Last Sunday we began a new sermon series titled “When God’s People Pray”. The series is based on a DVD led Bible-study by Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. The topic of these messages is prayer, and the purpose is to develop and deepen our prayer lives both individually and corporately as a church.
We began this study with an overview of God’s disposition toward those who call upon his name through prayer. Scripture is clear that the LORD is rich in mercy and lovingkindness and longs eagerly to hear and answer our our prayers. God’s heart is for us, and we should never feel reluctant or hesitant to cry out to Him.
This morning we will see the testimony of a man who was completely lost and far away from God. But by divine appointment, a Christian woman who met him recognized his calamity and prayed for him out loud during their meeting. He thought she was nuts, yet through her prayer a seed was planted that eventually took root and began to grow. Years later, he finally repented and gave his life to Christ and today God is using him to spread the message of Jesus to others.
This video touches on several different things that we could and will talk about in the weeks to come. Some of these future topics include intercessory prayer, corporate prayer, and persistence in prayer. But this morning we are going to focus specifically on the initial encounter and discuss how we can seize opportunities to pray with and for people more often.
DVD TEACHING SEGMENT (These videos are no longer available online)
I. PRAYING FOR SOMEONE IN THE MOMENT (URGENCY)
A recurring principle taught throughout Scripture is that of urgency. In other words, don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Afterall, there may never be a tomorrow. For example, we are taught is that if you see a person in need you should act to meet that need immediately if you are able. If a person is hungry, feed them. If they are naked, clothe them. Our actions as Christians validate our faith.
Shouldn’t this principle apply in the realm of prayer also? If you discover a person in need of prayer, don’t delay to intercede for them. Seize the moment and pray with them immediately. The need for prayer is something that we are all capable of meeting, and it is perhaps the greatest need that can be met.
To be perfectly honest, this is an area that I struggle with. I miss opportunities to pray with and for people all the time. I have been conditioned to respond with the well-intentioned “I’ll pray for you” or “We will add you to our prayer list”. Neither of these responses is bad, but I am learning that the better response is “Can we pray together right now?” We must learn to pray with people in the moment of their need.
II. PRAYING OUT LOUD AND/OR IN PUBLIC (HUMILITY)
Several passages in Scripture have been understood erroneously over the years to support the ludicrous notion that people should never pray aloud or publicly. The warning given repeatedly by Jesus is not against praying out loud or in public per se, but against praying to be seen or for show in an effort to impress others.
The Gospels reveal that Jesus himself prayed aloud at times, as did the apostles throughout the book of Acts. They prayed openly in the presence of numerous witnesses. In the well-known parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, it appears that both men prayed out loud. However, one’s prayer was prideful and arrogant while the other’s was humble and contrite.
Whether our prayer is offered in private or in public, or aloud or in silence, is not really the issue. It is the attitude with which it is offered that matters. God longs to hear the cries of a humble heart.
III. WHY SHOULD I PRAY ALOUD WITH SOMEONE IN THE MOMENT?
Praying with someone out loud demonstrates courageous faith. When others hear a person sincerely praying to the LORD, it is an affirmation that they truly believe in God. What better testimony could one present?
Praying with someone out loud can be a great encouragement to the person being prayed for. They actually get to hear the words being prayed and can draw strength from that which is said. Often they will remember the prayer for years to come.
Praying with some out loud in the moment ensures that the person gets prayed for. So often we promise to pray for someone only to forget about it later. The person in need of prayer needs to know that they are indeed being prayed for, and what better way to make them certain than to just go ahead and pray immediately?
Praying out loud with someone allows them to agree with you in prayer. Scripture teaches that when when people agree, the Father will answer. But how can you knowingly agree with a petition you haven’t actually heard spoken?
Praying out loud allows you to release inner emotions that often can’t be adequately expressed silently.
On most occasions, people should pray out loud when praying in the presence of others in a manner than can be clearly heard and understood.
Every day we cross paths with numerous people at our school, at our workplaces, in our churches, in our homes, and elsewhere. Many of these folks don’t know Jesus and the forgiveness He offers. Others are struggling with and suffering from the consequences of sin. They are in desperate need of prayer.
As Christians, we are presented with tremendous opportunities to pray with people all the time. While many are uncomfortable with and will turn someone away who wants to talk to them about Jesus, most are okay with and will allow that same person to pray with them or for them. Prayer is not overly threatening to most unbelievers.
As such, we must always be willing and able to pray with someone on a moment’s notice. This means that we must become comfortable praying out loud and in front of people. I believe that the best way to do this is to become comfortable praying silently… then it is just a matter of turning up the volume.
May we all become more sensitive to recognizing opportunities to pray with individuals in the moment. May we demonstrate the courage to do so when such opportunities arise. These types of encounters can be truly life changing... May the LORD bless you.