Pray without ceasing

Pray without ceasing

It is my experience that many Christians would agree that prayer is an important part of any believer’s life, but do not follow through with a vital, active prayer life themselves. That is like someone agreeing that breathing is important to life, but it’s not a part of their every-day activities. “Yes, breathing is important,” they say, “but it’s just not one of my spiritual gifts. I’m not much good at it.” Yes, we can laugh at such an attitude, but that’s the way some people view prayer.

Pray without ceasing.

Look back through the letters Paul wrote to the early churches. Observe how many times he encourages them to pray; unceasing, vital, life-changing prayers. It is one of the Christian life principles Paul repeats over and over. Surely he is telling us something very important if he repeats it so often.

Jesus and prayer

But what about Jesus? Surely the Son of God wouldn’t need to pray. Surely he was so in tune with his heavenly Father that prayer was superfluous. Wrong. A few years ago, our home Bible study group worked through Mark’s gospel. In the midst of discovering many things through this intensive study, one thing stands out: Jesus prayed – and he prayed often.

Time out with God

Even in the busiest times of ministering to others, Jesus took out time to be alone with his Father and to pray. It appears from Mark’s account that the busier Jesus became, and the more the crowds pressed in on him for healing and teaching, the more he needed to spend time in prayer. Mark records that Jesus would leave them and go up into the hills to pray, often before dawn. If Jesus, who was in constant touch with his Father, found it vital to have an active prayer life, how much more should we pray.

Pray without ceasing.

We are all facing another new year.  Waiting patiently on God’s leading is not easy for those who only want action, or who want things to happen yesterday. I believe that a season of focussed prayer and patient waiting is important to determine future directions, not just individually, but also as a fellowship of believers.

Pray without ceasing.

˄TH

PASTORAL CARE:

For urgent Pastoral Care matters, prayer requests, and other urgent concerns, please contact one of the following:

  • Pastor Grant Spangenberg: 8532 2883 or 0419 848 336
  • Elder Trevor Hampel: 8532 3701 or 0408 839 381 (or use the Contact form above)
  • Elder Ted Smith: 0438 850 270
Photo: Trevor Hampel

Photo: Trevor Hampel

Prayer is Foundational to the Christian

Prayer is absolutely foundational to anything we wish to do as a church.

Our sermon yesterday took the title: “Your prayer life – a Force or Farce?” (You can hear this sermon later this week on our church app.)

In thinking about the discipline of prayer, Donald Bloesch in his book The Struggle of Prayer writes: “The Bible does not prescribe the time or length of prayer, but it does offer guidelines. In Psalm 88 prayer is offered in the early morning (v.13), and in Psalm 55 prayers are said evening, morning and at noon (v.17).

Daniel knelt for devotions three times a day (Daniel 6:10). Jesus prayed before sunrise, (Mark 1:35), and in the evening when the day’s work was over (Mark 6:46). Peter prayed at the third, sixth and ninth hours.

Just as the Christian is not bound to ritual laws that regulate the preparation for prayer, so we are not absolutely bound to set times of prayer. Yet, there are times that are more appropriate for prayer than others: the gathering together for worship, the hours before work and bedtime, the time right before meals, when we need to remind ourselves of the goodness of God. But a Christian should feel free to pray anywhere, anytime, in the midst of daily work and play as well as in the solitude of their room in the early morning or late in the evening.”

Benediction:

May the Almighty and ever-present God Guide, direct and enable your life and witness in this new week before us. Amen.

˄GS

Reminder: all sermons are uploaded to our church app around the middle of each week. The app is completely free.

PASTORAL CARE:

For urgent Pastoral Care matters, prayer requests, and other urgent concerns, please contact one of the following:

  • Pastor Grant Spangenberg: 8532 2883 or 0419 848 336
  • Elder Trevor Hampel: 8532 3701 or 0408 839 381 (or use the Contact form above)
  • Elder Ted Smith: 0438 850 270

    Pray Morning, Noon and in the Evening. (Photo T. Hampel)

    Pray Morning, Noon and in the Evening.                                    (Photo T. Hampel)

The vital importance of prayer

Pray without ceasing

It is my experience that many Christians would agree that prayer is an important part of any believer’s life, but do not follow through with a vital, active prayer life themselves. That is like someone agreeing that breathing is important to life, but it’s not a part of their every-day activities. “Yes, breathing is important,” they say, “but it’s just not one of my spiritual gifts. I’m not much good at it.” Yes, we can laugh at such an attitude, but that’s the way some people view prayer.

Pray without ceasing.

Look back through the letters Paul wrote to the early churches. Observe how many times he encourages them to pray; unceasing, vital, life-changing prayers. It is one of the Christian life principles Paul repeats over and over. Surely he is telling us something very important if he repeats it so often.

Jesus and prayer

But what about Jesus? Surely the Son of God wouldn’t need to pray. Surely he was so in tune with his heavenly Father that prayer was superfluous. Wrong. A few years ago, our home Bible study group worked through Mark’s gospel. In the midst of discovering many things through this intensive study, one thing stands out: Jesus prayed – and he prayed often.

Time out with God

Even in the busiest times of ministering to others, Jesus took out time to be alone with his Father and to pray. It appears from Mark’s account that the busier Jesus became, and the more the crowds pressed in on him for healing and teaching, the more he needed to spend time in prayer. Mark records that Jesus would leave them and go up into the hills to pray, often before dawn. If Jesus, who was in constant touch with his Father, found it vital to have an active prayer life, how much more should we pray.

Pray without ceasing.

We are all facing another new year.  Waiting patiently on God’s leading is not easy for those who only want action, or who want things to happen yesterday. I believe that a season of focussed prayer and patient waiting is important to determine future directions, not just individually, but also as a fellowship of believers.

Pray without ceasing.

˄TH

Photo credit: Trevor Hampel

Photo credit: Trevor Hampel

The Key of the Greater Work

Prayer does not equip us for greater works— prayer is the greater work.

Yet we think of prayer as some commonsense exercise of our higher powers that simply prepares us for God’s work. In the teachings of Jesus Christ, prayer is the working of the miracle of redemption in me, which produces the miracle of redemption in others, through the power of God. The way fruit remains firm is through prayer, but remember that it is prayer based on the agony of Christ in redemption, not on my own agony. We must go to God as His child, because only a child gets his prayers answered; a “wise” man does not (see Matthew 11:25).

Prayer is the battle, and it makes no difference where you are. However God may engineer your circumstances, your duty is to pray. Never allow yourself this thought, “I am of no use where I am,” because you certainly cannot be used where you have not yet been placed. Wherever God has placed you and whatever your circumstances, you should pray, continually offering up prayers to Him. And He promises, “Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do…” (John 14:13). Yet we refuse to pray unless it thrills or excites us, which is the most intense form of spiritual selfishness. We must learn to work according to God’s direction, and He says to pray. “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38).

There is nothing thrilling about a laboring person’s work, but it is the laboring person who makes the ideas of the genius possible. And it is the laboring saint who makes the ideas of his Master possible. When you labor at prayer, from God’s perspective there are always results. What an astonishment it will be to see, once the veil is finally lifted, all the souls that have been reaped by you, simply because you have been in the habit of taking your orders from Jesus Christ.

Extract from My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers (available from our bookshop).

Grandpa’s hands

Related image

I’ll never look at my hands the same!

Grandpa, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench.  He   didn’t move, just sat with his head down staring at his hands.

When I sat down beside him he didn’t acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat, I wondered if he was OK.

Finally, not really wanting to disturb him but wanting to check on him at the same time, I asked him if he was okay. He raised his head and looked at me and smiled. “Yes, I’m fine. Thank you for asking,” he said in a clear strong voice.

“I didn’t mean to disturb you, Grandpa, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were okay,” I explained to him.

“Have you ever looked at your hands,” he asked. “I mean really looked at your hands?”

I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them.   I turned them over, palms up and then palms down.  No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point he was making. Grandpa smiled and related this story:

“Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years.  These hands, though wrinkled, shrivelled, and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life. 

They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent. They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son.

Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special. They trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse and walked my daughter down the aisle.  They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body.

They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw.  And to  this day, when not much of anything else of me  works real  well, these hands hold me up, lay me down,  and  again  continue to fold in prayer. 

These hands are the mark of where I’ve been and the ruggedness of my life. But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ.”   

I will never look at my hands the same again.  But I remember God reached out and took my grandpa’s hands and led him home.

When my hands are hurt or sore I think of Grandpa.  I know he has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God.  I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel His hands upon my face.

When you receive this, say a prayer for the person who sent it to you and watch God’s answer to prayer work in your life.  Let’s continue praying for one another.  Passing this on to anyone you consider a friend will bless you both. Passing this on to one not considered a friend is something Christ would have done.

(Source unknown.)

Pray now and draw on God’s grace

“Grace is the overflowing favor of God, and you can always count on it being available to draw upon as needed.

Prayer is the practice of drawing on the grace of God.

Don’t say, ‘I will endure this until I can get away and pray.’

Pray now–draw on the grace of God in your moment of need.”

Oswald Chambers, from My Utmost for His Highest (available from our bookshop)

Follow The Star

Related image

 

A bright and significant  Christmas symbol is the star. “Follow The Star” is the theme of this morning’s message.

A Christmas hymn the words of which were written in 1976 by Lorraine Clout and sung to the tune of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” has as its final verse, a call to give one’s life to Jesus:

If you would this Christmas Day
Know the Lord, then simply pray,
“Jesus, Saviour cleanse my sin

Take my heart and enter in.”

Would that many people who are not-yet Christian might pray this prayer and have their lives transformed.

Benediction:

I commend you to God and to the word of His grace which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Amen. (Acts 20:32)

˄GS

Prayer Points for this week

  • As we embark on a new church year after last Sunday’s AGM, commit our mission and ministry to God. May He be pleased to work in and with and through us to grow His kingdom.
  • Pray for our newly elected church leaders especially as we set them aside next Sunday.
  • As our guest speaker Bishop Patrick Sookhdeo mentioned last week we ought to be praying that our Australian representatives in Jordan will be especially mindful of Christians seeking a fresh start in our country as they have suffered so much.
  • Malcolm Turnbull is our nation’s 29th Prime Minister. Pray for him as he heads up our government especially thankful that political changes can occur in Australia without violence.
  • Pray for those in our church family who are battling illness of one form or another.
  • Pray for those in our community striving to help families impacted by domestic violence.

˄GS

Praying to God in secret

Praying to God in Secret

The primary thought in the area of [life as a disciple of Christ] is— keep your eyes on God, not on people. Your motivation should not be the desire to be known as a praying person. Find an inner room in which to pray where no one even knows you are praying, shut the door, and talk to God in secret. Have no motivation other than to know your Father in heaven. It is impossible to carry on your life as a disciple without definite times of secret prayer.

When you pray, do not use vain repetitions…” (Matthew 6:7). God does not hear us because we pray earnestly — He hears us solely on the basis of redemption. God is never impressed by our earnestness. Prayer is not simply getting things from God — that is only the most elementary kind of prayer. Prayer is coming into perfect fellowship and oneness with God. If the Son of God has been formed in us through regeneration (see Galatians 4:19), then He will continue to press on beyond our common sense and will change our attitude about the things for which we pray.

Everyone who asks receives…” (Matthew 7:8). We pray religious nonsense without even involving our will, and then we say that God did not answer — but in reality we have never asked for anything. Jesus said, “…you will ask what you desire…” (John 15:7). Asking means that our will must be involved. Whenever Jesus talked about prayer, He spoke with wonderful childlike simplicity. Then we respond with our critical attitude, saying, “Yes, but even Jesus said that we must ask.” But remember that we have to ask things of God that are in keeping with the God whom Jesus Christ revealed.

Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest*

*This book is available from our church bookshop.

utmost_book

 

Spending time with God

 

 

Related image

“The modern world honors intelligence, good looks, confidence, and sophistication.

God, apparently, does not.

To accomplish his work God often relies on simple, uneducated people who don’t know any better than to trust him, and through them wonders happen.

The least gifted person can become a master in prayer, because prayer requires only an intense desire to spend time with God.”

Phillip Yancey in his book  Reaching for the Invisible God


 »