OceanSide church of Christ
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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS about…
Victor M. Eskew
A. Last week, we started a two-part lesson, entitled: “Questions & Answers about…Prayer.” We looked at two things in that lesson.
1. The definition of prayer
a. Talking to God
b. The door to heaven, but faith unlocks the door
2. We found who can pray to God effectively.
a. The faithful child of God
b. The penitent child of God
c. We also examined Cornelius’s prayers to God
B. We want to continue our study of prayer in this lesson. Let’s look at three more questions about prayer.
I. WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS OF ACCEPTABLE PRAYER?
A. One individual wrote: “Some people would like prayer with no conditions. They wish God to be a celestial genie who, when summoned by prayer, must grant any request they make. They find a measure of encouragement in the fable of Aladdin and his lamp, aspiring to that level of control over God’s power in their prayer life” (Are there any conditions to answered prayer? | GotQuestions.org).
B. Unfortunately, prayer is not unconditional. There are many conditions of acceptable prayer.
1. We have already discussed two:
a. Prayer must be offered in faith (James 1:6).
b. Prayer must be made by a righteous man (James 5:16).
2. Other conditions of acceptable prayer.
a. Prayer is to be made to the heavenly Father (Matt. 6:9).
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
1) We may think this is plain, common sense.
2) However, there are individuals who pray to individuals other than the heavenly Father: dead saints, Mary the mother of Jesus, angels, and false gods.
3) NOTE: There are no passages of Scripture that command us to pray to Jesus or the Holy Spirit. They function in our prayers, but they are not the recipient of our prayers.
b. Pray with a resignation to the will of God (I John 5:14).
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.
1) There are times when we pray that we desire something from God. This is our will.
2) What we desire, however, may conflict with God’s will for us.
3) Thus, when we pray, we must resign ourselves to the will of God.
4) This may be hard to do because we want things so strongly. We must keep in mind that God always knows what is best for us.
5) Jesus is usually the example we point to regarding this condition of prayer (Matt. 26:39).
And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.
c. Prayer must spring from the right motives (James 4:3).
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it on your lusts.
1) A motive is driving force behind a prayer.
2) We might ask for something that is good, but we have asked for it with the wrong motives in mind.
a) Example: We ask for prosperity only to use it for pleasure.
b) Example: We ask for a degree in order to get a promotion that will bring us earthly fame.
c) Example: We ask for less struggles, but if that happens we will not be as faithful in our service to God.
3) God knows our hearts (Acts 15:8). If God sees a corrupt motive, we can ask, but we will not receive that for which we ask.
d. Prayer must be offered with humility (James 4:6, 10)
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble…Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
1) In prayer, we should not be the demanding child.
In prayer, we should not be the arrogant ruler.
In prayer, we should not be the over-confident rich man.
In prayer, we should not be the self-absorbed politician.
In prayer, we should not be the boastful Pharisee.
2) When we pray, we should be as the lowly publican (Luke 18:13).
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
e. Prayer should be asked in Jesus’ name (John 14:14).
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
1) To ask something in Jesus’ name is to ask it by His authority.
2) It is He who has given us access to the Father by the cross.
3) The name of no one else will give a person access to the throne of God.
II. IS THERE A CERTAIN POSITION ONE MUST ASSUME IN PRAYER?
A. There have been some in the past who have believed that kneeling in prayer was the most acceptable position.
B. There are five main positions of prayer found in the Bible.
1. Standing (Luke 18:13): “For praise, honor, thanksgiving, worship, adoration, reverence and awe: a deep respect. A place of strength and glorifying God.”
2. Sitting (II Sam. 7:18): “To inquire, seek counsel or guidance. Sit along with God and enjoy His presence. Converse and dialogue or simply meditate on your Heavenly Father. Submit, surrender, and let Him know we want to take in obedience and serve Him.”
3. Kneeling (Dan. 6:10): “Humility, submission, honor and complete surrender. Supplications and petitions made known. Acknowledge Christ’s Lordship over one’s life.”
4. Prone (Matt. 26:39): “Urgency, emergency, humility (releasing all ego), surrender, confession, repentance, desperate pleas or cries, intercessory prayer for others or standing in the gap.”
5. Lying down (Ps. 4:4): “Resting and enjoying the presence and goodness of the Lord. Be still, quiet a busy mind and an anxious heart. Used to meditate on Him and His precepts.”
(NOTE: All quotations come from www.christianyogaassociation.org, “Postures of Prayer”).
C. Places of prayer in the Bible
1. Mountain (Matt. 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12; 9:28)
2. The rooftop (Acts 10:9)
3. By the side of a river (Acts 16:13)
4. In wilderness areas (Luke 5:16)
5. In a garden (Matt. 26:36)
6. On the battlefield (I Chron. 5:18-20)
7. In a prison (Acts 16:24-25)
8. Near a port (Acts 20:17-38)
9. On a ship in stormy waters (Acts 27:14-27)
10. At the temple (Luke 18:10; Acts 3:1)
11. The best place: In our closet in secret (Matt. 6:6)
III. DOES PRAYER WORK?
A. There are other ways of asking this question:
1. Is prayer effective?
2. Does prayer change things?
3. Does God answer our prayers?
B. There is abundant evidence in Scripture that prayer works.
1. “So Abraham prayed unto God, and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his handmaids; and they bare children” (Gen. 20:17).
2. “Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Exo. 3:9-10).
3. “Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the Sun stood still, and the moon stayed…” (Josh. 10:12-13).
4. “Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord” (I Sam. 1:20).
5. “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit” (James 5:17-18).
C. Some will object, saying: “Well, I have prayed many times and God did not answer my prayers.” There are several answers that God might give to our prayers.
1. Yes (Hezekiah, fifteen years added to his life, Isa. 38:2-5)
a. No, and I will not be with you (King Saul, I Sam. 28:15)
b. No, but I will be with you (Jesus, let this cup pass from me, Matt. 26:42)
3. Wait a while (Abraham, twenty five years he waited for Isaac, Gen. 12:3-4)
4. No. But try this instead (Paul’s thorn in the flesh, try grace instead, II Cor. 12:8-10)
A. Payer is an obedient act, doing the commands of God.
Prayer is a simple act, talking to God.
Prayer is a difficult act. It requires abundant faith.
Prayer is a powerful act. It can change lives and history.
Prayer is a redeeming act. It can bring forgiveness of sins.
Prayer is a sacrificial act. It is a sweet savor to the heavenly Father.
Prayer is a patient act. One must wait for God’s response.
B. I Thessalonians 5:17.
Pray without ceasing.