Posted by: pastortomvabeach | February 13, 2013

Thought for the Week February 17, 2013

Rev. Daniel Henderson sends out a weekly email-devotional that is geared towards growing our passion and activity in prayer. His devotional this week was challenging to me in how to connect prayer and faith. I want to share part of his devotional with you and then make some observations and raise some questions for us. His e-devotional comments on Jesus’ parable about the persistent widow and unjust judge found in Luke 18. Here is part of it:

“Jesus gave this parable because He wanted men ‘always to pray and not lose heart.’ (18:1) After offering reassurance that God hears and responds to our prayers, Jesus asked this question: ‘When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?’ (18:8). As we approach the end of days, we are assured that Jesus wants us to exhibit a living and enduring faith.

“Faith can be understood from various angles. We are familiar with the definition given in Hebrews telling us that faith is ‘the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1). The Bible says in numerous places that ‘the just shall live by faith.’ Yet, in this story from Luke 18, we realize that the faith Jesus is looking for is actually an expression of believing, persevering prayer. You could almost ask, ‘When He returns will He find a praying church? Will He find faithful, praying disciples? Will the intensity of our praying increase as we wait for His coming?’

“Our prayers of faith are pleasing to God. That is why He seeks this among His people in light of His return. Hebrews 11:6 makes this clear, ‘without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.’ Our faith is rooted in a clear understanding of His character (believe that He is) and a firm conviction that He rewards those who seek Him. Notice the specific idea. We are seeking Him, not just temporal answers or quick fixes.

“Perhaps the Apostle Peter had the Luke 18 parable in mind when he wrote about the connection between prayer and the end of this age. He heard Jesus ask the question, ‘Will I find faith on the earth when I come?’ Listen to Peter’s words: ‘But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers’ (1 Peter 4:7). Notice (his) urgency about prayer. According to his admonition, God’s people should be praying more today than ever in history.

“So, what does it take to practice this praying faith that Jesus wants among His people upon His return? Peter gives two vital characteristics that we must pursue to increase our passion and practice of believing prayer. The first is that we be ‘serious.’ The Greek term implies a sound mind, right thinking, and clear-headedness. We need this urgent call to shake us from our cloudy thinking, confusion, and apathy about prayer in our day. Prayer is the clarion call to the church in this age. We are desperate for the supernatural empowerment, organic unity, divine direction, and bold witness that comes from the Spirit as we pray.

“The second vital pursuit is ‘watchfulness.’ The original text implied the mindset of being alert, wakeful, and self-controlled. Eugene Peterson translates it, ‘stay wide awake in prayer.’ Our day is not a day for drowsy, sleepy, dull-minded prayer. We must be fully engaged. So, in light of Christ’s return we are to pray and not lose heart. This is the exercise of real faith. This is best done when we pray because of who He is (a righteous rewarder). We should pray with even greater passion because the time is short.

“Both Luke 18:1 and 1 Peter 4:7 describe a very specific kind of prayer. The Greek term…the idea of ‘praying to God’…is distinct from other New Testament words for prayer… This word refers to prayer as worship. This praying is not attached so much to human need as to the pursuit of God Himself. With that in mind, let us seek His face and not lose heart. Let us increase our intentions with a serious and watchful mindset to worship our Lord in prayer. This faith pleases God, and as we seek Him, He will prove Himself to be a rewarder in more ways than we can imagine.”

I am particularly stirred by the relationship between faith and prayer. As the Lord looks at us, at His church in this local area, will he find a praying church? Are we taking prayer seriously as Peter urges or is prayer an afterthought, an invocation, or a “duty” we do reluctantly? These are important questions for us to ask and be honest in answering. From my perspective and my personal pursuit of prayer as part of my life and ministry, I am not ready to say that I’ve prayed as Peter describes. I can say, though, that I am hungry for such a deep motive in my heart and action that is serious and watchful in prayer.

We have begun to call on the Lord to show us how to depend more on the prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit in everything we do. My desire is to be found by Jesus, when He returns and any time He may visit to be a man of prayer serving with a body that lives on faithful prayer as our culture. What do you think about Rev. Henderson’s devotional? How would you evaluate yourself and our church in that light? Something to think about but even more to begin to do!

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