Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘The Power of Patient, Persistent, and Purposeful Prayer’
© January 31, 2016, by Steve Mickelson
Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #630 (Christ Teaches Prayer – from Luke 11 and John 16); Prayer
Opening Hymn #392: Take Time to Be Holy; Choruses
Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers
Today’s Scriptures: Luke 11:1-13 and Luke 18:1-8
Let us pray…
Good morning and welcome to BLCF Church’s Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service for this, the last Sunday of January. For our lesson today, we will explore the purpose and need for prayer in our Christian walk.
As he ascended into heaven, our Lord instructed his Disciples to become Apostles or messengers of the Gospel. Jesus said to obediently share his Gospel unto the ends of the earth.
If you look at the back of today’s bulletin, you will see a graphic that illustrates of how a believer may best achieve the goal of actively sharing the Lord’s Gospel.
You will note that there is a wheel that encircles a cross, bearing the label “the Obedient Christian in Action”.
At the center of the cross or the hub of the wheel, we find the Lord, as Jesus is the center of our faith. In order to share Christ’s Gospel, we must evangelize or preach the Gospel, by sharing the Word of God, gather together to worship God in fellowship and in faith, drawing closer to God in prayer.
This Action wheel has additional Scripture verses which we may study later to understand how to achieve each aspect of an active ministry in Christ.
Our lesson today will focus on one of these aspects of the Christian Ministry, which is prayer. Prayer is found on the top spoke or the top of cross our wheel illustration.
Today’s lesson has the title, ‘The Power of Patient, Persistent, and Purposeful Prayer’. Besides the obvious use of alliteration, we see that prayer needs to be patient, persistent, and purposeful.
The Apostle Paul implores us to pray without ceasing, as we see in the Scripture passage, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
But what did Paul mean when he said to “pray without ceasing”? We find an answer to the question posted on the site “gotquestions.org”, which is found on the back of today’s bulletin:
Question: “What does it mean to pray without ceasing?” (gotquestions.org)
For Christians, prayer should be like breathing. You do not have to think to breathe because the atmosphere exerts pressure on your lungs and essentially forces you to breathe. That is why it is more difficult to hold your breath than it is to breathe. Similarly, when we are born into the family of God, we enter into a spiritual atmosphere where God’s presence and grace exert pressure, or influence, on our lives. Prayer is the normal response to that pressure. As believers, we have all entered the divine atmosphere to breathe the air of prayer.
Unfortunately, many believers hold their “spiritual breath” for long periods, thinking brief moments with God are sufficient to allow them to survive. But such restricting of their spiritual intake is caused by sinful desires. The fact is that every believer must be continually in the presence of God, constantly breathing in His truths, to be fully functional.
It is easier for Christians to feel secure by presuming on—instead of depending on—God’s grace. Too many believers become satisfied with physical blessings and have little desire for spiritual ones. When programs, methods, and money produce impressive results, there is an inclination to confuse human success with divine blessing. When that happens, passionate longing for God and yearning for His help will be missing. Continual, persistent, incessant prayer is an essential part of Christian living and flows out of humility and dependence on God.
As followers in the resurrected Christ, we must pray as frequently as we breathe the air. Just as breathing sustains our physical life, prayer sustains our spiritual life.
Prayer is multifaceted, having many aspects, which we find illustrated by the second wheel, a prayer wheel, found on the back page of today’s bulletin.
This prayer wheel is drawn to resemble the face of a clock, having 12 elements of prayer, and indicating 12 goals, one for each respective prayer element. Each prayer goal and element has corresponding Scripture verse(s) as an illustration.
When we may see the variety of reasons and goals of prayer, it is not difficult to imagine that the Lord’s Disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, as we see in Luke 11:1-13 (ESV), where the Lord, who had just completed his prayer, answered how they should pray:
The Lord’s Prayer
11 Now Jesus[a] was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread,[b]
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
Jesus followed his prayer with a Parable to help Disciples understand the motives and goals of prayer, as we continue in Luke, Chapter 11:
5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence[c] he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for[d] a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Footnotes: a. Luke 11:1 Greek he b. Luke 11:3 Or our bread for tomorrow c. Luke 11:8 Or persistence e. Luke 11:11 Some manuscripts insert bread, will give him a stone; or if
he asks for
You see that the persistent person asks not for himself, but for something for a friend. And what father could deny a request from a son whom he loves.
Jesus said we are to pray to God, the Father in Heaven, asking persistently and purposely, with the patient expectation, to be answered His child. A “child of God” is loved by the Father, as well as being blessed with the Holy Spirit, by the grace of the Lord, Christ Jesus. We, as His children, only need to ask.
Jesus then tells another Parable of a persistent widow, whose persistent petitions are eventually answered by a judge, who has neither fear of God nor respect for others. We must understand that only the righteous prayer made by a believer, who has faith in God and respect for others, will be answered promptly, as we see in Luke 18:1-8 (ESV):
The Parable of the Persistent Widow
18 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
We see that Jesus concluded the Parable by raising the question: “Will find faith on the day that he returns?” We must understand that only faith in the Son of Man can mitigate the certain judgment to be given to those who have sinned and lack faith and prayer without faith is futile.
The title of this Parable is The Parable of the Persistent Widow. From the perspective that Christ is the bridegroom and the believers, who comprise his Church, are his bride. When the members of the church, the bride, see the groom, Jesus dies, and do not believe that he was resurrected, the bride becomes a widow in faith. Without faith, there is no sanctification, no savior, with no hope of a resurrection. It is only by faith in the groom’s resurrection may the bond of marriage be restored. Without faith in the resurrected Christ, there will be no response, no answer from God, and no hope in justice earned by way of the Lord’s sacrifice.
But Jesus did rise from the dead, walked on the earth for some 40 days, and was seen by several hundred witnesses before he ascended back to heaven.
Unlike the widow in the Parable who pleas for justice from a judge who has no regard for God or others, we have an advocate who loves both His father in Heaven, as well as others. Jesus, the Son of Man, gifts those who believe in him with salvation, sanctification and an advocate in the Holy Spirit. Jesus demonstrates unconditional love for others and trusts in his Heavenly Father by surrendering himself to the judgment on the cross for the sins of humanity.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #434: Sweet Hour of Prayer
Benediction – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18): Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.