A Model Prayer Life

INTRODUCTION: If you have ever had a discussion about situational ethics, the base argument becomes this, “Could you commit an act that goes against your personal code if the proper situation presented itself?” Wikipedia puts it this way, “Situational ethics takes into account the particular context of an act when evaluating it ethically, rather than judging it according to absolute moral standards.”

We are Christians. We live according to an absolute moral standard, it’s called the Bible. In it we find absolute truth, such as the truth of baptism found in John 3:5, “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’” On the other hand we also see that there is a quantifiable wrong. We see this in 1 John 1:6, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

So, as we face daily situations that wish to prey on our ethics, what can we do? We can and should pray.

Of all the examples we have explored this quarter, the paragons and the pariahs, there is one character who we can turn to no matter what situation we might find ourselves. That example, of course, is Jesus.

Jesus faced the same hurdles we face. Hebrews 4:15 tells us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” 

We know through scripture that Jesus prayed throughout his ministry, and not all he prayers were recorded. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus, who was part of the Godhead would still use the avenue of prayer. Don’t you think that he could communicate with the God the Father just by thinking or feeling? Why would one who was there when the world was spoken into existence subject himself to uttering words in prayer like us mortals? 

I think we all know the answer. Jesus prayed so as to be an example to us. Every act he did was to accomplish two goals: one, to fulfill the will of God as it was prophesied for our redemption and two, to set an example for us to follow. 1 Peter 2:21 reads, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

Now let’s look at several situations that happened to Jesus and see how prayer was a part of his life and how it should be a natural part of ours

  1. Jesus prayed after he was baptized.
    • Luke 3:21-22, “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’”
    • For Jesus, this was a wonderful event, not because he was so full of sin, but because he was paving the way for us. It was that joyous occasion that caused God to confirm Jesus’ place in the Godhead as God’s “beloved son.”
    • When something wonderful happens to us, do we pray to God and thank Him for the wonderful gift that has been given? Shouldn’t we?
    • Because we are in this negative society, it’s easy to forget the good and focus on the bad. But we are Christians. We have the ultimate hope that things will turn out for the good. Therefore, our outlook should always be positive.
  1. Jesus prayed for humility when his popularity was increasing.
    • Luke 5: 15-16, “But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”
    • After he healed the leper in Luke 5, Jesus told the healed man to show no one except the priest. So in verses 16, why did Jesus withdraw and pray in desolate places?
    • I contend that Jesus was giving us an example of humility. How many people do we know who become famous and let that fame go to their head? Fame can be a drug that requires larger and larger doses as time goes on.
    • We must not let fame through popularity, intelligence, or even Biblical knowledge make us prideful. Even something positive can become a negative if taken in large quantities.
  1. Jesus prayed after a stressful encounter with Pharisees.
    • In Luke 6: 6-12, we see the Pharisees trying to provoke Jesus in to healing on the Sabbath. They needed something to accuse him of.
    • It reads, “On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.”
    • Even Jesus used prayer after an encounter with his enemies. In this passage, it is interesting to think that Jesus used prayer to recover after a stressful time. So what about us today?
    • When the stresses of life come at us, what do we turn to? 
      • Have you ever heard of retail therapy? Karen has. This can be Very dangerous. 
      • Some retreat into a safe, happy place.
      • Others might need a distraction to refocus attention. Sports, hobbies, hunting, music, — these are all fine by themselves. But when they become more precious to us than our relationship with God, they must be put in their place. 
        • 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 
        • Just be aware that the devil may come in the form of free football tickets, or a new rifle that needs to be broken in, or for me, the next guitar or drum accessory that must be played.
      • There are also more extreme distractions like drugs and alcohol that can take a terrible toll on our lives and those around us.
      • Just like Jesus, we can use a stressful time to pray to God. We will need his strength to not only recover from daily stress, but also prepare for tomorrow’s load.
  1. Jesus prayed before making a difficult decision.
    • Beginning at the end of the previous passage, we see Jesus praying after a stressful situation. As we read further, we realize he was also praying before a big decision.
    • (Luke 6:12-16) In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
    • So Jesus was about to choose his apostles from among his disciples. What an exciting event that must have been. Jesus knew a big decision required prayer. How about us?
    • Do we face big decisions with God at our side or do we face them alone?
    • Certainly we know from Philippians 4:13 that we can do all things through our Lord. But do we believe it?
    • That is the true test for a Christian today. We must abandon the notion that we are alone in this world. We have a Father in heaven who loves us and wants the best for us. Why would he not want us to lean on him, through prayer, as we face the biggest situations in life?
    • If we love God with all our heart, soul and mind, as it says in Matthew 22:37, we should have not trouble in consulting him before we make a big decision.
  1. Jesus prayed after a long day’s work.
    • After feeding the 5,000 in Luke 9:17-18 tells us that Jesus prayed. “And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’”
    • Could it have been that Jesus was praying satisfactory prayer after a good day’s work? He was obviously praying about the people following him because he asked who the crowds thought he was.
    • Doesn’t it feel good to finish a project? That sense of accomplishment and a checklist can really pick your day up. But don’t forget to pray.
      • We can thank God for the talent it took to complete the task.
      • We can thank God for ability to do the work or task.
      • We can thank Him for the time allowed to complete it.
    • There are many things we can thank God for after a big day of work, but just like Jesus, we should thank him.
  1. Jesus prayed when he was dying.
    • Of the seven times Jesus spoke on Calvary, his first and last words constituted a prayer. 
    • In Luke 23:34, Jesus asked that God forgive the people of what they were doing. One of his later prayers can be found in Matthew 27:46. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” His final plea, found in Luke 23:46, was a prayer of hope. “Into your hands, I commit my spirit.” This was not like the son of Korah. Jesus knew his heavenly father was waiting on him. I pray that for all of us.
      • Our last prayer should not be one asking for forgiveness. By the time we are at death’s door, we should know our fate.
    • Like many of you, Karen and I have found that as death gets closer, the trivial things don’t really matter. 
      • When Karen’s mom passed away a year and a half ago, we prayed her suffering would end. We prayed for Dad to not be in pain for long. We prayed for Mom to be at peace in the end. All those prayers were answered. But it is the peace of knowing where they were going that gives us strength. We knew the great reward that awaited them but it still hurts like a kick to the chest. 
    • We are not promised today or tomorrow, so get ready. Death will come and not in a form that you would want.
    • I am refocused to live as the best Christian I can be. I want to see my parents again. I know the way. I just have to keep my eye on the eternal prize – as we all do.

CONCLUSION: Here is what I will take away from this class.

  • Never stop praying. (I Thes. 5:16-18) Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
  • Don’t let this life get to you. (Philippians 4:6-7) do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • Prayer is a private conversation between you and God. (Matthew 6:6) But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
  • The Godhead works together as we pray. God the father is the one to whom we pray, God the son is the one through whom we pray and God the spirit is the one with whom we pray.
  • The God that created everything, including us, wants to hear our prayer. (Genesis 1:26a) Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
  • We must spiritually workout in prayer to become spiritually strong. (Hebrews 12:9) “Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?”
  • We must trust in God’s providence to work in our lives. (James 5:16) Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
  • Put ourselves in positions to be paragons of prayer and avoid situations where we end up as pariahs of prayer.

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