Friday, January 30, 2015

What Is Prayer?

In this study we explore prayer as a weapon, what is means to pray in the Spirit, what it means to come face to face with God, and how old testament Jews prayed.

Series: Seeking God


This is the 6th lesson in the series: “Seeking God

In our first lesson on prayer we covered:

  • What Is Prayer?
  • Why Do We Pray?
  • How Should We Pray?

We had a lessons on “Why Do We Pray”, and then “How Should We Pray”.   So now we will revisit the question: “What is Prayer?”

Previously we discussed that prayer is:
  • Talking To God
  • Listening to God - sitting in silence and listening for a response
  • Getting into the presence of God / seek His face

We talked about the 3 levels of prayer:
1. Mail / Email
  • send your request
  • not sure if it even got read
  • you might get an answer
  • if you don’t get a letter back you wonder if your letter was received
  • similar to sending your Christmas list to Santa Claus
  • don't know what His voice sounds like

2. Phone call
  • two way conversation - you speak He responds regularly
  • know His voice

3. In Person
  • in His presence
  • spiritual encounter with God
  • face to face

In This Lesson We Cover

  • Prayer as a weapon
  • Praying in the Spirit
  • The Hebrew meaning of prayer
  • What it means to come face to face with God
  • How we become more like God

A Weapon Against Evil

Ephesians 6:10-20
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
  • What are the offensive weapons?
  • Which is more important offensive weapons or defensive?
  • Who does it say to pray for?
    • Paul - your spiritual leaders
  • When does it say to pray in the spirit?
    • always

Praying In The Spirit

1 Cor 14:13-17
13 For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. 16 Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer,[d] say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? 17 You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.
  • Paul makes a distinction between praying in the Spirit and what?
    • praying with your mind (your own understanding)
  • “praying in the Spirit” is praying the things the Holy Spirit brings to your mind
  • What does Paul say about giving thanks?
  • other people can be edified by listening to your prayer
    • edified = to build up
  • prayer is a way to thank God

Romans 8:26-27
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
  • the Spirit aids us in knowing what we should pray for

Praying in the Spirit Means:
  • The Greek word translated “pray in” can mean
    • “by means of,”
    • “with the help of,”
    • “in the sphere of,”
    • “in connection to.”

  • Praying in the Spirit does not refer to the content of the words we are saying.
  • It is praying according to the Spirit’s leading.
  • It is praying for things the Spirit leads us to pray for.
  • the Spirit intercedes for us

Tefilah (Hebrew word for prayer)

In Hebrew, the word for prayer is tefilah. There are two translations that are literal and accurate.

Meaning 1

Tefilah comes from the word pellel which means "to judge." Tefilah is a time of self-evaluation, self-judgment, introspection, when a person takes the time to focus on himself and goes within himself to see what it is that he needs, what it is that he is all about, what are his faults, what are his qualities, what is it that he needs from G-d, and why should G-d give it to him.

  • remember how Hezekiah, and David and Job all discuss their character and actions while praying

David’s Example

Psalms 139:21-24
21Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
  • David asks for what he wants
  • David asks God to search if he is deservant to have his desires granted

Hezekiah’s Example

2 Kings 20: 1-3
1 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”
2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3“Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
  • Hezekiah searches and judges himself
  • Hezekiah asks God to judge him
  • He asks for what he wants and explains why God should give it to him
  • We can recite scripture which promises things if certain conditions are met
    • example: God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him

Meaning 2

On another level, in another translation, tefilah means "attachment." When we pray, we create a bond between ourselves and our Creator. Prayer is a process of putting things together. When we pray there are only two things in the universe, G-d and ourselves. The problem is that there are two entities when they should be united as one. Tefilah remedies the problem and turns them into one.
  • coming face to face with God


Numbers 12:1-9
1Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. 2“Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.
3(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)
4At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” So the three of them went out. 5Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them stepped forward, 6he said, “Listen to my words:
“When there is a prophet among you,
I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,
I speak to them in dreams.
7But this is not true of my servant Moses;
he is faithful in all my house.
8With him I speak face to face,
clearly and not in riddles;
he sees the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
to speak against my servant Moses?”
  • what does God explain face to face means?
    • when He speaks clearly and not in riddles

So how would you expect Moses to pray?

Numbers 11:10-17
10Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? 13Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

16The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.

So tefilah is the process by which we begin looking at ourselves, focusing on ourselves, and proceed to focus on G-d and bring ourselves close to Him, raising ourselves above the whole succession of life that prevails during the rest of the day.

Becoming Like God

  • when you spend enough time with someone you pick up their ways, language, and may even be swayed to their opinions
  • the more time we spend with God the more we pick up his attributes

Summary - Prayer is:

  • talking to God
  • listening to God
  • a weapon against evil
  • a way to thank God
  • a means to ensure God’s will is done in our lives
  • is a means of getting closer to God
  • a time for introspection and evaluating ourselves
  • a means of allowing the Holy Spirit to make requests on our behalf

(c) Michael Leadon

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