Levels of Prayer – Pastor Ben Sanders

Today we wrap up our series on The Ministry of the Saints with a crucial topic! We are going to discuss the subject of prayer and how it directly correlates to other issues in our life. Prayer can literally make or break our Christian walk.

I would imagine that there are countless ways of visualizing or even describing prayer. There are probably as many methods as there are religions in this world. However, I’m sure we can agree that the first and most important aspect is WHO do you pray to?

It’s easy to see how an unsaved person could be perplexed about which god to pray to and how the prayers should go. There is no shortage of deception out there when it comes to different gods and different worship practices. For the sake of time, it will be understood that there is but one God and He is the ONLY living God to whom we pray.

Now that we have that firmly established, it is beneficial to understand that our prayer life is in direct correlation to our faith life. If we don’t consistently exercise our faith muscles, by trusting that God is working on our behalf, our prayers will show it. Don’t misunderstand, all of us come to God with doubt about things, but if you don’t leave your doubt and fear in His hands, we won’t grow. If we don’t grow spiritually in our faith our prayers will be a laundry list of requests that we don’t even believe can be answered.

If you think about it, it’s a very cyclical process. The more you choose prayer over worry, the more your faith grows. The more your faith grows the stronger your prayer life becomes.

I Thessalonians 5:17 days to “Pray without ceasing.” Now this is a very tall order! For some reason worrying without ceasing or complaining without ceasing seems to come more natural to us. Ironically, prayer is the one thing that could bring us the most peace, but sometimes it’s a struggle for us. Truly surrendering our will, our emotions and our thoughts to the Lord in prayer can be difficult because satan knows it’s the place we experience the most power!

The big question that accompanies a sermon on prayer is, “How do we pray?! Well, God in His infinite wisdom knew this would be a huge question and so He provided the answer. Matthew 6:10-13 is what is referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer.” This is the perfect prayer and if you don’t know how to pray, then this is the premier place to start! “Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,
your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.” If you were to take every line of this prayer and make it applicable to your own life, you could be praying for several minutes on this prayer alone.

Praying the Lord’s Prayer or the Psalms or any other scripture is more of a formal prayer. Even though you might be repeating these scriptures over and over, it’s ok because it keeps your mind focused on the Lord. This is different from the “vain repetitions or empty phrases” that are mentioned right above the scriptures just mentioned. Verse 7 says, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

This would be more like rushing through and repeating a memorized prayer in order to check a box. The formal prayer consisting of Scripture is not empty. These are life giving words. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” This is very different.

There will also be times when you have exhausted all your human abilities to pray about a matter. This could be from mental and emotional exhaustion or just a lack of understanding of all the details. In these moments you may choose to pray in the Spirit…or pray in tongues because it is the Holy Spirit interceding on your behalf. It’s the perfect prayer that goes unhindered directly to the throne room of God.

No matter how long we have been praying in our life, we can always pray more. Life affords us constant material to pray about and God is ready to connect with us in prayer. May we all desire a more rich and intimate prayer life with our Creator!