“MEN’S PRAYER VIGIL, #1”
First Timothy 2.1-8
Lessons on prayer delivered at a church all-night prayer vigil for men.
1. Turn to First Timothy 2.1-8:
1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
2. Men, my hope is that this will be the first of many men’s prayer vigils that we get together for over the years, with at least one each year being the minimum number of times we conduct such vigils. My vision is for the men of this church to pray without wrath and doubting.
3. Over the course of the night I do not expect you to pray for extended periods of time, but would like you to group with several others so that you can each take turns praying. Each hour we will regroup, so that by the end of our prayer vigil you will have had the opportunity to pray with everyone in attendance.
4. My target schedule is to spend about 20 minutes each hour teaching and preaching to you, giving you about 20 minutes to pray in groups of four or five guys (which would be about 4 or 5 minutes each), and then we will take a break for about 20 minutes before we go at it again.
5. My desire tonight is threefold: First, I want you guys to learn some things about prayer that you may not yet know. Second, I want you to pray together so you will become comfortable praying together. Finally, I want to get some prayers answered.
6. Prayer can be, and is supposed to be, a spiritual exercise. As such, it feels weird and strange at first. But over time, even the most foreign feeling spiritual exercise can become not only more comfortable, but can be seen to be beneficial and needful.
7. Prayer is a subject that is profound and deep. What God has given us the privilege of doing is approach Him by this avenue so that we, very limited and pitiful creatures that we are, can ask for the benefits of the vast resources of His infinite grace.
8. Our adventure tonight will be only a beginning in God’s school of prayer, but I hope it will be a good beginning, an encouraging beginning, and the kind of beginning that you will feel so strongly about that you will pursue a life of prayer on your own, and so you will see prayer as so compelling and necessary that you will lead your family in the development of a rich and wholesome prayer life.
1A. In This First Hour (10:00 PM), Let Me Show You That PRAYING IS APPEALING
A prayer to God is a special kind of Biblical appeal. So, let me talk to you for a few minutes about what a Biblical appeal is so you will have a better idea what prayer is. There are seven particulars that comprise a truly Biblical appeal. You might want to write these points down. I will relate to you how to make an appeal to another person who exercises authority over you, and you will easily see how the principles involved relate to praying to God.
1B. First, with regard to an appeal, there is what is called a right standing.
1C. Right standing refers to having the right kind of relationship with the person in authority you are appealing to. It means that you are what you ought to be, even if he or she isn’t what he or she ought to be.
2C. It means that you give 8 hours work for 8 hours pay. It means that you only take sick days off when you are sick. It means that you are not suspected by your boss of plotting for his job with the higher-ups. It means that you honestly seek to insure the success of that person in authority over you, whether it’s your mom or dad, your boss, your husband, or your pastor.
3C. Right standing also means that you have done your part, or perhaps you have even gone the extra mile, to establish a relationship with the boss or parent that forms the foundation of a legitimate appeal. Do you realize that it is your responsibility to make sure you have right standing, and not you dad’s or your boss’s or your pastor’s?
4C. Now, think about this: No worker who is about to get fired has the standing necessary to make an appeal to his boss. No wife whose husband is thoroughly disenchanted with her will kindly respond to an appeal from her. No child whose selfishness and hot temper are legendary has any right to expect her father to respond to her appeal. No church member whose pastor questions his loyalties should expect his pastor to respond to his appeal.
5C. No. If you want to make an appeal that gets results you have to have already done your spade work. Do not think you can ignore the relationship an appeal is based on until you want something, and then try to butter the person in authority up. That’s flattery and it’s sin. An appeal is not the manipulation of someone that uses flattery. It is a legitimate way of requesting that a person in authority consider making a new decision based upon new information not previously evaluated, or now seen in a new light.
2B. Second, a Biblical appeal must be established upon the right basis.
1C. Having the right basis for an appeal is so important. In the numerous examples of appeals to be found in the Bible, the importance of having the right basis for an appeal is obvious. Rahab appealing to the spies, Ruth appealing to Boaz, Abigail appealing to David, and Esther appealing to Ahasuerus are only four examples.
2C. Here is what I mean by having the right basis. In reality, a Biblical appeal is not an attempt to persuade someone to change his mind. Trying to get someone to change his mind is insulting. It is tantamount to saying, “You’re too stupid to analyze facts correctly. Why don’t you do it again a second time and try to get it right?”
3C. So, forget the whole notion of ever trying to persuade someone to change his mind. An appeal is not an attempt to change someone’s mind. An appeal is a request to make a new decision, based upon new facts, or facts not previously considered.
4C. Think about it for a moment. How is someone insulted when he is asked to considered new information and then to consider a new decision? He is not insulted at all. This fits in with another feature of the correct basis of an appeal that I will mention shortly.
5C. For an appeal to have the right basis, and for the appeal to strengthen the person’s position of authority, rather than undermining it, the appeal must be based upon what is in the best interests of the person in authority, not you. If a kid can’t think of a good reason why it’s in dad’s bests interests to loan him the car he has no business whatsoever asking for the keys.
6C. Consider. Have we not been called to serve? Then what business do we have asking a person we are to serve to do something that is contrary to his best interests? No business at all. “Dad, can I borrow the keys to go run an errand for mom? That way you can finish the football game on TV and I can stop off at Jimmy’s house and wash the car for you.” What can dad say when every single time he is appealed to he realizes that he will benefit from saying “Yes”?
7C. Even so when praying. How does it advance the cause of Christ for God to answer your prayer? How does it benefit the Church, guide sinners to Christ, exalt the Savior?
3B. Third, for an appeal to be appropriate there must be right timing.
1C. This is such an important consideration. How critical that we remember that in so many ways timing is absolutely everything. I remember that every single time I asked my mom for something when she was trying to take a nap the answer was always “Yes.” But that was really taking advantage of her.
2C. Is your appeal legitimate? Will it stand up on its own merits? If it will, then why not present your appeal at a time and under situations that allow due and proper consideration? Sometimes emergency situations make this impossible, but timing is important enough to pay attention to whenever you can.
3C. The reason this is so hard for some people is because they are so selfish and inconsiderate that they never even think about when timing would be good for someone else. Is minutes before the Sunday morning service a good time for a woman in the nursery to ask me if I can get someone else to do her job?
4C. Factors, such as fatigue, such as schedule, such as finances, such as mood, and many other things, make the timing of your appeal critical. I have a stock answer for any request I hear that I cannot fully consider: “No.” Many others in leadership answer the same way, as well they should. Be careful about timing.
4B. Fourth, a legitimate appeal must communicate right information.
1C. Remembering that appealing is not manipulating, be very careful to give correct and full information to the person you want to make that new decision. After all, if you knowingly fail to convey full and accurate information you are lying or deceiving. If he finds out later you withheld vital information he’ll never trust you again.
2C. A legitimate appeal, then, should include information about both the negatives and the positives that need to be considered. This is especially important when you know that the negatives might very well cause the person in authority to make a different decision.
3C. But if your appeal comes after prayer and seeking God’s will, then you’ll be confident that telling the truth and conveying truthful information, both pro and con, will produce results that are pleasing to God.
5B. Fifth, make your appeal with the right attitude.
1C. The right attitude is the result of a spirit of meekness and humility. In other words, you are approaching that person with humility, not to make demands, but to ask for consideration and to request deliberation concerning something that’s important to you and that you believe is important to him.
2C. Boy, do some people have problems in this area. They are so arrogant and cocky and defiant in their spirit that their countenance, and their expression, and their body language, and their tone of voice screams, “I’m asking you to do this. But if you don’t give me what I want I’m going to do what I want anyway.”
3C. What must run through the mind of someone who acts like this? Can this person have any expectation of honorable and respectful treatment by her kids in the years to come? Will the man married to this woman be kind and considerate, or will he be domineering and defensive in the face of aggression from his wife? If he’s a wimp he will be his wife’s door mat.
4C. What kind of boss needs a snot like this for an employee? Let me tell you something about supervision. If any employee comes in with an attitude and says, “If you don’t give me a raise I’m going to quit,” a sharp supervisor will jump up and say, “I’m sure sorry you’ve decided to leave. But if you think it’s a good career move, I’ll be glad to write you a good reference. Sorry to see you go. The security guard will be right up to escort you off the property.”
5C. Ask some of our people if that’s not the real world. But if you go to your boss and say, “Boss? Is there any way that you and I can work something out so that I can continue to work here and make what I’m really worth in the industry? Professionally, and for my family’s sake, I need to make what I’m worth, and I’d like to make what I’m worth here. Can we talk about it?” Approach him like that and you are likely to get a lot farther.
6C. Attitude is so important. Why? Because God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble, First Peter 5.5. So, be humble in your appeal, and resist the temptation to imitate the wicked arrogance of the world.
6B. Sixth, make your appeal with right words.
1C. Right words and right attitudes are so closely linked together, but it is important to realize that they are not exactly the same. It is possible to have the right attitude and be foolish in your choice of words, just as it is possible to have a lousy attitude but at the same time be clever enough to carefully select the correct words.
2C. Every human being has some kind of preconceived notions and prejudices and preferences. Bosses, parents, spouses and spiritual leaders are no different in that respect. For that reason, carefully selecting your words when making an appeal can effectively move you through and around the emotional and mental obstacles that people have in their minds.
3C. Here is an example of the wrong way to make an appeal and a right way to make an appeal: Let’s say a teen finds the activities at his Church camp group less than stimulating. The truly selfish kid will say loud enough for everyone to hear, “This is boring. I’m never coming to another one of these camps.” Of course, God is not pleased for others to hear that well-chosen remark. But that jerk teen will justify the comment by saying, “Well, that’s just how I feel.” Who cares how that teen feels?
4C. One step in the right direction, but still short of the mark, is the kid who walks up to the camp director and says, “Brother Jones? This camp activity is really a drag. Can we do something interesting for a change?” How helpful that remark was for poor brother Jones, who is doing the very best he can in the face of a Church full of parents who will not life a finger to help with the youth camp. That teen really knows how to encourage a guy who’s giving the best he’s got.
5C. But a spiritual teen, who knows how to make an appeal and gives some thought to the careful selection of words, and who may be just as bored as the other kids, approaches things differently. Not willing to shoot her mouth off and harm the prospects of the camp’s success, and concerned enough about others so as not wanting to hurt brother Jones’ feelings, listen to what a spiritual kid would say: “Brother Jones? I really appreciate you taking the time to think up these activities for us, because I know you could do other things with your time. Can I help out a little bit by helping you organize the activities for camp next year?”
6C. Guess what? If she uses a little finesse and wisdom, that teen gets to have exactly the kind of activities she wants to have at camp next year. See how important words are?
7B. Finally, critical to a Biblical appeal is having a right response.
1C. What do you imagine God’s will to be for you should the person in authority reject your appeal, or even deny you the opportunity make an appeal? Is God pleased for you to pout and fume and vent your spleen when the boss or the pastor or the parent says “No”?
2C. Or is God glorified and pleased when His child, with meekness and humility, accepts the decision of the person in authority? Remember, that decision related to the appeal could very well be to not even allow the appeal to be made. “Sorry, no calls right now. I am too busy.”
3C. A right response is terribly important for this reason. Although they should not do it, oftentimes a person in authority will not decide based upon the merits of the appeal. The boss will not say “Yes” when “Yes” is the only logical decision. Why? Because he may want to see how you will react when he says “No.”
4C. How many times have I seen both parents with their kids, and husbands with their wives, do the same thing? Especially unsaved husbands with their believing wives. What an opportunity to show your faith in Christ. But the opportunity is missed when you pout and act childish.
5C. Seven ingredients, seven particulars, in a Biblical appeal. Right standing, right basis, right timing, right information, right attitude, right words, right response.
6C. Now take these principles and ask what you will of God, seeing that praying to God is really appealing to God for those things that you want from Him.
2A. Now (11:00 PM) Let Us Focus On The Fact That PRAYING IS SIMPLE
There are really only three critical issues related to prayer, with all these other things we will speak of tonight being somewhat less important than these three simple realities that many people lose sight of:
1B. First, keep in mind Who you are praying to.
1C. I find it rather common to hear longtime church members and pastors praying to different persons of the Trinity. Even in the same prayer, you will sometimes hear someone start out by praying to the Father. Then he will switch who he is addressing and ask things of Jesus, or the Holy Spirit.
2C. But if my memory serves me correctly, there is not a single prayer anywhere in the Bible that is not directed to God as an undistinguished person of the godhead, or to God the Father.
3C. It might be argued by some that the thief on the cross prayed to Jesus. In Luke 23.42, we read, “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” I suppose that if prayer is seen to simply be conversation, then this is a prayer to Jesus.
4C. But prayer is usually thought of as a supplication to God. And when His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, what did Jesus do? Luke 11.1-2: “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father . . . .”
5C. Jesus prayed to His Father. And when Jesus directed and instructed others to pray, He guided them to pray to the Father. Therefore, I suggest that you pray to God the Father. If you are unconverted, address Him as your God. If you are converted, address Him as your Father.
6C. Why should you not direct your prayers to Jesus or to the Holy Spirit? Let me give you a single reason for not praying to Jesus and a single reason for not praying to the Holy Spirit. Romans 8.34 and Hebrews 7.25 inform us that Jesus makes intercession for us with the Father. Romans 8.26-27 inform us that the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us with the Father. Thus, when you pray to Jesus or to the Holy Spirit you are ignoring that divine Person’s role as intercessor.
7C. It is always safe to follow the instructions Jesus has given to us. We are not so knowledgeable or so wise that we can afford to strike out on our own and ignore the Savior’s wise counsel. I urge you to pray to the Father.
2B. Second, keep in mind what you are asking for.
1C. I have heard little kids pray a prayer like this: “Dear God, please save everyone. Amen.” The kid was then very pleased with himself because he prayed for everyone to be saved.
2C. When you ask God for something . . . ask Him. Don’t beat around the bush and be so general that there will never be any way of telling whether or not God granted your request.
3C. I have here my own prayer list. I have 222 specific items listed, most of them being people, but all of them being quite specific. Let me read it to you. I suggest you have a list like this. You may even want to put a date next to it, indicating when you started praying for it, and another place for a date to indicate when that prayer was answered, either yes or no.
4C. Sometimes a guy can get so caught up in praying that he begins to drift away from what he should be doing, which is asking God for things, for blessings, for people, for results, for conversions, and things like that.
5C. Praying is very hard. Praying is not easy. Praying is not likely to get much easier than it will be tonight. If you get better at praying it will not be because praying got any easier, but because you got stronger, because you became more determined, because you have developed into a better spiritual fighter. So, why pray if it is so hard to pray? Pray because it is absolutely necessary. You cannot make it without praying to God and getting from Him what you have to have to make it through the day.
6C. As you keep in mind what you are asking for, it is obviously necessary to ask yourself if what you are asking for is what God wants you to ask for. It is foolish and wicked to ask God for something you know He does not want you to have. He may give it to you, and then what a pickle you would be in. Psalm 106.15: “And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.”
3B. Third, keep in mind how (in your heart) you are asking for it.
1C. Psalm 10.17 reads, “LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear.”
2C. If you will humble yourself before God, what assurance you have regarding prayer. “See the economy of the grace of God: 1. God prepares the heart; 2. Suggests the prayer; 3. Hears what is prayed; 4. Answers the petition. He who has got a cry in his heart after God, may rest assured that that cry proceeded from a Divine preparation, and that an answer will soon arrive. No man ever had a cry in his heart after salvation, but from God. He who continues to cry shall infallibly be heard.”
3C. How do you see yourself? Are you high and exalted, competent and with a high self-esteem? Someone like you needs nothing from God. But if you rightly see yourself as “poor, weak and afflicted,” then you can approach God in prayer with the right heart attitude.
3A. Third, (12:00) Take Note Of The Fact That PRAYING IS PROPERLY PLANNED
1B. First, make sure that you pray before you take on the day.
1C. Psalm 63.1: “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.”
2C. Proverbs 8.17: “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.”
3C. Isaiah 26.9: “With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.”
4C. Taking on the day without prayer is a demonstration of arrogance and presumption. Do you know you will have no crisis that day? Do you know you will not need wisdom that is beyond you? Do you plan on living a day that requires no grace from on high?
2B. Second, make sure you conclude your day with prayer.
1C. Song 3.1: “By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth.”
2C. Are you thankful when you make it home each night? Are you appreciative that you have a family and a home to come home to? Are you thoughtful about the fact that you have life and health and a place to pillow your head? Then it is appropriate for you to thank God for the day you have made it through, as a prelude to asking Him for safety and comfort and sleep in the night.
3B. Third, develop habits of prayer.
1C. Daniel 6.10: “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.”
2C. I am not the disciplined man that Daniel was. I wish that I was more disciplined than I am, and that my schedule for prayer was fixed and immovable. But if you do not have fixed times of prayer, make sure you have fixed occasions of prayer.
3C. Pray when you rise in the morning. Pray before you get out of bed, if you can stand waiting to go to the bathroom that long. Pray before each meal. Pray when you go to bed each night. I might suggest that you lead your family in prayer before each service, praying that God will bless you and fill you with His Spirit, as well as save the unconverted members of your family.
4B. Sometimes, however, your prayers will be of the emergency variety, unanticipated and unplanned. Such was the case with Nehemiah, what I call a flash prayer. Turn to Nehemiah 2, and read verses 1-4 with me:
1 And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.
2 Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid,
3 And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?
4 Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.
1C. Keeping in mind that Nehemiah’s life was in danger for simply having a sad expression on his face, it is no wonder that he was “very sore afraid.” Oriental despots killed men for not being happy in their presence.
2C. What is important to us is found in verse 4. The king asked Nehemiah what he wanted, instead of having him beheaded on the spot. So, because every good gift comes from above, and to obtain grace and wisdom from God before he spoke, Nehemiah “prayed to the God of heaven.”
3C. No audible words. No moving of the lips. He did not close his eyes and bow his head. But this was every bit a prayer. His heart reached out to God, pleading not only for wisdom and grace to communicate effectively, but also asking God to give him the request he was about to make to the king.
4A. Fourth, (1:00 AM) There Is PRAYING FORMALLY AND INFORMALLY
There are times when you will pray in front of other people and there are times when you will pray with only God as your audience. There will be times when you pray prayers of little or no structure and form, with other times that should be somewhat formal prayers. Let me provide a little guidance on each of those kinds of situations.
1B. When you pray publicly, I would suggest that you dispense with the thees and the thous, the wouldests and the couldests, which only tend to confuse some people and discourage other people from thinking they will ever be able to pray properly. There is nothing beneficial, that I have ever been able to tell, by praying in Elizabethan or Shakespearean English. From the examples of prayer that are found in the Bible, it seems that the prophets, that Jesus, and that the apostles prayed in the common language of the day, keeping in mind that their reverence and the respectful language they used was appropriate to addressing Almighty God.
2B. Of course, when you pray privately you can pray using any type of respectful and reverent language you want to use. Is Shakespearean language your preference? Then go for it. Is Spanish your language of choice? Then by all means pray in Spanish. In private it is always preferable to use your heart’s language, if you are bilingual.
3B. In First Thessalonians 5.17, writing to those new Christians in Thessalonica, Paul directed them to “Pray without ceasing.” Listen to what Matthew Henry says about this: “The meaning is not that men should do nothing but pray, but that nothing else we do should hinder prayer in its proper season. Prayer will help forward and not hinder all other lawful business, and every good work.”
4B. The constant prayers that are uttered and muttered throughout the day, and the flash prayer like we saw in Nehemiah’s account, are what I would term informal prayers. They are prayers that are fairly unstructured and not well thought out in advance. But there is an aspect to a man’s prayer life that should be more formal, more structured, more planned, more prepared. And this is the example of prayer that Jesus taught to His disciples.
5B. In Matthew 6.9-13, we find one account of the Lord Jesus Christ’s example prayer:
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
1C. This is not necessarily a prayer that should be mindlessly recited without alteration or variance, though very pious people will oftentimes pray this prayer once a day or so. But this prayer is actually a prototype, an example of prayer than can be elaborated upon or expanded.
2C. Through the centuries, hundreds of books have been written on this portion of Scripture, but one handy and well written little book has been written by Peter Masters, the pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England. The title is The Lord’s Pattern for Prayer, and I will be glad to order some for you to purchase if there is any interest.
3C. The book is broken down into very brief little paragraphs that a man can read from for a minute or so each evening at the supper table. It would be a good way to lead your family in devotions, is an excellent excuse for everyone eating their supper together, and will help you establish your pattern of leadership in the home, as well as instruct your family about prayer. No study is required, just keep track of what you read the day before.
6B. We live in an overly informal society, where there has been a wholesale abandoning of decorum and propriety. Tragically, that looseness has crept into our church services, as well as into our prayer lives. Understand, however, that there is benefit to a certain structure, a certain formality, not only in our church services, and in the conduct of our private lives, but also in our prayer lives. So, make sure that you augment your informal prayers with at least one time each day of structured and formal reverence in your approach to God. Such a practice would follow the direction the Lord Jesus Christ has given to us in His model prayer.
5A. Fifth, (2:00 AM) Realize That PRAYING IS LEADING
1B. The apostle Paul knew that spiritual leadership is setting the pace for others to follow. That’s why he wrote these words to the Corinthians, in First Corinthians 11.1: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” The person who ought to set the pace in your family is you, not your wife, not your children.
2B. What a pathetic picture is portrayed when the family sits down for Thanksgiving dinner and the man says, “Honey, will you lead in prayer?” That is a disgusting scene, if you ask me. It’s effeminate. At the very least, it’s anemic.
3B. Let me suggest that you lead in prayer when guests leave your home. Let me suggest that you lead in prayer at every family meal that you sit down to. Let me suggest that you pray with your children when they go to bed at night. Let me suggest that you pray when you lead your family in devotions.
4B. Good women will think they are doing right by jumping in and leading the family in prayer when their reluctant husbands fail to step up. But whenever a woman tries to help matters by doing what only her husband should do she is actually harming the situation, because a man who sees his wife filling in where he should be providing leadership will oftentimes lay back and will forego stepping up like he should.
5B. Guys, when it comes to deciding how much money to give to missions, step up and take the lead. When it comes time to spank your kid’s rear end, step up and take the lead. And when it comes time to lead in prayer, at meals, at the kid’s bed time, whenever the family is gathered and prayer is needful, step up and lead in prayer.
6B. For a thousand years, according to one author who wrote a book on the subject, there has been a gradual decline in masculinity in Christianity in the western world. But if you look at the Bible it becomes very clear that God wants a very masculine version of Christianity, even to the extent that every member of the Corinthian congregation, including women, were told by Paul to “quit you like men,” in First Corinthians 16.13.
7B. How better to lead than to lead in prayer? Take your wife by the hand and lead her to the throne of grace. Usher your children into God’s presence. Preside over this most priestly activity of prayer in a fashion no woman can, and no child can. I made a mistake when my dad once asked Sarah to lead us all in prayer before a meal and then ridiculed her. When my dad said, “Sarah, why don’t you say grace for the meal?” I should have said, “Spiritual leadership my responsibility, not Sarah’s.”
6A. Sixth, (3:00 AM) It Is Always Good To Remember That PRAYING IS EVANGELISTIC
1B. I would suggest that you not mention the name of anyone present when praying publicly. Of course, it is entirely a father’s prerogative to hold up his unsaved children before Christians to pray for. But a friend, neighbor, husband, or wife? I do not think that is such a good idea. But when you are alone, or when that person is not present? Go ahead and plead for them by name to God.
2B. Should you pray for the lost? Paul did. In Romans 10.1, he bared his soul in this regard: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” So, yes, I would suggest that you pray for the lost.
3B. “But what if they don’t want to get saved?” Who cares what an unsaved person wants? I don’t care what my mom wants. I don’t care what my dad wants. I don’t care what my brother wants. I care what I want, so I pray to God that they will come to Christ and be saved.
4B. Why do I pray to God? Because I believe God answers prayer, and I believe that God will override and overturn the will of an unsaved person so that he will end up wanting to get saved. Proverbs 21.1: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” Is not the whole point of praying for someone the fact that you want God to overrule his heart, and you are asking God to overrule his heart?
7A. Seventh, (4:00 AM) PRAYING IS ENLIGHTENED SELF-INTEREST
1B. Praying is how you get what you have got to have . . . grace. Where you get grace, of course, is from God. But how you get grace can vary. Sometimes grace comes from listening to someone who ministers grace to you, Ephesians 4.29. This can occur either in conversation or by listening to preaching. But don’t you have to have a more constant supply of God’s favor and blessings than comes from preaching several times a week and the occasional conversation with a Christian?
2B. Hebrews 4.16: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” If you are a Christian you can approach God in prayer any time you want to get two things:
1C. First, you can get mercy. What is mercy? It is not what you deserve. Have you made some really terrible decisions that you do not want the reap the whirlwind from? I have. Each of us has done things in the past that are both really foolish and terribly wicked that we do not want ruining our present and future lives. Do you want God to interfere with the normal operation of the law of sowing and reaping so that you do not reap the harvest of what you have sown in the past? You need mercy. And the way you get mercy is by asking for it, begging for it, pleading for it, for Jesus’ sake.
2C. As well, you can “find grace to help in time of need.” Is it not wonderful that you do not have to wait until Sunday to get a dose of grace from the preaching? Is it not gratifying to realize that you can have grace in the middle of the night when your soul is troubled and your heart is fluttering, but no one is awake to speak the words you want to hear? In the emergency room, waiting for word about your baby, you can go to God in prayer and get grace right now. You do not have to wait until it is convenient for someone else.
3B. So, why would a fellow not be a faithful prayer warrior? Ignorance. Foolishness. Laziness. That’s why we have gathered together. Just as it is much easier to work out when you have someone to workout with, it is easier to get started praying when you have someone to pray with. Some of the ignorance about prayer has been dispelled tonight. Hopefully we are all a bit wiser from being here. Staying up all night is a direct assault on every man’s natural tendency toward laziness.
4B. So, pray because it is good for you. It lays hold of blessings that only God can give. It also lays hold of blessings that God will only give if you specifically ask Him for them. James 4.2 tells us that “ye have not, because ye ask not.” So, ask.
8A. Finally, PRAYING IS NEEDED FOR OUR CHURCH
1B. When Jesus knew that His followers were in need of unity of heart and mind for the Gospel to be advanced, so that the world would know that the Father had sent Him, what did He do to express His desire? He prayed. Turn to John 17.20-23:
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
2B. Unity is crucial for any congregation. The prayer Jesus offered up to the Father clearly shows this. So we, too, should pray for the unity of our church. There needs to be a oneness of mind and heart, a humility, and singleness of purpose and direction.
3B. How critical is this to us? The entire second chapter of Philippians was written to achieve this goal in the Philippian church. Let me read it to you now. As I read, notice the three examples of the humility necessary to achieve unity that Paul holds up as examples to the church he wrote to.
4B. Pray that we will be of one mind regarding evangelism, of one mind regarding missions, of one mind regarding our approach to child rearing, of one mind with respect to husbanding our wives, of one mind regarding our determination to glorify God in our church.
5B. That done, pray for conversions, for the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, for the exaltation of Jesus Christ in the minds and hearts of the lost, and for the Father to be glorified in all that we say and do here.
 Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke’s Commentary (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), email@example.com
 Francis Brown, S. R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew And English Lexicon, (Peabody, MA: 1979), page 776.
 Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary On The Whole Bible, (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), firstname.lastname@example.org
 Leon J. Podles, The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, (Dallas, Texas: Spence Publishing Company, 1999)