Creflo Dollar - The Essence of Prayer - Part 1
We have been talking about prayer. In fact, we're talking about turning prayer into communion, turning prayer into communion. You know, a couple of things we said already about prayer, is that prayer gives God consent. It gives heaven consent. It's kind of like when you're building something in the natural. You know, you have to go get a permit. Well, prayer is like a heavenly permit, and it's so important that we understand that we're not going to God begging for stuff. We're not gonna God being motivated by, you know, trying to get him to do something that'll please us. But what we're doing is...
You know, prayer is so many things. It's saying to God what God has already said in his Word. It's praise and worship. It's literally to kiss the face of God. It's a time of communion that should not just be a set time every day, but it should be something that you're doing throughout the day, not a set time, but what you're doing throughout today. And so what I'm trying to do in this series is to convince you to take your prayer life and turn it into communion, to take your prayer life and say, "God, I wanna practice your presence every day. I wanna practice your presence. I don't wanna just spend an hour with you in the morning and not have anything to say to you or to hear from you throughout the day".
But it's allowing God to be a part of our everyday lives throughout our everyday lives, and not make it such a religious practice where, you know, you just do that at this time. It's having communion with him every day, and this is what's gonna cause some powerful results to happen in your life. And after all, if you're praying and not getting any impact, or effect, from prayer, I mean, what good is it to do it? And so we're gonna continue this series tonight, and I wanna talk to you about the essence of prayer and how to take that prayer and turn it into communion.
So, if you have your Bibles, go with me to Matthew chapter 6, verses 9 through 13. And I wanna begin, tonight, with this statement here. "Prayer is communion with God". Prayer is communion with God, and your communion with God should be constant. Prayer is a communion with God, and your communion with God should be constant. It shouldn't be scheduled. And I know that probably really ruffling up a lot of feathers, but it's a constant communion with God. It is not a monologue where you're doing all the talking. It is a dialogue where you and God are communing. You know, it's like, you know, getting up in the morning. "Father, I thank you so much for allowing me to wake up this morning. And Lord, I thank you for the day that I get a chance to live in. And Father, teach me what I need to do today. Teach me how to live today".
And then pause and seeing what God has to say to you. And then, you know, if you work out in the morning, you go and you workout and, "Father, I thank you that I'm safe, and I won't get any injuries". And then after the workout, "Father, I thank you that I made it through, and thank you that movement is a blessing, and I thank you that I have no injuries for that, and I just praise you for that right now, in the name of Jesus". Then pause and listen to him. And then you go and you get ready for your work or whatever you have to do. And while you're getting dressed, you know, maybe praying in the Holy Spirit or singing praises to him and thanksgiving. Because I believe New Testament prayer is, the majority of the time, dealing with praise, worship, and thanksgiving. And so you're praising and worshiping God, and giving him thanks, and listening to what he has to say.
You know, I prayed this morning, right before I went online with our daily confessions, and I asked the Lord, I said, "Listen", I think it was the other morning. And I asked the Lord, and I said, "Could you get me a really good Scripture to use to encourage people"? And before I could get the whole request out of my mouth, he was already answering me. I mean, I'm thinking, and that's something that's been happening over and over and over again. Because I'm convinced that it's communion. It's you're used to talking to him, and then he talks to you. You used to talking to him. And he'll give you answers. He'll give you enlightenment.
So, prayer is constant communing with God, a communion with God. You know, the only time some Christians use the word "Communion" is when they're taking, you know, the bread and the cup, and that's cool, but a communion with God, that's what Adam and Eve had in the garden. It was a communion. It wasn't a religious prayer. It was communion with God. It was something you did because you wanted to do. It was a fellowship and a time that you spent with God, because you wanted to. It wasn't motivated by what you need. It wasn't motivated by what you had to have or trying to get God to do something. It was a relationship-building communion, and that's what it should be between you and God, a relationship-building communion. So, prayer is communion with God and your communion with God should be something that is constant.
Now, I wanna again look at Matthew chapter 6 and 9. It's the Lord's prayer here. And make some comments here. In verse 9, let's read through 13. He says, "After this manner". You know, the disciples asked the question, "Lord, teach us to pray". And Jesus said, "After this manner". Or he's answering. "Lord, teach us to pray," they ask him. He says, "Well, pray after this manner," or after this outline, or after this way, and he says, "Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven". Verse 11, "Give us this day our daily bread". And verse 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 forever, amen".
So, now please understand something. Jesus didn't intend for what we've traditionally called "The Lord's Prayer" to be repeated word-for-word the way the church has done it for years. When he answered the question, "What's the manner, or the structure, or the outline that we should pray," he never intended for us to pray the manner and the outline word-for-word just like churches have been doing for years. I mean, I actually did that. Every time I did a funeral, I would say, "Let's repeat 'The Lord's Prayer.' Our Father, which art in heaven". And he never, he never gave that to us to be repeated word-for-word the way it's been done in church.
Now, this is shocking, but that's not a New Testament prayer. That's not a New Testament prayer. And somebody would say, "Well, it's in the New Testament". It's in Matthew. You know, you've gotta go back and get my previous sermons about rightly dividing the Word of truth. This is not a New Testament prayer, because a New Testament prayer must be prayed in the name of Jesus. Look at John chapter 16, 23 and 24. New Testament prayers are prayed in the name or in the authority of Jesus Christ, okay? And so look what he says. "And in that day", in that day.
Remember, the two ministries of Jesus. Number one, to show the true spirit behind the law; and number two, through prophecies, begin to show this new way of living, this grace-based system where it talked about instead of just calling God, God, you can call him Daddy. It talked about love. It talked about light. Well, he's now saying, "In that day, you shall ask me nothing". He says, "But verily, verily, I say unto you in that day, whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you". So, he says, "In that day," referring to that day of that new covenant, that day of that grace, he says, "You're gonna ask the Father in my name. Hitherto have you asked nothing. Up to now, you haven't asked anything in my name".
See what he said? "Up to now, you've not asked anything". Or "Hitherto, you've not asked anything in my name. Ask, and you shall receive," what? "That your joy may be full". And so now Jesus is giving instructions. "There's coming a time where you're gonna ask in my name". That's New Testament prayer, that's New Testament prayer. Now, I know this is probably, you know, a challenge for you to work this out in your mind, because, traditionally, this is just what we've always done. And that's what I'm really trying to help us with. It's like, just 'cause we've always done a thing doesn't necessarily mean, you know, it was in line with the New Testament. It was in line with what Jesus was trying to show us about this new way of living.
And so the Lord was giving us a model for prayer in Matthew 6:9 through 13. He's giving us a prayer model, and it's not something to repeat. It's a prayer model. So, Christ's model outline for prayer started, if you'll look at Matthew 6:9, it started with praise. It ended with thanksgiving. And in between, you made requests. And that's basically what he's trying to show you. They asked, "How do we pray"? He says, "Start off with praise. In between, make requests, if necessary, and at the end, thanksgiving". And that's good. I mean, that's how I start my communion with God. I get up in the morning, and I start thanking God for everything that I can possibly thank God for.
You know, some people may grade is as big or small, but it doesn't matter. I start thanking God for everything I can thank God for. Now, the only difference is, yes, there are times when I'll ask God, you know, "Lord, show me how to live". That's a request. "Lord, help me not to do something to hurt myself, today". That's a request. "Lord, make me sensitive to what you would have me to do, today". That's a request. And then I spend time, like, prayer is saying to God what God has already said in his Word. And New Testament prayer is taking hold of the finished works of Jesus Christ and begin to receive it by faith and begin to thank God for it.
So, in between praise and thanksgiving, I'm like, "Father, I just thank you that I'm already healed. I thank you that Jesus died and shed his blood for me to be healed, and I just, I thank you for that, Lord. I give you praise for that". Most of New Testament prayer is bathed in praise and worship. Most of New Testament prayer is bathed in praise and worship, because I'm praising and thanking God for what he's already done. You know, I could be asking, "God, I pray that you will, you know, give me healing". Well, he's already given me healing. "Well, God, I pray that you prosper me, today". Well, he's already prospered me, today.
See, you've gotta be careful, because that's one prayer that'll never be answered. When you ask God to do what he's already done, that's a prayer he can't answer, why? Because it's already done. So, remember, I told you there are two prayers that God will never answer. Number one, when you ask God to do what he's already done; and number two, when you ask God to do what he's already told you to do. And so, I mean, it may look religious, and it may make you look like you're real spiritual: asking God for what he's already done.
And so that's why we've got to be students of the Word so that we'll know that, wait a minute, I'm asking God to do something that I said I believed that's already finished. I'm asking God to heal me, and he healed me 2,000 years ago. I'm asking God to deliver me, and deliverance was made available 2,000 years ago. I'm asking God to prosper me and favor me, and that was done on the cross. So, New Testament praying should be, "Father, according to your Word, you said with your stripes I'm healed, and I just give you praise for that right now and receive that in the name of Jesus".
That's New Testament praying. But for the most part, the church has been praying things that Jesus has already made available, and that is doubt all day long. It's doubt all day long. It's like, you know, the Bible says if you believe in your heart and don't doubt in your heart. Well, when you're asking for something that's already, that's doubt all day long. It's religion that's moving you to pray that way. And so we need to back up, find out what God said in his Word, find out what his blood has settled, find out what his finished works are, and then we begin to pray in agreement with the finished works, okay? We start off praising God for what he's done.
And in the midst of it, you know, somebody says, "Well, how do I ask God to help me financially"? Well, you go to God and say, "Father, I thank you that, you know, 2,000 years ago, you made a way for me to prosper and favor me financially. So, I believe I receive that right now, and I thank you for that right now, in the name of Jesus. And Lord, I ask that you would help me to walk in faith and keep my confidence all day long where this is concerned".
You see, you make the request, but the requests are not gonna be so much dealing with what he's already dealt with. If I end up asking God for something, it's most of the time gonna be asking God to assist me to, "Lord, help me to labor to rest in what you've already done," you see. "Lord, help me to maintain an attitude of gratitude, and help me to be strong, today, and I receive the strength that you've already made available to me," praise God. I really believe this. God has already done everything you could think about asking him. And but, you know, there are some, it's very appropriate and it is scriptural that there are times that you ask God for something, like I just said. "Lord, help me to live right, today. And Lord, help me to hear with crystal clear hearing your instructions, today. And I believe I receive that. Your instructions are available, but I thank you that I believe I receive that".
So, there's lots of requests you can make in there, but not so much requesting for him to do what he's already done, okay? That's New Testament, New Testament praying. And so, as we begin to look at this, that "Lord's Prayer," which we call it, it's Christ's model outline for prayer, and we start it with praise. We end it with thanksgiving. And in between, there are requests that are made. Now, in prayer, you have to choose these two things. In prayer, you have to choose to, number one, magnify God or, number two, magnify your problem. In prayer, you have to make a decision. In prayer, I decide that I'm gonna magnify God in prayer versus magnifying my problem.
Now, if you've ever, you know, been a part of a church, and you have a chance to hear people pray, you will notice that a lot of times, if you'll take note, people spend a lot of times making their problems big in prayer, magnifying their problems in prayer. "O Father, you know, the doctor said I'm sick, and, Lord, they said that if you don't do nothing, then I'm gonna die. And Father, I need money to get the operation, and they said it may work or it may not work, but, Lord, you in control".
Excuse me? We haven't magnified God at all. We magnified the problem, dumped it on God, and ended up praying some kind of Mickey Mouse prayer to make it seem like it was all right. You have to, you've gotta decide every day, "I'm gonna magnify the problem in prayer, or I'm gonna magnify God in prayer. I'm gonna magnify the promise in prayer. I'm gonna magnify the finished works of Jesus in prayer". Which is the one that's most appropriate? It's magnifying God.
Prayer is a time when you make God big. Prayer is a time where you are not talking to God about your problems. You're talking to your problems about what God has already provided. You're talking to your problems about what God has already done for it. Now, you know, I'm telling you, man, there are people that this is what they do. They talk to God about their problems. No, no, we talk to our problems. We tell our problems about our God. I'm telling you, New Testament praying, you'll begin to experience what I'm experiencing in my communion time with God, and that is I'm talking to him, and he's answering me. I'm talking to him, and he's answering me.
I mean, there have been times that have blown me away. I'll be in bed, and I will ask God for something, and it'll happen before I go to sleep. And I'm like, "Whoa, that was quick". You know, I've cultivated patience and, okay, I'll be patient, but it really, it brings me great joy when I have a God that'll do it just like that. I'm like, "Wow". What else? There's a Scripture that said, "Before you ask, he'll answer". And I'm like, "Man, this is really true". And it's like nobody can tell me there's not a God. I mean, I experience him in my walk every day. And that's the thing that just, it brings you closer to him. You're in his presence.
And you know, I showed you in one of our previous sessions how meditating and what you think about becomes a part of prayer. And I do that a lot. I'm in my mind. I'm not really focused in on what's going on as much as I am talking to God, and he's talking to me and showing me things. And it's a great way. It's the foundation for every successful endeavor in life. Prayer, prayer is the foundation for every successful endeavor in life. In fact, every failure in life might be a prayer failure. Every failure in life may be a prayer failure, and I believe that in this particular time and all the things that are going on right now, we, as Christian people, need to know how to pray according to that new way of praying, according to that new covenant is what I'm referring to, according to the covenant of grace, according to that New Testament that Jesus enacted after his death, you see.
And you know something had to change. We're still praying prayers before the cross instead of praying prayers based on what happened after the cross, and we're still going and looking up stuff that was prayed a certain way before the cross and not paying attention to prophecies and what Jesus is saying about prayer after the cross. And I am telling you, it's like I'm a witness. I'm not telling you what I read. I'm telling you what I know. When you move from prayer into communion, your life's gonna change, and you're gonna see your invisible partner show up and do some magnificent things in your life that'll just bring, bring glory to God Almighty, amen?
So, a huge amount of prayer, I believe, ought to be praise. Praise blesses God, and praise strengthens you. Praise blesses God, and praise strengthens you. So, when there's something that's going on in my life or something that needs to be happening in my life, the first thing I think about is Jesus has already done something about that. I'm gonna go ahead and exalt him, praise him, and magnify him where that is concerned, amen.
Let's look at this Scripture in Psalms 22, verse 3. He said, "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel". God inhabits praise, and we just limit it to just singing. And you know, I'm gonna show you where there was time spent, you know, praying and singing at the same time, and I'm gonna tell you that when you're singing, that's praying. I'm telling you, when you open your mouth up, and you're worshiping, that's praying, and God inhabits that. God inhabits prayer that's filled with praise, and he inhabits praise that's prayer.
I don't know if my people knew that. We're always trying to separate praise and prayer. I don't know, if you're praying New Testament prayer, that's a very thin line between, I don't even know how you can separate praise from prayer or prayer from praise, except the song be totally against the Word. You can be singing a song that's not biblically based or New Testament based, and then, you know, it might not work.
You know, certainly, God's not gonna, you know, do too much with a song, "Now, Lord, come and move my mountain and, you know, give me the strength to climb. I've been beat up all day long, and I ain't no good, Jesus. You know, I ain't no good Jesus. I ain't no good. I ain't no good". I don't know if that's gonna be called prayer. That ain't gonna be called prayer. That ain't even gonna be called praise. But when everything lines up like it's supposed to line up, you can really, really see how worship and prayer are hand-in-hand. You see, one of the words in the original language for prayer literally means worship.