Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 6. Experiencing the power of the cross . No 14:- Dead to Satan (Part 10) Praying in the Spirit 2

. No 14:- Dead to Satan (Part 10) Praying in the Spirit 2

 

EXPERIENCING THE POWER OF THE CROSS


PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT (PART 2)

 

Ephesians 6:18-21 (ESV) 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

Secondly, the variety of prayers.

Ephesians 6:18 (ESV) “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,…”

We saw last week that prayer is communication with God and as we are in an intimate 24/7 relationship with God our prayers should reflect that and we should be praying 24/7 365 days a year. So not only should we pray 24/7 365 days a year, but Paul marches on and says that we should be praying with “all prayer and supplication”.  The Greek word here is  proseuche {pros-yoo-khay'} which simply means ‘all prayers that can be addressed to God’. Now what does that mean? I believe what Paul is saying here that there are a variety of prayers, even though there is one God. And any prayer that is fitting to pray to God needs to be prayed.

 

He gives us this kind of idea in Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Notice again ‘in everything’ which is simply the same as ‘all prayer’.

There is a type of prayer that is not going to give you the peace of God which passes all understanding. I believe many of these prayers are seen in these light-hearted wishy, washy statements we make to one another; like ‘I am praying for you’. If somebody tells you that they are hungry and you have the means to give them a meal, and you simply tell them that you are praying for them, how can the peace of God guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus? If I do that I should actually feel guilty in my mind and betrayed in my heart. It is like being aware of somebody in hospital. Now I am not saying that we all must rush there. But Christian, it is a cop out to ask God to be with that person in hospital. God is already there as He will never leave or forsake us. You know what I believe God says to us. ‘Hey, I am already here with my dear child, where are you? Come and support my child’ I believe we are insulting God by telling God that this particular person is in hospital. He knew it before you knew it.

 

Let me give you another typical prayer. I know many people, who get behind their car steering wheel daily 10 times a day, and they never pray, but as soon as they hit the long road, or go on holiday, then they pray and their prayer is something like this: ‘Lord please keep your hand on the steering wheel’. Sadly they forget to ask God not to speed as well, and to please obey the rules of the road, and they forget to ask Him to control the drunken driver of the other car as well. We prayed before we went on holiday when I was a child in 1969 and we had a major accident where my father nearly died as he landed under the VW Kombi and our whole family ended in hospital. This event did not do my faith a lot of good as I doubted God’s ability to keep His hand on the wheel.

 

Is it wrong to say: ‘I am praying for you’? No, however there needs to be a sentence behind that. Something like ‘I am praying for you, that ……….” There are hundreds of examples in Scripture of the ‘that’ information that will show you how. Is it wrong to pray for a person in hospital? No, you should, but again, pray what makes sense, and what is genuine. Acknowledge God as creator, acknowledge Him as healer, acknowledge that He is there with the person, but that your heart goes out to the person, and pray that God will be glorified in the situation and that His sovereign will would be experienced and honoured, and that He remains a Holy and righteous God in spite of the circumstances.

 

Is it wrong to pray when you drive? No, the whole sermon of last week was based on praying always, 24/7. Again it is the contents. Firstly, be a responsible Christian, and always check that your car is roadworthy. Isn’t that right? It does not help much that you pray and drive with a half flat which then becomes a blow-out. Do we expect God to inflate it on the journey? What about basic Christian discipline like leaving on time and not having to rush, if at all possible? There are basics people, and Christians should shine in that area. Then you remain in fellowship with God and pray from the beginning of the journey to the end, acknowledging that He is always with you, committing yourself to being an obedient lawful driver, then driving in a way that reflects the breastplate of righteousness by continually doing what is right and responsible, not taking chances, and as you lose your temper at other bad drivers, committing that to the Lord. If you then have an accident, you can stand before God without guilt, and say ‘Lord, I have honoured you, now why this has come our way, I do not understand, but I know that your Spirit is interceding for me right now with words that I cannot express, that perfectly reflects the will of the Father, and now Lord I rest in your knowledge and foreknowledge and I pray that your will would be done, and that we would grow through this and glorify you in this.’ Little different than, Lord please keep your hand on the wheel, right?

 

So, we pray always, but then there is a variety of prayers. There are private prayers, public prayers, verbal prayers, silent prayers, planned prayers, unplanned prayers, spontaneous prayers, long prayers, short prayers, conversational prayers, then there are requests, interceding, thanks, confession, commitment, praise, prayers while singing, prayers while standing, prayers while sitting, prayers while kneeling, lying down, lifting your hands, keeping them down, you name it, they are there.

The idea here is that every kind of prayer will express a different emotional attitude of every kind of thinking and every kind of circumstance. I know this does not fully cover it but Paul summarises this issue well for me in 1 Timothy 2:8 (ESV) “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;…” Let’s translate this in the context of last week’s sermon. Because prayer is to the Christian body what skin is to the human body, we never leave it at home, we take it in the car, we take it to work, we take it to the restaurant, we take it to the movies, we take it on holiday, you have it on while watching TV, and even on the sports field.  Wherever you find yourself as a Christian, prayer goes with you, it is part of your defence, it is part of the armour and it is part of your protection, it reflects your God consciousness and the level of your commitment. It’s the kind of living that opens up our resources to the flow of God’s power through us. Prayer happens in all kinds of circumstances whether it is good, bad or indifferent.

Christian prayer is not a quiet time thing, even though you are welcome to have a quiet time, and to have one as long as you want to, but it is an all the time, all kinds of prayers in all kinds of places amongst all kinds of people thing. I like the way Jesus prayed. All the prayers of Christ are not recorded but at times it was in the morning before a major event, at other times after a major event, at times short and at times long. Look at Luke 6:12 (ESV) “In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.” Did Jesus do it always; no He did it in these days. Which days?  Look at the previous verse in Luke 6:11 (ESV) “But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another, what they might do to Jesus.” Even though Jesus was the Son of God and God incarnate, even though He was invincible till His crucifixion, He still did not treat danger as being of no consequence, rather He went to prayer, all night.

There are no limits to when we pray and there are no limits to what we pray.

Thirdly, the manner of prayer.

Ephesians 6:18 (ESV) “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,…”

Paul continues and says we must keep alert with perseverance. In other words, you need to always know what you are praying about.

How many times do we not find that people pray, but they do not have a cooking clue what they are praying, and why they are praying? I grew up in prayer meetings. I knew exactly who was going to pray when and what they were going to pray. Now, I do not doubt the sincerity but I doubt the accuracy. I remember one night that the one person prayed and always like clockwork a particular person would follow, and suddenly in this serious prayer meeting I was to hear: ‘for what we are about to receive make us truly thankful’. I think the person was sleeping and suddenly realised it is his turn and what an embarrassment it ended up to be.

Then you get this prayer that you hear so often: “Lord, bless what’s his name in Africa” and God must now fill in the blanks of what ‘bless’ means and who what’s his name is. Why don’t you rather bless what’s his name in Africa, by sending them an encouraging letter, or a few bucks? This simply means you are not alert, if you do not know what is going on. So be alert, find something to pray about. I love 1 Peter 4:7 (ESV) “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” Very simply, think what you pray and why you are praying, and then put feet to your prayers.

The Greek word for ‘persevere’ means intensive commitment. So watch, see what’s going on and then pray with perseverance. Sometimes when I do not know what to pray, I simply ask God to somehow show His glory in the circumstances, and then I watch to see how God is going to glorify Himself and manifest His Kingdom, and then I praise Him for that.

Most people, I think, don’t pray in a persevering way unless some personal tragedy strikes them. Then they quickly learn how to watch and pray. That really manifests our tendency, doesn’t it, to be selfish. The tendency of man is to not be consumed with the things that consume the heart of Christ or that affect others; we rather get consumed with the things that affect us. God is not there to help you find your wallet, because what do you say to your fellow Christian who lost his and never found it, while you found yours, yet you both prayed. Prayer is not you magic wand, Christian, it is persevering prayer on behalf of those things that are a genuine concern to the heart of God which is – everything that occurs within the framework of His purpose and His Kingdom and that should be the mark of a believer who is mature. We need to learn to watch beyond ourselves. Don’t fool yourself that God holds rain back because you asked Him, to as it was going to spoil you outing or sports event. What about the Christian farmer who is praying for rain because his crops need it?

Fourthly, the indirect object of  prayer.

Ephesians 6:18 (ESV) “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,…”

God is always the direct object of our prayer, but the indirect object of our prayer should be the saints. We pray so that God may be glorified in the Son. John 14:13 (ESV) “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

Now we have seen this in the life of Paul have we not. He always had the saints on his mind. You pray for the saints that by the means of those saints God may display His glory. I love his prayer for the Ephesians church in Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV) “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” This is such a glorious display of God as direct object and the saints as indirect object.

We see this beautifully demonstrated in the life of Epaphras in Colossians 4:12 (ESV) “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.” I love this, Epaphras is not praying for them to be rich, to be healthy, or that God will be with them, or that God will bless them and take care of their needs, BUT that they will be mature and fully assured in all the will of God. If there is something we all need, it is to know the will of God, and people when we know that a lot of things fall into place in our prayer lives.

Our Charismatic friends often accuse us of leaving a backdoor open for unanswered prayer when we say “your will be done.” But is this not how the Lord taught us to pray? Is this not how Epaphras prayed? Is this not how Jesus prayed in His moments of anguish in the garden of Gethsemane, ‘nevertheless not my will, but your will be done?’ Just think what glory it is going to be all round when we pray ‘your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’

So when you want to glorify God as the direct object and the saints as the indirect object, you pray, “God, glorify Yourself by putting Your power on display through your saints, Your grace on display in your saints, Your mercy on display towards your saints, Your wisdom on display over your saints, Your truth on display through your saints by answering this prayer concerning us.” So you pray indirectly for the saints, but directly for the glory of God. This is critical that the direction of our prayers is outside of us.  Praying at all times in all kinds of prayers, all variety of prayers with all alertness and all perseverance for all the saints. This is how the body of Christ operates. The idea here is to be consumed with praying for others, for others, for others and not to be consumed with ‘self’.

This was my big problem with the book that was written a few years ago entitled the prayer of Jabez. Some of you know the author, but that was the most egocentric book under the sun. It was a bad exposition of the text, talk to me if you want to find out more. In it the author claimed that he was running late one day and had to catch a plane, but praise God he prayed the prayer of Jabez that morning and guess what, his plane left half an hour late. What about all the Christians on the flight who wanted to be on time? Do we realise the crooked message this behaviour displays of me and my view of self and my view of God. I wish I had time to go into this, but maybe another day. If this instant prayer worked my friends, the fad would not have died out, right? But it did. The best seller is no longer a best seller. The Christian life is not all about me.

Paul closes this letter with a practical opportunity to put these principles to work when he says in Ephesians 6:19-20 (ESV) and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

Even when Paul requests prayer for himself there is no self-centeredness. What did he want? Prosperity? No. Earthly success? No. Fame? No. Results? No. A ‘get out of jail, free card?’ No. Well, that is what he needed. But, all he wanted was the content of that which would build up the glory of God and the ability to declare it right and boldly. All he says is pray for my utterance and pray for my boldness because the price of me doing this is very high. That’s why I’m in prison. That is the very reason why you ought to pray for your pastors. So, next time I preach nonsense, you are to blame.

Fifthly, the Spirit and prayer.

 

This point has been removed and will be dealt with on the 7th of July as a seperate sermon.



Amen.

Logos Community Church: - 16 June 2013