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DEFINITIONS OF PRAYER

Victor M. Eskew

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A.     Prayer is one of the privileges of the Christian life.

 

B.      One would think that prayer would be something that naturally flows from the child of God to his/her heavenly Father.

 

C.     Instead, it is a skill that has to be taught and learned.  On one occasion, the disciples of Jesus requested of Him, saying:  “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).

 

D.     One way to pray better is to understand what prayer is.  In this lesson, we will discuss:  “The Definitions of Prayer.”

 

I.                    PRAYER IS…A STEP INTO HEAVEN

 

A.     Heaven is the place where God dwells (Ps. 102:19).

 

For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary:  from heaven did the Lord behold the earth.

 

B.      The moment you and I begin to pray our voice leaves the earth and enter into the throne room of God in heaven.

1.       To enter a palace on earth and step into the throne room of an earthly monarch would be an overwhelming experience.

2.       We are stepping into God’s throne room, not on earth, but in heaven.

 

C.     Matthew 6:9

 

After this manner therefore pray ye:  Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name.

 

II.                 PRAYER IS…THE PRIVILEGE OF TALKING TO GOD

 

A.     Two verses:

1.       Psalm 77:1

 

I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice, and he gave ear unto me.

 

2.       Luke 23:46

 

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit:  and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

 

B.      Notice that it is the voice that is used in prayer.

1.       We talk to God.

2.       We speak to God.

3.       We communicate to God.

 

C.     The sound of our voice is not relevant to God.

1.       Clear or raspy

2.       Loud or quiet

3.       Much emotion or little emotion

4.       Good English or bad English

5.       What matters is that we speak, even if it is a silent whisper from our heart.

 

D.     Keep in mind it is a privilege granted to God’s children.

1.       Prayer is one of the spiritual blessings found “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3)

2.       Proverbs 15:8

 

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord:  but the prayer of the upright is his delight.

 

3.       Prayer is our special privilege, or benefit, because we are God’s children and He is our Father who loves us, cares for us, and wants to hear from us.

 

III.              PRAYER IS…PRAISE, THANKSGIVING, AND REQUESTS

 

A.     When we lift our voice to God, we do so with a purpose.  In other words, there is a reason for our communication with God.

 

B.      There are three main purposes of prayer.

1.       To praise God

a.       Prayer is one way we can acknowledge God for who He is and what He has done.

b.      Psalm 63:5b

 

…My mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.

 

2.       Thanksgiving

a.       God has blessed us and we need to acknowledge and express our gratitude for those blessings.

b.      Psalm 100:4

 

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:  be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

 

3.       Requests

a.       There are things that we desire for self and others.  We are told to ask God for those things.

b.      Philippians 4:6

 

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

 

c.       NOTE:  Jesus was not afraid to make requests of God in prayer (Matt. 26:39).

 

IV.              PRAYER IS…A STRUGGLE WITH GOD


A.  Three elements of prayer must be demonstrated as we pray.

1.       Faith (James 1:6).

2.       Boldness (Heb. 4:16)

3.       The Lord’s will (I John 5:14).

 

B.  All of these things can be a struggle for us in prayer.

1.       We will come with doubts instead of faith.

2.       We reluctantly ask instead of boldly doing so.

3.       Our wants are often pitted against God’s desires.

 

C.     When Jacob wrestled with the angel at the brook Jabok, we see a picture of the struggle that a man has with God in prayer.

1.       Jacob wrestled “with him until the breaking of day” (Gen. 32:24).

2.       Genesis 32:26

 

And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh.  And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

 

3.       NOTE:  Prayer is a struggle.  Be like Jacob, and wrestle with God, and prevail.

 

V.                 PRAYER IS…A RELEASE

 

A.     Life comes with its fair share of burdens and difficulties.

1.       They bring us pain.

2.       They bring us sorrow.

3.       They bring us hardship.

4.       They bring us toil and labor.

5.       They bring us doubts.

 

B.      In prayer, these things can be released and given to God.

1.       I Peter 5:7

 

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

 

2.       There are many Bible examples of this:  Hannah, David, Nehemiah, and Jesus.

 

C.     No burden we carry is bigger than our God.  God can shoulder the burdens of all human beings.

 

VI.              PRAYER IS…A PLACE OF BLESSINGS

 

A.     A blessing is a favor, a gift, or a benefit.  It is something one delights in when it is received.

 

B.      Prayer is a storehouse of blessings.

1.       Strength:  Samson (Judg. 16:28-30); Esther (Esth. 4:16)

2.       Assurance:  Stephen (Acts 7:59-60)

3.       Peace:  David (Ps. 3:4-5)

4.       Hope:  Hannah (I Sam. 1:18).

 

C.     Kids love toy boxes

Men love sports stores

Women love shoe stores

Christians should desire their closets of prayer because of the multitude of blessings that are found there (Matt. 7:7).

 

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

 

CONCLUSION

 

A.     Simply put, prayer is speaking to God, but it is so much more than that.

 

B.      This why the Bible exhorts us to

1.       Pray.

2.       Pray boldly.

3.       Prayer without ceasing.

4.       Pray at all times.

5.       Pray in faith nothing wavering.

 

C.     Why?  Because prayer is a lot of things.