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Prayer Promises


According to a recent news article, a young woman sent and received 6,473 text messages in a single month. That works out to 216 texts per day, 13.5 per waking hour.

Actually, since we see so many people on their phones virtually nonstop just about everywhere we go, I doubt that is a record, but when asked about her constant contact with friends, she is reported to have said, “I would die without the communication.”

I doubt that without her texting she would physically die, but the amount of texting is amazing. It is estimated that worldwide, there are over 350 billion text messages sent each month.

That is a lot of communicating, which brings up a spiritual question. Are there that many prayers spoken each month?

A way that can be done will be shared later in this message, but for now, let’s consider some Bible verses that teach us to pray frequently. We will do that right after I quickly review some promises presented in a message a few weeks ago, that message also on prayer.

In that message, the challenge was given that we who are God’s people - we who are Christians - are to pray. But it is not just for the sake of being obedient that we are taught to pray. There are rewards promised to those who pray. God not only hears the prayers of His people. He answers their prayers. Jesus will give those who pray mercy, grace, and help in time of need. And the Holy Spirit promises to intercede for those who pray, helping us if we do not know what to pray or how to pray about any issue.

The challenge in that recent message was that we need, individually and as a congregation, to be saturated in prayer.

That was also the challenge in the recent Pastor’s Class. The first week we talked about spiritual growth and prayer. The second week we talked about serving others and prayer. The third week we talked about the armor of God and prayer. The week we talked about baptism, communion, and foot washing, we ended the class with prayer.

Praying is important. It is what we who are Christians are to do, not only to please God, but also so we can be blessed by God.

It is prayer we are concentrating on in this message, looking at three Bible passages that teach some things about prayer.

The first is a single verse. In fact, in the Revised Standard Version, it is just two words. I Thessalonians 5:17. Say it with me please. “Pray constantly.”

Those two words are in the midst of quite a few instructions for the members of the church in the city of Thessalonica. The instructions apply to us as well, and to other groups of Christians.

For instance, respect the leaders of the church. That sounds good to me. That instruction is followed very well by this congregation.

Be at peace with other believers. That, too, describes this congregation.

We are to admonish, encourage, help, and be patient with those who are struggling with their faith. We are to rejoice and give thanks, doing so in all situations. We are to test everything to make sure what is said and done - even by the leaders - is true and right. We are hold fast to what is good and abstain from what is evil.

Right near the center of all those things are the two words. Words that will make obeying all the rest possible. Say it again. “Pray constantly.”

What do we suppose that means. We of course are not going to walk around 24/7 with our eyes closed and our heads bowed, talking only to God. That is not even practical. So what does Paul, the author of those two words, mean?

How about this? Remember the comment earlier that we ought to pray as often as some people send text messages. Remember I said that a way that can be done would be shared in this message. Here is a suggestion that comes from a man who is a missionary in the Philippines. He uses what he calls a habit of shooting prayers at people he comes across each day, in that way staying in constant communication with God. 

We can do that.

We see lots of people each day - fellow students, co-workers, neighbors, servers at restaurants, clerks in stores, mail deliverers, fellow drivers. We may not talk to all the people we see. We may not know if they have any particular need. But we can pray for them to meet or stay close to the Lord.We can shoot prayers to God about each other in this congregation. In many cases we know the  needs of each other. Even if we do not know, we still can pray for each other.

And listen to what the Philippine missionary adds. Not only does he pray for others. He listens for what God says to him, including any directions God gives him about helping those he shoots with prayers.

Pray constantly. That is what Paul wrote to the Christians in the city of Thessalonica, which applies to us as well. Always be in an attitude of prayer, praying for those we know and those we meet, always listening for God’s direction if He deems it appropriate or possible for us to help.

There are of course other things to pray about constantly. In the recent Pastor’s Class, one of the lessons on prayer gave the challenge to include in our prayers our adoration of God, expressing our joy about who He is and thanking Him for what He does for us, confessions of things we do wrong and asking for His forgiveness, expressing our willingness to depend on Him, then asking Him for the things we need.

There is much to pray about. There is much to include in our prayers, some of it centered on God, some of it about ourselves, some of it concerning people in general. In the next two passages, there are specific ones for whom we are to pray.

Ephesians 6:18. Another one-verse passage for this message. A verse that begins with the challenge to - say it with me - “pray at all times,” using the intercession of the Holy Spirit to help. The verse continues - say it - “pray and supplicate.”

I did a bit of study on supplication. It means to humbly submit our requests to God, but there is more to it. It is praying with the hope God will mold our thinking, our opinions, and our emotions to be in line with His thinking, opinions, and emotions. The request is that we will be molded to be what He wants us to be so our desires will become His desires, the end result being not that we will get what we think we want, but that we will want what God wants.

Pray at all times in the Spirit. “At all times” means when we are in crisis mode and when we are having good times. In every situation we are to pray. Pray all the time in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. 

We are to keep alert in our praying. That means that when we pray, we are to concentrate on what we are doing.

We are to persevere in our praying, doing so for people in general. That was mentioned when we discussed I Thessalonians 5:17. Now we are instructed to pray specifically - say it - “for all the saints,” saints defined as those who accept Jesus as Savior.

For what should we pray concerning saints? And notice the word is supplicate. Our desire should be the same as God’s desire for His people - for all His people. For what should we pray? 

A hint is in the next verse. Paul asked for prayers for himself that he would have opportunities to preach for Jesus, that he would be given the courage to preach boldly, that his bold preaching would be about Jesus.

That suggests we pray for Christian leaders - preachers and teachers - to be effective ambassadors of Jesus.

But also pray for all the saints. For all Christians. We can pray we will all grow in the Christian faith, holding true to Jesus even in the day-to-day experiences of life - in how we spend time and how we spend money.

It can be so easy to let life pass by. We are not to do that. We are to grow spiritually ourselves. We are to help other Christians grow. That is what we are to pray at all times.

We are to pray for all the saints. According to I Timothy 2, there is another group of people singled out as needing prayers.

In verse 1 of I Timothy 2, prayers are encouraged for - say it - all men. For all people. Interestingly, different types of praying are listed. 

Supplications. Remember that we hope to pray through the eyes and the heart of God so we will ask what is pleasing to Him. When we pray for all people, that includes that those who have not accepted Jesus as Savior will do so. That is certainly in tune with God’s will.

Prayers. That refers to talking with God about things only God can satisfy, such as spiritual strength, spiritual forgiveness, spiritual confidence in help now and Heaven later.

Intercessions. That can also be translated “petitions,” which in ancient times meant to enter into the presence of a king and submit a request to him on behalf of someone else. Spiritually, it means to enter into the presence of God and personally speak up for someone else. Speak up in asking for help for that someone else.

Thanksgivings. Our prayers are to include thanking God. Thanking Him for His answers to our prayers and thanking Him in general for all the good things He gives us.

Supplicate, pray, intercede, and give thanks for all men. For all people. That is in verse 1 of I Timothy 2, but listen to verse 2, where a specific group is mentioned. Say it with me. “For kings and all who are in high positions.”

Do our leaders - our worldly, governmental leaders - need our prayers? Of course they do. No matter what party they are or whether they are U.S. leaders or leaders of other countries, those in high positions need our prayers. We need to pray that they will seek the Lord’s will and have the courage to carry out the Lord’s will.

Why? So that we might “lead a quiet and peaceable life.” So that we might keep the freedom to openly be godly and respectful.

And listen. Let it never be said any leader is not worthy of our prayers. At the time these verses were written, the Roman Emperor was very cruel. His cruelty included persecuting Christians. It might have been expected the teaching would be to condemn the Emperor. But no. Prayers are to be spoken for all who are in high positions. As verse 3 proclaims, “This is good. It is acceptable in the sight of God.”

Pray constantly. That is what we who are Christians are to do. May we always be in the attitude of prayer, always ready to praise God and ask for His direction.

Pray - supplicate - for all the saints. Pray for other believers. Pray specifically for them, including that they will stay true to the Lord.

Pray also for kings and all who are in high positions, including thanking God for the times our leaders do things that promote peace and opportunities to be openly godly.

Pray. Pray. Pray.

Two stories. Both have to do with the close relationship we can have with God - with the Lord - when we pray.

A woman asked her pastor to visit their home and pray with her ailing father.

When the pastor arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed. Seeing the chair, the pastor assumed the man had been informed of his visit and said, “I guess you were expecting me.”

“No,” the man answered. “Who are you?”

“I am your daughter’s pastor. When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up.”

“Oh, yes, the chair. Would you mind closing the door?” the man asked.

The pastor shut the door. The man said, “I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter, but all my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it always went right over my head. I abandoned any attempt at prayer until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, ‘Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here is what I suggest. Sit down on a chair, place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It is not spooky because Jesus promised to be with us always. Then just speak to Him and listen in the same way you are doing with me right now.’”

Joe said, “I tried it and I have liked it so much I do it a couple of hours every day. I am careful, though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she would either have a nervous breakdown or send me to the funny farm.”

The pastor was moved by the story and encouraged Joe to continue on the journey. He then prayed before returning to the church.

Two nights later, the daughter called to tell the pastor her dad had died that afternoon.

“Did he seem to die in peace?” the pastor asked.

“Yes,” was the answer. The daughter explained that when she had left the house around two o'clock, her dad had called her to his bedside, told her one of his corny jokes, and kissed her on the cheek. When she had returned from the store an hour later, she found her dad dead.

“But,” the daughter added, “there was something strange. Beyond strange. It was weird. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on a chair beside the bed.”

Strange? Not at all. Joe was with his friend.

And then there was little Melinda. Her favorite story was The Three Little Pigs, which she asked her mom or dad to read every single night before bed.

The parents gladly obliged, but after several months, her father, getting pretty weary of the same story night after night after night, got a brilliant idea. He recorded the story on tape and told his daughter to simply press “Play” before jumping under the covers.

It seemed like a great idea to the father. However, Melinda wanted no part of the machine.

But, honey,” the father said, “you can still hear the story.”

She replied, “Yes, but I can’t cuddle with the machine.”

Let’s make our story with Jesus something special. That can happen when we pray. When we pray constantly to praise Him and ask for His help for us and for all saints and for kings and all others in high positions. 

And let’s make it a personal thing. We cannot cuddle with Him or rest our heads on His lap physically, but we can be that close to Him spiritually. Let’s make that our continuing goal.

The closing song is I Must Tell Jesus. It is a song that reminds us of the need to pray constantly for all people. Since this is to be a joint venture, let’s change the words “I” and “me” to “we,” “us,” and “our.” We Must Tell Jesus, verses 1, 2, and 4.

We must tell Jesus all of our trials,

We cannot bear our burdens alone;

In our distress He kindly will help us,

He always loves and cares for His own.

We must tell Jesus! We must tell Jesus!

We cannot bear our burdens alone;

We must tell Jesus! We must tell Jesus!

Jesus can help us, Jesus alone.

We must tell Jesus all of our troubles,

He is a kind, compassionate friend;

If we but ask Him, He will deliver,

Make of our troubles quickly an end.

We must tell Jesus! We must tell Jesus!

We cannot bear our burdens alone;

We must tell Jesus! We must tell Jesus!

Jesus can help us, Jesus alone.

O how the world of evil allures us!

O how our hearts are tempted to sin!

We must tell Jesus, and He will help us

Over the word the victory to win.

We must tell Jesus! We must tell Jesus!

We cannot bear our burdens alone;

We must tell Jesus! We must tell Jesus!

Jesus can help us, Jesus alone.

As mentioned at the beginning of today’s message, texting is a very popular thing to do. Around the world, billions of texts are sent each month. 

Let’s be as eager to communicate with God. Let’s be examples for others of the wonder of praying. Let’s pray constantly, including for each other and for our leaders. Amen.

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