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The Precautions of Prayer, Part 2

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
November 18, 2020 7:00 am

The Precautions of Prayer, Part 2

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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November 18, 2020 7:00 am

Sometimes when we pray, we only think we're talking to God. But Dr. Tony Evans says that's because we don't understand what prayer really is. Join him for this look at clearing up the misconceptions of prayer along with a few precautions that we should know when we pray.

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Prayer is a partnership. Dr. Tony Evans says sincere prayer isn't a one-way request, it's a two-way conversation. Prayer was never meant to be a monologue, but a dialogue.

This is The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of The Urban Alternative. Sometimes when we pray, we only think we're talking to God. Dr. Evans says that's because we don't understand what prayer really is.

Let's join him as he offers us some precautions for prayer. The disciples never asked Jesus to teach them to preach, to teach them to do miracles, to teach them to heal the sick, to teach them to have the blind see, to teach them how to make the lame walk. The one thing they did ask him is, will you teach us to pray? In Luke chapter 11 where verse 1, because they saw every time that Jesus prayed, something happened. Something supernatural took place every time he prayed, and so they were saying, show us how to do that.

How do you make that contact with God that makes things happen on earth? He starts off in verse 5 and says, and when you pray, not and if you pray. There is an assumption as Jesus talks to his disciples that if you are a follower of Christ, you are a praying follower of Christ. It's when you pray. Biblical prayer is simply defined as relational communication with God. When people go to God for what they want without a concern about the cultivation of the father-child relationship, then they want to use God, not relate to God.

And nobody likes being used. So prayer is relational communication with God. Why do I have relational communication with God?

Because I need up there to do something down here. I need eternity to enter time. I need heaven to enter history. I need God to come into the context of man. But God does not want to do that outside of a relationship. Prayer is relational communication with God. So when you pray, you are talking to God. Verse 6. But you, talking about his followers, Christians, disciples, when you pray, because I'm assuming you do, go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to your father who is in secret.

And your father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. He says, I want to talk to you about how we connect in your prayer closet. Prayer in the Bible is a partnership. God has entered an agreement with man that we will have a communication relationship with one another. And in this secret, in a closet, communication relationship that we're going to partner on, I want to hear from you, but watch this, I also want you to hear from me.

Point. Prayer was never meant to be a monologue, but a dialogue. Most people think of prayer as me talking to God. But if that is your only definition of prayer, relationship isn't being cultivated, because anytime you have a relationship, you get the two-way communication. God wants to talk to us, but when does he want to talk to us?

In secret. He says, when you pray, verse 7, stop using meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do. That's like saying the same thing over and over again, because that's what you say. Lord bless this food we're about to receive, we nourish it through my body, in Jesus' name, amen.

Same prayer every day. That's called meaningless repetition. In other words, you're just saying it, but there's no thought content connected with it. It's like when you show up at church and you ask somebody, how you doing, but you don't want to hear.

If you say, how you doing, and they say, well, look, come over here, let me tell you how I'm doing. Oh, Lord, I ain't mean for you to take me serious. I'm just saying what I'm supposed to say. He says, don't do like the Gentiles do.

Do meaningless repetition. You're just talking to talk. He says, no, no, no, you are cultivating a relationship. I want your mind, not just your mouth.

Private prayer is to precede public prayer. I want a serious meeting. And I want you to close the door, put everybody else out, so you can be 100 with me. So you can be totally honest with me about the good, the bad, and the ugly, because I want this relationship. I want to talk to you and you talk to me and us have a clear understanding. And he says, and the father who sees in secret. In other words, he's waiting in the room for you to show up because he's looking for a secret conversation, because that's what you do when you're building a relationship. When a guy's trying to win a girl, he ain't trying to have a whole lot of people around long.

He's trying to peel off to the side because he's pursuing a relationship, see. And he wants to know that you want a connection with the father, not just with God, but with dad. It's a different deal. Our father who art in heaven.

We've got people still praying in the King James Version, Old English, because they're just vain repetition. He says, no, I don't want, that's not a relational conversation. It's a conversation. Conversation involves a dialogue.

A dialogue is more than one person. So I don't just want to hear what you want. I'm not an Amazon order. You just pick up and tell me what you want. Don't carry me around in your pocket book or wallet like a AAA card. I'm there in case you have a flat.

That's not what I'm interested in. I'm interested in a relational communication. And if you're going to come clean, you're going to have plenty to talk about.

It won't be vain repetition. So I'm going to give you a private place where it's just you and me. And when you do that, he says, I will meet you there. I will see you in private. Now let's get to some deep theology. Ah, verse 8. Do not be like them, the non-Christians, the Gentiles, for your father.

He's still talking about relationship. Your daddy now, not the big God up there. Your father knows what you need before you ask.

Okay, watch this now. You don't pray to inform God. Most of you pray to inform God. God said, I know what you're going to say before you open your mouth. He says, when you come to me, don't just come to give me information I am already completely aware of. I already know what you need.

Well, wait a minute. So if you know what I need, why I got to pray anyway? You know what I'm thinking. You know where I'm struggling. Why do I have to pray?

Because in a relationship, you do things because of the connection. And I want to know you want me, not what you can get from me. I already know what you want.

I already know what you need. But I want to know, do you want me? Like folk who just come to be blessed. That is an insult to God to only come to the blessing and not want the blesser. How do we know?

We don't want the blesser because we only show up for the blessing. He says, no, this conversation is not just about what you need because I already know that. Okay, watch this now.

Watch this. We're going to go into some theology now. So what I'm going to do, God is saying, is I'm going to let you have needs. I'm going to let you have health needs, financial needs, career needs, relational needs, emotional needs. I'm going to let you have needs because it's only when you ever need that I can get a little time with you. It's only when things are bad enough that you at least will think about talking to me. It's only when everything is shut down that I get extra time in spite of just a rush.

You just say a quick thing because you're supposed to. So sometimes I let the needs be light. Maybe I get some time with you.

Oh, no, that wasn't bad enough. Let me take it down a little lower. Maybe you'll give me some time now.

Or let me make it so that it's hopeless. Now I get all of your time because I want a relationship with you. And sometimes your needs are the only way I can get it.

Now, let me explain how this works. He says, I know your needs ahead of time. And I know it before you ask. I love Isaiah chapter 65 verse 24, which says, Before you call, I will answer. That's before you ever prayed.

Okay, so here it is. God has an unconditional will and a conditional will. Two wills. The unconditional will is what He has determined to do regardless of what anybody else does or does not do. That's called His sovereign will. In other words, He's just going to do it because He wants to. You don't have to do anything or not do something.

It doesn't matter. He's just going to do it because He decided to do it. But He has also a conditional will. The conditional will is what He chooses to do, but only when the conditions are met.

So if the conditions aren't met, whatever is on the conditional will side is not dispensed because it was in His conditional will. Now, the Bible will give you a list of His conditional will. But sometimes things are in His conditional will that the Bible doesn't directly speak about, and you don't know whether it's unconditional or unconditional. That's why the Bible says pray about all things. Because sometimes you don't know if God's going to do it anyway or whether He's waiting on you to pray first, whether He's waiting for you to obey first before He does it.

So if it's His conditional will, that means He's waiting on you to meet the condition. That's why James 4-2 says you have not because you ask not. You didn't meet the condition of asking, so I didn't give it. Why?

Because you weren't pursuing a relationship. Let me tell you how powerful this thing is. God says, I already know what you're coming to talk to me about. I just want you to come talk to me. In fact, I've decided before you came to dispense it, so when you come, I can then allow it to be delivered. But I'm going to hold on to it until I get a little time. Show your love, show your love, show your love. I'm going to hold on to it until it's not just about this that I already know about.

It's about me. Dr. Evans has an incredible truth about prayer that he'll share with us when he continues our message in just a moment. In the meantime, if you'd like to learn more about how to make a real connection with God, get a copy of Tony's popular and well-received book, God Is More Than Enough. Too often, God is the last one we appeal to when faced with struggles and hardships.

But when we trust Him to meet our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, He'll give us more than enough to handle the ups and downs of life with confidence and power. We're excited about the positive response to this book and the lives it's already changed. And that's why we're bundling it together with Tony's current teaching series, The Lord's Prayer. In addition to today's lesson, there are messages on the link between being forgiving and being forgiven, and the importance of talking to God about what He wants, not just what we want. Right now, if you make a contribution to help us keep Tony's teaching on this station, we'll send you the powerful book, God Is More Than Enough, along with all eight messages in The Lord's Prayer on CD and instant digital downloads as our thank-you gift. But this special offer runs out soon, so be sure to contact us right away. All the details are waiting for you at TonyEvans.org, or you can call us day or night at 1-800-800-3222 and let one of our team members help you with your resource request.

That's 1-800-800-3222. Well, Dr. Evans will return with more of today's message right after this. Let me tell you how powerful this thing is. God has given so much clout to prayer that's relationally driven to draw heaven into history that He will even allow prayer to change His mind. I don't know that there's anything more potent than prayer God has allowed to be so powerful when it's relationally driven that you can switch Him from what He was going to do to what you want Him to do. That's different than what He was going to do. The Bible says God changes not. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is the changeless God. Yet, the Bible says God changes His mind. In Exodus 32, verse 14, it says God changed His mind about judging His people. In Jeremiah 26, 19, it says God changed His mind with regard to the circumstances.

In Amos, chapter 7, verses 2 and 3, God was going to bring judgment. It says, but the people cried out to God, and God changed His mind. Anybody in here need God to change His mind about something?

About a health situation, a financial situation, a personal situation. You need Him to switch it back. God says if relationally driven prayer will give God at least an option, He's sovereign, He can choose whether He wants to change His mind. But how can a changeless God change His mind? It works like this. God can never change regarding His character, but He can change regarding His actions, His being, His person, His attributes are changeless.

But here's how it works. Let's say God decides to judge you for a sin, and I'm going to judge you because my character of justice and wrath means that I must respond to unrighteousness. And so God decides to do that. But like in Amos, chapter 7, you go to God in repentance. You go to God for pardon.

You go to God for restoration. God then has the option, it's His option, but God then has an option to shift your sin to His mercy. He's not going to give up His judgment, but He may decide to use another part of His character. His mercy means not giving you what your sin called for. If God decides in your case to shift His judgment into His mercy, He stayed the same. He just related it to a different part of His changeless nature, which allows Him to change His action toward your situation.

So don't let things that God is willing to change go unchanged because we refuse to meet Him in a private place, to meet Him in a place of supernatural intervention. I'll close with the passage in chapter 7 of Matthew, verse 7. 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. For what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?

Will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father, who is in heaven, give what is good to those who ask Him? He says, if you treat me like a daddy and not like a foreigner that you talk to with no meeting and no relationship, you'll find out how good I am. He uses a couple of illustrations. He says, if the kid wants a loaf of bread, the loaves of bread in Israel are round, and when they're baked, they are brown and round.

If you would put them out among stones, they would look like round stones that are also brown. He says, a good father wouldn't fool his son and bring him a stone when the son asked just because it looked like it was bread. Nor will a good father take a snake, a poisonous snake that's unclean, cut it, cook it, so that it now looks like liver or looks like some kind of meat, and give his son a poisonous snake, but he tricks his son because it's really a snake.

He just made it look like meat so he could fool his son. Now, if you folks who don't know how to act right, being evil, would never do that to your kid, what makes you think your heavenly Father is going to trick you? He says, I've got good gifts. I like the way Luke says it. Luke says, and he'll give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks because the Holy Spirit is God's post office. He's the delivery service of the goodness of God. You say, but I don't experience goodness right now.

God hasn't finished cooking yet. If you give God the attention and you give God the intimacy and the relationship, everything may not be good, but he knows how to work all things for good to them who love God, to them who love God, to them who love God. Romans 8.28, don't quote it if you don't love God. Don't quote Romans 8.28 if you're not pursuing intimacy with God. He will do good things, he says, for those who love God and are called according to his purpose of wanting a relationship, wanting to be conformed to Jesus Christ.

If you pursue a relationship and bring your needs along with that in your secret place, you will hear from God because God will hear from you. Dr. Evans will come back in a moment to wrap up our program with a startling statistic and a thought-provoking illustration, so stay with us. First though, don't forget to make the arrangements to receive those powerful resources I mentioned earlier, Tony's life-changing book, God Is More Than Enough, and all eight messages from his current series, The Lord's Prayer, on CD and digital download. This entire package of resources is yours as our thank you gift when you make a contribution to help keep this broadcast coming your way each day.

Again, this is a limited-time offer, so don't put it off. Visit us today at TonyEvans.org to get all the details. You can make your contribution and your request online again at TonyEvans.org. Or call our 24-hour resource request line at 1-800-800-3222 and let one of our team members assist you. That's 1-800-800-3222.

The disciples saw firsthand the intimacy Jesus had with the Father when He prayed, so it's no surprise they asked Him to teach them how to pray. Dr. Evans will explore that tomorrow, but right now he's back with this interesting observation. Almost one billion dollars' worth of gift cards go unused every year, paid for by somebody else, but not utilized by the receiver. Up in heaven, you have a storage with your name on it. That storage has two compartments. It has an unconditional side and a conditional side. On the unconditional side, God's going to do what He's going to do, whether you do anything or not. But when you get to heaven, you don't want to walk up to your storage unit and find all the things God was going to do, planned to do, was inspired to do. But you never met the condition, so you go up to heaven and find your storage conditional side filled with stuff because you never had cultivated a relational prayer life in private with God. Don't take my word for it.

Go home and find your inner room. The first time you try it, you may only do it for one minute because you're not used to it. It's like an athlete or a non-athlete working out. You may only run one block the first time, but if you keep at it, it'll be two blocks, three blocks. It'll become a mile. You may start out with one minute, but when it gets good to you, it'll be five minutes. When it gets better to you, it'll be 25 minutes. And then you'll wind up like Jesus when He said to His disciples, Can't you hang for me for one hour? Because when you hear the God talking to you and you talking to God and His Holy Spirit is filling up that space, you will be late for work because you will have been in God's presence and transformed by His glory. The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by the Urban Alternative and is made possible by the generous contributions of listeners like you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-26 22:48:19 / 2024-01-26 22:56:59 / 9

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