Listen to the message
(To download: Right Click, choose “Save Target As…”)
Series: Other Speakers; Prayer
Sun am 9th June 2013 – Hazel Swart
Matt. 6:1-13 (Message Bible); (Ps. 51); Luke 11:5-10; Luke 18:1-14; (Isa. 40:29-31);
(Phil. 4:6); (James. 5:16-17); (Ps. 143:12)
Prayer is an attitude of heart. When the Scriptures talk about praying without ceasing it means being in communion with God at all times. Observing our busy lives we wonder how we can fulfil this Scripture. The main thing is our relationship with God, and how much we communicate with Him. We are born with a natural desire to communicate with out Creator. It is a quest and a seeking that one comes to at certain times and seasons in our lives, there something more than living our lives day by day, doing the same old thing. There is something more, a lot more; we would hate to feel that this is all there is to it; our worship, our prayer life, our quest for our Creator! Our prayer life is the foundation of who we are as Christians; it is the life that we live. “God I am asking, I am knocking, I am seeking. What are the answers? Why don’t you answer my prayers? Why are people still hurting? Why are people still dying and there is still so much pain?”
Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘play actors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out. And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat? Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes. (Matt. 6:1-13-Message Bible).
The prayer of the righteous avails much, yet Elijah was a man just like us (James. 5:16-17). We all know what it is like to have unanswered prayer. We do not volunteer to go into the wilderness; we are often forced into the wilderness, sometimes by circumstances, sometimes by terrible things that happen in our lives. The wilderness propels us into something greater or removes things in our lives that prevent us from walking in the path God has chosen for us. It gives us time to look inside of ourselves and find out what is actually underneath all the layers. Who is the true authentic person inside me? Or am I in a theatre when I come before God? Our Father: there are no step-children in the Universe. We all have equal access to Him.
There are so many different kinds of prayers. There is first the prayer of exultation, “God you are so great”. Then there is the prayer of supplication; “Give me this day my daily bread”. Can we trust God or do we trust in money? Do we trust in God when He says, “Do not be anxious, I am there for you, I will never leave you nor forsake you”? Look at the birds of the air and the lilies of the field (Matt. 6:26).
We cannot start a day without God’s presence, without receiving His instructions for the day. We can pray prayers of affirmation thanking Him in advance. “Thank You that You will lead me and guide me. Do not lead me into temptation”. There is a prayer for guidance that He may guide my footsteps. “Guard me from the evil one”, the prayer of being guarded.
Do not forget to give thanks. Pray with thankfulness in your heart (Phil. 4:6). If you believe for the best, you will receive the best. You will get what you believe for.
David was a fighter and prayed for God to kill his enemies, yet he was a man after God’s own heart (Ps. 143:12). In Psalm 51 he says, “God I have sinned against no one but You! Restore my soul; do not take your Spirit away from me. Wash me and cleanse me, give me a right heart, let me stand before you as authentic and honest as possible” (Ps. 51). The most intimate action is coming face to face with our Father. You cannot hide your feelings and actions. You cannot hide anything from Him. “Father forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have done things against us” “forgive me if I have harmed my brother or my sister”; the prayer of forgiveness.
There is the prayer of perseverance; do not stop praying. 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. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened (Luke 11:9). Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 18:10-14). The prayer of humility – we do not need to be theatrical about our prayers. Be honest before God. Do not let your prayer be a clanging cymbal, something you are saying that is not happening on the inside.
I cannot give you the formula for prayer but there are examples in Scripture, like David who was honest before God; he was passionate before God, he loved God, yet he sinned. God forgave him and loved him, and He will do the same for us. I encourage you in your communication with God, in your intimate time with Him, touch Him, let Him touch you; let it be a time when your heart is stirred to want to be in His presence longer and longer; where you feel His presence and come into worship, and you do not want the time to pass. There is the prayer of listening; the prayer of paying attention and of listening to His voice. He is saying, “Come aside”. I encourage you to make the time. You will see beautiful things coming from inside you. Do not ignore His nudges and His whispers. Do not ignore what He is saying. “Those who wait upon the Lord”; wait! Take your time; you will rise up with wings as eagles, you will run and not be weary (Isa. 40:29-31).