“If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in Heaven”. (Matthew 18:19) Rather than my words, this morning, I want you to read Andrew Murray’s. “A prayer meeting for maintaining religious fellowship, or seeking personal edification, may have its use, but this was not the Saviour’s purpose in initiating it. He mean’t it as a means of securing special answers to prayer. . .the evidence of true united prayer is fruit, the answer, the receiving of the thing we have asked. . .What a privilege united prayer is, and what power it could be. . .If the coming of the Kingdom and the King, first in the mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit , then in His own glorious person, were matters of ceaseless united crying to God; who can say what blessing might come?” Thank you, dear one, for growing together in this grand and powerful privilege.
When Christians pray, we do so in the Name of Jesus. It is a thought provoking idea. Rather than gathering “at the church” or “at Starbucks”, we gather in or into the Name. Name means reputation or character. It is all that God has revealed about Himself to us–all that we know of Him. To those who understand, it is such a reality that we can meet there! And when we do, He comes too! (Matthew 18:20). This is very similar thinking to Proverbs 18:10, “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runs INTO it and is safe”. Christian, today will you enter into the Name of the Lord? Will you surrender yourself to all that He has revealed Himself to be? Will you remember that others in our city and around the world are doing the same? Gathered in His Name, we find a new power for our prayers.
“If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything they shall ask, it shall be done for them”. (Matthew 18:19) Are you reading John 17? It is the FBC Re Verse passage for this week. It speaks of a profound unity that Christians are to experience with God. We are to be in Him as Christ was in Him. No boundaries, no locked rooms, no independent thoughts. Union! Surrender! Life! The first byproduct will be union with others who are likewise united with Christ. Perhaps that is why Jesus spoke of the power of agreement. Agreement with our brothers doesn’t leverage God to answer our prayers. It is evidence to Him that we are where we are supposed to be, in Him, in fellowship with others who are in Him. Prayer spoken from this position is always answered. As you pray today, will you surrender/repent of every barrier in your soul that keeps you from God. Others will be doing the same!
“Again I say to you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them.” (Matthew 18:19) If the first lesson of prayer is individuality and privacy (do not been seen by men, go into your closet), the second is connection with other people–solidarity and agreement. The bond that unites believers to each other is no less real than the one that unites us to God. Grace renews our love and awareness of our brothers and sisters just as surely as it wakens us to the love and presence of the Spirit. When we pray, “Our Father”, it is more than words. We are thinking about the “others” who also know God and need God. We are representing, the best we can, not our own views and desires, but rather, the needs and desires (and highest thinking) of our family. All together now, let US pray!
Father, forgive us. Before we even say the words, we are depending on Him to do so. The very act of prayer depends on God ‘s pardoning grace. If God dealt with us according to our sins, not one prayer could be heard. (Andrew Murray) Pardon opens the door to all God’s love and blessing–including the privilege of prayer. And when it takes possession of our hearts that we have been forgiven, we extend the same grace to others. Prayer is not a certain frame of mind, an hour of noble thought disconnected from the rest of life. What we say in prayer must be what we do and desire the rest of the day. Friend, are you grateful for God’s forgiveness? Will you let the fact of His forgiveness sink so deep into your heart that you can “live love” toward others–even those who have hurt you?
In the last week of His life, the Lord was standing by a fig tree that had shriveled as a result of His curse. It represented Israel, barren of fruit, dried up and cast away from the purpose of God (for now). Almost without warning, the Lord added this word, “whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in Heaven will also forgive you.” (Mark 11:25) Was He still thinking about the tree? Probably. Jesus knew that nothing in all of life will make us more useless and fruitless than unforgivenss. Nothing will shrivel our spiritual strength faster than hate harbored in the heart. Remember, God’s standard is His own forgiveness, full and free, not half-hearted and grudging. If God is Love dare we pray less? Friend, as you pray today are you loving your enemies?
If we call God “Father”, shouldn’t there be clear indications that we are truly His children? Yes! We ought to be able to point to His discipline. “for God deals with you as sons; for what son is there that the father does not discipline?” (Hebrews 11:7) We should have evidence of His moral influence, a strong family resemblance. “Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children.” (Ephesians 5:1) We should be obedient–especially with regards to other members of our family. (1 Peter 1:22-23) When we call God our Father it must be more than a word choice. It must be an indication of a true relationship! If God is Father then we must be sons and daughters.
When we call God “Father” as Jesus taught us to do , what evidence do we have that it is so? It is a privilege that does not belong to everyone. “We have God as our Father”, said the Jews in John 8:41. Jesus denied it. “Your Father is the Devil” (John 8:44) So, how do we know that we are His children? We look for obvious signs. A true child of God “crys Abba Father” (Romans 8:15) Fervency in prayer (cry) and intimacy in relationship (Abba) are indicators. A true child is “born of the Spirit”. (John 3) He is led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14) and has the witness of the Spirit within himself (Romans 8:16). There are other indications which we will name tomorrow. For today, when you call God “Father” what evidence can you see that you are truly His child?
When you pray, do you EXPECT God to deliver you? When you say the words “Deliver us from evil” (for yourself or for others) do you ANTICIPATE HIS RESCUE from sin or depression or confusion? Paul did. Even in prison, he was confident that his own prayers and those of others would cause God to act in His behalf. “In this I rejoice, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers”. Sometimes, God leaves the problem in place and supplies strength to face it. This is deliverance too. He “spreads a table before me in the presence of my enemies”. (Psalm 23) The problems stay but God invites us to come and sit and eat and rest and find strength for a battle that needs to be fought. When you pray, do you expect God to come to your rescue?
Is it hard for you to forgive? Even knowing that it is a prayer requirement of Christ, does it grate on you to let someone off “scott free” after you have been hurt? It may help to remember the promise of God. “Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, ‘I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it” says the Lord”. (Romans 12:19) To release the right to repay those who wound us is a Christ-like action. “Christ did not retaliate when He was insulted. When He suffered, He did not threaten to get even. He left His case in the hands of God who always judges fairly.” (1 Peter 2:23) As you pray today, will you do what He did?