Sermons for Today


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Sermons for Today


Article to go with morning sermon on Prayer:

Luke 11:1: "And it came to pass, that, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples."

Have you ever wondered why the disciples made this request? Was it because they had observed the results of the prayer life of Jesus? Whatever the reason, they expressed a desire to be taught how to pray by Jesus. Upon hearing this request, Jesus immediately told them how to pray by giving them a model prayer. The will of God concerning our prayer life is expressed in Luke 18:11: "And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint." Implied in this statement is that praying properly and continually will help prevent our failure; it will keep us from "fainting" or losing heart and quitting. Paul was later to instruct, "I exhort, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour" (I Tim. 2:1-3). From these two passages, it is not hard to determine God's will concerning our praying.

Notice the elements of prayer as enumerated by Paul in the aforementioned Scripture:

  1. Supplications: this means "To ask for humbly or by earnest prayer; entreating earnestly and humbly; to beg or pray earnestly; make an earnest request (Eph. 6:18).
  2. Intercessions: "entreaty on behalf of others (Rom. 15:30; II Thess. 3:1).
  3. Thanksgiving: "giving of thanks" for any number of things (Eph. 5:20; I Thess. 5:18).
  4. Praise: as taught by the model prayer, "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name" (Matt. 6:9).
  5. Confession: demonstrated by the Israelites in Nehemiah 9 and taught by John in I John 1:8-2:2.

Other than the obvious that is implied in the elements of prayer, why else should we pray? One reason is because evil is present. "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matt. 6:13). Remember Peter's admonition in I Peter 5:8: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." We also are instructed to "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 5:16). One of the helps promised the Christian is "the way of escape" when we are tempted (I Cor. 10:13); The passage in Hebrews seems to be telling us to ask for help in finding it.

When we consider the place of importance that Jesus placed upon praying in His own life, we certainly ought to be able to see the need for it in ours. Mark informs us, "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed" (Mark 1:35). And Luke further informs us, "And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God" (Luke 6:12). Jesus prayed either before, during or after all the great events of His life. He prayed all night before selecting His twelve apostles.

What are the secrets of an effective prayer? After all, James encourages us to pray when he tells us, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16b). The word "effectual is defined as "possessing or exercising adequate power to produce a desired effect." The ASV translates this way: "The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working." Guy N. Woods wrote of this statement, "The prayer of a man who keeps the commandments, avails much (has great force). Here, too, the verb is in the present tense and means that the prayer of a man who keeps the commandments keeps on having great force. Here is clear and convincing testimony to the effectiveness and efficiency of prayer by good men. Such prayers avail much. How much is much? "Much" is a comparative term; it is, however, more than a little; and it is therefore safe for us to affirm that prayer avails more than a little in its working when engaged in by a man who keeps the commandments of the Lord. Thus, when one denies the efficacy of prayer, the effort is an exhibition of skepticism" (Guy N. Woods, Commentary on James). 
Paul M. Wilmoth