Tomorrow begins Holy Week. My heart is filled with hope for this week and it’s impact on our lives. I am praying for every member of our congregation as we prepare for Easter Sunday. I will use this blog this coming week to focus our attention on Christ as He moves toward the cross. It will be a “prayer rich” exercise. We will hear the Lord pray in the upper room.(John 17) We will watch Him pray in the Garden of Gethsemane.(Mark 14) We will listen as He prays on the cross, “Father forgive them”(Luke 23) and “My God why have you forsaken me?”(Mark 15) and “Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit”(Luke 23). Years before, when the disciples first asked Jesus to teach them to pray(Luke 11), it was because they saw Him pray and sensed the power of it. How much more should the prayers of Christ in His last week inspire us. Lord teach us to pray! Help us to learn by watching You!
“For real business at the mercy seat, give me a homemade prayer, a prayer that comes out of the deeps of the heart, not because I invented it, but because God the Holy Spirit put it there and gave it such living force that I could not help letting it come out. Though your words are broken and your sentences disconnected, if your desires are earnest, if they are like coals of juniper burning with a vehement flame, God will not mind how they find expression. If you have not words, perhaps you will pray better without them than with them. There are prayers that break the backs of words; they are too heavy for any human language to carry.” A good reminder that saying the words of the Lord is no substitute for learning the heart of the Lord. Thanks Wade Andrews!
“He always lives to make intercession” (Hebrews 7:25) It is something we should remember every time we sing “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow”. The ongoing life of Christ is now spent in intercession. The whole work of redemption has now passed into prayer. What occupies the Lord is to maintain and dispense what He purchased with His blood. The courage that God pours out on us is in answer to His prayer. And He has invited us, His people, to be fellow-workers in this Godly task.–not just recepients but participants. Sharing His life, we also share His work. Lord, teach us to pray. So fill us with your compassion for the world and your faith in God that we join you-not just at the level of your words, but at the level of your heart. You are “with us” as Immanuel. You are “for us” as Mediator. You are “in us” in the person of the Holy Spirit. May we be “with” and “for” and “in” you as we pray.
“If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7) There are not two separate streams of prayer rising up to the Father, one from the Risen Christ and one from His people. It is ONE stream. Our life-union with Him guarantees our prayer-union. (Andrew Murray) As we remain in Christ, as we obey Him and reflect on His word, we come to KNOW HIM and what He is desiring from the Father, both for us and for the world. As the Intercessor lives in us, we begin to voice His concerns rather than our own. When the Lord gave us the Lord’s prayer, He was teaching us the words and ideas of prayer. How much better will we pray, and with more confidence, when we have not only His words but His very life to guide us forward! If you ABIDE in me. . .ASK!
“He is able to save to the uttermost. . .because He ever liveth to make intercession for them”. (Hebrews 7:25) It is an amazing idea– Christ alive and praying for us. At the Ascension, the Lord rose to the right hand of the Father where, even now, He is occupied in completing the work of salvation by means of prayer. “Uttermost” means full extent of time and effect. The prayer work of Christ is to press the full effect of salvation into every area of our lives. While we benefit from this work, we also participate in it. In John 16, the Lord says that His entrance into the work of eternal intercession will be the commencement of a new prayer life for us! Little did the disciples know, when they asked the Lord to teach them to pray, that He would answer their request by sending His Spirit, His presence into their hearts. As He prays, we are led to join Him. We share His life and His work of intercession.
“But I have prayed for you that your faith not fail”. (Luke 22:32) We should be grateful for Peter. Much of the grace of God to us is illustrated by the Lord’s gentle, patient love for His “most human” of friends. Consider the assurance that comes from the words, “I have prayed for you”– not only for Peter but also for us! ” He ever liveth to make intercession for us.” (Hebrew 7:25) Our spiritual success is part of the Lord’s vision of victory! He is counting on us. We are not expendible in His plan. He intends for us to succeed, even if He must often perform “search and rescue” when we have wandered away. Today as you pray, will you imagine the Master praying with you and for you? Friend, how confident would you be if you KNEW that He was praying for you?
“In that day you will ask in My Name.” (John 16:26) Jesus could see the future. As He neared the cross and the end of His earthly life, He could see clearly the day that would come as a result. (BTW, tonight at Time for Teaching, we will talk about the future that Jesus saw) Prayer was a part of His future vision. Powerful prayer. Persistent prayer. A spiritual church awake and aware of a new power–to ask in His Name, to accomplish things that would otherwise be impossible. Like a bride with a new name and a new authority for acting in the community, Jesus could see the church serving in the world with confident power! Friends, we are living in this moment! Let us learn to use the privilege that Jesus purchased for us! Lord, teach us to pray. Teach us to pray in your name.
“Whatsoever you ask in my name, that will I do.” (John 14:13) Christians have to learn to pray. We cannot follow our own instincts or desires when we approach the Father–not if we expect to experience His power and approval. “The use of a person’s name supposes a mutual trust. . .No one would give another the free use of his name without being first assured that his honor and interests would be as safe with that person as with himself.” (Andrew Murray) When Christ gave us His name for use in prayer, He was trusting us to use prayer as He taught us, for the purposes He taught us. He assumes that we have surrendered our own interests to Him whom we now represent. Today, as you pray, will you serve and safeguard His honor and interests? Will you pray in HIS name?
Father, you say that your elect “cry out day and night”. Teach me to understand this. You know how quickly I get discouraged and distracted. Lead me to be steady in prayer, as steady as you were in the days of your life. Teach me the true labor of prayer, the true privilege of it. When answers are slow to come, fill me with the assurance that you will not delay one moment longer than is necessary. Remind me again and again that I do not believe in prayer, I believe in YOU! Hear me today as I pray for your Kingdom and your will, for forgiveness and the power to give it to others, for daily bread and for leadership and protection–not just for myself but for those that I love and those that you love. Keep me strong, Lord, there is work to do! In Jesus’ Name, amen.
“There was a widow in that city, and she KEPT COMING to him”. (Luke 18:3) Remember the story? It was the Lord’s illustration of persistent prayer. Eventually the unrighteous judge gives her what she was asking, just to get rid of her! You are the widow in this story! Like her, you are at the mercy of your adversaries until you remember your true power, to ask and not stop. Friends, when the Church of Jesus Christ learns this lesson, we will discover our true power for service. When we “cry day and night”, asking God to visit us with His power, when we KEEP COMING to Him with the request to fill our hearts and our churches with His presence and power, then we will become what God intended. It is NOT stubbornness to pray this way. It is faith.