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The Priority of Prayer – Charles Stanley

How often do you pray? What do you pray about? Do you have confidence that when you pray and talk to God, he’s going to answer your prayer? What is it that motivates you to pray above everything else? Probably not good times. But fear? Payne. Suffering. Heartache. And then let me ask you a question. What do you think hinders you the most from praying? You want to pray and you start to pray and then you say, well, God’s not gonna answer that.

I’ve prayed so many times and answered my prayer. So sometimes we just that is word. But, you know, one of the greatest reasons people do not for a. It’s real simple. It’s called s in sin.

And when you have sin in your life, ongoing sin in your life, you’re not very prone to want to get into the presence of a holy God and talk to him about your life unless you are willing and ready to lay it down and get right with God.

Because when we pray, we’re talking to holy God.

And talking to holy God in the presence of God and sin, those two things just don’t fit in prayer is the most important thing we do talking to God, the sovereign God of the universe, who has all power and all knowledge, who knows what you think and what you feel and what you’re going to ask before you ask it.

But to come to him, having avoided the Lord Jesus Christ, if you’ve never trusted him as your savior, you can forget the praying until you trust him as your savior.

You may have some kind of God in your life, but apart from him, you will never reach the one true, eternal God.

He will hear you if you are willing to ask him to forgive you of your sins and trust them as your personal savior, then he’s wide open to hear you.

Prayer is the most important event in our life. And one of the shortest verses in the Bible. Is a very clever is found in First Thessalonians, Chapter five or 17, and if you turn there for a moment and I’d like for just to read a few of these verses here, just to sort of get us ready for this. And the apostle Paul is writing to the test on Christians.

And let me remind you of this, the days in which he writes his epistles were in the days of Rome.

We think things are bad here in our country.

Now, this is nothing compared to the kind of life they had to live and the kind of domination and power and threats and ruin and heartache and atrocities and all the things that they had to face.

Listen to what Paul says.

Beginning in the 16th verse of First Thessalonians, Chapter five, he says, Rejoice always.

Now, if we had to stop right there, I’d think, no way. But then he says, pray without ceasing. What does that mean, I’m coming to it then he says in verse 18 in everything give thanks for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Let me clarify something he said in everything in the midst of it, in the circumstances, in this situation, I don’t have to I don’t have to give thanks for everything that comes my way.

Hurt and pain and suffering.

But in the midst of it, I am to give him thanks in it, in everything. Give thanks for this is God’s will for you and Christ Jesus do not quench the spirit by sin.

Do not despise prophetic utterances. When you hear the truth, examine everything carefully. Hold fast to that which is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

Now, may the God of peace himself sanctify you, that is set you apart afresh in a new in the holy life, sanctify you entirely and may your spirit and your soul and your body be preserved, complete without blame at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Who called you? What an awesome text of scripture, but what I want you to notice, he says, Pray without ceasing. What in the world does he mean by that?

So the title of this message is the priority of prayer. Now, a priority means it has a position of some importance that is all of us have priorities in our life, a person who doesn’t want to amount to much in life.

We have priorities and the priority of our life should be prayer for this, he says. Pray without ceasing.

Explain that in just a moment. But here’s what he says.

It’s not something that you add on to your daily life that you got 24 hours in a day and I’m going to spend five minutes talking to God. It’s something more important than that. It’s talking to the Heavenly Father.

And so when we think about the priority of prayer, the very word priority means it has a position of importance.

It’s not a place of indifference in our life, and it speaks of frequency.

So what does it mean to pray without ceasing? Does that mean that you just go around mumbling all the time, Jesus, help me, Jesus, help me Jesus.

God bless this. God blessed that. Give me this and give me that. No, it doesn’t mean that at all.

It means a continuous reoccurring of something, not something that happens continuously but continuously reoccurring.

For example, you wake up in the morning and you ask the Lord to give you direction for your life and to help you and strengthen you, to give you wisdom. And you go about your family cooking breakfast or whatever it might be, and you get your kids ready for school. Lord, I pray that you’ll protect them today. You get in your automobile and thank him for giving you a safe trip to your job. And on your way, you think about somebody you working with that you having a problem with and you talk about.

So it’s reassuring, but it’s continuously reoccurring. And you think about this, think about it on any given day. How many times you and I need to ask him to give us direction and help us to strengthen as they give us guidance that provides something we need. That’s what Paul means when he says pray without ceasing. It’s a way of life.

It’s a part of our daily life.

We go to bed at night praying. We wake up praying. We are praying all during the day about different things that concern us.

So I ask you in the very beginning, what do you pray about?

Is prayer in your life something you sort of tack on at different times when things get a little rough? Now, do you ever think about praying when everything is going your way?

And then when soror hits sickness, hits, you, lose your job, you have a financial problem and all of a sudden going about our busy, busy, busy day, all of a sudden God has our attention.

The truth is he means to have our attention all the time reoccurring, listen to this reoccurring awareness of his presence and his power in our life daily throughout the day and throughout the waking hours of our life.

And when we wake up in the middle of the night, we ought to think about him, Lord, is there something you want to say to me? Do you want to get me ready for something tomorrow that I’m not aware of? Reargument. Let’s think about this.

What an awesome blessing and opportunity to be in a relationship with Almighty God, the sovereign of the universe, who’s interested in everything about you.

Your name has been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

If you’ve just trusted Jesus as your savior, he’s interested in every single thing. You listen. You can’t say anything that he doesn’t know about. You can’t do anything he doesn’t know about you. Can’t you see the difficulty, hardship and inform him and any way about something he doesn’t know about?

You have this awesome God who loves you enough to give his only begotten son Jesus on the cross.

You have this awesome God who loves you enough to be interested in every facet of your life.

And if you’re willing to listen to him and follow him, you’ll have life at its best, even in the difficult trying times of life.

So I ask your question. Well, that kind of a god. And facing what you face in life, how often do you pray? What do you pray about, do you have confidence that when you pray that God is going to hear and answer your prayer?

Where does prayer fit in your daily life? He says we are to pray without ceasing now.

To do that, I need a relationship with him and that comes through the Lord Jesus Christ.

You can talk to him, listen to him. And God is willing to speak and ready to speak.

God is not in heaven trying to be secretive about things.

He wants to talk to you about your life.

Listen, he created you not to harm you, but to make it possible for you to live life at its very best.

But in order for that to happen, I’ve got to be willing to listen to him.

And so when I look at this scripture, it’s very impossible to rejoice always unless I have continuous contact with the father.

So look, if you will, for a moment to Luke, Chapter 18.

And let me just remind you of a passage of scripture here in this 18 Chapter Luke, beginning the first three verses, Jesus gives this parable to reminders of how God does listen to us and provide our needs. And so he says he was telling them this to show them that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.

They’re praying not to lose heart, so he says they’re in a certain city, there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a will in that city. And she kept coming to him saying, give me legal protection for my opponent.

For a while he was unwilling.

But afterwards he said to himself, Even though I don’t fear God and I respect man yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection.

Otherwise, by continually come in, she’s wearing me out.

And so the Lord said here what the unrighteous judge said now will not God bring about justice for all has a leg to cry out for him.

And what he’s simply saying is this. We don’t have to beg and plead God to listen to us, he is hearing us. If you’re a child of God, the ears of Almighty God are open to every single one of his children.

You say, how could that possibly be?

Because he’s a God. And because he’s given us a message of hope about all of these things, so I think one of the reasons people don’t pray is because watch this carefully.

They don’t feel worthy. They don’t feel like God’s listening. They don’t feel like they know how. They don’t have the kind of relationship that would make them think that God would listen to them anyway.

So their minds are full of doubt if you doubt that God is listening. More than likely, you’re dealing with some sin in your life because you have proof. I don’t believe God will hear. And that’s my prayer.

Because the truth is God does hear and answered the prayers of his children.

Even when we are confused, even sometimes when we think, oh, lord, I don’t deserve it. The truth is, none of us deserve his grace and love and mercy. But he’s listening and willing to hear and answer our prayer.

So what I’d like to do is distinguish between true prayer and false prayer because there is a difference.

And God doesn’t answer Faulds prayers, and when I think about what that means is simply this.

God does not answer the prayer of people who have rejected his son.

Watch this, because our access, our access to God, to the throne of God, our access is through his son, Jesus Christ and Jesus, that of that very familiar chapter in John 14, when he says no one comes to the father but by me, he makes it very clear.

And many people do not realize why they feel so powerless and they are living in sin.

And then when something happens and how many times have I heard this? Something happens in their life. They’re just doing their own thing, living in sin. And then when there’s an accident or some major trauma in their life, they want to cry out to God. If you’re in trouble, God will hear you. But if you have rejected him and continue to reject him and you want him to bypass his principles, his laws, his promises and do something for you over here, when you rejected him and rejected him and rejected him, that’s not the way it’s going to happen.

Because you’ve rejected the hand that can provide exactly what you need and I want to tell you something that’s an act of pride, you think that you can get what you need and you can manage life and you can control things and you brag about this and brag about that.

You got all these talents and skills and abilities and finances and all the rest, and you reject God.

You are living in a fool’s paradise because that’s not the way God operates.

We humble ourselves before the living God receiving his son, Jesus Christ as our personal savior, acknowledging and need of him.

He is more than willing to hear and answer our prayers.

So there’s a lot of praying goes on. Spalls is not going anywhere.

And when somebody says, I don’t think my prayers are getting higher than the ceiling, the truth is they don’t get any higher than here because there’s no there’s nothing to back them up.

There’s no relationship to God through his son, Jesus Christ. And he makes it crystal clear.

And when people say, well, I don’t believe in the God you believe in, but I believe in God. Well, what I want to say is, well, tell me give me a list of answers to prayer that your God has answered. They can’t because their God hasn’t answered any prayer now by the mercy of God, he allows good things to happen to people. But he says even that is in order to bring them to Jesus Christ, not to believe in some foreign God.

So a lot of false prayer. And I think about what Jesus said.

No one comes to the father, but by me that’s to go to heaven or to pray.

And so true prayer involves my heart, not just my mouth and my thing in my heart.

That is what is what is my relationship to God. And I I think about this also.

Most of the people who pray, they carry on the monologue with God, God hears my need and they go on and on and on and on and talk to God, watch this and turn around and walk off.

And they never listen to God.

You know why they don’t expect him to answer, because sin deadens your expectation for a holy God, the hear and answer your prayer, that’s false praying.

As not to pray in falls, praying, fault’s praying, is talking to God based on what I think I deserve and what I think God ought to think about me through prayer is based on a sense of humility that we are not accepted on the basis of our conduct.

We’re accepted on the basis of his mercy. We’re accepted on the basis of the truth, of his awesome word, of what he will do.

And so most people’s brains, false praying. It’s a monologue.

What it’s all about them. True, genuine prayer is a dialogue.

Now, let me ask you this. Most of you either mayor to have been there, going to be so.

How did you build a relationship with that person, you talk to them, you listen to them, you talk to them, you listen to them, you talk to them and you listen to them.

When they hurt, they listen to them when they left. You listen to them when they wanted something. You listened to them and you gave them notes. You built a relationship by talking and listening.

There’s no such thing as a relationship that doesn’t go both ways. You can’t do all the talking. You don’t do all the listening.

And so we have a relationship with each other built on a dialogue.

And listen, watch this intimacy, intimacy is heart to heart, intimacy is mine to mine, and probably women understand that more than men, but neither here nor there. The truth is, that’s the kind of relationship that God intends for us to have with him so that there are times when we do the talking.

And then. We need to listen now, watch this, we’re not.

Listen to me carefully, I’m talking about the most important thing they can go on in your life that’s going to affect every single aspect of your life in some way or the other. And so we need to build a relationship with the Lord.

So in order for that to happen, you say, well, how does God speak to me?

Well, one of the ways he speaks to us through his word, that’s why it’s good to to read the word of God a little bit before you start praying.

Not always, but at least at some point in the day you read a portion because it’s amazing how God know what this is.

Not this is not amazing.

It’s not amazing that he knows what you need.

It’s amazing how he can take you right to the scripture that you just desperately need because he’s God.

And remember this from Genesis, the revelation.

He knows every verse. There isn’t anything in the Bible he doesn’t know about.

And so dealing that intimate relationship is absolutely essential.

And so therefore and I’ll give you an example, I learned that a long time ago, I remember being really troubled about something. I’m down on my knees and crying out to God.

And for some reason, I got up, walked right off as soon as I did. I was not a conviction.

I thought, well, God, I didn’t even give you an I didn’t give you an opportunity to tell me what I was asking about.

I think that’s what most people do.

They pray and get up and leave. Oh, then that first of all, they’re not even down. Then they have and humble themselves before God to pray and let me just say this, this is not absolutely a criteria for acceptance by God to get on your knees.

It’s an expression of humility that you are talking to the God of the universe, the only true God.

And I recognize that some people I can’t get on your knees and what I’ve been through in the past year for quite a while, I couldn’t get on mine.

But I couldn’t wait till I heard the issues. This is not position, the issue is this. Talking to him, listening to him, that’s what God wants. He wants not only for you to talk to him, he wants you to listen to him. He wants to give you a clear direction. He wants to answer your prayer. He wants to provide what you need. But if you don’t listen to him, then you know better than you hadn’t even prayed.

Lord, I need this. I need that. I need the other. Thank you very much in Jesus name. That’s not the way you operate. Because what that says is, I’m telling you, but I can handle it or you handle it for me, I appreciate it. That’s not prayer and that’s not the way God wants us to operate. So ask yourself the question. You know, how often do you pray? Is it specific? Is it a monologue or is it a dialogue?

And Paul said to the Romans, listen to this. Devote yourself to prayer.

And he says, Colossians, of all, you have to devote yourself to prayer. What does devote yourself to prayer?

It’s an imperative, which is a command. Devote yourself to prayer means you set aside time for it.

You are serious about it.

It is a priority in your life, devote yourself to prayer, give it and uninterrupted time to think clearly about what you’re talking to God about.

Be serious about it, not something you add on.

You see, for most people, prayer is an add on. It’s an add on to doing this, doing that, doing that.

And before I go to bed, I want to look for you. I know you’ve got to give him time. You’ve got to have a relationship with him.

And so when he says devote yourself to prayer, devote yourself means you set us at a time that is the priority of prayer, means I place importance on it. I place the position as first in my life. Every single one of us can start the day off with prayer.

Amen. You can now. You may not, but you can before you get out of bed. You ought to be talking to God. You don’t know whether you’re going to be able to get back in that bed again or not.

Life is uncertain. And yet God is so certain. He was proud to be a priority in your life, and that is my prayer, that you would do the most important thing you will do in your life every day and give God the time that he deserves.

Listen to do want to set you up in a position to bless you the way he wants to bless you, to have you in the right place, doing what he wants to do in your life, giving you the very thing you’re asking for in the way he wants to do it.

So you have to ask yourself the question, do I love him enough? Do I care enough? Do I believe that he wants to do that in my life? What I want to do is I want to give you a list of things to think about.

And that is why I say the prayers of our most profitable activity. I want to give you a list of items, about 12 items, right.

The ones down that you think most affect you. The first one is simply this prayer is the method by which God meets their needs.

My God, she’ll supply all your needs according to his riches and glory, by Christ Jesus, he comforts us in time of trial and heartache. How? Through prayer. Prayer is a time of comforting, he assures us of his presence and is willing to help us their lives and channel through which we build an intimate relationship with him, which we just talked about.

When you’re being quiet and listening to him, we build intimacy with him. We sense his love.

We feel his love. It’s like he puts his arms around us.

He strengthens us in times of temptation. You find yourself being tempted by something or somebody or some situation or some opportunity, and you say to God and the Bible says, no temptation taken you. But such is common to man.

But God will enable you. It’s in prayer. Lord, strengthen me. Don’t let me see that. Don’t let me think about that. I just blocked it out of my mind.

God, he will answer that prayer. Then of course think about this.

If we confess our sins to Almighty God, if we confess sins to him, he’s faithful. Listen to that. He’s faithful, he’s trustworthy. He’s always there faithful.

And just that means he has the right to forgive because he died on the cross pads and that he’s faithful and they forgive us of our sins and they cleanses from all unrighteousness.

That’s a promise we have from God.

And so all of us have prayed and asked him to forgive us, not on the basis that we deserve it, but because he promises that he will forgive us. Likewise, it’s a source of guidance for direction. For example, we have decisions we have to make.

And he says he will guide us with his eye upon us.

And so if I want God’s guidance, I need to take time in prayer and listen to him. Lord, what are you what would you have me to do?

And oftentimes we would be heading in the wrong direction. Now, watch this carefully listening.

Say, man, you better listen. If you are praying and all of a sudden you think, well, this is what I think I ought to do, and you get a little static, that’s what I call it.

Little static in your heart, if you know what I mean, you’ve been praying, they don’t know what I mean. Yeah, I’ve been praying. We all got static at times.

You think this is the thing that you ought to do. And yet something deep down inside is what we would say.

That’s the spirit of God saying, no, no, no, no.

When you shut that off, you said to God, I’m not interested in your opinion. I’ve asked you for it, but you don’t agree with me what I want to do.

So I’m going to do it in a way. People make tragic decisions by muffling the voice of God.

If you think about your whole life, your whole life is depended upon, that they all these things we’ve said about what God does for us, we’re all dependent upon him. Your next breath.

Any one of us could die in the next moment with a heart attack. We’re dependent upon him. For every single thing in life and therefore prayer ought to be not attack on, not add on, but a major part of our life that I think, for example, we need to help us understand this word.

And I don’t I think I get to say I don’t ever open this book to read a passage of scripture that I don’t say that Lord, speak to my heart.

No, I’m not asking you to give me a message for somebody else, I want you to speak to me about me.

If there’s something you want to do in my life, I want you to speak to me.

This is not all about me. It’s all about you getting your word to all of us.

But I want you to begin with me. There’s something in my life you want to clean up some sense of direction, what some whatever it might be. And so we have to be honest about those things.

Lord, speak to my heart about your word.

What are you saying to me? Then, for example, prayer is a shield against anxiety and worry, all of us could think about something to worry about. Prayer is a shield, you know, I had a shield in the midst of our pain, our hurt, our our fear, God reminds us that he’s a god of grace and he has everything under control and somehow he’s going to work it all out no matter what happens.

All of us go through those things and all of us need the shield that prayer provides.

We receive courage in confidence, we are facing challenges, and I think back in my life and the challenges I face, I couldn’t begin a number of those. But you know what I discovered?

I never got on my knees before any challenge that God didn’t reassure me that somehow and some way he was going to work it out.

And I’ve been through some tough times, but he’s always been there always to shield and protect those little less, some burdens could be so huge and might inhibit they would absolutely break and shatter us.

But he’s there to put a shield.

Because he’s going to control how much you have to face, he controls the weight of the burden, he controls the time of the burden, and he controls the source of the burden.

And for his children, he has limitations to those loads, whatever they might be.

Then, for example, when you you’re not need emotional healing, a physical healing, what is the first thing we should do? Said Lord. I don’t know what this is about. I want to ask you to give me guidance and direction. And sometimes we get bad news, sometimes we get good news. And I can remember last year when I fell, I remember the first thing you came out of my mouth.

God, what are you up to? Which is a good example of praying without ceasing.

I was immediately recovering in my prayer. God, what are you up to?

I didn’t even think about what I felt when I was lying on the floor, sort of helpless.

And what are you up to? Because I knew that he I couldn’t fall unless he permitted it. And there I like it, none of it, I didn’t like any of it, but you know what? I know he was in control and way. He’d bring me through it. I know he’d be faithful no matter what.

That’s the kind of God we serve.

How foolish to try to live in this world we live in and ignore the one true God and the only God who can help you.

Think about this. You can’t face in this situation that he doesn’t know all about. He knows all about it before, during and afterwards, because he loves you. He’s a God willing to help you, if you will, in the crowd to him and ask him to give you direction.

And he’s a God who will give you the watch this.

The energy, the strength.

That’s what powers power is all about, energy, strength to face situations and circumstances.

And that’s what the Holy Spirit is all about.

He who is within you will empower you and strengthen you and enable you and gift you with whatever is necessary to bring you through whatever you are facing in life. And then the last thing I would say about that is this think about this. Because you’re a child of God, because he’s the God of this whole universe, he controls and rules over all things. You. You as a follower of Jesus Christ, you have the privilege. You have the opportunity.

You have the power, so to speak, to touch anybody anywhere in the world, because it’s this holy triangle. Here you are, is the person you are praying for and here is God, you talk to God. God sees them. What does he do?

He answers your petition. You get blessed. Only a follower of Jesus has the power to touch anybody anywhere in the world with the grace of God. But can you tell me why I should not be a priority? It should be a priority in our life. Now, my friend, listen carefully. You may have everything in the world anybody could ever want. But if you don’t have Christ in your life, you’re missing the most important person in your life.

Secondly, if you are a believer in Jesus and you don’t have a strong prayer life, you’re missing out on what God has for you.

He has the best for you and he will use you if you will allow him.

And that requires time with him.

Are you going to listen to this message? And develop a new relationship with God. Are you going to ask him to forgive you for being prerelease, missing opportunities, missing Blessing’s? Missing wonderful things that God has in store for you because you have not free. And are you going to ask God to forgive you for that and telling that beginning today or beginning tonight whenever it is Lord?

Teach me to pray.

A humble myself before you, Lord, and I want to get into your word and I want you to lead me to read what I need to read, you speak to my heart and father teach me to pray.

And they become a valuable vessel in your kingdom. And I can assure you one thing, he will answer that prayer. Father had grateful we are that you’re patient with us. Willing, the teachers willing to grace us with the blessings, willing to dialogue with us, to speak with us and have us speak with you.

I pray the spirit of God will seal this message in the heart of every person who hears it today, tomorrow and years to come here and around the world. In Jesus name. Amen.

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