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The Priority of Prayer

The Verdict / John Munro
The Truth Network Radio
January 15, 2018 10:14 am

The Priority of Prayer

The Verdict / John Munro

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January 15, 2018 10:14 am

Pastor Jim Pile January 14, 2018 Colossians 4:2 How is your prayer life going? The priority of prayer can be drowned out easily with all the activities of life, but it is critical to deepening our relationship with God. His Word tells us how to pray and what to pray for as we enjoy this incredible privilege to speak directly to our Heavenly Father.

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Amount work couple weeks into 2018. Let's ask ourselves a few questions. How is our prayer life going, are we praying privately. If we do, how much time each day are we spending in private prayer.

In addition, what is the focus of those prayers. Only we can answer those questions alone before God. Whether or not we are faithful to attend church and ALG here at Calvary becomes evident to other people. Whether or not we have family prayers in our homes, our families know, however, whether or not we pray in private is a matter between us and the Lord is not are we resolved to make private prayer a daily habit this year and beyond in our Christian life. The priority of prayer in the Christian life can be drowned out easily with all the activities of life work sports, entertainment, family activities, and a multitude of other things.

We are Christians who are actually spending active time in prayer Marshall Stegall in his article on prayer says this God means for your life married or unmarried student or employee, young or old to run on the power of prayer. Prayer fuels the engine of your heart and mind.

It's not coffee it's not Chipotle or social media buzz. It's prayer you need God in and through prayer more than you need anything else. We will not do anything of any real and lasting value without God, which means we will not do anything of any real and lasting value without prayer." Let me also quote JC Ryle, who was an evangelical Anglican Bishop in Liverpool, England in the 18th century. He writes a habit of prayer is one of the most surest marks of a true Christian.

All the children of God on earth are alike in this respect from the moment there is any life in reality and their religion. They pray, just as the first sign of life in a newborn infant in the act of breathing.

So the first act of men and women when they are born again is pray while Scripture clearly commands us to pray. Luke 18 one. For example, Jesus says, then he spoke a parable to them that men ought always to what, pray and not lose heart. First Thessalonians 517 Paul taught the Thessalonians, pray without what ceasing Ephesians 617 and 18. Paul writes, and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, praying at all times in the spirit with all prayer and supplication. So let's be honest with ourselves for a moment. Most of us, if not all of us would testify that we need to spend more time in private prayer before the Lord at times in our Christian life may be so many times were like Martha were fussing about with chores and details and distractions of life and perhaps even thinking we are rendering service to Christ in ministry but forgetting the one thing that is critical in making our spiritual engine run effectively coming before God's throne of grace daily in humble dependent prayer. So whether you're here this morning and you're a baby Christian.

Learning how to pray or fear here this morning and you're a seasoned Christian walking with the Lord for many years. I want us to take a fresh look at the priority of prayer in our lives as we embark upon 2018.

I want to urge each one of us to excel. Still more in the area of prayer. When the be a great testimony in our community and beyond. The Calvary church is known as a church that uncompromisingly teaches the word of God, and fervently praise for God's kingdom purposes and for each other to hear somebody on the street. Say hey I know about that church.

They take the word of God and prayer.

Seriously, there they were not just known as I've heard in my five years here now in Charlotte. All you pastor that was formally the pink church. I've heard that many times you go to that big pink church. So how can we be more zealous in our prayer life in 2018. Why invite you to take your Bibles and turn to the epistle of Colossians and as you turn there.

Let me give you a little background and context. Paul wrote this epistle. It's one of his prison epistles probably from Rome around A.D. 61 and the theme of Colossians is our sufficiency in Christ and our submission to Christ in all things. In fact, in Colossians chapter 2 verse 10 he writes, and you have been filled in him you have been made complete and he is the head over all rule and authority. In chapter 1 verses 19 and 20. Paul exults Christ's character by saying, for in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross. In chapter 2 he exalts Christ and Christianity over philosophy. Legalism, mysticism and asceticism in the beginning of chapter 3 verse three he describes the certainties of our calling by saying, for you died in your life is hidden with Christ in God. Then in chapter 3 verses five through 17. He describes the personal characteristics of a new believer in Christ by stating in verse 15 and the let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and at the end of chapter 3 verses 18 to 21. He instructs us and how to apply these characteristics in our homes and then in the workplace as well so that brings us and into chapter 4 verses two through six. He continues his discussion here of the new man that he began in chapter 3 verse five by emphasizing the importance of prayer, wisdom, and our speech in the Christian life. Follow along as I read here in chapter 4 verses two through six continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving at the same time.

Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison, that I may make it clear which is how I ought to speak. Walking wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person in that paragraph, Paul gives us counsel to the entire church regarding the speech of a new man in Christ first in his communication with God through prayer, then in his communication with others through witnessing to the outside world to unbelievers for our purposes this morning. Let's focus on the priority of prayer here found in verse two, verse two, Colossians 42 and we see that up in the screen so read that along with me, will you please continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. In this verse we can see here Paul gives us three godly habits to cultivate in our lives that will ensure an effective prayer life.

The first one in your notes.

There is devote yourselves devote ourselves to prayer.

That's fitting that Paul begins with prayer because prayer is the most important talk to the new man in Christ can utter before the Lord.

If you recall after Paul's conversion in acts chapter 9 he was brought to Damascus and was without site for three days and then we pick up the story in verse 10. Listen to this.

Now there was a disciple at the basket is named Ananias.

The Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias, and he said here I am Lord and the Lord said to him rise and go to the street called straight, and at that house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus name Saul for behold, he is praying. In an interesting again as JC Rao said when we are born again, what should be a intimate part of our life. Of course for new Christian's prayer. There we see it exhibited after Paul's miraculous conversion on the Damascus Road. He was said about he was praying, so we are to continue steadfastly to devote ourselves to prayer. If we are to do that.

Let's first define prayer. What is it what is prayer. It simply means to talk to God with a reverential all that he deserves its communion with God is to speak to him to talk with him. He has spoken to us in his word and through his son Jesus Christ, and he commands us to speak to him through our prayers.

Both public and private me give you a few definitions. Here again I quote JC Ryle prayer is the simplest act in all religion is simply speaking to God.

It needs neither learning nor wisdom nor workbook knowledge. To begin, it needs nothing but heart and will again I quote Marshall Stegall as well. He says this prayer is a conscious personal communication with God, with the God of the universe.

A better question than how is your prayer life might be. Have you been enjoying conscious communication with God over his word in your daily needs throughout your day has your relationship with him been real, not a box to check not just a hurried place for help. Not a vague, abstract idea, hovering over your head and life have you been leaning on him and not yourself one more John MacArthur rights. The essence of prayer is talking to God as you would to a beloved parent.

It is intimate and loving communication is definitions are well stated. It's loving communion with our heavenly father summarize. Paul says it this way in Romans 815 for you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry.

What Abba father that biblical expression is a tender term of endearment the privilege to call our Creator pop-up daddy what a great privilege that is for us as believers to be able to call the our Creator, our sovereign God to speak with him from our hearts. What an incredible privilege to call him Papa daddy is a beloved parent can keep in mind such unit and intimacy with God was a foreign concept to most Jewish people in biblical times because they were taught by many of the Jewish rabbis that God was far off behind the veil in the holiest place and that he was not approachable but yet Christ for the temple into right tour of the temple Ruben to and we have direct access to our heavenly father we can have the privilege of calling him Papa. Father. What a privilege that is so notice prayer is simply communion with God, to talk to him through his word.

What does Paul stress here in this verse we are to continue steadfastly in prayer we are to be devoted to prayer uses this this this words used 10 times in the New Testament. What does it mean well it's a very strong term here in the Greek it means to be courageously persistent.

Stay attic continue in prayer adhere to it.

Busy herself with prayer be engaged in it at all times. He saying here that we are to be tenacious in prayer to hold fast and not let go of prayer.

It should be a vital part of our life as I was studying this passage the image it came to my mind when I thought of tenacious and being persistent in here to courageously persistent and adhering to that image came to my mind a bulldog you think of a bulldog in your mind you think of a bulldog grabbing a hold of something and not what letting go, so that peaked my curiosity a little bit and I looked up Bulldogs on the Internet and Wikipedia says this little bit about bulldog breeders have worked to reduce and remove aggression from these dogs. Most have a friendly patient but stubborn nature Bulldogs are recognized as excellent family pets because of their tendency to form strong bonds with children. I found that interesting but would have illustration. Paul saying here we need to be stubborn for prayer to stand firm in our faith and be stubborn towards prayer and to build a strong bond in prayer with our heavenly father is a bulldog does with children a strong bond of prayer for so now that I use the illustration of a bulldog when I see you around campus would have to ask each other are we being a bulldog in prayer forgot to be persistent and to continue steadfastly in prayer to be like a bulldog.

That's the imagery that is using here to persistent prayer to persevere and it other uses of the word in the New Testament. Romans 1212, Paul tells us to be constant in prayer at the beginning of the church in acts chapter 2.

The new believers devoted themselves to prayer to the apostles teaching in the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to their prayers, your receive the same word used again in acts chapter 6, verse four, the apostle said to the congregation, but we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word. Another illustration came to my mind is to think about this persistence. Paul talking about here that we are to be devoted to prayer is a steady flame in the fireplace. That should be our prayer life. Are we going to be like a bulldog and be like a steady flame in your fireplace in your home. The prayer is constantly burning in our hearts, and were bringing our prayers to God.

That's what he's talking about here in Colossians 42 continually persist in prayer one illustrations as you take your Bible and foot back to the gospel of Luke chapter 11 Luke chapter 11 verses five through 10. The teaching of Jesus here illustrates this. The importance of persistent prayer Luke chapter 11 verses five through 13 actually follow along as I read this illustration and he said to them, which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, friend, lend me three loaves for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey and I have nothing to set before him and he will answer from within.

Do not bother me. The door is now shut my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything I tell you, though he will not go he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence or impedance. He will rise and give him whatever he needs and I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you seek and you will find knock and it will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds the one who knocks it will be open.

What father among you of his son asked for official instead of a fish give him a serpent or if he asked for an egg, will give him a scorpion. If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who but ask him asking what's the point of this illustration. If unwilling and sinful human beings will honor persistence, how much more will are holy and loving Helen heavenly father give to us when we ask to continue steadfastly in prayer. The second habit. Paul wants us to develop is to keep a watchful in prayer. Keep watchful in prayer. Keep the Lord in to be awake to stay awake to be watchful to be vigilant in prayer.

Stay alert and it Matthew Henry writes, Christian should keep their minds lively in the duty of prayer. Perhaps Paul was reminded of the literal sleep which she had heard about the story of the passion of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane where the Lord Jesus asked the disciples to what to be alert and to pray, Matthew chapter 26 verses 36 through 45. We can read that account before Christ went to the cross.

He has his apostles to pray and yet what happened to them. They fell asleep. A couple times when he came back he found them not alert in prayer.

They were sleep. What Paul is talking about here encompasses more than mere physical alertness.

We as believers should also look for those things that we ought to be praying about not just throwing up some perfunctory prayers to God.

But keeping watchful in it at all times. Evidently Peter learned this lesson from his failure to stay awake in the garden for in feet first Peter chapter 4 verse seven he says this the end of all things is at hand. Therefore be self-control and sober minded for the sake of your prayers be sober minded. Stay alert.

It's very important because often as Christians, we have a tendency to pray in general terms, rather than the specific ones to be devoted in prayer require something specific to pray for, after all, we generally don't pray for things that we are not concerned about and to be concerned. We must be alert to specific needs for ourselves and for others supposed teaching is here to keep alert to be watchful in prayer. Stay alert and it several illustrations came to my mind as I thought about this staying alert in prayer when you visit somebody in the hospital. Somebody that you deeply care about your very Lord in prayer for them. Aren't you as we pray for each other.

Sometimes when you're lost in your driving. You're not sure where to turn your usually very, very alert, aren't you to be mindful hey I need to go this way.

I need to take that route. You're very alert reminded recently in the airport.

People sometimes we've all been running late for a flight. You have to catch another plane. When you land your very alert to listen carefully for the connections in the flight because you need to get where you go on your very alert and that's what pulse talking about here.

Stay alert in prayer at all times while it leads us. The third habit. Paul exhorts us to develop number three have a thankful heart.

Have a thankful heart continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful and it with what Thanksgiving it's interesting.

This is the fifth time that Paul has mentioned gratitude in this epistle alone.

He goes on he says in chapter 1 that we should be grateful for our salvation. In chapter 1 verse 12. In chapter 2 verse six he says we should be grateful and give thanks for our growth in Christ. In chapter 3 verse 15 he says we should give thanks to God for the fellowship we have in Christ and in his church and then in chapter 3 verse 17 he says we should give thanks to God for the opportunity to serve him.

So here in chapter 4 verse two. This is the fifth time he saying that we should give thanks we are to have a thankful heart that God will answer prayer in accordance with his purposes for us so notice the prayer and thanksgiving go hand in hand and this should define and characterize our alertness in prayer. We should do it with an attitude of thanksgiving to be thankful to God, not just some mechanical perfunctory.

Thank you Lord somebody's talking about here is talking about giving a heartfelt expression of our thankfulness before him and that he reminds us here that we need to be careful not to just thank God for the answer to something, we asked for. That's again just perfunctory in nature or that we can somehow force God to give us what he wants. If we just say thank you Lord, I know that you will do this for me. We have to be careful that we don't look at God is some cosmic genie, but if we just tack on a thank you thank you Lord. At the end without sincere meaning that somehow he's going to automatically give us what we want. Such a spirit in our prayers like that really denies the essential nature of prayers as dependence upon him. Ephesians 520 Paul says there always give thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the father and that should be a heartfelt Thanksgiving in our prayers. So based on cultivating these three habits of devoting ourselves to prayer.

Keeping watchful and with a heart of thanksgiving, let me give you some additional thoughts and guidelines as you grow in your prayer time with the Lord here in 2018 others. Many that we could list these are some that I thought of as I reflected upon this passage. First of all, how should we pray, how should we pray number one come to God with a humble submissive heart come to God with a humble submissive attitude. Let me give you some verses, you can jot them down. I'll read them to you for the sake of time first John chapter 5 verses 13 and 14 and this is the confidence that we have toward him that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us and if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. So keep in mind beloved that they're going to be times in our Christian life were God will deny our requests like Moses and Elijah and Paul for our good and his what glory and that can actually lead to a greater blessing. Sometimes what he has to say no. And of course the logic of submission to God's wisdom is that he is all wise.

We know that God is omnipresent, which means while he's always present with us that he's omniscient that he knows all things. Here's another word for seas alumni sapient.

That means he's all wise God always knows what's best for you and for me, even when he has to say no to a request.

That's why when it's important to always pray according to his will. Paul exalts God's alumni sapient sin. Romans 1133 and 34 when he writes, oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways for who has known the mind of the Lord, who has been his counselor. God will always do what's right for us and for his glory. We can always trust his wisdom, no matter what we're going through in life. So come to God with a humble submissive attitude number two ask in Christ name as you pray continuously and pray without ceasing, ceasing, asking Christ name John 1413 and 14, whatever you ask in my name. This I will do that.

The father may be glorified in the son. If you ask me anything in my name I will do it.

What does that mean to pray in Jesus's name means to pray consistently with who he is, his person, his will and his purposes, and how do we know his will, largely through his word. He's given us a special revelation in his word through the Scriptures. First Corinthians 216 Paul says this for who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him, but we have the mind of Christ we have his mind given to us in the Scriptures, and at times when we don't know his specific will for ourselves or others. We can simply pray to God for his will to be done. For example, when we pray for a sick friend. We can pray this way.

Heavenly father I pray that he may be comforted grow spiritually in the midst of this illness and honor you in the midst of this trial that request is consistent with who Christ is and what the Bible reveals about him so asking Christ name number three ask in faith, ask in faith. Matthew 2122 and whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive. If Jesus said you have what faith, if you have faith, Abraham trusted in the promises of God and his faith grew stronger when he was asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. He trusted God didn't need in his faith grew stronger. Romans 420, Paul reminds us of that. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God.

But Abraham grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.

So can our faith grows stronger. If we pray in faith and then number four how should we pray, pray from a pure heart.

Pray from a pure heart. Psalm 24, four says, who shall stand in God's holy place.

He who has clean hands and a pure what heart pure heart. Psalm 66, verse 18. If I cherished iniquity in my heart.

The Lord will not have listened. That's why it's so important as we'll talk about a moment to confess our sins daily.

Here's a very practical one for us as husbands first Peter 37. The apostle Peter writes. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. How practical is that for us as husbands and a few thoughts here. What should we pray for regularly. How should we pray, let me give you a few thoughts of what we should pray for regularly number one express thanks to God for his goodness and his kindness daily express thanks to God for his goodness and his kindness.

Psalm 34 verse one says I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 119 verse 68.

The psalmist writes you are good and do good.

Teach me your statutes number two what you we pray for regularly the confession of our sins, as I just mentioned the confession of our sins. Proverbs 2813 says whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find God's compassion. The course you're familiar with first John 19 if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Again, that's the mark of a true Christian to be confessing our sins.

Number three. Pray for our dependence on him for our daily provisions. Jesus gave the apostles and us the model prayer in Matthew chapter 6 and verse 11 verse 11, he taught us in the Lord's prayer to give us this day our what our daily bread, our daily bread. So pray to God daily. Our dependence on him for our daily provisions. Philippians 419 Paul says in my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Number four what should we pray for regularly our need for wisdom in the midst of trials. Oh how we need wisdom, don't we. We need wisdom.

James chapter 1 verses five through seventh. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind for that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord is double mind and that he is a double minded man unstable in all his ways. Let's ask in faith and pray for wisdom. Number five, a plea for deliverance in the face of trouble. Psalm five verses one and two says give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my groaning give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God for to you, do I pray to ask God for help in the time of trouble. Number six when our heart's longing to find relief from anxiety and fear.

All of us of experience that haven't me, at one time or another. The trials we go through in life that we experience some anxiety and fear Psalm for one says this, answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness. You have given me relief when I was in distress, be gracious to me and hear my prayer.

Philippians chapter 4, six and seven you're familiar with this passage.

Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Number seven pray for your our own deeds our own needs. Psalm 3611 says let not the foot of pride.

Come upon me, and let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.

Proverbs chapter 30 verses eight and nine says two things I ask of you deny them not to me before I die.

Remove far from me falsehood and lying give me neither poverty nor riches feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be falling deny you and say who is the Lord or lest I be poor and steel and profane the name of my God, and finally number eight.

We should intercede on behalf of each other to pray for each other. Ephesians 618 praying at all times in the spirit with all prayer and supplication.

To that in keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. Spurgeon said no man can do me a tour kindness in this world than to pray for me.

We need to pray for each other and uplift each other before the throne of grace which leads so very practical question.

If God were to answer all my prayers that I've been praying would change anyone else's life but my own. Think about that. We need to pray for each other as well.

While enclosing a few practical tips if you take your looking up. You will notice that we put the watchmen prayer ministry card in there for you today. This is an excellent way. As we look to deepen our relationship with Christ through prayer is an excellent way for you to get involved with praying once a week to sign up for just one hour a week to pray privately for all the ministries here at the church and for each other so important, so would encourage you to fill this card out and as we close in prayer at the end of the service. The ushers will be at the doorways and they can collect these or you can give them to our watchmen prayer captains will be out the watchmen prayer wall right outside the café to turn these into be committed this year to sign up for one hour a week to pray for the needs of the church should such a privilege for us as pastors and the staff to write down a requests each month.

I think we have some 1200 people currently praying every week at all hours of the day for all the requests of the church. What a privilege that is so, I would submit to you to do this is this year as well.

Also, I would suggest you to keep a prayer journal at home to see how the Lord answers your prayers. Give a prayer list handy in your Bible and a journal at home and also starting today. Over the next several months going to have prayer walks here on campus each week will be a leader today is gonna start at 1230.

Out here in the Galleria.

The Bailey's can lead a group of folks around the campus to walk around it to pray for our families, our church are leaders in our community and this will be going on every Sunday for the next several months. All of us can participate in that as well. So continue to look for those in looking up as well.

So let's continue said let's continue steadfastly in prayer to be devoted to it to keep alert indent with an attitude of thanksgiving and made each one of us make prayer a priority, more so in our Christian walk here in 2018. I close with quoting James. James 516, the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working was pretty good. Heavenly father, we thank you for the clarity of the apostle Paul's teaching here in Colossians 46 may we be more committed as your children to the priority of prayer in our lives knowing that we can have that close, intimate relationship with you through prayer to continue steadfastly and it to be alert and with an attitude of thanksgiving or we have so much to be thankful for to you because of what you've done through the Lord Jesus, help us this year to be more committed to praying to you privately had to pray for each other.

May we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ through prayer forwards in his precious name we pray. Amen

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