SERMON BY THE REVEREND AMOS MCCARTHY
2nd SUNDAY IN LENT
MARCH 17, 2019
Title: “The Prayer Life of a Christian”
Text: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, o that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:2-6 NIV).
Scripture Reading: Colossians 4:2-6
D. L Moody used to tell the story on radio of a man who came to him and said, “When the Mexican war began I wanted to enlist. My mother, seeing I was resolved, said if I became a Christian I might go. She pleaded and prayed that I might become a Christian, but I wouldn’t. I said when the war was over I would become a Christian, but not till then.
“All her pleading was in vain, and at last, when I was going away, she took out a watch and said: My son, your father left this to me when he died. Take it, and I want you to remember that every day at 12 o’clock your mother will be praying for you. Then she gave me her Bible, and marked out passages, and put a few different references in the leaflets. I took the watch and the Bible just because my mother gave them. I never intended to read the Bible.
“I went off to Mexico, and one day while on a long, weary march, I took out my watch, and it was 12 o’clock. I had been gone four months, but I remembered that my mother at that hour was praying for me. Something prompted me to ask the officer to relieve me for a little while, and I stepped behind a tree away out on those plains of Mexico, and cried to the God of my mother to save me.” God saved him, and after the Mexican war was ended, he said, “I have enlisted again to see if I can do any good for my Master’s cause.”
Prayer is, for the most part, a resources that is not tapped. It is an unexplored continent where untold treasure remains to be unearthed. It is talked about more than anything else , and practiced less than anything else. And yet, for the believer it remains one of the greatest gift our Lord has given us outside of salvation.
In 1952, Albert Einstein was delivering a lecture on the campus of Princeton University. A doctoral student asked the famous scientist “What is there left in the world for original dissertation research?” With considerate thought and profundity Einstein replied, “Find out about prayer. Somebody must find out about prayer.”
Paul was somebody who understood prayer and its power. Prayer was a part of Paul’s life, and he took it for granted that it would be a part of the life of every Christian. You cannot really be a good Christian and not pray, just like you cannot have a good marriage if you don’t talk to your wife. You can be a Christian and not pray, just like you can be married and not talk to your wife. But in both circumstances you will be miserable. Prayer is the pipeline of communication between God and His people, between God and those who love Him.
The first thing we ought do is to always pray with persistence
Paul begins by saying, “Devote yourselves to prayer,” (NASB) or “Continue earnestly in prayer,” (NKJV). In the original language it says, “continue steadfastly in prayer.” The word translated, “continue steadfastly,” is one word in the original language. It can be translated, “persist in, adhere firmly to, or remain devoted to or to give unremitting care to.” It carries with it the idea of dedication. Of the ten times it is used in the New Testament four of them have to do with being devoted to prayer. It is a very powerful word and in this verse is given as an imperative, or a command. In other words, persistence in prayer is not an option for the Christian it is an order from the Lord Himself.
Two of the most instructive parables Jesus ever told on prayer, one in Luke 18 and the other in Luke 11, both have to do with being persistent and not giving up in prayer. Luke 18:1 says, “Now He was telling them a parable to show them that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.” Luke 11:9 is where we find the promise that says, “ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.” Each of those verbs are in the present tense, active voice and could be translated, “keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking.” Jesus does not want us to give up in prayer, He instructs us to be persistent.
Now there is a difference between a persistent prayer and a long prayer. A person who is persistent in prayer does not necessarily have to pray for a long time. Persistence means not giving up.
Some people give up easy, they quit because they say they don’t feel like praying, the joy is gone, the feeling is gone. But we are not to live by our feelings but to live by the commandments of our Lord who tells us to pray without ceasing.
George Muller, known as one of the greatest prayer warriors of all times had this to say about persistence in prayer: Do not give Satan the chance to steal your joy in reading the Word and praying. Because he is persistent, be persistent also.
Be persistent in prayer.
The second important mark of a Christian prayer life is to pray with passion.
If you are persistent in something, it stands to reason that you are to be passionate about it. In fact, Paul says we should be vigilant or be watchful; it is the opposite of slothfulness. This describes passionate prayer.
Jesus was passionate about His prayer life, it was something He was always doing.
S.D. Gordon in his book, Quiet Talks on Prayer, says, “How much prayer meant to Jesus! It was not only his regular habit, but his resort in every emergency, however slight or serious. When perplexed he prayed. When hard pressed by work he prayed. When hungry for fellowship he found it in prayer. He chose his associates and received his messages upon his knees. If tempted, he prayed. If criticized, he prayed. If fatigued in body or wearied in spirit, he had recourse to his one unfailing habit of prayer. Prayer brought him unmeasured power at the beginning, and kept the flow unbroken and undiminished. There was no emergency, no difficulty, no necessity, no temptation that would not yield to prayer.”
And every time we see Jesus praying He was praying with passion. In Luke 3:1 at His Baptism – while He was praying the heaven was opened. Passionate prayer opens Heaven. In Luke 6:12 before He called His disciples – He spent the whole night in prayer. Passionate prayer gives direction. In Luke 9:29 at His transfiguration – And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. Passionate prayer enables us to experience the glory of the Father. In John 17 in His high priestly prayer – Passionate prayer impacts the lives of others. In Matthew 26:39 in the Garden of Gethsemane – It is only through passionate prayer that we can pour out our hearts to God. In Luke 23:24 as He hung on the cross – a life that is lived in passionate prayer will enable us to maintain that spirit, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
Jesus always prayed with passion, because He knew Who it was He was talking to and He knew that prayer to the Father is a powerful thing and not something to take lightly and glibly.
Prayer from the heart, that’s what passionate prayer is, it is prayer from the heart not just from the head. That is how He taught us to pray, not only through His example, but specifically through His teaching Look in Matthew 6:7, in the Sermon on the Mount as Jesus instructs on prayer. It is here that we find the Lord’s prayer. But just before the Lord’s prayer what does He say? “When you pray, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do.”
What has happened to the Lord’s Prayer? People repeat it as if it were some kind of magic mantra that will bless them or move God to hear them. They are doing with it is exactly what He was instructing us not to do with it. The gentiles, when they prayed tried, through their religious repetitions, with their chants and their mantras to call forth or impress their Gods. That is not what you do when you are in a relationship.
You don’t tell your wife. “I love you, oh I really love you and I just wanted to tell you today that I love you, I’m so glad that I just have this time to just say I love you. Please feed the children, please clean the house and may all go well with you.” Amen
James 5:16 says, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
The third mark of the prayer life of a Christian is to pray with thankfulness
Paul never fails to mention it. Ephesians 5:20 tells us that thanksgiving is the natural result of being filled with and walking under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Philippians 4:6 tells us to be anxious for nothing but in everything we should pray, giving thanks as we make our petitions known to God. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us that giving thanks at all times is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. Colossians 3:17 says that as believers everything we say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus as we give thanks to Him. 1 Timothy 4:4 – says that food and marriage are good things given to us by God and are to be received with thanksgiving and gratitude.
Be persistent, passionate and thankful in your prayer life. God bless you.