iPray Series Sermon #1
~Why I Pray~
Tyson Graber, Herscher Christian Church
May 1, 2011
Recently two pastors and priest were debating the most appropriate and effective positions for prayer. As they were discussing, a telephone repairman was working on the phone system in the background. One pastor shared that he felt the key was in the hands. He always held his hands together and pointed them upward as a form of symbolic worship. The second suggested that real prayer was conducted on your knees. Finally, the priest suggested that they both had it wrong -- the most amazing pray posture was stretched out flat on your face before God. By this time the phone man couldn't stay out of the conversation any longer. He interjected: "I found that the most powerful prayer posture I ever made was while I was dangling upside down by my heels from a power pole, suspended 30 feet above the ground."
Here’s the point. I have to admit sometimes followers of Christ spend too much time talking and debating the best ways we could pray and don’t spend nearly enough time actually doing it.
In this sermon series over the next month my goal is not to convenience you of why, when, where, how, or what I pray but at the end of this series my prayer is that you will be more confident than ever before in your own prayer life and when asked by others if you talk to God you will with great hope say, "YES iPRAY!"
I believe that prayer is one of the greatest of the Christian disciplines that we can grow in as Children of God, and we need to spend time - not debating its importance or even our preferred practices, but we must continue to allow God to lead us, through His word, to doing it more. We need more prayer in our lives, as a nation, as a community, as a church, as families and as individuals.
I really enjoy what happens here at HCC on a normal Sunday morning, if there IS such thing as a normal day at HCC. I love the times of worship that Dustin and the band lead us in; I love the times of communion that God blesses us with; I love sharing with you in God’s word; I love our fellowship and I love when we take time to pray, but we need more of it. Am I saying I have it all figured out how do we do all that we do and do more of it? I am not sure, but we need to be a people, a church that is not only known for their worship and their love, but we also need to be a people of prayer.
I also personally need more prayer in my life. My prayer life is seldom what it should be. Many people that attend church have the mistaken idea that the pastor’s prayer life is perfect. Just because I am a preacher doesn’t mean I have some type of spiritual edge on everyone else when it comes to prayer.
That’s just not true. I face the same distraction and temptations in my walk with God that you do. I carry the same guilt when I fail to keep praying like I should that you do. I need this sermon series on prayer as much as anyone.
Some of you may not, but I do. I need it and I want it. I desire to have a better relationship with my father in Heaven and prayer is a vital key to that. But here is the disclaimer about this series on prayer before we really get started: I am not going to be able to answer all of your questions about prayer over the next 5 weeks. If I could it would mean that prayer really is not that much of a big deal, but it is. I am not a master theologian that can explain to you the full meaning of every passage on prayer in the Bible. I am still learning, but I do believe together we can begin to change our lives, and begin to change the world by focusing and trusting more on the power of prayer that comes from God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
So before we start lets begin by praying.
[PRAY (thank God for the blessing of prayer and help us to pray more.)]
Prayer is much more than just something that we do to help us feel better about doing something. We believe that prayer makes a huge difference in the world, especially in our lives as Christians.
If you are a person of prayer you have probably been asked this question.
iPray for a great number of reasons and today I would like to share them with you. Some of them I have received from experience, and others from the straight truth of the Word.
- 1st of all, “iPray” because I have been commanded to pray. For those who follow Christ prayer is not an option, it’s a mandate.
I can’t prove to you that it works and you can’t prove to me that it doesn’t work. There are a lot of things you can’t prove about prayer, but that doesn’t change a thing about it. It is a matter of faith. So, before we can really dive into this form of communication that is based on faith, we must come to an understanding of at least three things.
1. iPray because I believe God Exists
I believe that God exists. With all my heart, I believe that God is real, that He wants a relationship with me, and I know He wants a relationship with you, and that He wants to hear from you.
How do I know? I could give you a ton of evidence that God exists, but I can not prove it to you scientifically, but still I believe and I pray.
2. iPray because I believe God can hear our prayers.
3. iPray because I believe God cares about our prayers because He cares about us.
But..., I can’t prove any of this to you. If you doubt, prayer will do little or no good. Prayer must begin with a faith in God, and a trust that He hears and cares for you. So because I believe, iPray..
Jesus put it this way in His teachings.
Do not be like the hypocrites. Don’t just put on a show. Our attitudes can’t just be to go through the motions. Prayer must come from a genuine, sold-out-believing heart.
When you’re praying, if you are just playing a part so others can see, don’t bother... because those prayers won’t make it any higher than the room you are in.
Jesus put it simple: Pray with a desire to communicate with, and to please God, and no one else.
So why do iPray?
1. First, iPray because I have been commanded to. (We are commanded to pray)
Time and time again in the Bible we find prayer in the imperative. Here is an example in the sermon on the Mount Jesus says,
Matthew 5:44 “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
That is not a hint; that is not a suggestion; that is a command ! Pray. You even pray for those you don’t even really like!
As with all kids, when Mom or Dad say to do something, my boys sometimes just have to ask, “WHY?” .... “Because I said so!” That should be enough reason or motivation right there... sometimes its not...
We’re like the kids... When we don’t pray, when we don’t take the time to pray as Jesus told us, we are as guilty of sin as when we do something that God told us not to do. It’s a command.
2. Because Jesus made it a priority in HIS life.
This should simulate many of you more than just because Jesus said so..., Jesus did it.
Time after time we see Jesus making prayer a priority in His life.
Jesus prayed in the scriptures before He ate;, Jesus prayed at His baptism; Jesus prayed with many gatherings of people; Jesus prayed with His disciples; Jesus prayed all by Himself. If you want to know a good reason to pray as a Christian? Because Jesus prayed.
Jesus prayed at the tomb of Lazarus; Jesus prayed in the upper room for unity; He prayed for courage and strength in the Garden of Gethsenemee; He prayed forgiveness from the cross of Calvary.
He prayed early in the morning; He prayed at various times of the day; Jesus, on occasion, prayed all night long. You can’t look at the life of Jesus and miss that He focused on Praying to His Father.
Sure, Jesus was fully God but during His time on earth He relied on the same communication with God as we do. He prayed.
Think about it. The very son of God using the very same form of communication with God as we can. Yet, many of us just do it before we eat, if we do it at all.
Jesus prayed for you.
There is not a better motivation for me than that. If I want to be like Jesus I need to be praying like Jesus.
Why iPray? To become more like Jesus.
3. Why iPray? I pray because I need it. I have made of mess of things and I need God’s help. (I need to pray, to confess with my mouth.)
Maybe you don’t but I need His help in every way. I struggle with temptation and sin and I need God’s help in my life to stay pure. Here is the good news about the prayers of faithful Christians. God loves to forgive us when we come to Him with a humble and repentful heart.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will purify our sins and cleans us for all unrighteousness.”
If you look at the original text this is the Present tense verb form used here and would more accurately read, ‘if we “continue to” confess ....’ We serve a God who loves to forgive, and when we come with the repentant heart in prayer He does forgive, and will continue to do so.
Why do iPray? iPray because I need to.
Don’t beg, don’t bargain, don’t bribe. We tend to do these things. God is not looking for a bargain, He is looking for our heart.
A little 7 year old boy visiting Washinton, D.C. walked up to one of the Park Service Policemen, and said, “I’ve saved up a bunch of money and Mom said I could buy anything I wanted... I wanna buy the Washington Monument!”
The man asked, “How much money do you have?” “I’ve saved up $5.00!” “Well, that’s not enough, son, and you need to understand three things. The Washington Monument is Priceless ..., its not for sale ..., and, if you are an American its already yours.”
That is a lot like God’s forgiveness for those who have accepted Jesus as their savior. Its priceless, not for sale, and if you know Jesus as your savior its already yours.
4. I pray because it helps others.
It really does! It is such an encouragement when someone I trust, or someone I don’t even really know says, “I am praying for you.”
Or when you get together in a group and you spend time praying for one another, it is powerful.
We may not always receive the answers we are looking for, but there is such strength and unity that comes to brothers and sisters in Christ when we pray for each other. It really makes a difference when we pray with and for each other.
That’s why this month I would like to give you the challenge of praying for and with your family for a month. I truly believe that the family that prays together stays together. Will you take that challenge?
Maybe you don’t have anyone to pray with? Well, then you know you are praying with the church family.
[Explain the prayer journal (free notebook handout), The reason we are doing all of this?]
The reason iPray is because
5. Prayer changes lives.
Prayer has changed me, prayer has changed my family, prayer has changed this church, prayer can change anything. Prayer changes lives.
Listen to me. You have been made in the image of the eternal God. He desires to know you personally and work in your life in every way you will allow Him to. And we have the privilege of coming to Him in prayer.
When we pray, and when we connect with our creator it changes lives .., first our own.
When we truly come to God we appear before Him as we should; the created, not worthy to be with Him, but blessed to be before Him.
We need to come to Him helpless, longing for Him in every way, needing Him more than anything.
52 men put everything on the line in their lives when they signed the document that changed our country’s history and declared our independence from England. It is simply called the declaration of independence. But, prayer needs to be on a regular basis, not just a one time thing... Prayer is the Christians declaration of dependence. In it, we acknowledge before God that we are helpless without Him.
From a spiritual point of view, I am helpless with God and that changes me.
1 Peter 5:5 Peter said ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’
Have you ever noticed when life is good and you don’t come before God for an extended period of time in prayer you can start to think you’re are pretty big stuff? But too often we get too big for our own britches.
Truth be told, I can’t control the winds, I can’t turn off the rain when the ground is wet, I can’t even keep the rabbits off my wife’s strawberry patch in the back yard of my own house. But there is a God who can do all of that and more.
Therefore let us be humble and seek His power to change things for His will.
Jesus said this in John 14:12-14