SSBG

A worldview is a set of claims that purport to be based on ultimate reality.

The Sufficiency of Christ

Posted by ssbg on January 20, 2006

 

 Colossians 4:2 


by J. David Hoke
 

2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  (Colossians 4:2 NIV) 

Everybody prays. I really have a sneaking suspicion that even atheists pray. Whenever you’re in trouble, or in a crisis, whenever all hell is breaking loose around you, even an atheist probably throws up a prayer just in case he or she is wrong. Everybody prays. 

Non-believers pray many times out of desperation, with a hope that something might happen as a result. They’re not really sure that anything is going to happen, but just in case, they probably ought to pray. So they pray whenever they’re in a bind. They pray whenever they’re facing a challenge, whenever they’re facing a hard situation at home or at work, or whenever they’re having a personal crisis. They want help. And if God is willing to help them, they’re willing to receive that help. 

So everyone knows something about prayer. In fact, a Gallup survey revealed that a majority of the people in this country say they pray on a regular basis. That includes people who don’t even profess to be Christians. 

But now, we Christians really know about prayer, don’t we? We know the power of God. We know Jesus Christ. We know the provision of God. We know that when we pray things begin to happen. We know what the Bible says about the importance of prayer. And you would think knowing what we know about the power of prayer, the efficacy of prayer, and the power of Christ, that we would be praying and seeking God much more than we do. But, the sad reality of the fact is, we don’t. I know I’ve found myself disappointed that I don’t find myself praying like I should. 

What about you? Why don’t you pray more? There are a thousand reasons why. And one reason is as good as another when you don’t want to do something. I remember an old story of the guy who was out fishing on Sunday morning with his friend. He was on the lake in the boat Bass fishing. And they were having a good time for a while until one of the guys said to the other, “I’m starting to feel a little guilty. Here we are out on a Sunday morning when I’m normally in church and I’m feeling guilty because I should be in church.” His friend said, “Oh don’t worry about that! I don’t feel guilty. As a matter of fact, if I wasn’t fishing this morning I couldn’t go to church anyway.” His guilty friend asked why, and the guiltless friend replied, “Because my wife’s sick!” You see, when you need an excuse, any excuse will do! 

We’re busy people. We don’t have time to pray. But are we busier than Jesus at the height of his ministry, ministering to multiplied thousands of people every single day? Yet he found time to pray. No, he made time to pray. I don’t mean that he created more time. But he slipped away, sometimes a great while before daylight and found a quiet place to pray. He was always doing that. Jesus was a man of prayer, as strange as that may sound to you. Think about it. Why would Jesus need to pray? I have lots of stuff to pray about. I have sins I need to confess, don’t you? I have problems in my life that I’m facing. I need wisdom. But why would Jesus need to pray for that? Did Jesus have sins to confess? No, he didn’t have any sins to confess. Jesus was perfectly perfect. He was perfectly holy in word, thought, and deed. He was holy. Yet, Jesus had the desire and need to pray, and he prayed a lot, sometimes spending the entire night in prayer. How many entire nights have you spent in prayer? If Jesus needed to pray that much, doesn’t it tell us that we need to pray even more? 

Prayer is a Life Priority! 

  

  

Prayer is so vital. Prayer is a life priority. It connects me with God and it connects me with God’s provision for my life. The great preacher, Robert Murray McCheyne once wrote, “What a man is on his knees before God, that he is, and nothing more.” That is a very powerful statement. It could also apply to the church. It could be easily altered to say, “What a church is on its knees before God, that it is, and nothing more.” 

Jesus said it in a different way. He said, “My house shall be called a house of… entertainment.” No? “My house shall be called a house of… preaching.” That’s better isn’t it? “My house shall be called a house of… worship.” He didn’t even say that. He said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer.” But we’ve made it a house of everything else but prayer. 

Samuel Chadwick said, “The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” That’s good stuff isn’t it? It’s true! I believe it’s true. Andrew Murray said, “The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.” Charles Spurgeon said, “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.” And Spurgeon believed in preaching! 

Prayer is so important that we must make prayer a life priority. We’re told in the book of James, “You have not because you ask not.” I sometimes wonder what I would have if I had only asked. I’ve often found myself grumbling to God about what I want to happen or see accomplished, and I have actually heard God say to me, “Why don’t you ask me?” I’ve actually sensed the rebuke of God saying, “Well son, why don’t you just ask me for it. You’re grumbling about it, but you’ve never asked me for it.” I wonder how much we have missed out on because we have never asked God for it? What do we “have not” because we have “asked not”

Well, you say, “God know all things. He knows everything I think and desire. Why should I have to ask for everything? But if you follow that logic, you’d never pray. God knows everything you want before you ask, but he wants us to ask! Jesus prayed and Jesus taught his disciples to pray. You see, prayer is not to inform God of something he already knows, prayer is for our sake –– to do something in our lives that we need. And I’m not talking about getting the thing for which we pray. I’m talking about something more than that. I’m talking about God doing a spiritual work of transformation in our hearts and minds. That’s what prayer does for us. 

The very act of praying –– the very discipline of praying allows God to work in our lives in ways that he could not do otherwise. It connects us with him. It tunes us to the right frequency. Remember the old dial radios where you would turn the dial to the appropriate setting in order to receive the strongest signal? You had to play with it a little bit. You would get to the station and go a little past it and then back up a little, continuing to tweak it a little until you got the very best reception. That’s what God is doing for us in prayer. He’s dialing us in. Through the process of prayer we learn how to connect to God. We learn how to hear God’s voice. We learn how to listen. We learn how to respond when he speaks. We learn how to be more like Jesus because he responds to us as we are praying. He speaks to our hearts. Prayer is for us. It’s not for God. It’s not to inform him of something he already knows. It’s for us. 

In Luke 11:9-10 Jesus gives us these words, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” This is an interesting passage. The verbs indicate a persistent coming to God. We are to ask, and to keep on asking. We are to seek, and keep on seeking. We are to knock, and to keep on knocking. They also indicate an increasing sincerity and commitment to seeing our prayers answered. To ask is one thing, but to seek implies greater effort. And to knock implies even greater persistence. God honors persistent prayer. Jesus gave another example of persistent prayer in Luke 18: 

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)  

  

  

  

God’s not unjust. As his people come to him persistently day and night, continually holding their needs before him, don’t you think God will be quick to answer these needs? Yet I wonder if he will find people who have the kind of faith that keeps praying? You see, God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the time frame in which we want them answered. But there are only two conditions that signal that you need to quit praying. One is if he says yes. You pray and you get it. The second condition is if he says no. Then you can quit. But if he says wait, you don’t quit do you? If he says not yet, you don’t quit do you? Keep praying unless you get a yes or a no! Jesus wondered aloud whether he would find people with that persistence, that kind of faith when he returned. 

Prayer is Spiritual Warfare! 

  

  

Our lives need to be filled with prayer because prayer is like the air we breathe. When we pray, we are doing the very thing that keeps us alive in Christ. But you know what else we are doing? We are engaging in spiritual warfare. We are told not only to devote ourselves to prayer, but also to be watchful. Why should you do that? Because there is an adversary who roams around like a roaring lion seeking to destroy everything God is doing. One of the things that happens when we pray is that we are engaging the enemy in order to defeat him. 

We are calling on God to do something in the spiritual realm that will enable his Spirit to do something here in the visible realm. We are doing warfare in the unseen realm so that we can see the blessing of God in the visible realm. That’s spiritual warfare. 

For some strange reason, God ties the accomplishing of His will to His people’s willingness to pray. This fact is underscored in Ezekiel 22:30, where we find God getting ready to destroy the land because of the evil people in it. He makes this statement, “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.” Sometimes God’s purposes are not accomplished because His people will not pray. 

Do you want to be a gap stander? Do you want to stand with God on behalf of his purposes and call on God to heal the land. Isn’t that what he said in 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people who are called by my name would humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” When we start to pray, God starts to act. Do you want to see revival? How’s it going to come? It will only come as we pray. 

The great Bible teacher R. A. Torrey, an associate of D. L Moody and President of Moody Bible Institute, said this about the place of prayer in revival: 

I can give a prescription that will bring revival — revival to any church, or community, or any city on earth. First: Let a few Christians get thoroughly right with God. If this is not done, the rest will come to nothing. Second: Let them bind themselves together to pray for revival until God opens the windows of heaven and comes down. Third: Let them put themselves at the disposal of God for His use as He sees fit in winning others to Christ. That is all. I have given this prescription around the world and in no instance has it failed. It cannot fail. 

  

  

Let me share a passage from Isaiah. In the New International Version it reads: 

I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth. Isaiah 62:6-7 (NIV) 

  

  

Now let me read it to you in the New American Standard: 

On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the Lord; take no rest for yourselves, and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Isaiah 62:6-7 (NASB) 

  

  

The New International translates a phrase as, “you who call upon the Lord” that more accurately is translated, “you who remind the Lord.” Remind him of what? Remind him of his promises. Remind him of his goodness. Remind him of his mercy. Remind him of his love for people. Why do I need to remind God of all of that? Surely he doesn’t need to be reminded by me. No, he doesn’t. But what you’re doing is not just reminding the Lord, you’re reminding yourself. You’re remembering who God is when you pray by recounting his promises. You’re reminding yourself of who God is. You’re quoting his promises back to him because it builds your faith in God. It shows you that God wants to do something. You are like watchmen standing on the wall. Why did watchmen stand on the wall back then? Watchmen stood on the wall to watch out for the enemy. Those watchmen were the first line of defense. They were doing warfare, and that’s what we’re called to do in prayer. You who remind the Lord. You who pray. Don’t you rest and don’t you take any rest until God accomplishes everything that God wants to do in our midst. If we see spiritual anemia in ourselves, then we need to inject ourselves with a good dose of prayer. That’s the solution for spiritual anemia. 

The devil will come along and tell you get up and quit praying. He does this to me all the time. “Get up. You’re not doing anything. You’re praying. You need to do some work. Get up and do some work.” He wants to cast prayer as if it were a waste of time. But it’s not a waste of time. It is the work we need to be doing. And it is work too. It’s work to stay on your knees. It’s work to keep your mind focused. It’s work to pray through a list of people that you’ve been praying for a long time. But it’s worth it. God will answer those prayers. 

Prayer is Personal Praise! 

  

  

Prayer is also personal praise. Devote yourself to prayer. Be watchful, engage in spiritual warfare, and be thankful. Thank God at the end of it all for what he’s going to do in advance. Thank him in advance for all he’s going to do, because he’s going to do it. Prayer is personal praise to God for what he’s going to do. Thanksgiving is the expression of your faith in God’s goodness. 

Let me close with this from Alfred Lord Tennyson: 

More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friends? 

  

  

What are you better than a sheep or a goat if, knowing what you know, you don’t lift your hands in prayer and pray for yourself and others? Don’t be a goat. Seek God. Hold your pastor up before God. Hold your spouse up before God. Hold your children up before God. Hold this church up before God. Hold the lost people in this community up before God. And begin to thank him in advance for what he is going to do in our midst. And don’t quit praying and praising God until he accomplishes everything he desires to do here. Don’t quit praying and praising until he makes his people, his church, a praise in the earth. 

May God be glorified in this place! May his kingdom come, his will be done, here, as it is in heaven. So be it Lord. Just speak the word and it will be so. And thank you, Lord, in advance. Amen.  


Copyright © 2002 J. David Hoke. This data file is the sole property of the copyright holder and may be copied only in its entirety for circulation freely without charge. All copies of this data file must contain the above copyright notice.  

  

  

  

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: