(Please see links at bottom to download documents referenced in this talk.)
Good to be with you all. Thank you for being here. I’m afraid when we leave it might be raining, so I don’t know if we have umbrellas or not. I have provided this book with the blue cover for everyone. I don’t want you to think I’m making an enormous sacrifice. What happened is we printed this book and then the footnotes were a little askew, so the printer says, I’ll give you another set of them. So, you’re getting some books with askew footnotes. Don’t worry about that. Just the first 40 footnotes are off by 3, so if you see number one in the text, you’ve got to go to footnote 4, are you with me? Number 10, you’ve got to go to footnote 13, or something like that.
But the reason I handed this book out, is that maybe, really, maybe 30 years ago, I talked to a Richard Simmons group, it was no like as large as this group, and we talked to another group yesterday, and another group tomorrow, on prayer, and so, I was with Richard about three weeks ago, and he said, will you come and make that same talk, as if I remembered what I had said at all. But, he says, I really like that you referred to Biblical verses that helped you in prayer, and those verses, or many of those verses, and more than those verses, are in Appendix C in the blue book. And, there is also an Appendix B in the blue book, which is the Prayers of Paul, and I have found those very, very helpful in my own prayer life, so those are there for your reference, as well. So, everybody needs to have three things in front of them. One is an outline called “The Practice of Prayer” and that’s really going to guide what we have to say today, and then, there is a yellow sheet, which is entitled “Andrew Murray on Prayer”. Only real old-timers know about Andrew Murray, but he wrote a book that I read early on in my development as a believer called, With Christ in the School of Prayer. And it highlights 30 or 40 teachings in the Bible on prayer. And those particular verses are in this yellow sheet which you’ve passed out. So, we’re not going to cover all that, cannot. So, if you ever just want to spend 15 or 20 minutes to see what does the Bible have to say about prayer, this is a pretty good introduction. And the handwritten notes also should be in front of you. And they just illustrate to you what a nerd I am, but these are some notes that I used for years and years. I don’t use them right now, but especially when I was in the business world, I would spend so much every day just praying, but then, on the weekends, I would pray maybe two hours, mostly about the company and the notes that I followed are here, and we’ll get into some of those, too. So, those are the three things that are in front of you, and we’ve just got a few minutes and we’re out of here at noon. Is that correct? That’s the expectation? I once appeared before Judge Linn, who is a great Federal Judge here in Birmingham and he had a reputation of cutting a young lawyer off in the middle of the word “It”, when that lawyer’s time had run out, so, you can cut me off in the middle of the word “It” at noon and we’ll be out of here. No matter where we are, we’ll be out of here.
Okay, so we want to talk about prayer. There’s going to be sort of an orientation as to how we go about incorporating our concerns for our business, whatever we’re doing in prayer, because this is a group primarily of business folks. That’s going to be our concentration. But, when we try to think about prayer and how we can have a robust and a deep and a meaningful prayer life, we’ve got to go through some preliminaries. It’s sort of like the spring camp, isn’t that what the football team, oh, it’s the fall camp, the football teams say, when they come back six or eight weeks before the first game. This is stuff we’ve got to get ready with before we’re going to really enjoy prayer, and it just, it begins with faith and that’s where the outline is going to be, so the first part of the outline is the foundation of prayer. Prayer is going to connect us to God’s grace. In other words, we are really, in our prayers, seeking God’s grace with respect to whatever might be the subject of our prayer, and the access to grace is always through faith. I won’t say no faith, no grace, but there’s no specific grace without faith and you can begin there with Romans 5:1, in which Paul says, “Since we have been justified by faith, we have access to God’s grace.” So, if we are seeking God’s grace in prayer, we’ve got to pray with faithful hearts, believing hearts, and, as Paul says, since we are justified by faith – I don’t want to get into a theological discussion with you on justification by faith – many of you know much more about that than I do – but, when we are justified by faith, at least two things happen. First, our sins are forgiven, and the truth of the matter is, we need to pray with a clean heart, so, if our hearts are sort of ugly, we’ve got to do a little confession before we pray, but we have a clean heart through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice and that is given to us in faith, and that is the first part of justification by faith. The second part of justification by faith is, we are adopted as sons of God. We are part of His family, and we need to be quite aware of that. We’re talking to our Father in prayer, or our Lord in prayer because we are part of the Chosen, so to speak, and God wants to hear our prayers. Jesus wants to hear our prayers and we get there, we get in the family, because we are justified by faith.
We’ve got to believe the Bible if we’re going to have effective prayer because the Bible is going to be the source of determining what we can pray for, and how we pray for it. I don’t know what your various developments have been with respect to faith, but I was 37 before I decided I was going to believe the Bible. I was a little late coming to faith, so to speak, but I had received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, not because I read it and was told to, I just said, Okay, henceforth, God, I’m going to believe the Bible as it is written. It’s just this plain meaning. And that was a big step for me because there was so much in the Bible that I thought with whatever mind that I had, I could sort of select out, so I could decide which part of God’s Word I was going to take seriously, and which part I wasn’t. I said, from here on out, if it’s in the Bible, I’m going to believe it. That is not to say I understand everything in the Bible. I’ve got some question marks on the margins, but I’m not going to disbelieve anything. I mean, I take the Bible literally. I don’t believe that Jesus is a gate when he says, “I’m the gate.” But, because I know He’s speaking with a metaphor. But, we’ve got to begin there. We’ve got to begin with faith in the Word of God if we’re going to have effective prayer. And for me, that was more of a decision of the will. It was not any intellectual insight that I had. I didn’t say, for this reason or for that reason, God’s Word is true, I just said, I’m going to will it to be true. Now, you might say, well does that make it true? The truth of the matter is, once you will it to be true, once you make that decision that I’m going to believe the Bible as written, you begin to see that it is true. You begin to see reality through the lens of the Word of God and you say, lo and behold, it is true. So, I don’t think I’ve suspended credulity with that decision, because it allows me to understand that the Bible is true, but we can’t have a robust prayer life unless we take the Bible as being the true Word of God.
Now, the grace we are talking about, and this confused me for a while, I think I’m straightening it out now. There are two forms of grace. One is the unmerited forgiveness of God of our sins so that we have salvation. That is grace. It’s unmerited and it’s a pronouncement by God. You are saved. That is not the grace that we are talking about in our prayer to God, unless we’re praying for someone else to be saved.
“May God’s grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
There’s a second dimension to grace and that is God’s favor for us here on earth that motivates us to do the right thing and really leads us into doing the right thing, even in a way that is successful. Are you with me? So, there’s a grace in action as well as there is a grace which is just God’s unmerited forgiveness of our sins so that we’re saved. And so, you run into verses like II Corinthians chapter 9, verse 8. Paul is here praying for the Corinthians and he says, “May God’s grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” Now, that’s a pretty good verse to pray, isn’t it? I mean, you can say, God, I need your grace, in all things, that includes our business – it has to – I mean, the word, all, it doesn’t say, “Comma, except business”. In all things, in our business, what I’m going to do today, what I’m going to do the next hour, what we’re planning to do this year. In all things, at all times, having all that you need, the resources that we need, whatever they are. You will abound in every good work. That’s the work of grace. Are you with me? That second dimension of grace.
There’s another verse that I like to pray. It’s in I Peter chapter 4, beginning at verse 10, and it says, “Use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace.” Everybody in this room has a whole bag of gifts, a whole bag of gifts that you bring to the workplace, and God’s Word says use whatever gifts you have received to serve others. That’s what our businesses are. It’s using God’s gifts to serve others, faithfully administered God’s grace, in its various form. Then it goes on to say, if anyone speaks, they should speak as if using the very words of God. You’re going to get on the telephone this afternoon. It may be just to tell a joke, I don’t know, but if it’s going to be on something serious, pray, God, give me the words, I mean, it’s going to be your words on the telephone, even if it’s directly related to business. You want to have God’s wisdom and God’s words. So, my point is, Peter says that these gifts that we have been given, given to us by God’s grace and use them in serving others.
Jonathan Edwards is an old-timer. I sort of like him. Some folks think he’s a little severe, but he wrote a book that’s anything but severe, and he had this to say about this, it’s called Religious Affections. And he had this to say about grace. “There’s nothing on Heaven or earth more active than grace, for it is life itself, and the most active kind of life. Think of grace that way. Grace is going to give you all kinds of energy to do God’s work. It’s going to give you all kinds of wisdom.” So, we’ve got to understand that, as the foundation for our prayer, you remember in the Gospels, time and time again, Jesus would heal someone and say, your faith has made you whole, because He connected the grace that was inherent in his miracles with the faith of the person that benefited from those miracles. And, do you remember the time when, the night before He was crucified, He turned to Peter and said, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. Now, Peter is going to be the person on whom Christ is going to build His Church. Christ has a lot of power over Satan, and so, why didn’t Christ just say, but I told Satan to clear out of here. We’ve got a lot of work to do over the next two or three days. But what did He say? No, He didn’t say that, He says, “But I have prayed that your faith will not fail.” In other words, Peter’s faith was going to save him from what the Devil would try to do. And that’s how Jesus looked at the situation.
Paul writes about the shield of faith. So, faith is just there when God’s benefit is flowing to us. And, the last thing in this part of the outline, and this is in Andrew Murray’s sheets, Jesus really says, If you pray believing God will give you what you ask for, pray with faith, God will give us what we ask for. The second part of the foundation is love. Really, love of God. All of us men have been in love. Hopefully, many of us are still in love as we continue to be married. But I’m going to talk about the new love that we had. We didn’t mind spending a little bit of time with that young lady, did we? And we wanted to know what made her happy and what we could do in our relationship. That’s the relationship we need to have with God. We really should like spending time with Him. And, if we love Him with all of our hearts and minds and souls, we will want to spend time with Him, and, of course, prayer is the best and easiest way to spend time with Him, so, the love needs to be there. Now, who’s going to give us the love? We can’t manufacture it. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s really the work of grace, to tell you the truth. We love God out of His grace. We love God because the Holy Spirit gives us that love, sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts so that we extend it back to God. So, if we’re going to have a robust prayer life, it’s got to begin with faith and love.
Now, the second part of the outline, Roman numeral two, is the mindset, and I’m talking especially about prayer relating to business, and, if we have this mindset, it’s going to fit the role of prayer in our lives, and especially in our business, it’s going to fit. For a while, even after I became a believer, even after my faith had begun to grow, I saw a separation between the spiritual world and what I did in the business world. In fact, in the business world, maybe I could make a little money so I could give it away, but business was on its own, but what I did in the church, what I did in the community, hither and yon and around, that was the spiritual world. So, if that’s the case, what we’re doing in the business is not going to be a hefty part of our prayer life, but that is not what I think the Bible teaches, and we’ve got to go back to Genesis, and that is, I think it’s the first commandment, commission, of God to us, to mankind, is take dominion over this earth and make it fruitful, so it can multiply. That’s what you’re doing in your business. You’re really acting out that first commission. All of the business world, with the possible exception of owning a brothel, any brothel ownership in this room? Your business is a part of taking dominion. That’s what banks are doing. Banks are providing the capital for us to take dominion over things. That’s what real estate is doing. That’s what insurance is doing. All businesses serving others to make this world a better place, and I guarantee you you’re not enjoying your business unless you think it’s making this world a better place. So, God wants to bless it, because that is the reason He put you here, is to be part of that commission.
One day long ago, people read Forbes Magazine. Does anybody read Forbes Magazine? I don’t anymore. Well, a few of you do. I don’t know – the printed part of Forbes – you’re probably all electronic now, used to have, the last page was a page of quotations. They always had one scripture quotation in there, and the scriptural quotation one day was Colossians 3, verse 23. I think many of you know it, and it says, whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart as if working for the Lord. It’s the Lord Christ that you are serving. I said, lo and behold, they’re talking about my business here, I mean, what I’m doing in the business world. I was then at Protective Life. Whatever you do, it’s the Lord Christ you’re serving, so, it became, because I was now believing the Bible as it was written, it was just clear as a bell that the work I was doing at Protective was serving Christ’s calling. We’ve got to see the work we’re doing in the business world as God’s calling on our life. We are where we are because God has placed us where we are to bring Him glory by what we’re doing. And, by the way, I’ve got a chapter on calling in the blue book if you want to look at it. It’s chapter 22. It’s ten pages, and you can flip through them in 15 to 20 minutes. I also quote here in the outline, II Thessalonians chapter 1, verse 11. It’s a great prayer of Paul that I, even today, pray almost every day, and that is, “May God count you worthy of His calling.” Everybody here wants to be worthy of God’s calling. But then it goes on to say, “So that in all things,” and the word “all” is in there again, so in all things, count it worthy of your calling, so that…I’m not going to be able to do it, excuse me…it’s in the book here, so I’m going to get it out. If you want Paul’s prayers, you go to Appendix B. And here it is. “We constantly pray for you that God may count you worthy of His calling, and by His power, may fulfill every good purpose of yours, in every act prompted by your faith.” Now, that’s pretty good, isn’t it? We’re in His calling, and He wants to fulfill every good purpose of ours, and every act prompted by our faith in connection with that calling. We can pray that every single day. “God, I trust that I am in Your calling, and I pray that, by Your power, You will fulfill every good purpose.”
Audience member: Drayton, where was quotation from?
Drayton: II Thessalonians 1:11-12. So, we are called according to God’s purpose. Each person in this room is called to the business that you’re in. And, if you don’t think you’re called to the business that you are in, if you don’t think that whatever you’re doing, if you think you’re out of God’s calling, you’ve got to find someplace else to go. This has happened to me. Early on, I just said, God, I love this so much, you want me to be a minister. And I guarantee, I floated that idea with Fairfax, my wife, and I knew that door wasn’t going to open immediately. But I kept complaining to God, I just said, God, I want to be a full-time Christian, so, I want to be a minister, and, finally, He did not audibly say this. And God doesn’t talk to me directly very often, but He did here. He just came to my spirit and said, “Nabers, you are an ingrate. Look at what I have given you. Great family. Great business.” You realize I was president of the company at this point. He says, “now just bloom where you’re planted. You ain’t moving.” And I sort of had a peace from then on, because it was my calling. I mean, God had sort of orchestrated my life, you might say, to get me there, as He has your life, to get you where you are. But, if you’re unsettled in your soul about what you’re doing, then likely you’re not in His calling, and we need to get in His calling. I would be very surprised if anybody is in that position, but somebody here might be struggling or wrestling with that.
We’ve got to abide in the Word. I’ve talked about the Word. I think John 8:31 is one of the most important teachings that Jesus gives us. He says it this way. “If you continue or abide in My Word, you are really My disciples, and you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.” Abide means just to endure. Endure in the Word. Endure even when there is some stress. Endure in the world, but abide also carries with it a connotation that there is a harmony between you and the Word, and we need to abide in the Word, so, if we’re going to have a robust prayer life, we’ve got to love the Word. We’ve got to read the Word. We’ve got to memorize the Word. Well, I’ve just shown you how good my memory was. I couldn’t do…I can recite better to God than I can to a bunch of men in this room. I’m just kidding. You’re under less pressure when you’re praying to God. But I guess I’ve memorized 90 or 100 verses that are there and available to me when I’m praying. Because we can have more confidence if we’re praying Scripture than if we’re praying our own ideas, but it’s part of abiding in the Word. And I’d say, in Appendix C, those verse that I use most frequently in prayer life, are set forth and you can sort of flip through them. And, also you can, these notes that I’ve passed out, as I say, my prayer life when I was at Protective, and really when I was working down for Governor Riley in Alabama, sort of got spread out over these sheets, and only a fruitcake would do something like this, but this is the sort of nerd that I am. But you would see that I have a section here on servanthood. I’m over on page 3, I have a section on guidance. I have a section on guidance. I have a section on total dependence, and, I would just begin a section and it might just have a verse or two, or a thought or two, and then I’d keep on adding to it, and over five or six years, more and more got added to it. And then, come the weekend, which is when I had the time, I’d go over the whole thing, and I liked doing it. Now, you might say, you are really strange. But, I’ll say this. At one time, I was a golfer. Not much of a golfer, but I was okay. I had a twelve handicap or something like that. A good Saturday afternoon of prayer is worth at least four birdies. I mean, it can be sweet. I mean, you really can be refreshed when you finish it all and you can say, God, I offered it all up to you. I’m here now, and by Your grace, we’re going to get it done.
I didn’t put in the foundation. The best foundation for prayer is trouble. You hit a big problem in your company, it will take you to your knees, I mean, not because you get hit, but just because you then know you can’t solve it yourself, and you pray to God. You’ve all had trouble, and you, has none of you never had a problem in the business? That’s the quickest way to get to your knees, isn’t it? But it’s nice to have a little foundation when that trouble comes. Interestingly enough, I don’t have it here, but there’s another great writer on prayer. His name is Bounds. Is it E.M. Bounds? He’s written a whole lot on prayer. He’s got a little book, and I think one of them is called Essentials of Prayer, and it’s got a chapter on trouble. It’s got two chapters on trouble, and about eight or ten verses about how God delivers us from trouble. And I’ve got them all written out in my Bible, so whenever I go to trouble, I’ve got them written out, I think, next to the 46th Psalm or something like that. I go to them. Because now I’ve got Scripture that tells me how God deals with us when we’ve got problems. Are you with me? So, we’ve got to abide in the Word. Purpose. You’re in your business for a purpose, and the ultimate purpose, of course, is to bear fruit for the glory of God.
Jesus said, “I chose you to go and bear fruit.”
So, go back to Genesis chapter 2. We are chosen to take dominion over the earth. But, we take dominion over the earth in such a way as we bear fruit for God, and in such a way as we bring God glory. So, those two things need to be seen in conjunction with each other. Number F, is partnership. I don’t think it’s stretching it, I’d be willing to debate anybody on it, I think it’s entirely sound to translate the word “fellowship” as partnership. So, when, I think, in I John, we read that we are in fellowship with God the Father, and God the Son, they are our partners, and they are our business partners, the Father and the Son, and so, they are there to give us wisdom, and I have cited here Proverbs, I think I can recite it for you here, but I just pray it all the time, and that is, that “God gives wisdom. From His mouth comes understanding.” I love this. “He holds victory in store for His faithful ones. And He guards the course of those who are righteous. Do not fear sudden disaster or the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the God will be your confidence and keep your foot from being snared.” Now, if He’s your partner, and He’s going to give you wisdom, He’s going to guide you and He’s going to keep your foot from being snared, He’s going to be your confidence, I believe the Bible has written, that’s pretty nice to hold that up in prayer every day. Because I know some of you are smart. Smarter than Einstein, but it’s still nice to have God’s wisdom. He’s a little smarter than Einstein. So, He’s our partner, and we can go to Him in prayer. I’ve got this problem, and James says, If anyone likes wisdom, he should ask God for it. Then he goes on to say, but you’ve got to have faith. In other words, if you’re going to ask God for it, you’ve got to be confident, you’ve got to have faith that God’s going to give you wisdom.
The 121st Psalm is a great Psalm. “I lift my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord.” And the whole Psalm is about how the Lord watches over us, and keeps us from all harm, and keeps our foot from being snared. So, it’s nice; it’s just about seven verses long, five verses long, easy to recite. Easy to read, even easy to memorize. II Peter, God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life. Remember, I believe that. His power is going to give us everything we need for life. There are probably some needs in this room. God’s divine power is there. He’s your partner, and, as Jesus, He’s always going to be with us. Jesus has said, “Lo, I’ll be with you to the end of the age.” When Joshua goes into the land of Canaan, God says, don’t fear anything. Don’t be terrified. I’m going with you. I’ll be your partner. You’ll overtake the Canaanites. He’s there for us in the same way. Okay, self-denial and servanthood are also part of the mindset, but, if we’re going to think about, if we’re going to incorporate in a meaningful and deep way prayer in our business, we’ve got to have this mindset. We’ve got to know that God put us here, every single person in this room, is here to carry out His enterprise in taking dominion over this earth. And we are here to bring Him glory. And we are here to serve Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ is our partner in our business. If that’s our mindset, the rest is going to fit pretty easily, and what, to me, I’m sort of, I just like to multiply verses that support all of that and keep on praying them because I’m satisfied that God has given us the Truth of His Word so we can understand how we should pray.
We’re now at Roman number three and we’re closing in on noon. So, I’ve got 20 more minutes. This is sort of the framework of prayer. So, we’ve got the mindset, we’ve got the foundation, and now we’re going to the framework. First, we’ve got to seek God’s will, as, I don’t have it here, but in I John, it says, if we pray anything in accordance with God’s will, it will be done for us. Now, we do that by abiding in the Word, so, it’s not going to be immediately apparent to you, from time to time, what God’s will is. Then, we’ve got to wait for God to tell us what His will is, but there’s no need in praying unless you’re satisfied that you’re praying in God’s will. We’re here to do His work. We’re here to serve Jesus Christ, so if you’re serving anybody, I don’t know. We’ve got a lot of CEOs in this room, I’m sure, but from time to time, you’re serving somebody. Your customer, even if you’re a CEO, and we’ve got to know what God wants us to do. We’ve got to know what our boss wants us to do, what the customer wants us to do. We’ve got to pray in Jesus’ name. Now, we all pray in Jesus’ name, and that means at least two things. One, in praying to God, we are praying in His authority, because all authority in Heaven and earth has been given to Jesus, so when we are praying in His name, we are invoking His authority, which is in everything, over everything. But this is even more important, at least in, I guess this is part of the mindset. I want to say this in a way that I’m not misunderstood, if Drayton Nabers, if I go to the throne of grace and I say, God, here I am, I’m going to pray to You. His response is going to be, who are you? I’m nothing, I mean, I really am. We’re not ready, we can’t just go pray.
We’ve got to have Jesus’ righteousness, Jesus’ holiness, Jesus’ sacrifice. We’ve got to be enshrouded in it for our prayers to count. So, just don’t throw in, “in Jesus’ name”, because everybody prays that way…. start praying IN My Name.
Now, if I say, God, I’m here, covered in the righteousness of Your Son, Jesus Christ, and I want to pray to You. He says, I’m all ears. You with me? We’ve got to have Jesus’ righteousness, Jesus’ holiness, Jesus’ sacrifice. We’ve got to be enshrouded in it for our prayers to count. So, just don’t throw in, “in Jesus’ name”, because everybody prays that way, and you’ve got these Andrew Murray prayer sheets, I think, four verses that say, start praying in My Name. But that’s what it amounts to. We’ve got to understand that we have no righteousness in and of ourselves. That all comes through Jesus, and therefore, when we appear before the throne of grace with our prayers, say, we’re clothed with His righteousness, and our prayers will be heard. Examine our motives. I’m not saying we should not pray for success in business, in fact, if you go to Appendix C, there are more than one or two verses that say that we should pray for success in our life. But we shouldn’t pray for our personal success. Our businesses are there to satisfy customers and meet the needs of a customer. So, if you are on a job in the construction business, you can pray for every success in that business because you’re doing it for somebody else, or you are doing it for your owner, that has given you the capital to do it, or you are doing it for your employees that need a sound business, and therefore, some security in their work. So, our motives need to be for other people. Certainly, if we are sick, if we’ve got a tumor that needs to be removed, we can pray for success in the surgery, which would be for ourselves. But, with respect to the business, you’re praying for your owner to get a good return on your work. You’re praying that your customer will be very, very pleased with what you provide because you’re doing it in the right way, and you’re smart enough to run your business. You’re praying for your employees, because they’re relying on us as leaders to have a business that is flourishing and it gives them some security.
But, we’ve got to examine the motives, and if we’re just praying for ourselves, we’ve got to back up and say, ok, God, no, the real reason I’m praying is, You told me, You asked me, and I’m here to take dominion over this earth, and I’m to do it in this business, and I pray that you bless this business because, as You will, we will glorify You. That needs to be the sort of motive that we have with prayer.
We’ve talked about faith, but another thing is we continue in faith until it’s answered. We just don’t throw it up there, and say, all right, I’ve done that, God. You’ve got a good memory. And forget it. Of course, if you’re in trouble, you won’t forget it, will you? You won’t forget it until you get out of trouble. But, it’s so easy to just throw it and then forget about it. God wants us to be serious about prayer and to keep on praying until He answers. I’ve got one prayer that I’ve made for 25 years, and it’s very specific. I mean, the only answer that makes sense is a “yes”, and I haven’t gotten a yes. I mean, it hasn’t been done. I’ve got to keep on praying. God’s got His own time. This is in His Will. I guarantee you it’s in His Will. But He’s going to have His own time. But He doesn’t just say, Okay, Drayton, I heard you 25 years ago, why do you keep coming to Me? There are two verses in here in the yellow sheets on that. On the back of the first page, there’s one that’s called “The Power of Persevering Prayer”, and another one entitled “Because of His Importunity”. That’s a King James word, by the way, importunity. It just means perseverance. But you know, both of these situations. One, is this woman, who is obviously being treated harshly and unjustly by somebody, and she goes to the judge, and the judge is bored with her, and just never pays her any attention. And finally, she pesters him so much, he says, all right, I’m finally going to give you your justice. That’s what, this is Jesus’ parable, is to keep going back to the Father. I hope He doesn’t get that bored with me. But, Jesus is saying, keep on keeping on with prayer. When you’re praying, you’re satisfied you’re in God’s Will; He has got His own timing. And He knows what is best for the person, or the people, that you are praying for. But, don’t give up. Don’t give up. And we’ve got to expect an answer to prayer because that’s part of faith. We don’t just say, well, it’s up to God, you know, I’ve done my part, it’s now up to Him to do His part. We’ve already prayed that we will understand His will, so we’re satisfied with that. We’re praying in His Will. We need to expect an answer by God. And if we don’t, I wonder if we have faith. So, I think, expectancy is just part of faith.
Now, practice points. This is just another list of things we need to think about. Who are we praying to? I think the Bible makes it pretty clear. We pray to God the Father and we can pray to Jesus. Very few believers I know pray directly to the Holy Spirit. I don’t think there’s any injunction in the Bible against doing it, that’s just the way Christians pray to God the Father, and to Christ, and so, if you go to these notes that you have, the first sheet is the Father, and it really is, I think most all of these characteristics of the Father come from the Psalms. But before, this is for the prolonged prayer that I tried to do over the weekend, I’d go through all of this, so that I would recognize the Father for Who He was, and I’d praise Him for Who He was, and I would have on my mind Who He was, and, you can see, I’m sure, that there’s so much in the Psalms about the character of the Father. I’m sure I picked verses that relate to His grace, especially His grace as it related to business. And then I’ve got a whole page, most of a whole page, on Jesus, beginning with the Logos, and that just, Jesus is The Word. That’s the first verse of John’s Gospel. But He’s the Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, He’s our wisdom, holiness, redemption, Lamb of God, Faithful and True, King of Kings, just go down through it. Now, over on the right side of that second page on the Son, of Jesus, in John’s Gospel, I think, six times He says, I AM. He says, I am the True Vine, I am the Good Shepherd, seven times, I am the Light of the World, I am the Gate – no one enters except through the Gate, I’m the Way and the Truth and the Life, the Bread of Life, the Resurrection and the Life. I used to, I mean, I really think there’s so much in those expressions of Jesus as describing Himself that you can spend a great part of daily prayer, the day’s prayer, just on that. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Okay, I mean, just think about that. If He’s the Good Shepherd, what comfort you would have if He’s the Good Shepherd of your business. And He is the True Vine, which means He’s the life of your business, the life of you. You are a branch that dwells, abides, that’s that word again, in the True Vine. He says Father, the Father is the Vine-Dresser. So, we need, you cut off everything that doesn’t bear fruit. We should want that to apply to our lives, there is stuff in my life that’s not bearing fruit for God, cut it off, for Heaven’s sakes. Even sometimes, because I’m a masochist, I guess, even if it’s painful, God get it out of my life if it’s not bearing fruit for you. That’s God’s Work. Jesus is the Vine. We are the branches. And there’s also a lot of good teaching in there. Jesus says, “If you abide in Me, and My Words abide in you, whatever you ask, it will be done for you.” I mean, I take that literally, so, I want to abide more fully in Jesus, and I want His words to abide in me, and then I’ll know how to pray and I’ll pray in His will and it will be done for us. And I don’t know why we can’t pray that for our business. For our roles in our respective businesses.
Then I’ve got another section on the Holy Spirit. We don’t pray directly to the Holy Spirit, at least I don’t, but I figured, He’s part of the Trinitarian God, so, I’ve just got a bunch of stuff on Him. From Isaiah 11, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, it teaches us all things, leads us into all truth, think about that with respect to your business. If you want to know the truth about things, if you want to be taught all things, that’s the work of the Holy Spirit, and we can pray that He will give us the knowledge of the truth for what we’re going to do day by day. He’s our Comforter, our Counselor, our Paraclete, our Helper, He convicts the world of sin, and so forth. So, keep in mind Who we’re praying to, and know the character of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s Prayer is a great chassis for prayer. Just beginning with Our Father…there are verses in the Bible relating to our Sonship, in Romans 8, and I think I John 3. How great the love of God that You have lavished on us that we are Your children, and that is who we are. I’m going to try to get Romans 8 right. He has not given us the Spirit to make us a slave again of fear, but a Spirit of Sonship. And by that Spirit, we cry, Abba Father, because we are His children. If His children, we are co-children with Christ, and really co-heirs with Christ. So, we can pray that with respect to the Fatherhood. Then hallowed be Thy name, we go into doxologies.
Have we got any Episcopalians? Okay. The Prayer Book is really a good Prayer Book. So, you can go to the Nicene Creed for a doxology, especially with respect to Jesus. “God from God, light from light, true God from True God, begotten not made, one in being with the Father, that’s just a way of saying, hallowed be Thy name. There is the Gloria. And one thing about praying this liturgy, excuse me if you’re not Episcopalians, I don’t want to be bragging, because I’m an Episcopalian, but, we join ourselves with 2000 years of Christians praying these things, and I think there’s power in that, I really do. I’m not sure that’s Biblical, but, it’s just neat to say, you know, I’m one of millions, who, even today, are lifting up these prayers, but certainly over the years, so, some of those prayers are really good in the Prayer Book. And, by the way, they are all through Jesus. All the collects through the Prayer Book are through Jesus. That’s another way of praying in His name, in other words, God, I don’t have any standing before You, so I’m making these prayers through Jesus. And God says, I understand. I’m all ears. Pray through Jesus, not by ourselves. I refer to the prayers of Paul that are in Appendix B. For instance, when we get in the Lord’s Prayer, to Thy will be done, Paul’s prayer in Colossians is, may I, he was praying for the Colossians, we personalize it, and that, may I have knowledge of Your Will, through all spiritual wisdom and understanding, that I may live a life worthy of You, pleasing You in every way, bearing fruit in every good work. Believe that, I mean, when we were saying, Thy Will be done, Paul says, pray for knowledge of His Will, so we can live a life that is worthy of Him, that’s what you want to do in the business, pleasing Him in every way. That’s what you want to do in your business, bearing fruit in every good work. For Heaven’s sakes, what if He answered that prayer? Life would be pretty sweet, wouldn’t it? So, you just get to it. Now you’re saying, Nabers, we know you too well, He hasn’t answered that prayer yet with respect to you, well I said, you’ve got to pray these things over the years. [Laughter] So, God, one of these days, He’s going to get to me.
And I just refer to these yellow sheets. So, that sort of works us through the outline. What I’ve tried to introduce us, I’m not introducing you to any of this, but, we’ve got to be sure that we’ve got the faith, we’ve got the love, to begin with, that we understand how our business fits into God’s Kingdom, because it’s really important to Him that we take dominion over this earth. It’s really important to Him that in our business, that we bear fruit for His Glory. We need to have that mindset that Jesus is our partner. He’s there. He loves us to talk to Him. He wants to give us advice. His Spirit wants to lead us into all truth, to have that mindset with us. And then it’s a beautiful thing, I think to be able to hold up every single thing going on in your business to Him. I don’t have it here, but when I was at Protective, there was another couple of sheets with maybe 80 or 90 or 100 names, I’d just pray specifically for people. Primarily people that would come to me and ask me to help them, or pray about something, so I had children’s’ names in there. God, I think, likes all of that.
And, then there’s, we need to know Who we’re praying to, we need to know the character of God. We can use certain chassis, such as the “I AM” language of Jesus, such as The Lord’s Prayer, such as some of the wonderful prayers in the prayer book, and when it’s all said and done, we can truly love it. We can truly love it. Oh, one other thing, and you all know this. It’s got to be done early in the morning, I’m sorry. It just does. This secretary, I mean, this conversation with this young lady that works for me, and I called her in, and I just was trying, I was wrestling with this one morning, and, she’s a Christian, and I said, Kelly, what is the New Covenant, and we had a discussion, and she says, “This is deep for so early in the morning.” And I said, “If you don’t go deep early in the morning, you’re not going to go deep anytime else.” You really are not. Once the day crashes in on you, you’re just, I mean, you’re working with whatever has crashed in on you. And then, at night, maybe some of you are different, I just can’t do it at night. I mean, I try. I either go to sleep, or my mind wanders after three or four minutes, and I’m just too tired or too preoccupied about something that is a distraction. But, early in the morning, we should be fresh. I didn’t, nobody has ever found this in the Bible, but it is. It’s in Paul’s third letter to Timothy, and that is, he says, when you pray, get a cup of coffee. [Laughter] But, early in the morning with a cup of coffee is the time to enjoy prayer.
So, we’re about at twelve o’clock, aren’t we? One question, maybe two questions. I know, we’re busy and we’ve got to go. Let’s pray. Father, one thing is for sure, and that is, You love Your children to come to You in the Name of Jesus, and pray to You. You are all ears. You want us to pray to You in faith. That is the sort of relationship that You have intended for us. So, just as the disciples prayed, or asked Jesus, we ask You to teach us to pray, and teach us how more and more to live more deeply into a life of prayer, Father. So, we can know Your Will and Walk in Your Will and walk in Your Grace so that we can be prepared for everything that You have planned for us to do in our callings. And we pray these things through Jesus. Amen.
Drayton Nabers’ handwritten notes on prayer that were given as a handout at the BCC Breakfast on 5/4/17