Creflo Dollar - The Purpose and Essence of Prayer - Part 2
The majority of the body of Christ sees prayer primarily as an opportunity to petition God. The majority of the body of Christ sees prayer primarily as an opportunity to petition God, a time to plead with God to meet their needs. That's how most people see it. Now, there are Scriptures that reveal asking and receiving as a valid use of prayer. I am not arguing against that. But it is so much more than petitioning God. There are prayers of petition but, you know two and three hours of petitioning God, we've got to reevaluate that. So what would be left to most Christians prayer life if all the repenting for sin, all of the asking for things and all of the intercession were subtracted?
So if we subtract repentance for sin, if we subtract asking God for things and if we subtract intercession, then what would be left? Because Adam and Eve, they communed with God every single day. And for me, you can subtract those things out of prayer, and it wouldn't be like, "Oh, I ain't got nothing to pray about" because I'm communing with God. And it is that time of communing with God that becomes most impactful in a person's life. It's that time of communing with God that will clothe you with an enormous amount of power.
And so, if you limit your prayer to repenting of sins, asking God for things and even intercession, and you think, "Well, I don't have anything to pray about it by subtracting those things," this is why I'm trying to bring you to this place of communion. Adam and Eve had constant communion with God. They had everything they needed in the garden, but they were constantly communing with him. And I want you to come to a place where you can see what a life-changing decision it would be if you could see communing with God as the top objective that you want to obtain in this life of prayer.
Now, prayer is communing with God and you can commune with God through meditation. We saw that in last week's sermon. Psalms 5, verse 1, he says, "Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation". So we saw how Jesus was praying to God by what he was thinking. And a lot of people don't see that as prayer but consider my meditations are benediction, are blessings that we use a lot. In church, "It's let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight". He said, "The words of your life, I want the words of your mouth to be acceptable and I want the meditation of your heart to be acceptable".
So it's appropriate to isolate yourself alone with God for special times of intimacy. Absolutely appropriately, but not all the time. See, here's what I'm saying, "Well, what? I want to spend all of my days in communion with the Lord". I hear what you're saying and I'm telling you that it is appropriate to isolate yourself to spend some time with God and to develop intimacy. But not all the time because you must learn to relate to him in the midst of your daily responsibilities and your weekly routines because they occupy the majority of your life. The majority of your life is occupied with the things that you do every day.
So the key is how do I have a relationship with God in the midst of my responsibilities? How do I have a relationship with God in the midst of my daily and weekly routines? You know, while it is cool and appropriate to isolate yourself alone with God, it is even more important that you learn how to walk with God on an everyday basis in the midst of routine and in the midst of responsibilities. And so, we don't want to limit your relationship with God only to dates. You understand what I'm saying? It's like well, you know this is what God and I are going to do at this particular time. I'm setting this time to do that. So I don't want you to limit your relationship with God based on a date. But you got to learn how to walk and talk with him all day. You got to learn how to walk and talk with him every day. The quality of time, you know, of time that you spend with God is going to be a lot better than the quantity of time that you spend with God.
And so, you try to make every day a quality time that you spend in God. I mean, you know, me getting up, sometimes coming to work is so much quality time because of what we accomplished in that time, or maybe in between a meeting when I really needed to know how to deal with this or how to say this or how to repent of that, it's quality time. And so we've got to get this out of our head, it's not the quantity, the amount of time you spend in God but the quality time, and you got to learn how to do that on an everyday basis. This is a life that we live. So on an everyday basis, we got to learn how to spend time with God. We got to learn how to walk with him.
Now, let's look at this in Matthew chapter 6, verse 9 through 13. You're going to be very familiar with this because this is the Lord's Prayer. And before we talk about some of the things we need to watch out about the Lord's Prayer, I want to kind of like talk to you about what it is. I believe the Lord's Prayer was more of an outline given to us by Jesus concerning how to pray and how to spend time with God. And I could see how he laid out. These are some things that I'm recommending you to do as far as spending time with God. And he starts off in verse 9, "After this manner therefore pray ye". Now, notice he says, "Pray after this manner", or watch this, pray after this outline.
You know, pray after this manner, pray this way. He didn't mean to just repeat the thing over and over again. He was giving you an outline of how to pray. "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name". Watch this carefully, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, the glory, for ever. Amen".
So what was really going on here? Well, the first line I see, I think about Psalms 100:4, if you flip over there for a moment. The first line, you know, "Our Father which art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done". The first thing I see here is you start off with praise. You start off with praise. He says, "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and enter into his courts with praise. And be thankful unto his name". That's that first line.
The first line is, you know, here's how I'm going to come before God. I'm going to come before God with praise. I thought in one of my time spent with the Lord I thought, "Well, you know what, Lord? I'm going to wake up this morning and I'm just going to just start thanking you for everything". And I started thinking about everything was done. "Father, I thank you for this and Lord, I praise you for that. Lord, I'm thankful for this. I'm thankful for this". And I found myself being thankful for the little things. I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful for even being awake and alive. And just spent like 15, 20 minutes thanking God for what he had done, and who he was in my life and the blessing that was on my life. But in this prayer, if you'll notice, you start with praise and you end with praise.
So Jesus was recommending when you pray, start with praise and end with praise. Start with thanksgiving and end with thanksgiving. Start with appreciation and end with appreciation. So that's one of the things you see out of this manner of praying. He prayed in this manner. I'm going to start off praising and thanking God and I'm going to end with praising and thanking God. "For thou art the kingdom, and the power and the glory". That's starting with praise and ending with praise. And so, in the middle of, it's like a praise sandwich, a thanksgiving sandwich, in the middle of it, you have the request.
If there's some things you want to ask or some things you want to present to the Lord, he says you do that in the middle. The Lord's Prayer was never intended to be recited. Some prayers are just ritual chantings. They're what the Bible calls vain repetition. And Jesus never gave the Lord's Prayer for it to be recited. And you guys already know, I don't have to tell you, in most churches the Lord's Prayer is recited. He's just trying to show you how to pray. Look at John chapter 16, and verse 23 and 24. Very familiar Scripture, he says, "And in that day you shall ask me nothing". That's strong.
Remember Jesus here is giving prophecies about this new way of living. And he says, "In that day, you shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, 'Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.'" "Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you". And then he says here, "Hitherto have you asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full".
Now notice he said, "Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full". Now, the point I'm trying to make here, go back to verse 23, the point I'm trying to make here is, you know, "There's coming a time," he says, "when you're not going to have to ask me anything". He says, "It's important that you know that I'm saying this unto you," that "Whatsoever you shall ask the Father," in the name of Jesus now. We're talking about in his name, in his authority. He says, "He'll give it you". Why? Because it's already been done. You'll receive it by faith. You'll receive it by faith.
Now, that's what Jesus was talking about, and you know, teaching people how to pray when they asked the question. Okay? But prayer under the Old Testament versus prayer under the New Testament, it's kind of different. It's kind of different. And Jesus was teaching some Old Testament principles that were very effective where prayer is concerned. But now, let's look at some very specific things. Psalms 51, verses 10 through 11. Let's look at just for moment prayer under the Old Testament versus prayer under the New Testament. Okay? Now verse 10 and 11 says this, "Create in me," this is David, "create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence and take not thy Holy Spirit from me".
You know that ain't New Testament. That's interesting, right? It was all right for David to pray those words because he wasn't born again, okay? So it was cool for David to pray that way because he wasn't born again. And so, we got to make a distinction between the instructions that are given to pray a certain way because people were not born again at that particular time. Okay, but under the New Testament, it's wrong for us to ask God to create in us a clean heart or renew our spirit. Why? 'Cause God gave you a clean heart when you were born again, and you can't ever lose that clean heart. Your body and your mind may be defiled but you are born again. You have a born-again spirit, sealed by the Holy Spirit. It always, you know, it always retains relationship with God.
And so that's something you got to remember. You got a born-again spirit. You don't need to pray this prayer, to pray Psalms 51:11. In the New Testament era, it is clearly indicating that you're not receiving what God has made available for you in the New Testament. It's pretty, pretty clear. In fact, look at Ephesians chapter 1:13. So there's a distinction there. Here's David praying this way in Psalm 51 and here's God saying, "Why would you ask me to renew your spirit when I gave you a born-again spirit that can't be killed. You have a new creation on the inside of you". All right? Ephesians 1:13, "In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also after that you believed," watch this, "you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise".
So you're sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise and that means that you're good to go. You don't have to be praying, "God renew my spirit and God clean my spirit". He's already done it. You as clean as you ever going to get. In fact, in your born-again spirit, you are just like God. So right now, when you got born-again, you are one-third, one-third of you: man has a spirit, he has a soul, he lives in a body. One-third of you is perfect. One-third of you is just like God. The new creation in you is just like God. Okay, so to pray, having this information, knowing that you are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise and that your spirit is born-again, and then to pray Psalms 51, you should do that.
And I really, I've seen people in my lifetime, I've heard people say, "Oh God like David said, 'Renew in me a right spirit.'" And you know, it's just, it was a bunch of talk, but it was just like an insult to God. It's like, "Dude, I gave you perfect spirit. You got a new creation on the inside of you". Look at Hebrews chapter 13:5. You know, another thing we do, you know, "Holy Spirit, don't leave me. Oh, don't take your Spirit away from me". You can't pray that part of what David prayed. Look at what he said 13:5. He says, "Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have. For he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'".
See, for you to go to God and say, "Oh God, don't take your Spirit away. Don't leave me. Don't forsake me". After he just said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you". So you got to ask yourself, "Do I really believe what he just said"? And then look at 2 Corinthians chapter 5:17. You know, some people say, "Oh God, please be with us as we meet today". Well, wait a minute, he's with you always. Why are you praying a prayer... let's pray. "Lord, be with us as we meet today in this meeting". He with you. If you saved all of y'all bought him with you. You ain't got to pray, "Lord, be with us today while we meet". That's just not right. It's just an insult to what God is already doing. And people do it 'cause they see it in the Old Testament, but you got to rightly divide between praying under the Old Testament and praying under the New Testament.
Now, 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a," what? "A new creation: old things have passed. Behold, all things have become new". So we don't need to approach God through a mediator like they did in the Old Testament. We don't need to approach God through a mediator like they did in the Old Testament. Jesus is our mediator. Hallelujah. They didn't have a mediator. I think it was Job that calls it, Job said, that they were looking for a daysman which is translated mediator. Jesus is our mediator, so see, there are couple of things. I don't have to go to a booth and confess my sins to a priest and that he take it to God. No, no, no. No, Jesus is my mediator. I don't have to do any of those things. Jesus is our mediator. I don't need to ask God to make us worthy. "Oh Lord, make me worthy". He did that the day I got born-again. Jesus has already made you worthy. Oh, listen to that.
And you know, the number of people that go to prayer and they spent all this time talking about, "God make me worthy. O Lord cleanse my Lord. O Lord, wash me Jesus". What is that? And I have to catch myself talking about what are they doing? And then you get up, you wonder, "Well, why am I not seeing results in my life"? Okay? Prayer doesn't have to pass, well, look at 1 Corinthians chapter 6:19. 1 Corinthians 6:19, "What? Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost". Where is the Holy Ghost? "In you, which you have of God, and you are not your own"? The Holy Ghost is where? He lives in you.
Now, that's another thing. He lives in you. Somebody said, "I got to scream real loud in order for my prayers to get to heaven". You don't have to do that. "Well, they won't get, I got to get them past the earth realm". No, you don't have to get it pass. Listen, you don't have to get it pass your nose. He's right here. He's right here. That's why you can meditate in, 'cause he's right here. He's on the inside of you, don't ever forget that. Prayer is not powerful because you have a lot of volume. We've done that, I've done it myself. Come into church, and man, I hear somebody praying and I'm like "Whoo, boy, they can pray, they must be awesome Christians". That's not how that's done. You ain't got to do all that. A whisper can defeat the devil because you know God's on the inside of you.
So the purpose of prayer is something that I want you to recognize in this session. It is to have relationship with God. It is to fellowship and commune with him. Please make that your purpose of prayer. Change your purpose of why you're doing what you're doing. My purpose in praying is relationship and communion. It's got to change from my purpose in prayer is to move God and to get God to do something for me. No, my purpose in prayer is relationship and communion with him. So sometimes we have to use our authority to command sickness. I understand that. We have to cast out devils in the name of Jesus. Yeah, we use our authority absolutely. Instead of praying, sometimes we use our authority, or we put them together. There's authority that could be used in prayer.
Look at Matthew, chapter 10. People don't believe that, but you have authority. You know what authority is? It's a right to command. Authority is, it's God's power but you have the right to use his power to get things done. Matthew 10: 1 says, " And when he had called unto him his 12 disciples, he gave them," what? "power against unclean spirits". To do what? "To cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease". And look at verse 8, he says, here's the authority you have. You have authority to heal the sick, you have authority to cleanse the lepers, you have authority to raise the dead. Raise the dead. What? You have authority to cast out devils. "Freely you have received, freely give". This is a powerful life. And God can be your guide through the use of your authority.
So we should not spend 5 seconds, we should not spend 5 seconds in faith and 45 minutes in unbelief rehearsing the problem. Think about that 5 seconds in a prayer of faith, and 45 minutes in unbelief as we rehearse the problem over and over again. You know people that do that? I remember, it might have been in our church, but I remember going and saying, where was I, somebody asked me to pray, and I think I was doing a TBN special or something and somebody asked me to pray. And I said, "Ain't gon' be long 'cause I didn't want them to think it was going to be a long time". And I think I did it in less than 20 seconds. And I said what I said, released my authority in prayer and 20 seconds I was done. But no, there's some people who want to rehearse the problem. "Lord, you know I'm sick. Lord, you know they told me I was going to be dead by the end of the week. Lord, I feel it right now in the name of Jesus. But in your name, Lord. In your name".
Now, watch them ask him to do something he's already done. "Heal me, I know you can heal me. I know you can. You healed my mama, you healed my daddy, you healed everybody. Oh, and I know you'll heal me". That prayer, it's going nowhere. The 5-second prayer was much more effective than the 45-minute prayer. Why did you rehearse unbelief? Look at Proverbs 18:21. Powerful, powerful. Don't ever forget it. He said, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue". What are you speaking? Death or life? It's in the power of the tongue. "And they that love it shall eat the fruit of". What are you speaking? There's some people that pray. Death and life is in the power of the tongue.
Do you know if you enter into prayer with words of death instead of entering into prayer with words of life... I didn't go into prayer when I was diagnosed with cancer, talking to God about cancer. You don't talk to God about your problems. You talk to your problem about what God has already done. I spent my time talking to cancer and said, "Boy, you done picked the wrong one. Don't you understand that I'm already healed. Don't you understand that he was wounded for my transgressions and he was bruised for my iniquities? Don't you understand that with his stripes I am already healed? And don't you understand that it's not I will be healed, but Peter says, 'I were healed and if I were healed, I am healed.'"
And now, prayer under the New Testament has changed. I spend the majority of my time thanking God for what he's already done. I spend the majority of my time saying to God what he's already said in his Word. That's New Testament prayer. I'm talking to God about what he's already talked to me about. I'm saying to God about what he's already promised to me. I am in the Word, praising God then I'm building myself up in tongues, and I'm going higher and higher, and higher on my most holy faith. I'm not spending time rehearsing the problem. I'm not spending time, you know, grieving in prayer over the problem. I recognize what the Word says and I'm spending time praising God over what he promised.