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Grace Bible Church

Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries

The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary.

The Tree of Life for week ending 07/22/01.

The Doctrine of Prayer.

In our study of Philippians Chapter 4 we saw the corrected translation of verse 5, "Let your supergrace mental attitude be known to all men. The Lord is near."  We noted that this refers to the intimacy and the nearness of the Lord to the mature believer who has gone on to a deeper relationship with the Lord.  To demonstrate the results of having this intimacy and this nearness of the Lord, in PHI 4:6-7, a couple of techniques are mentioned.  The first is the faith-rest technique and the second is prayer. 

PHI 4:6 "Stop worrying about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."

"But" is the Greek conjunction alla, it is an adversative conjunction that expresses opposition or an antithesis.  Here it sets up a strong contrast between worry and the function of the faith-rest technique involved in prayer. 

"In everything" is the preposition en plus the adjective panti which means in every circumstance, this is referring to going forward into no man's land, the advance of a supergrace believer to ultra-supergrace.  Of course it also has application in any phase of our spiritual life. 

The next phrase in PHI 4:6 is "by prayer and supplication" and this combines the definite article te with two nouns.  The first is translated prayer, "proseuche" pros means face to face, seuche means to pray, here it refers to prayer as a result of growing up spiritually and as the function of royalty.  The second noun is translated supplication, it is the Greek noun deesei which emphasizes the mechanics of prayer involving entreaty or petition for specific and special or personal needs.  In this case the needs in view are specific needs of near grace that refers to the logistics necessary to move from supergrace to ultra-supergrace.  You will find out that the more you grow spiritually, the more things will go wrong in your life because more obstacles will be placed in your path by Satan and his kingdom of darkness.   The move across no man's land is made in the midst of great opposition because growing spiritually means you are more of a threat to Satan's appeal trial in the angelic conflict.  There is great opposition in no man's land because here, you bring glory to God and frustrate Satan's appeal trial as you become a witness in the historical trial of the angelic conflict.

PHI 4:6 "Stop worrying about anything, but in every circumstance through prayer and through supplication for personal needs with thanksgiving"

The Greek word for thanksgiving is eucharistias (plural) and the phrase "with thanksgiving" actually should read "after thanksgivings."  So the corrected translation of PHI 4:6 is "Stop worrying about anything, but in every circumstance through prayer and through supplication for personal needs after thanksgivings let your requests be made known to God."

This verse deals with the subject of prayer, however it also points out something that so many believers in the Church-age take for granted which is the privilege of our royal priesthood.  When our Lord came to earth during the dispensation of the Hypostatic Union, Jesus Christ fulfilled the Mosaic Law, and through life in the Pre-Designed Plan of God (PPOG), established the precedence or the spiritual life for the Church-age.  Remember that in MAT 5:17, the Lord said "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the prophets. I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill."

One of the many things that He did for us was to give us a spiritual life that never existed before because we are members of the Royal family.  You may not feel much like royalty, but you are, you are a royal priest and as a royal priest you have benefits that have never been given before in all of human history.  Only in the Church-age are these benefits given and one of the most over-looked and taken for granted is the benefit of prayer.  Prayer is tremendously powerful privilege of our royal priesthood that shows that God's plan for us in the Church-age as Royal family is totally and completely unique.  Never before the Church-age and never after the Rapture is there another universal priesthood; it is only for us in the Church-age.  This makes this dispensation one of personal responsibility.  A priest is someone who represents people before God.  In the Church-age, since every believer is a priest, every believer represents himself before God.  This privilege of prayer is never appreciated unless the doctrine of the Royal priesthood is understood.  Every believer is a priest, male or female, this never happened in any system of priesthood which we have studied in the Old Testament including the Levitical priesthood.  In the Old Testament it was always a matter of your physical birth.  For example, it all started with the man in the family, the husband was the priest in the Old Testament and therefore functioned as the priest before God, eventually that led to a priesthood prior to Israel.  Then the tribe of Levi, the family of Aaron became the area of priesthood and you had to born into it.  All of this adds up to the fact that we are the royal family to God and we have a Royal priesthood as per 1PE 2:5-9.  We represent ourselves before God and as a part of that representation we have the privilege of prayer no matter how much we have failed or sinned.

Prayer is the function of the royal priesthood whereby the Church Age believer has access and privilege to present two categories of requests to God the Father.  Petitions whoch  are prayers for yourself and Intercessory prayers are prayers for others. 

Prayer is always addressed to the Father, MAT 6:6-9, EPH 1:17, 3:14, 1PE 1:17, in the name of or through the channel of the Son, Joh 14:13-14, and in the enabling power (the filling) of God the Holy Spirit, EPH 6:18.   Because prayer is part of the PPOG for the Church-age, it must follow precisely correct procedure. 

A main principle that many believers forget when it comes to prayer is the character and the nature of the one who told them to pray and who listens to their prayer, that is God, the Father.  God has given us all these promises concerning prayer and a promise is no better than the character of the one who makes it.

To this great invitation to prayer there are many passages we could focus in on such as Luk 11.  In LUK 11:1 "And it came about that while He was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples."

In LUK 11:9-13 "And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.  Now suppose one of you parents is asked by his child for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?  Or he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall {your} heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"

MAT 7:11 says "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!"

These passages indicate our right to the throne of grace is one that we can never lose, but few believers seem to utilize this liberty and privilege.  The Spirit of God says "Come, and then He himself shows us the way," but few do so.

REV 22:17 "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let the one who hears say, Come. And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost."

The invitation is there, however, to approach God, there is a procedure that must be followed!  This means that the divine promises to those who pray rests upon the fulfillment of certain conditions. 

We must have confidence in prayer as a practical power and legitimate powerful weapon, HEB 11:6.  If you do not believe that prayer changes things, than in honesty abandon it!  God is not interested in lip service, MAT 15:7-8.  Prayer is either an extraordinary force or a disgraceful farce.  If it's a farce, you can pray much and get little!  If it's a force, you may pray little and get much!

Again, a promise is no better than the character of the one who makes it.  We must believe that God answers prayer not so much because our faith makes Him answer, but because "believing" reveals our trust in His character and integrity.  HEB 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."

We limit God if we do not believe, MAT 13:58 "And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief."

Just as faith puts God's power into operation in the believer's life, unbelief puts limitations upon it.  God requires faith and hears only the prayers of faith.

God is Love, 1JO 4:8b, God is motivated by His love to answer our prayers.  Therefore when you pray, you remember that He is love.  God is eternal and immutable, His love is unchanging and enduring.  The motive behind God's love is His grace!   The scriptures teach in ROM 8:38-39 that no matter how a believer fails, no matter what he does, God keeps on loving him.  God's love always depends on God's character never on man's character! 

God is also Sovereign, this means that God is supreme in rule and has authority over all things. There is no higher authority in the universe than God! DEU 4:39 "Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other."

Few believers recall the attributes of God when it comes to prayer.  But by doing so we can comforted, assured and have confidence in the power of prayer.

As part of His Character and Nature, God also has perfect Righteousness, 1SA 2:2, LEV 19:2.  It is impossible to have perfect righteousness without always being perfectly right.  Many times things happen in life that we do not understand.  They seem to be unfair but in the end we will find out that God was absolutely right and just in dealing with the situation the way that He did!   This means that as we can rely fully on the knowledge that whatever God does in our lives is consistent with His righteous attitudes and actions.  Whatever He allows in our lives is consistent with His righteous attitudes and actions.

God is also Just, God's Holiness includes His Justice as well as his Righteousness.  Justice means that in vindicating any believer, God cannot compromise His attributes.  This means that because The Lord Jesus Christ satisfied the Justice of God the Father that God is now free to pardon and justify those who trust in His Son and to answer their prayers.  The fact that God's Justice is satisfied frees God to love us and bless us and answer our prayers. 

Another divine attribute to understand that is very comforting is that God has Omniscience.  Omni means all and science means knowledge, God is all knowing, He knows all things!  God's knowledge is not based upon or related nor limited by time.  We usually can go back and evaluate things that have happened in the past, we can see our failures and hopefully, learn from them.  We can even speculate about the future and even make some pretty accurate guesses, but none of us knows exactly what will happen tomorrow.  God's knowledge is superimposed over time.  We continue to learn as long as we live on this earth, God has never had to learn a thing!  Our Father has always known everything, every thought, motive, event and action of every person who would ever live!  He knows the end of your life from the beginning, ISA 46:8-11.  There is nothing in your life that could ever happen that God didn't know about billions and billions of years ago, MAT 6:7-8 "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.  Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him."

God also has Omnipresence which means that He is ever present, Jer 23:24, Psa 139 1-12.  God is present through-out the universe, He is immanent and transcendent.  Transcendent simply means that He exists apart from the universe.  This explains such phrases like 1KI 8:27, "the heavens cannot contain Thee" or Isa 66:1 "heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool."

Omnipresence should be sobering a serious issue to the unbeliever, but for the believer it is very comforting.  The believer can be assured that God will never leave him or forsake him. 

God is also Omnipotent which means all powerful and limitless in ability. He is called God almighty as in GEN 17:1.  By His power or Omnipotence He rules and upholds all things, 1CH 29:11Heb 1:3 says "He upholds all things by the word of His power."

This power is used by God to keep the believer safe, 1PE 1:5.  When we understand the Omnipotence of God we will be assured that nothing is too hard for Him, JER 32:17, JOB 42:1, MAT 19:26.

Knowing these divine attributes of God should increase your appreciation and confidence in prayer.   If some of your prayers are not answered remember 2CO 12:8-9 "Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me."

This should give us confidence in prayer and confidence in the following verses: 1JO 3:21 "Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;"

1JO 3:22 "and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight."

Joh 15:7 "Ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you."  

MAT 21:22 "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive."

MAR 11:24, "All things for which you ask in prayer, believe that you shall receive them, and they shall be given to you." 

1JO 5:14-15 "And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him."

The promise to the believer in spiritual adulthood is found in Joh 15:7 "If you abide in Me [life in the PPOG], and My doctrines abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you."

This promise is not like a blank check on which you can write any amount you want.  The key to prayer is doctrine first.  When doctrine is in you, then you can "ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you."  Because by that time, you'll have enough sense to know how to use the weapon of prayer effectively.

We must be direct and open in the presence of God as LUK 11:9-13 teaches.  The manner or method of prayer is very important to understand.  Two of the most important factors in prayer are "time and method."

Without time for prayer, nothing can be accomplished.  Yet many believers justify their prayerlessness by saying they have no time and that they are just simply are too busy.  The fact is that we must find time for prayer if we desire to have God's highest and best for our life.  We must regard prayer to be as important to our soul as food is to our bodies.  What time and how long is no one's business but your own. 

Assuming that one has put aside some time to pray and that one's heart and mind is adjusted to the will of God, the most important thing in the prayer life is to have a right method.  It is not just asking things from God.  What we need is a real understanding of what prayer is.  Such an understanding will come to us only as we bring Bible doctrine and our prayer life into an intimate relationship.  In the Bible God "speaks" to us while in prayer we "speak" to God!  Therefore we need a knowledge of God through His word and power with God through prayer.

When it comes to this subject of prayer, there are two errors that we are in danger of:

1.  Knowing the Bible intellectually without being concerned with application and experience.

2.  Striving after the experience in prayer without knowing how to intellectually and Biblically.

You can have an excellent knowledge of doctrine and at the same time be blind to its divine privileges such as prayer.  In prayer many look for the Spirit to illuminate them with some message, some vision or some emotion!  This results in our thoughts becoming scattered and thinking that we are accomplishing nothing.  We must have a mental basis for prayer so that we don't become weary and enter into failure.  This is why we all need to be taught how to pray as the disciples asked the Lord in LUK 11:1.  In Luk 11:9, we read  "And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you."

Our Lord used these passages in Luk 11 to indicate a stronger tie between God and man than between friend and friend.  To show us that our prayers are to go beyond our personal needs and to seek for those around us. 

The meaning of LUK 11:5-8 is persistently seeking for someone else, the man who was resting came down to give him bread.  He did it because the man loved others more than himself which was manifested by continual knocking.

We ask for ourselves, we seek for others!

In this verse knocking means a specific door we want God to open up.  As the apostle Paul said in COL 4:3  "Praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the word."

We don't have to beg God, it's all grace, He is a gracious God Who is listening.

Remember JAM 4:2 "You do not have because you do not ask."

We must also be very precise and definite in our requests.  Indefinite petitions or requests can hardly expect more than indefinite answers.  For example, in our passage LUK 11:13, God promises to give good things to them that ask Him.

In this context, He gives the Holy Spirit, because the disciples were not indwelt by the Holy Spirit at this time.  The point is that God encourages us to ask for more than the bare necessities of life, but to be precise.  Always remember the angelic conflict when it comes to asking God for things in prayer.

Another condition which must be fulfilled is that we must offer our supplications and petitions to God in faith.

Another condition which is needed to receive answers to prayer, we must ask according to the will of God, 1JO 5:14-15.

In prayer we must beware of replacing "prayer time" with something that you consider to be spiritual.  A believer can get burnt out from serving others but not setting aside time to fellowship with God.  In Sol 2:15, we read  "Catch the foxes for us, The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, While our vineyards are in blossom."

 This verse deals with the matter of the removal of hindrances.  These words have reference to the blossoming vines spoken of verse 13, vines representing bearing the fruit of spiritual life.  Notice it says to catch the little foxes, big foxes go after the fruit of the vine, but little foxes break the tender vine branches.  The little foxes are analogous to the little hindrances of life.  Unless we are very watchful, the spiritual life can be completely spoiled by little foxes.  The little things can ruin the spiritual life.

A fervent prayer life will keep you sensitive to these things.  Don't let the little things spoil your spiritual life, the petty things, personality conflicts.   Don't let the pressures of serving God draw life out of you but instead be renewed through prayer.

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