"Selfie Prayers"

Matthew 6:5-7

Four Things That We Should know About Prayer

1) The Necessity of Prayer
We need prayer and we need to pray, but most prayers are "selfie" prayers. Nearly all Americans take "selfies" with their cell phones. It's all about making a statement. We take "selfies" and broadcast them on Facebook to tell all the world who we are, what we do, where we go and even what we had for breakfast. We want to be liked and hope many "friend" us.

In "selfie" prayers, the caller sees him- or herself as the most important party. The recipient is not important, but it helps to elevate the importance of the one praying if the intended recipient is perceived by others to be someone important like God. The most common "selfie" prayer is so well known that you only need to give the abbreviation: "OMG". Everyone knows what it means and it certainly doesn't mean that the one who says "OMG" really means it. It is only intended to draw attention to the person who says it.

We all need prayer. If no one is praying for me and "I am of all men most miserable," it's my own fault. Anyone who senses a need for help, wisdom or encouragement, should ask someone to pray. Someone without food can starve simply by doing nothing. When we sense a need, the least we can do is to pray or ask for help.

Most importantly, however, is not our prayers, but who is on the other end of the line.

2) The Intimacy of Prayer
Believers who have repented, asked forgiveness of their sins and presented themselves as a sacrifice unto God are adopted into the family of God we are children sons - members of the family! That doesn't mean that we will never have needs, troubles, or attacks of the enemy. There is plenty of need for prayer even in God's family. But we don't have to have an appointment or wait in line!

The unsaved may seek to agitate and create conflict, or they may just ignore or attempt to avoid it, but the Christian seeks resolution. We may sometimes need to accept it when resolution is not possible, but we can always expect and thank God for conflict. If God permits persecution, he has a good purpose in it for us.

Trouble makers are also from God, either sent or given permission. Trouble makers keep us on guard, relying on God for help and they keep us humble. Occasionally, a trouble maker is right and I am wrong! When I was a kid, I was a trouble maker. I have it documented in the "comments" section of my school report cards. My most common reaction to a command was, "Why?" and for several years, the reply of may parents was, "Because I said so." I now know that my parents loved me and were trying to raise me according to scriptural injunctions. First, I got the law, but later grace. "Because I said so" was changed to "Because God says so right here." There came a time when I started asking God "Why?" If we are serious in our questioning, we had better be prepared and willing to listen and believe. For a few years, I was not listening and did not believe, but at 19, I did both and gave my life to Jesus.

3) The Confidentiality of Prayer
My Lord and I are on speaking terms today and I delight in his words. Occasionally, I catch myself uttering a selfie prayer. I may even ask my Heavenly Father, "Why?" In such cases, he smiles and replies, "Because I said so." I would never pray like that in public and some professing Christians would not consider my private conversation with God a prayer. It lacks that certain theological formulation in the language of Canaan.

Back in the mid sixties, we were serving as missionaries in a town named Ampflwang (don't try to pronounce it, and if you hear of another word that has five consecutive consonants and none of them double, please let me know). We invited a Bible School student named Heidi to come live with us and help in ministry for a summer. I think we learned more from her than she did from us. We always began our day with personal devotions followed by breakfast and then a time of prayer. One morning when the three of us were praying, the door bell rang, so my wife went to answer it. While I was praying, the office phone rang, so Heidi went to take the call. I continued for a few moments praying out loud, but then switched to quiet mode and suddenly not at all. I realized that I had not been talking to God. I was formulating my prayer for the others. One reason was that I didn't have much experience praying in German and sometimes I struggled to find the right words. But the reality hit me, that I was more concerned with how my prayer sounded to others than what I wanted to tell my Lord and Heavenly Father.

As I considered this situation, I began to view prayer differently. My wife and I have a wonderful relationship, but if she entered a room where just the two of us were and started a conversation with me like I did with God, what would I think? Supposing she began by saying, "Ralph, I come to you to tell you how much I love you. I worship you and praise your precious name. I thank you for your bountiful provisions and blessings." At that point I would begin to wonder what she really wanted from me or what she had perhaps done wrong and was trying to make up to me for. Certainly we should communicate our love and devotion to God just as we do to our spouse, but God knows our hearts and thoughts. I doubt if God is impressed with the theological jargon that we use in bringing him our prayers and supplications.

It is important that a Christian begin the day with a devotional time alone with God. We normally read a portion of scripture before praying. That is appropriate because God should be able to speak to us before we speak to him. We can pray at any time during the day, while at work, driving, or in any situation. In our devotional time, however, God should be given precedence to share his mind and heart with us. He may lay out his plan for us or give some helpful advice, correction or direction.

4) The Power of Prayer
Romans 8:38-39 says, For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What did Paul mean when he spoke of principalities and powers? Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

This is a reference to Satan and all his demons, plus men and women who serve him. As I considered this, I realized that all inanimate things can also be included in Satan's domain including computers! For nearly a year now I have been fighting a battle with my computer. I came to the conclusion that computers are tools of Satan. I read in my Bible that men were commanded by God to smash their idols and grind them to powder. Several times I came very close to smashing my computer with a sledgehammer, but then I realized that this would be equivalent to caving to Satan's purposes. The computer is NOT my idol by any stretch of the imagination! In fact, it was usually while I was trying to serve the Lord that these computer attacks came.

Colossians 1:16 says, For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him. I had seen myself as the victim of Satan and there seemed to be nothing that I could do about it. I was prepared to smash my computer and quit all work associated with it.

We are tempted to view Satan as a powerful personality who has thousands or even millions of loyal demons and people serving his purposes. But Paul tells the Christians in Colossae that God is far above these principalities and powers! In fact, it was God who created them all!

We are to resist the devil and not to quit in defeat, but how can we do that? Through prayer! Prayer is the greatest source of power in all the universe. We have access to God and if we are serving him and his purposes, he is eager to stand with us and help us to be overcomers, not deserters. I had been fighting a war against my computer for more than a year and felt that my only recourse was to smash the thing and quit!

Colossians 2:15 says, And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. What is Paul saying? First he says that God created principalities and powers and then he says that God spoils principalities and powers, "triumphing over them!"

God spoke to me about this during a four-hour seminar on prayer, Saturday, September 28, 2019. I was deeply convicted and prayed to God, giving myself anew to his service and pledging to stop whatever I am doing when computer problems arise. I am NOT quitting in defeat, but calling for reinforcement.

Prayer is our greatest source of power and sometimes, it is the only power available to us. Jesus said, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Ephesians 2:6.  And [God] hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. In the following chapter, Paul writes, To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God Ephesians 3:10.

There is a fascinating account in Acts 19:13-16 of how the power of Satan prevailed over seven would-be exortionists. Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This is a dire warning to all those who would attempt to fight evil through the power of God without being wholeheartedly on God's side!

When Jesus and three of his disciples returned from the Mount of Transfiguration, they found the other disciples futilely attempting to free a boy from demonic powers. The father of the boy perhaps also voiced the frustration of the disciples who could not help the boy when he cried out, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief!" That was also the condition I was in when Jesus spoke to me. "This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting."

Men repeatedly attempted to bind the maniac of Gadera but all attempts failed. Jesus freed him from his spiritual bondage and he was made a new creature! That created a huge problem for the demons who had possessed the poor man. They begged Jesus for permission to enter the herd of swine and Jesus granted that permission!

Ralph V Harvey