We’re beginning today, as we start the new year, our 8 days of prayer as a church. But why the emphasis on 8 days of prayer?
And maybe the better question is:
Why Pray as God’s People? Isn’t God in control? Doesn’t God already know all about our needs? So why pray?
Photo by: Trevor Cameron (Creative Commons)
Title: Why Pray – Luke 18:1-8
Speaker: Kevin A. Pierpont, Higgins Lake Baptist Church
- And why do we pray together in each of our worship services?
- Why have prayer meetings, like we do each Wednesday night?
- Why take time for undistracted moments of prayer with our spouses?
- Why should we pray with our children at home?
- Why pray with our siblings.
- Why pray with our grand children?
- Why pray with our friends?
- Why pray with our neighbors?
- Why preach on prayer?
- Why should we pray as God’s People?
In answer to those questions – and we may have asked them ourselves at one time or another – let’s go to God’s Word. We’re going to begin in Luke 18.
I want to give you three reasons why we should pray. There are many other reasons, but these I think are the big three.
- First, we are commanded to pray.
- Second, Jesus prayed.
- And third, the early church prayed.
Here’s the first reason we’re to pray. One of the clearest answers to those questions about why we should pray I, think, is found in a simple statement by Luke about a parable Jesus told to His disciples.
1. We are commanded to pray.
18:1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
The greatest reason for prayer is this, as God’s people, we are commanded to pray. Luke points to it in verse 1.
18:1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
And then in verses 7 and 8 we hear Jesus’ words,
7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.
Why pray? Because as believers we are commanded to pray. And God answers prayer. But it’s not only here.
Repeatedly in God’s Word believers are commanded to pray. How could we not mention 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – but here it is in the context of verse 16 and 18.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Constant rejoicing, constant praying and constant thankfulness. That alone is interesting and I think we may back to that in a future study. But here’s the point. God’s command to His children is that they pray. We hear it elsewhere in Scripture as well.
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Colossians 4:2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Ephesians 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
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. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
In the words of the Psalmist, Psalm 55:17:
17 Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he hears my voice.
So why pray? Because we are commanded to pray. And when we pray God listens, He hears and fundamentally that means He answers our prayers. Just as we see here in Luke 18:7-8.
But that’s not the only reason.
2. We also have the example of Jesus.
Jesus prayed. And our lives are to follow His example.
S. Lewis Johnson speaks of Jesus’ habit of prayer, saying:
Although he is earth’s sovereign and divine soul, he prayed. … If Jesus Christ who was very god, a very god as well as very man, a very man should pray, then, of course, I should expect to pray also. … Jesus Christ who is, …the sovereign and divine soul of earth, prayed. (The Necessity of Prayer)
Yes, it was Jesus’ habit to pray. And Mark says of Jesus,
Mark 1:35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
Matthew 14:19 shows us that Jesus also prayed over His meal.
19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.
We also see in Luke 9:28, Jesus going up with Peter, John and James to a mountain to pray.
28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray.
And in Luke 5:15-16 it says this,
Luke 5:15 But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
Think of it will you? The one of whom Colossians 1:15-20 speaks:
Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation (15). And He prayed.
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him (16). And yet He prayed.
And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together (17). And yet, He prayed.
And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent (18). And yet, He prayed.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (19). And yet, He prayed.
Jesus prayed before meals prayed, He prayed with others and he prayed alone. Now if Jesus found it necessary to pray, then how much more should we find that we need to pray?
3. We also have the example of the early church.
The early church saw clearly their need of prayer, so they prayed.
Acts 1:14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Speaking of the early believers in Jerusalem,
Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Speaking of the Apostles,
Acts 6:4 “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
And again, speaking of the early believers, Acts 4:23-31 shows them praying, after Peter and John were warned about preaching the name of Christ.
23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’ –
27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
So here are the early believers praying together to God for boldness and God answers their prayers.
Now, are we any less in need of boldness to live and witness and preach the Gospel than the earliest believers were? No, we desperately need God’s power working in us and through us as we serve Him for His glory. We cannot serve Him without His power, nor without His answers to our prayers. So we pray.
This week, during our eight days of prayer, many of you have already made commitments to pray for one another and for the ministry in which God has joined us. Yet some of you have not. Will you commit yourself now, before we leave this service today, to a period of prayer each day, starting today and continuing into next Sunday?
Will you pray with us this week, just as Jesus prayed, not my will be done, but thy will be done?