Talking to God: An Intimate Look at the Way We Pray Newsweek, January 6, 1992

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1 New Life Lessons January 5 th & 6 th, 2008 Pastor Ron Salsbury Unlearning Prayer Mistakes The Art of Unlearning Part 1 Matthew 6:5-15 Matthew 6:5-8 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. [6] But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. [7] And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. [8] Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. PRAYER / EVAN ALMIGHTY CLIP (Chapter 2; 05:43 08:16) What Exactly Is Prayer? Why is it that when we speak to God, we are said to be praying; But when God speaks to us, we are said to be schizophrenic? Lily Tomlin, comedian This week, more of us will pray than will go to work, or exercise, or have sexual relations 78 percent of all Americans pray at least once a week; More than half (57%) report to praying at least once a day Even among the 13% of Americans who are atheists or agnostics, nearly one in five still prays daily. Talking to God: An Intimate Look at the Way We Pray Newsweek, January 6, 1992 There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful Than that of a continual conversation with God. Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it;

2 Yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive. It is not pleasure which we ought to seek in this exercise; But let us do it from a principle of love, And because God would have us. Brother Lawrence, A 17 th Century cook in a French monastery, writing in The Practice of the Presence of God 1. That God Is Far Away and Inattentive. What Must We Unlearn in Prayer? Matthew 6:9a "This, then, is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven (ouranos - the air, the sky, the heavens ) The God who s far away Vs. Our Father always near us Psalm 91:1-2 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. [2] I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Psalm 139:7-10 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? [8] If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. [9] If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, [10] even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. As Christians, we stand in a millennia-long tradition of humans who have been addressed by God.

3 The ancient Israelites heard the voice of their God speaking to them out of the midst of fire (Deut. 4:33). A regular place of communion and conversational interchange between the high priest and God was established in the mercy seat over the ark of God (Ex. 25:22). But the individual with faith among the Israelites also cried out expectantly to be taught by God: Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your good spirit lead me on a level path. (Ps. 143:10). Israel s experience led the prophet Isaiah who also had firsthand experience of conversing with God (Isa. 6) to describe conditions of the faithful this way: Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am The Lord will guide you continually. (Isa. 58:9, 11) Should we expect anything else, given the words of the scriptural record and the heritage of the Christian church? Our failure to hear God has its deepest roots in a failure to understand, accept and grow into a conversational relationship with God It is within such a relationship that our Lord surely intends us to have and to recognize his voice speaking in our hearts as occasion demands. He has made ample provision for this in order to fulfill his mission as the Good Shepherd: to bring us life and life more abundantly. The abundance of life comes in following him, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice (Jn. 10:4). Dallas Willard Hearing God, Developing a Conversational Relationship with God InterVarsity Press Psalm 95:6-7 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; [7] for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. 2. That the Starting Place Is Our Agenda. Matthew 6:9b-10 "Hallowed be your name, [10 ] your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

4 Ephesians 5:17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; [6] in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Ephesians 5:17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Matthew 26:39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." 3. That We Can Meet Our Own Needs. Matthew 6:11 Give us today our daily bread. Psalm 23:1(Living) Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need! Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. [7] And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Hebrews 4:16

5 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. 4. That We Can Be Forgiven Without Forgiving. Matthew 6:12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. [15] But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" [22] Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 5. That Alone, We Can Resist Evil Influences. Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.' ( peirasmos a putting to proof ) 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 John 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. Ephesians 6:10-18

6 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. [11] Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. [12] For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. [13] Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. [14] Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, [15] and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. [16] In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. [17] Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. [18] And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Prayer secret, fervent, believing prayer lies at the root of all personal godliness. - William Carey (Pioneer19 th Century missionary) The largest results in praying come to him who gives himself, all of himself, all that belongs to himself, to God. This is the secret of full consecration, and this is a condition of successful praying, and the sort of praying which brings the largest fruits. E. M. Bounds, The Essentials of Prayer To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world. Karl Barth (20 th Century theologian) It is no use to pray for the old days; stand square where you are and make the present better than any past has been.

7 Base all on your relationship to God and go forward, and presently you will find that what is emerging is infinitely better than the past ever was. Oswald Chambers

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