Monday, June 4, 2012

Lord, teach us to pray!

James 5:13-20
I anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders oft he church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like our, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. 

The Lord has taught me a lot about prayer lately and is continuing to do so.  I've been brought to the hard truth that I really didn't know how to pray.  Yes, I've been a Christian for quite some time but yet, I really didn't know how to pray mainly because I'd never asked the Lord to teach me.  This is the main reason praying has been such a chore up until now.  Certainly I am not the prayer warrior I would like to be and distractions come at me from every side when I attempt to spend time with the Lord but through the power of the Holy Spirit and remembering the things He has taught me, I'm slowing but surely winning this battle.  
Are you willing to learn how to pray?  God didn't create prayer for Himself because He needs us to tell Him what we need or want.  He knows all, sees all, and is the Alpha and Omega.  He created prayer because we need Him and communication with Him is vital to our survival as Christians. in this sinful world.  Is the Lord valuable enough in our lives that we would spend time learning how to communicate with Him?  Have you ever tried to talk to someone with whom you had very little or nothing in common?  It's hard isn't it?!  Perhaps that's why we struggle so with prayer; we don't have enough in common with the Lord to know how to carry on a conversation with Him.  Romans 8:26 says, "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."  While Jesus walked this earth He taught the disciples how to pray.  They even sought Him out and said, "Lord, teach us to pray."  Charles Spurgeon says, "Prayer itself is an art that only the Holy Spirit can teach us.  He is the giver of all prayer.  Pray for prayer."  He also says, "There is a vulgar notion that prayer is easy."  
So, what are we to do?  Are we powerless here on earth and God's gonna do what God's gonna do regardless?  In the Christian life there is rarely nothing we can do.  Remember when we pray we have a mightier One that us praying with us.  There is another voice louder and sweeter than the first, more powerful pleading, "Father, forgive them through My precious blood."  (from Spurgeon's Prayer & Spiritual Warfare)  Praise Jesus!  Hebrews 7:25 says Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.  Charles Spurgeon explains it well, "Sometimes poor people come to us with requests that they wish to send to some company or important person.  They bring the request and ask us to have it presented for them.  It is very badly spelled, very strangely written, and we can barely make out what they mean; but still there is enough to let us know what they want.  First of all, we make out a good copy for the, and then, having stated their case, we put our own name at the bottom.  If we have any influence, of course, they get what they desire through the power of the name signed at the foot of the petition.  This is just what the Lord Jesus Christ does with our poor prayers.  He makes a good copy of them stamps them with the seal of His own atoning blood, puts His own name at the foot, and thus they go up to God's throne.  It is your prayer, but, oh, it is His prayer, too.  It is the fact of its being His prayer that makes it prevail!"  Again I say, "Praise Jesus!!"
This doesn't mean that we are without responsibility.  In face, when praying, it's easier to get the words right than it is to get the heart right (Elizabeth George) 
Psalm 19:14 says, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."  Proverbs 28:13 says, "Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy."  Luke 18:1 says, "And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not loose heart."  
While we live and desire mercy; it's not too late to seek it!  Don't let Satan tempt you with the thought that it's too late.  We must be persistent because we are so needy!  Genesis 32 records the account of Jacob wrestling with God and when He put his hip out of joint, Jacob still clung to Him and said in verse 26, "I will not let you go unless You bless me!"  Consider the ravens also, "They neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them.  Of how much more value are you than the birds!"  Ravens don't do one thing to provide for themselves like the tiny ant who stores food for the winter but yet God provides for them anyway.  Have you ever heard anything more irritation than a bunch of crows squawking?  Many of crows have justly been blown to bits by the farmer who has worked in the heat all day planting his seeds just to turn around and see a crow pecking, digging them up and eating them.  Spurgeon says again, "I fear a raven sometimes has a great advantage; young ravens are more in earnest about their food than some are about their souls."  For the most part, ravens come into our daily lives uninvited and are a nuisance but the soul seeking God in earnest is never viewed this why by Him.  They (we) are His invited guests.  "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver You, and You shall glorify Me." - Psalm 50:15
Psalm 141:2 says, "Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!" and the explanation to this verse lies back in Exodus 29:42, "It shall be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there."  Notice the last part of Exodus 42, "where I will meet with you, to speak to you there."  The Lord draws near to all those who seek Him and there is no greater joy in life than walking with Him! 

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