-for Casey Ingold’s Sermon, May 27th, 2012, Covenant Baptist Church
When God’s People Pray Pt. II
What is the purpose of prayer?
Today Casey brought what for many of us, was new insight into the purpose of prayer. God knows us completely. He knows our thoughts and our motives – everything about us. [Psalm 139] We see that manifested in the life of Jesus as well. For example, Matthew 9:4 says that Jesus knew the thoughts of the scribes who accused Him of blasphemy.
“Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord, “And not a God far off?”
“Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?” declares the Lord.
“Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.
God is everywhere, sees everything, and knows everything. So why does He want us to pray? Why does He want us to make our requests known to Him? As Casey pointed out, real prayer is all about our relationship with the Father. We pray so we can grow closer to God as we experience Him responding to our prayers. Just as any good earthly relationship must be based on communication and fellowship, so to our relationship with God can only happen as we pour out our hearts to Him in prayer and listen and watch for His interaction with us.
When we pray, we can pour our heart out to a loving Father, who hears our prayer. He wants us to tell Him everything, not for His sake but for ours. As we unload all our cares and concerns on Him, we can experience the peace that surpasses all understanding. [Philippians 4:6-7] We can sit in silence before Him, listening for Him to speak to our hearts.
Read and meditate on the passages below. How do the attitudes of the writers express the idea of sharing everything with God?
In 2 kings 19, we see Hezekiah the king of the Jewish nation, threatened by Sennacherib, the king of Assyria. Sennacherib taunted the Jews and reproach the Lord. The Assyrians had already conquered several other nations and their gods. In a letter, he warned Hezekiah not to “let your God in whom you trust deceive you saying, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’” Hezekiah’s prayer to God is an honest cry for help in a hopeless situation. He spread out the letter before God and prayed –
O Lord, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and listen to the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. Truly, O Lord, the king of Assyria have devastated the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. So they have destroyed them. Now, O Lord our God, I pray, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, O Lord, are God. [2 Kings 19:15-19]
When he finished praying, Isaiah the prophet said, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Because you have prayed to Me about Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard you.”” [2 Kings 19:20] Isaiah goes on to explain why and how God will protect Israel and destroy the Assyrians, which He did. [Read the rest of 2 Kings 19] Here we see an example of open, honest, and sincere prayer. Hezekiah did not try to tell God how to deliver them. He simply prayed for deliverance. And notice his motivation for asking was so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, O Lord, are God.
Called into Fellowship
God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. [1 Corinthians 1:9]
What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. [1 John 1:3]
“Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” [John 17:24]
God has called us into fellowship with Himself. He is the creator of the universe, with it’s billions of galaxies, each filled with billions of stars. This God, who is beyond our comprehension, wants to have fellowship with us. He has created us in His image, with the ability to interact with Himself. Prayer is our way of doing that.