PRAYER: Ordinary Means of Grace

Here’s the outline for my sermon on prayer as an ordinary means of grace, which I preached at Cross of Christ Fellowship, our church in Naperville.

We have been spending the month of July looking together at Acts 2:42. Here is a scene from the Early Church where 3k people have come to faith in Christ and here we see their pattern of devotion: READ ACTS 2:42.
        -Devoted to Word of God, fellowship, Lord’s Supper, and prayer.
                    -THESE are the means of grace, God’s appointed ways for us to grow and mature as Christians.
                                -So far we have considered the Word of God, fellowship, and the Lord’s Supper.
                                            -Today, we look at PRAYER together.
KEY TAKEWAY: Prayer is a vital way for us to experience God’s grace and be strengthened in our faith.

3 Questions 1. What is prayer? 2. What does it means to be devoted to prayer? 3. How is it a means of grace?
                    *Prayer is a vital way for us to experience God’s grace and be strengthened in our faith.*
1 What is Prayer?
-KIDS:
What is prayer? NCC: Prayer is pouring out our hearts to God.
NCC Adult: Prayer is pouring out our hearts to God in praise, petition, confession of sin, and thanksgiving.
        -It is talking to God. Wayne Grudem: Prayer is a “personal communication with God, corporate or individual”
                    -“God is there and He is not Silent” (Schaeffer)= God speaks to us and we are invited to speak to Him.
-Question:
What is the POINT OF PRAYER? If God is sovereign, why pray?
 *JOHN FRAME on WHY SHOULD WE PRAY?
        1. Divine Command (1 Thess 5:17); 2. Fellowship with God; 3. Prayer Changes Things
-“God ordains prayer as a means to change history. There are things that happen because of prayer, and things that do not happen because of no prayer.”
-“Now, of course, prayer doesn’t change the eternal plan of God. But within that eternal plan are many plans for means and ends. God ordains that crops will grow, but not without water and sun. He ordains that people will be saved, but (ordinarily) not without the teaching of the Word. And he ordains that we will have everything we truly need, but not without prayer. God’s eternal plan has determined that many things will be achieved by prayer, and many things will not be achieved without prayer.”

-Prayer in relation to the GOSPEL
       
-We were made for relationship with God, to know and love Him and talk with Him.
        -Sin has cut off our relationship with God. We are guilty before, headed to hell. Our dead hearts don’t want to pray
        -Jesus came to save us. He lived a perfect life, a life that included prayer. He taught us about prayer
                    -Jesus died on the cross of our sins and rose again: RECONCILES us to God.
        -Through faith in him and repentance of sins we receive this gift of eternal life.
                    -God makes us His children, children who are prayerful.
 *CHRISTIANS OUGHT TO BE A PRAYING PEOPLE:
Doesn’t save us, but show we have been saved.         -Praying does not save us, but it one evidence that we have been saved.
                                *Prayer is a vital way for us to experience God’s grace and be strengthened in our faith.*
2. What does it mean to be DEVOTED to prayer?
-CORPORATE PRAYER: Acts 1:14; Acts 12:5
        -OUR CHURCH:
On Sundays, at CG, at Women’s/Men’s Fellowship, DG
                    -At NCC outreach (3-4 PM)
-INDIVIDUAL PRAYER: Luke 18:1; 1 Thess 5:17
        –
By ourselves, in our families, with friends.
                    REMEMBER: Different kinds of prayer: ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication)

*QUESTION: If someone looked at our lives, would they say: you are devoted to prayer?
 APP: -As you read the Bible each day, pray over it. Let the Scriptures inform your prayers
           -Go to your room and close and the door and prayer; or go for a walk and pray
           -Pray with your spouse each night before you fall asleep. Fall asleep giving thanks for the day.

                    *Prayer is a vital way for us to experience God’s grace and be strengthened in our faith.*
3. How is prayer a means of grace? 7 WAYS
1 Through PRAYER we experience the grace of communion with God
                    -Being close to God is our joy and life. It strengthens us to be close to God
                                -Psalm 27:4, 8-9;
                                            -Piper “God is the gospel”= we get to know God!
CHILDREN: You were made to know and love God. Christianity is not a set of rules of how to be right and wrong, it is an invitation through Jesus to come back to know and love God.

2 Through PRAYER we experience the grace of delighting in God (adoration)
                    -Our hearts were made to revel in God’s glory and love: John 17:3; Ps 16:11
                                -CHALLENGE of being a Christian in Naperville: Thinking this world can satisfy
                                            -THINGS OF THIS WORLD CANNOT SATISFY: job, relationship, possessions
                                                         -Matt 10:39=losing our life to find out life.

3 Through PRAYER we experience the grace of unburdening our sin (confession)
                    -Jesus invites us to himself (Matt 11:28-30)
                                -PILGRIM’S PROGRESS (Christian has weight on his back)
                                            -All sin forgiven at cross, but we daily confess our sin for relationship with God.

4 Through PRAYER we experience the grace of giving thanks to God (thanksgiving)
                    -Goodness of giving thanks. We ought to do this
                                -Teaching children to say “thank you”=how much more should we!
                               
5 Through PRAYER we experience the grace of God’s provision (petition)
                    -Matt 7:7-10
                                -God is our provider. We experience the grace of His provision.

6 Through PRAYER we experience the grace of communion with other Christians
                    -We come together with other Christians.

7 Through PRAYER we ask for God’s grace to be upon others
                    -Prayer for all peoples (1 Tim 2:1-2)
                                -Pray for the lost (Romans 10:1)
                                -Pray to help other Christians (2 Cor 1:11)
                                            -Please pray for me as a pastor: this is one of the greatest to bless and help me.
                    *Prayer is a vital way for us to experience God’s grace and be strengthened in our faith.*

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