Foundation for Living Lesson 8 2005
Father, again we come before you in gratitude for all that You have provided for us. You have given us everything related to life and godliness, that You have provided us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. You have provided us with the tools, mechanics, promises and procedures to face every issue in life, that we may have stability, that we may have happiness and joy no matter what our circumstances may be, and rather than being slaves to circumstances or situations, we are living as ambassadors for You in this world. We pray that we might keep before our thinking the fact that we are indeed ambassadors, that we are serving here temporarily as witnesses to your grace. Father, as we study Your word this morning, we pray that we may be refreshed and challenged, that we may understand the things that we are taught and that God the Holy Spirit will make these things real to us. We pray in Christ's name. Amen
We are in a basic series; therefore I am trying to keep things basic. The hardest thing when I am teaching basics is to not think too much about what I am teaching, because I am really trying to keep this at a level we can use to get to believers who don't know much about the Christian life, or unbelievers so this is at a level they can understand with very little Biblical frame of reference. We live in a time which is very sad, because the unsaved, the normal person living out there in the United States of America, has almost no Biblical knowledge. In previous generations they at least were acquainted with the Bible in some cultural sense. They talked about the Bible and Biblical stories in public schools. There was a cultural awareness, and much of English literature, historically, unlike the contemporary shallow superficial post modern existential stuff that kids have to read in school today, but historical English literature that was written before the early twentieth century, has a multitude of allusions to Biblical names, events and circumstances. People today are so ignorant Biblically that they can't understand those particular things, so we really have to bring things down to that lower shelf, and even then, I think I am 10 feet over their head. So I am trying not to think too much. When I start thinking about this I come up with all kinds of new ideas and developing new things, and this is just a basic series to get us the foundations related to the Christian life and living the Christian life. So we covered basic five spiritual skills, one lesson each: confession, walking by the Holy Spirit, faith rest drill, grace orientation and doctrinal orientation. Now I am focusing on the functions of the priesthood and the duties of our ambassadorship, and that is crucial to living the Christian life. We have spiritual skills that precede the function of our Christian life in terms of the priesthood and ambassadorship. The functions of the priesthood and duties of our ambassadorship are the outgrowth and consequence of spiritual growth and spirituality. The way that is usually taught is that they are the means of spiritual growth. So you have to go witness, pray, read the bible, give, to be spiritual, they put the cart before the horse, they get things reversed, so it reduces itself to a legalistic approach to the Christian life. Let's get everybody doing, doing, doing some overt thing and the result is they will be spiritual, and the result is we have the mess we are in today in Christianity. There is a book by James Davison Hunter who is an evangelical sociologist, who has written a number of books over the past 20 years evaluating what is happening in contemporary evangelicalism, and he is talking about the fact that we have confused marketing and materialism with spirituality and actual Bible study has been compromised and destroyed in the process. The average evangelical today is devoid of any sense of moral absolutes or moral certainty. So the moral compass of the contemporary Christian has been completely destroyed. In your standard evangelical church which ought to be a beacon on a hill, a shining example of spiritual excellence, a light to the world, and they are no different from the cultural around them. Recent surveys have shown that divorce rate inside the church is as high as the divorce rate outside the church. What difference does doctrine make? It doesn't seem to make any difference in the lives of people who are in church. Look at children, the problems teenagers have in terms of premarital sex, drugs and cheating in school. When I began to teach at the college this year, I sat down to talk with a friend who has been teaching there 10 or 12 years, and he told me to be careful because it is standard operating procedure for the students to cheat. I thought, cheating, at a Christian liberal arts school? Well, yes, they do not know any different, they have been cheating since they have been in kindergarten, it is the standard operating procedure for the world and nobody has told them that this is wrong, it is contrary to their spiritual life, and they think this is how to live. The world is so much inside the church today, that Christians are no longer and setting the standard by living according to the word, they just come to church for entertainment and to stroke God so He will give them blessing, and that is the message that comes out in most churches today. So we are in a sad state, and basic doctrine needs to be communicated to many people. That is the reason for this series. Last Sunday we talked about the priority of prayer. We began by emphasizing our priesthood,
1 Peter 2:5 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
That concept of offering up spiritual sacrifices is the function of our priesthood. The role of a priest is to represent man to God; the role of a prophet was to represent God to man.
In Romans 12:1 we read, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
In using that word 'bodies', he is not just talking about the physical part of man, but it is a term that references all of us, the totality of our person, it is a figure of speech, where a part represents the whole. This is the same idea Peter is talking about, this is the role of the believer in his priesthood, that his life is worship to God, it is not just something that is compartmentalized to Sunday morning, or Wednesday night bible class, or something of that nature, it is the totality of our life, and we offer up spiritual sacrifices and in that sense it is our devotion to God. Part of our priesthood is the operation of prayer. We talked about the definition of prayer: Prayer is the grace provision of the royal priesthood, whereby the church age believer has access and privilege to communicate directly with God. That is the first part of the definition, it is based on grace. Everything in the Christian life is based on grace. The concept of prayer in the church age is different from prayer in previous dispensations, because we are united with Jesus Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, as a result of the baptism by means of the Holy Spirit. He is our High Priest and we are priesthood, therefore we have direct access to God. Just as priests in the Old Testament had access to God, priests in the New Testament have access to God. But every believer in the New Testament is a priest. So we have access to and privilege to communicate directly with God, we can come boldly before the throne of grace. The second part of the definition is the procedures and parts of prayer, the different types of communication. In the definition we read, the purpose of this communication is to acknowledge our sin (confession) to express adoration and praise to God, to give thanks, (expression of gratitude and thanksgiving), to intercede for others, and to convey our own personal needs, and petitions and to conduct intimate conversation with God. That is what prayer is, it is an intimate conversation with God, and as we grow and mature as believers, that begins to dominate our life and thinking as our standard way of operating as believers. We are breaking it down into five categories. We talked about the priority of prayer last time. Prayer is a high priority for the Christian life, mandated in the New Testament. I was pleased to see as a result of my teaching last Sunday emphasizing the importance of corporate prayer we find in the Scripture; we had almost standing room only at prayer meeting on Tuesday night. We have prayer meeting at 7:30 and it was good to see so many show up.
This morning we are talking about the prerequisites for prayer, and we may get into the procedures for prayer, we will then conclude next time with the summation of the principles of prayer and look at some of the promises for prayer and what they say and don't say. Often prayer promises are ripped out of context and people try to make them say either more than they are saying, or something they are not saying at all. We have to look at some of the key promises we have for prayer. Prayer is part of out priesthood, and it is part of our function as believers to go before the throne of grace and obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Prayer is a priority as we saw last time. It is our communication life line to God the Father. As a child of God, we go to the Father with everything. He desires for us to bring everything to Him, there is nothing too trivial, too minor, no detail too insignificant in our lives for us to bring before Him as a matter of our Christian life. Our model in the Christian life is, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ. He set the pattern for the spiritual life of the church age. He was the pioneer; He was the one who demonstrated for us how to solve problems in the spiritual life during the period of the incarnation leading up to the cross. As such, in His perfect humanity, He prayed frequently. Mark 1:35 indicates something about His prayer life.
35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.
As I pointed out last time, for those of you who are not morning people, and who are challenged in your daily time clock , that does not mean you need to get up early in the morning before dawn to pray and be spiritual. The point here is He chose a time when there was no distraction. Finding a time when you are able to isolate yourself from any distractions, and focus on the Lord and pray. And there are different ways we can pray. Sometimes folks say, how in the world did you pray for an hour or two hours? We will talk about that a little this week and next week as well. We saw that other Scripture in the New Testament indicate this was priority. This is not something only the Lord did, but the early church followed that example.
Acts 2:42 And they (the early church from the day of Pentecost) continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
The word translated 'continued steadfastly' is the Greek word proskartereo, which means continuously. It was a priority; they were faithful in the procedures of the Christian life. They made it a priority. They focused on two things, doctrine and fellowship. Fellowship is then broken down into two components: breaking of bread, which is communion, and prayer, which is communication. So you have communion with God and communication with God, telling us that fellowship in this verse is not talking about fellowship with other believers, but fellowship with God. The priority in the early church was the study of the word of God and fellowship with God, as demonstrated in communion and prayer. This is why we have corporate prayer; it is not just an emphasis on individual believers praying, but the body of Christ coming together in prayer. There are many examples in the book of Acts of believers coming together to pray for specific situations.
Acts 6:4 uses the same word again, this time talking about the role of the apostles. The body of believers in Jerusalem has become so large, probably 10-12 thousand involved, and the apostles were getting a bit overwhelmed with the administrative details, so they appointed six men who became the prototype of deacons, and it was their responsibility to distribute financial gifts which were given to help those who were widows and those who were in desperate straights so the apostles could focus on their primary job description which is the teaching of the word. Acts 6:4 expresses the apostolic priority. There is a parallel here: the apostolic priority transfers to the pastor's priority, the priority of the six men chosen as servants, becomes the pattern for deacons, and the leadership among the congregation, to help the pastors do their job. The pastor's responsibility was prayer and the ministry of the word. That is the pastor's job description; that is what the God expects. When I teach pastors, I frequently tell them that at the judgment seat of Christ, the Lord is only going to be asking you about two things, one , did you feed my sheep?, and two, did you equip the saints? When Jesus was teaching the disciples in John 31, He said to Peter, if you love Me, feed My sheep. Three times He made that point. That is the pastor's responsibility, to feed My sheep. It is not the pastor's responsibility to visit the sick in the hospital, to visit the visitors that come to the church, to be involved in community politics, or all of the other things many churches expect their pastors to be doing. What God expects the pastors to be doing is feeding the sheep, not building the church. Jesus told Peter, it is upon this rock that is the recognition that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, that I will build My church. It is Jesus Christ role to build the church; it is the pastor's job to feed the sheep. What we have today in most churches is the pastor is trying to build the church and he leaves it up to untrained lay leadership to feed the sheep. So the sheep do not know very much because the lay leader does not know very much. There are some exceptions to that, but they are few. Usually you have the blind leading the ignorant, and you have major problems. Apostolic priority was prayer. That is the pastor's priority, to pray for the congregation, to pray for those God has given him charge over. Colossians 4:2 we find the same word again, proskartereo, Continue earnestly in prayer, (make it your priority) being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. This is the priority; we covered this last time and in 1 Thessalonians, 5:17, to pray with out ceasing. This is our priority. Prayer is not something that is secondary, to address on occasion, but is to be a major item in your daily schedule.
What are the prerequisites for prayer? Every time I think of prerequisites for prayer, I always go back to the same story. In the late seventies, Bailey Smith, a very well known pastor of a large Baptist church in Oklahoma City, was elected President of the Southern Baptist convention, and in his acceptance speech, or in a sermon he preached not long after that to the assembly, he made the statement that God does not hear the prayers of the Jews. The press took that and ran with it. They vilified him: what a horrible thing to say, that God does not hear the prayers of some people. There was a huge uproar, and because of our politically correct culture, a lot of pressure was put on him and I think he was eventually forced to apologize, just so the furor would die down. But he was absolutely correct. The Bible clearly says that God does not listen to everybody's prayers.
In Isaiah 1:15 God says,
When you spread out your hands,
I will hide My eyes from you; (He is talking to the Jews)
Even though you make many prayers,
I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood.
The problem was the ongoing sin in the life of the nation, and as a result of the carnality, God was not going to listen to their prayer. The same thing is said in Jeremiah 11:14, He tells Jeremiah, specifically, not to intercede for the people: "So do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble.
So there are times when God does not listen to believer's prayers, because of sin in their lives. God is not required to listen to every prayer. I think this assumption, that God is supposed to listen to every body's prayer, is the result of American democratization of everything. Everybody ought to be able to do everything and have access to everything. That is not what the scriptures teach. The scriptures teach that God does not hear the prayers of the unsaved, He does not hear the prayers of the Hindus, the Buddhist, Mormons, Scientologists, or Jews; He only hears the prayers of those who put their faith in Jesus Christ. Some people say, well, that is not fair. No, it is fair; it is just, and that is exactly what the issue is. The issue is the justice of God. Because what the righteousness of God rejects, the justice of God condemns. If we are under condemnation from the justice of God, because we do not meet God's righteous standard, then we cannot have a relationship with Him, therefore we cannot communicate with God, so it is justice that is at the very heart of the problem. So the first prerequisite for prayer is that we possess the same righteousness that God has. We have to be believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, because at the instant of faith alone in Christ alone, God gives you His very own righteousness.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For He who knew no sin was made sin for us that the righteousness of God might be found in us.
Once we have the righteousness of God, not our own righteousness, we have compatibility between the human being, who possesses Christ's righteousness and God. And because of that, the human being is now able to come to God in prayer.
But that is not the only prerequisite. There is one other prerequisite and that has to do with our own mental attitude, or spiritual status related to cleanliness.
18 If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear
What we learn from this that God will not listen to the prayers of unbelievers, because they do not possess righteousness. It is a justice issue. It is a justice issue. God is perfectly fair and perfectly just and He won't listen to the prayers of unbelievers. Furthermore, He will not listen to the prayers of believers out of fellowship. God is very discriminating regarding who He will listen to. We must be in fellowship. Remember, it is God who determines who can come to Him and have a relationship with Him. It is God who determines the protocol for communicating with Him; it is not man, the creature. The creature does not dictate procedure to God, it is God who establishes the protocol and procedure for the creature, and that protocol is called grace. We have four basic principles related to prayer and the prerequisites of graced. The first is that grace is the basis for prayer, it is not our works, it is not based on who we are, what we have done, and it is not based on our personality, our morality, or any other human factor. It is based upon God's character, and God in his grace provided the solution to the sin problem so that man can have a relationship with Him, and therefore, man can communicate with Him. That was the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. According to the gospel of Matthew, when Jesus Christ died on the cross, at the same instant that He was having the sins of the world poured out on Him, something miraculous happened in the temple. In the temple there was a tightly woven veil, about 6 inches thick, which separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. And inside the Holy of Holies was where the Ark of the Covenant had been kept, at that time they did not have the Ark of the Covenant, but the veil symbolized that man did not have direct access to God, only the High Pries had direct access to God. During the three hours Jesus was paying the penalty for our sins, that veil was torn, ripped, from top to bottom. It was a miraculous event indicating that access to God was now open. That is God's grace. Prayer is not based on who we are, because we are nice and wonderful, because God ought to listen to us, grace is based on the work of Christ on the cross. That leads to the second principle, which is first and foremost, a person must be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ before he can have access to the throne of grace. Prayer is for believers only, not for unbelievers. Third, believers have to be in fellowship, they have to confess their sins, which means to admit or acknowledge their sins to God the Father and to be in fellowship. At that we are cleansed of all unrighteousness, forgiven of our sins and God hears that prayer from the believer that is out of fellowship. We are simply to say, Father I lied, cheated, lusted, gossiped, maligned, it is merely an acknowledgment of our sin. Fourth point, God provides prayer as a means to communicate with Him and every believer has the same opportunity and the same privilege to come before the throne of grace. And this is the part of the distinctiveness of out church age priesthood. So we have two prerequisites, salvation for the unbeliever, and cleansing through confession for the believer. There is only one prayer God hears from the unbeliever and that is a prayer related to positive volition. A prayer something like, God, I want to know who You are, I want to know more about You. That is the only kind of prayer God listens to from the unbeliever. In His justice He will provide that knowledge to the unbeliever who has expressed positive volition in some way.
We have looked at the priority of prayer, second we have looked at the prerequisites to prayer and now we will look at the procedures in prayer. I use the acronym CATS in order to remember these elements. The C stands for confession, the A stands for adoration, praise to God, the T stands for thanksgiving, being thankful or expressing out gratitude for providing all God has provided in His grace, and the S stands for supplication. Supplication can be further divided into prayer for others, which is called intercession, or prayer for oneself which we call petition. Supplication means to present requests to a superior authority. Supplication, then, is broken down into intercessory prayer and personal petitions. So we have confession, adoration, thanksgiving, and supplication. I have taught a lot about confession, so that is not new for many of us, but is for some people. They do not realize that a believer out of fellowship is unclean. The model comes from the Old Testament, before the priest could enter into the Holy Place he had to wash his hands and feet, there had to be a cleansing every time he came into the presence of God, which symbolized the fact that as you go through life you go places and do things that render you unclean. You commit sin, and as a result of that, there has to be cleansing, which is pictured in the Old Testament with the procedures of the priesthood. The High Priest, when inaugurated into his role, had to take a complete bath. It was a complete cleansing. That is analogous to what happens when the believer is saved, there is a complete cleansing of all pre salvation sin. But, after you are saved, you still sin. Every believer still has a sin nature. You do thing, go places, think things and say things that come out of your sin nature that breaks fellowship with our heavenly Father. So you need cleansing. You do not lose salvation, that does not happen, but that fellowship with God is broken, God does not hear those prayers. We have passages such as Psalm 66:18 which we haves already mentioned but Proverbs 15:8 says the same kind of thing,
8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
In the parallelism in this verse there is a contrast between the wicked, or the believer who is out of fellowship, even his sacrifice is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is a delight. There must be a right relationship there; the justice of God must be taken care of in order for prayer to be effective.
Proverbs 15:29 One who turns away his ear from hearing the law,
Even his prayer is an abomination the Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous,
And again, Proverbs 28:9
One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, (another way of saying a person who is disobedient to the mandates of Scripture)
Even his prayer is an abomination.
These are firm passages that communicate the principle that a believer out of fellowship does not have his prayers heard. But God, in grace, provides a simple solution:
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The idea of confession simply means to admit or acknowledge sin to God. It does not mean to feel sorry for sin, unfortunately there are translations that want to translate the concept of confess as remorse, or somehow feeling sorry for sin, but that is not what confession means as its core, semantic sense. It means to simply admit or acknowledge that you have done something wrong. If you go back to the Old Testament, passages such as Psalm 32:5, or Psalm 51, in which David is confessing his sin or talking about his confession of sin, the words he uses , the synonyms he uses are words such as admit or acknowledge. If you have ever been to traffic court, something that is common to many of us here, you have a fine to pay because you were going a little too fast, and some body caught you, and you have a 2-300 dollar fine to pay, and you are standing before the judge, I have had this happen to me on more than one occasion, and I am not too sorry that I was speeding, I am awfully sorry I have to pay that fine, but there has never been any remorse that I was going to fast. In fact, when we first moved to Connecticut, I discovered that the average speed limit on a comparable road in Texas was about 15 mph slower than in Texas. You don't realize, when you have been driving for awhile, you develop a normal feeling for how fast you are going and what you can do on a road. If you are used to a speed limit of 60, but when the speed limit is 35 or 40, which is completely unreasonable, you are going to get into trouble before long. The first state in the union to impose a speed limit on its citizens was the state of Connecticut. I remember on more than one occasion in Connecticut looking in my rear view mirror, and realize that I was in trouble again. I would go before the judge, and there was no remorse there. But, the question is asked, did you do this? Yes, I did it; that is confession. It does not mean anything more; it is an admission of guilt. In the Christian life, if we have a licentious or lax attitude toward sin in our life, and we confess it, and seconds later we are committing the same sin again, we are out of fellowship. I am not suggesting that confession means to treat sin lightly or in a humorous manner. The reality is , there are times, and we have all been there, where we are really angry about a situation or person, and something has happened and we are dealing with bitterness or frustration or whatever the situation may be, and you confess the sin, and 1.5 seconds later, you are just as angry again as you were before you confessed, and you have to do it again and again, and maybe through the morning you do not get a lot done because you just keep having to go back and admit to the Lord, I am angry and I need to leave the situation in your hands, and just about when the time you say amen, you yank it back. It just takes time. It is that process of discipline that is teaching us to focus on the fact that we have to live a certain way as believers to handle the circumstances of life. And sometimes it is not an easy adjustment or growth process, and it is not that confession is a license to sin or something of that nature, and some people use it that way, I think we all do. I have heard people say that if what you are saying is right, then we can just go sin and then confess and everything is ok. The problem with that is that it is confusing forgiveness with consequences. There is a difference between forgiveness and consequences. If you are forgiven of something, that does not remove the consequence. Let's say you are a juvenile and you commit a crime. In many cases, if you are a juvenile you don't even get your hand slapped, because you are a juvenile, so the consequence is removed. But they are not. Whatever the infraction was, there are still consequences from that infraction. Whenever we commit sin, there are always consequences in our spiritual life. We may be forgiven and restored to fellowship, but that does not mean the consequences from our actions are changed. I remember several years ago, when Carla Faye Tucker, the first woman executed in Texas in many years, but while she was in prison waiting for execution, she became a believer, so you had all of these pastors who should know better, talk about the fact that because she became a Christian she should not be executed. There are consequences to crime, and her forgiveness before God, and her status before God, is different from the consequences of her crime and the criminal penalty for the crime. Those are two different things. We have a hard time in our culture separating forgiveness and consequence. I can forgive someone for doing something harmful to me, but there are consequences in the relationship. If someone betrays someone, you can forgive them, and not have mental attitude sins toward them, hatred, bitterness, vindictiveness, but that does not mean there are not consequences to betrayal. That is up to you as to what those consequences may or may not be. So there is a difference between forgiveness and consequences. What God tell us is that when we confess our sins, fellowship is restored, the ministry of God the Holy Spirit in producing spiritual growth is recovered so we can advance in our spiritual life and our spiritual growth, we may go through divine discipline, we may just go through the natural normal consequences of our own sinful actions or behavior, but we are still forgiven and in fellowship with the Lord. so confession is not coming to God with remorse, promises to God that I won't do it a gain Lord, and He has such a great sense of humor, he just sits up there and says, in my omniscience I know you are going to lose y our temper 17, 539 more times between now and the end of the year, so don't try to pull the wool over my eyes in thinking you are going to bargain your way out of this. We get this entire human viewpoint mixed up with confession; it is simply an admission of guilt. It is an operative for us to recognize personally, in sort of a psychological sense, that we have tried to handle the situation or problem on out own, we failed, we have to put our focus back on the Lord, it is a reorientation of our thinking to God's grace provision, and at the same time there is recovery of the ministry of God the Holy Spirit in our lives who is the foundation for every thing else in our spiritual growth. So, confession is the starting point. Now when we pray, we are to address our prayers to God the Father. This is something often not clearly taught or understood. Sometimes you hear prayer addressed to the Lord Jesus Christ, to the Holy Spirit, sometimes people just use the word Lord, and you are not sure if they are talking to the Father or the Son. Sometimes they are not sure; they are just talking to God. But the scriptures make clear that the Father is the one to whom we address prayer. What is the basis for that? It is part of our priesthood, so as a priest, it is addressed to the one ultimately to whom we pray, and that is the Father. Matthew 6:9, which is sometimes called the Lord's Prayer, or if you come from a Roman Catholic background, it is called the Our Father. I did never know that until I had been in the pastorate for two or three years, and someone said, you never teach on the Our Father. I have a masters in theology, have gone through four years of seminary, been in church all my life, and had never heard of the Our Father. This is a model of prayer that the Lord gave to the disciples and it begins, Our Father in heaven. Some people say, of course Jesus would be pray to the Father, otherwise, He would be praying to Himself. But there is a reason why the Lord Jesus Christ tells us to address prayer to the Father and that is because the Father is the ultimate authority within the Trinity. All prayer goes to the Father, that is part of the priesthood. This is emphasized not only by the Lord Jesus Christ, but also by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:14:
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
1 Peter 1:17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work,
In each of these passages, it is the Father who is addressed. We have to recognize that it is the Father we address in prayer because He is the ultimate authority in the Trinity.
The second reason we address prayer to the Father, is because both Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, the other two members of the Trinity, are intercessors for us. We don't pray to the mediator, we pray to the one to whom He also is praying. Passages such as John 14:13, 14 refer to Christ's High Priestly ministry of prayer, and He says
13: And whatever you ask in My name, (we pray to the Father, in the name of Jesus, it would be out of order if we pray to Jesus in His own name, so we pray to the Father) that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
It is the Father who is to be glorified.
14 If you ask[a] anything in My name, I will do it.
And we are to pray in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 6:18 with all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints—
So we are to pray at all times by means of the Spirit.
In summary, we address prayer to the Father. Jesus gave that as His model, He always prayed to the Father. In His High Priestly intercessory ministry, He prays to the Father, the Holy Spirit prays to the Father, interceding for us, so we would not pray to the intercessor, the Holy Spirit or Jesus Christ, Mary is not an intercessor by the way, in case you were confused on that, we just pray to the Father, because He is the ultimate authority in the Trinity. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. He is the basis upon whom we are able to come to the throne of grace, because of His work on the cross. It does not mean that every time we pray, though we do this traditionally, we close our prayer in the name of Jesus. What that phrase means is that we are coming before the throne of grace on the basis of Jesus character. It does not mean you always have to end a prayer with, 'in the name of Jesus' or 'in the name of the one who died on the cross'. It means that the basis for our coming before the throne of grace is the work of Christ on the cross. We are coming on the basis of who He is and what He has done for us. That is what that phrase, 'in My name', means, we've often studied that, that this phrase ' believe in the name of Jesus', does not mean believe just the tag, it is in the character, the person of the one. That is what name meant in that culture, it is all that that person represented. So we are coming to the Father on the basis of everything Jesus Christ did, and we do it in the power of God the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 6:18.
This is our starting point; we understand there are prerequisites for prayer: first to be saved, second to be in fellowship with God. We understand that there are certain procedures in prayer; we have to confess our sin so we are in fellowship and we pray to the Father on the basis of the work of Christ on the cross, and in the power of God the Holy Spirit. That gets us through the first part of our acronym CATS, we have confession, and the next time we will look at the rest of the procedure, adoration, thanksgiving, supplication, and we will close with some principles and promises.
Father, we do thank You for this opportunity to study Your word this morning, to be reminded of the importance of prayer, to have our thinking refreshed about Your promises and procedures, and that there is a protocol to prayer that should be followed, even though it is intimate conversation, not just random conversation . Father, we thank You that the basis for our relationship with you is the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross as a substitute for our sins. We pray that if there is any one here this morning who is unsure of their salvation or uncertain of their eternal destiny, that they would take this opportunity to make that sure and certain. Scripture says that salvation is based on faith in Jesus Christ, that means to rely exclusively on His finished work on the cross, that He paid the penalty for your sin and nothing can be added to that, it is sufficient of itself, it is not improving your life morally, it is not faith plus joining a church, it is not faith plus ritual, it is faith alone in Christ alone. At the instant you believe in Jesus Christ, God in His omniscience knows what you are trusting, and at that instant He imputes to you the perfect righteousness of Christ, He justifies you, gives you His eternal life, you are regenerated and a new creature in Christ and that can never be taken away. Father we do thank you for what we have learned this morning from what God the Holy Spirit has challenged us with, we pray that you will help us to understand these things and apply them more consistently in our lives, in Christ's name we pray. Amen.