Sermon Title:  A Good Start

Summary:  Jesus is the perfect example of what it means to be a person of
prayer.  Jesus prayed often in many types of situations.  He began, continued,
and ended his ministry in prayer.  At the beginning of his ministry, God
responded to Jesus prayer by opening the Heavens and giving him affirmation
as his beloved son.  We need to begin, continue, and end each day in prayer,
and God will “open the Heavens,” listen to our prayers, and empower us with the
assurance that we are his beloved children.

Know:  God inclines his ear to our prayers and responds as our God and father

Feel:  An urge to draw closer to God knowing that he will draw closer to us.

Do:  Reflect on our prayer habits in light of Jesus, especially the underlying
motivation.  Examine ways to draw closer to God.

Text:  Luke 3:21-22

Scripture Reading:  Acts 4:31

1.  When running a race - The Start and finish are very important
2.  Start of Jesus ministry - (Luke 3:21-22)
	a.  How does Jesus begin his ministry?
	b.  “As he was praying”
3.  Luke mentions Jesus prayer life perhaps more than other Gospels
4.  Reflect on the lessons we can learn

I.  We need to make prayer a lifestyle
	A.  Jesus began, continued, and ended his ministry in prayer
	B.  Overview of times Luke mentions he prayed
		1.  He prayed to give thanks to God
			- (9:16) - A blessing for the loaves and fish
		2.  He prayed when facing challenges
			a.  (6:12) - Night before choosing disciples, prayed all night
			b.  (22:41) - Garden of Gethsemane
			c.  (23:34, 46) - On the cross
		3.  He prayed to draw near to God
			a.  (4:42; 5:16) - Slip away by himself to pray
			b.  (9:28) - Transfiguration, went up to mountain to pray
			c.  At times, wanted alone time with God
		4.  Disciples in Emmaus recognized him.  When?
			- (24:30) - When Jesus blessed bread (prayer)
	C.  Mike talked a whole lot
		1.  Hard to have conversation, he always talking
		2.  Didn’t take long before you could see he a manipulator
			a.  He would want to be your freind, until got what he wanted
			b.  He would dissappear until wanted something more
			c.  Mike was not really interested in you, but himself
		3.  Have you ever known anyone like that in your life?
		4.  May we never be that way in our prayer life to God
	D.  The key to good prayer life is motivation
		1.  (Psalm 73:28) - The nearness of God is my good
			a.  In context, this Psalm about righteous sufferer
			b.  If I not blessed materially, that okay if I near God
		2.  That was motivation of Christ
			a.  He wanted to take time to draw near to God
			b.  Go away for alone time with God
		3.  Some spiritual disciplines along with prayer to draw near
			a.  Solitude - G o away to quiet place away from distractions
			b.  Meditation - Not to “empty” your mind, but to “fill” it
			c.  (Lk 11:24-26) - If empty mind of distractions, must fill it
		4.  The nearness of God should be our motivation

II.  God draws near when we pray
	A.  Text tells us that the Heavens were opened when Jesus prayed
		1.  Spirit descended on Jesus bodily
		2.  God affirms Jesus as God’s son
		3.  (Jas 4:8) - Draw near to God and he will draw near to you
	B.  What happens when God is near
		1.  (Prov 9:10) - Wisdom
			a.  Fear of the Lord parallel to “knowledge” of him
			b.  It is the beginning (head, source) of wisdom
			c.  Wisdom leads to long, successful, quality life
		2.  (Ps 1:1-3) - Fruitfulness
			a.  v.3 - Lit:  “channels” or “canals” of water
			b.  Will be nourished spiritually in world of drought
			c.  Will be lush, green, healthy
		3.  (2 Cor 3:4-6) - Confidence through adequacy
		4.  (Eccl 12:13) - Purpose and fulfillment
	C.  We had cantaloupe in our garden
		1.  Stopped growing, started to whither
		2.  Critters chewed the stem
		3.  (John 15:5) -Can’t fulfill purpose in being fruitful unless attached
	D.  Are you drawing near to God 
		1.  How attached are you to the vine?
		2.  How do you know if you are attached?
			a.  What makes you happy?
			b.  On what do you expend the most energy?
			c.  How often do you pray?  How do you pray?

III.  God empowers us when we pray
	A.  The Holy Spirit descended on him bodily
		- (Lk 4:14) - Started teaching in the power of the Spirit
	B.  There is a connection with empowerment and prayer
		1.  In Acts
			a.  (Acts 2:4) - Similar scene, praying, Spirit comes on them
			b.  (Acts 4:31) - Filled with the Spirit, spoke with boldness
			c.  In Acts, prayer mentioned repeatedly
		2.  (Jas 1:2-5)
			a.  Is this about empowerment?
			b.  The wisdom is for wisdom to deal with trials
			c.  Must ask God for this empowering wisdom
		3.  What it boils down to is trusting faith
		4.  A healthy well rounded prayer life an indication of faith
	C.  1988 Winter Olympics and blind skiers
		1.  They paired with skiers who could see
		2.  The sighted skiiers would shout - left!  right!
		3.  They empowered to ski, but it took total trust
		4.  No in between, you either trust or crash
	D.  We must learn to pray AND follow God’s guidance 
		1.  God will empower us to navigate life, but have to trust him
		2.  God wants us to cross the finish line, but we need to pray
		3.  That means drawing near and doing things his way

1.  We need to have a good start every day - Prayer
	- Sets the tone for the rest of the day
2.  We need to begin, continue, and end everyday with prayer
3.  Our passion should be the nearness of God, who will guide us
	a.  Have you drawn near this morning (invitation)
	b.  What is your motivation for praying? (nearness of God?)
	c.  Do you need to pray this morning?

Questions for Small Group Discussion