We are going to focus tonight on Jesus’ prayer in John 17 to help us learn better how we should pray. First, we see that Jesus’ prayer is focused, not so much on Himself, but on how He may glorify God in doing the work God has given Him. In verse 1 Jesus says, “Father, the hour has come, glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you”. As He prays for Himself, He prays that what He does would reflect back and bring glory to God. During Jesus’ time on earth, in all that He did, His purpose was to bring glory to God. We see this in verse 4, “I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work that You gave Me to do”. So, I think one thing we can learn from this is that when we pray for ourselves, thinking of all we have to do, that we pray that God will help us to do everything in such a way as glorifies Him. The chief end of man is to glorify God so should this not be a part of our prayers? We pray for help to do the job; we should pray that our work will bring glory to Him.
Second, in Jesus’ prayer, we see that He prays for His disciples – for the church, for God’s people. In verse 15 Jesus asks, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one”. In praying for God’s people, Jesus’ concern was for their spiritual well-being, specifically that they would be kept from the evil one, from Satan who goes around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he can destroy. Further on, in verse 17, He prays, “Sanctify them in the truth, Your word is truth”. So, not only does He ask that God protect them, but to sanctify them, to set them apart. What is one of the means that God uses to set us apart from the world? God’s Word, which gives us direction and insight how we can interact with others around us without compromising and conforming to the world. When we pray we should ask that God protect us from evil, and keep us from temptation to sin. Also, we can ask God to sanctify us by His Word, which we are hopefully reading every day. We can ask Him to apply the Word preached each Sunday to our lives.
It is important to note that Jesus prays, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world” (verse 15). We are here for a reason; He has placed us here to do His will. Jesus could have taken His children with Him when He returned to Heaven. He left us here. We need wisdom how to live in this world, bringing good to those around us and glory to God. We should pray for a proper balance: we are not to be isolated from the world, yet set apart from it. I like the way the hymn puts it: “I ask thee for the daily strength, to none that ask denied.” Also, we pray for “a mind to blend with outward life while keeping at thy side. Content to fill a little space if thou be glorified.” Our goal in everything we do is to bring glory to God.
Third, in verse 20 Jesus prays, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word”. He is praying for the lost; that should be a part of our prayers as well. One of the reasons why God’s people remain in the world is
1 Thes 5:14-18
Why give thanks? The simplest answer, from this? text, is because God commands us. It is a Christian’s duty, but that’s not all God says. He graciously gives us reasons to encourage us and motivate us to give thanks. Psalm 107, “it is good to give thanks” – why? It gets our eyes off ourselves and onto God, our sustainer, creator and protector. From a spiritual standpoint giving thanks promotes humility, forcing us to realize our dependence on God.
As Christians we can give thanks because He is not only our Creator but our Savior. Think of all the blessings we have because we are Christians: forgiveness of sin and peace with God. The very concept of grace reminds us of our indebtedness.
Psalm 69:30 gives us perhaps the most important reason to give thanks. “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving.” We magnify God through thanksgiving. That’s why proud people don’t give thanks to God. We would rather magnify ourselves. Dr. Piper says, “At the root of all ingratitude is the love of one’s own greatness. Man loves his own glory and prizes his own self-sufficiency. He hates to think of himself as sin-sick and helpless. As long as that is the case, we will never feel gratitude to God.”
Thanks giving functions like a telescope, which takes something large and helps us see it better. Thanks giving helps us see how big God is. Think of all the attributes of God that come into focus when we thank God. We thank God for His omniscience, His omnipresence, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, mercy, grace. All of these can encourage us to give thanks to Him.
1 Timothy 2: 1-8
Tonight, we are paying particular attention to two specific words in this passage: all and every. They are adjectives that help inform how we ought to pray for the world and others. These are the same words used in John 3:16, used in this passage again and again. How do we pray for unbelievers? Do we pray, believing that Christ wants all to be saved? This phrase in verse 4 is striking, “Who desires all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.” For us to think this way, that God wants us to pray for all people, because He desires that all come to the knowledge of the truth. He desires that all be saved.
We often have so many excuses not to pray for everyone we know who need to be saved. We might not say it aloud, but we think they are too sinful, or we’ve prayed for them so long with no fruit or they are extremely dedicated to another religion; they don’t want to talk about salvation. Maybe we’ve tried talking to them before, but it ends up hurting the relationship. So, we give up praying but we’ve forgotten that every person saved is a miracle. We are a miracle. When we think about our own salvation pride may creep in. Truth is, we are no different from the people God has placed around us who are not yet saved. We need to pray for a miracle.
When we pray for the government, we may think it would be great if some of our elected leaders were saved but doubt it will ever happen. So, we don’t pray because we think it is unlikely to happen. Or perhaps we get to know our neighbors – do we pray for them? Or those we have worked with for many years – we know their character. Maybe they are humanistic and do not care about spiritual things. So, we think, why waste my time praying for them? The Lord’s commandment is that we pray for them because His heart’s desire is that they be saved.
This same idea is found in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness.” Peter is telling the church the reason why the final judgment is put off is Jesus’ patience. He really wants people to be saved. The verse continues, “He is patient toward you. Not willing that any should perish but that all should reach repentance.” That means our friends and family, the spouses who have come to church and ridiculed us, the children who were a part of the church but want nothing to do with true faith, and our enemies.
This is a specific command to pray for those who need Christ because God desires that all be saved and come to a knowledge of a truth. This should encourage us; perhaps it reveals a lack of faith regarding those for whom we do not pray. By faith, we can come boldly and pray for the lost because God’s heart is that none should perish.
The last five Psalms begin with a note of praise. Give me five ‘P’ words that should shape our prayers. #1 Praise – we can argue this from the Lord’s Prayer. It begins with God’s greatness and holiness; also, the last five psalms all begin with praise. We could argue this is a good way to begin our prayers. We can focus on God’s attributes – His grace or mercy, goodness or love. #2 Pardon, or penitence – daily we are to ask for God’s forgiveness. This is a staple we find in the Lord’s Prayer. We are sinners, saved sinners, but still sinners. John Newton said, “I thank God I am not what I once was. But I am not what I desire to be.” In this life, we never will. We will always have a holy discontent with respect to our spiritual state. We can always grow in holiness. #3 Protection – The Lord’s Prayers asks, lead us not into temptation, protect us from the Evil One. We are asking God to protect us by His gracious providence. #4 Provision – even if Adam never sinned we are dependent on God. The Lord’s Prayer petitions God, Give us this day our daily bread. #5 People – we pray corporately for others. The Lord’s Prayer is not an individual prayer, “Our Father”, but a corporate prayer. We are to be intercessory pray-ers. We are to pray for other believers and for unsaved people: Thy kingdom come.
Our prayers should be evangelistic. We pray for unsaved relatives, co-workers. Before sharing the Gospel, we pray that God would help them hear what we have to say. How can we pray for the unsaved? Here are some suggestions. They need new hearts, so we can pray that God would circumcise their hearts. We can pray that God would break the dominion of sin, that God would open their blind eyes. We can pray that God will give them repentance and faith. We can pray that they will see their sin and seek God’s grace. We can also pray for ourselves, that we will have opportunity to talk with them evangelistically. Pray that we might be light and salt, that others will see our good works, praise Jesus and even ask for the hope within us.
Psalm 139: 1-18 Four Doctrines to Shape Our Prayer Life
Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones said a lot about prayer. I quoted him last Sunday, “What a man is on his knees, that he is and nothing more.” He called prayer the noblest of activities and believed the best posture for prayer was on our knees because it cultivates in our minds and hearts a submissive spirit. He had four great doctrines which he believed should shape our prayer life. First, the doctrine of God. Second, the doctrine of the Trinity. Third, the atonement. Fourth, adoption.
Let’s look at the first one, the doctrine of God. Think of some places in the Bible we might go to meditate on the doctrine of God, so we don’t fall into the trap of shrinking God. I think it was Dr. Packer who suggested we are God-shrinkers. What are some places that help us remember how great our God is?
Job 38-41 – God’s response to Job;
Isaiah 40 – where many great things are compared to God;
Genesis 1:1 – He’s from everlasting;
Exodus 4 – a display of God’s power;
Psalm 139 – reminds us of God’s omnipresence and omniscience; a study of Jesus’ miracles in the Gospels;
Romans 9 & 10 – God is sovereign.
We should remember how great our God is when we go to prayer, remember that there is nothing He cannot do. No one can stay His hand, there is no obstacle he cannot overcome. Let’s remember who God is when we come to prayer.