Text: 2 Chron. 7:14
The Necessity of Prayer
Christianity is going out with a whimper instead of a bang as the end of the twentieth century draws near. The vitality and influence that the Church once had on its membership and community is all but a dim glimmer when compared to the vigor and excitement that the Church experienced as this century began. The dedication of faith, duty and honor that was held in such high esteem by our grandparents and great grandparents has been blurred and compromised by our parents. Our generation has been still more negligent, even to the point of forsaking the "faith" that has been entrusted to us.
The steadfastness of our faith, and validity of our witness, has been eroding because we have forsaken the elementary truths of the faith. As our attention turned from God to more materialistic pursuits, our faith has grown cold. We have pursued every technological advancement believing these temporal wonders can give us future hope, and neglected the only One who can give us hope.
This inept faith has been acknowledged by many of our brothers. The solution that has been offered is that the Church needs revival. Many evangelists and preachers have proclaimed 2 Chronicles 7:14 as the solution to our distress. "If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." This verse has been the banner of many a revival service. Yet, we continue to see more of the world influencing the Church. There are numerous reports of revival services but few reports of genuine repentance. We do not hear of many who are humbly praying, but we have seen an increase in the worship of God becoming more entertaining. One comes to the conclusion that God's people either do not want to seek God's face and pray or we have forgotten how to approach the Lord through genuine prayer. If we want to see our generation experience genuine revival we must come back to this essential truth; we must humble ourselves before Almighty God and pray.
Luke 18:1 (Turn to and Read) - Men ought always to pray.
1 Timothy 2:8 - I will that men pray everywhere.
I Thess. 5:17 - Pray without ceasing
Eph. 6:18 - Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
The Importance of Prayer
Prayer is crucial to the life of the Church
Prayer is crucial to the life of the Christian
"Prayer is the converse of the soul with God. Therein we manifest or express to Him our reverence, and love for His divine perfection, our gratitude for all His mercies, our penitence for our sins, our hope in His forgiving love, our submission to His authority, our confidence in His care, our desires for His favour, and for the providential and spiritual blessings needed for ourselves and others." - Charles Hodge
"Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to his Word, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God." (John Bunyan)
Prayer is the most important subject in practical religion. All other subjects are second to it. Reading the Bible, keeping the Sabbath, hearing sermons, attending public worship, going to the Lord's Table,-all these are very weighty matters. But none of them are so important as private prayer. (J.C. Ryle)
In the first place, Prayer is absolutely needful to a man's salvation.
In the second place, A habit of prayer is one of the surest marks of a true Christian.
Continuing on Prayer, Ryle says,
it is essential to your soul's health to make praying a part of the business of every twenty-four hours in your life. Just as you allot time to eating, sleeping, and business, so also allot time to prayer. Choose your own hours and seasons. At the very least, speak with God in the morning, before you speak with the world; and speak with God at night, after you have done with the world. But settle it down in your minds that prayer is one of the great things of every day. Do not drive it into a corner. Do not give it the scraps, and leavings, and parings of your day. Whatever else you make a business of, make a business of prayer. (JC Ryle)
Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that prayer is "beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul."
"YOU can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed" - John Bunyan
"The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer fetched the angel: - Thomas Watson
Prayer was important in the life of Jesus
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 ? Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 ? And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
He was continually withdrawing to a solitary place to pray- Mt 14:23; Mk 1:35;
Prayer was important in the life of the Apostle Paul and all the Apostles
But chiefly we call to mind the first thing said of Paul after his conversion: "Behold, he prayeth " (Acts 9:11)
Acts 1 - The disciples were in the upper room praying on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell.
Acts 3 - Peter and John were on their way to the temple at the hour of prayer
Acts 4 - When they were threatened, they prayed
Acts 6 - We will devote ourselves to prayer (not wait on tables)
Prayer was important in the Life of the Early Church
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers,
The Fundamentals of Prayer
Prayer is the simplest act in all religion. It is simply speaking to God. It needs neither learning, nor wisdom, nor book-knowledge to begin it. It needs nothing but heart and will. The weakest infant can cry when he is hungry. The poorest beggar can hold out his hand for alms, and does not wait to find fine words. The most ignorant man will find something to say to God, if he has only a mind.
We are to pray fervently
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteousness man availeth much.
We are to pray expectantly
And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
We are to pray obediently
Pray to the Father - Mt. 6:9
In Jesus name - John 14:13-14
According to God's will - 1 John 5:14-15
We are to pray sincerely
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.
Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to his Word, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God. (John Bunyan)
We are to pray patiently - God sometimes is long in answering us
And he spake a parable unto them to this end , that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
We are to pray reverently
And he said unto them, When ye pray , say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
God is infinitely high above us
Job 7: 17
What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
We are to pray boldly
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
We are to pray unselfishly
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts
The Lord's Prayer "Us"
We are to pray alertly
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
We are to pray hastily - Do not use vain repetition
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do : for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 ? Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
Next, we note the brevity of the prayers of the apostles. Not some, nor even most, but all of them are exceedingly brief, most of them comprised in but one or two verses, and the longest is only seven verses.
We are to pray privately
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. 6 ? 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.
We are to pray specifically - let your requests be made know unto God
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Observe too the definiteness of the apostles' prayers. Though exceeding brief yet they are very explicit. They were not vague ramblings or mere generalizations, but specific requests for definite things.
We are to pray mercifully
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.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
The promise of answered Prayer
God Loves to Be Asked
Now think about this for a moment. God's will is that we, his creatures, ask him for things. And it is not just his will, it is his delight. He loves to be asked for things. Proverbs 15:8 says, "The prayer of the upright is His delight." He is so eager to hear prayers and respond to them that he says in Isaiah 65:24, "It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear."
In John 14:13 Jesus says, "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son." Ask for things in my name! Why? So that the Father may be glorified.
Ja 5:16 The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man
Abraham's servant prayed and Rebekah appeared,
Jacob wrestled and prayed and prevailed with Christ and Esau's mind was turned from twenty years of revenge.
Joshua prayed and Akan was discovered.
Hannah prayed and Samuel was born.
David prayed and A-hith-o-phel hanged himself.
Asa prayed and victory was won.
Jehoshaphat prayed and God turned away his enemies.
Isaiah and Hezekiah prayed and in twelve hours a hundred and eighty five thousand Assyrians were slain.
Mordecai and Esther prayed and the plot to destroy the Jews was thwarted and Haman was hanged in his own gallows.
Ezra prayed at Haava and God answered.
Nehemiah prayed and the king's heart was softened in a moment.
Elijah prayed and there were three years of drought and he prayed again and it rained.
Elisha prayed and a child was raised from the dead.
Believers prayed and Peter was released from jail. And so it goes.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.