Who can tell me what is one of the most special gifts that we have as believers and it is also one of the most neglected gifts? Prayer yes it is –well done
My simple and humanly impossible goal this morning as we share in this message is that
we would all be devoted to prayer. This is my goal because this is what the Bible calls us to be. Romans 12:12 reminds believers that we are to be “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.” I would like to ask each of us as we spend these few moments together the question- DO we pray? - Yes we do pray when it suits us, but are we devoted to prayer and do we pray enough and why is prayer so neglected? Only you and I can answer that for ourselves.Why is it that we neglect to pray? I suspect most people don’t pray enough because:
  • We don’t think we have time.

  • We don’t think it is important.

  • We don’t believe that it makes any difference.

First of all, we do have the time! According a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, a Neilson Study reported that in 2010, (9 years ago) that Americans spend 63.5 billion minutes on social networks and blogs.  How much time do you/I spend on social networks like Facebook each day/week/month? MMMmmm I wonderAnother Nielson study indicates that an average Internet user spends 68 hours on the Internet per month, about 2 hours and 6 minutes per day.  I rest my case; we do have the time to pray. As someone put it recently, “One of the great uses of Twitterand Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.”Secondly, prayer is necessary! We know that while He was on earth, our Lord Jesus was dependent on spending vital time in prayer with the Father. How much more should we? Hebrews 5:7 says “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death, and he was heard because of His reverent submission” this reveals the passionate prayer life of our Lord. He is our example to follow.Before you think that you don’t need to take time to pray, think of the defeat of the Israelite army when they went up to fight against the little city called Ai. Confident with victory over the mighty fortress of Jericho, they neglected to pray and consult the Lord before going to battle. Bold and careless, they were soundly defeated.Prayer does make a difference!  There is a quote which says, “Prayer is “not for getting man’s will done in heaven, but for getting God’s will done on earth.”Prayer’s not magic; it isn’t simply submitting a grocery list to God. Remember that our Father is in heaven and we are on earth. But as His children, we can be confident that He wants to bless, use, guide, and provide for us. Perhaps “you have not because you ask not.”Believers at Medway, how is your/my prayer life? Don’t we realize that what breathing is to our physical lives, prayer is to our spiritual lives?1 Thessalonians 5:17 reminds us to “Pray without ceasing”.William Carey the great missionary was once reprimanded for spending so much time in prayer that he neglected his business. He replied that supplication, thanksgiving, and intercession were much more important in his life than laying up treasures on earth. "Prayer is my real business!" he said. "Cobbling shoes is a sideline; it just helps me pay expenses."For some people prayer is just an add-on or something to do in a crisis. But the most effective people in God's service were men and women of prayer. The Bible makes it clear that prayer is important. Matthew 7 verse 7 says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” Jeremiah 33 verse reminds us “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” "So What is prayer?"The most basic definition of prayer is “talking to God.” Prayer is not meditation or passive reflection; it is direct address to God. It is the communication of the human soul with the Lord who created the soul. Prayer is the primary way for the believer in Jesus Christ to communicate his/her emotions and desires with God and to fellowship with God.Prayer can be audible or silent, private or public, formal or informal. All prayer must be offered in faith (James 1:6), in the name of the Lord Jesus (John 16:23), and in the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26). As the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia puts it, “Christian prayer in its full New Testament meaning is prayer addressed to God as Father, in the name of Christ as Mediator, and through the enabling grace of the indwelling Spirit” (“Prayer” by J. C. Lambert). The wicked have no desire to pray (Psalm 10:4), but the children of God have a natural desire to pray (Luke 11:1).Prayer is described in the Bible
  • as seeking God’s favour (Exodus 32:11),

  • pouring out one’s soul to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:15),

  • crying out to heaven (2 Chronicles 32:20),

  • drawing near to God (Psalm 73:28),

  • and kneeling before the Father (Ephesians 3:14).

The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians chapter 4 verses :6–7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. So believer “Worry about nothing; pray about everything.”Everything? Yes, God wants us to talk with Him about everything. How often should we pray? The biblical answer is “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We should keep a running conversation going with God all day long. Some years back Margaret’s Mum said to me that she feels such an ineffective Christian now that she is “old”. What can she do? I told her that her greatest gift at this time was to pray for her unsaved family and to pray for Medway and yes we have the Prayer Address book to be able to bring each person before the throne of our God. She loved this- so it could be a challenge to others who feel that they no longer have anything to offer the Lord.You might ask how do I pray? Some find the ACTS formula of prayer helpful, (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) but there is really no special formula for how to pray in the Bible. We should as the Nike advert says “just do it.” As God’s children we can pray under any and all circumstances. Prayer develops our relationship with God and demonstrates our trust and utter dependence upon Him.Prayer is the Christian’s way of communicating with God. We pray to praise God and thank Him and tell Him how much we love Him. We pray to enjoy His presence and tell Him what is going on in our lives. We pray to make requests and seek guidance and ask for wisdom. God loves this exchange with His children, just as we love the exchange we have with our children. Fellowship with God is the heart of prayer. Too often we lose sight of how simple prayer is really supposed to be.A story is told about Dr Martin Lloyd Jones who was the pastor of Westminster chapel in England for 30 years and had a congregation of over 1000 at each service, that he was once asked what made his ministry so successful? He took the person to the crypt below the church where more than 300 people gathered during each service to pray and to ask the Lord for His blessing and to bring about revival. I wonder why do we not have revival in Plumstead and in Cape Town, do we ask the Lord for us to bless His ministry in Plumstead or do we only pray for ourselves? Something for us to seriously think about my friends.When we make petitions to God, we let God know exactly where we stand and what we would like to see happen. In our prayers, we must admit that God is greater than we are and ultimately knows what is best in any given situation as Romans 11:33–36 reminds us. God is good and asks us to trust Him. In prayer, we say, essentially, “Not my will, but Your will be done.” The key to answered prayer is praying according to the will of God and in accordance with His Word. Prayer is not seeking our own will but seeking to align ourselves with the will of God more fully (see 1 John 5:14–15; and James 4:3).Colossians 4 verse 2 exhorts believers to, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful”. The word “devote” is actually derived from the word “vow.” In other words, we should think about and commit ourselves to some consistent prayer rhythms. Yet, it seems so hard to do. There are reasons why we don’t pray. Some are valid … some are maybe less so, but there are practical ways we can make our devotion a habit rather than a chore. The Bible does not say that someone will be saved by their prayers, but I know that we cannot be saved without prayer. Prayer is something that we must do for ourselves. We need to lift up our hearts and ask the Lord Jesus to give us salvation. We must repent for ourselves, we need to speak to God and pray for ourselves. We cannot be saved by an unknown God. And how can we know God without prayer? We cannot know someone unless we talk to them and we cannot know God in Christ unless we speak to Him in prayer. There is a saying that if we want to be with Him in heaven, we must be His friends on earth and we must therefore speak to Him in prayer.We need to be praying on earth or we shall never praise our God in heaven. The prayerless person will be without God, without our Lord Jesus Christ, without grace, without hope and without heaven. It is to be on the road to hell. Strong words I know, but friend, do you/I pray?One of the most common marks of all who trust God is to pray or as Luke 18 verse 7 says,” those who cry out to Him day and night”.The Holy Spirit makes us new creatures and adopts us into God’s family and leads us to cry out to Him, “Abba, Father”. When we become God’s children we are no longer silent as we have a new nature and it is part of this new nature that helps us to pray – like a newborn baby’s nature to cry. Believers are helpless and need to call out to our Father. If we look at the lives of the believers in the Bible every single one of them were people of prayer.In Acts Chapter 9 verse 11 God gave Ananias only one piece of evidence of Saul’s change of heart from being the great persecutor of Christians : God said that Saul was praying.As elders at Medway we feel that prayer is very important. We want to be sure that you are a person of prayer. We do not want you to only have head-knowledge of who our Lord Jesus is, we want to be sure that you have a growing relationship with Him and love to be spending time in His Word and in prayer with Him each day as you grow to become more like Him and until He comes to fetch us. Hopefully we all speak to Him as well as speak about Him.There are many Christians who pray, but their prayers are like an empty shell. We can recite the Lord ’s Prayer learnt from childhood, but my brothers and sisters words without engaging the heart are useless. Our heart and souls need to be in our prayers as we speak to our Lord. Many people say loooonnng prayers but do not know the Lord. It is not a natural thing to pray. One of quickest ways in which one becomes a backslider is when we neglect to pray. Our human minds are hostile to God. We cannot naturally love God especially if we do not know Him as a Holy God, so our sin has no consequence to us. Often people call a minister to pray for their family on their death bed. When asked what they should be praying for, they do not know. They just want the person to be prayed for. We must trust that that loved one knows the Lord Jesus Christ before they pass into a lost eternity. God knows our hearts. So I ask again friends dowe pray?Our God made it possible for us to pray. No matter how unworthy and sinful we are, the Lord Jesus opened the way by His atoning sacrifice on the cross at Calvary. We need to cry out to Him to save us and He is always willing to hear our cry. The Lord Jesus name is like a passport that guarantees entry for our prayers. In the Lord Jesus’ name believers can boldly draw near to God and approach Him with confidence. Isn’t that encouraging news? Believer we serve a MIGHTY GOD. We have an Advocate who WILLrepresent us and act for us who trust Him. We have an Intercessor who WILLspeak on our behalf and He is waiting to present our prayers. We must ask Him. Our prayers are weak and poor, but He takes our feeble prayers with His almighty prayers and together, they go as a sweet aroma to the throne of God. He is our High Priest and our elder brother. His door is always open to everyone who calls on Him for mercy and grace. Helping believers is His particular role and our prayers are His delight. We are weaklings when it comes to prayer, but the Holy Spirit always helps us.He will give us the words and inspire our prayers. If we are believers we have good reasons to believe that our prayers will be heard. Here are some encouraging verses to consider why we pray:Matthew 7 verses 7-8 our Lord Jesus says” Ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks find, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. “In Matthew 21 verse 22 He again says to His disciples ” And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”In John chapter 14 verses 13-14 He says “Whatever you ask in My name, this will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”There are many examples of in the Bible of the power of prayer. Prayer achieves things that would normally be impossible. Prayer opened the Red Sea, brought water from a rock, brought bread/manna from heaven, made the sun stand still, brought fire from the sky for Elijah’s sacrifice at Mount Carmel, overthrew armies, healed the sick, and raised the dead and many more. So praying in faith to our Almighty God can do anything.We have a friend in the congregation (won’t mention his name) but he has a carwash in Claremont and every day in faith he sends out many prayer requests to a few of us and we are encouraged as we see our Lord answer his/our prayers. James in chapter 5 verse 16 reminds us that The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful resultsAre you encouraged to continue praying to our Almighty God my brothers and sisters? Do not neglect to be devoted to praying to our God through our Lord Jesus. Our God can do more in 5 seconds than we can do in 5 yearsSo as I close I must remind each of us why should we pray: we pray, as we mustknow the One to whom we pray to. There is only one Supreme Creator and sovereign God. There is only one way to Him and that is through His only- Son, Jesus Christ. God, our Heavenly Father, is the only One we can be assured of who hears and answers our prayers. He is the God of amazing love, mercy, and forgiveness. He is the only God who has done this, and is the only God able to do so. But His enemy, Satan, has sent many false gods to deceive mankind. Do not be deceived nor allow anything or anyone to take priority over the only true and living God. Remember that prayer is the key to the heart of God. Prayer is the only way to a real and personal relationship with God.

Pray and acknowledging He is God, and that you accept His gracious gift, Jesus Christ, as your Lord and Saviour as we are reminded in Romans ch 6:16-18).

Pray confessing our sins and accepting His forgiveness (Romans 3:23-26).

Pray that His will be done in our lives, that His Holy Spirit guide us, and that we be filled with the fullness of all God has for us.

Pray for spiritual understanding and wisdom (Proverbs 2:6-8, Proverbs 3:5).

Pray with thanksgiving for all the ways He blesses us (Philippians 4:6). Pray when we are ill, lonely, going through trials or interceding for others (James 5:14-16, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Pray to worship Him as we are reminded in Psalm 95:6-7.There is nothing we can’t pray about. There are abundant references to prayer in the Bible. The Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing” and “in everything give thanks to the Lord.” When we choose to have a positive attitude, we realize we have received many blessings for which to give God praise. On my way to work in the mornings I pray for the people I drive past - we live in a world who have rejected our Lord Jesus, pray for wisdom and strength for our government, especially those who are believers to be witnesses for our Lord Jesus in every situation, pray for our families, converted and unconverted, pray for Medway and for much wisdom for those in leadership as leadership is not easy, pray for yourself- that the Lord would use you and that we can present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual act of worship”. Romans 12 vs 1.Pray always my friends as we find intimacy with God through communicating with Him in prayer. We go to Him in faith as 1 John 5 verse 14 reminds us,” And this is the confidence we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He will hear us”. My fellow believer be confident that God knows and wants what is best for us; so ask that His will be done in all we seek from Him. Then, thank Him for it, even though it hasn’t happened yet. So what do we say when we pray? We say what our Lord says. And what do we pray for? We pray for what our Lord promises. And what do we ask? We ask that our joy may be complete. For then, we have said what He says, and asked for what He gives. And then our joy will be complete.Someone once said that “Prayer—though it is often draining, even an agony—is in the long term the greatest source of power that is possible.” So believer at Medway above all, pray with sincerity, honour, and humbleness before the Almighty GodIf you are not a believer yet, today is the day my friend to ask this Almighty miracle working God that we believers serve to be the Lord of your life and change your heart as He has done for many of us so that you can enjoy fellowship with the Creator of all things and have the privilege to worship and pray to Him.I am going to do something different for a change, I know that change is hard, but for the next few moments- where you are let us pray with the neighbour/s next to you and give thanks to the Lord for the privilege that we have of being able to commune with Him in prayer. Praise/worship Him- and commit to be people of prayer. I will close in prayer afterwardsLet us prayOur Father in heaven, we thank You for our time this morning. How wonderfully rich and blessed we have been. Thank You for these precious people at Medway. Thank You Lord for the wonderful privilege we have to be able to approach Your throne of grace via the Lord Jesus and know that You hear our prayers and answer them according to Your plans and purposes. Thank You that the work that Your Holy Spirit has done here by faith. Lord, I pray that You’ll increase our faith, that our faith will grow and increase and grow stronger and that the result of that faith will be believing prayer.  Hear our prayer, Lord, and hear the prayer that we cry to You, first of all, forgive our transgressions and then grant us the faith to activate heaven’s power on behalf of the advance of Your name and Your Kingdom, and Your will on earth as it is in heaven. Thank You for that privilege. In the name of Christ, we pray. Amen.