Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Purpose of Prayer

The Purpose of Prayer
Oct 18, 2010
Ecc 5:2 "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few."

God, despite being intangible, gives us a way to contact Him, to communicate with Him. It is called prayer. He gives us the opportunity to have a relationship with Him through an open line of communication. God established prayer from the very beginning, long before Jesus walked the earth. He wanted His children to know He was and is listening. This is probably one of the most generous things He has done for us, yet we don't utilize it properly; we are ineffective in our use of prayer. God gives us the wonderful tool of prayer, but seldom do we use or even grasp its full potential. Our prayer lives do not reflect what God truly intended them to be.

Go back to the Garden of Eden. God's original love was to physically BE with His children. Adam and Eve got to physically walk with God, to spend time with Him. They were able to communicate and share their hearts with each other. It was an intimate relationship, benefiting all parties, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Since the fall of man, God does not physically walk with us, but established prayer as a means to keep that closeness alive. The fall of man, though, makes that closeness difficult, as there seems to be further distance between us and God, much more distance than Adam and Eve had. That distance, a result of our sin, makes the relationship far more difficult, where even the greatest of men could not stand in God's presence, unable to look upon His face.

For this reason, the writer of Ecclesiastes said, "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few." The writer, King David's son, Solomon, understood the purpose of prayer and was clearly aware of the humble nature of man in his relationship to God as a result of sin. But Solomon's words create a dichotomy in the Bible because in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul writes that we should "pray without ceasing." Solomon, the beloved of God, tells us to keep our mouths shut, but Paul, the appointed apostle to the Gentiles, tells us to pray non-stop. This creates confusion; does the New Testament trump the Old Testament writings?

The New Testament actually offers another verse, adding to the dichotomy of Paul's advice to pray non-stop. It reads, "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." This seems to reinforce what Solomon said about keeping our mouths shut. And these specific words were spoken by Jesus Himself. Jesus instructs us to keep our words few. These three verses, telling us to keep our words few but pray non-stop lead us to an understanding of the true purpose of prayer. Review those last few lines from Jesus' instructions, ". . . your Father knows what you need before you ask him." Jesus was saying that God already knows what's in your heart. For Adam and Eve, the relationship was set up so BOTH parties could know the other's heart, for true intimacy. But since God already knows your heart (and what's in it), the purpose of prayer for us is to know the heart of the Father. The purpose of prayer is to truly know and understand God's heart.

It has been said that you have two ears and only one mouth, suggesting you should listen twice as much as you speak. This should be true in your relationship with God. You are to be in a constant state of prayer, but not talking. You are to listen to God. So often, we go into our prayer time, tell God everything there is to know, and then go on about our daily lives. That is NOT what God intended for prayer. He wants you to go into a time of prayer with Him, but LISTEN instead of talk. You can't know the heart of God if you don't give Him the chance to get a word in edgewise. Listen very intently, because He is a gentleman; He doesn't yell and won't talk over you. Pray non-stop, just don't say much, if anything at all! You'll find that knowing His heart is far better than telling Him what's on your mind.

1. What does your prayer life look like?
2. How often do you come out of prayer knowing the heart of God?
3. How can you listen instead of talk, in an effort to hear from God's heart?

Don't take my word for it; look it up: 1 Kings 19:11-13, Matt 6:5-15, Romans 8:27, 1 Thess 5:17, James 1:19

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