Relevant: The Rewards of Praying (part 3)

Sermon Summary

This message is the third on the rewards of praying. The rewards are found by looking at the actual content of prayer which include faith, praise, trust and submission. As we walk by faith, we begin to see things we were once blinded to! We talked about this last week. In prayer we begin to see God in all of His righteousness, majesty and glory! When this happens the content of prayer naturally moves to praise and worship! This message looks at the role trust and submission plays in the activity of prayer. They are both crucial components and when a person decides to trust the motives of God and allows His will to be done in their life, the rewards become apparent.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Why is trust such a crucial component to any relationship?

2. You can have faith in God and even praise Him, but if you don't trust Him to rule over your life by submitting to His will then you will miss out on so much that God has in store for your life. Why is trust such an important part of our relationship with God? List the things God does for the Psalmist when He decides to place His trust in God! Hint:There are at least 6!

Psa 40:1  For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
Psa 40:2  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
Psa 40:3  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.
Psa 40:4  Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.
Psa 40:5  Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.

3. Submitting to God's will requires that we allow God to put the right kind of desires in our heart. We do this by committing our plans and goals to Him. In the following passage the words "he will give you the desires of your heart" can also be translated "he will give your heart it's desires." Read the passage and discuss this concept.

Psa 37:3  Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Psa 37:4  Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psa 37:5  Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
Psa 37:6  He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Psa 37:7  Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

4. Why is it so hard for us to surrender all?

1 Pet 5:5  Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
1 Pet 5:6  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
1 Pet 5:7  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Full Sermon Notes

Relevant: The Rewards of Praying (part 3)

That song contains the lyrics to one of my favorite old hymns; I Surrender All! As we continue to study Jesus' teaching on prayer, we must understand that the most powerful and effective prayers are prayed when we come to Jesus in complete surrender. Surrender to His love, His mercy, His compassions, His Lordship, and His divine will. And of course that takes trust! So let's ask the Lord today to help us not only pray to Him, but to learn to trust Him! So let's bring that request to Him right now!

"Father God, we have the faith to believe, that's why we pray in the first place. And when we just how amazing You are in all of Your glory, it's an easy thing to give You praise! But Lord Jesus we all admit that placing our trust in You is not always an easy thing. Trusting You with our daily decisions, our goals in life, our personal relationships, our finances, our attitudes, our actions, and even our physical health is something we all need to grow in. Help us to learn to trust you in our prayers. I trust You today with this message! I trust You to speak Your Word through Your humble servant, and as always, I give You all the glory!! In Jesus Name I pray and I believe!

The Content of Prayer

Last week we began a look at the content of the Model Prayer, or as it is more commonly known, The Lord's Prayer. We looked at the first line of that prayer and discovered two major contents of prayer. Let's read that first line again. Matthew 6:9

“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

When a person prays to their Father in Heaven, it stands to reason that person has at least some amount of faith that God exist. So the first item in the content of prayer is...

Faith

God's Word tells us this about faith in many places but listen to what we find in
2 Corinthians 5:7 and Hebrews 11:1…

We live by faith, not by sight.

And then in Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

But here's a beautiful thing. As we walk by faith, we begin to see things we were once blinded to! We talked about this last week. In prayer we begin to see God in all of His righteousness, majesty and glory! When this happens the content of prayer naturally moves to praise and worship!

Praise

In faith we believe that God is and in praise  we acknowledge who God is!

Psalm 89:5-8 The heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him.
O LORD God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O LORD, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

So the model prayer starts with faith, moves to praise, and then to the third item in the content of prayer list which is...

Trust

Matthew 6:9-10 “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

What do the words "your kingdom come" have to do with trust? It has everything to do with trust. You see, the Kingdom of God or as Matthew would say, the Kingdom of Heaven, are both New Testament phrases to describe any place where God rules or has Kingly authority. Of course we all know that ultimately God rules everywhere, but He has chosen to give us rights of refusal. You see, someday every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, but in this life, in this world, we have been given the choice of trusting God to rule over our hearts and lives or we can reject Him and live as our own lord, which I do not recommend, because I've been there, done that, and it's no fun!

The fact that we have a choice is why we are to pray for God's Kingdom to come. While God rules the universe, His greatest desire is to be allowed to set up His Kingdom in your heart and life. In fact the desire of God to set up His kingdom in people's lives was the central theme of much of Jesus' preaching. It was one of the very first things Jesus preached as He started His ministry. Listen...

Mark 1:14-18 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.

Jesus said the Kingdom of God was near because all of the prophecies of the Old Testament which were to be fulfilled in The coming Messiah were being fulfilled in Jesus and He was going to make a way, through His life and death, for people to be able to be made right with God. But He made it clear that they had to choose to repent and believe! How amazing is it that the God of the Universe has given us the power to choose and that His heartbeat is for us to allow Him into our lives so He can be our king! That in itself should tell you what kind of King He is and why He can be trusted! And why is this so important? The reason is this: If we think He is an evil, mean spirited, selfish, and vindictive God motivated by a desire to simply show us how powerful He is, then we won't trust Him and we'll certainly not want His kingdom to come! But Jesus had come to this earth to show us the heart of the Father and He did that by His own actions. Check this out...

Mark 10:42-45 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles
lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.
Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,
and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Once again, Jesus is showing the difference between God and man. He tells them to think about how men love to rule over people and exercise power over them for the sake of exercising power over them and showing off their great strength. But Jesus states emphatically this is not the way it works in God's Kingdom and then speaks of the sacrifice He will later make on the cross. "…and to give His life as a ransom for many." One of my favorite professors in Seminary, Fisher Humphreys put it this way in the Holman Bible Dictionary...

"In His preaching Jesus regularly invited people to enter the kingdom of God, that is, to open their lives to the ruling of God. It is important to notice whom He invited. He invited everyone. That is the great surprise. He did not restrict the invitation to the respectable people, or the religious, or the wealthy or powerful...
(In Jesus' day wealth and power were often thought to be signs of God's blessing). Jesus included everyone without distinction. He spoke of God sending His servants out to highways and hedges to urge people to come in to the kingdom...In brief, God is very gracious and loving toward all people, and His kingdom is offered to everyone."

Oh and by the way, God does not give out memberships to the kingdom based on how good you are! People who think they're good enough are full of just enough pride to keep them outside the Kingdom of God. In fact, a good example of this is found in Matthew 21:23-32. Let's listen in on that conversation...

Matthew 21:23-32 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what
authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”
Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say,
‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’
But if we say, ‘From men’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
“ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
“Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors
and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.
For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did.
And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him."

What made the difference? The religious leaders could talk religion, but they were not willing to trust their hearts to the rule of God! They chose instead to use their positions of wealth and power for their own pleasure. The tax collectors and prostitutes did some terrible things, but when confronted with their sin, they repented and put their trust in God and became citizens of the the Kingdom of God! The Pharisees may have been willing to mouth the words, "Your kingdom come," because they thought that went hand in hand with Israel being a world power again and that would bring them more opportunities to advance their own agendas. But they had a real problem with the next item in the contents of Jesus' model prayer...

Submission

Matthew 6:9-10 “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

When you live in a kingdom where there is a ruler, their has to be submission or there really is no ruler, so Jesus follows the words "Your kingdom come," with "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!" And this is where it all fell apart for the Pharisees and religious rulers. They didn't want God's will to be done, they wanted their will to be done. Now you know why they crucified Jesus! His ideas threatened their positions of power. Now what I'm going to say next may be a little hard to swallow, but how many times have we been hesitant to pray the model prayer and really mean it, because we knew if we asked God's Kingdom to come then we would have to submit to His will and we were afraid that might not match with our plans, our agendas, our goals, our wants and desires?

But here's what we must understand: If we really trust God's heart and His motives, then we must believe His plans, His agendas, His goals, His wants and desires, and His ultimate purpose for our lives is far superior than anything we could ever conceive or conjure up! In order to submit to God's will we must trust His heart. Remember the old hymn our praise song referenced? I surrender all...

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

Isaiah had spoken of this trust to the Israelites way back in the Old Testament. And remember Isaiah was one of the prophets who spoke so clearly of the coming Messiah. God wanted to establish His kingdom beginning with the people of Israel and then out to the whole world. How do I know? Listen to the prophet's words...

Isaiah 12:2-6 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD,
the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
In that day you will say: “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you. ”

Did you notice he said "let this be known to all the world?" And then in Isaiah 26:3-4...

Isaiah 26:3-4 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.

When you have this level of trust in God it's not hard to submit to His will because you begin to know that His will is superior to yours, but this kind of submission requires humility!
Back to that old hymn, written in 1896 by Judson W. Van DeVenter...

All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at His feet I bow;
Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

Now I know it's not easy to surrender all! I'm not ignorant of the daily spiritual battles that take place between our human pride and it's desires and the ever-present calling of the Holy Spirit for us to find pleasure in a higher purpose. And yes The Holy Spirit is not against pleasure. He doesn't want us to be miserable, but He knows the kinds of pleasures that truly satisfy the soul and the kinds that will destroy the soul! Satan wants you to believe that if you submit to God and His will then you will be the most miserable human being that ever lived. Satan wants you to believe that God's way is boring, no fun, un-rewarding, and ridiculous.

I hope you don't mind me using a personal example, but I can debunk Satan's lies on this. When I was living in the world and had rejected Christ, and all that my parents stood for as devote followers of Jesus, I was constantly in trouble at school, passing only because no teacher wanted to have to deal with me another year, and I only had brief moments of happiness when I was out with my friends, but then it was misery wondering if I was going to get caught for my shenanigans! I was always battling with my parents about everything. Why? Because I knew everything!! They weren't very smart. But then I met Jesus and everything changed. My parents even changed. All of a sudden they were brilliant and I wanted them to teach me all they knew! I started doing better in school. And by my junior year in High School I was given the privilege to be president of the Youth For Christ Bible club, which had as many as 200 students that would meet in the school auditorium for Christian concerts. And I went from just listening to head banging, not very positive music to recording three Christian rock albums. Yes, I'm old, my first album was an album, vinyl, hey they're the thing now! God has allowed me to do mission trips to Haiti, become the chaplain to an amazing Fire Department, St. Tammany Fire District One, serve as one of our Coroner's Chaplains, to work with the most amazing staff team to be found anywhere, and to pastor what I consider to be the coolest bunch of folks on planet earth at Northshore Church, and last, but not least, to have been married to my best friend Debbie for 36 years with three amazing kids, two awesome son-n-laws and about to have our third grandchild any day now.  

Folks that's not a brag on me, that's a big shout out to the difference it can make in your life when you're willing to pray "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!"

Am I saying it's been easy street since I surrendered my life to Christ? No indeed! But I'll tell you this, life's never without it's trials and tribulations, but now I don't face them alone and God has a way of working all things together for our good. Listen to these words of advice from Paul the apostle...

Ephesians 5:15-20 Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise,
making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,
always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So let's do just that. The words are on the screen so sing them with me...

All to Jesus I surrender,
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power,
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Now I feel the sacred flame;
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!

I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

Let's pray!