Finding the heart to pray continually.
length: 69:48 - taught on Oct, 4 2022
October 4, 2022
As we discover more and more about God, the Trinity, we will find ourselves actually wanting to pray more often. But should we wait for that day? Does Paul tell us to pray continually after we have matured in Christ?
Should we only pray when we feel like it; when we are inspired?
Developing the attitude, by faith, that we need to pray daily, and several times a day as needed (both the planned inner room prayer time and the spontaneous signal flare prayer from anywhere and anytime when needed), will first develop the habit of prayer. Good behavior from good thinking is built on good habits. A habit is something that we do consistently, whether we feel like it or not - like taking care of our teeth. The habit of prayer forms the consistent seeking of God (asking and knocking). The habit of Bible study forms knowledge. If you only studied the Scripture when you felt like it, your knowledge would fall well behind where it should be as would your daily focus on your relationship with God.
Secondly, praying consistently, daily will develop the understanding that nothing separates us from the Father; not bad days, days more sinful than others, bad circumstances, sickness, want, depression, pain, etc. Nothing will separate us from the love of God.
There could be several reasons why God doesn’t seem near.
Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king's palace, and successfully completed all that he had planned on doing in the house of the Lord and in his palace. 12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, "I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14 and 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. 15 Now My eyes shall be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.
We will also see this passage in light of the fact that God at times seems to not be present in our lives. Faith and hope must come together.
Prayer is about us discovering God and the reality of His presence in our day-to-day lives. This becomes true in intercessory prayer as well. Every instance of legitimate prayer is drawing near to God, and as James writes, if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.
It wasn’t just a belief in God that motivated prayer but a desire to know and understand Him.
In a very famous passage from Jeremiah, it is difficult to remember that prayer is in the midst of discovering the Lord.
'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. 12 'Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 'And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 'And I will be found by you,' declares the Lord,' and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,' declares the Lord,' and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'
When we quote this famous, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all of your heart,” I wonder how many of us know that this wonderful promise is so closely related to prayer.
Every kind of prayer (adoration, thanksgiving, confession, intercession, petition …) are a seeking of God.
It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples." 2 And He said to them, "When you pray, say [command - “You (pl) say”]:
“When you pray, legete (command: “you all say):”
Luke’s account of the prayer is shorter than Matthew’s, so we should take them both together.
'[Our] Father [Who is in heaven], hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come [Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven]. 3 'Give us each day our daily bread. 4 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'"
Jesus obviously understood that we all would be taught that all sin of all believers was forgiven in Him when He died for us. I do not see a problem in keeping the wording of His instructional prayer if we understand that we are not being forgiven because we asked for it. Not even an unbelieving Jew at that time or any time would have thought that possible. We sin every day, many of which we have no record or memory or notice. We are reminded in this petition, every day, that we are forgiven of sin and live but by the love and grace of God.
Forgive us (command) our sins (harmatias - plural), but a different word is used in our forgiveness of others (same word as Matthew’s Gospel uses) - the word for debt. “For we ourselves (emphasis is on us [pronoun use]) also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.”
Matthew’s account is “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” In the Bible, sin is seen as a debt to God, a debt of broken decrees that deserve justice. But all of them were nailed to the cross and taken out of the way. In the same way, we are to forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation (from the devil).
The petition is for us to follow God’s lead so that we will not fall into places vulnerable to the devil’s temptations.
There are two prominent words for temptation or testing in the NT, peirasmos and dokimazo. Peirasmos is almost exclusively used for the temptation that comes from the devil or the flesh, while dokimazo is exclusively used for God’s testing. God will not test us beyond what we are able, in other words, God tests us when we are sufficiently strong because His desire is for us to pass the test and thus learn more about Him and rejoice in our victory and new seen strength. God is always for us and not against us (even if and when He does seem absent from us). Satan tempts us in our weakness and thus seeks to devour us.
We know that temptation is always lurking, but we don’t always fall for it. When do we not fall for the temptation to sin? When we are strong. How are we strong? When in our understood weakness we understand that we are completely dependent upon God and so we clothe ourselves with Christ.
Therefore, one way of looking at this final petition is that we desire God’s necessary testing but ask to avoid the devil’s.
We petition to follow God’s leading and thus be sufficiently strong that the devil’s temptations would be powerless or ineffective.
God’s leading, if we follow it, will not put us in vulnerable places where the temptations of the devil will have significant advantage over us. The devil always prowls, the question is, in the battlefield of life which is in the soul, who has the high ground?
If Satan does get the upper hand over us, it will seem that God is far or has forsaken us. He has not. He is fighting for you in many ways, and all with the end goal that you see your own error - your sins, your erroneous thinking - and you confess and repent; “Father forgive my sins” (or “I confess my sins” if you prefer) claiming by faith the cross of Christ and its cleansing from all unrighteousness.
If you are following God’s leading consistently, day-to-day, how could you not come to know Him more and more. If you do not and you keep putting yourself in vulnerable positions where Satan is able to knock you over (remember “stand firm”), you will know God as one who forgives and restores, but not much else about Him to any depth.
Now Jesus is going to tell us to keep at this prayer, or we can further clarify, to keep at all of our prayers in light of it (for all legitimate prayer is related to some part of it), because essentially what we are after is God Himself.
Then He said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; 7 and from inside he answers and says, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' 8 "I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
9 "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 "For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.
God doesn’t need to be reminded. It is rather that in all our prayers, we are after the same thing - Him.
Glory in His holy name;
Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad.
And we never get all of Him. We never achieve all knowledge of Him. We never reach the absolute highest place of walking with Him. We are always seeking Him. We are always asking Him. We are always knocking on doors that only He can open.
"Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." [NASU]
The NASB has “only a few things are necessary, really only one,” which is why I remember the verse this way, but I cannot determine why the first part “only a few things” is in that translation. It is not at all in the original at all, nor in any other good translation. (I’ll be using the NASU - New American Standard Updated from now on).