Practical prayer

March 18, 2018


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Today we are continuing with our Kingdom Focus. Over the last few weeks we have talked about prayer. We looked at the Divine and human elements of prayer. We saw that we pray to the Father through Jesus, we pray in Jesus’ name, while praying in tune with the Holy Spirit. We also saw that we should pray in faith and not doubt, pray simply with sincerity, pray with persistence and pray in line with God’s will.

Last week we looked at three main things in John 17.

  • Jesus prayed for Himself – He prayed that He would bring glory to the Father and the Father would restore the glory Jesus had in eternity.
  • Jesus prayed for His disciples – He prayed that they would be unified, protected and that the Father would sanctify them.
  • Jesus prayed for all believers – He prayed that we would be with the Father and Son, that we would know Jesus glory and we would know the love the Father has for the son.

This time it is about a Practical way to pray. Hence, the title. I want to share four things I do when I pray. It is something I have touched on briefly before, but today and I want to add Scripture to it and give us some space to try it out.

Before I do that, I want to share some more quotes on prayer.

Quotes on prayer

Pray as if everything depends on God, then work as if everything depends on you. (Martin Luther)

When asked how much time he spent in prayer, George Muller’s (Christian evangelist in 1800s) reply was, “Hours every day. But I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk and when I lie down and when I arise. And the answers are always coming.”

Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.” (John Bunyon – Author of the Pilgrim’s Progress)

If the request is wrong, God says, “No.” If the timing is wrong, God says, “Slow.” If you are wrong, God says, “Grow.” But if the request is right, the timing is right and you are right, God says, “Go!” (Bill Hybels, Too Busy Not To Pray, IVP, p. 74)

Keep praying but be thankful that God’s answers are wiser than your prayers! (William Culbertson – American Pastor and a President of Moody Bible Institute)

When we pray, remember:

  1. The love of God that wants the best for us.
  2. The wisdom of God that knows what is best for us.
  3. The power of God that can accomplish it.

(William Barclay, Prodigals and Those Who Love)

“[Jesus] prayed briefly when He was in a crowd; He prayed a little longer when He was with His disciples; and He prayed all night when He was alone. Today, many in the ministry tend to reverse that process.” (Billy Graham)

Main Points

Several weeks ago, we looked at the ACTS acronym. One of my Pastors used this method to ensure that your prayer is complete by remembering ACTS. The ACTS method of Christian prayer goes like this:

  • Adoration: Give God praise and honour for who he is as Lord over all.
  • Confession: Honestly deal with the sin in your prayer life.
  • Thanksgiving: Verbalize what you’re grateful for in your life and in the world around you.
  • Supplication: Pray for the needs of others and yourself.

Today are going to look at a variation of this.

Point 1 – Praise and Thanksgiving

The starting point from my prayers always comes from a heart of thanksgiving. I want to offer praise to God for all the good things he has done in my life, the life of my family and in the world around us.

It is easy to look around and see all the bad things that happen in life, but if we cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving and praise, it can change our whole outlook.

Scripture encourages us to give thanks to God…

Psalm 118:29 – Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Psalm 75:1 – We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.

1 Corinthians 15:57 – But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 56:12-13 – I am under vows to you, O God; I will present my thank offerings to you. For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.

God’s love endures forever.  He does wonderful deeds. We have victory through our faith. He saved us and helps in His light.

Practice giving praise and thanksgiving to God…

Right now, I want to give you a minute of so to give thanks to God. Quietly in your heart gives thanks to God. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring things to your mind and then gives thanks.

Point 2 – Petition

Petition is asking God for personal things. As I shared last week, I used to think it was wrong to pray for personal things, I judged people harshly if their prayers were more focused on themselves than others.

But again, if Jesus prayed for Himself in the Bible then how much more do we have to pray for ourselves? In this section of prayer, I personally include prayer for myself and my family.

Scripture encourages us to pray for ourselves…

Matthew 7:7-8 – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The Lord’s prayer…

Matthew 6:9-13 – “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

Jesus encourages to ask, seek and knock. He says we will receive. Paul encourages us to bring all our requests to God. It promises we will receive peace from God. The Lord’s prayer encourages us to honour God, pray for His will on earth, to supply our needs, to forgive us and keep us on track.

Practice bring our requests to God…

Right now, I want to give you a minute or so to bring your petitions to God. Quietly in your heart lift your petitions to God.

Point 3 – Intercession

Intercession is the prayer of one person for another. There are so many occasions in the Bible where one person prays for another or a one person prays for a group of people.

Often when I hear of a need I will pray. I will lift the person up to God. Examples are Denise’s recent shoulder surgery and recovery, or praying for our church members or their family. At other times, God places someone on my heart, that He wants me to pray for. An example is my friend who had cancer surgery. God woke me up in the night to pray for him for three hours. I later heard in those three hours he was rushed back in to surgery at that time.

Examples of intercession in the Bible…

Exodus 32:11-14 – But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “O LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?  12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people.  13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.'”  14 Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

Philippians 1:9-11  And this is my prayer [The Apostle Paul]: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,  10  so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ,  11  filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.

James 5:14-16 – Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.  15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.  16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

So intercessory prayer is a theme right throughout the Bible. God wants us to intercede for others and lift them up to Him, in the same way Christ intercedes for us (Hebrews 7:24). We saw Jesus’ prayer for His followers last week in John 17.

Practice bringing your prayers of intercession to God…

Right now, I want to give you a minute or so to bring your intercession to God. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring people or circumstances to your mind and then pray.

Point 4 – Listening to God’s voice

Hearing God’s voice is another common theme in the Bible. God wants to speak, we need to take time to listen and tune our ears in to His voice. Think of the prophets of the Old Testament who heard from God and spoke on His behalf to the people. Often the things they said turned people back to God. Think of Moses who spoke with God on the mountain and brought the Commandments. In John 10:27 Jesus reminds us that, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

1 Samuel 3:1-10 – The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.  2 One-night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place.  3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.  4 Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.”  5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So, he went and lay down.  6 Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”  7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.  8 The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy.  9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'” So, Samuel went and lay down in his place.  10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Bible scholars tell us that from that moment on Samuel heard God’s voice for the rest of his days. Where he worked for God as a prophet, leader or a judge, he always was tuned in to God’s voice.

I find it interesting that Samuel is one of seven people in the Bible who God speaks to and uses their name twice in calling them. Bible scholars tell us this is a sign of real affection. God says “Abraham, Abraham” in Genesis 22:11-13, Jacob, Jacob in Genesis 46:1-4, Moses, Moses in Exodus 3:1-10, Samuel, Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:1-10, Martha, Martha in Luke 10:38-42, Simon, Simon in Luke 22:31-32, Saul, Saul in Acts 9.

So, God wants to talk to us. He wants to get our attention and He wants us to walk with Him in that intimacy.

Practice listening to God…

Right now, I want to give you a minute or so to tune in to God. Allow Him to speak to you by His Holy Spirit. Just listen and see what He says. It might be something He wants you to do, something He wants to say, a Bible passage He wants you to read, a person He wants you to pray for. The key is being open.


Today we looked at a practical way to pray. We looked at a number of passages where people gave thanks to God, people took their requests to God, people lifted up others to God and people tuned in to hear God’s voice.

The four key words for today are…

  1. Praise
  2. Petition
  3. Intercession
  4. Listen

All are key aspects of prayer.