"... the joy of the LORD is your strength." (Neh. 8:10)
A. Prayer has an Intimate and Special Relationship to God's House.
1. A Church is a Sacred Place, set apart from all secular uses, for the Worship of God.
2. The House of God is Not a Common or Mundane Place, It is a place Set Apart For Worship.
3. Prayer shall be Pre-eminent in the House of God.
a. When you Sidetrack, Minify, or give prayer a Secondary Place, you Pervert the Church of God and make it something Less Than It Was Ordained To Be.
b. When A Church Ceases To Be A House of Prayer, It Ceases To Be A House of God.
God's House Is a House of Prayer. ! ! !
B. There is Nothing Wrong with Christian Entertainment, Amusements, and Social Gatherings.
1. However, they should be done Outside of the church Services.
2. Everything about the Services of the local New Testament Assembly is Spiritual and should Center around the Lord Jesus Christ."
C. God's House is where God Meets With His people in a Special Way.
1. I Realize and Understand that the Body of a Christian is the Temple of God and that the Holy Spirit Indwells him.
1 Cor. 3:16, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" --- 6:19, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"
Romans 8:8-9, "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
2. However, there is a Special Sense of the Presence of the Holy Spirit when we are Assembled Together To Worship God.
3. Matt. 18:20, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
4. As God Has Made Special Promise To Meet His People There --- It Is Our Duty To Go There For That Specific Purpose.
5. Prayer is the One Distinguishing Mark of the House of God.
D. The House of God is a Holy Place for United Worship.
1. The Prayer Closet is for Individual prayer.
2. The House of God is for Mutual and United prayer.
3. Yet, even in the House of God there is Private Worship since God's people are to worship Him and pray to Him, Personally.
E. The Life, Power, and Glory of a Church is Prayer.
1. The life of It's Members is dependent on prayer.
2. The Presence of God is secured and retained by prayer.
3. Without prayer, the Church is Powerless and Lifeless --- a Body Without A Spirit --- God Himself Is A Stranger There.
Very Much Like The Church of The Laodiceans!
4. Though it may be Costly and very Beautiful, without prayer the Sanctuary is Nothing more than any other structure.
5. Prayer converts even the bricks and mortar and lumber into a Sanctuary, a Holy of Holies, where the Shekinah Glory dwells.
F. Prayer should be the Foundation of Everything that is Undertaken In The Church.
1. The church is the place for making Praying People out of Prayerless People
2. The Church is God's Divine Workshop or Schoolhouse where His people Learn To Pray.
Now Let's Notice "The Life of Prayer"
I. Many Christians Grow Comfortable In The Routine of Christian Living.
A. Their Christian life is little more than the "Habitual Practice of The Faith" and the "Repetition of Christian Routine."
Whereas it should be a "Daily Active Dependence Upon God" --- the "Regular Experience of His Provisions" --- the "Grasping After More of The Lord, His Power, His Nearness."
B. Many Christians are tempted to "Live By Sight Instead of By Spiritual Might" --- Because:
1. The Routines of life have become Well Established.
2. The Blessings of the Lord, so it seems, come in Adequate Measure Whether One Prays or Not.
C. We, as Christians, must be called back to:
1. An Active Dependence upon the Lord,
2. A Real Communion of Faith, Hope and Love,
3. A Personal Engagement with the Lord Himself in the Dept of Our Souls.
D. However, Nothing Short of Tragedy and Pain and the Deepest Need will Force us Out of our Comfort Zone.
II. Prayer Is The Means By Which Active Dependence Upon The Lord, Personal Engagement With Him Day By Day, Hour By Hour, And Moment By Moment, Is Practiced In The Christian's Walk With God.
A. Most of us Accept Our Convictions As The True Measure of Our Faith --- the Bible Warns Us Not to do that.
1. The Devil Believes all that and Trembles.
2. The Real Issue is whether those convictions are turned into a Life of True Prayer --- not merely the outward Act of prayer:
But, True Engagement With The Lord --- Speaking with Him person to person.
B. The Life of a Church, like the life of an Individual Christian, is Measured By Prayer.
The Amount of it --- The Fervency of it --- The Expectation that accompanies it.
C. Most of The Lord's Churches Are In A Comfort Zone --- Having Sunk Into The Rut of Dutiful Routine.
1. Paying their Bills is no longer a continual concern.
2. Good Work is being done and Supported by the church.
3. There is true Unity in the body.
4. There is general Faithfulness on the part of the people.
5. There is a Commitment To Obedience.
D. There is Not A Hard Seeking After God --- a Living Sense that God is about to do Many Wonderful Things.
1. There is Not Even A Sense of Real Dependence Upon The Lord.
2. Prayer has fallen On Hard Times --- Prayer Meetings are Disappearing rapidly.
3. We don't need to look at the church as a whole --- Our Own Individual Situation reveals the same condition.
E. We experience a great deal of Difficulty in Sustaining Fervor, Earnestness and a sense of Urgency in our Prayers --- We All Suffer From:
1. Too much Sight and too little Faith,
2. Too much Dutiful action and too little real counting on and Looking to the Lord,
3. Too much Assuming and too little Pleading,
4. Too much Conviction and too little Practice of those convictions.
F. There is a Great Tension between the Greatness of Prayer and our Aversion to it and our tendency to Despise it.
1. Lloyd Jones --- "Everything We Do In The Christian Life Is Easier Than Prayer."
2. Alexander Whyte --- "There Is Nothing That We Are So Bad At All Our Days As Prayer."
3. John Newton --- "I find in my own case an Unaccountable Backwardness To Pray. I can read, I can write, I can converse with a ready will, but Secret Prayer Is Far More Spiritual than any of these. And the more spiritual a duty is the more My Carnal Heart Is Apt To Start Away From It."
4. Thomas Shepard --- "There Are Times In My Life When I Would Rather Die Than Pray."
5. Lloyd Jones --- "The Ultimate Test of The Christian Life Is The Amount of Time We Give To Prayer."
G. To begin our prayer with a petition to Hallow God's Name and Not to practice Holiness In Our Own Life is Not Sincere.
1. Matt. 6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
a. To seek first the kingdom of God does not mean to build our kingdom on this earth, but rather --- Luke 17:21, "... behold, the kingdom of God is within you."
b. To seek first "His Righteousness" does Not Mean To Defend God's Righteousness but rather to seek to Make "His Righteousness" Our Own.
Rom. 6:13, "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God."
1 Tim. 6:11, "But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."
1 John 3:10, "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother."
2. The prayer of the Vindictive for forgiveness is Mockery.
3. To Begin the day with Prayer is but a Formality unless it results in Deeds through the day.
Prayer Is The Day's Best Beginning, But It Must Not Be Like The Beautiful Title Page of A Worthless Book.
4. Likewise, Without A Foundation of Prayer, our beliefs and obedience will Lack For Strength to walk with God and serve Him faithfully.
H. When our life on this earth is over and we Face The Lord In Judgment, there is Nothing That Will Be More Important to us then than that we have been Men And Women of Prayer --- that we have Walked With God.
III. The Devil's Lie --- "Prayer Is Only One Aspect of Our Christian Life And If We Are Not Particularly Faithful At This, We Can Make It Up With Faithfulness Elsewhere.
A. We are always Tempted to Consider anything, Turn to anything, Count On anything Before Prayer.
B. Alexander Whyte wrote: "... If Prayer Is Anything At All It Is Everything."
1. At the very Beginning of The Bible, true faith and true religion is described as "Calling On The Name of The Lord" (Gen. 4:26).
2. At the very End of The Bible, the Saints in heaven are represented as Still At Prayer, pleading "how long, O Lord, how long ..?" (Rev. 6:10)
3. All In Between, there is Much Praying and Calling On The Name of The Lord.
a. Hannah was woman of prayer.
b. David refers to himself as a man of prayer.
c. Moses was often at prayer.
d. Psalms is a collection of prayers.
e. Jesus, Himself, was supremely a man of prayer.
C. The Absence of Blessings is the results of a Lack of Prayer.
James 4:2, "... ye have not, because ye ask not."
D. Five Encouragement's To Pray:
1. Our Need
Heb. 4:16, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
2. God's Commandments
1 Thess. 5:17, "Pray without ceasing."
Luke 18:1, "And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;"
3. God's Goodness
Rom. 8:31-32, "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"
4. The Promise of God
Matt. 18:19, "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."
Luke 11:9, "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."
Phil. 4:6-7, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
5. Examples of How God Richly Blessed Those Who Called Upon Him:
(Abraham --- Moses --- Hannah --- David --- Solomon --- Jeremiah --- Paul --- Etc.)
There Is No Second Chance After Death!
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