SPECIAL TOPIC: PRAYER, UNLIMITED YET LIMITED

A. The Synoptic Gospels

1. believers are encouraged to persevere in prayer and God will provide "good things" (Matthew, Matt. 7:7-11) or "His Spirit" (Luke, Luke 11:5-13)

2. in the context of church discipline believers (two) are encouraged to unite in prayer (Matt. 18:19)

3. in the context of the judgment of Judaism believers are to ask in faith without doubting (Matt. 21:22; Mark 11:23-24)

4. in the context of two parables (Luke 18:1-8, the unrighteous judge and Luke 18:9-14, the Pharisee and the sinner) believers are encouraged to act differently from the godless judge and self-righteous Pharisee.  God hears the humble and repentant (Luke 18:1-14)

B. John's writings

1. in the context of the man born blind whom Jesus heals, the true blindness of the Pharisees is revealed.  Jesus' prayers (as anyone's) are answered because He knew God and lived accordingly (John 9:31).

2. John's Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17)

 a. John 14:12-14 – believing prayer characterized by

 1) coming from believers

 2) asking in Jesus' name

 3) desiring that the Father be glorified

 4) keeping commandments (v. 15)

 b. John 15:7-10 – believers prayer characterized by

 1) abiding in Jesus

 2) His word abiding in them

 3) desiring that the Father be glorified

 4) producing much fruit

 5) keeping commandments (v. 10) 

 c. John 15:15-17 – believers' prayer characterized by

 1) their election

 2) their fruit bearing

 3) asking in Jesus' name

 4) keeping command to love one another

 d. John 16:23-24 – believers' prayers characterized by

 1) asking in Jesus' name

 2) desiring that joy be made full

3. John's first letter (1 John)

 a. 1 John 3:22-24 – believers' prayer characterized by

 1) keeping His commandments (vv. 22,24)

 2) living appropriately

 3) believing in Jesus

 4) loving one another

 5) abiding in Him and He in us

 6) having the gift of the Spirit

 b. 1 John 5:14-16 – believers' prayer characterized by

 1) confidence in God

 2) according to His will

 3) believers praying for each other

C. James

1. James 1:5-7 – believers confronted with various trials are called on to ask for wisdom without doubting

2. James 4:2-3 – believers must ask with proper motives

3. James 5:13-18 – believers faced with health problems are encouraged

a. to ask elders to pray

b. to pray in faith

c. to ask that their sins will be forgiven

d. to confess sin to one another and pray for one another (similar to 1 John 5:16)

 

The key to effective prayer is Christlikeness.  This is what praying in Jesus' name means. The worst thing God could do for most Christians is to answer their selfish prayers!  In one sense all prayers are answered.  The most valuable aspect of prayer is that the believer has spent time with God, trusting God.

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