Part 4 – What are we to do?
CHAPTER 5 – Living The Christian Life continued…
Our Conduct Or Behavior As Believers
The Christian life is
A WALK, A RACE, A WARFARE, FRUITFUL,
A LIFE OF PEACE, A REST, A LIFE OF PRAYER.
The Walk is One of Obedience (continued)
The Christian Life is a Life of Prayer. (Part One)
Prayer could be regarded in the life of the Christian as the way by which the child of God has an immediate audience with his heavenly Father. Because God is omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipresent (everywhere present), Psalm 139, He is great enough to order the course of the stars in the universe, Psalm 8:3, and at the same time heed the smallest needs of any one of His children, Psalm 34:15,17; Romans 8:15c,d-17. Each believer has God’s attention individually at all times concerning anything he wants to share in prayer with Him.
There is a matter of obedience in regard to praying that the believer who is walking in the Spirit needs to know. There are definite commands for believers in Jesus to pray that will be vital to walking in the Spirit. We will cite only the Scriptures which are a stated command or have the intent of a command.
WHEN ARE WE TO PRAY?
I Thess. 5:17, Pray without ceasing.
Romans 12:12, …continuing diligently in prayer.
Ephesians 6:18, Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
Colossians 4:2, Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.
I Peter 4:7, But the end of all things is at hand; be ye, therefore, soberminded, and watch unto prayer.
Prayer for the Spirit-led believer is spiritual breathing. It is an ongoing activity that becomes a state of mind. In that state of mind the individual becomes aware that he is living and functioning in union with God and will want to communicate with God always about everything, whether consciously or sub-consciously. The individual believer learns he is never to do anything independently from God and that he must go to the Father in prayer about everything. This constant communication is the true essence of fellowship.
Jesus modeled this continuous communication with the Father when He would converse with the Father as He went about His everyday ministry. (See John 6:57; 11:41; 12:27,28; 17:1,5,21.) It was as natural for Him to turn to God, the Father, in prayer as it is for us to talk to one another in our earthly family relationships. This openness of communication is to characterize the manner of prayer as one walks in the Spirit.
FOR WHOM DO WE PRAY?
James 5:16, Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
I Thessalonians 5:25, Brethren, pray for us.
Ephesians 6:18,19, Praying always…for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me…
I Timothy 2:1,2, I exhort, therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men, For kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
Hebrews 13:18, Pray for us; for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.
When we consider the Scriptural commands as for whom we are to pray, four classes of people are given:
1. Those who ask us to pray for them. I Thess. 5:25; Eph. 6:18,19; Heb. 13:18.
2. Those with whom we are closely associated, and for fellow believers. Jas. 5:16; Eph. 6:18.
3. For kings and authorities (government officials). I Tim. 2:1,2.
4. For all men. I Tim. 2:1.
Although the individual believer is not able to know all men or all leaders of government in the world, it is possible to pray as we are made aware of special needs at particular times and in difficult events in the lives of people we don’t know.
There is also the need to remind ourselves, as we pray, of God’s sovereign rule as it relates to all of mankind. We need to pray for God’s will to be accomplished by His drawing sinners to Himself for salvation and for His providential care for leaders in the exercise of their offices.
As the believer walks in the Spirit, prayer becomes a meaningful part of his experience.
WHERE ARE WE TO PRAY?
I Timothy 2:8, I will, therefore, that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
Wherever a believer is can be a place of prayer. Although Jesus said in Matthew 6:6, But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy room, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father, who is in secret… He apparently did not mean to say that is the only place to pray. Rather, He was teaching that making it obvious to others that we are praying, as did the hypocrites, would be wrong and would better be done in a personal, intimate manner. Jesus demonstrated that prayer could be offered in the normal course of His activities (John 11:41,42; 12:27‑30).
In I Timothy 2:8, in addition to saying that men ought to pray everywhere, we are told the manner in which we should pray. The lifting up holy hands would point back to the practice of the priests who served in the temple by washing their hands and feet at the laver in order that their service be undefiled. In the practical sense, it would mean that the one praying should be as a cleansed vessel presenting himself to God for God to use in answering the prayer being offered. The phrase, without wrath and doubting, indicates that wrath and any other offenses need to be put away (Matt. 5:22‑24), and the believer should come in full confidence to God (Heb. 4:16).
WHY ARE WE TO PRAY?
Philippians 4:6,7, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
It is quite common for people to react to life’s pressures and concerns with anxiety. But God has provided the means whereby the believer who is walking in the Spirit is able to replace the tendency towards being anxious, with experiencing God’s peace. The change comes as the believer comes to God in prayer with supplications (strong pleadings) and presents whatever requests he chooses to make. The degree of our strong pleadings is usually proportionate to the amount of anxiety we may be experiencing. Another dimension which is included with our prayers and supplications is the fact that it is to be accompanied with thanksgiving. We usually do well in presenting our needs to God, but we usually forget to thank God as we make the requests. Thanksgiving is to include thanks for the situation God has placed us in by His providence, thanks for the relationship we have with Him as our heavenly Father, and thanks for the answer and the way and the time in which He will bring the answer. As we walk in the Spirit we are able more readily to be thankful while making our requests than we would tend to be if we were not walking in the Spirit. If we will pray as described in Philippians 4:6, then the peace of God will be a reality, and it will keep (our)hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. By praying as prescribed here, the believer avoids being overcome by anxiety and the stress that leads to disease and nervous disorders and replaces the anxiety with God’s peace. When our hearts and minds are kept (or, preserved) through the peace God gives, we are able to see the provisions God sets in our pathway which, under anxiety, we would not recognize.
Next Week: Part Five continued: The Christian Life is a Life of Prayer (Why Are We To Pray?)
Copyright © 1996 A. Ward Brandenstein
Used with permission.
A. Ward Brandenstein
Pastor Ward earned an M.A. in Guidance and Counselling from Eastern Michigan University after taking special courses in psychology at Wayne State University, and earned a Bachelor of Theology (Th.B.) from Baptist Bible College and Seminary with Greek and Hebrew studies, and earned a diploma from Philadelphia Bible Institute (now Cairn U.), including New Testament Greek studies. His knowledge of the Bible and close walk with God are appreciated by all who know him and have sat under his teaching. Pastor Brandenstein and his wife Rose Ann reside in California, teaching college level singles and married couples, young professionals, and retired pastors and missionaries.