Rabbi Schneider - What Did Biblical Heroes Pray?
You see, the Bible tells us in the Book of 1 John that if we ask anything according to the Father's will, that he will hear us and answer us. But often times people struggle to know exactly what the will of God is. So what we're gonna do during this series is we're gonna look into the pages of Scripture from both the Old and New Testaments to look at prayers of men and women that really knew God. And we're gonna see how God heard their prayers and answered them. And by examining the prayers, beloved, of the Biblical heroes and the patriarchs of the faith, and see how their prayers move God's heart and how their prayers reflected God's nature and will, it's gonna help us and teach us how to pray Biblically.
You see, whenever I pray according to Scripture, I have great confidence when I come to God. And the reason is, is because I know that I'm praying according to his will. And the Scriptures says once again if we pray anything according to his will he hears us. So this is gonna be an exciting and an important series. I think it's really gonna breed confidence in many of our lives to pray with more passion, to pray with more expectation, to know that our prayers are being heard and to know that God, hallelujah, is answering our prayers.
So with that introduction, I want to take a few steps back and I want to talk first of all about the origin of prayer. I want to bring up a couple Hebrew names for prayer, and then we're gonna move forward to actually examine the prayers of the Biblical patriarchs and heroes of our faith. The most common and traditional Hebrew word for prayer is the word Tefilah, Tefilah. And it has to do, beloved one, with putting oneself in proper alignment between them self and God. In other words, Tefilah, the Hebrew word for prayer has much to do with putting ourselves in a right posture before a holy God. It has to do with knowing how to walk with him in a way that he can bless us.
For example, when you see the Orthodox Jewish people praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, you'll see them swaying often times back and forth. The reason that they're swaying back and forth comes from a Hebrew word by the name of Davening. And it has to do with the fact that Scripture teaches us that the Spirit of the Lord within man is like a flame within man. Let me read a couple Scriptures that actually illustrate this for you.
Proverbs number 27, says this: The spirit of man is a candle of God. And so what are they doing? They're putting themselves in a proper posture because they're saying that the Spirit of God is alive, and if we're going to be in relationship to God's Spirit that's within us, we have to be moving because his Spirit is alive within us and he's moving. And so it's an attempt to put oneself in a proper posture before a holy God.
Another Scripture that speaks to this point is from the Book of Psalms, chapter number 35, verse 10. And we read there these words: All my bones will say, Lord, who is like you? And so both of these, beloved, are Scriptures that speak of how we're seeing man's heart in the Orthodox Jewish community wanting to place itself in a proper posture before God. And so Tefilah, again a common Hebrew word for prayer, carries with it the idea of placing oneself in the proper posture before a holy Creator so that we can be in a proper relationship with him.
The first mention of prayer in the Bible is found in the Book of Genesis, chapter 4. In Genesis, chapter 4, we come to the place in Scripture, remember Adam and Eve had given birth to Cain and Abel and Cain killed Abel. Adam and Eve obviously were so grieved about this, they looked to the Lord and they asked God, would you replace Abel for us. So they had relations again and as a result of that they gave birth to Seth. Seth then had a child and Seth's child, his son was named Enosh. And so Enosh then was Adam and Eve's grandson. And at this event in Scripture, at this point in Scripture we find prayer first being mentioned.
Hear the Word of God now as I go to the pages of the Biblical record and show you how this is the case. The Book of Genesis, chapter 4, verse 25 and 26: Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him. To Seth, to him also bore a son and was born, and he called his name Enosh. And get this now. Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.
So it was at this time where Seth gave birth to Enosh, that the Scriptures says, then men began to call on the name of the Lord. This is where we find the concept of prayer first being described in the pages of Scripture in the Biblical record. Again the point of our study, beloved ones, is to look at the hearts of men and women that were walking with God and seeing that the nature of their prayers was of such a relational perspective that God was in the prayers, and that God was moved by their prayers. And this is very important because we don't want to be praying prayers that don't move God's heart. We don't want to be wasting time praying a bunch of things that are not really moving the heart of God.
I remember many, many years ago I used to go to prayer meetings at a church that I was attending and they used to have a mid-week prayer meeting. And the thing that seemed to be very shallow about it is that no one seemed to every pray about the deeper issues. They were always praying about the surface things; things that are important but at the end of the day they weren't the deeper issues of life. For example, let me say it again, I don't want to underestimate that all, all things are important to bring to God in prayer, but it seemed like every mid-week prayer meeting the saints there just kept praying about the same things, about, you know, somebody having an operation, about somebody having traveling mercies. But it was all based on circumstances rather than on the deeper heart issues. And they never got to the main things that Jesus is primarily concerned about.
And so we're gonna see as we study the hearts of those in Scripture and in studying their heart, we examine their prayer life. It's gonna help you and I get to a deeper level in our own prayers with God. We're gonna get to another level of what the Bible calls deep calling to deep. And as a result of that our walk with Jesus, it's gonna get deeper and we're gonna enter into a greater realm of walking with him in what Jesus describes eternal life, because Jesus defined eternal life in John, 17, as knowing God. And the thing that we want more than anything else in our life is to know God.
So let's begin then today by looking at some of the Biblical records. I want to begin today by looking at Psalm, number 51. Psalm, number 51, was written by a man, beloved one, that God said was a man after his own heart. David, the Bible tells us in the Book of Acts, chapter 13, I'm sorry, yeah, Acts, 13, verse 22, as well as 1 Samuel, 13:14, David was described as a man that was after God's own heart. God chose David because David was a man whose heart was in the proper posture before God. So it would do us well to look at David's prayer life because this was a man that knew God. This was a man that God deeply loved.
In fact, Jesus described himself at the end of the Book of Revelation as the offspring of David. Jesus also described himself in the Book of Revelation as the one who holds the key of David. And I believe the key of David is intimacy. So this is really critical that we would examine the prayer life of David because he was a man that knew God. He was a man that was after God's own heart. God said about David, he is a man that is after my own heart. So we're going to examine his prayers and we're gonna see by examining his prayers and others in Scripture that often times with things that we've been focusing on in prayer are not really the weightier matters.
Just like Solomon, remember God said to Solomon, Solomon ask me what you will. And Solomon didn't ask for riches, and he didn't concentrate on things in the circumstantial realm, but rather he said, Lord, give me wisdom to know your heart and to lead your people. And the Lord said, Solomon because you asked me for this and you didn't ask me for riches and superficial things, but because you asked me for something that deeply mattered, Solomon, I'm going to grant your request, and not only that, but I'm gonna give you many other things as well.
So you see that there are some prayers, beloved ones, that move the heart of God more than others. So with that said, I want to begin now by looking together with you at Psalm number 51. I'm gonna be looking at select verses here. I want to begin in Psalm number 51, with verses number 1 and 2. Hear the Word of God: Be gracious to me, O God, David is praying, according to Your loving kindness. Notice, this is a prayer. This Psalm is recording David's prayer. So what does David say? Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your loving kindness. Just that one sentence, all of a sudden helps us understand a lot.
Number one, we can understand that we can ask God for grace. What is grace? Grace is favor; that we can ask God for his favor on our life; that we can be confident of God's, get this now, good will for us; that God has a good will for you. Many people don't believe that God really has a good will, a good purpose, a good objective for their life. They think that somehow God is withdrawn. Or perhaps they think God is angry. Or perhaps they picture God as stoic. Or perhaps they picture God as someone that is judgmental. And often times we get these wrong concepts from our earthly parents and from the social environment that we grew up with.
But let's look what David said here. He said, be gracious to me, O God, according to Your loving kindness. We gain insight here into the heart of God and how we can pray. What is God's disposition toward us? Listen it's good. Remember David said, your goodness and mercy, in Psalm, 23, is gonna follow me all the days of my life. So David had confidence that God's purpose was to do him good. And if you and I are gonna have a prayer life, beloved, that brings freedom into our life, a prayer life that brings us into a deep connection with God, we have to have confidence in who he is. David said according to your loving kindness.
One of the most profound revelations, beloved ones, in Scripture of the nature of God is when Moses said to God, show me your glory. We're gonna actually examine this prayer. And you know what God did? God said to Moses, Moses I can't show you all my glory. You can't see my face, but I'm gonna speak my name to you and I'm gonna bless you. And so with that God begins to reveal himself to Moses and the first thing that God tells Moses is that he's loving and compassionate. And so if we're gonna walk with God, our confession, our, listen now, our prayer confession has to be in alignment with God's nature, because our life will never rise above our confession.
So our prayer life, beloved, is a confession of who we believe God is. And when we begin to confess that God is good, that he's gracious, and that he has a heart of loving kindness towards us, it's gonna bring us deeper into the realms of eternal life and deeper in to a walk where we're experiencing him. If you think about this, this whole concept here, David said once again, Psalm, 51:1, Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your loving kindness.
Now think about this. Every letter that Paul wrote in the New Testament, Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, all his letters begin the same way. Listen, grace to you. Isn't that what David just said, be gracious to me, O God. Every letter that Paul wrote begins this way, grace to you and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, God is not up in the sky with a bat, okay, waiting to judge us. He's not up there, you know, all angry with us. He sent his Son on the cross. They ripped out Jesus's beard. They whipped his back. They tore out his hair. They put the spear in his side. They nailed his hands and feet. God's anger for your sin was already taken out on the beloved Lord Jesus. God is simply asking you now to come boldly before the throne of grace and to have confidence in his love for you.
And so the first lesson that we've learned today through the prayer of David is that when we come to God we need to be confident that he loves us. The Lord said, come boldly before the throne of grace. So Father God, we thank you right now that your heart towards us is to bless us. Father, that your desire is to be gracious to us, to show us your favor according, David said, to your loving kindness. Notice David said, Psalm, 51:1, Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your, listen now, loving kindness. Listen again, Be gracious to me, O God, now hear it church, according to Your loving kindness, according to Your loving kindness, according to Your loving kindness.
God loves you and God loves me. And yet there's a block often times in our lives from really believing that God loves us. Do you know, I've read stories of men and women of God that have impacted the world so much with the Gospel, and they've been used so mightily in the kingdom. And yet at the end of their lives, some of these servants of the Lord weren't fully convinced that God loves them. But I'd rather know that the Father loves me. I'd rather know that Jesus loves me than to have the greatest impact on earth as a preacher. I mean, I want to have great impact on earth. But if I had to make a choice between having great impact on the earth as a preacher versus simply knowing that God loves me, you know what, I would choose to simply know that God loves me if I had very little impact in the world as a preacher, because that's the only thing that satisfies. Satisfaction only comes from relationship.
Again, Jesus said eternal life is to know him. So the only way that you and I are gonna be satisfied, it's not to become, you know, great preachers, great teachers, great business people, whatever it is that you think is gonna make you somebody in the world's eyes. No, the way to find satisfaction, beloved one, is to know that God loves you and he loves me. And so David had this confidence, Lord show me grace according to your loving kindness. I want you to know that God loves you. His purpose for creating you, beloved, was to have a relationship with you. He sent his Son to die for you because he loves you. And when Jesus died for you, he didn't just die to save you from hell. He didn't just die to forgive you of your sins. He died to marry you.
You see, the Bible ends with what the Scripture calls the marriage supper of the Lamb, in Revelation, chapter 19. We're called the bride of Christ. God loves you and he loves me. He loves you specifically. He loves you uniquely. It's not just that Jesus died for the world, but rather that he died for you. Jesus said, I chose you out of the world. Father, we thank you today that you love us. Father, we thank you even as we begin to study the prayer language of the Biblical heroes of faith. The first thing that we learn, Lord, is that your desire is to be gracious to us, to show us favor because you love us.
David continues, we're gonna see next week, in verse 2 of Psalm number 51 by asking God to wash him. He says, Lord, wash me thoroughly, and beloved, I want to end today by asking God to wash us, even of wrong thoughts about his love. Father God, thank you today for revelation. Thank you, Father God, for your goodness. We ask you to wash us of everything in us that's preventing us from realizing how much you love us. Let's just take a moment and wait on God. Father God, thank you for the supernatural washing of the Holy Spirit. I want to close today by reading verse number 2 to you of Psalm number 51. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin.