Prayer, It’s a Good Start!

Prayer, It’s a Good End!

 

Prayer is basically communication with God initiated by us. It has different forms or purposes. Sometimes prayer is a matter of praise and recognition of God intended to acknowledge our respect and admiration for Him.

 

Sometimes it is a request for God to act upon our mind and guide us into some path. That may require us to have discernment or knowledge beyond what we have as a natural man. It might start like this, “Lord help me….”

 

It may be a request for comfort or understanding during a difficult time. It may be a request to receive more of God’s Spirit to influence our heart or our spirit.

 

It may be a request to act upon some matter completely beyond our control or experience.

 

But often we ask God to help us with matters over which we have some influence. And this is the case I am talking about today. But first let me make it very clear. Prayer is always a good place to start and also a good place to end. But too often very little happens in between, and that’s a shame. Prayer is not an excuse for us to do nothing.

 

Like Faith prayer requires action at times.

*   (James 2:18-26 NIV)  But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. {19} You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder. {20} You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ? {21} Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? {22} You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. {23} And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. {24} You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. {25} In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? {26} As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Replace the term, “Faith” with prayer and the passage is still pretty good.

Conversation: Speak and listen and act!

*   (Luke 22:39-44 NIV)  Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. {40} On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation." {41} He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, {42} "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." {43} An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. {44} And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

There are conditions placed upon prayer that can help or hinder. One of those conditions is to not pray against God. As Jesus said, “Thy will be done.”

 

In this next passage we see several fundamental requirements, asking, good motives, humility, submission, and a purity of heart. And one more, do not be double minded.

*   (James 4:1-10 NIV)  What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? {2} You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. {3} When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. {4} You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. {5} Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? {6} But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." {7} Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. {8} Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. {9} Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. {10} Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

That’s a lot of things but there are more, for example a belief that God will provide and a willingness to forgive.

*   (Mark 11:24-25 NIV)  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. {25} And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

*   (Mat 5:23-24 NIV)  "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, {24} leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

 

Now when you get these fundamentals under control then if your prayer requires action and the action is something you can contribute to, just do it. Don’t expect God to have other people do for you what you can do for yourself!

 

Not all prayer involves us getting involved but much of the time it does. Time after time God had men doing things that God could have done without any help. But that is not the way He works. We some times sing, “The battle belongs to the Lord.” But that doesn’t mean we can just sit back and do nothing. If you want to enter the Promised Land then you have to get up and go in. If you want the gift of grace and eternal life you have to step forward and accept the gift. If you have to jump a few hurdles along the way then jump them! Put some skin in the game.

 

What do you want? Do you want someone else to do for you what you should do for yourself?

*   (James 2:15-16 NIV)  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. {16} If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

Is it any better if we say a prayer for that person and do nothing?

A person by the name of Shaine Lee Mata put it like this. “It's the equivalent of being charitable by asking the government to take care of the poor and hungry. YOU are not being charitable nor compassionate. Asking God to do things and leaving it at that absolves you of taking any action. I'm sorry; things don't work like that.”

”We've all heard of the joke about a person stranded on the roof of their house after a flood, asking God to save her. People on boats and helicopters come by offering to help only to be turned away because God is going to save her. It's exactly like that. God provides you the resources to effect your own salvation; but, it requires action.”

 

Prayer is a good start but often it is not enough. That thought is implied by some of Paul’s analogies such as fight the good fight and finish the race. So do what you should do. Get in the game. And when you finish a task that you started with prayer then end that same task with prayer. Stay with God and he will not forsake you. Pray continually.

*   (Mat 7:21 NIV)  "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

*   (John 5:36 NIV)  "I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.

 

We have a job to do. Let’s do it!