What Prayer Is
Sermon read last Sunday (23/4/2017) at CERC Singapore. Originally preached by Rev. Carl Haak….a MUST if you are getting weary in prayer or any of the disciplines of the Christian life.
I find this prayer and it’s answer one of the most remarkable in the Bible, for two reasons: first it’s specificity, Eliezer asks for something quite detailed and specific and second he says it in his heart (v45). This shows that our prayers don’t have to be actually spoken out loud and they can be about the most small, specific or detailed subject in our lives. What a gracious privilege to be God’s covenant friend.
Rev. Ron VanOverloop (Grace Church, Michigan)
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith”
Sung Psalm 1
Readings Ephesians 1:16-19 and 3:14-20 (see also his prayers in Philippians and Colossians)
Generally we pray for folk who are ill or going through trials of some kind and this is right, but Paul after listing all the blessings these saints have, and thanking God for them, focusses his prayer on spiritual blessings namely the knowledge of God, his power and love, the hope of his calling and his inheritance. To know him is to love him and I believe he prays that the mutual indwelling of the covenant Christ in his people is more and more their experience (Gal.2:20, II Cor. 6:16, Col.1:27, John 14:20).
We discussed how a person knows they are predestined/elect and the Canons of Dort are wonderfully clear mentioning “infallible proofs”: (Head 1 Article 12). Notice that our election, our indwelling sinfulness (Head 5 Article 2) and our perseverance (Head 5 Article 12) are all reasons for humility and when we are humble Christ dwells in us!
The tabernacle (also temple)-Old Testament picture of God dwelling with his people. We are now the temple of God!
First these wonderful truths from the Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 9:
Q. 26. What believest thou when thou sayest, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”?
A. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them;1 who likewise upholds and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence2) is, for the sake of Christ His Son, my God and my Father;3 on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt but He will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body;4 and further, that He will make whatever evils He sends upon me, in this valley of tears, turn out to my advantage;5 for He is able to do it, being Almighty God,6 and willing, being a faithful Father.7
- Gen. 1, 2. Psa. 33:6.
- Psa. 115:3. Mat. 10:29. Heb. 1:3. John 5:17.
- John 1:12. Rom. 8:15, 16. Gal. 4:5, 6. Eph. 1:5. 1 John 3:1.
- Psa. 55:22. Mat. 6:26. John 1:16.
- Rom. 8:28.
- Rom. 4:21.
- Rom. 10:12. Mat. 6:26. Mat. 7:9-11.
Requests from Psalm 90:
12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
14 O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.
16 Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.
17 And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.
Thank you for your love through prayer!
In Genesis 32 I believe Jacob wrestled with a pre-incarnate Christ who was confronting his unbelief. Through a vision of angels and a message directly from heaven God had promised to bring him back to the promised land and bless him with innumerable seed, including the Messiah (Gen.28:13-15). The angels were visible confirmation of divine protection and supply.
So why the wrestling? It was wrestling in prayer as Hosea 12:3-4 elucidates. Jacob with tears sought to really lay hold on the promise and have it confirmed by Jehovah himself before he would let go his opponent. In what way was and is God our opponent in prayer? Surely if he has promised to bless us we have no need to persuade him! He is of one mind and who can turn him? Perseverance in prayer is portrayed in the lengthy wrestling match, something Christ advocates clearly in the parable of the widow and judge in Luke 18:3-5 and his admonition in Matthew 7:7. Prayer does not change God’s mind (his decree is eternal) but it does change us! He inspires it in us!
Our real enemies in every aspect of our Christian lives are the world, our flesh and the devil who commands hosts of wicked demons. In this situation Jacob’s major opposition was himself, his old sinful nature that he relied upon to dupe others and gain what he needed from them. Even with his presents of droves of animals for Esau he had no assurance he or his family would live another day as his brother undoubtedly had murderous intent (400 men are not for a peace party!) Christ, who wrestles in us by his Spirit wrestled truly and literally as man to man with Jacob and the proof was that he crippled Joseph with a supernatural touch to his hip joint, dislocating it. So God, in Christ, was prevailed upon to bless him and simultaneously he humbled him physically. The fact Jehovah salvation (Jesus) renamed him Israel meant much. From being a heel-holder (meaning of Jacob) he became a prince (meaning of Israel), the third in the famous line of patriarchs and the one who gave his name to all the Old Testament church and even believers today (Gal.6:16). What we see here is the physical realty of what the Spirit of Christ does in God’s people (Gal.5:17). Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Cor.15:57).
Preserve me—keep me from my enemies and from sin. I trust thee. I can add nothing to thy being but I may do good to thy people (fellow Christians) in whom I delight. All who make an idol in which they trust, whether money, sex, drugs, alcohol, fame or power will have multiplied sorrows. Jehovah is my inheritance, he is all I need, he has blessed my life, he guides me and his Spirit moves me deep within. I pray about everything future. He is there for me continually so I am glad and one day he will redeem my body and make it incorruptible. I am confident he will show me the right path in life. He (and nothing else) is the source of fullness of joy and pleasures for ever (John 15:11, John 16:24).
This is the joy of the COVENANT—intimate friendship with God.
In Hebrews 7:25 we read, “ Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” This is not the first time we read of Christ praying for us viz.,”I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” (John 17:9) and specifically, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32 spoken to Peter). Our on-going salvation depends on the continual intercession of Christ AND our fellow believers viz.,”And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess.5:23). We will be saved but our intercession for one another is one of the MEANS!
E-Bulletin by Rev. Brian Allenby Christians at Work
‘We hope that you have a blessed and restful Easter’
Saturday 26th March 2016
How Often Should We Pray?
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. — Ephesians 6:18
‘They stand best who kneel most’
How is your prayer life? Is prayer a central and significant part of your life, or is it something you only do when you are with other believers? Is prayer a daily discipline for you, or do you mainly pray when you get in trouble? Do you pray when you are home alone, or do you find that you only pray and worship the Lord when you go to be with the church, or are in the presence of other worshipping and praying people?
To pray regularly requires discipline. Unfortunately, most people are “on-again, off-again” when it comes to prayer. They are faithful for a while, but then they fall out of prayer because they are too tired to get up early, or they become distracted by other things.
But, how often are we supposed to pray? Ephesians 6:18 gives us the answer! It says, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
The word “always” is taken from the Greek phrase ?en panti kairœ?. The word ?en ?would be better translated at. The word ?panti ?means each and every. You could say that this word ?panti ?is an all-encompassing word that embraces everything, including the smallest and most minute of details. The last word in this Greek phrase is the word ?kairos?, the Greek word for times or seasons. When all three of these words are used together in one phrase (?en panti kairœ?) as in Ephesians 6:18, they could be more accurately translated at each and every occasion.
Ephesians 6:18 conveys this idea:
“Pray anytime there’s an opportunity — no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Use every occasion, every season, every possible moment to pray….”
This clearly tells us that prayer is not optional for the Christian who is serious about his or her spiritual life. According to this scripture, believers are to make prayer a top priority. Yet, unfortunately, prayer is largely disregarded by the average Christian today.
If prayer isn’t a priority in your life right now, why not make it a priority, starting today? You might say, “But I don’t have time to pray.” You have time to do whatever you really want to do. If it’s truly in your heart to pray, you can find the time. And, if your schedule is as busy as you think it is, take Ephesians 6:18 to heart. Grab any available time you can find, and make it your prayer time. Why not start this day right? Make a quality decision to make prayer your first order of business! Easter is a good time to set yourself right in these matters.
I like the way Paul put the same sentiment over in his letter to the Thessalonian Church, especially the way in which the New Living Translation expresses it, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19:
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.
Thoughts aimed towards heaven turn to prayers-He knows our thoughts! Hence we do not need even set times but they are also vital. You can snack all day but set meals are basic!-JK