Stages: Spiritual Young Adult: Why do we pray?

When I was sixteen, I had a job and was driving my parent’s car.  I was pretty important stuff, I thought. I felt pretty confident and decided I had grown up enough, so I asked my mother, “Is it okay if I start calling you Phyllis?”  I’ll never forget her response. She said, “Bryan, you will always call me mom or mother, nothing else.” It was pretty clear I had crossed the line. I got the picture. She was still my authority. I still call her mom, although out of respect and honor, not as my authority.

Sometimes spiritual young adults get full of themselves and begin to think they have spirituality by the tail.  They start getting the big overt sins under control and begin to think they can live the spiritual life on their own. They forget the absolute holiness, awesomeness and immensity of the transcendence of God! Spiritual young adults are often at a point where they should understand “why” they should pray. Consider and disciple these principles to spiritual young adults. Why should we pray?

First, prayer shows dependence on Jesus. Prayer may only be talking, but the purpose is demonstrating dependence on the Lord. John wrote, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” (1 John 3:22 NKJ) We keep His commandments, because we love Him.  We love Him, because He loved us first (1 John 4:19). Therefore we become more and more dependent on Him. In fact, God wants us dependent upon Him for wisdom in life, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (Jam. 1:5 NKJ)

Jesus showed dependence on the Father when He taught the disciples to pray. Luke recorded,

Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” 2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Luke 11:1-4 NKJ)

Jesus showed how the disciples were to depend on the Father. First, we depend by knowing that God alone is holy and it is God’s kingdom that will be established. Secondly, we depend on Him for daily bread. Thirdly, we depend on Him for forgiveness of our sins. Fourthly, we depend on Him to enable us to forgive others. Fifthly, we depend on Him for deliverance from the devil. Prayer shows dependence on the Father.

Secondly, prayer to the Father is the means of answers and provisions in life. Jesus taught, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8 NKJ) God wants His children to have what they need in life (maybe not their desires or wants), and their asking, seeking and knocking demonstrates dependency on the Father for His answers and provisions. (Phil. 4:19)  God often doesn’t answer right away, because He is testing our resolve to depend on Him.

Thirdly, I sin when I do not pray. Paul wrote, “…pray without ceasing.” (1 Thes. 5:17 NKJ) The word “pray” is a command.  Many have compared this kind of prayer to a hacking cough. This certainly gets the idea of something that happens very often. However, I’m not sure that is even the best translation, but rather “be in continual communion” with the Father in prayer. If we are commanded to pray, then James makes it clear that it is sin not to pray, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. (Jam. 4:17 NKJ) Doing good, or the right thing to do, is praying.  Not praying is sin. I especially appreciate Samuel’s response to Israel on their behalf, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.” (1 Sam. 12:23 NKJ)

However, fourthly, God will not hear if I hold sin in my life.  I must confess my sins to God. Confessing sin is turning back to God in repentance or turning around and acknowledging my sin to Him. Isaiah stated the principle very clearly,

Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. (Is. 59:1-2 NKJ)

If there is any unconfessed or unforsaken sin in my life, God will not hear as the Psalmist wrote, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.” (Ps. 66:18 NKJ) In fact, Peter says the same thing, “For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.” (1 Pet. 3:12 NKJ)

Fifthly, I will not receive if I do not ask. Some people think, “God knows what I need, so He will give it when He thinks I need it.” Yet James wrote, “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” (Jam. 4:2 NKJ) Yes, God knows exactly what you need, but your prayer shows your humble dependence upon Him.

Sixthly, I will not receive anything from the Lord if I pray doubting. James wrote, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.” (Jam. 1:6-7 NKJ) Doubting God in what He promises in Scripture is actually blasphemous, because the doubting says God cannot do what He promised.

Seventhly, prayer is for strengthening others in the body of Christ. God never intended for you to function alone. You need the prayers of others and to support others in prayer.  Jesus said, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:32 NKJ)

Eighthly, pray to resist or avoid temptation. As a child of God, we are called to holiness, which means we must resist and avoid temptation to sin.  Here are several statements Jesus made to His disciples in His pattern of prayer and admonition to pray during the night before the crucifixion,

13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen1. (Matt. 6:13 NKJ)

41 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 26:41; Mark 14:38 NKJ)

40 When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:40 NKJ)

4 And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Luke 11:4 NKJ)

It is a frightening thing to become a young adult and be so confident, you do not need others.  That is normal to the flesh, but is a dangerous attitude in spiritual warfare.  Every spiritual young adult learns to depend on Jesus, or learn the hard way through falling into sin. Choose you this day, on whom you will depend.  As for me and my house, we will depend on the Lord!

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