Sermons on Prayer
Sanctification and Prayer
How should Christians live in this world? How do they demonstrate that they are children and heirs of God? In this sermon on prayer and sanctification from John 1:16, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones expounds on the great doctrine of sanctification in the life of the believer. Sanctification is the process whereby the Christian is delivered from the world and prepared for the glory that awaits them. It is Jesus Christ being formed in them. Very practically it means living a life in the spirit and not in the flesh. As the Holy Spirit leads, guides, directs, and restrains the Christian, he also enables them to understand truth. This Spirit-led life is characterized by prayer for prayer is vital to sanctification. The believer will often find themselves in circumstances they don’t understand and are at loss for what they should do. In this infirmity, this moment of uncertainty, the Spirit is present and helps intercede on their behalf. It is the great privilege of the Christian to come before God and have fellowship with him through prayer.
Prayer and the Holy Spirit
Prayer is a beautiful gift that has been given to God’s people, but it is not a gift to be taken lightly. The Bible tells that when the Christian prays, they are to pray fervently in the Spirit. What then does it mean to pray in the Spirit? In this sermon on John 4:13–14 titled “Prayer and the Holy Spirit,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses this topic by showing from Scripture how Christians should pray. He begins by saying that in order to pray in the Spirit, the Christian must be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit. When this is done, the Holy Spirit will give the words to pray and will lead in prayer. It is through the Spirit alone that the Christian is able to have access to God, because it is the Spirit who enlightens the mind and reveals God. Dr. Lloyd-Jones then shows that the result of praying in the Spirit is the realization of God’s presence. Prayer is a privilege to be in the presence of the holy God. It is this act of bowing down before the Lord in humility and following the leading of the Spirit that leads to true prayer.
Prayer in the Spirit
What does it mean to worship God truly? This question has been answered by many different religious teachers. But according to Jesus, to worship God rightly is to worship in Spirit and truth. Listen as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches on the words of Christ from John 4:13–14 in this sermon titled “Prayer in the Spirit.” In this discussion with the woman at the well, Jesus explains that true worship is not about external things, such as where one worships, but rather about one’s heart and intentions. As Christians, God gives His Spirit to enable freedom from sin and think of Him rightly in worship. This true worship is not a matter of the mind only, nor is it simply emotions. But God’s Spirit works in the hearts of His people to allow them to pray to Him rightly and worship Him in truth. They are now free to come before the throne of God and praise and petition Him because of Jesus’s death and resurrection as the High Priest. In Jesus the Christian sees the futility of all worldly and fleshly worship, and that God desires the worship of those who love the truth.
How to Pray
In this sermon on Acts 2:41-42 titled “How to Pray,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones encourages the Christian to examine their prayer habits. This personal examination will reveal the true value a believer places on prayer. A lack of prayer is often traced to a lack of understanding what prayer is and how to go about it. Prayer means entering into the holiest of holies, the very presence of God, to have communion with him. In the Old Testament the reader finds detailed instructions for festivals, sacrifices, and the temple so that the Israelites would know how to approach God. Now, as believers in the time of the new covenant, instructions have been given in Scripture for how believers can approach God directly through prayer. They may approach God based on the work of the Lord Jesus and it is only with his help that prayer is made possible. This glorious truth leads to prayer focused on God as the Christian approaches boldly with thanksgiving and worship.
Why the Apostles Prayed
The priorities of the Christian life, according to Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones, are the gospel and prayer. In this sermon on Acts 6:1–4 titled “Why the Apostles Prayed,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones continues his series on the book of Acts and specifically looks at the apostles’ emphasis on prayer. “Even Orthodoxy is not enough; it needs prayer,” says Dr. Lloyd-Jones. The early church knew that they ought to pray and preach the word of God because the primary task of the church is to preach the good news of Jesus Christ. But how? How should they faithfully fulfill this purpose? Dr. Lloyd-Jones compares this dilemma with the modern church and strictly warns against churches relying on human methods rather than on the method of God. While the method of humanity will try to improve their own abilities and comfort in communication and programs, the method of God ultimately seeks after God’s power, wisdom and Spirit to work in hearts. By praying, the apostles sought power and strength from God’s Spirit to change the people’s hearts. In this sermon, Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones urges and pleads with Christians to show dependence on God through prayer.
The Mystery of Prayer
Is prayer really important for every Christian? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that there are Christians who think there is no need to pray. “Trust God since He already knows everything,” they say. When they read Romans 8:26–27, they object: “This makes little sense. God knows all things already. We don’t know what to pray for. The Spirit prays for us. What point and purpose is there in praying?” In this sermon on Romans 8:26–27 titled “The Mystery of Prayer,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones offers very practical lessons regarding the mystery of prayer by answering questions about prayer including: “Why do we pray? Who should pray and who should not pray? How do we pray? What are the different types of prayer? What rules do we follow when we pray? What prayers are always acceptable to God? What cautions regarding prayer do we find in Scripture? Can we ever be confident when we pray for certain things?” The answers to these questions on prayer will encourage the Christian’s soul as they present their requests before God.
Lord; Teach Us to Pray
In this sermon on Ephesians 2:18 titled “Lord, Teach Us to Pray,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses some of the reasons prayers can be so ineffective. Ephesians 2:18 states that “through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” This verse shows the complexity of prayer. According to Dr. Lloyd-Jones, a detrimental fallacy in the church is that prayer is simple. Some people focus on the reality that Christians have access to God through Christ and yet neglect the Spirit. They can pray with flawless doctrine but their prayers are “useless.” “You can be absolutely orthodox but at the same time be spiritually dead,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones shares. The other side neglects doctrine and says that all one needs is the Spirit. They elevate experience and throw out doctrine. However, Dr. Lloyd-Jones notes that both right doctrine and life in the Spirit are absolutely essential. There is no other way to have access to God apart from these two and nothing should be added to these doctrines.
Praying in the Spirit
What does the Holy Spirit have to do with prayer? In his sermon on Ephesians 2:18 titled “Praying in the Spirit,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones seeks to impress on the believer the absolute necessity of prayer and of the role of the Holy Spirit in prayer. According to Dr. Lloyd-Jones, praying in the Holy Spirit “is the very essence of prayer.” Also, in light of God’s stunning love that brings His children to Him, “prayer is the supreme activity of the human soul.” Many people think that prayer is as simple as saying “their prayers,” but Dr. Lloyd-Jones critiques the phrase “saying our prayers” as being antithetical to prayer itself. Prayer is much deeper than this simplistic understanding because it is a Holy Spirit-lead endeavor. Dr. Lloyd-Jones goes as far as to say, “The Holy Spirit is as essential to prayer as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.” According to Dr. Lloyd-Jones, Jesus died that all might have access to the Father and the Holy Spirit makes real to the believer all that Jesus died for. Both must be held together if prayer is going to be true prayer.
Prayer; Boldness and Access
In this sermon on Ephesians 3:12 titled “Prayer: Boldness and Access,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones discusses the privilege and importance of prayer. The apostle Paul makes the point that Christians have access to God in prayer through Christ and can come with boldness and confidence. Dr. Lloyd-Jones also shows the importance of doctrine and practicing in one’s prayer life. If Christians focus on doctrine only, they will miss the point. But if all doctrine is abandoned and one simply hopes to “practice,” then the point is missed again. Rather one must know what God says about the Christian life, prayer, and faith in Christ and then apply those things in practice. How can one expect to come to God with boldness if they do not first understand how? Christians can boldly approach the throne of grace in prayer through faith in Christ; He has made the way. He is the access to God. Dr. Lloyd-Jones gives two principles to think about in prayer life. First, when coming to God in prayer, Christians must not rely on feelings, mood, or state of being to inform how to pray or if they pray at all. They must realize that these can be tools used by the devil to keep the Christian from prayer, to plague them with doubts, and remind of their sins. Secondly, Christians must preach to themselves. They must remind themselves over and over of the truths of Scripture. They must remind themselves in the throes of doubt that Christ is the redeemer and mediator. He is faithful to forgive and the Christian can boldly approach God in prayer through Him. Dr. Lloyd-Jones concludes with this great reminder, “Draw nigh unto God and He will draw nigh unto you.”
Praying to the Father
In this sermon on Ephesians 3:14–15 titled “Praying to the Father,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones stresses the importance of prayer and its practice from Paul’s example. Dr. Lloyd-Jones discusses prayer in three important principles from this passage. First, it is important that the apostle Paul is praying for the Ephesians. Even in the midst of his imprisonment he is praying. Prayer is a vital necessity for every believer in every circumstance. Second, Dr. Lloyd-Jones looks at the manner in which Paul is praying. He is praying with reverence. Though he has just mentioned earlier in the chapter that one can come to God in prayer with boldness, he shows here a heart of humility in how he approaches God in prayer. The Christian should be careful to evaluate how they come to God in prayer. It is not necessarily about the outward posture, but does the inward posture show humility in spirit before the Holy God when He is approached in prayer? Lastly, Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out the importance for Paul’s description of God here in the passage. He speaks of Him as being the Father of all. Jews and Gentiles alike are now fellow heirs, children of God, bearing the name of God and addressing Him as their Father.
Praying in the Spirit
Nothing is more fatal than beginning the Christian life thinking trouble and problems are finished. In this sermon on praying in the Spirit from Ephesians 6:18, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that the New Testament actually indicates the opposite of this. Rather, Christians should expect attacks as never before. What is the connection between “praying always” and the “armor of God”? Prayer is something Christians do in addition to putting on the armor. The armor provided by God cannot be used except in communion with God. Prayer is essential to the Christian life, for without it the Christian is faint. The apostle Paul speaks of “all prayer,” then “supplication.” First, he means all kinds of prayer in general — private, public, with or without words, orderly prayer, groans, etc. Then he specifies a certain kind of prayer: supplication, which is petition. The secret of true prayer is “in the Spirit.” Vain repetitions, merely uttering words out of habit or custom, is not praying. Praying in the Spirit means being concentrated and submitted to the Spirit, so that He creates, directs, orders, and empowers praying. It means recalling that the only way into the presence of God is in Christ. Praying in the Spirit is having fellowship with God, which ends in true worship.
Praying for All the Saints
The main emphasis of “praying for all the saints” is intercessory prayer. Why does this matter? In this sermon on Ephesians 6:18–20 titled “Praying for All the Saints,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones challenges all believers who engage in the same fight for faithfulness, sharing a common salvation, and fighting a common foe. This is why public worship is so important. Christians must recognize that they are not alone. This battle not only involves all Christians, but it is God’s battle. Intercessory prayer is significant because failure at any point in the ranks affects the whole army. Christians must think of themselves in terms of the church, not individualistically. Praying that everyone in their position will stand is the way to avoid discouragement. One of the great mysteries of the faith is that prayer actually works. God could do everything without His people, but He has elected them and chooses to work through them. Therefore they are dependent on the prayers of others, and He commands His people to pray for one another. Intercessory prayer is the sovereign remedy for introspection and a morbid self-concern. In light of this, Christians ought to pray for all preachers of the gospel to speak boldly and rightly— keeping nothing back of the truth, not fearing people, but relying on God.
The Way of Prayer
What role does prayer play in the Christian life? Christians can be surprised by the amount of difficulties and trials they encounter. Perhaps when they trusted in Jesus for their salvation, they were under the impression that all the negative aspects of life would disappear. But there is hope. In this sermon on Hebrews 10:19–22 titled “The Way of Prayer,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims that Jesus promised that along with the increase in trials, His followers will have His power and protection to persevere through difficult times. The power and protection is accessed through prayer. This is found in the letter of Hebrews as an example to encourage believers to pray through trials. Dr. Lloyd-Jones provides three biblical characteristics that should be consistent in how Christians pray. First, they must pray with confidence in God’s ability to handle requests. Second, they must have a clear conscience since prayer is entering into God’s presence. Third, Christians must be sincere with God. It is no use holding back even one percent of themselves since they must be willing to submit all to Him and His sovereign plan. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones helps the believer apply these characteristics of godly prayer to their lives. The only way to stand firm in persecution is to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith.
The Power of Prayer
Prayer is vital to the Christian. So when this fails, everything else seems to go. Listen to this sermon on Hebrews 10:19-22 as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preaches on the great fight man is engaged in. Look at the instruction Christ provided on the difficult task of prayer. Why is prayer difficult? Learn about the grandeur of entering into the presence of God. There can be no confidence in prayer until the accusing conscience is dealt with. Man's heart is polluted by sin, and he is desperately in need of a sincere heart. Look at the hope of Psalm 51 and passages in the New Testament that show the possibility of going before God in boldness! There is a new and living way – no longer bound to the temporality of priests who die. Find a firm foundation in the shed blood of the Son of God. Prayer is not merely psychology, it is God's way to walk in confidence before Him. There is a needed sincerity and purity of heart that is required. You must deal with your conscience. Christ was punished and He literally rose again. You cannot resist the devil without this doctrine. Deal with your one remaining problem and rejoice in the hope God has given.
Man is so tempted to put faith in his own abilities that prayer has often come as an afterthought. Learn about the concept of "prayer-backing" and the perversion of merely thinking man needs God's support. Listen as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones addresses this serious departure from what Scripture conveys as prayer. Look at the examples of Abraham, Isaiah, and Moses – all men of action, but moreso all men of great intercession. What is the greatest thing man can do at a time like this in history? Intercede before the throne of God! Are we to have greater zeal for denouncing sin or exalting the glory of God? Consider the example of Christ when He saw the state of the people – He was burdened for them. How ought we pray? Intercessory prayer is not mechanical, nor is it simple. Praying must always start with worshipping God, not presenting one's problem. Hear about Jeremiah's prayer as he reasoned and pleaded with God – even if those he was praying for were against him. Begin to see God’s larger plan of salvation. Pray and not faint; God is your only source of strength. Fall before Him and leave your petition at His throne.
Take a look at the first persecution of the infant Christian church. In this sermon on Acts 4:1–37 titled “Prayer,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims that it’s not the pew, nor the people, that determine the message being preached. This sermon takes a closer look at what the secret of prayer is and how one ought to pray. Prayers must not start with a person, but with God. Christians should learn to begin prayers by remembering and praising the one to whom they are praying. Prayer is coming into the presence of God. Approach Him in worship. One cannot focus on themselves and their problems, but should look at the God who controls everything, even His enemies. While the hand of people carry out works, it is the purpose of God that plans them. The church is not owned by people. When persecution comes, it is not person against person, but it is rather person against God Himself. Look at the prayer of the Psalmist in the second chapter and see where his concern is. God is the one who moves and shakes. “There is no difficulty about [understanding] miracles if you believe in an Almighty God.” There is great unity in Jesus Christ.
Some say, “Doctrine divides, let’s focus on prayer.” But what is prayer without doctrine? Is prayer really the easiest thing one can do? Can anyone go to God in prayer? In this sermon on Hebrews 10:10–25 titled “Prayer,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that prayer is not easy. It is extremely difficult. Prayer is entering into God’s presence with a clean conscience and pure heart. How can anyone do this? It seems impossible. The conscience condemns and the heart proves the guilt. Yet, prayer is absolutely vital. It is essential to the Christian life. Listen to this sermon as Dr. Lloyd-Jones not only explains the problem in prayer, but shows the solution. Christians enter into prayer through the flesh of Jesus Christ. It’s through His incarnation and His death. The punishment which the law required was placed upon Jesus Christ. It’s been dealt with and, therefore, God cannot punish the sinner again. Since the law is satisfied, the conscience is satisfied. The Christian prays through Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Therefore, the Christian approaches the throne of God with fear, and also with great boldness. Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out: this is all doctrine. Thus, doctrine cannot be separated from prayers.
Prayer Without Ceasing
What is the church’s greatest weapon? Some may say organizations or church events, but Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues in his sermon on Acts 12:5 that “our ultimate weapon is that of prayer.” The church has been through hard times since its existence, and Dr. Lloyd-Jones notes that it is helpful to realize how the church has handled it in the past. In verse five, the answer is provided as to how the early church handled persecution — their prayer was made without ceasing. Dr. Lloyd-Jones seeks to deal with two aspects of prayer from Acts 12: “How does God answer prayer?” and “When does God answer prayer?” First, concerning the text, Peter was in prison during the last night of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and therefore could not be put to death, but would be executed the next day. In light of this, Dr. Lloyd-Jones takes note of Peter’s ability to sleep— it was a gift from God. Also, God answered through the miraculous, as can clearly be seen by his escape. Dr. Lloyd-Jones challenges the believer to have faith and expect answers to prayers. Second, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues from this text that God sometimes waits until the last moment to answer prayer in order to test and train.
The Congregational Prayers of Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Revival Sermon: Prayer for Revival
The church today focuses too much on doing what other religions can do. Other religions can teach a person to be moral and just. Other religions can create a sense of community and friendship. Other religions can do good things in the community. Christians tend to be content with these small things; content with the unexceptional and ordinary condition of the church. They must pray for revival. In this sermon on prayer for revival from Exodus 33:12–17 titled “Revival Sermon: Prayer for Revival,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones looks at the prayer of Moses where he prays for more. God had returned to Israel and Moses is grateful for this, but he wants more. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that praying for revival is praying for something extra, something more. Revival is not ordinary. It is a special, unusual, and exceptional move of God. The Christian praying for revival is no longer satisfied with the ordinary condition of the church. They pray for God’s glory to be shown, and cries from the “depths” that God may be known. True revival cannot be manipulated. The moment one believes this can be organized, they are in great danger. Listen in as Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that church needs the power of God. The Holy Spirit must fall upon His people, and they must be revived.