DWM-49 - The Power of Praying Together

As the summer winds down, and we stand before the freshness of a new start this fall. Have you pondered what would be the best investment of your spiritual capital in the fall of 2009? In other words, where are you going to focus your time in pursuit of Christ Jesus the remaining months of this year? 

To help you with that choice listen to the incredible challenge Paul lays out in Ephesians 6:18

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints

Paul says that we as believers are to have the priority of prayer in our lives. Prayer should be our first choice, the first option, our first pick when we have a chance to pick an activity. 

The most powerful thing we can do is to pray. If it is a choice between being on the money team or the prayer team—we would choose the prayer team since it would cause more to happen for God’s glory than anything else. As we open to Acts 6:4 we see that God has offered us:

The Priority of
Prayer

Now think with me as you turn to Acts 6:4 next this morning. Here is the scene. There were 12 men who were given the incredible honor of living, eating and walking every day with Jesus. 

•    They watched Him all day long. 
•    They sat at His feet and listened to Him in every setting: in a boat, on a mountain, in front of crowds. 
•    They followed Him to remote places, mountain tops and gardens. Always observing always pondering what it was He was doing.
•    Then they graduated the Christ Academy. 
•    In the greatest event of history their teacher died as a substitute for all the sin of the world.
•    They watched from afar as He cried out in greatest agony and as the Sun hid and the earth turned totally black with darkness.
•    Then the earth shook, the ground was torn apart, graves popped open and then it was over. He hung there lifeless.
•    Three days later they were abruptly confronted with their teacher back from death. And what a reunion it was. But it was brief and only to remind them to go everywhere and teach all those who would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ what He had taught them.

So, after three plus years when Jesus was taken back to His Father in Heaven, what did those closest to Him decide was the focus of their lives? 

What did the group of men who knew Jesus up close and personal decide was what He had taught them? What became the priority of the men who had learned the secrets of their Master? To answer these vital questions, please stand with me as we read the  words of this verse.

Acts 6:4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Pray

JESUS WAS A
MAN OF PRAYER

Why would the priority of these who had lived and walked with Jesus Christ be prayer and God's Word?  Of course, it was because that was the Master’s life priorities.  

Jesus was ever in communion with God (prayer) and seeking God’s will (the word).  

In His earthly life Jesus prayed a lot, and now in Heaven He “ever lives to make intercession for us” (Hebrews 7:25). So if we seek to follow Christ our master, we must start with a priority on prayer. That priority means that we have decided that: Prayer is so vital we can’t live without it!

“Avail yourself of the greatest privilege this side of heaven. Jesus Christ died to make this communion and communication with the Father possible.” 
- Billy Graham

“Prayer is a powerful thing, 
for God has bound and tied Himself thereto.”
 - Martin Luther

“God’s acquaintance is not made hurriedly. 
He does not bestow His gifts on the casual or hasty comer and goer. 
To be much alone with God is the secret of
knowing Him and of influence with Him.” 
- E. M. Bounds

We are to be continually engaged in prayer.  The Apostle Paul said we are to be, “Praying always…” (Eph. 6:18), “…in everything by prayer…with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6), and again “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).

People often ask, "Why does God insist that we pray so much?" The answer is very simple, we need to pray much, because Jesus did. Of the 4 Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—the third one, Luke, could be said to be the Gospel of praying.

You could change the title of the Gospel by Luke to the Gospel of Luke noting Christ in Prayer. Luke more than anyone else, captures the prayer life of Jesus. 

•    The other Gospel writers say that as Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, the Spirit descended on Him as a dove. But Luke notes that it was while He was praying that the Spirit descended on Him. There's nothing more empowering than prayer.
•    Matthew, Mark, and John record that Jesus chose His 12 disciples. But Luke notes that it was only after spending an entire night in prayer that He chose 12 disciples. There's nothing more confirming of God’s will than prayer.

•    The other Gospel writers just tell us that Jesus went on a mount and He was transfigured. But Luke takes us there and shows us that it was while He was praying that He was transfigured. There's nothing more transfiguring than prayer. 

•    The other three Gospel writers say that Jesus died on a cross. But Luke alone lets us watch and listen and see that even while He was dying, Jesus was praying for those who persecuted Him. There's nothing more strengthening than prayer.

If we keep our eyes open to the details we see that often when the disciples went to bed, Jesus went to pray, and that was His custom. It was His custom to pray. Jesus is and was God the Son. Jesus had the complete powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit for His ministry. 

But with being God the Son, and always full of the Spirit, if Jesus needed all that time in prayer; don't you and I feel that we need time in prayer? If Jesus needed to stay in step with God’s plan through every crisis, don't you and I need to pray like He did it in every crisis?

Prayer is God’s Priority for
Each of Us

When Jesus lived on earth He prayed as often as possible.

When Jesus described the greatest power a believer could wield it was prayer plus faith.

When He left those that knew Him best said that their first priority, above ministering the Word was prayer.

When Paul described daily spiritual life for us as believers he said that we have only two offensive weapons (after we put on the defensive armor’s 5 pieces): the sword of the Spirit which is God's Word closely linked to prayer.

In the simplest list of Christian virtues Paul lists unceasing prayer as an element that should characterize all believers (I Th 5:17).

Prayer: nothing is easier, nothing is more powerful, but few things in our spiritual lives get more neglected.

We pray in proportion to how much we feel our human inability. So much felt weakness = much prayer; and little felt weakness = little prayer.

If there is any area that needs our constant prayer it is our marriages and families.

God has designed the ultimate power couple: the couple so knit in heart, mind, and spirit that they can offer prayers in one accord to God. Will you decide today that if you are married you will be one of God’s power couples?

There have been some pretty powerful couples in history. They have had great wealth, political power, or social standing. They have held political offices, corporate positions, or military powers. But all of those power couples in history have faded with time. But the power God offers will never fade, and couples who learn to pray together receive the endless and never fading rewards only God can give.

God is faithful, so never stop trusting Him—and never cease waiting upon Him! 

The battle for spiritual growth in the souls of those we love is won “one prayer at a time”. Remember the reminder from God's Word—“Is anything too hard for the Lord? . . . ” (Genesis 18:14a)!

Prayer is how we can penetrate the lives of our marriage partner, our children, and our dearest friends with God’s truth.

I could summarize the guidelines for all believers, every parent, and all who nurture, disciple, and teach to pray as:

A Four-Part Prayer Plan
For Every Believer

There are four elements in the lives of our children that we must be sure we ask, seek, and knock for at the Throne of grace and mercy. Those prayers invite the Hand of God to be at work in their lives to stir:

•    reality in their spiritual life
•    integrity in their personal life
•    stability in their relational life
•    eternity during their temporal/earthly life

These truths are all summed up with the Scripture passage that teaches them, on a small card that I carry around in my wallet that corresponds to and summarizes the Word Filled family book.

Spiritual
Reality

We must pray in complete agreement, for them to cultivate reality in their spiritual life:

1.    Seeing them  genuinely saved. Acts 26:18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’
•    1 Timothy 2:4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (NIV)
•    2 Timothy 3:15  

2.    Seeing them  loving God's Word. Job 23:12 I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.
•    Psalm 119:97, 165  
•    Jeremiah 15:16 Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts. (NKJV) 

3.    Seeing them living in victory. John 8:32, 36 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
•    John 17:15 "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. (NKJV)

4.    Seeing them  thinking of heaven. Colossians 3:1-2 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

•    2 Corinthians 4:16-17  
•    1 Thessalonians 2:19-20  
•    1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (NKJV)    

5.    Seeing them  finding sin repulsive. Psalm 38:18 For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin.
•    Proverbs 20:17  .
•    Luke 15:17-18  
•    Hebrews 11:25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, (NKJV)

6.    Seeing them  responding to God. Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise.

Personal
Integrity

Secondly, we must pray in complete agreement, for them to cultivate integrity in their personal life:

1.    Seeing them maintaining a clear conscience (I Timothy 1:5). Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,

•    2 Chronicles 34:27 because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the Lord. 
•    Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.
•    Acts 24:16 "This [being] so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men. (NKJV) 
•    1 Timothy 1:5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, [from] a good conscience, and [from] sincere faith, (NKJV) 
•    1 Timothy 1:19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, (NKJV)

2.    Seeing them learning to stand alone (Daniel 1:8). But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. (which means a conviction that their character is more important than their popularity). 

•    Daniel 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. "If that [is the case,] our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver [us] from your hand, O king. "But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up." (NKJV)
•    2 Peter 1:3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, (NKJV)

3.    Seeing them seeking to stay pure (I Peter 2:11). Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,

•    Genesis 39:9 "[There is] no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you [are] his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (NKJV)
•    1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. (NKJV)

4.    Seeing them cultivating a servant’s heart (Mark 10:44-45). And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

•    Philippians 2:5-7 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. (NKJV)

5.    Seeing them avoiding bitterness in trials (Ephesians 4:30-32). And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

•    II Samuel 16:11 “… Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the Lord has ordered him.”
•    1 Kings 11:14 Now the Lord raised up an adversary against Solomon, Hadad the Edomite; he was a descendant of the king in Edom. 
•    Job 2:10 But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (NKJV)
•    Hebrews 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled; (KJV)
 
Relational
Stability

Thirdly, we must pray in complete agreement, for them to cultivate stability in their relational life:
  
1.    Seeing them loving their brothers and sisters (I John 4:7-8).  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

•    John 13:35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
•    1 John 3:11 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, (NKJV); 
•    1 John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (NKJV); 
•    1 John 4:20 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? (NKJV)

2.    Seeing them trusting God with hard situations and not rebelling (I Samuel 15:23a). For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,  and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”

•    Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (NKJV); 
•    Romans 13:1-2 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. (NKJV)

3.    Seeing them loving the way God made them as men and women (Psalm 27:11). Teach me Your way, O LORD, And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.  

•    Psalm 139:13-18 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You. (NKJV)
•    1 Timothy 4:12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. (NIV) The Message says: Get the word out. Teach all these things. And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. ... Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them…Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don’t be diverted. Just keep at it.  
•    Titus 2:4-5 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
•    1 Peter 3:1-7 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. 7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. The Message paraphrases this passage as: The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.  

4.    Seeing them waiting to meet God’s chosen life partner for them (II Corinthians 6:14).  Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

•    Proverbs 31:10-12     Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. (NKJV)
•    Proverbs 18:22 He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.  (NIV)
•    Proverbs 19:13-14 A foolish son is the ruin of his father, And the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping. 14 Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, But a prudent wife is from the LORD.
•    2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 

Eternal
Priorities

Finally, we must pray in complete agreement, for them to cultivate living for eternity during their earthly life.

1.    Seeing them choosing a life of contentment .  Philippians 4:11  Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:

•    1 Timothy 6:9-12 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.  But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.  Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (NKJV)
•    Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (KJV)

2.    Seeing them choosing a life of personally knowing, serving, loving and obeying the Lord. 1 Chronicles 28:9  “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. 

•    1 Chronicles 28:9 " As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. (NKJV)  
•    1 Chronicles 29:19 "And give my son Solomon a loyal heart to keep Your commandments and Your testimonies and Your statutes, to do all these things, and to build the temple for which I have made provision." (NKJV)
•    3 John 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (KJV)

3.    Seeing them choosing a life of consecration. 1 Timothy 6:9-12 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
•    Romans 12:1-2
 
 As the summer winds down, and we stand before the freshness of a new start this fall. Have you pondered what would be the best investment of your spiritual capital in the fall of 2009? In other words, where are you going to focus your time in pursuit of Christ Jesus the remaining months of this year?

Prayer is God’s Priority for
Each of Us

When Jesus lived on earth He prayed as often as possible.

When Jesus described the greatest power a believer could wield it was prayer plus faith.

When He left those that knew Him best said that their first priority, above ministering the Word was prayer.