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August 24, 2022 4:00 am
All of us spiritual battle but as believers we haven't been left to fight off the attacks of the evil one on our own. Christians have been given crucial weaponry to protect ourselves from the devil. Unfortunately, we often leave one piece of battle gear behind today on Truth for Life. Alister Greg explains the importance of this necessary weapon in the book of Ephesians chapter 6 looking at first of you been looking together at this section of Ephesians 6 and particularly the matter of spiritual warfare and now this morning here in the 18th verse. We look together at what spirit of God places in our hands as weaponry against the evil one, namely, prayer, 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, and will go on later in our studies to be struck I think by the remarkable fact that Paulo though he is a model if you like of spiritual prayer fullness is himself asking for the prayers of those to whom he writes I want you to pray for me.
Also, he sets now before we actually come to consider this comprehensive call for you will notice that there are four walls here, which help us praying at all times, with all prayer alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints before we look to that. I want us first of all to acknowledge that there are some, perhaps many aspects of prayer that we do not understand. I want to consider this morning just under three words in the first word is the word mystery mystery. If you go to the New Testament John chapter 11 and the raising of Lazarus are quite remarkable little incident for all kinds of reasons we see that God not only ordains the end, but he obtains the mean to the end.
Chris rash has been a great help to me in this. John 11 Jesus is deeply moved. At the death of his friend Lazarus God the father has chosen to raise Lazarus in answer to Jesus prayer and you will notice that Jesus when he prays, speaks out loud and he says father I know that you hear me I know that you always hear me, but I only said this so that those who live around me here will understand exactly what is going on. That's at the end of 41 and the beginning of 42 I thank you that you've heard me. I knew that you always hear me. I said this on account of the people standing around so that they may believe that you sent me, and when he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, and so God the father chose to raise Lazarus. In answer to Jesus prayer and in no other way. Had Jesus not prayed for Lazarus to be raised. The father would not have raised for God hundred in the end, namely, the raising of Lazarus and the means to that end, namely the prayers of his son is not sure seems mysterious, doesn't the course of this, of course of this, consider God's eternal purpose. Ephesians begins with the eternal purpose of God. The electing love of God from eternity says I have planned to save people to put together a company that nobody can number which we finally see in in his fulfillment prophetically in Revelation chapter 7 and now here is this great company from every tribe and nation language and people and time that is God's eternal purpose.
How is he achieve that purpose.
How do the prayers of the people of God intersect with up is he simply going to have that company that no one can number irrespective of anything else. No.
Otherwise, why would Jesus said to his followers pray.
Therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he might send out laborers into his harvest so that the prayers of God's people that are then raising up the servants of God who are then declaring the word of God in the healing of those whom God is made is the means whereby God fulfills his purpose from all of eternity to other people that are his very own. This is a mystery.
I don't know all the answers to all my questions about prayer and I never will until I'm finally in the position where prayer is no longer necessary. On that day. We will know even as we are no so because something is a mystery.
It doesn't mean that it is to be neglected in actual fact, although much of this is beyond our comprehension. Prayer is also an absolute necessity. So it's a mystery. Secondly, it's a necessity.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God and our prayers are and exercise are an expression of our faith. Using when you hear people talking about faith in generic terms of what you hear people talk about prayer. You have to hear that, in light of what the Bible says that there is one mediator between God and man. And that is the man Christ Jesus, so that God the father hears the prayers offered in Jesus name through the merits of Christ quickened and enabled by the Holy Spirit and one of the great expressions of the fact that a man or woman is now in Christ is that he actually pray they both listen to God and his word and he talked to God in prayer. They may have specific times. They should we shoot they may enter berries very ongoing way throughout the day acknowledge his presence and so on. It is a remarkable thing is I I've told you in the past. I know I have a vivid imagination, but I sometimes imagine what it would be like to have keys to have access to Buckingham Palace or or or not just to have a car that got me in, but Maybe Dr., Queen Elizabeth's mobile number so that I could call her Queen Elizabeth, your Majesty may ask your opinion on this. You have a comment on that.
How amazing would it be is if as she got ready to to hang up. She said Alister call me anytime. Wow, if I could do that I come in here and I could impress you, not just imagining it.
But telling you it's actually happened. Look look here, you would say what a person of influence. How amazing to make such contact with such power and such might love ones that pales before overseeing here. What a friend we have in Jesus all our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer or in the words of another hymn writer yet all who know the worth of prayer will long to be more often there is a how important it is that we don't allow the mystery the tires out.
Why must you need to know to go to your father and ask him for some, that is your father that he loves you that he hears you and is happy to provide for you. That's all you need to know in the same way in a remarkable way.
The necessity of prayer removes it from the realm of luxury.
It is a privilege, but it is not a luxury. One of the ways to handle these kind of questions I find is to ask myself over certain area.
How does this function in the life of Christ would be an overstatement for us to say that Jesus understood the necessity of prayer. You see, it makes perfect sense because there is every other aspect of the Christian life depends upon prayer is why when we've done these pieces of the armor would be in keeping in mind the phrase from the him again put on the gospel armor. Each piece put on with prayer so that every dimension of our life's is dependent upon our prayers is a necessity. Well you can do your own study.
I'll just get you started, but I'm suggesting to you that Jesus understood perfectly prayer to be a necessity beginning of March gospel. Mark one and read and rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark.
He departed and went out to a desolate place and there he prayed while Jesus got up early in the morning to pray, didn't he know what his father was planning to do. Yes, John 17 in his high priestly prayer. He lifted up his eyes to heaven, and he said father holy father keep them in your name, righteous father, even though the world doesn't know you.
I know you amazingly in the garden of Gethsemane and he withdrew from the disciples about a stones throw, and knelt down and prayed saying father if you are willing, remove this cup from me.
Tell me that you're not there in the realm of both mystery and necessity. Yes, you are the writer to the Hebrews summarizes it perfectly for us during the days of Jesus life on earth.
He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death. Surely it cannot be that prayer was a necessity for Jesus and simply an unexplored activity for me a necessity for Christ and an option for me canopy. The third word in the final word is the word activity activity. There is something that is taking place here.
This is not some kind of emotional die mention of the all souls are going to make that clear to us when we come to the that covers if you like the fort of our print we need to end by focusing on the how of our pray and we have something of that in this little phrase in the spirit, praying at all times in the spirit. Now, instead of viewing this as a certain way to pray as one option amongst many. I think we would be better to think of it as the only way to pray.
If you look around if you check in different places.
You will find that people of all kinds of ideas on this.
Someone to tie it to first Corinthians 12 and the notion of speaking in tongues and so on.
It's not for ours now to enter into a debate concerning these things suffices to say I do not believe that that is what Paul is talking about here. Your sensible people consider these things, know it is to pray in the spirit. It is the only way to pray in the sense you remember in John chapter 4 where Jesus is talking with the lady at the well and in the course of their dialogue that the issue is raised about get Azeem and Jerusalem as a place of public worship and remember Jesus as the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth and what is Jesus mean by that.
It is quite common for people to suggest what Jesus is saying there is this anyone can worship anywhere, just as long as they are sincere, but he's not saying that what he is saying is this, that only those who receive the Holy Spirit can worship God at all. It is only in the spirit by spirit through the spirit that both worship and prayer is a constituent part of worship then takes place. If you add to that what Paul says concerning our union with Christ in Romans chapter 8 in a wonderful helpful chapter in this regard. I think you will begin to follow along with me. Romans chapter 8 and a verse six to set the mind on the flesh is death to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace for the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God. It doesn't submit to God's law.
It it cannot those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Verse nine you, however, are not in the flash but in the spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not of the spirit of Christ does not belong to him. What Paul is teaching their is that our adoption into God's family, and he uses this phraseology down there and what verse 15 you didn't receive the spirit of slavery receive the spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry, Abba father. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. This is what happens to is in Christ, so that we are not trying to engage with a deity that is up and out and beyond and who knows where. But we are actually in our very being saying father you are my father. I can call upon you today because you have adopted me as your child, you have placed your spirit within me and it is because you have come and done this for me and made me your own that I may approach you in this way what it was saying were saying this, that our adoption into the family of God is the foundation of our prayer and is the basis for our asking one of the reasons that unbelievers, although they may call out to God and never call him father. You never hear a nonbeliever referring to God as father, except perhaps in a perfunctory working of the Lord's prayer but in terms of personal discourse. No, it is unique to the belief other religions do not address God in that way. Why because they do not know God as he has revealed himself saving me in the person of Jesus and Jesus is the one who use this is the very basis of his encouragement to them. He says if you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask his argument from the lesser to the greater so another words, what are what we say receive at least this that this prayer then, is not mechanical. Rather, it is spiritual. My old boss and a wonderful sentence sounds out an amazing challenge. He says as my pulse is one of the primary indications of my physical life so my praying is one of the principal proofs of my spiritual life is. My pulse is one of the key indication of my physical life so my praying is one of the primary proofs of my spiritual life is your challenge and that it is now your taking cookies over your grandmother and putting a rug over her knees is not me standing up your preaching is no whatever else it is that we like to think we can take credit for. No, he says, the real issue is the prayers. What a challenge. Our ultimate position as Christians is tested by the character of our prayer life.
Let's broaden our ultimate position as a church is tested by the character of our prayer life. Czeslaw Jones of all my knowledge of God does not lead to prayer.
There is something wrong somewhere. Even the putting on of the armor. I understand about righteousness. I understand about the shoes I understand merit. What is all that knowledge mean to you back.
If you find that you bow your knees more before the father in relationship to this paid more for the concerns of the congregation for the needs of our society for the tragic circumstances of an immoral world in which we live.
We need to draw to a close, but instead of viewing this, then, in the spirit instead of viewing it as something ecstatic and emotional as we might be tempted to do. I suggest to you where to think of it as something very basic and very spiritual in this that to pray in the spirit is to be prompted enabled and guided by the word of God, the way it appears here in English, you will notice it doesn't start with the spirit and then go to prayer.
The picture is not of waiting for the enabling of the Spirit in order that we might pray, but it is rather praying and discovering his assistance as we do so we have to tie this back to 518 being filled with the Holy Spirit, with Colossians 316 where the word of Christ in the filling of the spirit works in us richly so that in this way, our prayers are both fueled by the outpouring of the Spirit and framed by the word of God says Calvin were not to ask God for more than he allows for, even though he bids us pour out our hearts before him, he still does not slacken the rains to stupid and wicked emotions. Praying in the spirit we ask God for what we know is pleasing to him, and for the things he has promised to do. Again, if you argue from the lesser to the greater make sense. That's why Jesus says, which if you if his son asks for a fish would give him a stone.
I would give them a certain one final observation. Let's tie this in with praying in Jesus name's one of the other questions that always emerges.
Why is it that we see in Jesus name.
Why is it we pray for Jesus sake, what we actually doing when we say that it is just the sort of little formulae. A nice way to close things off. Is it a sort of magical code that you tack it onto the end of your prayers and if you say it and you pretty well guarantee success while summarizing me feel so but no it's not a tall, to pray in Jesus name is to be in the spirit to be in the spirit is to be trusting the Lord Jesus saving work as the sole ground of our access to God the hymn writers got it perfectly well.
Approach my soul, the mercy seat where Jesus answers prayer and humbly fall before his feet for none can perish there.
Your promise is my only plea to you alone. I cry for burden souls in you are free and searchable Lord by the country and with our burdens, their fears, their failures with our expectations with our hopes and our dreams become terms, a father by the Holy Spirit in the name of your dearly beloved son, I ask you, would you give me good gifts to pour out your spirit upon me. Would you pour out your spirit upon our church would you honor the prayer of the followers of Jesus as we make it our all Lord, teach us to pray, looking at the mystery the necessity in the activity today. Alister Greg has been challenging each one of us to become people who pray as God the this is true for life with another encore 2022 message from Alister Greg.
The more we understand who God is and what he's done for his people more natural it becomes for us to pray to him and trust in his promises. That's one of the reasons why we teach the Bible and only the Bible every day here on Truth for Life.
It's also why we recommend a book titled God is a devotional guide to the attributes of God as you read this book you will find it easier to pray to a God who is among other things, good patient, merciful and wise. The author shows us how these characteristics are revealed in Jesus and he also gives us practical suggestions for how we can apply this knowledge to our everyday lives. Request a copy of the book God is when you give a donation today. The picture in the app or visit us online at truthforlife.org/donate course you can always call us if you'd like. Her number is 888588788 Bob Lapine thanks for joining us today.
Most people would agree we live in a fallen world of broken and there's a lot of debate about how to fix the real question is, is there a solution that works.
Join us tomorrow to find out the Bible teaching of Alister Greg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living