by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3 April 13, 2004 Lincolnton, N.C.
(024)Thesis:In a general sense, "prayer" is supposed to spring out of the realm of "deeper longings".
Introduction:As we consider Paul's words to the believers in Rome, we are immediately drawn into his prayer life. This is an enormously significant realm of life and it has a lot of inspired revelation committed to it. It might be said that there is so much said about prayer that it is very difficult to understand. Ideally, the more that is said about a thing, the easier it is to understand it, but the issues involved in prayer are so fundamentally crucial that getting a grip on what prayer is about is no simple matter. This evening we are going to look into some of what Paul had to say about prayer and trust that God will deepen our grasp of why He has given the gift of prayer to us.
I. We Must Understand How Confused the Issues Are Regarding Prayer.
A. Since the Bible makes prayer a fundamental issue of life, we should expect a concerted effort by the deceivers to confuse the issues.
B. Since the Bible makes prayer a fundamental issue of accomplishment, we should expect a concerted effort by those who have a different agenda to sidetrack the issues.
C. Since the Bible makes prayer a fundamental issue of relational harmony, we should expect a concerted effort by the agents of chaos to nullify the legitimate practice of prayer.
D. Since there have been concerted efforts over a great many years, we should expect that the truth about prayer has been pretty much buried under the weight of confusion.
II. To Obtain Some Clarity Regarding Prayer, We Must Consider What Prayer Is.
A. At its roots, prayer is the expression of one's deepest longings to God.
1. The word "prayers" in our text has links to its etymology.
a. It was coined from a word that means "intense wish" and from a directional word that means "toward" or "face to face with".
1) The "intense wish" issue is illustrated in the Bible in multiple places, but a couple will serve as illustrations.
a) Acts 27:29
b) Romans 9:3 and 10:1.
2) The automatic implication of this idea of intense wish is that one should not spend much effort or time "praying" about insignificant things or about things which are insignificant to the one who is to "pray".
a) There are "insignificant things" which seem to have more significance than they do.
b) There are "significant things" that are not "significant" to us as individuals.
b. It is used in the Bible in harmony with its etymology.
2. There are multiple issues involved in "prayer".
a. "Deep" longings are often extremely "shallow".
1) Matthew 6:25-31.
2) The problem here is an almost complete lack of understanding of God and His involvement in our lives.
b. "Deep" longings are often associated with other "efforts" in the matter of praying.
1) I Corinthians 7:25 compared with Acts 10:30 and 14:23 puts "fasting" together with prayer.
2) Romans 15:30 compared with Acts 12:5 puts "striving together" into the exercise of prayer.
3) I Timothy 5:5 compared with Luke 2:37 makes it a "ministry of service" to "pray".
4) Revelation 5:8 and 8:3-4 makes prayer an attendant to worship.
c. There are several questions that arise in the process of praying.
1) There is the problem of "whether" a matter should be a focus of prayer.
a) This problem is somewhat resolved by the "collective effort".
b) This problem is often highlighted by the apparent lack of divine response.
2) There is the problem of "persistence": how often should I approach God about the same thing?
a) Biblical illustrations reveal that, for the most part, a matter is to be prayed about when it has become an immediate concern...
i. Jesus in regard to the selection of His disciples.
ii. Jesus in the Garden before His arrest.
iii. Paul in regard to his thorn in the flesh.
b) But our text, in conjunction with 15:20 and following, it appears that Paul sometimes did continue to pray about some of his deeper longings.
3) There is the issue of the "answer" as illustrated by Paul's experiences after his request for prayer by the Romans.
a) Being an "apostle" did not give him a great deal of insight into the flow of life as it would develop in history.
b) The "answer" was more "bottom line" than it was "detailed".
3. One conclusion that I draw is that it is more important to "pray" than it is to have the particular "answers" that I seek.
a. The "process" seems to have more benefit than the "results".
b. The real needs we have are often so far under our radar screens that we only see much later why our "prayers" were unanswered as we "prayed".