“40 Days of Prayer” kicked off 2019 at McDonough Road Baptist. In small group studies and in our sermon series, we’re striving to take our prayer life to a new level.
Gregory Frizzell wrote, “No one’s relationship with Christ will ever rise above the level of his or her praying.” Prayer is paramount, so we want to grow stronger in prayer. Don’t you?
Jesus knew the importance of coming to God in prayer. He taught prayer, and he lived prayer. He sometimes rose before dawn and would go into the mountain to pray. In the evenings He would spend time in prayer, sometimes all night long.
At one point the disciples observed Jesus praying and said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus then presented the model prayer, which is recorded in both Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels (Mathew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4). It is slightly different in each gospel, meaning that Jesus did not give us this pattern to memorize or repeat word for word as a substitute for a real conversation with God.
He gave us an outline to guide our praying. The disciples didn’t say “teach us a prayer.” They said, “teach us to pray.”
Jesus opened with “Our Father who is in heaven.” Where do we start in strengthening prayer?
Jesus commands us to make prayer a habitual practice. In Luke 11:2, Jesus replied to the disciple’s request to teach them to pray with “When you pray, say” and then presented this blueprint. Jesus did not say IF you pray but WHEN you pray. The verb He used communicates continuous action, meaning that we must commit to pray regularly and consistently throughout each day.
Also, Jesus reminds us that prayer starts with God, not with our requests. Why does Jesus teach us to pray “Your Kingdom Come, Your Will be done?” Why does this model end with “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever?” Because God is the focus and the object of our prayer. Our prayer starts and ends with God.
Jesus encourages us to view God as our loving, caring heavenly Father. Seeing God as our heavenly Father is the beginning of placing total dependence on God alone. W. S. Bowden said prayer is weakness leaning on omnipotence. We are weak, and He is strong. If we view God as our heavenly Father, what does that mean?
First, viewing God as Father addresses fear. Why live with worry and fear when we have a heavenly Father who watches over us? Joe Stowell wrote, “Fear is a funny thing. It enlarges whatever we’re afraid of and shrinks our view of God.” Satan uses our fear to undermine a healthy view of who God is.
Second, viewing God as Father gives us hope for a certain future. God has a plan for our life, and He’ll take care of the details. Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
Third, viewing God as Father overcomes loneliness. We are not alone. God is always there for us. My Mom told me recently that her father used to say to her that the God who was in the sunshine was the same God that was present when storms came. He will never leave us.
Fourth, viewing God as Father settles the issue of resources. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and will never run out of supplies. God has promised to supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19). His resources are eternal, supernatural, ready and available. He’s not drawing from earthly reserves that are dependent on the stock market or which one day may be depleted. He’s drawing from the boundless resources of heaven.
Fifth, viewing God as Father means we are obedient. Jesus obeyed His heavenly Father. He said, “I came not to do my own will but to do the will of Him who sent me” (John 6:38). Jesus wanted to please His heavenly Father with obedience. Do we?
Sixth, viewing God as Father addresses the matter of wisdom. God is infinitely wiser than we are. God has all wisdom and promises to give liberally and without reproach whenever we ask (James 1:5).
[David L. Chancey is the pastor of McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road and invites you to join us this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit online at www.mcdonoughroad.org and like them on Facebook.]