PRAYER SEMINAR

"Revitalizing Your Prayer Life"


Advocates

In Prayer


 

 

 

Session 3: "Qualities of an Intercessor: The Heart That Prays"

Introduction

A.  The saga of redemption reveals Godís quest for the heart.

1.  Jesus first showed us the heart of God.

a.  It is a heart that seeks and saves us. (Lk. 19:10)

b.  It is a heart that woos and wins us. (1 Jn. 4:19; Rom. 5:7-8)

c.  It is a heart that fills and floods us. (1 Jn. 3:1; Jn. 1:16; Jn. 7:38-39)

2.  Jesus ministry aimed at reclaiming the hearts of men.

a.  He exposes our hearts.

(1)  He found hard hearts in his own disciples. (Mk. 8:17)

(2)  He found rigid hearts in the Scribes and Pharisees. (Lk. 11:42)

(3)  He found burdened hearts in the crowds who came to Him. (Mt. 9:36)

b.  He enlightens our hearts.

(1)  He turns our minds from darkness to light in conversion. (2 Cor. 4:4; Acts 26:18)

(2)  He floods our hearts with light in Christian development. (Eph. 1:18)

c.  He restores our hearts.

(1)  He circumcises our hearts. (Dt. 30:6; Philip. 3:3)

(2)  He cleanses and renews our hearts. (Ezek. 36:25-27; Eph. 5:25,26)

(3)  He writes His laws upon our hearts. (Jer. 31:31-34; Rom. 10:5-10)

3.  A heart reclaimed by Jesus is a heart revitalized.

a.  It is a heart that worships. (Jn. 4:24)

b.  It is a heart that prays. (Jer. 29:13; Heb. 11:6)

B.  This teaching focuses on four characterisitics of a heart that prays.

1.  It is an abiding heart.

2.  It is a humble heart.

3.  It is a thankful heart.

4.  It is a zealous heart.

Body of Teaching

I.  The heart that prays is an abiding heart

A.  Abiding in Christ is all about connecting with Godís plan.

1.  Our connection with Christ is the source of our life.

a.  Apart from Him we are impotent. (Jn. 15:5b)

b.  Apart from Him we wither and die. (Jn. 15:6)

2.  Our connection with Christ is the key to our identity.

a.  We ARE the branches joined with the Vine. (Jn. 15:5a)

b.  We ARE the Body of Christ joined to the Head. (Col. 1:18; 1 Cor. 12:12- 13)

3.  Our connection with Christ is the means to fruitfulness.

a.  We draw upon His Spirit to produce the fruit of His nature. (Gal. 5:22)

b.  We depend upon His Spirit for the fruit of effective ministry. (Col. 1:29)

4.  Our connection with Christ is the invitation to partnership.

a.  We are no longer servants limited to our indentured niche.  (Jn. 15:15a)

b.  We are friends who have ownership in the work of the kingdom.  (Jn. 15:15b)

B.  Abiding in Christ enables effective prayer.

1.  To abide in Christ is to connect with God.

a.  It is a vital connection demonstrated through a life of love: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." (Jn. 15:9)

b.  It is a vital connection demonstrated through a life of obedience: "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Fatherís commands and remain in his love." (Jn. 15:10)

c.  A LIFE OF LOVE AND OBEDIENCE MAKES US TRUSTWORTHY TO GOD.

2.  The life of abiding enables the prayer of abiding.

a.  Godís order: Calling . . . Fruitfulness . . . Answered prayer: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit -- fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name." (Jn. 15:16)

b.  Abiding in Christ guarantees answered prayer: "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you." (Jn. 15:7)

C.  Rees Howells learns the power of the prayer of abiding.

-- Norman Grubb, Rees Howells: Interesssor (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: Christian Literature Crusade, 1952), pp. 66-69.

1.  He was given a challenge to pray for the conversion of some drunken women.

2.  He was given a prayer assignment by God to pray the ringleader of these women into the kingdom by Christmas Day.

3.  He was given the condition of praying only and not using personal influence to reach her.

4.  He was given a method of prayer by which to reach her, and it was to be through the prayer of abiding.

5.  He was given a process to submit to in which he would go through the cyle of conviction, repentance, and consistent obedience as God put his finger on areas in his life that needed purging.

6.  He was given assurances six weeks into the process that his abiding was complete, the Enemy was defeated, and the woman would now make a move.

7.  He was given victory as the woman began coming to the meetings that night and, six weeks later, gave her heart to the Lord on Christmas Day.

D.  A personal experience in the power of the prayer of abiding.

1.  I experienced an infilling of the Holy Spirit at a mid-week service.

2.  I noticed an abiding presence of the Spirit when I returned home.

3.  My mother entered the room asking me to pray for her "splitting headache."

4.  The Spirit nudged me to lay hands and pray silently for her without speaking aloud and interrupting the quietude in abiding.

5.  The headache instantly disappeared upon completing the prayer.

II. The heart that prays is a humble heart.

A.  Prayer itself is an exercise in humility

1.  God specifies humility as a condition for answered prayer.

a.  "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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chron. 7:14)

b.  "Humble yourselves, therefore, under Godís mighty hand,that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Pet. 5:6)

2.  The Lordís Prayer models prayer as humility and self-denial.

a.  We enter through worship and not with a focus on self.

b.  We petition for Godís kingdom and will rather than our own.

c.  We ask for our daily bread instead of assuming we are self-made people.

d.  We forgive our debtors in prayer rather asserting our "rights" against them.

e.  We plead for deliverance from temptation instead of being self-gratifying.

f.  We close with a doxology of praise that focuses on God instead of self.

B.  The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican makes humility the passport to grace. (Lk. 18:10-14)

1.  One was confident of his righteousness and one of his sinfulness.

2.  One stook up and one stood off.

3.  One looked in and one looked down.

4.  One beat his drum and the other beat his breast.

5.  One compared himself with others and one with God.

6.  One exalted himself and one humbled himself.

7.  One went home self-satisfied and one went home justified.

C.  Christian prayer blends humility with confidence.

1.  Humility in prayer recognizes and submits to the grace of God.

a.  Grace is the gift of God. (Eph. 2:8-9)

b.  Humility is the passport to grace. (Jam. 4:6)

2.  Confidence in prayer receives and appropriates the grace of God.

a.  Confidence characterizes our approach in prayer. (Eph. 3:12)

b.  Confidence characterizes our petition in prayer. (Heb. 4:16)

D.  YWAM missionaries learn the power of humility in prayer for evangelistic effectiveness.

-- Charisma, 600 Rhinehart Road, Lake Mary Florida, 32746. Copyright April 1990, Strange Communications Company, pp. 47-48.

1.  John Dawson and a YWAM delegation target Cordoba, Argentina in 1978 to evangelize at the world soccer finals.

2.  Dawson and company encountered indifference from the sports enthusiasts.

3.  The YWAM missionaries withdrew for a day to pray for guidance.

4.  The Lord revealed a demonic principality of pride over Cordoba that needed to be countered by Christian humility.

5.  The group advanced on the central shopping mall, scattered, knelt with their faces to the cobblestones, and prayed for a revelation of Jesus to the city.

6.  The stronghold was broken, people gathered to hear, the indifference was ousted, and repentance and tears flowed as many came to Christ.

III.  The heart that prays is a thankful heart.

A.  Thanksgiving is the climax and seal of prayer.

1.  We come to God as a child coming to his father.

2.  We base the petitions of our prayers upon the promises of God.

3.  We expects answers to our prayers and thank God for them.

4.  NOTE: Thanksgiving in prayer becomes the channel of blessing.

B.  Thanksgiving is associated with watchful prayer. (Col. 4:2)

1.  Paulís exhortation to the Colossians demonstrates this.

a.  The word "devote" is from a Greek root meaning "to be strong."

b.  To be watchful and thankful in prayer strengthens oneís prayer life.

2.  There is a vital connection between watchfulness and thanksgiving.

a.  We observe this in the analogy of a child on a joy ride.

(1)  Watchful: His senses are tuned to the sights and sounds around him.

(2)  Thankful: He is happy to be along for the ride.

b.  We observe this in the analogy of a soldier on a battlefield.

(1)  Watchful: His senses are tuned to the enemyís presence and tactics.

(2)  Thankful: He is appreciative of the military intelligence that safeguards him.

3.  Watchfulness and thanksgiving in prayer assure victory in prayer.

a.  Watchfulness in prayer results in evangelistic fruitulness.

(1)  Believers perceive the enemyís tactics against the spread of the gospel.

(2)  Believers pray effectively for an open door for the gospel.

b.  Thankfulness in prayer anticipates breakthrough and results.

(1)  God WILL open a door for the message.

(2)  The gospel WILL be clearly proclaimed.

C.  Thanksgiving is associated with petitionary prayer. (Philip. 4:6-7)

1.  Petionary prayers are prayers of relinquishment.

a.  We are not making requests of God but giving our requests to God.

b.  We are not telling our problems to Him but casting our cares upon Him.

2.  Prayers of relinquishment result in thanksgiving.

a.  They allay anxiety by focusing from our problems onto the Lord.

b.  They release anxiety so that Godís peace guards the heart and mind.

3.  The basis for relinquishment and peace is "Christ Jesus" -- the focus of our thanksgiving. (See verse 7b.)

a.  In Scripture, this is demonstrated logically.

(1)  Every good and perfect gift comes from God. (Jam. 1:17)

(2)  Our sins have separated us from God. (Isa. 29:2)

(3)  Jesus Christ has reconciled us to God. (Rom. 5:10)

(4)  Through Jesusí grace, we receive every good gift. (Jn. 1:16)

(5)  Therefore, Jesus is the focus of our thanksgiving. (1 Thess. 5:15)

b.  In Scripture, this is demonstrated sacramentally.

(1)  In the NIV, the gospels use "thanks" and "thanksgiving" sixteen times.

(a)  Six are of Jesus giving thanks over the bread and wine of communion.

(b)  Eight are of Jesus blessing the loaves and fishes to feed the hungry crowds.

(c)  One is of Jesus breaking bread with the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. 

(d)  One is of Anna giving thanks for Jesus in acknowledging his messiahship.

(2)  These references to thanksgiving are all in the context of prayer.

(a)  Jesus gave thanks in prayer for that which symbolizes the true bread of life.

(b)  Anna gave thanks in prayer for Him who is the bread of life.

D.  Thanksgiving is the key to answered prayer. (Psa. 50:2)

1.  It honors God.

2.  It prepares the way for God.

3.  It ushers in the power and presence of God.

a.  Thanksgiving for what God has done beckons him to do more of the same.

b.  Thanksgiving for what God has done embraces what he will do.

c.  He will show us salvation: peace, wholeness, harmony, and blessing.

E.  Merlin Carothers shows us how thanksgiving ushers in Godís blessing.

-- Merlin R. Carothers, Power in Praise (Escondido, California: Merlin R. Carothers, 1972), pp. 7-8.

1.  First, he lays the biblical basis for thanksgiving.

a.  God works our good through every circumstance of life. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Rom. 8:28)

b.  We should be thankful in every circumstance of life. "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thess. 5:16-17)

2.  Carothers relates how thanksgiving in prayer restored a womanís self-esteem and her marriage.

a.  Emotional traumas crushed her self-esteem, led her to become gluttonous, and resulted in her husband filing divorce.

b.  Growing depression and mounting unpaid bills led to thoughts of suicide.

c.  A light dawned when a friend gave her a copy of Merlin Carotherís book Prison to Praise which enabled her to see God at work in every circumstance of her life.

d.  She prayed, "God, I thank You that my life is just as it is. Every problem I have has been your gift to bring me to the place where I am right now. You wouldnít have permitted any of these things to happen if you hadnít known that it was best for me. God, you realy do love me! I mean it, God, I know you do love me."

e.  Upon finishing the prayer, the mailman arrived with a letter from her husband expressing a desire and willingness to see their marriage restored.

f.  Her self-esteem was healed, her marriage restored, and she began a weight loss program and achieved an ideal weight.

3.  Carothers relates how thanksgiving in prayer delivered a daughter from insanity.

-- Merlin R. Carothers, Power in Praise (Escondido, California: Merlin R. Carothers, 1972), pp. 3-4.

a.  The girl in question had been in an insane asylum and was considered by the medical staff as hopelessly insane.

b.  Her parents were enlightened by Carotherís teaching to see how God uses thanksgiving to turn lifeís challenges into blessings.

c.  They saw that their prayers had been to no avail as they were despairing prayers and not thankful ones.

d.  They thanked God for the entire situation and expressed faith in Godís wisdom and love for them and their daughter.

e.  They received a phone call from the asylum that their daughter was remarkable improved, and she was out of the hospital in two weeks.

f.  A year later she was married, expecting a baby, and described by her brother as "the happiest girl in the world."

IV. The heart that prays is a zealous heart.

A.  It is zealous to uphold the honor of God in a world of compromise.

1.  Jesus was zealous for the house of God. (Jn. 2:13-17; Mt. 21:13; Psa. 69:9)

a.  He saw the Temple made into a market place.

b.  He drove the marketers from the Temple.

c.  He declared the Temple a house of prayer and not a den of robbers.

2.  Moses was zealous for the honor of God. (Exod. 32:7-29)

a.  He interceded before God to uphold Godís honor.

b.  He broke the tables, burned the idol, scattered the debris upon the water, and made the people drink it.

c.  He called for a decision: "Whoever is for the Lord, come to me."

d.  He commanded that the idolaters be slaughtered.

3.  Phinehas was zealous for the honor of God. (Num. 25:1-13)

a.  Israel succombed to sexual immorality and idolatry with Moabites.

b.  Moses called for the slaughter of the Israelite men involved in this sin.

c.  An Israelite man brought a Moabite woman to his tent in full view of the Tent of Meeting.

d.  Phinehas entered the tent and drove a spear through both of them.

e.  Godís anger abated because Phinehas was zealous for his honor.

f.  Godís made a coventant of peace and of a lasting priesthood with him.

4.  Ezekiel was filled with Godís anger against idolatrous Israel. (Ezek. 3:10-17)

a.  Ezekiel was commissioned to warn obstinate Israel of the penalty of sin.

b.  The Spirit took him in bitterness and anger of spirit to Tel Abib.

c.  He sat there for seven days overwhelmed.

d.  God made him a watchman to warn Israel of her sins and Godís jugdment.

5.  Peter released Annanias and Saphira to the judgment of God.  (Acts 4:32-5:11)

a.  The Jerusalem church shared everything in common in Christian love.

b.  Annanias and Sapphira pretended to do so but held back some of their income.

c.  Peter countered that Satan had prompted them to lie to Godís Spirit.

d.  Peter spoke judgment that led to their death.

6.  Paul turned an incestuous man over to Satan. (1 Cor. 5:1-8)

a.  Paul reproved the Corinthians for boasting about an incestuous relationship.

b.  Paul pronounced judgment for handing him over to Satan.

c.  Paulís zeal was directed at destruction of his body for the salvation of his spirit.

d.  Paul called for separation from worldliness using the imagery of bread without yeast.

B.  It is zealous to extend the reign of God in a world of idolatry.

1.  Jesus on the heart of prayer: "Come, Your kingdom! Be done, Your will!" (This is a more accurate rendering of Matthew 6:10.)

2.  David Wells on the nature of prayer: "What . . . is the nature of petitionary prayer? It is, in essence, rebellion -- rebellion against the world in its fallenness, the absolute and undying refusal to accept as normal what is pervasively abnormal. It is, in this its negative aspect, the refusal of every agenda, every scheme, every interpretation that is at odds with the norm as originally established by God."

-- Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, eds., "Prayer: Rebelling Against the Status Quo," in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Revised Edition. (Pasadena, California: William Carey Library, 1992), p. A-145.

C.  It is zealous to deliver the people of God in a world of oppression.

1.  It is to unhold His honor that God delivers His people. (Psa. 79:9)

2.  His deliverance is not just from spiritual oppression but also from human oppressors. (Psalm 7:1,2)

D.  Dick Eastmanís zeal in prayer for the liberation of political hostages.

-- Dick Eastman, Love on its Knees (Toronto, Carlilse, Grand Rapids, Sydney, Johannesburg: Global Christian Publishers, 1978), pp. 35-37.

1.  Terrorists in Holland were holding Dutch grade school students hostage.

2.  The terrorists declared their intention to execute one per day if their demands not met.

3.  Eastman prayed daily for their safe release as a matter of discipline in prayer.

4.  The terrorists became more demanding and no change for the better was evident.

5.  Eastmanís intercession was intensified as God gave him a supernatural zeal.

a.  Eastman saw a vision of the children in living color.

b.  He saw the faces of his two young daughters among the children.

c.  He experienced intensity of prayer he had never experienced before.

d.  He began demanding the terrorists let the children go.

e.  He found himself pounding his fist to his palm and pointing and shaking his finger at the terrorists in the vision.

f.  His emotions ran the gamut of demanding, crying, shouting, and trembling and then he felt the breakthrough and victory were given. Intercession was complete.

6.  The breakthrough comes.

a.  That night, the news was on during the family dinner time.

b.  Walter Cronkite announced good news of three children released.

c.  Eastman began crying and prayed silently: "Jesus, I didnít ask for three children, I asked for all of them to be released. And that was a prayer born of your Spirit."

d.  With a burst of boldness, he sharply pounded the table and said, "And I claim the miracle now!" (Both he and his family were startled as it just seemed to rise out of him.)

e.  Local CBS affiliate interrupted the broadcast with these words: "We interrupt this broadcast to bring you an update on the hostage crisis in Holland. The report given by Mr. Cronkite was recorded earlier for West Coast viewing and is incomplete. All 153 children were freed early this morning."

Conclusion

A.  Effective prayer issues from a heart surrendered to God.

B.  The heart that prays is an abiding, humble, thankful, and zealous heart.

C.  These qualities of heart produce a prayer life that releases fruitfulness, draws upon Godís grace, receives Godís blessings, and upholds Godís honor.

 

 

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