Do you ever struggle with prayer? You feel as though you don’t pray often enough, consistently enough, powerful enough….When someone asks you to pray you revert back to a prayer that you heard someone else pray, or you take a pass all together. When you do pray, maybe you wonder if it is the right way to pray, or you find yourself saying the same thing over and over again wondering if you’ve said enough to check off the box. Maybe, outside of your time around others, you don’t pray at all. At least you don’t consider it a prayer. You’ve been unsure where to begin and so the conversation never happened. Maybe you are one of the few who is very comfortable where you are with prayer.
This weekend, we turn our attention to the prayer of a desperate father in Mark Chapter 9, verse 14. His prayer isn’t much, but the answer is huge.
What’s interesting about this account is that the dad is surrounded by people who had been taught how to pray by Jesus himself, but none of them seemed to engage prayer in this dad’s time of need. And so this weekend, we not only look at the man’s prayer, but the teaching Jesus gives us on prayer in Matthew Chapter 6. And here is the takeaway. God hears our prayers and comes to us with Faith and Power for our every need.
Prayer is the key that unlocks and reveals our faith.
In Matthew 6 Jesus addresses the topic of where, when and how we should pray. But He quickly moves our attention off of the trivial to the important. Make your conversation with God intentional. Make it between you and Him. Don’t let yourself be distracted…
Declare the greatness of who I am talking to, the greatness of God. Jesus says, “when you pray, I don’t want you to start with “you”…. I want you to start with God who has invited you to call him father.” John 1:12 says “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God….” “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. What does Hallowed mean? It means Holy is your name, Great is your name, to be exalted is your name, to be worshiped is your name, to be surrendered to is your name….
How do you know God? God, you are my...... creator, sustainer, defender, King, author of my story, Lord, Redeemer, Savior, TEACHER, friend, My ever present Heavenly Father.... This is where your prayer begins.
And then Jesus comes to the part of the prayer, that when you really stop and think about it, is the part that we want to circumvent. This is where I surrender my agenda for Gods. “Your kingdom come, your will be done in my life on this earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus is telling us here that the purpose of our prayer isn’t to get something – verse 8 says “he already knows what we need”, it is to bring us into alignment with what God wants for us.
So far Jesus hasn’t said anything about how much time we need to spend when we pray. And here is what we discover: The length of our prayer isn’t determined by the willingness of God. The length of my prayer is determined by the condition of my heart.
And that’s when Jesus gets to the third part, the part we usually start with. Look what he says next in verse 11: “Give”, “Give us today our daily bread.” Acknowledge my dependency on God. How dependent are you right now on God, not just for the crises at hand, but your daily living. In verse 12, Jesus continues: “I want you to acknowledge your dependence on God for the forgiveness of sins – get that list out too, don’t hide anything from him……and remember that your ability to have forgiveness is connected to your forgiving others. “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Verse 13: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Deliver us, Just as God delivered this son in Mark 9 from the hold of an evil Spirit, God delivers us from the evil one. “God is faithful, he will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. But when we are tempted, he will pro
vide a way out so that we can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)(NIV)
The interesting thing is the prayer just ends here. He doesn’t even say amen. But the encounter between this father and Jesus in Mark 9 doesn’t end with the prayer. It ends with Jesus taking the boy by the hand and lifting him to his feet. God hears our prayer and responds with faith and power.
In this encounter between a father and Jesus in Mark 9 there is only One prayer. Dozens of people who could have prayed. A faith in the life of dozens that could have been unlocked. One simple prayer of a hurting man and the answer of a Father who always hears us and responds with faith and power.
Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be few. But the power of prayer is in the one who hears it. Psalm 91:15 “When they call on me, I will answer. I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them.”
I hope today’s message encourages you to stop right where you are and pray. Be transparent, acknowledge the One you are speaking to and ask Him to unlock faith and power in your life. He’s willing if you are.
I’ll see you this weekend! Dave