OceanSide church of Christ
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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT…
Victor M. Eskew
A. On the first Sunday of the each month we have our Questions & Answers Sunday.
1. In one lesson, we answer your questions that you put in the Q&A box.
2. In another lesson, we choose a topic and ask and answer several questions about it.
B. We have looked at several subjects this year.
1. Q&A about…the church
2. Q&A about…denominations
3. Q&A about…baptism
4. Q&A about…a capella music
5. Q&A about… church organization
C. In this lesson, we want to examine another topic. Our lesson is entitled: “Questions & Answers about…Prayer.”
I. WHAT IS PRAYER?
A. The simple definition of prayer is: “talking to God.”
1. As I was studying for this lesson, I looked up the first recorded prayer in the Bible. Some believe it is found in Genesis 4:10. God is speaking to Cain who killed his brother.
And he said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
a. This is unique because a person is not speaking to God.
b. God says that Abel’s blood was crying unto Him from the ground.
1) The blood did not literally cry out unto God.
2) God was letting Cain know that he knew of the tragic murder perpetrated on Abel by Cain. He was fully aware of the blood that has been poured out upon the ground.
2. The first time we are told that someone specifically prayed in the Bible involves a prayer by Abraham for Abimelech (Gen. 20:17-18).
So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children. For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.
a. The text revealed that Abraham prayed.
b. It does not tell us the specific words that Abraham prayed.
3. One of the first prayers wherein the words are recorded for us is found in Genesis 24:12-14.
a. The one praying the prayer is the eldest servant of Abraham who had been sent to take a wife for Isaac in the land of Mesopotamia.
b. The servant arrived just outside the city of Nahor and watered his camels at a well. It was here that he prayed to God.
And he said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham.
1) God is not present in bodily form, but the servant speaks to Him as if he is there. (NOTE: He was present. He was just not visible).
2) In this prayer, he makes a request for himself and his master.
B. Another definition of prayer is as follows: “Prayer is the door to heaven, but faith unlocks the door.”
1. These are the words of a hymn written by Samuel. T. Scott and Robert L. Sande.
2. This definition does two things:
a. First, is tells us that prayer is a heavenward action (Matt. 6:9).
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
b. Second, this definition let’s us know that prayer involves more than words. It also involves the heart of man. As man speaks to God, there must be faith in the one who is addressed and in the promise that He will hear out petitions.
1) Matthew 21:22
And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
2) James 1:6-8
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering: for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.
II. WHO CAN PRAY TO GOD EFFECTUALLY?
A. Notice how we have worded this question.
1. It is not: “Who can pray to God?” Anyone can speak to God.
2. The key is effectual prayer, that is, prayer that works in the life of the one who prays.
B. Prayer is a spiritual blessing that God has given to His faithful children.
1. Notice how prayer is supposed to begin: “Our Father which art in heaven…” (Matt. 6:9).
a. The word “Father” indicates the type of relationship between the one praying and God.
b. The child of God is speaking to his/her heavenly Father.
2. Only righteous men can pray effectual prayers (James 5:16).
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
a. Are the ungodly righteous individuals? No. They may pray, but their prayers will not be effectual.
b. Righteous individuals are those who are “right” with God. The only way to be right with God is to be cleansed by the precious blood of Christ and be living a godly life.
3. Proverbs 28:9
He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law. even his prayer shall be abomination.
C. Two “what about?” objections:
1. What about a Christian who is in sin? Can’t he pray to God and be forgiven?
a. The answer to this question is: “Yes” and “No.”
1) Yes, if he is penitent when he approaches God’s throne. Remember, in repentance, there is a death to sin.
2) No, if he does not have a penitent heart.
b. Case in point: Simon the sorcerer
1) Simon sinned in trying to purchase the ability to pass on miraculous power to other (Acts 8:18-21).
2) Listen to Peter’s instructions to this child of God who was in sin (Acts 8:22).
Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
2. What about Cornelius?
a. Cornelius was the first Gentile convert to Christianity (See Acts 10).
b. There are four verses that are pertinent to our discussion.
1) The description of Cornelius (Acts 10:2)
A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.
2) The words of the angel to Cornelius (Acts 10:4)
And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
3) The words of Cornelius to Peter (Acts 10:31)
And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.
4) The verse that complicates the discussion (Acts 11:14)
Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
c. There are two main points to be made about the prayers of Cornelius.
1) God can and does hear all things that are directed toward him. Hearing and answering the pray are two different things.
2) When God heard the prayers of Cornelius, He was reminded of something He said (Acts 10:31). The angel said Cornelius’ prayers and alms came up for a “memorial” before God.
a) This time in Bible history involves tremendous transition from previous dispensations to the Christian age.
1) Cornelius was still under the Patriarchal system.
2) Under that system, he was faithful as far has he could be.
3) However, there was no forgiveness of sins in that system. Thus, he was lost in sin.
4) He did not know about the Christ, the New Testament, and the gospel plan of salvation. (NOTE: Cornelius was an alien sinner, but not of the exact same type as alien sinners today).
b) God had spoken in times past about a time when the Gentiles would be accepted by Him through Jesus. (See Isa. 11:10).
And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
c) When God heard Cornelius’ prayers, He deemed it time to bring the prophecies about the Gentiles to fruition (See Acts 15:7-9).
And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And, God, which knoweth the hearts, bear them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
1) Notice that Peter said: “God made choice among us.”
2) God chose to send Peter to Cornelius when He heard his prayers and saw him striving to live as God directs under a system that was not valid.
A. As you can see, prayer can be a very involved topic.
B. We have only looked at two questions thus far.
1. What is prayer?
2. Who can pray to God effectually?
C. We know that God listens intently to the prayers of His faithful children.
1. If you are not a child of God, become one so you can pray effectively to the Father.
2. If you are not a righteous child of God, repent of your sins, so your prayers will be effectual.