The communion with God.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to God for everyone that joins with us in these studies in God’s word. How I pray that God’s holy Word would encourage all of us to increasingly spend time with Him in prayer. And by this to bring Him glory and by this to enjoy our communion with Him. Also, please make use of the written study questions that we provide for each study. As you work through the Bible on these things as a good Berean you can expect to see regular growth in your faith. The Lord will bless you as you personally feed upon His word. We reap what we sow religiously. So, sow to the Spirit. Let’s pray and ask God’s blessing on our time.
The perfections of God.
In our last study we looked at truths from the nature and the attributes of God, such as His omniscience and His goodness that inform our prayers and that motivate us to call upon Him.
The neediness of man.
Today we are going to look at truths from the nature of man that inform and motivate our prayers. In particular we will consider man as a needy creature and our neediness makes it necessary that we pray to the true and the living God in Whom has all manifold perfections. In other words, our dependent needy creatureliness makes it mandatory that we seek our Creator and Redeemer to meet out needs.
Turn in your Bible to Genesis chapter three. I want to read for us today Genesis 3:9-19. Here we are going to see some of the fundamental reasons why we must pray to God. This is God’s curse upon mankind because of the sin of Adam.
Genesis 3:9. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” 16 To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” 17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. 18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; 19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”
The condition of man.
So, we see man as a creature before God as his Creator. And we see man as a sinner needing God as Savior. And God in love and mercy promising our Redeemer.
Implied within this are truths about man that we spoke about briefly in our last study. Man is a dichotomous creature. This is a fancy word meaning man has a two-part nature. Man has a physical body. And this also includes our mental and emotion life. Man has needs for his body that makes it necessary to pray to God.
And man has an immaterial part that we call the soul or the spirit. (Gen.2:7) God created man as a spiritual, religious, responsible, and moral creature originally designed for union and communion with God. Man has needs for his soul that makes it requisite to seek God in prayer. (Heb.12:9)
A quick word here. When I speak of ‘needs’ I am not making a distinction of need-needs and wants or desires. Perhaps the distinction between asking God for daily needs versus desired luxuries so to speak, might make a helpful future study. The reason I am not making the distinction here is that I do not want us to be anxious to pray to God or second guessing our prayers to God. Anything and everything concerning our body, take it to Jesus in prayer. Everything concerning your soul, go to the Lord. Ask. Seek. Knock. And keep knocking.
The needs of the unbeliever.
Let’s look at the very first prayer of man that relates to the being of a Christian. And by this, I mean going from an unbeliever to a believer in Jesus. And then afterwards we will look at prayers that concern the well-being of a Christian.
The first kind of prayer that must be made to God is one of repentance of sin and confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Sin-Bearer Savior. Man needs forgiveness for His sins against a holy God. Man needs cleansing from his sin. Man needs holiness, righteousness. Man must be righteous according to the standard of God’s holy law. All of this comes to us by our Mediator Jesus.
Here is an example of the first acceptable prayer all men, women, boys, and girls make, and must make, to God.
Luke 18:9. And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Romans 10:9. that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
And this relates obviously to the spiritual needs of man. Man as a sinner must be reconciled to God in Christ. Man must have his sin atoned for by the blood of Christ. Must. Man’s chief need is spiritual and not physical. How men have turned this on its head. The unregenerate unbelievers live like beasts without a soul. They think if they have physical health and wealth then all is well. Remember Christ’s warning to the rich fool who is rich in things but not rich in God. (Lk.12:13-34)
I am aware that unbelievers also have physical and temporal needs. But without faith in Christ their persons and their prayers are unacceptable to holy God. (Prov.28:9, I Pt.3:12, Prov.15:29, Ps.66:18, Isa.59:2, Jas.4:4, Jn.3:36, WCF 16.1, 7)
The God of the Bible, who alone is God, does in fact give unbelievers their physical life and all those things that sustain their physical life. But this is not in response to their prayers to their false gods. This is God’s divine providence and goodness to all creation. (Jonah 4:11, Psalm 104:14, Psalm 145:9, Psalm 136:25, Acts 17:25)
Matthew 5:45. so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Acts 14:14. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out 15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM. 16 “In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; 17 and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”
But to the unbelieving these good things will actually compound their eternal condemnation if they die apart from Christ. (Lk.12:48, Ps.73:1-20)
The needs of the Believer.
For those that believe in Christ He has taken away the curse of God for Adam’s sin and atoned for all of our personal sin. So, there is no condemnation from God of us. He loves us and He will not take His love away from us. (Rom.8:1-39)
Our freedom in Christ does not mean that the Believer is free from daily needs. True Christians are still needy people. Now we have a loving reconciled God to go to for those needs. But we are still needy. We are still dependent upon God for all things. Consider the three manward petitions of the Lord’s Prayer.
Matthew 6:11. Give us this day our daily bread. 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Christ says we must pray to our heavenly Father for our material needs and for our immaterial needs.
Pray for our needs.
Now this applies to every individual Christian. We must pray for our own neediness.
Pray for the needs of others.
But this also applies to praying for others. So, husbands must pray for the needs of their wives. And wives must pray for the needs of their husbands.
Husbands and wives are week and needy. Our marriages would be stronger if we pray for one another to live like Christ and the church.
Parents must pray for their weak and needy children and grandchildren. And children must pray for the bodies and the souls of their parents. We must pray for God to meet the needs of our leaders in church and in state. It is practical atheism when we do not pray. It is pleasing to God when we do pray.
Our physical life. We need physical support.
We need to pray to God to sustain our bodies. Our life comes from God and the nourishment and continuance of our life comes from God. And God ordinarily sustains our life through our food and our drink and other associated things. So, we pray, Father in the name of Jesus feed me, feed my family. Watch over our lives, over our coming and going. In a public sense, Father keep us free from war, from pestilence.
Included in this would be the ordinary means to procure our daily provisions, which is basically work, some kind of vocation to earn our daily bread; ability to work, opportunity to work. This petition for the continuance of life would include things like, keep us free from disease. Or, if we have disease, a restoration of health to us.
Matthew 6:25. For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (I Tim.6:8)
Our emotional life. We need relief from anxiety.
Even as Christians we still live in this world that is still subject to the curse of God under which even creation groans. The earth still brings forth briars and brambles. Our bodies are still subject to corruption. Our callings or vocations are likewise subject to the sad effects of sin and misery. Our relationships, the same. (Gen.3:14-19, Isa.48:10, Acts 14:22, 2 Tim.3:12, Rev. 1:9, 7:14)
In this life we have daily burdens outside of us and we have daily burdens inside of us. Burdens of sickness, burdens in our duties, work, school, family; emotional and mental crosses to bear. And sometimes our burdens feel so heavy that we feel that we will be crushed by them. We feel that we have no more strength to bear up under them.
I Peter 4:12. Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. (Heb.11:1-40)
John 16:33. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
We cast all our cares and burdens upon the Lord in prayer. We take our afflictions to Jesus Christ. We unburden ourselves upon Him. We give it to Jesus.
Psalm 55:22. Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
I Peter 5:6. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
In prayer, God will give us more grace to sustain our burdens, He will give us more strength, He will strengthen our faith and perseverance. Drawing near to Him will banish our anxiety. The Light of His countenance will give us strength to press on, even with hope and joy and confidence.
Psalm 34:18. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
Hebrews 13:5. for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” 6 so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?” 7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Mt.28:20)
Our intellectual life. We need illumination of understanding.
The next reason we could argue is also a burden, but I wanted to treat it as a separate reason, and that is our confusion and ignorance in how to proceed in life. What I mean, is that we are faced with so many different decisions to make in life and often we do not know which way to go.
Some of this is because we are unlearned in the realm in which we are confused. Some of this is because our spiritual enemies work actively to disguise their activities, and also to confuse God’s children in their path of duty. Did God really say? That kind of a thing. Listening to ungodly counselors or teachers can make us confused. Choose your instructors prayerfully.
Sometimes, we are confused in the path of our duty because our own sin makes us confused. Believing or doing wrong and sinful things obscures the right things to believe and to do. (Isa.28:7)
Jehoshaphat the king of Judah prayed this to the Lord when the enemies of God were coming to make war against the people of God, he prayed, O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You. (2 Chronicles 20:12)
In prayer, we ask God to give us light, understanding, wisdom, direction, power, courage, to go forward, to act, to make the right decision.
We want God to lead us in the right way to bless His name and extend His kingdom. (Gen.24:1-27, Rom.1:10) James tells us, if we lack wisdom or insight, we ought to ask God to give it to us. And ask believing He will enlighten us with His heavenly wisdom. (Jas.1:5-7, Jas.3:17)
Proverbs 3:5. Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. (Ps.31:1-3, 2 Thess.3:5, Ps.119:26-27, Eph.1:15-19, Prov.3:5-6, I Thess.3:9)
Our spiritual life. We need spiritual preseveration.
The spiritual enemies of the Christian are the world, the flesh and the devil. Therefore, we are taught that we have internal spiritual reasons we need to pray for. And we have external reasons. The internal reason is us. We still have the corruption of the flesh. We still sin against God and man.
The external reasons are Satan and his servants, fallen angels and fallen men.
Even as true Believers we all fall short of the glory of God every day. We still wrestle with the world, the flesh and the devil. We need God to help us against our sin, and to keep us from the Evil One. (Exod.34:9, Num.14:19, Ps.19:12, 25:11-18, 51:1, Mt.6:12)
In the Lord prayer Christ directs us to ask God to forgive our sins for Christ’s sake. Now all of our sins are forgiven in Christ the moment we first believe in Christ. And from that point on God always sees us as holy in Christ.
So, the continued asking God to forgive our continued sin is to restore and maintain our spiritual communion with God, distinct but related to our union with the Godhead.
Ephesians 6:10. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.
A M E N
- What are the two parts of man’s nature as created before the Fall? Why does this require we pray to God? How does this inform and motivate our prayers? (Gen.2:7-25, Heb.12:9, Gen. 1:26-27, Eccl. 12:7, Lk. 23:43, Mt. 10:28, Col. 3:10, Eph. 4:24, Rom. 2:14-15, Eccl. 7:29, Gen. 3:6, Eccl. 7:29, Gen. 2:17, Gen. 3:8-23.
- What is the condition of man after Adam’s sin? Why does this require that we pray? How does the content of man’s prayers to God change with the entrance of sin? For what do sinners need to pray for? (Gen.3:1-24, Eph.2:1-3, Rom.5:12-21, Eph.2:12)
- Can we pray for things beyond bare necessities? Can we pray for non-essentials? Why? Why not? How does our view of ourselves in Christ affect the way we pray? Can your child ask you for ‘luxuries’? (Mt.6:6-13, I Tim.6:6-12, Phil.4:8-14, Ps.104:15, Mt.7:11, Rom.8:15, Isa.25:6, Dt.28:12, Acts 14:17, Ps.45:8-9)
- What is the primary or vital need of the unbeliever? What is the first acceptable prayer to God? What is the content of that prayer? What needs does it express? To whom is it directed and why? (Lk.18:9-14, 15:11-32, Rom.10:1-17, Lk.12:13-34, I Tim.2:5, Jn.3:16, Acts 16:31)
- What do the manward petitions of the Lord’s Prayer teach us about the neediness of Christians? What are the two parts of our nature? (Mt.6:11-13)
- For whom ought we to pray? What are the needs of people in the family, the church and the state that require us to pray? (Mt.6:11-13, I Tim.2:1-7, Eph.5:21-33)
- Give some examples of how and why we must pray to God to support our physical life. What things are represented by ‘our daily bread’? Can you give examples from your own life when God has answered this prayer? (Mt.6:25-34, I Tim.6:8, WLC 193, WSC 104)
- What are the causes of our emotional anxieties? How does God answer our prayers to alleviate our emotional burdens? (Gen.3:14-19, Isa.48:10, Acts 14:22, 2 Tim.3:12, Rev. 1:9, 7:14, I Pt.4:12-13, Jn.16:33, Ps.55:22, I Pt.5:6, Ps.34:18, Heb.13:5-8, Mt.28:20)
- What are some causes of our lack of knowledge in serving the Lord in the various spheres and stations and seasons of our life? How does God meet our need of wisdom and guidance? (Isa.28:7, 2 Chron.20:12, Rom.1:10, Jas.1:5-7, Jas.3:17, Prov.3:5-6, Ps.31:1-3, 2 Thess.3:5, Ps.119:26-27, Eph.1:15-19, Prov.3:5-6, I Thess.3:9, Gen.24:1-27)
- Who and what are our spiritual enemies? What do we need to ask from God as regards to our spiritual enemies? How or in what ways does God answer prayer against spiritual enemies? (Ps.68:28, Heb.4:16, I Pt.5:10, Exod.34:9, Num.14:19, Ps.19:12, 25:11-18, 51:1, Mt.6:12, Eph.6:10-18)
- Extra credit. Interact with this quote from Martin Luther (1483-1546). God is the God of the humble, the miserable, the afflicted, the oppressed, the desperate, and those who have been brought to nothing?