Bible Faith Fellowship: Substance Over Form

Foundations of Prayer

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Barry Johnson

Foundations of Prayer Foundations of Prayer

Date 2009-12-06
Series Season of Preparation
Sub-series  
Document (PDF) BFF-20091206-FoundationsOfPrayer.pdf

Foundations of Prayer

Call to Worship

The call to worship is II Chronicles 7:14:

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

[A message to the Church ("My People") with a divine promise ("I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land"), subject to conditions precedent ("if . . . (they) will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways."]

Message

We are in a War of Holiness that covers the Universe, our whole world, our nation, our community and our very lives. This is a war of Evil against Good. It is that simple. In this War of Holiness, we are in a Season of Preparation for that which is to come, for the future. And we are called to a Solemn Assembly in that Preparation. We will have an extended service next Sunday, Dec. 13, here at BFF+, with a covered dish feast afterwards, in the Name of the Lord.

The Members of BFF+ are encouraged to seek God (Deut 9:29) for instruction in a form of fasting suitable to God and each individual for the time, or times, between now and the Assembly next Sunday. And then each Member is called to enter into such fasting, to be broken in our feast next Sunday.

In addition to fasting, God wants us to be preparing this week for the Solemn Assembly in other ways, primarily in Prayer. This is because God wants our attention, He wants to communicate with us, and for us to communicate to Him, to prepare us individually for the Solemn Assembly, and to prepare us, as individuals, to contribute to the greater unity in the body, by sharing words from the Holy Spirit during the Solemn Assembly. The foundation of this whole process is Prayer, and that is why we call today's message, "Foundations of Prayer."

The concept of Prayer is an interesting one. Somewhat like Professor Smith in his Bible Dictionary, I think of Prayer in these five ways:

  • First of all, because nowhere in Holy Scripture is there any word of explanation of the reason for prayer, but the fact of prayer is dealt with just as a fact, like day or night.
  • Second, Prayer is the free expression of the wants and concerns of the soul of a man to God, the Father, expressing thanksgiving and praise, and asking benefits and interceding for benefits for others.
  • Third, Faith is touched and strengthened by Prayer.
  • Fourth, Prayer is an expression and an application of Faith.
  • Fifth, Prayer is an indication of the spiritual condition of the soul, with Prayer being to the soul what breath is to the body.

I see that Prayer is an opportunity to sit at the breakfast or dinner table with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. What a meal! It is an opportunity to talk and to listen and to learn. At table, we forge relationships, because we are focused on the company of the table. And we learn of the past, and the present. We share not just the food of the table but the hearts of our table companions. We learn of the lessons of the past, the snakes in the woodpile, and how to avoid them and when necessary, how to deal with them. We learn the big things that the others at the table will share with us about their lives, and often times, but no less interestingly, of the little things. This always gives us insight into the future.

When Kerry and I were first dating, she lived in Florida and I lived up here. On several occasions, I went to see her, and took her to lunch at a restaurant and we stayed until they closed the restaurant late at night, talking and learning about each other right through lunch, afternoon snacks, dinner, and dessert – all at the same restaurant, the same table, the same company at table – just Kerry and me – as we learned about each other and began to develop a vision for God's plans in the future for us. And we grew in trust and love and commitment.

Prayer is much like that. Prayer is just communication. That is both ways: talking and listening. Now there is a difference: God is not going to learn from us, but we are going to learn from Him. Part of what we learn in Prayer, and in Holy Scripture, is that God created us to be in relationship with Him and He will not reject those who seek earnestly to be in relationship with Him. Matthew 7:7: ". . . seek, and you will find . . . ."; Amos 5:4: "For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: Seek Me and live."; Deuteronomy 4:24-29: " . . . (Prophecy of the Dispersion) . . . . But from there (places of idolatry) you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul."

And God understands us, and understands our past already. He does not need an ice-breaker with us or to ask us about our past and present. He already knows all that. He only wants us to talk about that in order that we acknowledge the sins of our past and present in openness, transparency and honesty. He is not interested in our excuses and whining – only in our honesty, and in that honesty, in our taking responsibility for our past and present. He knows about our sin nature; He knows about generational curses and sins; He knows about strongholds; He knows about deceptions, and blind spots and deaf hears and hard hearts; He knows about temptations. He knows all those things, and He knows how all those things have written the history of our lives, through the decisions and choices we have made.

In Jesus we have a sympathizer because He, too, was tempted by Satan, and knows the places where the human flesh and the human emotions and the human will are weak, or blind or deaf and subject to deception and sin. That is why it is written in Hebrews 4:15-16, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in every time of need."

We needed a door-keeper, an ice-breaker, to get us to God, the Father, and that ice-breaker is Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, the mediator between God and man, the one who came to destroy the works of the devil. And He continues to intercede constantly for us saints at the right hand of God the Father.

And, when, through the work of the Holy Spirit, we have met Jesus as our Saviour, and He has broken the ice, and opened the door to God, out of Grace and Mercy, and as we have declared our faith in Him and His Name, and have repented from evil and set ourselves to a life of sanctification, and purification and holiness, then, the Holy Spirit moves in us afresh, to help us grow up in maturity in Jesus Christ.

First the Holy Spirit moved to convict us in regards to "sin, and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:7-8); and second, he moved, and moves, to guide us even further "into all truth" (John 16:13).

Now, let's put these pieces together: all sin is idolatry, and when we come to God, earnestly seeking Him, we are coming out of sin, which is idolatry, and asking His forgiveness anew, and asking for His provision and we are interceding for others. (See Romans 14:23b, "for everything that is not of faith is sin." All sin places something else in priority ahead of God, and that is the very definition of idolatry.

Hence, Jesus explained to us how to ". . . come boldly to the throne of grace . . . ." (Hebrews 4:15), which is, in fact, prayer (and it is coming to table with God), in Matthew 6:9-13, "In this manner, therefore, pray:

  1. 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.'
  2. Give us this day our daily bread.
  3. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
  4. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
  5. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
  6. Amen.'"

As we put together these passages of Holy Scripture, we see that the Lord's Prayer, and it's structure for prayer, is in the plural as to mankind (Give "us"; forgive "us", deliver "us", etc.). Thus, there is a cry of intercession there that applies not just to us but to others.

And this brings us back squarely to II Chronicles 7:14, and the purpose of our Solemn Assembly. In I Chronicles 16:10-12, we seek the connection that seeking God's face is itself prayer, that that is what prayer really is, trying to get close, or draw near to, God (See James 4:8.): (I Chronicles 16:10-12, "Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face evermore!"

Let's talk about Face, as in Seeking His Face: Professor Smith, in his Bible Dictionary, describes Face as "The most peculiarly indicative part of the human figure. The face is the presence; to stand before the face is to stand in the presence. The face is also the favor -- as the prince's face or favor. To turn away from the face is to deny a favor."

To meet the condition of II Chronicles 7:14 to "seek (His) face," we need to understand that we are to come into God's presence, in the Spirit, into His throne room. There, we are to do what? We are to do what one does in the presence of God, as explained in Lamentations 2:19, "Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children, who faint from hunger at the head of every street. See, O Lord, and consider! To whom have You done this? Should the women eat their offspring, the children they have cuddled? Should the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord?"

That is what the Solemn Assembly is all about: We want God to heal our land so it will not (see Leviticus 20:22), "vomit (us) out," because of the sins of the nation, corporately. So, for Solemn Assembly, we have to seek His face, get into His presence "boldly" and "pour out our hearts like water before His face."

The Lord's prayer is the model for all Christian prayers. Thus, in that model, we should pour out our hearts like water before His face.

You know, as Scripture tells us in several place, out of the fullness of a man's heart doth he speak. And we know, 1 Samuel 16:7 and others, that God looks at the hearts of man. So, when we pour out our hearts like water, it is all going to come out, all the fullness of our hearts. In calling us to Solemn Assembly, God asks us in preparation for the Solemn Assimbly:

  • I Corinthians 6:20, "For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's."
  • II Corinthians 7:1, "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
  • Galations 6:4, "Let each one examine his own work . . . ."
  • Given the demonic forces, fast (Matthew 17:21)
  • Ephesians 6:18, ". . . praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. . . ."

God will be looking at our hearts during the times before, during, and after our Solemn Assembly. Get your hearts ready, to come and sit at table in communion with God, ready to pour out your hearts before Him, and to hear from Him as to what we need to do in –

  • humbling ourselves
  • praying
  • seeking His face
  • interceding
  • preparing for the seasons and days to come for us individually, for this nation, for His people, and for the earth.

God bless you all+