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Who Do We Pray To? The Triune God

September 25, 2016              

Who Do We Pray To? The Triune God

Luke 11:1-4 To the Father

John 14:12-14 In the Name of Jesus

Romans 8:26-27 By the Power of the Holy Spirit

 

Children’s Sermon:  Put an older child on “the throne”.  Have a second child sit on the right.  Have a third child stand at the top of the stairs acting as go between. 

The rest of the kids will be asking for something: food to eat, someone to get well, help for a sad friend, their tummy hurts and they want to feel better.

They tell it to the “go-between” who approaches the king and says, “I have a request from ___________.  Before answering, the kings asks the one on his right, “Do you know this person?” and they answer yes. Then the go-between makes the request to the king.

 

That’s a little bit what it looks like when we pray.  We are to take our concerns to God the Father, in the Name of Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Every person of the Trinity is involved when we pray.  That’s an important thing to learn. Let’s practice it now:  Father God, we come to you.  Teach us how to pray . . . in the way that best honors You.  We invite the Holy Spirit . . . to show us what to pray for . . . so that you are honored . . . and glorified.  We pray this . . . in the name of Jesus who knows us.  Amen.

 

Intro:  Secret Formula’s.  We are always looking for them:  The secret formula for how to get rich or put our money worries away; The secret formula for how to get homework done quicker;  The secret formula for losing weight effortlessly;  The secret formula for making our church grow.

 

People have been on the quest for years!  But not one secret formula has seemed to do the trick in any of these places consistently and if we are wise, we have learned that all of these things can only happen when we are committed to seeing them through with hard work and discipline.  Sigh.

 

Prayer is not different.  We want to find a formula to pray so that whenever we want something from God we are sure that we will get it.  Notice who the center is in that?

 

We are working our way through the “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How” of prayer and this week we address the “who”.  The “formula” Scripture tells us to use when we pray is: To the Father, in the name of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Warning:  This is not an incantation that makes God do what we want God to do!  But it is a pattern, when followed, will increase the chances that we are asking according to the will of God, for what he wants when he wants it, giving Him the glory that He alone deserves.

 

The three Scriptures we are going to look at teach this formula, but I am taking them out of their original conversations, so I encourage you to check when you get home to see the full context of what they are speaking of.

 

Luke 11:1-4 Jesus taught that we are to pray to the Father.  READ

The Father is who Jesus addressed when he prayed.  Like little children who are dependent on their parents to meet their needs, when we pray to the Father, we are acknowledging our dependence on him rather than on ourselves. How often do we pray in a self-sufficient manner? “God, I’m going to do this and expect you to bless it, whether you think it’s a good idea or not. Amen.” We pray to the Father because we understand that he is the provider for all of our needs.

 

John 14:12-14  We are to pray in the name of Jesus.  READ

You have probably often heard or said at the end of a prayer, “In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”  Do you ever wonder why that is said?  Is it just a habit?  Too often, I neglect to think about who Jesus actually is when I pray something in his name.  I follow the example I’ve been given, but without thinking about what I’m doing.  How many of us live too much of life in that manner!

I’d like to share a short clip from a sermon by John Piper on this topic.  He states that when we pray “in Jesus’ name” there are four filters we are going through and we should check to make sure we use each one, or else we may just be saying words.

 

Show video  http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/four-filters-for-praying-in-jesus-name

 

This presents the question: When we approach God are we after our will or His to be done? When we pray, do we even take into consideration that what we are asking God to do for us does not line up with the works he has prepared for us to do?  When we pray in Jesus’ name, do we think about what He did to provide us the way to the Father?  Do we consider that every time we come to pray it’s in the name of the One who sacrificed everything for us and we ask him to give us a sunny day for our picnic?

 

I don’t know about you, but I think I’ve spent too much time playing at praying and treating God as if he were a giant vending machine in the sky.  We deposit our “I want’s” and expect him to dispense them to our specification.  Have we stunted the growth of the church and our growth as disciples of Christ because we’ve not learned or taken seriously praying in Jesus’ name?

 

Our not-magic formula for praying so far is that we pray to God the Father in the name of God the Son, Jesus Christ.

 

Romans 8:26-27 We pray in the power of the Holy Spirit.  READ

If you are anything like me, your understanding of and relationship to the Holy Spirit may be the weakest link with the Triune God.  So perhaps this should be our homework for the week as we work through our prayer journals together.  What if we practiced waiting for and listening to what the Holy Spirit wants us to pray before we begin. 

 

The Spirit longs to glorify Christ.  Christ longs to glorify the Father.  So when we seek out the Holy Spirit to lead us when we pray, we will most likely be praying God’s will, which he will grant so that he can receive glory. 

 

Wait.  Did I say that if we pray this way we get what we want? No.  I have a news flash for you.  The purpose of prayer is not to get what we want.  The purpose of praying is that God is glorified.

 

The word we have translated as “intercession” in the NIV and many other English translations of the Bible has as it’s base the Greek for “pleading for us, over us”.

So we would understand these two phrases like this:

“but the Spirit himself is pleading for us and over us through wordless groans”

and

“the Spirit pleads for and over God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

 

I think that I am too often guilty of not taking prayer quite as seriously as God does.  Too often I think it’s about me, the current situation I see, the things I want to see happen in someone’s life or mine.  We have this incredible opportunity to approach the throne of the Creator of the universe and submit our requests to him.  That is amazing grace.  We are invited to come boldly with our requests.  But I wonder if we need to pay better attention to what we are asking and why?  Who are we seeking to honor when we pray?  In our need, in our wanting, in our questioning?

 

 

 

 

So lets practice.  Instead of me praying for the concerns presented for prayer this morning I’d like us to all be intercessors for those I name.  We are called, as brothers and sisters in Christ to plead for one another, just as the Spirit pleads for us.

 

Are you ready? So as you assume your posture of prayer, I invite you to envision God the Father and approach him.  Address Him with whatever you are comfortable calling Him.

 

Now imagine that Jesus the Son, is standing next to you.  The one who was crucified and whom the Father rose from the dead has ascended and sits next to God and is with you when you pray.  It is because of him that you have access to the throne of God and His grace.  It is in his name that you will be asking God for anything.

 

Finally, as we begin to pray, invite the Holy Spirit to plead for you.  To plead God’s will to be done in each situation and if specific words come to present to God on behalf of another, speak them to God.

 

Let us pray.

Mention each concern

Present the future direction of our ministry as a congregation

Offer up Thanksgiving for the joys

The Lord’s Prayer

 

AS you use your 40 Days of Prayer Journal this week, practice praying with the whole Trinity.