Prayer: The Way to Be Co-controller of the Universe 8/2/98

Matthew 6:5-13
Page 1416 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST taught us to pray. He set the example for us in prayer. He prayed: at His baptism, temptation, transfiguration, Lord’s Supper, Gethsemane, and briefly on the cross. There was only one period when He did not pray. That was when the sins of the world rested on Him on the cross. That in part explains why so many people are not praying today – SIN.

An overly simplistic descriptive explanation of prayer is simply finding God’s will and praying “Thy will be done.” In this manner one becomes co-controller of the universe. It is done by the will and power of the other co-controller.

Throughout the Bible it is as though God is begging us to talk to Him, to pray. His telling us to pray is like a parent telling a child to clean up his or her dirty room. The parent doesn’t tell the child to clean up the room simply because he or she wants the child to know it is dirty. The parent wants action. For the same reason God tells us to pray. He want’s action.

On a recent flight across our great land I noticed many major rivers and large lakes. These represent large reserves of energy. Most of them were not being used to supply our country with the much needed power. A greater waste is our failure to pray.

In Queensland, Australia some poor workmen tried to eke out a living on a plot of land. They lived in poverty not knowing that there on Mt. Morgan beneath their feet was one of the largest gold deposits in the world. They lived in bread lines with gold of inestimable value beneath their feet. Many Christians are living as spiritual paupers because they have failed to use their greatest right – the right of prayer.

Trials and tribulations are gold mines from which we get some of life’s greatest prizes.

“Lord, when am I going to get out of this?,” instead of, “Lord what am I going to get out of this?”

One of the biggest blessings in a person’s life is helplessness. When this is realized persons respond to God in prayer. As a result many persons are aware of their helplessness today and are turning to God.

There is a prayer meeting every Monday morning at 6:00 AM in the office of General Mathis, Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, in the Pentagon.

Numerous prayer meetings are conducted each week on Wall Street.

Satan trembles when he sees – the weakest Christian on his knees.

Prayer is not:
A supernatural credit card.
A magic wand to wave to keep evil away or a lucky rabbit’s foot to bring good fortune.
An opiate to tranquilize nervous Christians.
A campaign to persuade God to do something.

To whom do you pray? Jesus taught us to pray – “Our Father…” In praying most persons are more concerned with what they are praying for than with the One to whom they are praying. Pray to God. Think not about your weakness but about His strength. It may be acceptable for a child to give its dad a Christmas list of things desired, but if that is the only relationship they have it is not a good one. Don’t treat God like a Santa to whom you present your list of wants.

In whose name? Jesus taught us to pray in His name. Just tacking the words “in Jesus name” on the end of your petition does not make it a prayer offered in Jesus name. It is not a verbal spell, but basing our requests on Jesus saving relationship. To pray in His name is to pray as His proxy. It is to pray as one with Christ, one whose mind is the mind of Christ, whose desire is the desire of Christ, whose purpose is the purpose of Christ.

We must not ask Him to contradict Himself and violate His will (I John 5: 13-15).

Young Robert Louis Stevenson said to his mother, “You can’t be good without praying?” She asked how he knew with such certainty. He replied, “I have tried.”

Pilgrim’s Progress: Christian making his way toward the eternal city. His back was burdened with sin. He came to Calvary, knelt, and prayed. His sins were loosed, rolled down the hill into a sepulcher and were buried forever. Then he said with a merry heart, “He has given me rest by his sorrow and life by his death.”

“Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1). Note, they did not say teach us “how” to pray. Most people know how to pray they simply don’t do it. Follow His example.

You might question how to get to a certain place. The answer might be given: “Go to the second red light, turn left, go 6 blocks past the little white church, turn right, go 7 blocks…you can’t miss it.”

Such might be confusing.

You might ask another the same question and the response might be: “Follow me and I will direct you.” Thus, the way becomes clear. Following Christ’s example in prayer sets a good standard.

Don’t try to pray with unconfessed sin in your life. Don’t try to pray in a state of disobedience. Don’t harbor a secret sympathy with sin.

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18).

NASA reports that the slightest piece of lint from clothing or moisture from a fingerprint can make a sophisticated guided missile traveling twice the speed of sound miss its target. Sin causes our prayers to be off target also.

Prayer has as much to do with what we do when not praying as what we say when praying.

There is a difference in air and breath. Air is all around us. It is presently bringing 14.7 lbs. of pressure per square inch on you. Only when it is allowed to enter us does it become breath. As with air, God surrounds us at all times. When you relax and let air in, it becomes breath. When you relax spiritually and let Christ into your thoughts, that is prayer. It is letting God in.

The sinning man will stop praying – the praying man will stop sinning.

Prayer is simply profound and profoundly simple.

Preacher who is not praying is playing.

People who are not praying are straying.

In prayer put your all on the altar and don’t alter the altar. It is a place of sacrifice.

The love of God wants the best for us.

The wisdom of God knows the best for us.

The power of God can accomplish the best for us.

Let your prayer be natural. Don’t put a steeple in your throat and act like you are speaking through stained glass. Don’t impose on God like a child leaving a test praying, “Please make Macon the capital of Georgia.” Prayer is supernatural but it is not anti-natural.

The answers to prayer are: YES, NO, and YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING!

In reality the answers are: yes, no, or an EXPLANATION; “My grace is sufficient…” Where did the idea originate that NO is not an answer.

We often say, “Prayer works,” and it does. By that we most often mean we got a direct “yes” answer to a prayer. However, not all prayers get a yes answer. However, prayer still works in that it increases our fellowship with God. It draws us closer to Him. It renews and refreshes us. It makes us aware of our dependence on Him.

The pretense of prayer should never be a sly way of gossiping or spreading a rumor. On occasion it is used as a cover for gossip. “I want to share this with you as a matter of prayer concern. Do you know ….”

Prayer should never be used as an indirect method of solicitation. “I have been praying for a…. Pray with me about it.” Prayer is to God. It is not in order that we might be heard.

Roger Staubach, the outstanding quarterback for the U.S. Naval Academy and Dallas Cowboys was followed at Navy by Bruce Bickle. They were close friends. After their stints in the Navy Roger became quarterback for the Cowboys and Bruce became an FCA staff member.

Bruce was a mature Christian and at a stage in his spiritual growth Roger called Bruce and asked that he be permitted to call him long distance each night for a Bible study by phone. This they did for some time.

Bruce was surviving on a meager FCA income and had need of a car. He had been praying for some time for a car. He never mentioned this to Roger who was doing very well on his NFL salary. One evening Roger said, “Bruce, I have just been given a car as the outstanding player in the Super Bowl. I don’t need another car. Can you use it?”

Who answered that prayer God or Roger. I think Roger and Bruce would both say God. Had Bruce been telling Roger he needed a car it might have been simply Roger’s kindness responding to a need. However, Bruce gave God the opportunity to work in supplying his need.

Consider these A, B, C’s of prayer:

ACCEPT. Prayer is the ability to accept. It is not merely the ability to be immune or exempted from a difficult situation. It is the ability to transform difficult situations and conditions.

Paul had a thorn in the flesh which he desired to have removed (I Corinthians 12: 1-10).

It was not. Instead, through prayer it was transformed into an occasion for God to demonstrate His grace.

Jesus in Gethsemane transformed agony into glory.

BEAR. Prayer is the ability to bear. In our human condition there are inevitably conditions we feel we can’t bear. Most have faced such grim circumstances. Prayer is not an escape route. Prayer gives us the ability to face the unfaceable, to bear the unbearable, to pass the breaking point without breaking.

COOPERATE. Prayer gives us the ability to cooperate with God.

Prayer is not a way to push things off on God that we might do for ourselves. It is asking Him for the enabling power to do things for Him. If it is ever turned into an attempt to get Him to do things for us that we should do ourselves it is bad. Such would make us spiritually lazy and flabby. Prayer gives no person the right to sit idly and wait. Instead it gives courage to rise and risk.

When we pray and set about to do all we can then we realize a new dynamic has entered our life. Prayer is not saying, “Dear God, please do for me what I want,” but, “Please do in me, with me, and through me what you want.”

Know the difference in a PROMISE and a FACT. Pray the promises. A promise has a condition. A fact is a reality without condition.

We are encouraged by some to pray the promises and it is a good idea. However, we must not confuse a proverb, a parable, or a prophecy with a promise. Some doing so are confused as to why God doesn’t respond. We are to pray the promises after complying with the conditions.

Jesus said: “Whatsoever ye ask in my name, that will I do…”

John 14: 13,14: The condition is “in my name,” that is, as My proxy. This means to pray what you think Jesus would pray if He were in your situation.

Abraham “staggered not at the promises of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to Glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Romans 4: 20, 21).

We are not authorized to claim anything God has not promised.

James 4:3, “Ye have not because ye ask not…consume it unto your own lusts.”

There must be a cleansed life. Psalms 66:18 calls spiritual contamination “iniquity”. It does not make sense from a Biblical standpoint to pray for anything if there is unconfessed sin in our life.

The Psalmist said it clearly, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm. 66:18).

Solomon in his wisdom wrote: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whosoever confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither is ear heavy, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Is. 59: 1,2).

James 5:16 gives us insight into the opposite of this: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

I John 1:9 tells us how to have our sins removed and become the righteous person with prayer potential.

There must be obedience. I John 3:22 “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing to Him.”