A Study On Prayer
By, James L. Thornton
1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”
From one of the shortest verses in the Bible we find the best advice to maintain a relationship with God. In fact it is the only way to maintain a real relationship with Him. We should look at it this way; a day without prayer is a wasted day. A great musician was asked why he spent so much of his time practicing every day when he was so perfect in his presentation.
His answer was, “If I miss one day practicing I would probably be the only one who would know it. If I miss two days there may be one or two who know music well who would know it. If I miss several days then everyone would know it.” The same thing is true to our prayer life, if we miss days without prayer our whole life shows it. Follow our thoughts on a subject that cannot be exhausted in so few pages.
2. Prayer, The All important Essence Of Worship
3. Prayer And Desire, Prayer And Fervency
4. Prayer And A Definite Religious Standard
5. Prayer And Trouble
6. Prayer And The Word Of God
7. Prayer, Jesus Our Example
8. Prayer, When God Don’t Answer
Prayer is the way we communicate with God. Prayer is talking directly with God. In this study we want to emphasize the importance of prayer in our life. God invites us to pray, in fact God desires our prayers. We will discuss some of the prayers in the Bible and the results of those prayers. Prayer is the all important essence (the most important ingredient; the crucial element) of earthly worship.
Some of the things included in this study, not necessarily in this order, are,
1. Prayer is putting God to work.
2. Hindrances to prayer.
3. Prayers and the Holy Ghost Dispensation.
4. “Ask of Me, and I will give thee..”
5. Prayer and trouble.
6. Prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.
7. Prayer and faith and trust.
8. Prayer and the Word of God.
9. Prayer can change God’s purpose.
10. Praying Saints of the Old Testament.
11. Paul, the teacher of prayer.
12. Jesus Christ an example of prayer.
13. Prayer and a definite religious standard.
14. God needs men who pray.
We hope you will follow us as we enter this very Holy subject of prayer.
Genesis 3:8. “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
9. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10. And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
Man is the crown and jewels of God’s creation. David said, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” (Psalms 8:4-5).
What I am saying, Man is special to God. So special that God planted a garden for man to live in. God had pleasure in fellowship with them. God walked with them, He talked with them. God shared His time with them. He enjoyed their companionship. Ever though sin and disobedience interrupted this once beautiful relationship God continued to desire fellowship and companionship with mankind.
A thousand years later we read where God had such a relationship with Enoch, and this companionship was so delightful that “God took him” to His house. Genesis 5:24 “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”
It is God’s desire to have this close relationship with every individual on earth. This close relationship is only established when we give ourselves unto prayer. One old saint I knew said “I am on speaking terms with God.” The hour is sacred to him who prays, because it is God’s hour.
He knows not God who knows not how to pray. God waits on prayer to order His ways. God delights in prayer. “Ask of me ….. Command ye me”
Isaiah 45:11. “Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.
Prayer to God is what the incense was to the Jewish Temple. It impregnates everything, perfumes everything and sweetens everything. In Revelation 5:8 the 24 elders held Golden Vials full of prayers of Saints.
Revelation 8:3. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
4. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
5. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. Great things happens on earth when we pray.
God challenges us to:
Jeremiah 33:3. Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
God declares that He is able:
Ephesians 3:20. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Things happen when we pray.
By prayer God’s name is hallowed.
By prayer God’s Kingdom comes.
By prayer is His Kingdom established in power and made to move and conquer.
By prayer God’s will is done on earth.
By prayer our daily toil is sanctified and enriched.
By prayer pardon is granted to us.
By prayer Satan is defeated.
By prayer religion is revived in the land.
1 Samuel 2:1. Contains one of the greatest prayers of the Old Testament. It is a prayer of rejoicing, a prayer of thanksgiving, a prayer of worship and a prayer of victory. But the prayer could only be answered after much agonizing, much burdening in prayer. It was 2 years before the answer came
(1 Samuel 1:10-16).
Probably no prayer ever did more for Israel than this one long agonizing prayer by
Hannah. None of its warriors ever brought more victory. Israel was backslidden and had gone away from God. Her enemies were victorious over her. The whole nation was oppressed, prophet and priest silent.
God sent deliverers or Judges for 410 years.
Judges 21:25. In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
1 Samuel 3:1. ……..And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.
3. And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was ……..” What a day in the life of God’s people.
Hannah found her relief through prayer. “Her adversary provoked her sore, for to make her fret,…” Therefore she wept, and did not eat..”
“And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord and wept.
And it came to pass as she continued praying, that Eli marked (noticed) her mouth.
Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard:”
(1 Samuel 1:10-13).
Now Eli, the high priest, did not understand, but God did. Samuel was born in answer to this prayer. A new line of priesthood was established. Her praying brought a revival of old time religion in the land. Her praying brought victory over the foes their armies faced. Remember God Said,” Ask of me, and I will give…” Samuel rivals any Old Testament Hero in accomplishments for Israel. Without Hannah’s prayers there may have never been a David, a Solomon, etc.
Sarah was barren and Abraham prayed and Isaac was born. Rebekah was barren and Isaac prayed (Genesis 25:21) and Jacob, the father of the Jewish race was born. Elisabeth was barren (Luke 1:7-13) and Zacharias prayed and John the Baptist was born. All these were the results of prayer. Look what great men were born as a result of prayer.
Psalms 2:8. “Ask of me, and I shall give thee….”
James 4:2. “…ye have not, because ye ask not.”
How many of you can remember when you were small children and wanted something? Really craved it? Begged for it? I’m sure that most of us have even cried for something, maybe even more than once.
Prayer and desire, prayer and fervency, Desire is not merely a simple wish; it is a deep seated craving, an intense longing for attainment. Hannah desired, yea craved a child…. In the realm of Spiritual affairs, desire is an important accompaniment to prayer.
It is so important that one might say that desire is an absolute essential of prayer.
Desire precedes prayer, desire accompanies prayer, and desire is followed by prayer. Desire goes before prayer. By desire prayer is created and intensified.
Psalms 27:4. One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.
Genesis 32:26. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
There is a Greek word in the New Testament which is translated into our language in different places “To strive” In others places, “Fervently.” It means to engage with fervent zeal to endeavor to obtain. Fervor less prayer has no heart in it. Many times these prayers are expressed with inward groaning….. Prayer is the oral expression of desire. Prayer brings desire out into the open. Desire is silent, prayer is heard. The deeper the desire the stronger the prayer will be.
Without desire, prayer is a meaningless mumble of words. Such superficial, formal, mechanical prayers with no heart, no feeling, no desire accompanying it, is to be shunned like a pestilence. From these sorts of prayers no real blessing comes. Yet even if the desire is not present, we should pray anyway. We ought to pray …. God’s Word commands it.
Luke 18:1. And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
The “ought” comes in, in order that both desire and expression be cultivated. We ought to pray whether we feel like it or not and not let our feelings determine our habits or prayer. In fact we ought to pray for the desire to pray. This kind of desire is God given and Heaven born. Lack of Spiritual desire should grieve us, and cause us to seek earnestly for its bestowal.
Peter tells us: 1 Peter 2:2. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby:
Jesus says: Matthew 5:6. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
David says: Psalms 42:1. As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
2. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
As Physical Appetites are the proof of a living body and not of a dead corpse so Spiritual Desires belong to a soul made alive to God. As the soul hungers and thirsts after righteousness, these holy inward desires break out into earnest supplicating prayers.
The cause of so little praying in our lives can be traced to two things.
1. The lack of meditation on our spiritual need. Think on our need.
2. And or simply not realizing our spiritual need. I didn’t know.
This was the sad condition of the Laodicean Christians, of whom the Lord says they felt like they were “rich and increased with goods and had need of nothing, and knew not that they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”
God can and will pardon sin when the penitent prays, but two things are intolerable to Him. Insincerity and luke warmness.
To the Laodiceans God had this condemnation:
Revelation 3:15. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Hebrews 6:1. “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection;..”
We Must Go On: In the verses which precedes this one and also the ones that follows, the writer of Hebrews is concerned with the readers of his letter in improving their position in Christian living and doctrine. These readers he said were “dull of understanding.” He did not want to “lay again the foundation of doctrine,” such as “repentance,” and “faith toward God,” “baptism,” “laying on of hands,” resurrection of the dead,” and “eternal judgment.” This they would do “if God permits.” These people, the writer insists are ‘doctrinally deficient.’
Those are the first works we do in coming to God. He says, “Let us go on.” In fact he puts before us the highest possible goal, or standard, which can be reached, “Perfection.”
I am reminded of the goal for which the Apostle Paul strove.
Philippians 3:13. “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
The goal is ever before us… “Let Us Go On.” “Reaching Forth,” “The Mark,” “The Prize, The High Calling, Perfection.” It is the picture of a runner in the arena, straining, leaning forward, reaching out ahead of him; ever looking towards the goal or finish line, where the prize awaits the winner. Thousands are in the stands urging him on.
We are likewise in the greatest race that was ever run and at the end of our race is the grandest prize that was ever offered, a crown of life. We also are being cheered on by the thousands who have run this race before us; they are leaning over the balcony of heaven urging us on, to “run with patience the race that is set before us.” “Let Us Go On.”
Many people are satisfied with stagnant religion. Much of the life-less-ness and feebleness of religion results from the failure to have a scriptural standard by which to shape character and measure results, something to live up to. This largely results from the omission of prayer or the failure to put prayer in the standard.
We cannot possibly mark our advances in religion if there be no point to which we are definitely advancing. There must always be something definite before our mind’s eye at which we are aiming and towards which we are striving. There can be no inspiration if there be no high end to stimulate us…..
Many Christians move on aimlessly because they have no pattern before them after which character and conduct are to be shaped. All this vague idea of religion grows out of loose notions about prayer. The one thing which helps to make the standard of religion clear and definite is prayer. Prayer helps to place that standard high.
Praying people are the ones who have something definite in view. Prayer aims at the highest and sweetest religious experience. Praying people want all that God has in store for them. They are not satisfied with a low religious life, superficial, vague and indefinite. They are striving for a “mark, a prize, and a high calling.
Praying people are not after being saved from some sin, but saved from all sin, both inward and outward. Praying people are after not only deliverance from sinning, but from sin itself, from its being, its power and its pollution. Praying people are after holiness of heart and life.
Prayer believes in and seeks for the very highest religious life set before us in the Word of God. Prayer is the condition of that life. Prayer points out the only pathway to such a life. Prayer is the standard of the highest life in Christ. Prayer is so vital, so essential, in fact without which a higher life cannot exist.
The scriptures alone make the standard of life. When men make their own standard there is delusion and always a fleshly and low rule. From man’s standard all the fundamental principles of a Christ like religion are left out. Do not allow others to fix the standard for us.
Listen to what one 19th century preacher had to say. “Let me beg you not to rest contented with the common place religion that is now so prevalent.”
Jeremiah 6:16. “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.”
Common place religion is pleasing to the flesh. There is no self denial in it, no cross bearing, no demands placed upon the one who embraces it. No time spent in real praying and no consecration. It takes prayer to bring one into a consecrated life of holiness to God and it takes prayer much prayer to maintain such a life.
Without much prayer such a life of holiness will break down. Prayer and a Definite Religious Standard, in the Old Testament God asked for, yea He demanded a whole burn offering.
Deuteronomy 33:10. They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law: they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.
The whole animal had to be offered in sacrifice and no part withheld. If any part of the animal was held back the sacrifice would have been meaningless. So if we make a half hearted partial consecration is to simply make no consecration at all. What we are talking about is something which involves our whole being, all we have.
Romans 12:1. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
This can only be done by a life given to prayer. So necessary is prayer, so fundamental in God’s plan, so all important, in true Bible Religion. Man’s standard of religion has no prayer about it. It is God’s standard at which we are to aim not man. We have endeavored to stress the high stand of holiness and consecration which the Word of God demands of us. We can only reach this standard by constant prayer.
We must go on. Hebrews 6:1. “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; …..”
Psalms 34:4. “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my 0ears.”
6. “This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.”
Job 14:1. Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.
In this study we want to talk about three or four men who took their troubles to the Lord in prayer. One thing we need to always remember that all things are under divine control.
Trouble is neither above God nor beyond His control. It is not something in life independent of God. No matter from what source trouble comes nor what reason it comes. God is sufficient just take your troubles to Him in prayer. Present troubles are the ones requiring attention and demanding prayer.
Jesus said: Matthew 6:34. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Some troubles are self originated. We are their authors, some from ignorance, and some from carelessness. But our Father does not cast us off when we fail through carelessness or ignorance. Our cry for help will still attract His ears and He is always ready to help.
Some of our troubles are brought on us by other people. Nearly all of Paul’s troubles arose from wicked and unreasonable men. (2 Corinthians 11:12-33)
Some troubles are directly of Satanic origin.
Job 1:12. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
What a source of relief is prayer in unburdening the heart in times of trouble, the blessedness, help and comfort of prayer in the day of trouble.
Prayer and Trouble:
In the New Testament there are three words which stand for trouble, tribulation, suffering, and affliction. Each of these words means trouble of some kind. Our Lord warned His Disciples that they could expect tribulation in this life. He taught them that tribulation belonged to this world, and they could not hope to escape it. They would not be carried through this life on flowery beds of ease.
John 16:33. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Paul taught the same lesson throughout His Ministry.
Acts 14:22. …… “and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
Paul also uses the word “Suffering” to describe the troubles of life.
Romans 8:18. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Here Paul contrasts life’s troubles with the Glory of Heaven. Then Paul gives the key to overcoming our troubles.
Romans 12:12. Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
Prayer is the answer when trouble comes. Simon Peter,
Acts 12:5. Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
Difficult situation but prayer was made. But what chance has prayer against prison walls?
Acts 12:6. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
7. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
8. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.
9. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision.
10. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.
But Prayer was made …….. Let us follow Peter to the home of John Mark where the people were gathered praying for him.
13. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
14. And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.
15. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
16. But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.
Prayer and trouble:
“This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his trouble.”
In Genesis chapter 32&33: Jacob wanted to return to his home in Beersheba. But trouble had arisen between him and his brother Esau over the purchase of the Birthright. Jacob’s life had been threatened and now this had brewed and boiled for twenty years.
Now on his way back fear and apprehension dogged every step. So he took it to the Lord in one of the most beautiful prayers in the whole Bible – 133 words. I want to read just two lines from this prayer.
Genesis 32.10.……for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.
11. Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother…….”
That evening was followed by a wrestling match. The next day was a kind meeting with Esau. Who Hath Measured The Power of Prayer?
Daniel in prayer on the day of trouble …
Daniel 6:10. “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
11. Then these men assembled, and found Daniel praying and making supplication before his God.
The Answer Came:
22. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.”
2 Thessalonians 3:1. “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:”
Prayer and the Word of God:
Prayer has all to do with the success of the preaching of the Word of God. Prayer opens the way for the Word of God to run without delay or hindrance. Prayer creates the atmosphere which is favorable to the Word accomplishing its purpose.
Prayers opens hearts, unlocks doors, breaks barriers which hinder the Word.
God has willed it so that the success of His Work in this world is committed to prayer. The Word of God is made effectual and operative by the process and practice of prayer.
1 Kings 18:1. ……. “the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.”
God Committed Himself. Elijah showed himself to Ahab, but rain did not come until he had pressed his fervent prayer upon the Lord seven times. The promises of God’s Word are activated by prayer.
Jacob wrestled not so much with a promise, as with a promiser. We must take hold of the promiser, lest the promise prove inoperative. Prayer takes hold of God Himself. It makes personal the promise. Prayer claims the promise.
Isaiah 64:7. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee:…….”
Isaiah 27:5. Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.
Do you have a loved one you would like to see become obedient to the Word of God? Pray for them. Do you have a situation from which you need deliverance? Have someone to pray with you.
Paul was a chosen vessel to bear the Name of Jesus to the “Gentiles and Kings, and the Children of Israel. Called chosen and sent by God Himself; given special gifts, and talents. Paul set about this task with unflagging zeal, tirelessly seeking to win souls to the Lord. But there were so many obstacles, so many set backs, and so many hindrances. But Paul also knew how to obtain strength to carry on.
Ephesians 6:18. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
“Continuing instant in prayer:
Romans 12:12. Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
In everything by prayer and supplication:
Philippians 4:6. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
In your prayers to God for me, let us hear him as he exhorts the Church at Colosse.
Colossians 4:2. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
3. Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
4. That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
Continue in prayer, go on in prayer, in fact the only way we can go on is in prayer. Persevere in and watch in the same with thanksgiving. “Watch” the heart must be awake if the prayer is to be effective.
Like the obstinate continuance of a siege. Prayer is not to be perfunctory or intermittent or halfhearted but earnest and assiduous …. “Watch” We are urged to besiege the Throne of God with Thanksgiving. (Express your gratitude to God.)
Verse 3. Withal praying for us… (At the same time.) “Intercession for me…” High as his own mission, he desires to be supported by the prayers of the whole Church. Not for His own welfare, but “That God would open a door of utterance to speak the mystery of Christ for which I am also in bonds.
Verse 4. That I may make it manifest as I ought to speak. (Pray that I may make it plain.) (Pray that God may open a door, “A Heart.” Pray that I may help win souls.)
At an age which is considered old this man was confined within a Roman prison, chained to a Roman soldier 24 hours a day. He could not even write with his own hand the letter to the Church at Colosse. His course was nearly run.
2 Timothy 4:7. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
His restless active journeying was ended. One might say that the doors had closed for him and no opportunity to preach. No more Sermons from Mars Hill. No more passionate pleas to Ephesus but it was not so.
When a person wants to serve God, God will find a way to use him. When he cannot go forth to find opportunities, God will bring them to him. I hope we understand what God did with Paul when he was in the seemingly hopeless frustration of an imprisonment from which only death released him.
Paul was Jesus’ greatest witness whether at liberty or in bonds. Even in the prison at Rome he won many to Christ, some from Caesar’s household.
Philippians 1:13. So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;
Philippians 4:22. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.
God only knows the far reaching influence Paul’s letters had upon the Churches in Philippians. In Colosse, Laodicea and the Lord only knows how many others in far flung places of the Roman Empire. (9 Prison Letters)
Paul’s personal letters to fellow laborers in the Gospel, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon not only impacted their lives but countless millions who have read and are still reading them for spiritual strength and guidance.
These letters written under great duress, fortified by his own prayers and tears.
2 Corinthians 2:4. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; …..
Is it any wonder why these letters are called “The Inspired Word of God?”
Colossians 4:3. Withal praying also for us, ( at the same time continue praying for us) that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: 4. That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. (That I may make it plain)
In verses 7-14. He mentions seven men who had gathered around him some sharing his own plight of bonds and imprisonment. Some there of their own free will, strengthening, encouraging him as best they could. Some would be released (Onesimus), some would share his fate in the Roman prison, paying the same price as he would.
Others would be free to go at will, Marcus, Justus, Epaphras, Luke, Demas. The great Apostle would sign the letter he had dictated to Tychicus. As he reached for the pen the drag of the fetters would pull him back to his present condition.
“Remember my Bonds”
Colossians 4:18. The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.
Tychicus would slip out into the night, letter clutched next to his body, guarding the mail, Letters which are still the most important ever written. Whenever we pray we should pray for the Word, pray for the Letter carrier, pray for the recipient.
Luke 3:21. “Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
22. And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him,..”
Here we have the first recorded incident of our Lord praying. The Bible record of the life of Jesus gives but a glance of His life. It gives a small selection of His many words. It gives only a brief record of His great works. The Apostle John admits that the record was incomplete (John 21:25).
But even in this record we see Him as being much in prayer. Even though busy and exhausted by the toils and strain of His life, His prayer life came first. Let us look at one day in the life of our Lord.
Mark 1:21-37 & Luke 4:31-43. Capernaum, it was the Sabbath day, Jesus taught and they were astonished at His doctrine—He taught with authority. A man with an unclean spirit was there, and he cried out, saying, “let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? I know who thou art, the Hole One of God.”
This unclean spirit had entered the man’s body—took up residence in it, controlled the person in whom he dwelt. Using the man’s vocal chords, the unclean spirit cried out. Sometimes it is an unearthly cry—inhuman. How long this unclean spirit had lived in this man we do not know. He had lived there unchallenged, maybe unknown to anyone. Going regularly to the Synagogue, sitting, listening to the Scribes expound the opinions and traditions of the Elders, He kept quiet.
But when Jesus came to Church, bringing with Him the Spirit of Cleanness and Holiness, this unclean being felt threatened. When Jesus moves into their world they know their time is come, “He cried out.” “Let us alone;” “What have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth?”
It’s the cry of the world today to the Church of God, “Let us alone and mind your own business.” Do not interfere.” “Go back.” They know they must go when we bring the spirit of holiness, the spirit of cleanness, the spirit of Jesus into their world.
The unclean spirit cried, “Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.” (Mark 1:24). “Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Matthew 8:29).
“And Jesus rebuked him, sating, "Hold thy peace, and come out of him.” (Mark 1:25). Our English translation is not strong enough.. “Shut up.” “Shut your mouth and come out of him at once.” This is the attitude of God towards fallen angels. Satan does not want to let go—and in a form of protest at being ordered out of the man, he threw him down in a convulsion.
“And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice (a screech), he came out of him. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.” (Mark 1:26-27). (He has control of evil spirits)
After the morning service, “And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.” (Mark 1:29-31).
At the close of the day when the sun fell below the horizon, it marked the end of the Sabbath. The people were free from the restraints which the Sabbath imposed upon them, and they could have opened their shops for business, they could have cast their nets into the sea for a draught of fishes, but they did not.
For when the silver trumpet sounded which signaled the end of the Sabbath, they hurried to homes where invalid, and blind, halt, lame, those who were possessed with devil—into the suburbs, the surrounding communities, and brought them, some on crutches, on cots or liters, others feeling their way along the street to the house of Simon Peter.
“And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door.” (Mark 1:32-33)
What a sight greeted our Lord that evening in Capernaum. Never was He more the Christ that He was when in the cool of the day He walked among that vast throng of impotent folks in Capernaum that day. Some He spoke to, some He laid His hands on, others He lifted up on their feet--but to all, His Touch, His Word, was all it took.
“He laid His hands on every one of them, and healed them.” (Luke 4:40).
“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35).
Here, after such a tiring long day, we find Jesus praying through the early in the next morning hours—alone in the darkness with God. It is no wonder He had strength and power over everything. Yes prayer filled the life of our Lord while He was here on earth.
In the Desert, the wilderness, the mountains, in the garden we find Him praying, leaving us an example of a life of prayer. He also left us a model for our own prayers.
The Lord’s Prayer, or Model Prayer, is cherished by all Christians because of its simplicity, beautiful imagery, and instructive value. In contrast to the prayers of the heathen, Jesus emphasized that we should pray with faith and simplicity (Matthew 6:7-8). Jesus drew great strength from His heavenly Father through prayer and it was only natural that He should teach His followers about the significance of prayer.
Matthew’s account of the Lord’s Prayer (6:9-13) comes from a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that warned against hypocrisy in prayer. Luke’s version of the prayer consists of Jesus’ response to a request from the disciples to “teach us to pray (Luke 11:1). Consequently, the popular prayer might be more accurately be called “The Disciples Prayer,” since it cannot be prayed in a meaningful way except by those who are disciples of Jesus.
The invocation (an appeal to a higher power for assistance) of the prayer, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name” (Matthew 6:9), indicates the spirit of adoration and reverence in which the the Father should be approached by His children.
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10) expresses the longing for a society on earth where God’s will is as perfectly done as it is in heaven. In our prayers, we should indicate our submission to the dominion and authority of God in our lives.
“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11) addresses a loving Father who is concerned for our physical welfare, and it expresses ou dependence on Him for our physical needs.
“And forgive us our depts., as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12) is a petition for pardon as we approach God in a spirit of forgiveness toward others.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13) is a request for continual protection from the snares of Satan and all evil forces.
The prayer’s closing ‘doxology’ (an expression of praise to God), “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever” (Matthew 6:13), appropriately attributes all power and glory to God for all eternity.
Let This Cup Pass From Me
Matthew 26:36. “ Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.”
Luke 22:39. “And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.
40. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.”
John 18:2. “And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.”
It seems to have been a particular place which had been hallowed by His prayers.
Mark 14:33. “And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;
34. And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.
35. And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
Luke 22:42. “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
43. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
44. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
45. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,
46. And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”
Three times He had awakened them. How much He had needed them here in His hour of struggle. He had felt so alone “Can Ye not watch with me one hour?”
But Heaven had watched “There appeared an Angel unto Him… Strengthening Him.”
Once before Moses and Elijah had come while He prayed. What the Angel did or said is not written. One thing the Angel did not tell Him.. He did not tell Him that He was sent to answer the thrice uttered prayer. He did not tell Him that it was possible that the cup might pass.
Did He rehearse the awful necessity for these sufferings, and the glorious rewards hinged upon them? Whatever passed between him and our Lord if anything, after this His great depression is over. The Language of the prayer is changed. “O My Father if this cup may not pass away from me except I drink it; Thy Will be done.” (Matthew 26:42).
What were the elements and the ingredients of that bitter cup? What was the mystery of that agony, bloody sweat and tears? What caused our Lord to shy away from it? I think we can best find the answer by stating what does not account for these sufferings and crying and tears.
1. The agony was not caused by the presence of Satan… Oh! Satan was there we can well know. Satan had always come, only to depart for a season. Our Lord said he would come. “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.”
Jesus says, “I saw Satan, as lightening, falling from heaven.”
2. The agony was not caused by the dread of death. To Him death of the body was only sleep. Thousands of His followers would not shrink or shy away from an equally cruel death. No, I think to say that what the Lord was shying away from was not death, in any form would be to mock the thousands who followed Him in His sufferings.
3. These sufferings were not for personal quilt. One of His closest followers said it best. “Who did no sin neither was guile found in His mouth,” The Testimony of Devils “We know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God.”
We could ask then what was in the bitter cup. The ingredients of the cup were sins and transgressions of the whole world, from Adam until the end of time. When He drank of the cup all the sins of mankind came upon Him. “He was made to be sin for us, who knew no sin.”
Upon His sinless frame was heaped the sins of the whole world, “Stricken smitten of God.” This brought the agony. Jesus was there as our substitute and surety for our sins. “The Lord laid upon Him the iniquities of us all.” “Christ also hath suffered for sins the just for the unjust. He became the scapegoat for our sins.
Christ was the sin bearer, bearing not merely the punishment of sin, but sin itself.
That’s what the wresting, the agony, the sweat of blood; the strengthening by an Angel was all about. His decision to become sin, that the power of sin might be destroyed. He could have gone back and left us to suffer for ourselves.
After this there would be others prayers from the Cross. But one final goodbye prayer we would like to show you.
Luke 24:50. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
51. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. 52. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
Yes, I think we can truly say that Jesus was our example in prayer. Before daylight, after a long hard day, before a test or trial, when He felt He needed guidance or strength or wisdom.
Luke 5:16. And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.
Luke 6:12. And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
What drove our Lord into the mountains to pray all night? What could have been so heavy on His heart and mind to cause Him to spend the whole night in prayer to God? What was it that took the sleep from His eyes and put a prayer on His lips for so long?
The next day He would make the most important decisions of His entire Ministry. Decisions would have an effect upon the entire population of the world until the end of time. The next day He would chose His twelve Apostles.
Luke 6:13. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
Thousand had followed Him, of these hundreds were outstanding. They also had left Fathers and Mothers, ships and nets, homes, occupations, and had been with him night and day. The choice would not be His alone, because all that night He sent their names up before the Throne of God.
If we have important decisions to make tomorrow, we should take these choices to the Lord in prayer. It might be worth our while to spend the night before God in prayer. He’s up all night, God works the night-shift.
Our Lord taught us the lesson of prayer by putting into practice in His life what He taught by His lips.
Matthew 14:23. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
24. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
Luke 9:28. And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.
29. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.
30. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:
The Deserts, “The Wilderness, the Mountains, all were His Prayer Chambers.
On the Mount of Olives the little garden, all were His Prayer Closet.
Let us follow His example and enter into our prayer closet and shut to the door and have a time of communion and fellowship with Him.
We hopr you enjoyed this study on prayer and will read the other studies on our web pages.
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By, James L. Thornton