Prayer is a Relationship

Luke 11:1-13

1 Once when Jesus had been out praying, one of his disciples came to him as he finished and said, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."

2 He said, "This is how you should pray: "Father, may your name be honored. May your Kingdom come soon.

3 Give us our food day by day.

4 And forgive us our sins-- just as we forgive those who have sinned against us. And don't let us yield to temptation."

5 Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this illustration: "Suppose you went to a friend's house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You would say to him,

6 'A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.'

7 He would call out from his bedroom, 'Don't bother me. The door is locked for the night, and we are all in bed. I can't help you this time.'

8 But I tell you this-- though he won't do it as a friend, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you what you want so his reputation won't be damaged.

9 "And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened.

10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.

11 "You fathers-- if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead?

12 Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not!

13 If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him." (NLT)

This message was preached October 20, 2002 at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at toulonbaptist.com  

It is interesting that of all the things that the disciples could have asked Jesus to teach them, they asked that He teach them to pray. Maybe it was because of all the things that Jesus did that His prayer life was the most striking. Maybe it was because of all the things that Jesus taught His disciples, prayer was the most difficult for them.

How much prayer meant to Jesus! It was not only his regular habit, but his resort in every emergency, however slight or serious. When perplexed he prayed. When hard pressed by work he prayed. When hungry for fellowship he found it in prayer. He chose his associates and received his messages upon his knees. If tempted, he prayed. If criticized, he prayed. If fatigued in body or wearied in spirit, he had recourse to his one unfailing habit of prayer. Prayer brought him unmeasured power at the beginning, and kept the flow unbroken and undiminished. There was no emergency, no difficulty, no necessity, no temptation that would not yield to prayer. -- S. D. Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer. Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 5.

 

  1. Prayer Reflects an Established Relationship
    1. We pray because we know Him and trust Him.
      1. We know that He loves us more than anyone else ever could.
      2. We know that He gave His Son to die in our place.
      3. We know Him intimately as His Spirit bears witness with our Spirit.
      4. Romans 8:16 For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God's children. NLT
      5. Rom 8:26-28 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don't even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (NLT)
      6. I Jn 4:12-13 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. (NLT)
    2. We pray because He has promised to bear our sorrows.
      1. 1 Pet 5:7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you. (NLT)
      2. Matt 6:32-33 Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. (NLT)
  2. Prayer Builds a Growing Relationship
    1. God's purpose in our lives is to conform us to the image of His Son Jesus Christ.
      1. Rom 8:29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters. (NLT)
      2. 2 Cor 3:18 And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more. (NLT)
    2. God has created us for Himself.
      1. Heb 2:10 And it was only right that God-- who made everything and for whom everything was made-- should bring his many children into glory. Through the suffering of Jesus, God made him a perfect leader, one fit to bring them into their salvation. (NLT)
      2. Rom 11:36 For everything comes from him; everything exists by his power and is intended for his glory. To him be glory evermore. Amen. (NLT)
    3. Our ultimate goal and end is to spend eternity with Him.
      1. Ps 16:11 You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. (NLT)
      2. Ps 73:24-26 You will keep on guiding me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. (NLT)
      3. John 12:26 All those who want to be my disciples must come and follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And if they follow me, the Father will honor them. (NLT)
      4. John 17:24 Father, I want these whom you've given me to be with me, so they can see my glory. You gave me the glory because you loved me even before the world began! (NLT)
      5. John 14:3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (NLT)
    4. But why do we not pray as we should, why is there little urgency in our prayers?
      1. When we don't pray, it's primarily because we don't sense our need for God. -- Jim Cymbala, Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 4.
      2. Our failure to think of prayer as a privilege may be partly due to the fact that we can pray any time. The door to prayer is open so continuously that we fail to avail ourselves of an opportunity which is always there. Harry Emerson Fosdick, The Meaning of Prayer --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 421.
      3. One day a boy was watching a holy man praying on the banks of a river in India. When the holy man completed his prayer the boy went over and asked him, "Will you teach me to pray?" The holy man studied the boy's face carefully. Then he gripped the boy's head in his hands and plunged it forcefully into the water! The boy struggled frantically, trying to free himself in order to breathe. Finally, the holy man released his hold. When the boy was able to get his breath, he gasped, "What did you do that for?" The holy man said, "I just gave you your first lesson." "What do you mean?" asked the astonished boy. "Well," said the holy man, "when you long to pray as much as you longed to breathe when your head was underwater--only then will I be able to teach you to pray." Mark Link, Breakaway --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 422.
  3. A Relationship that Acknowledges Who God Is
    1. He is God
      1. Notice how Jeremiah begins his prayer from our responsive reading. 17 "O Sovereign LORD! You have made the heavens and earth by your great power. Nothing is too hard for you! Jer 32:17 (NLT)
      2. Real prayer is a serious concern, for we are speaking to the sovereign Lord of all the universe, who is willing to move heaven and earth in answer to sincere and reasonable prayer. Prayer is not a mechanical duty, but a wonderful opportunity to develop a loving and caring relationship with the most important Person in our lives. -- John Bunyan in Pilgrim's Prayer Book, edited by Louis Gifford Parkhurst, Jr. Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 10.
      3. In all of our prayers and in our worship we must always be mindful that the Lord is God, the Almighty God.
      4. If He is not, then we might as well pray to tree.
    2. He is Holy
      1. Hallowed be your name.
        1. We are never to be so familiar with the God that we do not honor and reverence Him.
        2. Lev 22:32 Do not treat my holy name as common and ordinary. I must be treated as holy by the people of Israel. It is I, the LORD, who makes you holy. (NLT)
        3. Lev 10:1-3 {The Sin of Nadab and Abihu--} Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over it. In this way, they disobeyed the LORD by burning before him a different kind of fire than he had commanded. So fire blazed forth from the LORD's presence and burned them up, and they died there before the LORD. Then Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD meant when he said, 'I will show myself holy among those who are near me. I will be glorified before all the people.' "And Aaron was silent. (NLT)
    3. He is Lord
      1. Lord means we serve Him.
        1. Most prayer treats God as our bellhop meant to wait on our every whim.
        2. But real prayer brings us closer to Him and the knowledge that He is Lord.
      2. We acknowledge His rights and claims on our lives.
        1. Prayer is a relationship but not an abusive one.
        2. We do not browbeat God and make our claims on Him.
        3. Rather we acknowledge His claim to all that we are.
    4. That is why we bring our petitions to Him.
      1. Those who do not begin their prayers in this matter never can expect God to answer them.
      2. Our Father in heaven, your name is special and holy, your will is to be done, your kingdom is what is important.
      3. But we bring our petitions to Him because we know who He is and we know He alone can meet our every need.
    5. But God may have a different answer than we have in mind.
      1. There is a shrine in the French Pyrenees where people come to pray for healing. A war veteran who had lost a leg appeared at the shrine sometime after World War II. As he hobbled his way along the street to the shrine someone said, "Look at that silly man! Does he think God is going to give him back his leg?" The young man overheard the remark and turned toward the speakers and said, "Of course I do not expect God to give me back my leg. I am going to pray to God to help me live without it!" --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 421.
  4. A Relationship that Admits Our Dependance on Him
    1. People talk about faith moving mountains but it is God who moves mountains.
      1. Some think of their faith as the power.
      2. But God is the power behind prayer.
      3. If God cannot do what we ask in our prayers then we waste our time.
    2. Go holds our very breath in His hands.
      1. We must bring our petitions to Him for there is no one else who can accomplish all that we ask.
      2. Once when Abraham doubted God, God replied, "Is there anything too difficult for the Lord!!!"
      3. We come to Him because He alone can answer our prayers.

Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire? -- Corrie ten Boom, Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 2.

That is up to us. Prayer can be something we take out of the mothballs and polish up in a hurry when we need it. Or prayer can be a every growing relationship with the one who loves us and with whom we will spend eternity if we know Him.

 

John 17:3 And this is the way to have eternal life-- to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. (NLT)