This Sunday throughout the world people are celebrating Palm Sunday, the Sunday Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, hailed by the crowds as the Son of David. People placed palm leaves and even their garments on the ground for Jesus to ride over as He rode into town. They shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” And, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple courts. There Jesus made a whip of cords and drove out all who were buying and selling. He turned over the tables of the money changers and benches of those who sold pigeons. He declared concerning the Temple, “It is written, My Father’s house will be called a House of Prayer for all nations, but you have made it a den of robbers!” Mark 11:17. A house of prayer…
How do Jesus words about the temple have application to our lives?
As we saw in our study of the Holy Spirit, God’s word says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.” 1 Cor. 6:19-20. There are many ways we can honor God with our bodies. In reflection on Jesus words about the temple being a house of prayer, how can that also be true of our bodies? Do we recognize that God dwells within us by His Holy Spirit? That being the case…
Is your body a place of prayer?
The New Testament makes prayer a defining characteristic of God’s people. Christians are commanded to pray. We are instructed to devote ourselves to prayer (Col. 4:2), to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17), to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests, and to be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints (Eph. 5:18). In 1 Timothy 2:1-4 Paul, telling Timothy what the church should do says this: “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Notice how he introduces this instruction: “First of all…” This is number one on the list. And what did God’s word say we should do, first of all? What should characterize the people of God first of all? Prayer. Why prayer? Why not reading the Bible? Because, people who can’t read the Bible, can pray!
Parents, as early as possible, we need to teach our children who God is and teach them to pray. If you want to build a faithful family, this is what you do “first of all.” If you are going to teach your children to pray, “first of all” you’ve got to be a person of prayer.
The Book of Acts records what the early church did. Among the things that stand out, is the prayer life of the church. When Jesus left His disciples and returned to heaven, they went back to Jerusalem and waited for power from on High. While they were waiting, what do you think they were doing? Acts 1:14 (read). They were also considering the scriptures. When they figured out that Judas needed to be replaced, what do you think they did? Acts 1:24
On Pentecost, after the Holy Spirit came and Peter preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to the crowds who assembled, look at what they did: Acts 2:41-42. In the very next chapter of Acts, Peter and John were going up to the temple, at guess what hour? The hour of prayer.
On the way they healed a lame man, preached to another crowd and were arrested, thrown in jail and the next day brought before the Sanhedren who severely warned them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus again, and were released. Guess what they did first: They gathered the church, reported what happened and… prayed. What did they pray for? Let’s read it: Acts 4:23-31.
The New Testament depicts Prayer as the very fabric of Christian behavior! Jesus puts prayer right between giving and fasting. These three, Jesus calls, “Acts of righteousness.” Now think about this. Are these three things the fabric of our Christian behavior today? As I read about this in my Bible and consider my life, I’m both grateful and ashamed! What if, on judgement day, you are judged by these three things: How we gave, how we prayed, and how we fasted. How would you do?
Let me just jump to the application part of this lesson.
I find myself praying mostly about things I have no control over, and less about things I do have control over (or at least THINK I have control over). How about you?
Prayer is a way for us to share life with God as we live it. Prayer helps us grow in our relationship with God, it helps us explore our faith, hope and love by articulating our thoughts. Prayer keeps our attention on things above, and our awareness of God. The Psalms are mostly prayers, and they give us many wonderful examples of prayer in its various forms.
There are at least five ways in which we pray in scripture: (Hand slide)
1. First is praise and adoration. Psalm 104 is an example
2. Thanksgiving and gratefulness. Psalm 107 for example
3. Confession of sin and of God’s power over us. Psalm 51 for example
4. Intercession, prayers for someone else. John 17 for example
5. Petitions, requests, supplications for yourself. Matthew 26:36-46 for example
Prayer reaches the heights of comfort and joy, the depths of sorrow and suffering…
Prayer reaches God and draws us close to Him.