His 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?

A prayer for perseverance

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.

The persistent widow

“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.

Will He find faith on the earth?

“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”  (Luke 18:8)  The great danger in all true prayer is discouragement.  Unlike the widow in Jesus’ story,  if the answer is slow to come we are conclude that the Lord, for whatever reason, does not intend to give what we have asked.  Forgetting that God uses time with His people, we give up.  We lose focus.  When did the “answer” come for Joseph?  When did the “answer” come for the Lord who prayed with tears over the city of Jerusalem?  Most of God’s answers are still not clear to us.  Only faith, however, can receive this patient certainty from the Father.  Only faith can continue to ask.  When the Lord returns, will He find such faith on the earth?  Will he find it in our church?  In me? What are those prayers that you believe to be in line with God’s will that you still have not received?

And will He delay long?

“And will He delay long over them?  I tell you the truth that He will bring about justice quickly”  (Luke 18:7-8)  It is a paradox– two mutually exclusive truths that are nevertheless still true.  God delays and God brings justice quickly.  Like water building up against a dam, the prayers of God’s people are often required to accumulate over months and years until they gain the necessary force of God’s own will.  When the dam breaks, it seems sudden, but it really is the product of years and tears.  Jesus never denied that God delays.   He waits until a church is ripened and ready to receive the blessing.  He waits until a person learns the lesson of persevering love.  In quiet determination, true faith continues in prayer until the blessing comes.  Friends, as you pray today, are you convinced that God will not delay one moment longer than is necessary?  Will you continue to pray and trust His timing?

Not losing heart

“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not lose heart”.  (Luke 18:1)  Of all the mysteries of prayer, the need for perseverance is the greatest.  It is hard for us to understand why a God so loving would need to be asked again and again before the answer comes.  Like Abraham who believed “in hope against hope” (Romans 4:18), most of us have situations that show no outward sign of ever being solved.  They look hopeless, but those who believe in God know that they aren’t.  This is when we refuse to “lose heart”.  Today, we begin our 4th month of praying the Lord’s prayer.  Friend, are you still convinced that the Lord is hearing us?  Part of the power (and the mystery) of a relationship with the Father is that patience is required.

He lifted up His eyes to Heaven and said. . .

Today in worship we will read John 17.  I am excited and grateful to teach this passage.  I look forward to seeing you there.   How kind Jesus was to pray in front of His disciples!  Apart from the Savior’s openness, we would know almost nothing about the way to speak to the Father with effective power.  How grateful His prayers were!  Even facing the cross, He is filled with a sense of the Father’s generosity to Him.  How courageous His prayers were, how concerned for others! As we come near today and “listen” to Him pray, I hope His example will have a powerful effect on us all.  If Christ has made it possible for us to live a new life (2 Peter 1:3), then shouldn’t we all, gradually and powerfully, be moving to prayers that sound like His?  As I listen to Jesus pray, I hear His upward call–that I should be like Him.  I will see you in a few hours.

Praying together

We are reading John 17 this week.  We are thinking about the Lord’s Prayer, the second one,  “Father, make them one”.  If we are one, and if our oneness with each other rises from our oneness with Him, then isn’t UNITED PRAYER a logical and powerful obligation of every Christian?  One moment, expressing both realities,  surrendered to God and connected to each other. “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I will be there” says the Lord, but most churches, most christians have little commitment to this Jesus rule of Life.  In the Lord’s Prayer (thank you for praying with me this year, I am grateful for your support) we pray with others mentally, “OUR Father, OUR sins”, then isn’t the NEXT STEP to pray with others physically? Praying together is part of God’s larger design. . .that we would be one. Friend, with whom do you pray?

Make us one

Dear Lord, when you prayed for us in John 17, you asked the Father to make us ONE. One with you.  One with each other.  You promised us power in prayer when we agreed,  in our hearts more than  in our words.  WE pray, today, the same prayer.  We pray for our fellowship, for every small circle, every class, the large body consisting of English, Spanish, Burmese, young, old,single and married, that the walls of pride and sin would come down and that we would be united to you!  Convict of sin, Father.  Challenge and correct us.  Call us to yourself and your mission and your friendship.  Remove selfishness, self-interest and the spirit of the world.  Make us one with you, Lord, and with each other.  That the world may know. . . that all people in our city may hallow thy name! Amen

It shall be done for them

“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.