The Firsts Of Prayer: A Message For Mid-Week Prayer Service

Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to the Book of Genesis.

I am told that there are 650 prayers listed in the Bible, and around 450 recorded answers to prayer. The Bible records our Lord Jesus praying 25 different times, though we know He prayed much more than this. The Apostle Paul mentions prayer 41 times. The Gospel Coalition notes:

The Bible lists at least nine main types of prayer:

  • Prayer of Faith (James 5:15)
  • Prayer of Agreement (or corporate prayer) (Acts 2:42)
  • Prayer of Supplication (Philippians 4:6)
  • Prayer of Thanksgiving (Psalm 95:2-3)
  • Prayer of Worship (Acts 13:2-3)
  • Prayer of Dedication (Matthew 26:39)
  • Prayer of Intercession (1 Timothy 2:1)
  • Prayer against your Enemies (Imprecatory – Psalms 69)
  • Prayer in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:14-15).

If I were to ask you where the first prayer in the Bible was, you would probably guess in the Book of Genesis. If I asked you where that first prayer was at, you would probably say “the Garden of Eden”.

You would be wrong.

The first recorded words man spoke are in the Garden of Eden. When God gave Adam his Eve, Adam said:

Genesis 2:23-24 … This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Adam cherished his wife, but please note Adam did not thank God for the marvelous gift he had been given. Adam did not praise the Lord, nor glorify our God. He acknowledged the gift. Can I tell you this, dear ones?

The devil watches us.

Prayerlessness Was The Primary Reason
For Adam’s Fall From Eden

The devil cannot read minds, but he watches our behavior pattern. Adam adored his wife, and spoke of her in covenant language. But Adam never praised the Lord for what he had. Adam never thanked God for the splendors of Eden, nor for the gift of his wife. As Adam never “called upon the name of the Lord” upon receiving Eve, it should come as no surprise that the Serpent (Satan – see Revelation 12:9) saw this as an opportunity. When Satan attacked, he addressed his temptation to Adam’s wife, subtly accusing God of withholding good from our first parents.

The prayerlessness of Adam intrigued the devil, who asked Eve “Has God really said you shall not eat of every tree of this Garden?”

A prayerless life leads to trouble. Oswald Chambers wrote:

Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work”.

Industrialist Henry Ford said,

Those who walk with God, always reach their destination”.

And Evangelist Leonard Ravenhill said:

Smart men walked on the moon, daring men walked on the ocean floor, but wise men walk with God”.

A prayerless Adam led to the fall of all mankind. “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men” (Romans 5:12). A prayerless parent teaches their children to be prayerless. It was a lack of prayer that led Cain to kill his brother Abel. I believe Abel prayed, for after his murder – a murder Cain denied – God told Cain:

Genesis 4:10 … What have you done, Cain? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground! (my paraphrase)

Tragedy Caused Men To Call
Upon The Name Of The Lord

It often takes tragedy to wake us humans up to the need of prayer. After the tragedy of Cain murdering his brother Abel, the Bible tells us:

Genesis 4:25-26 Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. 26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.

It is after the birth of Enos that we are told then began men to call upon the name of the Lord. This is prayer, to call upon the name of the Lord. When you call upon God’s name, you recognize God as God, and ask Him as God to move a mountain in your life. God is able to do anything that God wants to do. Thus we call upon “His Name”, His authority, His ability. Jesus told us:

Mark 11:22-23 Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

Calling upon the Name of the Lord” is surrendering whatever mountain is confronting you to God, to ask God to address the burden, the pain. The Scripture says “Cast your care upon {the Lord}, for He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Dr Joe Pettigrew notes:

Now, Jesus didn’t relocate any physical mountains during His ministry that we know of, so what was He talking about here? The problems we face in life! And notice something important: {Jesus} talks only once about our need for ‘faith’—and three times about our need to ‘speak’ His Word. Why? Because if you don’t have enough faith to move your mouth and speak God’s Word, you won’t have enough faith to move your mountain!

The Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) Something wonderful happens when you verbalize God’s Word. Your ears hear it, your mind is renewed, your focus is changed, and the thing God responds to—faith—rises up within you. And when you hold that position of faith, refuse to budge, and keep speaking God’s Word, the mountain in your life starts to shift.”

The tragedy of Abel’s murder leads to the blessing of another child named Seth. Seth has Enos, and at this point, people begin to “call upon the name of the Lord”.

Prayer Is Walking Daily With God

Now we come to Genesis 5, we read a list of names that we are tempted to skip over. If you do, you miss another lesson in prayer. We read in:

Genesis 5:22-24 Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: 23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: 24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

The phrase walked with God is a reference to prayer, daily prayer. Enoch sought out the companionship of God every day, and for the 365 years Enoch was on the earth, he never faltered in walking with God. The Prophet Amos said:

Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

Illustrate: To “walk with God” is to be in communion with God, to agree with God. I was watching an old show on television called “Picket Fences”. During that show someone asked a young girl, “Do you believe in God?” Her reply was typical for an unbeliever. She said, “I believe in God, but I don’t understand Him. How can He allow …” then she began to list a series of self perceived injustices that she thought God should stop.

If people stopped blaming God for humanity’s failures, and started walking with God by prayer, much of the evil we see would cease!

The reality is that there IS a God in Heaven, but He created us with freedom of will. We can, like Enoch, “walk with God” all the days of our lives, and we will be blessed. Or we can walk our own path, as Adam, Eve, and Cain did. God is not responsible for our messes. If we would walk with God daily, I guarantee we would have less mess in this world of ours.

The reason this world is messed up in that we want God to be God when it comes to eliminating anything we find objectionable, but we want God to be gone when His way does not match our way.
In short, WE want to be Gods.

Enoch walked with God daily until one day, Enoch just walked into Heaven with God. We are told in Hebrews 11:5, “Enoch was not found, because God translated him”. Enoch went to Heaven without dying. Enoch “walked with God” by frequently seeking God’s presence in prayer.

When God looked down at the mess this world was in, and decided to destroy it:

Genesis 6:7 … the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

Who was it that God would choose to save the world? The Scripture says:

Genesis 6:8-9 Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. 9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

God was not an afterthought to Noah, but a daily necessity. Noah realized what we should all realize – we are broken creatures that need the Presence of God day by day.

We have no recorded prayers of Enoch or Noah, but these men walked with God. The Prophet said:

Micah 6:8 {God} hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Pastor J.C. Ryle said,

We want more men and women who walk with God and before God, like Enoch and Abraham.”

When we walk with God, doing what He directs us do, heeding His commands, He blesses our lives. God told Israel:

Deuteronomy 8:6 … thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.

When You Walk With God In Prayer,
God Is Never Far Away

The first notable prayer whose words are recorded in the Bible is the prayer of Abraham in Genesis 18. Abraham has been walking with God, and now is waiting patiently for God.

When we walk with God, we need to be careful never to walk ahead of Him, but to stay in step with God.

Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Genesis 18:1-5 And the Lord appeared unto {Abraham} in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.

If this text doesn’t intrigue you, you’re not paying attention to it. The Lord appeared unto {Abraham} is in verse 1, but in verse 2 Abraham sees three men. Abraham runs to these three men and addresses them as My Lord. Abraham wants the Lord to rest yourselves under the treeand eat with him. Three is the number of God in the Scripture. Some commentaries note that “the rabbis understand all three of these visitors to be angels who simply represented the Lord”. I don’t believe this was the case.

I believe ONE of the men was an Old Testament manifestation of Jesus, whereas the other two men were angels.

In a few moments two of the “men” or ANGELS will head toward Sodom (see Genesis 19:1, “there came two angels to Sodom”). Jesus said of Abraham in John 8:58, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. I believe our Jesus often appeared to Abraham in preincarnate form. Notice what Abraham does as he prays to the Lord:

  • Abraham waits on God. He goes where God says go, but when he has no direction, Abraham waits upon on the Lord. “Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it” (Psalm 37:34).
  • Abraham runs toward God. He leaves the comfort of his tent, and pursues God with all his heart. “By my God I run through a troop. By my God, I leap over a wall!” (Psalm 18:29; 2 Samuel 22:30).
  • Abraham bows down before God. God is great, and Abraham is not. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up” (James 4:10). “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).
  • Abraham accommodates God. Neither God the Son nor the Angels with him get hungry or thirsty as we do. God said “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is Mine, and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 50:12). Though God needs nothing, Abraham made God welcome in his life.

God promises Abraham once more that he will have an heir when the time is right. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). Yet this is not the reason that God is with Abraham today.

When you walk with God, God will tell you things that He will not tell those who do NOT walk with God.

God is preparing to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. God tells two of the men – the Angels who are with Him –

Genesis 18:17-19 the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. 22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.

The Lord knows what He will find in Sodom and Gomorrah, but He is specifically telling Abraham about it because his nephew Lot is in Sodom. What happens next is beautiful. We read:

Genesis 18:23-25 Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? 25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

Abraham drew near” to God. Abraham calls upon the Name of the Lord. He knows that God is righteous, and that God will not punish the innocent with the guilty. Abraham starts with “fifty”. Fifty would be a significant number in the history of Israel. Fifty days after the first Passover, Israel arrived at Mount Sinai to receive the Law of God. Because of this the Day of Pentecost is also called Matin Torah or “giving of the Law.” It was on the Day of Pentecost (Shavuot) that Peter and the Early Church went out and preached the Gospel of Christ, and 3000 were added to the Church (Acts 2:41).

When God told Abraham If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes” (Genesis 18:26). Securing this promise, Abraham humbles himself, saying “I am but dust and ashes”, and then lowers the number, asking God:

What if there are 45 righteous?”
“What if there are 40 righteous?”
“What about 30 righteous?”
“What about 20 righteous?”
, and finally,
“What if there are 10 righteous?”

If I were God, I would have been irritated by Abraham’s auctioneering! Yet note the patience and kindness of God. Our God knows our hearts. “The righteous God trieth the hearts” (Psalm 7:9). Our Lord knew exactly what Abraham was after. He knew that Lot and his family were in Sodom, and Abraham loved Lot. At no time did our Lord get angry or irritated, but each time Abraham asked that Sodom be spared, and adjusted the numbers of the righteous, the Lord in kindness adjusted His will.

That amazes me.

The Prayer Warrior – and Author of a number of books on Prayer, E.M. Bounds wrote in Purpose In Prayer:

Perseverance {in prayer} counts much with God as well as with man. If Elijah had ceased at his first petition the heavens would have scarcely yielded their rain to his feeble praying. If Jacob had quit praying at decent bedtime he would scarcely have survived the next day’s meeting with Esau. If the {Gentile woman} woman had allowed her faith to faint by silence, humiliation, repulse, or stop mid-way its struggles, her grief-stricken home would never have been brightened by the healing of her daughter.

Pray and never faint, is the motto Christ
gives us for praying.

It is the test of our faith, and the severer the trial and the longer the waiting, the more glorious the results. … Praying {people} must be strong in hope, and faith, and prayer. They must know how to wait and to press, to wait on God and be in earnest in our approaches to Him. Abraham has left us an example of {persistent prayer} in his passionate pleading with God on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah, and if, as already indicated, he had not ceased in his asking, perhaps God would not have ceased in His giving. “Abraham left off asking before God left off granting.”

We learn a final lesson from this. Never stop praying. Keep seeking God’s hand when you pray for yourself or for others. Let prayer be – not an afterthought – but the bulk of your Christian walk.

You will never grow in your faith as a Christian, nor will our Church grow, until prayer becomes a priority in your daily life. May God the Holy Spirit impress upon us all the necessity of prayer. In Christ’s Name, and for the glory of God we ask this. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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