Unadorned PrayerSeries: A Constant Sense
Pt.#11 – A Constant Sense
Sermon Outline By Terry Siverd
Cortland Church of Christ / October 04, 2015
Our Seven Sundays In Sunday School is underway.
Over the 36 weeks in 2015 leading us to our Seven Sundays campaign, our weekly SS average has been 35.
After three Sundays in our current attendance drive, we’re averaging 41.
Last year we posted a weekly average of 42 during this span of seven Sundays.
I feel confident that we can top last year’s average, but we’re going to need your participation.
A few weeks ago, I referenced a chapter from Randy Harris’ book, Soul Work.
In this chapter Randy borrows from Mark Thibodeaux to write about, “FOUR WAYS OF PRAYING”.
This morning I want to revisit these by speaking about three of these four ways of praying.
Then I want to conclude with one final very important insight about “unadorned prayer”.
We have a luncheon to follow our sermon + a meeting of our Fall Fest planning group + a L2L prep session.
So, I am aiming to be a little bit briefer than normal this morning.
(1) SAYING OUR PRAYERS
This is what we do when we are youngsters and even sometimes when we are still babes in Christ.
This is ROTE praying. Note “wrote”, as in written - - but “rote” as in memorized.
This kind of praying essentially parrots what we have heard from others.
God is great, God is good, now we thank Him for our food ... Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
Mike Cope is a friend of ours from our days together at Harding University - - we were classmates & fraternity brothers.
When Mike Cope preaches he usually begins by praying, “Lord pour through me the gift of preaching.”
One of the preschoolers in one church where he preached for many years, was praying over a hamburger lunch.
Can you guess how he prayed? “God, pour through me the gift of preaching.”
He was simply (genuinely & innocently) mimicking what he had heard so many times.
There is a childlike quality about this kind of praying that we hopefully will never fully outgrow.
This is especially true when it comes to PRAYING SCRIPTURE.
To Him be the glory in the church, forever and even, Amen (Eph.3:21).
Surely God is pleased when we echo the very words He has given to us.
The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want . . . Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Some of us may not know quite where to begin in our personal prayer life.
This is a good place to start - - pray what you have heard other mature disciples.
It is always a good thing to “pray the Scriptures”.
The Old Testament book of Psalms was both the hymnal and the book of prayers of the early saints.
(2) CONVERSATIONAL PRAYER
As we grow, we often outgrow the words of others and it becomes natural for us to say things to God on our own.
This kind of prayer reminds us that it is important to speak to God from the overflow of our heart.
When we pray this way it is a kind of unfiltered and unadorned praying that flows out from our soul.
In private, it is just us and God, and we are invited to pray to God from the realities of our life.
Whatever comes to mind, we’re eager to talk to God. Our prayers need not be formal.
Peter urges us to cast all our anxieties upon Him, because He cares for us (1Pet.5:7).
I read this “ALL our anxieties/care” as being open-ended - - there is nothing we can’t talk to God about.
Some pray this way when walking or jogging. I do this when I’m riding my lawn mower.
Burdette prays this way when he’s working in his garden.
(3) LISTENING TO GOD
We’re not alluding to something mystical or way out there with this point.
This kind of praying is reflected in the song, “I come to the garden alone…and He walks with and He talks with me…”
There is a vivid contrast of two different kinds of praying that is juxtaposed in Scripture.
In one episode from the life of Elijah, he is on Mount Carmel.
Read from 1Kgs.18:25-29.
This crying out to (a false) god was a common practice of the pagans.
In the book of Habakkuk (Hab.2:19-20) the Word of God provides a strong and perhaps unexpected exhortation.
Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’ To a dumb stone, ‘Arise!’
And that is your teacher? Behold it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all inside.
BUT, the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.
There is a great benefit to PRAYING WITH A LISTENING EAR.
We are encouraging this when we sing Ps.46:10 4 Be still (cease striving) and know that I am God.
Concerning this point, Randy Harris writes (Soul Work, pg.127):
“God doesn’t in those moments of silence, stand at my shoulder and speak in my ear what I should do.
But I do believe that if we take a listening stance towards God, He will guide us into deeper relationship and wisdom.”
Scripture comes alive when we cultivate a listening posture.
A shortcoming that many of us have is that we’re prone to interrogate the Bible rather than vice versa:
What we most need to do is to allow the Scriptures to interrogate us.
If we listen as we pray the Scriptures (the Word of God) will speak to us quite clearly.
The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged scalpel, and piercing as far as the division
of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the intentions of the heart. And there is no creature
hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with who we have to do. (Heb.4:12-13).
When we hide (store up) the words of God in our hearts and minds, they will work to transform us.
Truly serious praying must always be open to listening to what God has revealed in The Word.
As most of you know, I think the titles given to sermons are important.
When I title my sermon, rather than just slapping on a title from the first idea that comes to mind,
I think about it a few days. First of all, I want the title to help in capturing your attention.
Secondly, I want the title to encapsulate what I trying to emphasize in the sermon.
So what do we mean by UNADORNED PRAYER?
Sometimes when we approach the subject of praying we tend to make it too complicated.
We should not pray the way we think we should, we should pray the way we can.
This is particularly true of private prayer.
When I speak of unadorned prayer, I mean prayer without make-up…prayer without fussiness and much ado.
I’m not meaning to imply that we should approach God in a trite manner without due respect and reverence.
One of the central revelations of the New Testament is that as Christians we are God’s children.
Behind this declaration is an awareness of the fact that GOD IS OUR FATHER.
While the fatherhood of God is spoken of sparingly in the Old Testament
(primarily in an anticipatory way), it comes to take center stage in the New Testament.
Under the Old Covenant stern warnings were issued about the danger of approaching God in the wrong way.
Under the New Covenant, God remains THE HOLY ONE, but a change has been wrought.
We are all urged to “draw near to God and He will draw near to us” (Js.4:8).
Even more, as God’s children, we now have “boldness and confident access through faith in (Christ)” / Eph.3:12.
Heb.4:16 reiterates this point: “Let us draw near with confidence to the throne
of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need”.
The intimacy of our relationship with God has been enlarged and enhanced by the redemption we’ve secured in Christ.
Jesus invites us to pray to God as “OUR FATHER”.
In the garden, He prayed, “ABBA, FATHER” (Mk.14:36).
Whatever we might conclude about the meaning of the word, “Abba”, it surely implies intimacy.
And this privilege of calling God “Abba” is not something that was uniquely reserved for Jesus.
It is our privilege as well. Listen to the words of Gal.4:6 - -
“Because you are SONS, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
Even those who had an earthly father who fell far short of the ideal - - even those - -
recognize the beauty of a father/child relationship - - how rich and abundant and intimate it can be.
So my closing exhortation is simply this - - in your private prayer life don’t get hung up on the mechanics.
The truth is that “Your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him” (Mt.6:8).
When we pray we are not just approaching the throne of the Almighty God, we are speaking to OUR FATHER.
When we pray we’re not being graded for our oratorical skills or our loquacity (eloquence), this is our
loving Father that we are speaking to and He is surely smiling ear to ear to know that we want to talk to Him.
So, let’s not get bogged down and stressed out about the “how tos” of praying to God.
And because God knows what we need before we ask, Paul assures us that the Spirit of God
“helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should”, but God’s Spirit
“intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Ro.8:26 - - cf. 1Jn.2:1).