For the next six weeks, we will be looking at prayer and its importance in our lives. Pastor Miles kicked off this sermon series with story of a child with a bubble wand, blowing bubbles as he walked through the park.
As he blew his little bubbles in the air, bigger bubbles came back, all different colors, following him and popping on him. As this happened, the bubbles affected him in many positive ways. So the boy did this more and more and wanted to have his bubble wand with wherever he was - at school, at home, on the playground, on vacation, etc.
So it is with prayer. When we pray, we send our bubbles up to God. In return, God wants to us you answers to our prayers and information about our lives, our hearts, and our relationships. Many times we pray to God, but we don't wait for Him to answer.
Matthew 6:9, Jesus teaches us how to pray, beginning, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name..." This is not necessarily something that we should repeat over and over, but rather a model for how we should structure our prayers.
1. Prayer is faith-based communication with God. Revelation 8
Prayer is an act of faith. When you pray, you acknowledge that you believe God is there, that He can do for you what you can't do, that you trust Him.
Communication is the exchange of ideas or information. That means it's two-way! Your "bubbles" go up to God, and God's "bubbles" come down to you. It's important to wait for Him; what He has to say to you is a lot more important and definitive than what you have to say to him!
Prayer is an act of faith. When you pray, you acknowledge that you believe God is there, that He can do for you what you can't do, that you trust Him. He understands all of this about your heart as soon as He hears your voice. He receives it and wants to respond.
2. Through prayer, God gives us information and insight. Jeremiah 33:3
In Jeremiah 33:3, God tells us to come to Him so that He can reveal things to us. When you pray, you should come with an expectant heart, ready to hear God's wisdom and understanding.
May my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word. Psalm 119:169
Be ready for anything! You may be seeking a specific answer in a specific way, but God may want to show you something entirely different. He's not going to do what you want, your way. He will do what you need, His way.
3. Through prayer, God shapes our hearts and character. Psalm 51:10, Romans 12:1-2
God wants you to share your shortcomings with Him, to admit when you act wrongly or have dark feelings in your heart. He already knows, but if you don't admit your sin, you will continue as you were and He can't clean it out and heal you.
Don't get accustomed to your junk and choose to live in hiding. As you pray, expose your anger, your jealousy, and your temptations to God and allow Him to deal with them. Ask God to remove your sin!
As you pray, expose your anger, your jealousy, and your temptations to God and allow Him to deal with them. Ask God to remove your sin!
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
Just as God can cleanse your heart of sin, He can mold and shape you, freeing you to act differently than you have in the past. God can change you, little by little. Ask Him to shape you and make you more like Him. If you pray openly to God, ready for His changes, His "bubbles" will come down, planting new desires in your heart.
4. Through prayer, God expresses His power. James 5:16
Power is the ability, the authority, and the freedom to do.
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.. James 5:16b-17
Elijah prayed fervently and desired to please God, and miraculous power came down as a result. The Bible clearly tells us that Elijah's nature was like ours so that he was just a person like us. We have access to this same power, for our God is the same God! God expresses His power when we seek Him wholeheartedly and fervently.