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February 4, 2021 7:00 am
Which aspect of the Christian life is simultaneously a gift and obligation and the necessity the answer to this riddle of course is prayer.
It's our means of communication with God, and it's the same powerful tool that when used correctly make Satan tremble in fear. Dr. James Boyce teaches on prayer which he refers to as our secret resource on today's broadcast of the Bible study our welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. We are commanded to pray with faith and expectation. But all too often we mumble prayers of doubter simply don't pray at all today. Dr. Boyce will encourage us to take advantage of this great resource and to use it to defeat the enemy. Several presidencies ago when Henry Kissinger was very active as Secretary of State much in the nose. That was a cartoon in one of our newsmagazines that they expressed amazement at all.
This man was able to accomplish in those days, Kissinger was doing what came to be called shuttle diplomacy start out in London on Monday had flied in the near East on Tuesday. Going back and forth between several capitals all in one day had fly home on Wednesday. The hidden Washington DC and then he'd be off again later in the week. This particular cartoon showed Henry Kissinger driving home from what was obviously a most exhausting day can hardly move himself through the door of his hotel room. His briefcase was trailing behind. But as he was coming in the door much bedraggled. There was another Henry Kissinger jumping freshly out of bed, all smartly dressed shave holding his briefcase ready to go out to meet the challenge of the day and outside the hotel room. Two men were talking and one man said to the other. I just don't understand how he does it would be nice to have a secret like that secret resource that would get us through the struggles we face, day by day, especially our spiritual struggles. I often wish that I worked two or three or four people. Most of my secretaries wish I were half but the interesting thing is that even if we could multiply ourselves, we still wouldn't have the resources we need to fight Satan in this great battle.
The apostle Paul describes him the six chapter of Ephesians. You know Paul does speak of the secret resource of resource that is adequate everything that we need that secret resources prayer and the reason why it's so important is that if he or she will take advantage of prayer, the weakest Christian can stand against Satan because that one is able in any situation of life, whether encouraged or discouraged weather up against enemies.*Whether fighting Satan directly in any circumstances, whatever to immediately call upon God and have the resources of the inexhaustible sovereign merciful God at our disposal. Earlier in the series as we been talking about the Christians armor I mentioned in passing that great masterpiece of William Gordon all the Puritan writing in the 17th century called the Christian in complete armor. I pointed out when I introduce that originally that girl wrote 1200 double column pages.
That's the addition I have that work put into the kind of format. Most of our books appear in the day. Of course, would be much longer. Great masterpiece dealing with just this latter portion of Ephesians verses 10 through 20.
Yet it's an interesting feature of that great starting that going all the Puritan who was very sensitive and who understood the emphasis of these verses spends 300 of his 1200 pages. That is one quarter of the whole, just dealing with this objective.
Prayer he picked up on Paul's emphasis because that is obviously what Paul is emphasizing essay, Paul mentions the other things firmly but in passing belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, and so on.
But when he gets to prayer. He says pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. And with this in mind, we all alert and always keep on praying for all the sites and he goes on. Pray also for me that whenever I open my mouth words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, pray that I may declare it fearlessly as I should see if you put this together with this matter of the armor that he's been discussing earlier what he saying is if we avail ourselves of all the armor even if we are careful to walk along that belt of truth, and the breastplate of righteousness even if we have our feet Sean with the readiness of the gospel of peace and our head protected with the helmet of salvation and then hold in our hands the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. Even with all of that will be ineffective in our spiritual warfare must. We are also Brandon women of prayer as we call upon God all times, especially in time of need. One of the great classic stories of the Middle Ages is the song of Roland. Those of you who know that will know that it has to do with an incident in the life of Charlemagne, the great Emperor. He had a number of famous knights who were in his service.
One of them was Roland, after whom the song is named and this particular story concerns a time when Charlemagne was moving out of Spain into France through a very narrow defile in the Pyrenees see left the rearguard in the charge of Roland to protect his movements as he went north, the Moors fell upon Roland, then this great guard and what followed was a battle in which Roland and some of the other great nights of Charlemagne were killed. What makes the story significant and that they could not merely a tale is that the reason for the defeat was Roland spry, great hornet was called all offended if he blew on that horn, Charlemagne would certainly have heard the sound and would have returned.
But Roland was too proud to do it. He wouldn't blow on all of and as a result of that, they fought to the end. The troops were massacred and only the very end when it was too late to be sound the trumpet and Charlemagne returned very easy to apply that story. The explanation of many defeated Christian lives is that for one reason or another, pride or indifference or whatever it may be, you know your own heart.
We do not use resource God is given.
We do not call upon God for help in all our difficulties.
James said you do not have because you do not ask. Jesus said if you ask you will be given if you knock the door will be open now. I've intimated that Paul stresses this matter. Prayer by the length of verses given to it.
That's true, but he doesn't other ways as well. One way in which he stresses prayer is by a fourfold repetition of the word all maybe you noticed it.
As I read verse 18 earlier Paul says pray in the Spirit on all occasions. The first occurrence of the word all with all kinds of prayers and requests. That's the second appearance of the word. With this in mind, he says, be alert and always that's the second always keep on praying for all the saints. Now, it's worth looking at each one of those personable Paul says pray in the Spirit on all occasions.
Now when he says that he doesn't mean I think that we are to do nothing but pray. Sometimes people are called that because for one reason or another, perhaps because of sickness or some accident or unable to do what they would normally be doing in Christ service so they have time to pray and that is a special calling but generally we have work to do when you can't be praying constantly at all times. Paul himself was well aware that he was very active he says pray on all occasions. Paul really has in mind is that in every circumstance of life matter what it is we should be men and women of prayer. We should be praying always problems with prayers of so many people only pray when they get into difficulties.
The course that means that if that's the way Christians operate altogether different than people who aren't even Christians know even atheists sometimes privately get into difficulty sometimes they do it inadvertently. They say oh my God, what am I going to do, but there's a natural frame of reference. There are things are bad enough we realize that we are not adequate and so we look for a power strength resource person greater when we are it's not really very remarkable to pray to God when you get into difficult circumstances.
But that's not what Christians should do. Christians should be men and women of prayer, so that in all the circumstances of life and were happy. We should pray in rejoice in the Lord and when we are despondent we should pray and ask God to be with us in minister to us in our sorrow we should pray at work which pray at home. We should plan vacations, we should pray when we're busy. We should pray when we have plenty of time, and so on. Let me suggest that one thing we need to do when we prayers pray that God will be with us as we go out to fight battles we sometimes do. I think what man must've done who was involved in a discussion about prayer and the thing that people were discussing was the posture one should take when one price. Should you be kneeling standing raising your hands and so forth as man described how he had once fallen into a well and had gotten stuck in the bottom, head down in the mud. He said the pray this prayer I ever prayed I was standing on my head.
Lots of us pray that way in sticky situations. And yet, here is Paul bringing this to bear upon those matters of personal difficulty, but upon this great issue of our spiritual warfare and he saying look as you take advantage of all these various pieces of armor that God has provided. Make sure that you do it with prayer. You know the verse of the hymn that says put on the gospel armor. Each piece put on with care where duty calls or danger be never wanting there. I think the author of that hymn. George Duffield probably had this passage in mind as he wrote those words because I think he also is saying look each of these pieces of armor should be put on prayerfully take truth. After all this belt of truth, are you going to keep that on if you don't pray and ask God to help you do it.
The devil is subtle. He raises doubts the heresies of our culture. Even the heresies of the church well water it down and confuse us to stand firm in the truth of God. Only when you praying about it and ask God to gird up, as it were, the loins of your mind that you might persevere faithfully in what he is taught in Scripture, the breastplate of righteousness is the same thing. You and I are sinful men and women. We are prone to fall into one transgression after the other, how we going to be kept from that knowing the kind of people we are, by prayer, by prayer only requires God to cleanse us direct us to keep our feet from falling in.
He was marching in the way we should go the same thing is true of our feet being shot with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace to see if the stress there is upon readiness, as I believe it is and if as Peter says we are to be ready always, at all times to give up reason of the hope that is within us, with meekness and fear. How are we going to do that if we're not praying and it were not close to God. At the time it were not praying ever got close to God in prayer.
The opportunity will come and be gone. We will of missed our opportunity were only ready when we are men and women of prayer. So on with the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit which is the word of God. Paul second always all kinds of prayers and requests I guess are people who read that think that those two words must be redundant. Prayers and requests are those, both the same thing person might say, well, this is a case where one of the two terms's embraces the other, but the reverse is not true. Prayers embraces requests, but the word request does not exhaust the meaning of the word prayers you remember that little prospect that is often used for describing the steps of a good prayer. It's the word ask a CTS a stands for adoration C stands for confession T for Thanksgiving and asked the final letter for supplications.
Supplications means requests what you ask God for. But in that acrostic wisely I think requests are preceded by three different kinds of prayers prayers to be adoration and confession and thanksgiving you do anything like that. As you pray, you begin to pray to you.
First of all take time to adore God for who he is.
Think who it is that you're addressing in prayer Roman Tory wrote a great book on prayer some years ago called the power of prayer, the prayer power and as many wise things to say in it, but I think one of the wisest of all this is stressing one of the chapters that the single most important thing about prayer is to get firmly in our minds as we begin to pray. Just who it is. Were praying to not just a kind of exercise that we rush into and rush out of us if we were to say to God. Well, here I am, I got 30 seconds I got a number things I wanted and off we got we haven't prayed. That's not meeting with God that's going through a ritual real prayer is when we first stop in run over in our mind, sometimes with the benefit of Scripture just who it is that we're addressing and what a great privilege.
This is to come to such a great sovereign mighty merciful wines on the present and all seeing God. We would learn how to do that most of our prayers would be entirely different from the kind of prayers we pray, and I suspect that in many cases we wouldn't even get to the matter of our requests because the adoration of God would be so much more important. Cycling is confession that's important too.
And it's almost inevitable is not because when you come to the true God, not a God of our own imaginings. God the week more or less bring down the world level we make accommodate to where we are but to the true God and true God is a holy God is a God whose presence sin can't abide. And we are sinful. So we really have a sense of who God is and is holiness, it is inevitable is that past sinful thoughts and actions will come to our minds will have to confess them and receive forgiveness and cleansing before we can get on to anything else know if we don't do that God is certainly not going to hear our requests because it says the very opening of the 59th chapter of Isaiah.
The Lord's arm is shortened and it can save it as eras and heavy that he can hear. But your sins are separated between you and your God that your transgressions that keeps the Lord from acting so we have to confess those things that's very important when we talk about all kinds of prayers lender Thanksgiving I can we not be thankful to God, who is as great is our God, and God was given his life, health, opportunities for service and above all salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ if we have just confess our sins, one of the things will be thanking God for is that forgiveness and cleansing which she promises to give when we do confess Scripture says if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And if we confess our sins, and we can believe that he's done that and we can thank him for finally as a matter of supplications that so we prayer is almost unknown prayer. That's all we do all these other matters belong there also but it is also an adequate prayer. If we don't. At some point or another. Bring in those needs. We have because one thing to bring our knees before God is to confess to him that we are needy people, which is healthy in and of itself, or Jesus Christ in his instruction about prayer said is one of those seven petitions in that outline of prayer that he gave that we call the Lord's prayer.
He said pray, give us this day our daily bread, and Blacks supplication we have is promise that we do that, he will hear and he will answer. Paul also says, be alert and always keep on praying always again I think this isn't the case of our doing nothing but pray throughout our days throughout our nights, but it is a way of saying that we really should be men and women of prayer every situation of life. Every time of day should be based in prayer one way or another you and I each of us. Everyone in this great army of the Lord Jesus Christ should be above all things of prayer warrior. One of the things Col. says in that link the analysis of prayer and the problems we have with prayer in his book is that the devil is very active at this point to keep us from praying as we would naturally expect of prayer is as important as it is, we can keep a Christian from pray while he's one half the battle and girl talks about the way the devil does this. One of the things he says is that the devil will come to you and say now of course we all know don't way that prayer is very important and that is why God has called certain people to be great praying people he's given them the gift of prayer and that wonderful that there are great people who have the gift of prayer. But you know you're not one of those people. God's given you another gift and so why don't you let them pray you go on and do what you have to do without prayer never found herself thinking that you don't have the gift of prayer that it's hard for you to pray.
So obviously you must have a gift and that means that somebody else has the gift somebody for whom it comes naturally.
I know, I thought like that. Some years ago I did a study of the gifts of the Holy Spirit on the basis of the five passages in the New Testament the talk about them and I made a list of all these gifts are about 20 or so 2122 items and some of them probably overlap, although different words were used by the type it all together. I had 19 things are the gifts of apostles and prophets and teachers of evangelists in the gift of helps in wisdom and all of that great big long list but I did notice as I did that the gift of prayer is not on that list. Why is that is that because prayer is not important that the Holy Spirit doesn't think it's necessary to give the gift of prayer to Christian people, not at all is rather the case. The prayer is not a gift. Prayer is a responsibility duty and obligation as well, and that means that you and I each one must be prayer warriors. I noticed finally that after having said that, were to pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers always called us a yes and also for all the saints, many saints that is now the early days wasn't all that hard or just a dozen disciples, and you could scratch Judas ice.
I suppose you could get through the list and about five minutes early until Pentecost got a little harder than 5000 brother at one time than I suppose even had time getting the ball down and then they went out they told others of people were believing here there now Jesus said it's it's hard even to think in terms of the number of hairs on your head. Certainly much harder to think of the number of individual Christians in the world, even limiting those were already data those were yet to be born, just ones were alive today were to pray for all the saints. I am sure we cannot do it by name is. I will then we don't have to do it always is. Pray for all the saints will how do you pray for all the saints.
Well, you pray for them by category when you don't know their names and you pray for them individually.
When you do know their names are simple pray for the by category. We want to pray for Christians around the world in order to do that effectively you have to know something about the situation of Christians around the world missionary prayer should be one of our obligations, we should pray for the Christians in China, for example, if unique problems and unique opportunities God is doing amazing things there in China.
Today, as we know we have to know some of those things so we can pray for those Christian we should pray for Christians in North Africa quite a different situation in North Africa much more difficult in some ways we need to know something about that situation so we can pray for, so we should pray for Christians regionally in different countries.
We should pray for Christian groupings in terms of where they want in life. Some are very downtrodden at difficult times.
Therefore there pressed. Others are in positions of great influence and authority.
Some are popular there in the media all the time. They all led individual temptation. We should pray for them.
Pray for the beach one and then when we know the we should pray for them by name and all the more faithfully because we know something about the situation. I think it's as if to say that that's important that Paul brings in his own case where he says, pray also for me.
You know sometimes when we think about prayer and what it involves and how magnificent it is. We think well that's just too much for me.
I can't do that. How can I possibly pray for all the Christians everywhere. I guess Paul heard that and I think what he saying here is, look, it's true. That's our obligation and opportunity. But don't let that put you off. You have to start somewhere and if you can't think of anywhere else to start well. Pray for me. Pray for me that whenever I open my mouth words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I'm an ambassador in change of the whole sermon right there.
Paul says pray for me that he begins to spell out you know this is like a catechism class and personal prayer. He says tell you what to pray for, pray for me and here's what you pray for you. Pray first of all, the words may be given to me. I we say all praying that words may be given to Paul. Paul was at work went think of first Corinthians 13 I great him a lot. We can't write. I got anybody had words at his disposal was Paula.
Besides that Paul was an apostle and when he spoke, at least what he wrote the Scriptures.
He spoke as an apostle with the authority of God. Why should we pray words for Paul Stroup all had a great gift of words, but also knew that when you speak when you're teaching people. You need a supernatural intervention of the Holy Spirit to give you the right words of the words might carry through to the hearts of those who need to hear and be changed by them was have that wisdom in ourselves that something God has to do and so he says pray for the ministers as they preach and pray that they'll have the right effective words to reach people is also pray that I may make the gospel known fearlessly.
He repeats the word twice so it must've been important to him and we say fearlessly. Paul fearlessly is Paul afraid Paul was the one who stood before rioting mobs are going to lemon. He spoke fearlessly.
Paul stood before kings like Agrippa and Felix and eventually brass before Nero. Paul was fearless when he was on the ship but it was overtaken by a storm and they were in danger of sinking. He was a most fearless one. There well yes it is true I guess maybe people were praying for and maybe that's why was fearless.
But you know that St. Paul and stood boldly in situations like that, wrote to the Corinthians that when he was with them in Corinth. He was with them in fear and much trembling say.
I think that says that you and I can see the heart. We look at somebody who seems dear Leslie, say why you need to pray really fear less and yet you don't know what's going on inside and what this says to us is if you see somebody proclaiming the gospel fearlessly and difficult situations.
You pray for them that they might be fearless and you see somebody living a holy life and very damaging circumstances where the tendency is constantly pulled out. You pray that they might remain holy where you see somebody yes, even effective in prayer. You pray for them that they might continue to be faithful in their prayers because we need that in the church of Jesus Christ become the very end and Paul mentions to trick us a brother who was going to give them information about himself. I guess he saying there you want to pray for greater length US to Chickasaw I'm doing and he'll fill you in. And then you can pray specifically and at the very end it is what we call a benediction that the benediction is itself a prayer.
He says pray to the brothers piece to the brothers love with faith, from God the father, the Lord Jesus Christ is pregnant, they might have peace and love and faith and grace as he hands know we have a little ditty goes like this, says the devil trembles. When he sees the weakest Christian on his knees.
You know, I don't think the devil trembles a lot, but I do think he trembles and that kind of a situation because when we kneel to pray when we open our heart and our minds to God and call upon him. We are calling upon the infinite and inexhaustible resources.
All that one who is altogether holy and in whom we can triumph of this pray our father we pray as the disciples prayed to Jesus when they said, Lord, teach us to pray many things in this study of Ephesians as we have worked through it. Now these many months that will undoubtedly be forgotten and perhaps have already been our father. Don't allow us to forget how important prayer is most important, teach us to pray for Jesus.
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