Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons



Far More Than Therapy

Prayer is far more than just talking to God in order to get things off our chest and feel better. In fact, prayer is always far more than just talking. In Ephesians 6:11-18 before Paul mentions the weapon of prayer, he has mentioned a lot of other armor that we are to put on. Prayer is a piece of armor, and is something we do while working, while resisting, and while serving. Since it is our armor, using it is clearly a matter of life and death.


Everyone prays. Given enough trauma, you'll find even unbelievers, in desperation, will pray "just in case someone is out there". It is tempting to “direct” our concerns to everything and everyone else but God. Yet God is seeking something much more from His beloved children. He seeks loyal hearts, who adore Him and want to communicate with Him both during "fair weather" but also through life's storms (Psalm 4:3; James 2:23). We might wonder why we need to be persistent seeing that God hears us the first time we prayed for something. But of course, if God instantly granted every request, the world would be filled with “praying people” — but they'd be praying for all the wrong reasons. Our persistence in prayer demonstrates that we really do trust God, depend upon Him, and believe that He rules this world. No wonder Jesus stressed persistence in prayer (Luke 18:1).

Order: Psalm 5:3

When it came to prayer, many godly people in past ages had an order or regular routine. Prayer was certainly the centerpiece in their daily schedule. Thus Daniel prayed regularly (Daniel 6:10). The word translated "order” or “direct my prayer" in Psalm 5:3  means "arrange" or "set in order," as the priests did the altar before a sacrifice (Leviticus 1:7, 8, 12). Yet far more than a simple routine, prayer is viewed by God as a sort of sacrificial act that involves preparation and forethought. Then the writer says he will "look up"; or, "look out" or "keep on the watch" in expectation of the prayer being granted. So while his prayer is in itself an acknowledgment that his own control of his life's situations is quite limited, He trusts his prayer can make all the difference, for He prays to a God who is all-powerful.

Be Specific

There are times that we must ask for general things, yet those who pray genuine, heart-felt concerns, get down to the specifics. Meaningful prayer will include a number of specific requests, both for oneself and for others, for example when Paul prayed “that utterance may be given to in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19). Praying for boldness to share God, is even more important than praying about short term illnesses.


  • “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it” (Colossians 4:2).
  • “Be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints’ (Ephesians 6:18).

You and I need be unguarded about our struggles so that we can be alert to the needs of one another and continually praying for one another. When one lifts one's eyes to the state of this world and the individuals in it, there truly are so many important concerns that could be in our prayers, that we would be wise to keep an ongoing prayer list (1 Timothy 2:1-2), this has the added benefit of an awareness when our prayers have been answered. If I pray for an opportunity to spread the gospel, I will be more ready to walk ahead when the door is opened. Such alertness will result in a stronger faith, especially when we have prayed and the answer or solution showed up before the day ended. At such times we need to be humbled and realize that God actually does hear and answer our prayers!

A Big Time Saver

Whatever time we spend in prayer, is time not spent worrying, fretting, being discouraged or tossing and turning in our sleep: “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me” (Psalm 3:5). One need only recall the track record of our loving, powerful God to rest in the peace of His promises to do what is best.

Realize to Whom We are Speaking

One of the most truly awesome realities is that we have, at any given moment, an audience with the very Creator of the universe. He is at all times but a thought away.

  • “For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 1:14).
  • “I am God, and there is no one like Me” (Isaiah 46:9).

We have the privilege of praying to the God of “all things possible” (Luke 1:37). This is also the God who is a million moves or steps ahead of the most cunning and clever human being. Repeatedly in Scripture we either are told or it is demonstrated (as in the case of Haman) that God, throughout history, has worked behind the scenes to see to it that evil men are caught in their own traps:

  • God actually scoffs at the attempts of the cunning to undermine His will (Psalm 2:4).
  • Powerful rulers are advised to worship and honor God — lest they perish (Psalm 2:11-12)
  • “Hold them guilty, O God; by their own devices let them fall” (Psalm 5:10).

The God Who Cares

He is both a caring God and “...a God who has indignation every day” (Psalm 7:11).

Certainly God does not have an anger problem, rather the statement above assures the righteous (7:10) that God to whom we serve: 

  • ...will remain opposed to evil to the end.
  • just as upset with evil today as He was thousands of years ago. God remains just as offended by sin, even though we may not see an immediate response from Him against evil.
  • still just as intent upon delivering the righteous from evil men.
  • ...will not change or tone down His standards.
  • still in control of this world, even though it might look, for a brief few years, that evil men are prevailing and getting away with it.

It is All About His Will

  • “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14).

His will is no mystery. We already know that God wants:

  • People to hear the gospel and be saved: 1 Timothy 2:4
  • For couples to stay married and be happy: Matthew 19:5-6
  • For parents to teach their children about Him: Ephesians 6:4
  • For us to set the best example possible to a lost world: Matthew 5:13-16
  • That hearts would be softened, and the enemies of God would repent: 2 Tim. 2:24-26

Play Offense

Too often we fight more of a defensive battle with the world, yet prayer — and the sword we are given are to be used offensively as well. Randy Alcorn suggests “Let’s not leave it to the world to ask the hard questions. Let the church lead the way”. Like what? How about:

  • “Why are you spending so little time exploring the existence of God?  Is not this the ultimate question?”
  • “How can you ignore teachings of Jesus — when the fact is that if they were all applied, they would instantly solve virtually all the problems in this world?
  • “How can you deny the existence of Satan — with so much evil in the world?”
  • “As a finite human being, would you not have to know everything and be everywhere  to be absolutely sure there is no God?”
  • “Given the heap of objective internal evidence, how can you be absolutely certain the Bible is not the word of God?”


I am impressed that godly people in the past were so strengthened by prayer that they advised the ungodly who were seeking to undermine them to just move along: “Depart from me, all you who do iniquity, for the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication, the Lord receives my prayer” (Psalm 6:6-9).

Thus, the idea seems to be, “You need to leave me alone and repent because God has heard, God is going to act, and it will not go well with those who persist in sin when He does”. What a blessing that comes alongside prayer: This realization that we are not the ones to be pitied, rather, the losing side will always be the side against God.

Mark Dunagan |
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017