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Prayer Sermons

The Faith Of The Canaanite Woman

Sermon Summary:

Our focus this Sunday was on understanding the origins and significance of our traditions, ensuring they are in line with God’s intentions. We delved into the teachings of Jesus and how he addressed the customs that were more about appearances than the heart’s true condition.

Here are a few key takeaways from our time together:

  • Traditions should not be followed blindly, especially when they overshadow God’s commands. Reflect on whether your practices enhance or hinder your relationship with God.
  • Jesus challenged the performative purity rituals and legal loopholes of his time. We must examine our own actions and ensure they reflect genuine faith, not just outward piety.
  • True worship comes from acknowledging Jesus’s worth, not from our emotional state. Worship is due to Him regardless of how we feel or perceive our worthiness.
  • Desperation and faith can lead to profound encounters with the Lord. The story of the Canaanite woman taught us that sincere faith can transcend tradition and expectation.
  • An invitation to deeper connection: We are encouraged to approach God with boldness, just as the persistent woman in scripture did, and to actively engage with our faith.

I encourage each of us to take these messages to heart, applying them to our daily lives and spiritual walk. Let us not be confined by tradition but be liberated by the truth and spirit of our faith.

 

Five-Day Bible Reading Plan and Devotional: Traditions Of Men

 

Day 1: Tradition vs. Commandment

Reading: Matthew 15:1-9

 

Devotional: Today, we start by considering the tension between human traditions and God’s commandments. Reflect on areas in your life where tradition may have taken precedence over what God desires. Remember that God’s Word should be the foundation of our faith, not merely the customs passed down to us.

 

Reflection Question: In what ways might you be allowing traditions to hinder your relationship with God? 

 

Prayer: Lord, help me discern between traditions of man and Your divine commandments. Give me the wisdom to align my practices with Your Word.

 

—–

 

Day 2: The Heart of Worship

Reading: Mark 7:1-13

 

Devotional: As we delve deeper into the words of Jesus, let’s challenge ourselves to look beyond external rituals to the purity of our hearts. Consider if your worship is a genuine outpouring of love for Jesus, or if it has become a ritual devoid of meaning.

 

Reflection Question: How can you ensure that your acts of worship are authentic expressions of your heart towards God?

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let my worship arise from a heart that seeks to truly honor You, not from mere tradition or habit.

 

—–

 

Day 3: True Reverence

Reading: Isaiah 29:13

 

Devotional: Today, we focus on the difference between lip service and heart service. Ponder the depth of your reverence for God. Is it based on societal expectations or a sincere love for the Divine?

 

Reflection Question: Are there areas in your life where you are honoring God with your lips while your heart is distant? 

 

Prayer: Almighty God, draw my heart closer to You, so that my words and actions may be a reflection of a genuine relationship with You.

 

—–

 

Day 4: The Faith of the Canaanite Woman

Reading: Matthew 15:21-28

 

Devotional: In the encounter with the Canaanite woman, we witness faith that breaks through the barriers of tradition. Reflect on the strength of your faith. Does it have the persistence and boldness of the Canaanite woman’s faith, able to transcend the expectations of others?

 

Reflection Question: How can you demonstrate a faith that persists despite barriers and expectations?

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me the courage and persistence in my faith to reach out to You, regardless of barriers or societal expectations.

 

—–

 

Day 5: Applying the Word

Reading: James 1:22-25

 

Devotional: Our final reflection challenges us to be doers of the Word, not merely hearers. Contemplate how you can actively apply the insights from this sermon in your life, ensuring that your traditions align with the spirit of faith and the teachings of Christ.

 

Reflection Question: In what practical ways can you apply God’s Word to move beyond tradition and into a transformative faith?

 

Prayer: Merciful God, help me to apply Your teachings in my daily life, that I may not only listen to Your Word but live it out in every action.

 

*End Bible Reading & Devotional Plan

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Prayer

How to Pray!

I have a shameful confession to make. Until a few years ago, I was awful at prayer. Pastors aren’t supposed to say things like this, but in my case, it’s true.

Prayer is vital, and I needed to do it, but I had a rough time with it. Things didn’t go so bad when I was praying with others or when I was in a prayer meeting at church. But things collapsed whenever I was interceding at home.

I recall some acquaintances saying they woke at 5:00 in the morning and prayed before work. One guy said, “It’s like clockwork for me, I drop to my knees every morning before the crack of dawn.” I admired his vigor, but I had a hard time with that.

Another friend carried a mangled Moleskine notebook, scribbling prayer requests. He’s the type of person who believes prayer is a discipline. For him, if something isn’t difficult, you aren’t doing it right. When I was around him, I felt like a failure. Although I bought my own prayer journal, I left most of the pages blank.

A gal that I went to college with informed me she wrote scriptures on colorful sticky notes and placed them in various parts of her apartment. Whenever she saw the verses, she’d break out into prayer. My handwriting was so bad that I couldn’t read any of the sticky notes I put up. Not long afterward, the ceiling fan blew most of them on the floor. This strategy didn’t work out so well either. 

It didn’t seem like I was ever going to find a way to pray. I felt stuck.

Don’t misunderstand me, I loved God and wanted to know him. I did try to intercede, but my efforts were hit-or-miss. If an emergency arose or I was overwhelmed with shame, it wasn’t hard to drop to my knees. Yet, when things were good, I struggled. 

Only Anguish and Travail?

My problem wasn’t because of my techniques. I was struggling because of my heart. I was blind to God’s goodness and grace. I thought effective prayer was rooted in anguish and travail. I couldn’t go to a deeper place without a disaster.

Anxieties arose. I viewed God as an angry judge, disgusted, and reluctant to speak. I imagined only a handful of people were positioned to talk to the Lord—the set-apart and the holy—but that wasn’t me.

Prayer was difficult and unpleasant for me. Every time I opened my mouth, it reminded me of my failures and inability to perform. Intercession always shifted into self-analysis.

When I tried to pray, my words centered on my need for forgiveness, healing, or financial provision. I knew there were other aspects of intercession, but I didn’t deviate from this pattern. Prayer revolved around addressing my sins and personal needs, and little else. 

My posture before God often took on a “transactional” tone. I was trying to get cleansed or receive stuff.  I’d utter a few words, hoping to receive a good outcome—I say this and then you do this. I knew that this was shortsighted, but it remained my default mode. One reason I struggled with prayer was my unwillingness to break out of the box.

I’ve learned, over the years, that I’m not the only mistaken one. Other believers told me about their struggles too. So, in the following, I’d like to share ideas about prayer that I discovered. I hope that it will help you find freedom and joy as you seek God.

What Is Prayer?

Many Americans define prayer as a request to God. They see it as an act of contrition and humility before the throne room. All of this is true, but these principles are incomplete in isolation. We’re only seeing part of the picture when prayer is a mere “petition,” or “confession.” 

Prayers could be supplication or tokens of humility, but they encompass other things as well. There’s more in it than appraisals of sin or begging for necessities. A brief survey of biblical passages shows that expressions of prayer are varied and multidimensional.

Intercession is not just people pleading with God. It’s also believers learning to listen and decree what he says. Throughout the Bible, disciples pray in many ways. Along with petitions, they bless, command, decree, and enact. There’s more going on than just utterances.

Considering examples from the Bible, it’s hard to tell whether early believers were praying, prophesying, praising, or preaching. One form of expression often overlapped with another. The lines of demarcation weren’t always clear.

In scripture, the disciple’s prayers were often addressed to God, but occasionally they weren’t. Sometimes their inspired utterances were directed against afflictions (Acts 3:6-8; 9:33-35; 14:10) or violent forces of darkness (Acts 16:16-18). 

Within certain instances, the aim of prayer is for counteracting sickness or demons. In other words, the decrees might be directed somewhere other than God.


While intercession depends on communicating with and relating to God, it doesn’t mean that we always direct our prayers toward him. Believers might pray with him, not to him. When this disruptive precept first occurred to me, it blew my mind.

We need to broaden our understanding of prayer.

Types of Prayer

Let’s talk about some different types of prayer in the Bible. There are around six hundred and fifty prayers referenced, and clearly, not all of them are the same. One might find:

  • Prayers of Adoration and Praise (Psalm 99:1-5; Luke 2:14; Revelation 4:8).
  • Prayers of Confession (Daniel 9:5; Isaiah 6:1-5; Nehemiah 1:5-11; Luke 18:13; 1John 1:9).
  • Prayers of Thanksgiving (Isaiah 25:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18; Colossians 4:2; Ephesians 5:20).
  • Prayers of Petition (1 Kings 8:35-40; Philippians 4:6; Mathew 6:33; James 1:5-8).
  • Prayers of Intercession (Genesis 18:23-33; Exodus 32:11; 1 Samuel 12:23; James 5:16).

There are some other forms of prayer that deserve consideration as well. Sometimes a few of these are left off the study lists.

  • Prayers of Faith (Mark 11:24; James 1:6; 5:15).
  • Prayers of Agreement (Matthew 18:19).
  • Prayers of Consecration (Luke 22:41-42).
  • Prayers of Binding and Loosing (Matthew 18:18-19).

Admittedly, this is not exhaustive. There are several prayer models I’m bypassing. But I hope that you can see, through these examples, that prayer is richer and more varied. 

When I first paid attention to the different models of prayer, I recognized that my worldview was too narrow. There’s much more at stake than my sins, health, or financial well-being. I was being guided into a more dynamic understanding of spiritual engagement.

Prayer is an Expression of Covenant

Amid my exploration of intercession, I realized my problem wasn’t really with forms or expressions. Yes, I was coming at it wrong, but the underlying issue was something inside of me.

Like many modern believers, I missed the relational and family components of prayer. Religion taught me structure and form, but it didn’t take me into the deeper realities of faith.

I realized that prayer, at its core, is fellowship between God and man as an expression of the covenant. When I shared this with a friend, she said, “What do you mean prayer is an expression of the covenant? I don’t understand?”

I told her covenant is creating a sense of family where there are no blood ties or kinship like God did with Abraham. It’s a sacred bond, based on shared identity and responsibility. A key part of existing in a family unit is communication and face-to-face engagement. Covenant opens the door to intimate interchange.

I told my friend that when the New Testament talks about covenant, it’s fixated on the revelation of the Heavenly Father. He’s not merely restoring family but bringing us back into “sonship.” Men and women are being summoned to fellowship and engagement with the one who first loved us.

In earlier eras, people didn’t refer to God as “Father” in their prayers. Throughout the Old Testament, there are only fifteen allusions to the Lord in this role. But the Fatherhood of God became pivotal in the New Testament teachings of Jesus.

When the Messiah stood before God, as he walked the earth, he declared:

“Abba! Father! All things are possible for You” (Mark 14:36a).

Throughout the gospels, Jesus addressed God, in prayer, as “Father”—with the single exception for the “cry of dereliction” on the cross (Matthew 27:46).

With Jesus’ usage of the word “Abba,” he introduced an invigorating way of addressing God. He spoke intimately, as a child speaks to their “daddy.” This gracious term showed Jesus’ heartfelt relationship with God.

Before returning to his heavenly glory, Jesus directed His disciples to pray similarly. He declared:

“Pray like this: Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9).

With this use of heartfelt language, Jesus was inviting his friends to share in the same relational engagement with God that he was experiencing.

What Jesus was declaring about prayer was revolutionary. He took intercession outside of the judicial realm and repositioned it with the realm of family. This action forever transformed the meaning of prayer.

With little surprise, the early disciples embraced the same teaching. Even the Apostle Paul, who was known for fierce rhetoric, presented prayer this way. He said:

“Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba!  Father’” (Galatians 4:6).

Prayer, at the deepest and most primal level, is learning to cry “Abba Father!” Dynamic, heart-felt interchanges are the foremost expression of the covenant. 

In most situations, people only commune with those they know and love. Why would anyone talk at length with someone they don’t share life with? Communication is the lifeblood of relationships. Prayer is the cries of affection between a father and his children—a connection point that rests at the heart of everything.

Conclusion

As I previously mentioned, I struggled with prayer for a long time. I didn’t know how to talk to God because I didn’t know him intimately. Every religious act that I made was “positional.” I approached the Heavenly Father as he was a vindictive judge.

During this period, I spent much of my time exploring the “internal terrains of my heart.” Disliking what I discovered; I was reluctant to stand before the Lord. Rather than experiencing his goodness, my own failings paralyzed me.

Fortunately, I moved beyond a harsh religion that constricted me and learned about the true nature of the Heavenly Father. I saw that God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, is restoring people back into the family. Men and women, originally designed to be image-bearers (Genesis 1:26-28), are becoming this once more. The redeemed ones are becoming more and more like our dad.

At the heart of this ongoing restoration of creation is prayer. As sons and daughters of the Most-High God, we speak, and we share. We love and the Heavenly Father loves us.

I want to encourage you to approach prayer differently. Move away from moralism and performance. Understand that it’s about more than navigating forgiveness and personal requests.

Prayer is covenant and communion; a beautiful way of listening, speaking and reflecting the inexplicable wonder of our gracious Heavenly Father.   

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