PRAYER (LESSON 4)
This is our final lesson on prayer. As we have said in the other lessons, prayer is our way of communicating with God. In prayer we simply talk to God. Maybe it is a time when you thank God for things He's already done in your life. Maybe it is a time when you bring a request to God and you ask Him to do something for you now. Maybe you pray and tell God about the sins you committed and you ask Him for forgiveness. In prayer, you can do all of those things and more.
But here is a question for you: After you have prayed and the Lord has answered your prayer, how are you going to thank Him? Tonight we are going to read about three different Bible accounts of people who brought their requests to the Lord. Let's see how each of these people acted when their prayers were answered.
* This first group of people, unfortunately, are like a lot of people. They heard about Jesus' power, and sought Him out when they needed something. But by their actions we can tell that they didn't really care about God. Let's read their story.
Luke 17:11-14, "And it came to pass, as he (Jesus) went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed."
So these men sought Jesus out, called him "Master," and asked Him to heal them of this awful disease called leprosy. (Explain what leprosy is). And Jesus answered their prayers, cured them immediately of their leprosy, and then told them to go show themselves to the priests so that they could again rejoin the normal community. You would think that those men would have been pretty happy. And since they called Jesus "Master," you would think that they were his followers. But let's see how thankful they were after their prayers were answered. Luke 17:15-19, "And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go they way: thy faith hath made thee whole."
Out of ten men, only one bothered to come back and tell Jesus thank you. The other nine lifted up their voices loudly to ask the Lord for something, but they were silent and out of sight once they got their prayer answered. It seems to me that they were not followers of Jesus. They were just selfish men who wanted something from Jesus
If Jesus is truly your Lord and Master, talk to Him just to give thanks sometimes. And whether He has done something in your life great or small, remember to come back and bow down at His feet and give Him thanks. Don't be like the nine lepers who didn't really care about Jesus at all.
And it's not that God is keeping score or that He is on an ego trip and needs to hear our thank you's. But when we truly have thankful hearts, it will keep us close to God. God wants us to always come back. He doesn't want us to take the blessing and run. And did you know that something happens when you take the time to just give the Lord your thanks? It makes you appreciate what you have. Sometimes we get sad and stressed out about what's missing in our lives, but that is because we have not taken the time to focus on all that God has blessed us with.
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* Now, let's read another example of a man who wanted something from Jesus, and let's see how he acted once he got what he wanted. Mark 10:46-48, "And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimeus, the son of Timeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me."
This man was blind, broken down, cast off, and uncared for. But he knew that this man named Jesus was the one he could take his troubles to. And he didn't care what other people thought. He cried out as loud as he could for Jesus. Sometimes the world will turn its back on you when you are down and out, but as we will see, Jesus is no respecter of persons.
Mark 10:49-52, "And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way."
Can you imagine Jesus looking you in your face and saying, "What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?" What would you ask Him for? And after He gave you what you asked for, what would you do?
Well, as we read, this man didn't see Jesus as just someone he could use. He didn't get his prayer answered and then once he got what he wanted, forget all about Jesus. No. This man got his prayer answered by Jesus and then immediately followed Jesus.
How many of you once blind people have received your sight and now are following Jesus? I bet that a lot of you here were at one time just as blind as this man. Sure, you could see with your eyes, but in your heart you were blind to the fact that heaven could be your home. Maybe you were blind to the fact that Christ died on the cross for you. Maybe the world had you blinded into thinking that what it offered was better than what God offers.
Well, now that you know that Christ has answered the biggest prayer of all and has made a way for you to be in heaven with him and that He died on the cross for your sins, are you now going to do what this man did and really follow Christ? Having answered prayers is great, but having a continual day-to-day relationship with God is even better. Don't just be someone who experienced a blessing. Be a follower of Jesus!
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So we had the first people who were just using Jesus, and they just came and went. Then we read about the second man who was sincere and got his prayer answered and followed Jesus. Now let's read about some people who had such faith in Jesus that they even brought their friend to the Lord. When is the last time you prayed on someone else's behalf? One of the most unselfish things we can do is to try to help someone else. I believe that it shows that you are really growing in your faith and as a believer when you sincerely pray not just for your own needs, but for the needs of others. Let's read about some men who wanted Jesus to help their friend.
Luke 5:17-19, "And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus."
These men were true believers who knew the power of taking a concern to Jesus. They were not discouraged when they saw the crowd. They were going to get their friend to Jesus one way or another. They went on top of the roof, busted a hole in the roof, and lowered their friend down on a bed, because they wanted to bring their friend and his needs before the Lord. Maybe it was embarrassing. Surely it was inconvenient. They had to travel all across town to speak to Jesus, but they loved their friend that much. Many of us won't even go down on our knees on our friend's behalf. We won't lift a finger to save our friends. For us to speak with Jesus, all we have to do is pray, but sometimes our lack of faith keeps us from even doing that. And we miss out on the opportunity of seeing Jesus work in our lives and the lives of others because of our apathy.
Anyway, let's see how these friends' faith was rewarded: Luke 5:20, 25, "And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God."
Jesus did a miracle in this crippled man's life, and he can do the same thing in the lives of your family and friends. By prayer we are given the opportunity to play a part in the work the Lord will do. You may not ever become a missionary or a pastor or do any outside work for the Lord, but when you are at home by yourself you can do some mighty praying!! So if you really believe in the Lord and the power of prayer, put that into action by not just praying for yourself, but by consistently praying for others, too. Introduce someone else to Jesus. May we all have a burden for others, especially those who are unsaved, the way these men had a burden for their friend who needed healing.