Archive for the 'Prayer' Category

Aha Moments: The Ongoing Offering

Aha Moments: The Ongoing Offering

Matthew 6:7-15

Contrast Catholic understanding of Communion as an ongoing offering with our use of the Lord’s Prayer as a repeated model

What Does The Lord’s Prayer Show Us?

Ongoing Offering On Our End ~ Matthew 6:7-8

  • 7 “keep on babbling”=vain repetition; NOT an injunction against repeating prayer, but repeating patterns for sound alone sake; we do NOT practice “magic”, and we do not need a specifically said formula or phrase for prayers to reach God (cf. Luke 18:9-14)
  • 8 NOTICE: Prayer is NOT to “inform” God of your needs. We’re not telling God anything He doesn’t know. We’re OFFERING UP our desires as an ongoing reminder TO US that we need God

Pattern Over Procedure ~ Matthew 6:9-10

  • 9 our MODEL prayer, not Liturgical
  • 10 First Act: Admit God is Holy. Second Act: Submit to HIS will. Both of these are all about GOD, not us. Put God First!

Offering As Exchange ~ Matthew 6:11-13

  • 11 “daily” gives translators fits: it’s a uniquely Bible word that doesn’t really appear in ancient literature. Think of daily bread as “Just-In-Time inventory”; we depend upon God for our daily supply
  • 12 we give up OWING as we give up BEING OWED; want to be set free? Stop holding onto what binds you
  • 13 “temptation”=God doesn’t tempt: He allows us to experience testing situations (cf. James 1:13-15)

Matthew 6:14-15 – all about equity: AS (dependent upon) we forgive, we are forgiven. If we do not let go of our RIGHT TO JUSTICE, we have no right to ask for mercy from God. I’d rather have God’s infinite mercy rather than my limited sense of justice!

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Prayer Practicum: Intercessory Prayer

Prayer Practicum: Intercessory Prayer Sermon Audio Here

John 17:1-9

DIY Network is gone from my channel list! Why? It was only a “preview”; have to subscribe to get the real thing!

To Build Our Practice of Intercessory Prayer,

Know the Equation of Faith ~ John 17:1-9

  • v1/2 Jesus prayer: God be glorified through OUR salvation
  • v3/7 knowing AND showing=glowing (glory)
  • v8/9 accept Word + knowledge + faith = understand we’ve been chosen (the subject of Jesus’ prayer)

Show the Magnificent Model ~ Exodus 17:8-13

  • Picture Moses, watching from the hilltop, praying for his people. Who was fighting the battle, and how? The earthly battle was fought with muscles & blood, with weapons of war. The prayer battle was fought with willingness to stand together, and determination to stay before the presence of the Lord until He answered!

Read Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25

  • Now consider this: what does Jesus do now? The same thing that Moses did for Israel: He stands for us, now and forever!

Grow in Persistence That Wins ~ Luke 18:1-8

  • Jesus gives a parable of persistence. How does His example shape your prayer life? This is a discipline that we can develop!

Gracious Holy Spirit, so much of my life seems to revolve around my interests and my welfare. I would like to live just one day in which everything I did benefited someone besides myself. Perhaps prayer for others is a starting point. Help me to do so without any need for praise or reward. In Jesus’ name. Amen.1

 
 
 
 
 
 

1. Richard Foster, Prayer, the Heart’s True Home, pg. 201

Prayer Practicum: Contemplative Prayer

Prayer Practicum: Contemplative Prayer Sermon Audio Here

John 15:1-10

THIS IS ABIDING: Joining With Jesus

John 15:1-10 our Big Idea from this text is in verses 4&5: “remain in me” – what does it mean to “remain” in Jesus? The tense in the Greek is CONSTATIVE: a Solemn Command “Make this your top priority” Jesus wants to MAKE SURE we understand the importance, the GRAVITY of His command to remain or abide in him. And like gravity, this is pulling at us ALL THE TIME.

James 4:8: Come near to God and he will come near to you.

~ God doesn’t change; when we approach, He comes into focus

John 17:21: that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.

~ Unity with God is the goal; more of Him, less of us

SO: How Do We Abide In Christ?

Two Active Preparations

  1. Loving the Lord: Zephaniah 3:17: The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”
    ~ RECEIVE God’s Love for you – you are worth it BECAUSE God has chosen you!
    In Proverbs 8:17: I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.
    ~ Give God Love – Love Him Back
  2. Purifying the heart: Psalms 24:3-4: Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.
    ~ Just like a lover will spurn all others to declare dedication to their loved one, so we must let go of anything that stands in the way of our love for God. God wants and deserves first place in our lives.

Two Passive Preparations

  1. Still the Soul: Psalms 131:2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
    ~ We surrender to Christ’s control, and let Him calm the Spirit within us.
  2. Listen for the Whisper: Jeremiah 30:21: Their leader will be one of their own; their ruler will arise from among them. I will bring him near and he will come close to me, for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?’ declares the LORD.
    ~ Who is doing the drawing? The Lord!
    ~ Who is engaging in the process? WE ARE

Just like a plant grafting being changed from the inside out, THAT is what God does in us… but remember, the process takes TIME. We can’t rush it, but we can recognize what’s happening, and lean into it.

Prayer Practicum: Unceasing Prayer

Prayer Practicum: Unceasing Prayer Sermon Audio Here

Ephesians 6:18-20

New Yankee Workshop-Norm Abram had every tool; Dick Proenneke had a few hand tools, and made every other tool he needed. What tools do we use in prayer? Our challenge is to

Expand Our Prayer Toolbox With

Breath Prayer

  • Luke 18:13 is the example of the most well known “breath prayer”
  • Not formal, not fancy, but definitely got the job done.
  • In Psalm 130:1, the first verse reveals a gut-level response to life:
  • Ever feel like you’re so far lost, you won’t possibly find your way out? Cry out for help!
  • SW: Think of short phrases that you “send up as a flare” prayer; Resolve to use them!

Presence Prayer

Brother Lawrence, wrote, “the most excellent method he had found of going to GOD, was that of doing our common business without any view of pleasing men, and (as far as we are capable) purely for the love of GOD.”

  • Galatians 1:10 ~ When we serve, we remind ourselves: THIS IS FOR GOD.
  • Ephesians 6:5-6 ~ As we serve, we think of God’s presence, and we PRAY IN RESPONSE

“As he proceeded in his work, he continued his familiar conversation with his Maker, imploring His grace, and offering to Him all his actions.” ~ Brother Lawrence

  • If we were able to offer everything we did, no matter the context, as an offering to God, how would that affect our prayer life?

Steps Into Unceasing Prayer

  • The first step is outward discipline. A concert musician might make their performance seem effortless, but consider how much time was spent practicing scales. Ask yourself: what concrete disciplines could you use to commune with God in prayer?
  • The next step is mental discipline. What examples do you see in Psalm 119:9-16?
  • The third step is “splanchna” – gut-level change.
  • Consider Colossians 3:12 as an ongoing example for us ~

We MAKE THE CHOICE what we will “put on” in prayer. And we make this choice EVERY DAY.

“’O Lord, my Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth.’ The Pleiades and Orion sing your praise. Sparrows and chickadees mimic their song. All creation seems in harmony with you, the Master Conductor. All, that is, except me. Why? Why do I alone want to sing my own melody? I certainly am a stubborn creature. Forgive me.
I do desire to come into harmony with you more fully and more often. I do desire a fellowship that is constant and sustaining. Please nurture this desire of mine, which seems so small and tentative right now. May I someday become like the trees, which are ‘planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not whither. In all they do, they prosper.’ For Jesus’ sake. –Amen.”1

 
 
 
 
 
 

1. Richard Foster, Prayer, the Heart’s True Home, pg. 129

Prayer Practicum: Covenant Prayer

Prayer Practicum: Covenant Prayer Sermon Audio Here

Galatians 3:15-20

In a contract, we exchange promises; in a covenant, we give OURSELVES to each other; God GAVE Himself for us (John 1:1, 14), and we are to give ourselves to God (Romans 12:1). Let’s look at four aspects of

Our Response-Abilities in Covenant Prayer

We Respond in Obedience ~

  • John 13:36-38 – Not just promises
  • Peter makes promises; how does that play out?
  • Instead, 1 Peter 1:2 tells us we have been chosen for obedience
  • 2 John 1:6 ~ Christian love IS to walk in obedience to Christ
  • So What? Jer. 29:12 God WANTS us to pray; when we pray, we obey

We Respond with Time ~

  • Acts 3:1 – notice the reference to the TIME of prayer
  • Psalm 5:1-3 – What time do you see here?
  • 1 Thes. 5:17 – challenge to pray always
  • So What? make and keep regular appointments with God in prayer

We Respond With a Place ~

  • Acts 16:13-16 – a formal place of prayer; how formal is YOURS?
  • 1 Kings 8:27-29 – How does this “place” affect prayer?
  • Matthew 14:23 – How does Jesus’ example affect ours?
  • So What? the LOCATION doesn’t matter; Pick a place to pray!

We Respond With Heart Preparation ~

  • Habakkuk 2:20 – how do we prepare for God’s presence?
  • Psalm 103:1 – how does this interact with Hab. 2:20?
  • So What? ask yourself: are you “all in” in prayer? what’s holding you back?

“Blessed Savior, I pace back and forth at the altar of commitment. I really do want a fixed habit of prayer. At least, that is what I want right now. I’m not sure if that is what I will want two weeks from now. I do know that without some kind of consistent communion with you I will not know holy obedience. So, as best I can, I promise to set aside time regularly for prayer, meditation, and spiritual reading. Strengthen me in this covenant. Help me to so delight in your presence that I will want to come home to you often. In your name and for your sake I make this covenant. Amen.”1

 
 
 
 
 

1. Richard Foster, Prayer, the Heart’s True Home, pg. 77

Prayer Practicum: Formation Prayer

Prayer Practicum: Formation Prayer Sermon Audio Here

Phil. 2:12-13

“The primary purpose of prayer is to bring us into such a life of communion with the Father that, by the power of the Spirit, we are increasingly conformed to the image of the Son. This process of transformation is the sole focus of Formation Prayer.1

God’s Sculpting Of Our Lives Includes

Pursuing and Being Pursued ~ Phil. 2:12-13

  • v12 “work out your salvation” {work to finish}
    carry arm full of wood – “you got it? Yeah, I got it from here”
  • v13 “God works IN you” 1) to WILL {emotionally desire} 2) to ACT {energize; same as “works”}

Picking out Our Part ~ 1 Tim. 4:7-10

  • v7 train yourself – this takes work
  • v8 it’s worth it, both short term and long term
  • v9/10 Hope is important ingredient; reason to keep going

Peering Into The Abyss ~ Gal. 2:19-21

  • v20 live our lives by faith in Jesus
  • v21 depend upon God’s grace

God started the process; we’re supposed to be an ACTIVE part of it too! Faith that Jesus can live our lives WITH us, and make them BETTER (John 10:10b) is what happens when we decided to live by God’s grace instead of only our ability.

“Dear Lord Jesus, in my better moments I want nothing more than to be like you. But there are other moments…. Help me to see how good conformity to your way really is. In my seeking for you may I be found by you. I love you, Lord. Amen.2

1. Richard Foster, Prayer, the Heart’s True Home, pg. 57
2. Ibid., pg. 66

Prayer Practicum: Simple Prayer

Prayer Practicum: Simple Prayer Sermon Audio Here
Click here to play the file

Mark 9:14-29

In seminary, I took a class on Prayer. We used a number of materials, but I was inspired by the book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster. Our Wednesday night small group looked at this book at the end of last year, and I thought it would be helpful to prepare for the approaching Advent season by considering a number of aspects of prayer.

PLUNGE into Prayer: Just As We Are ~ Mark 9:14-19

  • v17 brought my son TO YOU
  • v18 disciples couldn’t help
    • we often try do deal with stuff on our own first… only after it doesn’t work do we finally take the problem to God

The well-known theologian Charles Hodge wrote about his early years at Princeton: “It was my privilege to be the pupil-assistant of Professor Joseph Henry, the illustrious scientist. When, for the first time, electric signals were sent from point to point, the earth itself being used for the return current, Professor Henry put me at one end of the circuit, while he stood directing the experiments at the other. I can well remember the wonderful care with which he arranged them. Very often, when the testing moment came, he would raise his hand in adoring reverence and call upon me to uncover my head and worship in silence. He would say, ‘Because God is here, I am about to ask Him a question.’”

SoWhat? set your heart at rest by recognizing God’s presence – you’re not alone {1 John 3:19-20}

The PROBLEM in Prayer: Beginning Where We Are ~ Mark 9:20-24

  • v20/22 boy in the midst of trouble; doesn’t wait to “clean up” before going to Jesus
  • v23/24 our lack of faith is a lack of trust;
    • we don’t want to admit that WE aren’t in control, even though we never are

Money magazine reported in its January 1997 issue that a group of people were asked which is longer, the Panama Canal or the Suez Canal, and then asked how certain they were that their answer was correct. Among those who were 60% certain, half of them got the answer right–meaning that this group was only a little too sure. But among those who were 90% certain, only 65% got the answer right, meaning that this group was 25% too sure.

SoWhat? continually converse with Christ – choose to connect {1 Thes. 5:16-18}

The POINT of Prayer: Conversion of the Heart ~ Mark 9:25-29

  • v28 The disciples didn’t believe like the father did (v24); Jesus had given them authority. But he had not given it to them apart from God. They needed to rely on God, to know without a doubt the truth that Jesus later expressed, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)

The story goes that one time when Bill Moyers was a special assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson, he was asked to say grace before a meal in the family quarters of the White House. As Moyers began praying softly, the President interrupted him with “Speak up, Bill! Speak up!” The former Baptist minister from east Texas stopped in mid-sentence and without looking up replied steadily, “I wasn’t addressing you, Mr. President.”

SoWhat? to see God at work in us, we must focus on Jesus {2 Cor. 4:6}

Prayer isn’t about saying fancy terms, or being spiritually impressive; God wants to connect with us just as we are, right in the moment… so we can be more like Jesus.

NOTE: all blockquotes are sourced from 10,000 Sermon Illustrations by Galaxie Software; Biblical Studies Press, (c)2002

Pastor Ed Backell

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