The Modern Day Christian and Prayer

Bible Book: Matthew  6 : 5
Subject: Prayer; Christian, Modern
Series: Modern Day Christians

Prayer is still expected and encouraged for all in this age”

Text: “Matthew 6: 5, Mark 11: 24”

Mat 6:5 KJV - And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Mar 11:24 KJV - Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

“It is not well for a man to pray cream and live skim milk.” Henry Ward Beecher

True Commitment

A journalist was assigned to the Jerusalem bureau of his newspaper. He gets an apartment overlooking the Wailing Wall. After several weeks he realizes that whenever he looks at the wall he sees an old Jewish man praying vigorously.

The journalist wondered whether there was a publishable story here. He goes down to the wall, introduces himself and says: "You come every day to the wall. What are you praying for?" The old man replies: "What am I praying for? In the morning I pray for world peace, then I pray for the brotherhood of man. I go home, have a glass of tea, and I come back to the wall to pray for the eradication of illness and disease from the earth." The journalist is taken by the old man's sincerity and persistence. "You mean you have been coming to the wall to pray every day for these things?" The old man nods. "How long have you been coming to the wall to pray for these things?" The old man becomes reflective and then replies: "How long? Maybe twenty, twenty-five years." The amazed journalist finally asks: "How does it feel to come and pray every day for over 20 years for these things?" "How does it feel?" the old man replies. "It feels like I'm talking to a wall."

Atheist Prayer Line

They have Dial-a-Prayer for atheists now. You call up and it rings and rings but nobody answers.

Prayer is as essential to the Christian as breathing air is to a human being. It is vital and needful for our mere existence. In this sermon it is my intent to magnify the importance of prayer in the Modern Day Church. Let us look at some interesting statistics about prayer in the United States.

Barna research says slightly more than four out of five adults in the U.S. (84%) claim they had prayed in the past week. That has been the case since Barna began tracking the frequency of prayer in 1993.

U.S. News and the Internet site Beliefnet funded a poll to learn more about why, how, where and when people pray. Here is a summary of the findings:

75% percent were Christian.

64% say they pray more than once a day.

56% say they most often pray for family members, with 3.3% saying that they pray for strangers.

A little over 38% say that the most important purpose of prayer is intimacy with God.

41% say that their prayers are answered often.

1.5% say that their prayers are never answered.

Over 73% say when their prayers are not answered, the most important reason is because they did not fit God’s plan.

5% say that they pray most often in a house of worship.

79% say that they pray most often at home.

67% say that in the past six months, their prayers have related to continually giving thanks to God.

(Pastor's Weekly Briefing, 12/24/04)

“I pray on the principle that wine knocks the cork out of a bottle. There is an inward fermentation, and there must be a vent.” Henry Ward Beecher

A Newsweek poll titled "Is God Listening?" indicated that, of those who pray, 87% believed that God answers their prayers at least some of the time. Even so, unanswered prayers did not deter them from praying. 85% insisted that they could accept God's failure to grant their prayers. Only 13% declared they have lost faith because their prayers went unanswered. 82% don't turn away from God even when their prayers go unanswered. 54% say that when God doesn't answer their prayers, it means it wasn't God's will to answer.

The things people pray for include health, safety, jobs, and even success, valid or not. 82% said they ask for health or success for a child or family member when they pray. 82% believed that God does not play favorites in answering prayers. 79% said God answers prayer for healing someone with an incurable disease. 75% asked for strength to overcome personal weakness. 73% answered that prayers for help in finding a job are answered. On the lighter side, 51% agreed that God doesn't answer prayers to win sporting events. 36% have never prayed for financial or career success.

The Combination

The temporary Sunday school teacher was struggling to open a combination lock on the supply cabinet. She had been told the combination, but couldn't quite remember it. Finally she went to the pastor's study and asked for help. The pastor came into the room and began to turn the dial. After the first two numbers he paused and stared blankly for a moment. Finally he looked serenely heavenward and his lips moved silently. Then he looked back at the lock, and quickly turned to the final number, and opened the lock.

The teacher was amazed. "I'm in awe at your faith, pastor," she said. "It's really nothing," he answered. "The number is on a piece of tape on the ceiling."

I – Biblical Teaching on Prayer

The Bible contains 377 references to praise and 375 references to prayer.

A) Prayer is Demanded in the Bible “It is Expected”

Mat 6:6 KJV - But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Mat 6:7 KJV - But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

In the bible prayer is not an optional resource that people are to consider. The fact of the matter is prayer is an optimal tool that is essential in our spiritual wellbeing. In this text we read that Jesus emphasizes that when we pray, not if we pray.

If you are a Christian prayer should be utilized in your life on a daily basis. In being a spiritually mature Christian, we are expected to attend church, read the bible, and just as importantly, we are expected to pray.

B) Prayer is Defined in the Bible “It is Explained”

Mat 6:9 KJV - After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Mat 6:10 KJV - Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Mat 6:11 KJV - Give us this day our daily bread.

Mat 6:12 KJV - And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Mat 6:13 KJV - And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

1 – The Pattern of our Prayer (9a)

2 – The Person of our Prayer (9b)

3 – The Plan of our Prayer (10)

4 – The Provision of our Prayer (11)

5 – The Plea of this Prayer (12 – 13a)

6 – The Praise of this Prayer (13b)

C) Prayer is Demonstrated in the Bible “It is Exampled”

1 – The Shortest Prayer in the Bible

Mat 14:30 KJV - But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

2 – The Longest Prayer in the Bible

(John 17: 1 – 26)

“God shapes the world by prayer. Prayers are deathless. They outlive the lives of those who uttered them.” E. M. Bounds

Speak Up

A little boy was kneeling beside his bed with his mother and grandmother and softly saying his prayers, "Dear God, please bless Mummy and Daddy and all the family and please give me a good night's sleep." Suddenly he looked up and shouted, "And don't forget to give me a bicycle for my birthday!!" There is no need to shout like that," said his mother. "God isn't deaf." “No," said the little boy, "but Grandma is."

II – Biblical Types of Prayer

“Prayer is the simplest venue that affords us peace for perplexity and joy for jeopardy.”

Donald Cantrell

A) Prayer of Supplication

1 – Concerning our Wants’

2 – Concerning our Worries

3 – Concerning our Way

4 – Concerning our Wisdom

“Dealing in generalities is the death of prayer.”

J. H. Evans

B) Prayer of Adoration

1 – Our Holy Place

2 – Our Heartfelt Praise

3 – Our Heavenly Peace

“Non-praying is lawlessness, discord, anarchy.”

E. M. Bounds

C) Prayer of Confession

1 – Truthfully

a. Sin’s of Commission

b. Sin’s of Omission

2 – Willfully

a. Confess of our Sin

b. Cleansing of our Soul

D) Prayer of Anticipation

1 – Faith that Challenges God’s Potential

2 – Faith that Considers God’s Power

“No one is a firmer believer in the power of prayer than the devil; not that he practices it, but he suffers from it.” Guy H. King

The Hikers

One day, Joe, Bob and Dave were hiking in a wilderness area when they came upon a large, raging, violent river. They needed to get to the other side, but had no idea of how to do so. Joe prayed to God, saying, "Please God, give me the strength to cross this river." Poof! God gave him big arms and strong legs, and he was able to swim across the river in about two hours, although he almost drowned a couple of times. Seeing this, Dave prayed to God, saying, "Please God, give me the strength and the tools to cross this river." Poof! God gave him a rowboat and he was able to row across the river in about an hour, after almost capsizing the boat a couple of times. Bob had seen how this worked out for the other two, so he also prayed to God saying, "Please God, give me the strength and the tools, and the intelligence, to cross this river." Poof! God turned him into a woman. She looked at the map, hiked upstream a couple of hundred yards, and then walked across the bridge.

III – Biblical Testimonies of Prayer

“When life knocks you to your knees, and it will, why, get up! If it knocks you to your knees again, as it will, well, isn't that the best position from which to pray?” Ethel Barrymore

A) The Tears of Hannah’s Prayer

1Sa 1:10 KJV - And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.

In Need of Prayer

A young boy called the pastor of a local "corner" church to ask the pastor to come by to pray for his mother who had been very ill with the flu. The pastor knew the family and was aware they had been attending another church down the road. So the pastor asked, "Shouldn't you be asking Brother Simon down the road to come by to pray with your mom?" The young boy replied, "Yeah, but we didn't want to take the chance that he might catch whatever this is that Mom has."

B) The Terror of Paul’s Prayer

Act 9:11 KJV - And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,

“If you can't pray as you want to, pray as you can. God knows what you mean.” Vance Havner

Matter of Perspective

Three preachers sat discussing the best positions for prayer while a telephone repairman worked nearby. "Kneeling is definitely best," claimed one. "No," another contended. "I get the best results standing with my hands outstretched to Heaven." "You're both wrong," the third insisted. "The most effective prayer position is lying prostrate, face down on the floor." The repairman could contain himself no longer. "Hey, fellas, " he interrupted, "the best prayin' I ever did was hangin' upside down from a telephone pole."

C) The Triumph of Christ Prayer

Mat 26:44 KJV - And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

Mat 26:39 KJV - And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

Mat 26:42 KJV - He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

“When the knees are not often bent, the feet soon slide.” Anonymous

Helpful Prayer

Johnny had been misbehaving and was sent to his room. After a while he emerged and informed his mother that he had thought it over and then said a prayer. "Fine", said the pleased mother. "If you ask God to help you not misbehave, He will help you." "Oh, I didn't ask Him to help me not misbehave," said Johnny. "I asked Him to help you put up with me."

“Sometimes we think we are too busy to pray. That is a great mistake, for praying is a saving of time.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon