty days old, they took him to the temple in Jerusalem.  They brought a sacrifice of two turtledoves as was required by law. They dedicated Jesus to the Lord from the beginning.

Luke 2:22-24

Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. 23 The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” 24 So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

 

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me three French hens. 

French hens were valuable poultry during the sixteenth century – only the rich could afford them.  These costly birds symbolized the three valuable gifts given to Jesus by the wise men:  gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Gold was the most precious of all metals.  Frankincense and myrrh were expensive spices used as incense and for burials.

Matthew 2:10-11

When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

 

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me four calling birds. 

French hens were valuable poultry during the sixteenth century – only the rich could afford them.  These birds symbolize the three valuable gifts given to Jesus by the wise men:  gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Gold was the most precious of all metals.  Frankincense and myrrh were expensive spices used as incense and for burials. Like birds calling out with loud and distinctive voices, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John spread abroad the news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.  They called people to faith in Jesus as their Savior. 

John 20:30-31

The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

 

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me five golden rings. 

Gold rings are among the most valuable and treasured of all gifts.  The five golden rings represent the first five books of the Old Testament:  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.  These books, known as the Torah, were treated with great reverence and considered to be worth more than gold.  In these books, Moses, the commonly accepted author, records the creation story and the beginning history of the people of Israel.

 

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me six geese-a-laying. 

In many cultures, eggs symbolize new life.  Six geese laying eggs become reminders of the six days of creation when God, by His Word, brought forth life on earth.  God spoke and filled the earth with plants, birds, animals, and people during the first six days of creation.

Genesis 1:1, 31

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!

And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

 

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me seven swans a-swimming. 

Seven swans symbolize the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Just as baby swans grow and change from “ugly ducklings” into beautiful and graceful birds, so do God’s children grow and change through the work of the Holy Spirit.  The various gifts of the Holy Spirit are distributed for the benefit of the entire body of Christ.

Romans 12:6-8

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

 

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me eight maids a-milking. 

The eight milking maidens represent eight unique teachings of Jesus sometimes called the Beatitudes.  These words of Jesus, from His Sermon on the Mount, nurture and strengthen us much the way milk nourishes a child. 

Matthew 5:3-10

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble,
    for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
    for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
    for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace
    for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
    for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

 

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me nine ladies dancing. 

The nine ladies dancing remind us of the nine different fruits that the Holy Spirit produces in the lives of God’s children.  Just as these ladies dance joyfully, so can every Christian rejoice over the life-changing fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

 

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ten lords a-leaping. 

Lords were men with authority to command people’s obedience.  Ten lords a-leaping symbolize God’s ten basic laws, otherwise known as the Ten Commandments.

Exodus 20:3-17

Then God gave the people all these instructions:

“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.

“You must not have any other god but me.

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 

“You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.

“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy…

12 “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You must not murder.

14 “You must not commit adultery.

15 “You must not steal.

16 “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.

17 “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.”

 

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me eleven pipers piping. 

Eleven pipers represent the eleven apostles who were chosen by Jesus and remained faithful to Him.  (There were twelve before the betrayal and suicide of Judas.)  Like children joyfully following a piper, these disciples followed Jesus.  They also called others to follow Him.  They piped an everlasting tune of great joy – the message of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. 

Mark 3:16-19

These are the twelve he chose:

Simon (whom he named Peter),
17 James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder”),
18 AndrewPhilipBartholomewMatthewThomasJames (son of Alphaeus),
ThaddaeusSimon (the zealot), 19 Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).

 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming. 

Just as drummers beat out a loud, steady rhythm for marchers to follow, so the Apostles Creed sets forth the beliefs of those who call themselves Christians.  The twelve drummers represent the twelve vital Christian beliefs as stated in the Apostles’ Creed. 

“The Apostles Creed” (led by all readers)

 I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended into hell; The third day He rose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;

from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Church universal,

the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

 

(Adapted from Hanging of the Christmas Greens: A Service for the Beginning of Advent

by Monte Nabors and Kelly Yates with additions by Dennis Bratcher)

 

Let’s All Say, “I’m just me.”

I’m the pastor of a small church in a small town, and I’m know in my church as well as the community for turning a memorable phrase or two. Some have even made their way to the church sign. My personal favorite is “If you don’t believe in Bigfoot, your God is too small”. But another phrase I say often is “I’m just me,” meaning I never try to put on airs or pretenses, what you see is what you get; for better or worse, warts and all.

As with so many others, my heart broke when I heard the tragic news of Pastor Andrew Stoeklein taking his own life. My prayers continue for both his family and his congregation. I have also read many responses to his passing, including Stephanie Lodbell’s brave piece, “Pastors and Mental Illness”.

I have never struggled with clinical depression, and my prayers go out to my sisters and brothers in the pastoral ministry who struggle daily. Although I have my own demons, many since childhood, I cannot imagine the sense of hopelessness you all must feel at times.

It saddens me that a sense of vulnerability and imperfection in pastors is still met with judgement in the church.  It is simply wrong that the responsibility of pastoral leadership should include the burden of perceived perfection.

I grew up in the church, and I cannot tell you how many times I saw congregants go on the attack at the slightest hint that their pastor or his family didn’t live up to their “expected” standards.  They use the euphemism that “a pastor is held to a higher standard” – but, in reality, it is plain, old fashioned, self-righteous judgement.

I have pastored in the Midwest, the South, and now the West Coast, and I have always resisted these expectations – particularly for my children. I have told more than one church board member that if I am told my employment hinged on my children’s behavior I would quit on the spot.  It’s hard enough to be a Christian kid in this country today; no child needs the added weight of their father’s employment resting on their shoulders. I would rather dig septic tanks than expect my child to bear such a load (particularly when it’s a load of manure).

It’s this fear of judgement that keeps pastors in solitude; fighting such horrific demons as mental illness, depression, self-hatred and anxiety without the support the church so freely offers to others.  It would be an amazing day in the Church of the Nazarene if pastors could say, “I’m just me,” and know that their friends and congregations saw them as loved and broken children of God who have simply been called to lead.

Although I am fully sanctified, my heart and my life devoted to Christ and Him alone, I don’t pretend to have attained any degree of perfection or sinlessness – perceived or otherwise. The best example I can set for my congregation and for my family is the same example set by Paul to the Philippians:

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Phil. 3:12-14

I am nothing more than a devoted follower of Jesus who is in process. I press on. Not perfect, not complete, but pressing on.

Let’s follow Jesus with our whole heart – study, pray, fast, serve, love and trust – but let’s do it without the fetters of perceived perfection and unfair (dare I say, idiotic) expectations. We lead best when we can do so with transparency and honesty.

We are in process, but we don’t pretend to have achieved any sort of perfection or any particular goal. If we are farther along the path of maturity than others, it is because we have been called by God to lead, and in that only because He has gone before us. The best part of being a little farther down the road is the opportunity to take the hand of another who is in process and help them over the obstacles.

Strongholds & Warfare Praying

Sermon Notes

Key Passages: 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Ephesians 6:10-18

  • Looking at prayer regarding:
    • Strongholds
    • Praying the Word of God
  • Warfare praying – lifting petitions to God in the midst of spiritual warfare

 Truth to always remember:

       Life is spiritual warfare.

  • That’s why praying The Lord’s Prayer is important.
  • That’s why daily formal prayer time is
  • Keeps us in contact with our Father and Savior.
  • Warfare praying is mandatory.

 

Part 1 – Why is spiritual warfare so important?

Many people hear the words “spiritual warfare” and automatically think of possession

  • Possession is ugly, time consuming and draws attention
    • The devil doesn’t want to draw attention to himself – he wants to draw attention away from Jesus
  • Spiritual warfare isn’t so much about possessing the person – it’s about controlling the mind.

 

We indirectly engage the enemy on a daily basis.

His activity and his influence is all around us every day.

That’s why life is spiritual warfare.

 

We are living in the End Times.

 Proper Biblical Definition of “End Times”

  • Time between Jesus’ ascension and His return
  • The Nazarene Church has no official doctrine of the end times
    • End times theology – eschatology
    • No official eschatological doctrine
    • I don’t know, don’t care how God is going to do it.
    • I just know that He is – and we need to be about His work until Jesus comes back

Revelation 12:12

Therefore, rejoice, O heavens!
And you who live in the heavens, rejoice!
But terror will come on the earth and the sea,
for the devil has come down to you in great anger,
knowing that he has little time.”

  •  The second Jesus ascended to Heaven the devil knew his days were numbered.
  • So he stepped up his game.
  • Wants to take as many with him as he can.

The enemy knows scripture better than we do.  He knows the truth of

2 Timothy 3:1-5

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

  •  The devil knows this
  • He knows that life is spiritual warfare

WE need to know it.

We need to know:

Ephesians 1:3

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.

 

 

Part 2 – Strongholds

2 Corinthians 10:3-5          NIV

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

So much in those verses to help us in our spiritual warfare:

 Vs 3 – For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.

  • Big surprise! God doesn’t want us doing things the way the world does.

 Vs. 4 – The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

  • We don’t fight with weapons of the world
  • Our weapons have divine power to demolish strongholds

Vs. 5 – We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

What is a stronghold?

  • Any argument that “sets itself up against the knowledge of God.”

Beth Moore – Praying God’s Word p. 3

“A stronghold is anything that exalts itself in our minds, ‘pretending’ to be bigger or more powerful than our God. It steals much of our focus and causes us to feel overpowered. Controlled. Mastered.”

  • Quite often can be something we obsess about
  • But it is something that consumes so much of our emotional and mental energy that
    • Stifles our walk with Jesus
      • Abundant life isn’t available
    • Work for God is limited and ineffective

That is the enemy’s goal in spiritual warfare.

  • You are believer – child of God – you’ve already been bought and paid for
    • He’s lost that battle already
  • What he wants to do now is make you ineffective
  • Wants you so caught up in a stronghold that you are effectively useless to the kingdom

The battlefield is the mind.

The chief battlefield is the mind – because the most effective way to influence behavior is to influence thinking.

So, if the enemy can build a stronghold in the mind of a Christian he is well on his way to rendering them ineffective in the Kingdom.

  • Few things in our lives will be more formidable than a stronghold
    • Look at the word – it means something has a “strong hold” on us

 

Remember – in our modern language – a stronghold is:

An obsessive thought or thought process

It is a mental barrier that you cannot break through

  • How many kids in our schools here are thinking:
    • No one loves me – no one cares about me
    • No one knows who I am – if they really knew me they would hate me
    • I hate who I am
    • I’m worthless, stupid, ugly, pathetic…
    • No matter how many people tell them otherwise THEY CAN’T BREAK THROUGH THAT THOUGHT PROCESS
  • How many adults are thinking:
    • I’d be happy if…
      • I had a better job
      • I had a nicer car
    • My family doesn’t care about me
    • If God cared about me he would…
    • I’m too old, I’ve missed my chance
    • I’m worthless, stupid, ugly, pathetic…

These are stronghold – Christians have them as much as non-Christians

 

Part 3 – Our Weapons

 Christians are burdened by strongholds

  • Non-Christians are burdened by strongholds

The difference is – we have weapons to demolish them

 Ephesians 6:14-18

Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

These are our weapons.

Armor: defensive

  • Belt of truth
  • Body armor of righteousness
  • Shoes of the Gospel of peace
  • Shield of faith
  • Helmet of salvation
    • to protect our minds

 

Weapons: offensive

  • Sword of the Spirit – the Word of God
  • Pray in the Spirit – spirit-led prayer

 

Strongholds are mighty fortresses in the mind that we and the enemy have built together

  • The enemy planted the thought
  • We bought into it

You’re not going to “chip away” at them with

  • Personal determination
  • Secular psychology
  • Denial

You can’t ship away at a huge fortress – you have to demolish it

 How do you demolish it? – YOU BLOW IT UP

  • Demolish it so it can never be used again

 

God has given us two divinely powerful sticks of dynamite

  • His Word & prayer

 If you take these two sticks of dynamite and strap them together they become exponentially more powerful.

  • So we pray the Word of God
  • We pray the scriptures

  

We will never win a spiritual battle without prayer.

  • Prayer is not a means to an end – it is the end
  • In spiritual warfare our primary strength is our godliness
  • Godliness is achieved through intimacy with God
  • Intimacy is achieved and maintained through prayer

2 Corinthians 10:5

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

  • When we pray the scriptures
  • When we read the Word of God and turn it into our own prayers
    • Just like we did with the Lord’s Prayer

 

  • We are retraining and renewing our minds to think like Jesus
  • Every time we choose to think like Jesus about any situation or stronghold instead of Satan’s way or our way
    • We take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ

 In praying the scriptures we find ourselves

  • In intimate communication with God
  • Our mind being retrained and renewed (Rom. 12:2)
  • Thinking His thoughts rather than mine

 

Beth Moore – Praying God’s Word

  • 14 examples of most common and most disabling strongholds
    • Idolatry
    • Unbelief
    • Pride
    • Depression
    • Addiction

 

Idolatry – Before you dismiss the idea of idolatry in your life there are three points she wants you to consider:

 

 

  1. Virtually every stronghold involves the worship of some kind of idol.
  • Pride – involves the worship of self
  • Addiction – associated with the worship of a substance or a habit

In one way or another something has replaced God in our lives

 

  1. As long as our minds rehearse the strength of our stronghold more than the strength of our God, we will be impotent.
  • We focus on the grip the stronghold has on us rather than the healing power of God
    • The stronghold will stay in place
  • Pray6ing the scriptures retrains and refocuses our minds

 

  1. We may be forced to admit that we have the wrong picture of God.
  • Rather than a true picture of God
  • We have a picture we have conjured up in our minds often to justify the existence of the stronghold

 

 Colossians 1:15-17

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together

 

Prayer:

You, my Christ, are the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by You all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by you and for you. You are before all things, and in you all things hold together.

 

Psalm 40:5

Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.

 

Prayer:

Many, O Lord, my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.

 

 

Unbelief –

  • It is not uncommon to struggle with unbelief
  • There is a difference between believing in God and believing
    • You are forgiven
    • I will care for you.

 

1 Timothy 4:1

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

 

Prayer:

Lord, your Spirit clearly says that in the later times some will abandon the faith of follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Please help me to be very discerning of deceptive teaching. Help me never to abandon the faith for a lie.

 

Romans 11:20

 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble.

 

Prayer:

Father, according to your word, it is possible to be broken off from part of your plan because of unbelief. Your word says not to be arrogant but to be afraid. O Father, I do not want to miss any part of your plan because of my unbelief! Please forgive me for any unbelief and help me walk by faith.

 

Source:

Praying God’s Word, Beth Moore

 

Types and Aspects of Prayer

Sermon Notes

 

Part 1 – Expanding and Beyond the Lord’s Prayer

Luther strongly suggested doing what we have talked about with The Lord’s Prayer

  • Working through each petition in your own words
    • Great value in this
      • Focuses our minds – rids distracting thoughts
      • It is actual prayer

Then Luther points out two things:

  • After praying through the Lord’s Prayer – one should feel free to “pray from the heart”
    • Free form prayer – pray as you feel led
    • Own petitions
  • Luther also points out be on the lookout for the Holy Spirit
    • The Spirit might impress upon you an insight from scripture and instruct your heart
      • In this case – put aside all other petitions, sit in silence and listen

Luther says:

“The Holy Spirit himself preaches here, and one word of his sermon is better than a thousand of our prayers. Many times I have learned more from one prayer than I might have learned from much reading and speculation.”

  • So, as we move into free form prayer we lift up our other concerns and personal petitions to God

This is not to say that anything goes in free form prayer.

Remember – One of the greatest myths of prayer: Because it’s prayer, my motives will always be pure.

        St. Augustine – our hearts are “disordered”

  • Simply by our human nature – our hearts are disordered
    • Things of greatest importance can be 3rd or 4th in priority in our hearts

St. Augustine:

“God, whom we should love supremely, is someone we may acknowledge but whose favor and presence is not existentially as important to us as prosperity, success, status, love, and pleasure… Unless at the very least we recognize this heart ‘disorder’ and realize how much it distorts our lives, our prayers will be part of the problem, not an agent of our healing.”

  • This why so important to meditate on scripture and pray the Lord’s prayer
    • Settle our hearts & minds
    • Focus more on the things of God
    • Settles the disorder and centers our priorities

 

Part 2 – 2 Types of Prayer

Two types of prayer – private & corporate

  • Either praying by ourselves
  • Praying in concert with other believers
    • Everything else – different types of requests or petitions

 

Jesus Describes Private prayer: Matt. 6:5-6

 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Corporate Prayer: Acts 4:23-31

 As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said.24 When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— 25 you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying,

‘Why were the nations so angry?
    Why did they waste their time with futile plans?
26 The kings of the earth prepared for battle;
    the rulers gathered together
against the Lord
    and against his Messiah.’

27 “In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. 28 But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will.29 And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. 30 Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

31 After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.

 Those are types of prayer – private and corporate

  • Two legs of prayer life

 

This illustrates another of the myths of prayer: Private prayer is more important than corporate prayer.

  • Private prayer is not more important – more convenient
  • Equally important – 2 legs of your walk

 It is America’s sense of rugged individualism that has led us to believe this myth

    • I pray for myself
    • I pray for others
  • If you look at the attendance of the average church – most pastors report less than 2% of a congregation will attend a prayer meeting
  • W. Tozer once said not to expect a big crowd when God is the only attraction.
  • For a church body or an individual to have a truly effective ministry without a thriving corporate prayer life
    • Just like trying to win a race on one leg
    • You’ve handicapped yourself right out of the gate

 

Part 3 – Many Types of Petitions

 Everything else we’re talking about are petitions

  •  Requests we make of God

Phil 4:6 NIV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

 Here we have a lot of different types.

Let’s look at four types of petitions: Supplication, Intercession, Faith, Thanksgiving

Supplication to ask God for something – typically for yourself

  • “Give us today our daily bread” – supplication

 James 5:13-15

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.

  Luke 11:11-13

 “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? 12 Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! 13 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

 St. Augustine – pray for a “happy life”

Happy life as defined in Psalms 27:4 –

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,

 This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pray for other things

    • The Lord’s Prayer shows we need many things
  • But, if God and knowing Him is truly our greatest pleasure It transforms how we view our happy life.

 

Intercession – to plead or mediate on behalf of another person

  • Praying earnestly for the needs of others
  • This is probably where we will spend the bulk of our time in prayer.

Many examples of intercessory prayer in scripture:

        Abraham prayed for Sodom – Gen. 18:22-33

        Elijah prayed for rain for Israel – 1 Kings 18:41-46

        Elisha prayed for a boy to come back to life – 2 Kings 4:32-36

        The church prayed for Peter – God busted him out of prison – Acts 12:1-18

Paul gives us a beautiful explanation of how to pray for someone:

Col. 1:9-14

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,[c] 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

 

What does this passage teach us about intercessory prayer?

 Pray persistently

        Vs. 9 – “we have not stopped praying”

  1. What to pray for.

                        – grow in complete knowledge of His will

                        – spiritual wisdom and understanding

        Vs. 10 – Why?

  • So their lives will
    • Honor and please God
    • Produce every kind of good fruit
    • Know God better and better

Vs. 11 – Prays that they will be strengthened w/ His glorious power

  • So they will have
    • Endurance and patience

Then he prays:

  • They will be filled with joy
  • Always thanking the Father

 

Petition of Faithtwo kinds – pray in faith/pray for faith

        Pray in faith – rooted in confidence in the Lord’s word

Mark 11:22-25

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. 23 I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. 24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

         Matt. 9 – The Bleeding Woman

                Vs. 21 she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”

        Pray for Faith – one example

Mark 9:23-24 – Father asked Jesus to heal his son – “Have mercy on us if you can.”23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

  • This one example – but a strong one
  • James says if we lack wisdom we can ask for it

This indicates if we lack faith we can pray for it.

Thanksgiving

  • This should be a standard part of all prayers
  • Praise and worship brings us into the presence of God
  • Praise and thanksgiving are powerful weapons
    • Disarm two deadliest weapons of the enemy
      • Unbelief and satanic attacks

Many Psalms of Thanksgiving

Psalms 100

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
    Worship the Lord with gladness.
    Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
    He made us, and we are his.
    We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
    His unfailing love continues forever,
    and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

 1 Thess. 5:16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

How to Pray

sermon-notes.png

Here are the notes from this past Sunday, Nov. 5. You can also view the entire study on our Facebook page “Clearlake Nazarene Church”.

Blessings,

Pastor Chris

 

Goals: 

  • You would understand how we can prepare our hearts for prayer.
  • You can take the structure of The Lord’s Prayer – greeting, petitions, conclusion – and put them in your own words.
    • Secondary goal:
      • See the importance of having a formal prayer time each day

There is wrong with “popcorn” prayers, praying while driving, doing dishes, etc.

  • But it is important to carve out 5-10 minutes each day for a formal, quiet, centering prayer w/ God.
  • When we only pray while driving or doing dishes or the like, it’s like existing on snacks – every day you’re only eating snack foods and not having a full meal
  • Formal prayer time provides a full meal with the Spiritual calories and nutrients you need

Martin Luther – talked about cultivating the habit of prayer through regular discipline

 Luke 5:15-16   But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.

  • Pray twice daily – morning and evening
  • Luther said we are commanded to pray just as strongly as we are commanded don’t kill, don’t steal.

I understand that we are all busy with work, own a business, have kids & busy teenagers.

  • That’s why it is important to cultivate the habit of prayer now.
    • Won’t always be busy
    • Won’t always have teenagers
  • Build the habit now and it will grow when you are not so busy.

 

Luther also strongly urges to begin prayer time by meditating on scripture.

Pick a scripture & think about it – meditate on it

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

4 suggestions

  • What is the instruction of the scripture?
    • What does it want you to learn or know?
  • How does the instruction of this passage lead to praise and thanksgiving?
  • How does it lead you to repent and confess?
  • How does it lead you to supplication and petition?
    • What does it lead you to ask of God?

Too often we think of prayer as the thing we have to do to get to something else.

The only thing in our spiritual life more important than prayer is our relationship with Jesus.

Prayer is the main event – not an afterthought.

Meditating on scripture before prayer also cultivates a correct attitude.

True, heavenly-minded prayers will always begin and end with a humble, broken spirit.

  • Only then with they be welcomed at the throne of grace.

 

The Lord’s Prayer – Matthew 6:7-13 NIV

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father who is in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’

(For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen.)

 

Primary Sources:

St. Augustine’s Letter to Proba:

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102130.htm

Martin Luther, A Simple Way to Pray:

Click to access simple_way_pray_luther.pdf

John Calvin on Prayer:

Click to access copr.pdf

Timothy Keller, “Prayer”

https://www.christianbook.com/prayer-experiencing-and-intimacy-with-god/timothy-keller/9780143108580/pd/3108580?event=ESRCG