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Continue steadfastly in prayer…

by | Jan 19, 2011 | JH & HS (Oasis)

Oasis Students & Families,

You are probably aware that Paul wrote almost half of the books in the New Testament (13 of 27, to be exact), and you are also probably aware that Paul repeatedly reminds/instructs the church to be a people devoted to prayer.  For example, he instructs the church at Ephesus to be, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18).  Similarly, he tells the church at Colossae to, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2).  To the church at Thessalonica, he writes, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  And to Timothy, Paul writes, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people” (1 Timothy 4:1).

For most of us, these aren’t shocking statements.  We’ve heard them, and may have even memorized them (at least at some point!).  And the result is that most of us aren’t confused about whether we ought to be engaged in constant prayer.

If we’re honest, most of us are simply disobedient.  We openly neglect this very basic, yet critical spiritual discipline and miss great blessing both for ourselves and for the Church and we fail to enjoy and delight in and glorify our great God to the extent that we otherwise would.  And we (myself included) must repent of our sin of omission (not doing what we should be doing) and devote ourselves to prayer.

So, we (that’s Oasis students and families) are now meeting every Sunday morning in the Oasis at 8:30am to pray together.  But I’m inviting you to a particular kind of praying–prayer that is laser-focused on the exaltation of Christ and that is deeply rooted in and mainly informed by the Word of Christ.

I was reading John Piper’s first sermon after his return from an 8-month sabbatical, and he gave the following commentary on the model prayer found in Matthew 6:5-15 that captures well the way our prayer meetings should look:

There is a correspondence between the content of this prayer and the content of our lives. The big and the little. The glorious and the common. The majestic and the mundane. The lofty and the lowly. . . .

Prayer for Eternity

    • Verse 9: Father, cause your great and holy name to be honored and reverenced and esteemed and treasured above all things everywhere in the world (including my heart).
    • Verse 10: And cause you glorious, sovereign, kingly rule to hold sway without obstruction everywhere in the world (including my heart).
    • Verse 10: And cause your all-wise, all-good, all-just, all-holy will to be done all over this world the way the angels do it perfectly and joyfully in heaven—and make it happen in me.

That’s the breathtaking part of the prayer. And when we pray it, we are caught up into great things, glorious things, global things, eternal things. God wants this to happen. He wants your life to be enlarged like that. Enriched like that. Expanded and ennobled and soaring like that.

Prayer for the Everyday

But then we pray,

    • Verse 11: Father, I am not asking for the bounty of riches. I am asking for bread. Just enough to give me life. I want to live. I want to be healthy, and to have a body and a mind that work. Would you give me what I need for my body and mind?
    • Verse 12: And, Father, I am a sinner and need to be forgiven everyday. I can’t live and flourish with guilt. I will die if I have to bear my guilt every day. I have no desire to hold any grudge. I know I don’t deserve forgiveness, and so I have no right to withhold it from anyone. I let go of all the offenses against me. Please, have mercy upon me and forgive me and let me live in the freedom of your love. And, of course, we know now what Jesus knew when he said this. He knew he would also say of his death: “this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). When we pray for forgiveness, we expect it not merely because God is our Father, but because our Father gave his Son to die in our place.
    • Verse 13: And Father, I don’t want to go on sinning. I’m thankful for forgiveness, but, Father, I don’t want to sin. Please, don’t lead me into the entanglements of overpowering temptation. Deliver me from evil. Guard me from Satan and from all his works and all his ways. Grant me to walk in holiness.
  • That’s the earthy part of the prayer. The mundane, daily, nitty-gritty struggle of the Christian life. We need food and forgiveness and protection from evil.

To read this sermon in its entirety, click here.

I hope you’ll join me in prioritizing intimacy together with our great God, who alone is able to nourish our souls and make glad our hearts.

Wanting to value Jesus more deeply with you,