You know there’s a tool for that? You’re in the kitchen and you’re trying to pull canning jars out of the boiling hot water with bbq grill tongs and someone says hey you know there’s a special tongs just for canning that work a lot better. You’re trying to shovel out your drive way after a foot of snow and the neighbor comes over with a big snow blower. Why is it that we often take the hard way instead of the easy way when tools are available?
Last month we talked all about using God’s resources…and in those lessons we talked about managing money. But there’s a different resource that is so often neglected in our lives. It’s called prayer. Today we’re going to learn to use that resource because Jesus won it and because our lives need it.
1st Timothy is a training letter for a young pastor. It’s designed to teach what should be going on inside the church. The lesson taught today is that Christians want to be praying!
If we’re going to understand the encouragement that is being given to Timothy – I think we have to understand first what prayer actually is and why it works. Paul writes, “I urge then that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – this is good and pleases God our Savior.” Let’s use these words to define what these prayers look like.
Petitions are requests – so God please do this God please do that… Intercession is me praying on behalf of someone else – so God please watch over my friend John… thanksgiving is people saying God thank you so much for loving me and blessing me. In our direct conversations with God we want to be including all of these particular topics.
Knowing what prayer is, the logical question is then how does it work? How is it possible that I can pick up my hands and talk to God? God gives us a clear answer to that as well. For there is one God and one mediator between God and man the man Christ Jesus. God wants all to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
In other words God says my son lived and died perfectly – so that now I want to talk to the children that I love. So I am giving them this tool – when they talk to me because of Jesus – I am willing to hear them even though they are sinful.
Imagine for a second that you had a huge fight with your Father. He’s off in the corner doing his work. It wasn’t his fault he was trying to be nice. You feel guilty about it and you can’t talk to him – you’re afraid. Suddenly your older sibling says let’s go talk to dad together. He walks up for you and says dad my little brother has something to say. Suddenly dad listens because of the credibility gained by the older brother.
Prayer – this real connection with God works because Jesus Christ, our perfect brother as the Bible calls Him, stands before God and says Father you want to hear them. I forgave them.
As a Pastor, one of the things that consistently surprises me and maybe it shouldn’t is how much I need to teach people to pray. For me I just grew up with it you want to talk to God fold your hands and do it kind of thing. It should be easy right? But I think the truth is that for us prayer life is one of the hardest things to have. Here’s why.
You know how sometimes really bad things happen to you and you don’t want to talk to anybody about it? You want to just put your head down and power through? For us praying to God is hard because talking about things we mess up to a holy God admits guilt.
Prayer to something greater than myself means that I am not so great. It shows that I can’t handle my problem on my own. Think through your life – your financial difficulties, your job problems, your health, your relationships – are you always excited to say God hold what I can’t? Think about your enemies? Are you excited to pray to God and say Lord bless them? We don’t like to pray about that because it admits that we are sinful and can’t live without God.
And that’s why we needed the one man– the one God Jesus Christ who the day before he was crucified prayed the perfect prayer father if it is your will. That’s why we need the one who taught us to pray. The one who gives us access to the heavenly father and says God’s ear is attentive to your cry for mercy. God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth! AMEN! And the truth as that Jesus prayed, “My God why did you forsake me?” So that you would never have to pray that prayer. The perfect prayer life of Jesus Christ is the perfect sacrifice that allows you to have a direct link to your heavenly father for today and for eternity.
So friends let’s use that resource because we desperately need it.
As you look through these verses you hear what God wants us to pray for. Prayers should be made for all people for kings and all those in authority that we may live peaceful and quiet lives. Lift up holy hands without anger.
Let me ask you a question – is there anger in your heart? Yup. How do you deal with it? Pray! Do our government officials on both sides of the political isle need your prayers? Absolutely! Does your church and the people in it who are sick and hurting need your prayers? Absolutely!
See friends as a younger man I regularly thought that I was invincible. As I have gotten a little older – I’m 30 so still young – I realize that I’m not. As you become more aware of your weaknesses you need some way to deal with that. To have that peaceful life of trust we put our anxiety and brokenness into the hands of God.
Personal story time. I started these prayer journals a few months back. Let me tell you something I have noticed. The more sin is in my life – the further I drift from God on a day to day basis you know what is also harder for me to do? Pray. It’s hard to talk to the Father when you are embarrassed. Maybe you have felt that way too.
Look at this beautiful verse – God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth my goodness if God wants to save you and did in Jesus than he certainly wants to hear your voice. Don’t let the troubles of this life disconnect your line. Lift up your hands – pray to your God. Your walk of life and faith needs this connection.
One more thing friends. You know the red books in front of you we often think of as in church things – hymnals. I’m going to show you something – a power and a resource that is often forgotten.
You may find at times in your prayer life that you don’t know what to say that you don’t know what to pray for. Open those up to page 134. What do you see? Prayers for every occasion. Why do you think it shows every occasion?
Because every occasion needs prayer. Whether thanksgiving or ask, confession, or praise…lift up your hands. Say God I’m so glad that you let me talk to you today.