Before our daily bread should be the daily Word. Only thus will the bread be received with thanksgiving. Before our daily walk should be the morning prayer. Only thus will work be done as the fulfillment of God's command. The morning must yield an hour of quiet time for prayer and common devotion. That is certainly not wasted time. How else could we prepare ourselves to face the tasks, cares, and the temptations of the day? And although we are often not "int the mood" for it, such devotion is an obligatory service to the One who desires our praises and prayers, and who will not otherwise bless our day but through His Word and our prayers.
It is wrong to say that we are being "legalistic" when we are concerned with the ordering of our Christian life and with our faithfulness in requirements of Scripture reading and prayer. Disorder undermines and destroys the faith: any theologian who confuses evangelical freedom with lack of discipline needs to learn it. Whoever want to carry out properly an fully developed spiritual office, without bringing both self and work to ruin by mere activism, must learn early on the spiritual discipline of the servant of Jesus Christ. The young theologian will find it a great help to set certain times for quiet prayers and for devotions, and to hold to them with patience and persistence.
From: Meditating on the Word - Dietrich Bonhoeffer pps.32-33
Consider the word “expose, exposition, expositor, expository.” According to Webster, and exposition is a discourse to convey information or explain what is difficult to understand. Applying this idea to preaching requires that an expositor be on who explains Scripture by laying open the text to public view in order to set forth its meaning, explain what is difficult to understand, and make appropriate application.
John Calvin’s centuries-old understanding of exposition is very similar:
First of all, Calving understood preaching to be the explication of Scripture. The words of Scripture are source and content of preaching. As a expositor, Calving brought to the task of preaching all the skills of a humanist scholar. As an interpreter, Calvin explicated the text, seeking it natural, it true, it scriptural meaning…. Preaching is not only the explication of Scripture, it is also the application of Scripture. Just as Calvin explicated Scripture word-by-word, so he applied the Scripture sentence by sentence to the lfie and experience of his congregation.
Exposition is not so much defined by the form of the message as it is by the source of the process through which the message was formed. Unger poignantly captures this sense:
No matter what the length of the portion explained may be, if it is handled in a such a way that its real and essential meaning as it existed in the mind of the particular Biblical writer and as it exists in the light of the overall context off Scripture is mad plain and applied to the present-day needs of the hears, it may properly be said to be expository preaching….It is emphatically not preaching about the Bible, but preaching the Bible. “What saith the Lord” is the alpha and the omega of expository preaching. It begins in the Bible and ends in the Bible and all that intervenes spring from the Bible. In other words, expository preaching is Bible-centered preaching.
In summary, the following minimal elements identify expository preaching:
The Spirit of expository preaching is found in two Biblical texts:
“And they read from the book, from the law of God, translated to give the sense so that they understood the reading.” (Nehemiah 8:8)
“Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink form declaring to you the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:26-27)
From "Rediscovering Expository Preaching" - Pastor John MacAruthur
On occasion, it seems that God answers our prayers almost as quickly as we speak them. It happened that way for Eliezer, the servant Abraham sent to find a wife for Isaac. As he came to the certain well, Eliiezer said, "Lord, let a young virgin come here to draw water, and when I say to her, 'Give me a drink,' let her answer, 'Not only will I give you a drink, but I'll also draw water for your camels.' Lord, let that woman be the one You have chosen as a bride for Isaac."
While the servant was yet praying in his heart, a young girl came to the well to draw water. He said to her, "Please let me drink a little water from your pitcher." She quickly let the water jug down from her head, gave him a drink, and then said, "I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking." And she drew water for the camels (Genesis 24:1-20).
We've all experience the truth that God does not always answer all our prayers as fast as He did Eliezer's prayer. Sometimes we even feel as if God has not even been hearing us. Be assured God does hear our prayers. Pastor Chuck continues:
"One day, Hannai, the seer came to King Asa and said, "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those who heart is loyal to Him" (2 Chronicles 16:9). What is God telling us through this verse? He is saying that He looks for people who hearts are in harmony with His purposes-lives taht are dedicated to those things He desires to do-in order that He might pour His resources through them. God is looking for places to work, live through which he can work, lives through which He can invest His resources. All it takes is a heart that is completely toward Him, towards His purposes, and toward His plan.
In Hannah's situation, she finally came to a place of saying 'GOd, if You'll just give me a son, I will give him back to You all the days of his life, that he might be totally consecrated to You" (1 Samuel 1:11). Now she is alilgned with God's purpose, which is to find a man to deliver the nation, and God is read to answer her prayer. God delayed in order to bring her around to that which He desired for the nation Himself.
Sometimes God waits because He is working something within you. But there is another reason why prayers are sometimes delayed. Sometimes, the work that needs to be done is not within you, it is within the spiritual realm. The world is in the midst of heavy spiritual warfare. The forces of God and the forces of evil war against one another continually. And as a prayer is a spiritual activity, our prayers have a weighty role in that battle. Satan fights against our prayers-and sometimes, delays the answers. (Daniel 10:5-14)
It is only natural to become impatient while we wait for the answers to our prayers. David knew the frustration. The psalmist sometimes asked, "Lord, why are You tarrying? Why do you wait so long? Answer me speedily." But we have to trust that when God waits, God has a reason. He is changing something in the spirit world, or He is changing something in you. Keep praying, align your will with His, and wait patiently. If your prayers agree with God's desires, you can be sure He will answer in time."
If not - well, that is another subject to be discussed."
Excerpts from pp.141-156 of Prayer - Our Glorious Privelage" by Pastor Chuck Smith
Does thou want nothing? Then I fear thou doe snot know thy poverty. Hast thou no mercy to ask God? Then may the Lord's mercy show thee thy misery. A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus - Spurgeon
"Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of CHrist, for which I am also in chains, that I may make manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salth, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." Colossians 4:2-6
From Thought for the Quiet Hour - Moody
Numerous things can cause prayerlessness-laziness, complacency, perhaps even fear. But usually prayerlessness stems from one of four causes:
Sometimes our prayerlessness is the result of impatience. Maybe we begin praying about a certain problem in another person's life. But when the problem doesn't immediately go away, we become discouraged and we quit praying. Or we become upset with other people's failures, even though we may have those same faults in our own lives. Our sins always look horrible when someone else is committing them.
Samuel had prayed that God would change the people's minds so they would no longer insist on a king. Samuel wanted God to rule and reign over the nation. But after all his prayers, the children of Israel still insisted on a king. Samuel easily could have become disgusted and said, "I'm not going to pray for those stubborn, stiff-necked people anymore! They have what they asked for. LEt them reap the consequences." But he didn't stop praying. Instead, he said to them, "Moreover, as for me, far be ti from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way" (1 Samuel 12:23).
In this society we have allowed ourselves to become far busier than God originally intended. When the Lord first created our bodies He intended for man to live at a much easier, much more relaxed pace than we live now. Today, our lifestyle and our society work against us finding time to be alone with the Lord.
People seldom ignore work in order to spend time with God, but they think nothing of ignoring God so they can spend more time working. We justify that attitude by saying, "I have a mortgage to pay. I have to work that second job," or "Johnny needs braces. Work comes first." So many demands on our time, our attention, our energy. What we don't stop to realize is that we put a lot of those demands on ourselves, and fulfilling them comes at a great price. Not only does it add stress to our lives, it costs us time with the Lord.
Have you noticed how difficult it is to find an undisturbed place to pray? It is getting harder and harder to find a quiet place to be alone with the Lord. This world is noisy., congested, and overcrowded-and becoming more so by the day. Satan uses that noise and interuption to try and hinder your time with the Lord.
Assuming you find a quiet place to meet with God, what happens then? Distraction happens. Earlier we talked about the fact that so often, the moment we finally kneel down to pray, the phone rings. Or someone knocks at the door. Or the children come running in yelling and screaming and carrying on. Or you being to think of everything you need to buy at the grocery store, or that phone call that you really need to return.
It doesn't take much at all to pull our attention away from God, Satan knows it.
If impatience doesn't fizzle your prayer life, and demands don't stop us from spending time with God, and distractions don't hinder our quiet time, drowsiness will do it.
Part of the problem with being so busy all the time is that we are tired. No one gets enough sleep anymore. So whenever we do find a free moment, our bodies cry out for rest. Watch what happens when, after a busy, hectic day, you kneel down beside your bed, put your head in your arms, and start to pray. Your body recognizes that position as a great position for sleep, and before you know it, you have dozed off-right in the middle of prayer. After a while your legs and knees begin to ache, and the discomfort wakes you up. You suddenly realize, "I have been sleeping on the job!"
A more dangerous position is lying on the bed and praying with your head on the pillow. Now, I must confess here that I do go to sleep every night talking to the Lord. I enjoy communing with the Lord until I am asleep. But it is necessary to have time during the say when you speak to God with a mind that is active and alert.'
Look for "Solutions" in one of the next articles!
Taken from "Prayer - Our Glorious Privelage" by Pastor Chuck Smith