Five Truths to Success in Prayer
“If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” (John 15: 7)
Every child of God has gone through a dry period in prayer and some have never really been able to fully enjoy the success in prayer that the Lord Jesus wants them to experience. Many do not know what the heart attitude should be in coming to the Lord in prayer. Others have discovered that prayer can change their life and allow them to participate in the most powerful ministry there is. It has been one of the key ministries that has delivered nations, brought healing into lives and brought souls to Christ.
I would propose to you that when the child of God understands and submits to the Lord in Biblical prayer, he will find himself obeying God’s instructions to “pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
Just what are five Biblical truths that enable the child of God to enjoy success in prayer? If Christians submit and cling to these truths, they can expect to see God, answer their prayers in a way that will glorify Jesus Christ in and through their lives.
The thrust to being successful in prayer is beautifully presented in the key word “remain” or better translated as “abide” in the New American Standard Bible. Therefore, it is a necessity that we understand what Jesus meant when He said, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you…” To “abide” (ménō) as it is used in John 15:7 gives us the idea that the child of God has a heart that studies and learns the Word of God. This Christian’s thoughts, desires and motivations are birthed forth as he prayerfully reads the Bible. The application is that he remains united with Jesus Christ in mind, heart and will. It also has a command to hold on, to continue on, to keep obeying, to live on and rest in the everlasting loving arms of Christ. The purpose for this type of living is to cleanse the heart so as to do away with selfish prayers. The connection in “abiding” is maintained by obedience to the written Word of God.
I realize that analogies are imperfect, but let me try to use some human circumstances to bring some application into abiding in Christ. Suppose there is a Christian who is easily overcome by temptation. Then suppose that there is another Christian who sees this brother continually falling and he intervenes by moving in with him. The stronger brother is always right there to make sure he does not fall into slumber, makes sure that he is eating the right foods, sleeping at the proper times and getting back a forth to work at the right time. Thus, the weaker Christian is unable to be overcome by his temptation, because the stronger Christian is always right there protecting and giving strength to the weaker brother. As long as the stronger Christian keeps that contact the weaker Christian lives victoriously. However, as soon as contact is broken in any way that temptation rears its head again and defeat is at hand. Defeat is sure, because the fact is that Christians cannot defeat the flesh, the world and discern the lies of the devil without the help of the eternal Friend, Jesus Christ, who sticks closer than a brother. Just as the weaker Christian needed the constant intervention of the stronger Christian, the child of God needs the constant intervention of the Spirit of Christ intervening in his life.
The fact is there are those people who just can’t keep themselves pulled out of the gutter. I know of a man named, Jim Carr. He went into the streets of Kansas City, MO. and found a down and outer on the streets. He took him into his house, cleaned him up, fed him good food, and then he taught this homeless man all he knew about the business that he was in. The man did well, prospered, got his own home, and after a season of being away from the protecting hand of Jim Carr, he fell right back in to the gutter. He went back into the streets of Kansas City, MO. The fact is, unless Christians are abiding in Christ and abiding in His words, they will not have the spiritual strength to keep themselves out of the gutter of the flesh, the world, and lies of the devil. Jesus Christ is the only one who can bring deliverance and the Word of God is the only food that can make and keep them spiritually healthy.
The Word of God is like that picture of the man, who helped another man get victory over sin. There was a preacher who was known as, Robertson of Brighten who helped a Mr. Kingsley recognize the dangers of sin and showed him the joys of honest living. The man became successful and was known by many as being honest, upright and dependable. When asked how he was able to build and keep such a good name, the man said, “Whenever I was tempted to fall into wrong practices, I would just run to the picture of Pastor Robinson and the temptation was defeated. That picture reminded me that I have a friend.” The Word of God reveals to all that they have a Friend who gave His very life, for the redemption of mankind and He rose from the dead so Christians can have victory over sin and death. The connection is sacrificial love and abiding in Christ. It involves having a Biblical picture of what Jesus has and will do for you. Our Biblical picture of abiding is found in the relationship that Jesus had with His Father. Jesus was in contact with God; again and again Jesus withdrew into a solitary place to meet with God in prayer.
Christians must follow the example of Christ. They must deliberately take steps to establish and maintain a constant relationship with the Lord Jesus. By arranging life so as to be prayerfully reading and studying the Word of God so they can give attention to it. They must be continuously in prayer, throughout the day, so they can meditate on what Jesus is telling them to get done. They must be in humble prayer asking for the will to obey and the strength to endure.
A final note on this important topic is that there are foundational truths that must be grasped in having success in abiding in Christ. One, the Christian must enrich his own life by having an ongoing surrendered relationship with Jesus Christ. Two, his prayers are to be for the glory of Jesus Christ alone. As he prays with this in his mind and heart, the results of his prayer life turn men’s hearts to God and Christ.
There are three questions that are constantly asked by those who are successful in prayer. 1.) Do I admit and confess the wrong that the Holy Spirit reveals to me is offensive to the Lord? 1 John 1:8 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 2.) Am I presently ignoring God’s Word and avoiding His Biblical principles for living? 1 John 3:21-22 says, “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.” 3.) Do I really want to surrender to God’s will for my life? 1 John 5:14-15 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.”
Forgiving Attitude Toward Others
The first step to Christians connecting with God in prayer is to be honest with themselves. Do they live in a way that reflects a life of abiding in Christ? Jesus Christ gives us another truth to connecting with God in prayer. He says in Mark 11:24-25, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” One, you must have a faith that Christ will answer your prayer in accordance to His Father’s will and two, you must have a forgiving attitude toward others.
Number one characteristic to being successful in prayer is to have faith and the second is to have a forgiving heart. Jesus is very direct on this matter of forgiveness, because resentment will kill your ability to keep your mind and heart steadfast during prayer. In Matthew 6 Jesus taught that when we pray we should ask, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12) Christians can not hold unforgiveness in their hearts and expect to enjoy success and remain connected to God in prayer. A heart that can forgive others is a heart that receives forgiveness from God and keeps itself aright in prayer.
The Christian who wants to be successful in prayer must learn what Jesus taught Andrew Lang. Andrew Lang was a famous Scottish man of letters. He once wrote a very kind review of a book that was written by a young man who thought of nothing but himself. The young man repaid Mr. Lang with a bitter and insulting attack. About three years later Robert Bridges, a poet saw Mr. Lang reading a book. Robert Bridges said, “Why, that is another book written by that ungrateful young writer who behaved so shamefully to you.” To the astonishment of Mr. Bridges, Andrew Lang’s mind was a blank on the whole matter. Andrew Lang had completely forgotten the bitter and insulting attack. Robert Bridges wrote, “To forgive is the sign of a great man, but to forget is sublime. Nothing but the cleansing Spirit of Christ can take from these memories of ours the old bitterness that we must forget.” Do you rely on the Holy Spirit to cleanse your heart and keep the root of bitterness out so you can be successful and connect in prayer to God?
What is our purpose to having God answer the prayers we pray?
Being connected in prayer means that you must have a compassionate heart to the needs of those who cry out for help. Proverbs 12:13 says, “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.”
There is a fact of life, if Christians expect God to bless them, they must be willing to bless those who have needs with whatever God has given them. Jesus wants us to be like Him and His view of the church is found in James 1:27 and it says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows…” If Christians ignore those who have obvious needs, what right do they have to praying to God about their own needs? Obedient Christians are God’s channels to meeting the needs of the poor in a way that draws attention to Christ. The reason you should ask God to bless your business or bless you in the work place is so that you cannot only provide for yourselves. But so you can bless Him and reach out to the needs of the poor.
I recently read a story about a man who was a multi-multi-multi- millionaire. Pastor Rick Warren had visited with this man who just a few years ago went bankrupt. After going through this severe trial this man received the Holy Spirit gift of giving. He allowed the Holy Spirit to give him the revelation of hilarious giving, which is New Testament teaching. This man now gives 97% of his income to the Lord’s work, which includes meeting the needs of the poor. He lives on 3% of his income and still lives a higher standard of life than most of the people in this country. He found the necessity of obedience to the tithe, then, he was illuminated to the truth that he could not out give God. He went from the joyful surrender of 10% to 20% to 30% and is now at 97% and he lives a very wealthy life style. This man had come to the realization that his purpose in this world was to be a blessing to others.
This leads to the obvious question, “What is our purpose to having God answer the prayers we pray?” If we want to be connected to God in prayer, we must pray that God will make us a blessing to others. Then we must believe that God will answer prayer and never take our authority in Christ for granted. James 1:5-7 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord…”
James is writing in the context of trials and temptations here. The idea is when these trials and temptations have run their course the child of God will not lack the virtues and strengths that must be found in the man who wants to connect with God in prayer. It is during these trials and temptations the child of God will get all the wisdom he needs, and God is not going to reject His needy children because of any faults. It is assumed that while a child of God is going through trials and temptations, he lacks wisdom, and God would freely give it upon the asking.
Although there is nothing more God wants more than to give wisdom and meet the needs of His children, there is a barrier that could arise within them. When Christians ask, they “must believe” and not have any doubt. There faith must be more than mere acceptance or a creed. To believe here means to be confident that God will give what is requested and it is to be expected that He will do so. It is to believe it when He says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrew 13:5b) God’s people are secure no matter what comes their way, so there is no need to use the world’s way of doing things. It is to believe it when he said “…and surely I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Christians are to go forth in the Great Commission in confidence that Jesus is in sovereign control of everything in heaven and on earth.
Matthew’s Gospel does not end with a command, but a promise and there is a truth that must be grasped in the Greek word for “always” (pasa tes hemeras), strictly meaning “the whole of every day.” This suggest that Christ’s continued presence is with us “day in and day out” no matter what troubles or difficulties may come. Let me caution you, even though we have Christ’s promise to be with us and the Holy Spirit is in us and He has given us gifts so we can fulfill our callings, there is a warning I would like to present to you. We must not become so confident in what the Lord has given us that we exercise our gifts in our power and not continually to beseech the Lord Jesus in prayer at all times.
Let me show you what happens when we take the wrong approach to doing the Lord’s work. In Mark chapter 9:14-29 we read of a boy that had an evil spirit. When Jesus approached the crowd they were arguing with Jesus disciples. After Jesus ask the question of why this argument, a man in the crowd answered, saying, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” (Mark 9:17-19)
As you continue to read of this Biblical account you will come to Mark 9: 28-29 and you see why the disciple could not cast the demon out. It says in the New American Standard Bible, “And when He [Jesus] had come into the house, His disciples began to question Him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out.’” In verse 29 Jesus gives the answer, “…This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.”
The reason why the disciples asked this question was because the disciples knew that they had been given authority over evil spirits. (Mark 6:7) The Bible says, “…they drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” (Mark 6:13) Jesus had to remind them of their need to be in prayer here. If they would have been faithful to come to God in prayer, why did Jesus draw their attention back to prayer? It is because they had apparently taken for granted the power given them and were relying on past experiences. They stopped depending on a prayerful approach to God’s work and were no longer following the example Jesus set before them. They no longer nurtured their authority and gifts in prayer.
This is why spiritual leaders must take time to draw their congregations back to prayer and make time for prayer for the work of God in the church they oversee. It is all too easy to claim the truths found in Scripture such as “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8) and not truly be blanketing everything we do in true heartfelt prayer. There is way too much proclaiming truths found in God’s Word and not near enough discipline in praying for those truths to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
The phrase “in My Name”
Once you have it deep within your heart that God answers all prayers offered up for the glory of Christ, you must pray in Jesus’ name if you want to connect with God in prayer. Jesus said, “I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)
The power of the disciples originated in prayer, therefore, Jesus could not have made a more powerful declaration in saying, whatever they should ask in His name, He would do. The phrase “in My Name” is not to be used as a charm for the command of supernatural energy. He did not wish it to be used as a magical charm like a rabbit’s foot hung around a neck. It is both a guarantee, like the endorsement on a check, and yet as a limitation on the petition; for He would grant only that petition that is consistent with His character and purpose. In prayer we are to call on Him to carry out His purposes, not our purposes. The key to connecting in prayer with God is to honestly ask, “Am I really offering this prayer in Jesus’ name?” No one can ask for some unworthy thing or object that has no purpose of glorifying Christ in his life and in the lives of all he comes in contact with. The prayer that connects with God ends with “Thy will be done.” When this last truth is fully placed within a man’s heart and being lived out in his life, he may come before the “Throne of Grace” with boldness.
It is somewhat like the man who took his son and several of his son’s friends to the county fair for celebrating his son’s homecoming after being a long time away from home because of an illness. He bought lots of tickets and he stood in front of every ride and every game and passed tickets out to each child that was involved in the celebration. As he was passing out the tickets, he all of a sudden noticed that there was a child that he had never seen before, standing with a hand out. The man asked, “Are you involved in my son’s celebration party?” “No,” said the young child. “Then why should I give you a ticket?” The little boy pointed at the man’s son and said, “Your son has just invited me to be a part of his party and said you would give me one.” So the man did.
The point is that God’s Son took upon himself the results of sin and after dying upon the Cross of Calvary, He rose on the third day and he is now at the right hand of God His Father. Jesus says when we come in prayer in His name and for His purposes we as Christians will be given entrance simply because of what Christ did for us and the price has already been paid.
There are five truths to connecting in prayer 1.) Christians must be abiding in Christ. 2.) Have a forgiving heart. 3.) Have a compassionate heart to the needs of others. 4.) Believe that God will answer prayer and 5.) Pray in Jesus’ Name.
Examining the Prayer Life of Christ
“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, and He was Heard because of His reverent submission.” (Hebrews 5:7) Matthew Henry wrote: “The prayers and supplications that Christ offered up were joined with strong cries and tears, herein setting us an example not only to pray, but to be fervent and [ be urgently persistent] in prayer.”
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia tells us that prayer is “Communion with God, usually comprising of petition, adoration, praise, confession and thanksgiving. The ultimate object of prayer in both Old and New Testament is not merely the good of the petitioner, but the honor of God’s Name.” The only prayers that are heard or answered yes to, are those that are offered up for the glory of God. Salvation’s are given when people pray that God will glorify Himself in the redeeming of a sinful soul.
I would propose to you that during the days of Jesus’ life on this earth, He prayed “Divine Petitions” that were for the honor of God, His Father. Christians are to look to Him and say, “Lord teach me to pray.” (Luke 11:1) Just what did Jesus pray for while He walked on this earth?
Prayers Prayed During His Ministry
The Scriptural accounts of the prayer life of Christ may be divided into four different groups. We have already considered one group which was “Prayers Prayed at Critical Moments of Christ’s Life.” The other groups are, “Prayers that Christ Prayed During His Ministry,” “Prayers at His Miracles,” and “Prayers that Christ Prayed for Others.”
Let us first start with “Prayers Prayed During His Ministry.” Luke 5:16 says “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Mark 6:44 says, “After leaving them, He went up on the mountainside to pray.” Both of these passages of Scripture follow the Biblical accounts of miracles performed by Jesus Christ. In Luke Jesus heals a man from leprosy and in the Book of Mark, Jesus had just fed thousands from five loaves of bread and two fish. In both of these passages of Scripture we read of Jesus’ habitual life of prayer, even during very busy times. Great crowds would come to hear and to be healed of their illnesses. Never has anyone done as much public good as Christ has done and we read clearly that Jesus made time for heartfelt prayer. He prayed, though He had so much preaching, teaching, healing and training to do. He was much in prayer, often in prayer and at times long in prayer. He needed, desired and enjoyed fellowship with God His Father in prayer while on this earth. Jesus set the example for us. Thus, Christians need, should desire and enjoy the fellowship that comes with being with our Lord alone in prayer.
When Christians begin to be used of God in some powerful way they must be much more in prayer and at times long in prayer and most certainly alone with God in prayer. When crowds begin to gather, the Holy Spirit will prompt Christians to seek places where they can get alone with God and pray. This will protect them from distractions and ostentation. These are two things that have destroyed many a child of God, brought disgrace upon many a ministry and brought Christ to public disgrace. It is only good wisdom for Christians to order their affairs in a way that their public work with the Lord does not destroy quality prayer time. Christians must do as Christ did, which was to get alone with God in prayer.
Jesus prayed at His miracles
Scripture records Christ praying after God had used Him greatly in ministry and at His miracles. This is the third group in which Jesus’ prayers may be placed. Jesus prayed at His miracles. In Mark 6:41 we read of Jesus, “Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks.” Before the miracle of feeding the five thousand men, not counting women and children, our Lord prayed. Jesus looking up to heaven and giving thanks shows us clearly that we should recognize that God is sovereign, the supplier of all good things. God is the one who is able to provide for the needs of people in every realm of life. Not only does this show the fitness and correctness of grace before meals, it shows forth that God is to be sought for the provision of food for the hungry.
Another time Jesus prayed before a miracle was in healing of a deaf and mute man, thus showing us that divine petition gets deliverance of bodily afflictions as God wills. Mark 7:32, 34 says; “…some people brought to Him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk and they begged Him to place His hand on the man. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh, said ‘Ephpharha! which means opened!’” Our text says with a deep sigh (stenaco) meaning here to be a silent prayer offered up with a heartfelt groan. Dr. Walter Wessell put it this way, “…sighing that accompanied the concealed communion of Jesus with the Father.” Jesus was not sighing here because of the difficulty in working the miracle or obtaining power from God to perform it. Rather He was touched by human infirmity and was sympathetic with the affliction of the man.
From that communion came forth a single spoken Word meaning to be opened (dianoigo). As it is used here it means “To open the ears, eyes, understanding, and spiritual heart.” (Zodhiates Word Studies) In other words, this miracle was performed for the purpose of bringing a physical release accompanied by spiritual understanding of the heart for spiritual things. Christ speaks here as one who has authority and power. Our Lord had such power in prayer because of His heartfelt compassion and the communion He had with His Father through prayer. I am personally convinced that it is possible for Christians to obtain such a prayer life with the Lord that they can receive such compassion for the physically afflicted. When led by the Holy Spirit, they can pray with inward groaning, which enables them to pray forth words of healing. Another time when Jesus’ prayers which brought forth a miracle was at the raising of Lazarus. John 11:1 says, “…Jesus looked up and said ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard Me.’”
Often we read of Jesus looking up or making some expression that shows clearly that His heart and mind were focused toward heaven, toward His Father. The secret to receiving miracles is not lifting of the eyes or hands, but the heartfelt prayer which is ascended upward to God. In the raising of Lazarus, Christ was looking beyond the grave, overlooking the difficulties at hand and fixing His eyes upon the Father who loved Him. Christians must look beyond their circumstances, set all affections upon their God who loves them, and enter into His presence through Christ who purchased them with His blood. Our Lord addresses God with such great assurance and confidence, “…I thank you that you have heard Me.” (John 11:41) The Greek word for “heard” (akauso) here means, “…To hear so as to grant what is spoken.” Jesus who was to defeat death just after the Passover, speaks forth His authority over death and raises Lazarus from the dead.
Christ sets forth an example for us. First, in prayer we are to call to God our Father and draw close to Him with humble reverence and yet with a holy boldness. The best way to do this is to understand what it means to abide in Christ. “Abide” (meinette) means “…to remain in or with someone, to be and remain united with him, one with him in heart, mind and will.” It is then Christians can have full fellowship with God and pray Holy Spirit led prayers.
Second, in our prayers we must praise Him. Going to the mercy seat thankfully, acknowledging Him for former mercies received. Pray for miracles that will cause people to see and believe in Christ and that glorify God. That is why Jesus said in His prayer, “Father, I thank you that you have heard Me. I knew that you always hear Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent Me.” (John 11:41-42) Matthew Henry in his exposition of John 11:41 wrote; “First, Christ speaks of this miracle as answer to prayer. Secondly, Christ is assured that His prayer was answered, therefore, He professes.” As Christ honors and has faith in prayer, so should Christians.
Merril C. Tenney gives us this understanding: “He thanked God for already answering. So great was Jesus’ faith in the Father that He knew that the miracle was necessary to His mission, therefore it was as good as done when He prayed.” The faith that Christ was standing on was the fact that Lazarus was going to be raised from the dead. We know that Christ knew His mission regarding Lazarus before He even went to Bethany. Jesus said to His disciples when He heard that Lazarus was sick, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4) He most certainly understood from communion with His Father in prayer what His task was. He clearly told His disciples that “Lazarus is dead.” (John 11:14) and He said, “I am going to wake him up.” (John 11:11) H. R. Reynalds writes; “This is the true mystery and meaning of prayer. [Jesus’] words confess the Divine eternal will [of God].” Christians who remain united with Christ in heart, mind, and will, can be used of God to pray for awesome miracles that would bring glory to Christ and God.
In our church office we have a CD with the testimony of Joshua Youssef on it. He is the son of Dr. Michael Youssef and while he was living in disobedience, he was chastised by the Lord. Our Lord’s disciplinary actions toward Joshua ended with him in the emergency room, with his best friend out on a river in a life threatening situation. A Holy Spirit filled nurse who knew what it meant to truly abide in Christ was helping to attend to the wounds of Joshua Youssef. She asked Joshua if she could pray for him and his friend, upon which she was given permission. The Holy Spirit literally revealed to this nurse the will of God as she prayed. The prayer was answered exactly as the nurse spoke in her prayer. Joshua’s friend was rescued, saved from a situation in which almost everyone has died. If it be God’s will and as He leads you, you could pray Holy Spirit led prayers for the glory of Christ.
Jesus prayed for others who are being attacked by Satan
Another portion of Scripture that recorded the prayers of Christ and can be placed in a fourth group teaches how Jesus prayed for others who are being attacked by Satan. In last week’s message I discussed in more detail of Christ praying on the Cross for those who crucified Him and a little about Him praying for His disciples and those who would come to believe through their message. Today I want to show the necessity of and the power of Christ praying for those under attack by Satan.
In the King James Bible, Luke 22: 31, 32 says, “…the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” There is a reason why the King James Bible used the word “you” in verse 31 and in verse 32 it uses the word “thee.” You see the Greek word for you (hymas) in verse 31 is plural. This refers to the other disciple as well as Peter. The Word “you” or “thee” (sou) in verse 32 is singular referring to Peter directly. That is very significant to know. Satan was not only going to bring a great trial upon Peter, but to the other disciples as well. Let us remember, all the disciples failed the trial in Gethsemane. Let us not deceive ourselves, it is not only those who boasted as loudly as Peter who will be tempted by Satan to turn from their faith and commitments to the Lord. But, all good soldiers of Christ are subject to Satan’s deceptions and attacks.
Matthew Henry wrote in exposition, “Peter, who used to be the mouth of the rest in speaking to Christ, is here made the ear of the rest and designed for warning to them all.” The more God wants to use a child of God and the more a Christian becomes useful in the building of the true church, the more Satan wants to destroy him and his works with the Lord. Satan really longed to get Peter. However, Jesus gave powerful encouragement to Peter and for the Children of God as well, “But, I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” (Luke 22:32) Jesus’ prayer was not that the disciples or Peter be spared from this trial, but that Peter’s faith may not fail. His faith, (pistis) here means that which came from hearing Christ and a faith in God that would see him through in his calling. He would complete all that God had called him to do through a faith that would cause him trust in the forgiveness and empowerment of God, which would enable him to keep the others steadfast.
Dr. Walter L. Liefield has a unique teaching about the words “may not fail.” (me eklipe) He says this means that Peter “may not give out or may not disappear completely as the sun in a total eclipse.” In other words, even though Peter’s denial was serious and showed a shrinking in faith. Peter chose to believe and trust in Christ and God, not like Judas Iscariot whose faith did completely fail. Peter returned, but Judas Iscariot did not. Jesus saying “…and when you have turned back,” reveals to us that Jesus knew what lay ahead for Peter and He prayed for God’s perfect will for Peter to be done. Jesus’ prayer empowered Peter to achieve what Judas Iscariot could not do on his own. Please note: All true disciples of Christ, who in their hearts truly desire and choose to follow Christ, have Jesus’ “Divine Petitions” given on their behalf before God’s Throne. These Christians, though they may fall, will not utterly be cast down, even in their greatest temptations and trials. Christ has prayed for them. Christ’s prayers were not general and they are particular to us personally as it was for Peter when it comes to Satan’s attacks. In truth, if a child of God was left to himself, he would eventually be completely destroyed. Because of Christ’s loving intercessions for Christians, they will be empowered to return to trust in Him if they should shrink in their faith. This is a great encouragement to all who know Jesus and who know the power of His Divine Petitions. It should also encourage Christians to pray for those who have for some reason backslid in their relationship with Christ.
Should always pray and not give up
Christ prayed for others and Christians need not fear Satan’s attacks while living for the Lord. Jesus is our example in prayer and he has some clear instructions to the children of God in Luke 18: 1 – 8. Luke writes, “Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Listen to these words of Jesus on prayer.
“In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?’” (Luke 18:2-8) Luke’s statement in verse 1 is a duty to persevere in prayer. We know this, for the key word “should” or “ought” (pios to dein) means absolutely necessary that men persevere in prayer.
Just as man needs food, water, and sleep, Christians need prayer. I tell my boys often they cannot ride upon the pleasures of their parents’ prayers forever. They must let Jesus teach them to pray. Things are designed not to go well if one does not pray. When should Christians pray? “Always” (pantote) meaning at all times. As surely as time passes by in the clock of life here, Christians must always pray. Christians are to develop a constant spirit of prayer, to maintain an unbroken consciousness of God’s presence. To be led of the Holy Spirit in prayer at all times and in all occasions. He is to walk in a constant state of prayer. The best way to do this is to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. The best way to overcome sin is to spend every moment in prayer. This communion with God will enable them to literally walk in step with the Holy Ghost. Jesus says “and not give up” (me egkakein) means not to lose heart, not to turn coward or give into evil.”….
Let me assure you of this, our Lord is not to be identified with the unjust judge for He is a loving God who has called His children to prayer and have communion with Him. The children of God who stay persistent in prayer will see God get His good and perfect will accomplished in and through their lives. The Christian who goes to Christ and says “Lord teach me to pray” learns to 1.) Pray through critical moments in his life. 2.) Pray God’s called ministry through, staying steadfast and he completing what His Lord as sent him to do. 3.) He prays, believing in God, asking for miracles that will only glorify God and draw people to Christ and lastly, he intercedes for his brothers and sisters in Christ, that they may overcome any attacks from their adversary. There are children of God who have learned from Jesus to pray, and discovered the joy of praying prayers led of the Holy Spirit.
One child of God who knew the prayer life of Christ and lived a life that said, “Lord Jesus, teach me to pray” was Pastor Charles Spurgeon. He wrote; “Keep the altar of prayer burning. This is the very life of all godliness. The sanctuary and family altars borrow their fires here, therefore, let this burn well. Secret devotion is the very essence, evidence, and barometer of vital Christianity. Burn here the fat of your sacrifices of time, heart and life. Let your closet-season be if possible, regular, frequent and undisturbed. Effectual prayer availeth much…” Every Christian must examine himself on this important matter. Is your prayer life lukewarm? Or is there a measure of real faith and life in your times with the Lord? Those who are taught of Christ to pray have the same heart of Christ in prayer who prayed, “Father… Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you…” Prayer warriors like Jesus have a rejoicing in Holy Spirit led prayers that glorify Christ in and through them.
Holy Spirit Come Home
Praying for a True Revival in the Church
Grasping the Foundational Truths of Prayer
“…Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” (2 Chronicles 15:2)
2 Chronicles chapters 14-16 record very powerful truths that must be taken notice
2 Chronicles chapters 14-16 record very powerful truths that must be taken notice of by the Body of Christ if she is going to enjoy God’s presence and power in His work.
I would propose to you that the history revealed in 2 Chronicles 14-16 gives a lesson on revival (Thru the Bible) and shows us the danger of not surrendering to God’s Word and perfect will. The forty-one year reign of King Asa, shows us the success that can be enjoyed by walking in step with the Holy Spirit as He reveals the truths of God’s Word to us. Asa’s life also reflects the consequences of letting the spiritual heart grow cold to the Word of the Lord.
How did King Asa approach the Lord? What are the benefits and warnings?
Approach the Lord in heartfelt prayer
The first step to enjoying and experiencing all that God has for His church is to approach the Lord in heartfelt prayer. 2 Chronicles 14:11 says, “Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “…Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O LORD, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you.” (2 Chronicles 14:11)
The Bible says that King “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.” (2 Chronicle 14:2) He was a great leader for he exhorted Judah to “…seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to obey His laws and commands.” (2 Chronicles 14:4) Their life of faith in the Lord opened the door for the people of Judah to build and prosper in the land where God had placed them. (2 Chronicles 14:7) When King Asa made his petition in 2 Chronicles 14:11 Judah was facing the approach of a great powerful army. King Asa had seen the Lord God bless them often as they sought Him and depended upon Him.
Christians who have the greatest peace in times of trouble are those who are aware of and have enjoyed the Lord’s presence in times of blessings and trials in everyday living. The Holy Spirit has revealed to them what the Apostle Paul prayed for the church, “[they] may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19)
It is imperative that the Body of Christ understand that this was a holy war and victory could only be assured if God intervened because Asa’s enemy was massive. Asa could count his three hundred thousand men equipped with large shields and spears. He knew he had two hundred and eighty thousand brave fighting men from Benjamin, yet the army he faced was massive, much larger than his armed forces. (2 Chronicles 8)
The church can count her buildings, pastors, deacons, elders and members. The church has more tools today for evangelizing and making disciples than ever before, but she must have a Biblical perspective of her real enemy, just as Asa’s, which caused him to cry out to God.
This enemy, Satan and his demons are real and they are not to be taken lightly. They are the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12; Wuest Word Studies) Revelations 12:7-9 says, “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” (Revelations 12:7-9) Satan and his company of fallen angels are free to carry out evil purposes only as God allows. Satan’s army includes one third of the heavenly host.
Revelation 12:4 reveals to us that Satan drew one third of the angels to him and they followed him in his rebellion. When Christians fully understand what happened in heaven and become aware of Satan’s power, they will approach their everyday battles by constantly beseeching God for the victory that only He can bring about. The Greek Word for “drew” (suro) in the King James Bible means, “to draw, or pull away, whether things or persons. (The Complete Word Study Dictionary; New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries; Dictionary of Bible Languages with Semantic Domains) This word implies Satan’s ability to cause apostasy by intriguing angels and humans to become earthly or carnal in reasoning and actions. (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown; Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testament) The church of Jesus Christ has a massive enemy who can cause apostasy.
This is the great news. The church who realistically approaches her relationship and service to the Lord in fear and trembling, has watching over her the army of the Lord which is twice the size of Satan’s army. This victorious church knows what Asa knew, all battles for the Lord will be won, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6)
Christians who have the heart of David, a repentant heart seeking after God, can cry out to the Lord as David did when Saul and His army were coming after him, “I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills His purpose for me.” (Psalm 57: 2) The blood purchased church of Jesus Christ has an ordained purpose, “The Great Commission.” This “Commission” is not only to baptize in Jesus’ Name, but to teach all who will surrender to Christ to obey everything the Word of God says. The promise is that the Lord will be with us always. (Matthew 28:19-20) Our empowerment is found in the Book of Acts, “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8) This empowerment for service is not obtained by observing church ordinances. It comes only by letting the Holy Spirit bring revelation and illumination of truth found in the Bible, thus birthing forth Holy Spirit inspired faith. This requires a continual seeking of the guidance and empowering of the Holy Spirit, inviting Him to reside in the home of the spiritual heart of the born again Christian.
The humble servant of the Lord, Dwight L. Moody let God remind him of a truth that applies to the Body of Christ. He writes, “…I can only say God revealed Himself to me! I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand! I went to preach again. The [messages] were no different. I did not present any new truth. Yet hundreds were converted. I would not [go] back that position in life where I was before that blessed experience.”
Let the Holy Spirit come home into your heart. God loves us. We as a church do not need to worry whether or not we have enough programs or are doing enough for the Lord. We need only to rest in His love for us. Rejoice in what He has already done in this Body of Christ right now.
Asa understood God’s love for Him, thus he had confidence to come to the Lord while facing the largest army ever recorded in Scripture coming against God people. Asa saw the Lord bring a great victory as he prayed and walked in faith before the God of Judah. (2 Chronicles 14:12-15)
Restore true worship in the church of Christ
Approaching the Lord as Asa did and resting in God’s love enables the children of God to approach the Lord in prayer. Opening the spiritual heart and allowing the Spirit of Christ to reside there enables the child of God to receive revelation, do what is right in God’s sight and restore true worship in the church of Christ. The Bible says, “…time… has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23)
The Lord knows what His obedient seeking children need. God’s working in and through the life of Asa reveals to us three sure things that happens when the Spirit of God is working in the in the Body of Christ. 1.) The church has Holy Spirit anointed servants. 2.) The church is cleansed by the Holy Spirit and 3.) The church serves the Lord wholeheartedly.
At the end of 2 Chronicles 14 we read of the Lord giving King Asa a great victory over a massive enemy. In the first part of chapter 15 we see Asa returning from the Lord’s victorious pursuit of the Ethiopians. (Jamieson Fausset and Brown; A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory; Matthew Henry Commentary) Asa was met by the Prophet Azariah who had a Word from the Lord for Him. 2 Chronicles 15:1 says, “The Spirit of God came upon Azariah.” The term “The Spirit of God” exhibits incontestably the manifold function of the Holy Spirit of God working through a servant of the Lord. (The Pulpit Commentary)
What we have in the Holy Spirit working through the Prophet Azariah is the Old Testament example of the New Testament Holy Spirit given gift of “prophesying” (propheteia) (Acts 13:2; Romans 12:6 1 Corinthians 12:4-8,13:2;14:6,24,30-31; The Complete Word Study of the NT; The Septuagint use this same Greek word in 2 Chronicles 15:8) This gift enables the church to enjoy Holy Spirit inspired messages of warning and exhortation, the giving of instructions, judging and making the secrets of the heart known. It is preaching the message of God through intelligible preaching given through intelligible messages. (Word Studies of the New Testament; Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament; Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament) It is important to note that “prophesying” is not primarily prediction but the communication of revealed truth that will both convict and build up the hearers.
Where the Holy Spirit is at home in the Lord’s church there will be faithful preachers who have the anointing of God’s Holy Spirit. These preachers will preach and prayerfully prepare messages that correctly handle the Word of God. (2 Timothy 2:15) There will be Christians in that church hungry to hear the Word of God proclaimed and taught.
Dr. Ed Stetzer comments on Biblical Holy Spirit preaching, “Everybody seems to be an expert on preaching, because everyone who listens to a sermon has an idea of whether or not they like it. False boundaries abound when it comes to preaching—many will say that there is only one biblical form of preaching, but they have missed the point. There are many ways to communicate, but preaching requires a Biblical foundation from which to communicate. Biblical preaching must include something to make it a Biblical message rather than a speech.”
“The Bible does say to ‘Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.’” (2 Timothy 4:2-3)
“When looking at boundaries, we have to determine what is NOT commanded but acceptable, certain preaching methods and temper that with what is essential, Biblical preaching.. If the word is preached and it accomplishes the Biblical objectives – correct, rebuke and encourage – then we have ‘preached the Word.’ If that sermon takes a verse-by-verse form, then it accomplishes that biblical objective. If it is thematic and dealing with a topic from a multitude of applied Scriptures, that is acceptable as well. As long as the Scripture sets the agenda of the text and the Scripture is faithfully delivered.”
Pastor, Evangelist and Prophet David Wilkerson wrote it well, “Where the Holy Spirit resides there will be no satisfaction in cotton candy messages.” I would like to add, “Our pulpits need to return to preaching God’s Word and the people of God must learn to hate chocolate covered marshmallow messages and be hungry for the meat or the solid food of God’s Word.” (Hebrews 5:12)
Holy Spirit led messages give guidance and comfort, just as Azariah’s message did, “Listen to me, Asa and all of Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. Every Holy Spirit anointed message encompasses the whole truth of God’s Word.
Azariah’s message was not, “O King Asa, no one can win wars like you can,” rather exhortation and warning, keeping the record straight. Asa enjoyed, as all Christians can, God’s Holy Spirit empowerment in their lives and anointing upon their labors with the Lord. (2 Chronicles 15:7)
Holy Spirit revelation and illumination lead to production of fruit of repentance and Christians who throw out modern day idols. The Bible says, “When Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Azariah… he took courage. He removed the testable idols from the whole land of Judah and Bejamin and from the towns he had captured… He repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the… Lord’s temple” (2 Chronicles 15:8)
After hearing the Lord’s message, and the promise of God being with him and the nation, Asa become a zealous reformer. He got idolatry out of the land and restored worship back to the Lord. Prophetic encouragement brings genuine responses from those who have ears to hear the Word of the Lord and a heart to walk in His will. The church must have the Holy Spirit’s presence to birth forth true repentance and cleansing so the Body of Christ may enjoy the abundant life in Christ. (The Pulpit Commentary; Matthew Henry Commentary; Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary; A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory)
It is imperative that the New Testament church has an understanding of what is so sinful about idols. In the Old Testament idolatry included 1.) The departure from true worship to God to the worship of false gods, whether by means of images or otherwise and 2.) The worship of the Lord by means of images. (The New International Dictionary of the Bible) The Lord God is a jealous God and He will not accept any worship given to Him apart from what is clearly spelled out in the written Word nor will He put up forever with His children giving honor and praise to some other god.
In the New Testament Jesus warned against making possessions central in life because they can easily become an idols. He warned that man cannot both serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24) The apostle Paul, in Romans 1:18-25, teaches that idolatry is not the first stage of religion… rather it is deliberate apostasy.
This is why the New Testament Christians are repeatedly warned to be on their guard against idolatry. The Old Testament concept of idolatry is widened to include anything that leads to the dethronement of God from the heart. (The New International Dictionary of the Bible) The Holy Spirit warns us in the writings of the apostle Paul, “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (Ephesians 5:5) The Holy Spirit also moved this great apostle to write what Christians are to urgently do, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.” (Colossians 3:5-6)
When the Holy Spirit is working in the home of the spiritual heart of Christians, the true church will do what Asa and the people of Judah did. “They entered in to a covenant to seek the Lord… with all their heart and soul. They sought God eagerly, and He was found by them.” (2 Chronicles 15:12,15)
Dead religion is man looking for God, trying to earn favor with God by the way he worships. These hypocrites try to look like worshipers of God by religious acts. This is dead religion and causes a form of godliness but denies the power of God to govern our daily lives and change a person from within. (2 Timothy 3:5) This is the heartbeat of legalism, traditionalism, denominationalism and faddism.
Jesus said that the true worshiper worships in spirit and truth. Jesus is teaching that the reflection of our character is lived out with regard to our duty which comes from a heart response to the sacrificial love He has shown us.
The Holy Spirit illuminated church has Christians who worship the Lord Jesus in spirit and truth. They rely completely on the Spirit of Christ, who indwells them for guidance and strength to live out what God’s Word instructs them to do. The Holy Spirit has brought a spiritual understanding of what the psalmist wrote about in Psalm 51:6-7 and their daily heart cry is, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:6-7)
Come Holy Spirit do a work in me
The true church spends seasons seeking the Lord Jesus in prayer and in these last days the church must be honest in her spiritual evaluations. She must be willing to say “Come Holy Spirit do a work in me.”
2 Chronicles 16 records a tragedy in the life of a man who saw first hand the Lord’s mighty power to save. He heard the prophecy spoken over him and the nation he ruled over. When faced with war in this time of history Asa took silver and gold out of the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and his own palace to enter into an agreement with the King of Aram. (2 Chronicles 16:2) God sent the seer Hanani to speak a word of rebuke to Asa because he put trust in man and not God, (2 Chronicles 16:7-9) Asa became angry and further added to his sin by putting God’s spokesman into prison. (2 Chronicles 16:10) The Bible says, “…Asa was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord…” (2 Chronicles 16:12)
This portion of Asa’s life shows us God’s mercy in trying to bring Asa to repentance and turn him back to a life of faithfulness and trust in the Lord—the lifestyle he had exhibited for so many years. As far as we are aware that repentance never came. The truth for the Body of Christ is to be willing to seek the Lord for a fresh touch of His Holy Spirit as we serve Him in every situation of life. Let the Lord Jesus do a work in us through the Holy Spirit so the whole Body of Christ may enjoy the abundant life promised in the Bible.
God’s spokesman had a message for Asa that applies to us today, “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him…” (2 Chronicles 16:9)
In Closing: The church has an enemy and he knows that he running out of time. The Body of Christ needs more of the Holy Spirit’s guidance, cleansing and empowerment more than ever. No one is beyond falling into the arms of the flesh and becoming embittered by the trials of life we must go through in order to maintain that personal, intimate, complete trust in the Lord Jesus that God wants from us. As the church maintains a heart cry that says “Come Holy Spirit, do thy Father’s will in us,” she will be a victorious church achieving the Lord’s perfect will for her.
The Lord knows what His obedient seeking children need. Through allowing the Holy Spirit to do a work in His church the Body of Christ will enjoy 1.) Holy Spirit anointed servants. 2.) Cleansing by the Holy Spirit and 3.) The ability to serve the Lord wholeheartedly while being led of the Holy Spirit who brings life to the Written Word.
- L. Moody was recognized as a child of God who had Holy Spirit filling. An unknown resource wrote, “Moody was to have a campaign in England. An elderly pastor protested, ‘Why do we need this Mr. Moody? He is uneducated and inexperienced. Who does he think he is anyway? Does he have a monopoly on the Holy Spirit?’ A younger, wise pastor rose and responded, ‘No, but the Holy Spirit has a monopoly on Mr. Moody.’”
Are we as a Body of Christ willing to fast and pray that the Holy Spirit comes to Norton County and do a work in us? That the Lord would send the Spirit of Christ to set people free from the bondage of the flesh, the lures of the world and the lies of the devil? When it is all over, will CrossRoads Church be found faithful in asking God to do a work in Norton County because of the work Christ as already done on the Cross of Calvary?
When we make it to heaven, will those who did a hard faithful work in this church before us find that we were faithful to ask God to turn this church into a spiritual hospital where Holy Spirit heart surgery is being done? (Ezekiel 36:26-27) Is this where Christians are receiving a powerful thirst and hunger for the Word of God, Christians saying “Lord Jesus teach me to pray.” Asking the Lord to make us a church where all the Holy Spirit given gifts are being exercised out of sacrificial love.
Worshipers Who Pray Through to a Completion
“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14)
If you have been a Christian for very long you are very much aware of this chapter in Israel’s history. Most people even if they are not Christians have heard something of what happened at the Red Sea. The vessel the Lord chose to work through in preparing a people to be freed from bondage was Moses. God enabled Moses to do many great things before the Lord, one was being an intercessor. A Biblical intercessor gets involved by first interceding in prayer by making petition or entreaty in favor of another. (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary) A Biblical intercessor hears the voice of God and then moves forward in faith and gives others opportunity to follow.
In Deuteronomy 5 we see Moses interceding with the people of God, reminding them to “…be careful to do what the Lord [their] God directed [him] to teach [them] to observe…” (Deuteronomy 5:1-33) In Numbers chapter fourteen we read of God going to strike the Israelite’s down with a plague because of the their grumbling and desire to rebel against the Lord. (Numbers 14:2,9) However, Moses intercedes for them by trusting in the Lord’s great strength and loving character. (Numbers 14:17) Moses speaks to the Lord saying, “The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished… In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.” (Numbers 14:18-19)
Moses was a worshiper who interceded for the Lord to God’s people giving them His instructions, he interceded for the Israelite’s urging them not to rebel, and he asking God not to strike the people with a plague, not because he had a hidden agenda, rather he had a zealous heart for the protection of God’s character among the nations. (Numbers 14:13-16) His response to Lord’s wrath against the Israelite’s was, “If you put these people to death all at one time, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, `The LORD was not able to bring these people into the land He promised them on oath; so He slaughtered them in the desert.’” (Number 14:15-16)
Just what made Moses the intercessor that enabled Him to enjoy the power of God? What is the character that enables the church of Jesus Christ to walk in step with the Holy Spirit and enjoy the power of God in her labors with the Lord? I would like to propose to you that Exodus chapter 14 and other Biblical records of the Lord working in and through the life of Moses present to us the foundation of making worshipers who pray through to the power of God in their lives and ministries.
What is in the heart of worshipers who have the ear of God
The first truth that the Holy Spirit wants you to grasp is what is in the heart of worshipers who have the ear of God. There is a heart attitude that must be present in the Body of Christ that shows all who see the Lord’s church that God listens when they pray. There needs to be that vessel who can allow people to see the power of God working in their lives. John 9:31 says, “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does His will.” (John 9:31) The English Standard version gives us this wonderful translation with, “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, God listens to him.”
In John chapter 9 we read of Jesus coming across a man who had been blind from his birth. (John 9:1) His disciples asked him why the man was born blind. Jesus’ answer was, “…this happened so that the power of God might be displayed in his life.” As we continue to read through John chapter 9 we read that the man was healed (John 9:7) and this drew a great amount of attention from the people who knew him and especially from the Pharisees. The Pharisees questioned the man who was healed and his parents. They hurled insults at him and put him out of the synagogue. They told the man that they were disciples of Moses, and “we do not even know where this fellow comes from.” (John 9:7-34)
From studying the prayer life of Jesus, we know that God always hears Him because He was fully submitted to His Fathers will. (John 11:41-42: Hebrews 5:7) Listen to the words of a man who was touched by Jesus, the Son of God who accomplished His father’s will. (John 9:35-38) The man said, “…Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where He comes from, yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does His will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” (John 9:30-32) The Bible says, “[When] Jesus heard that they had thrown him out…” (John 9:35) He went and found the man and then led the man to believe in Him. (John 9:35-38) After their conversation the man who had been healed by Jesus said, “‘Lord, I believe’ and [then] he worshiped [Jesus].” (John 9:38)
The Pharisees mention that they were disciples of Moses. Moses occupied a unique place as God’s friend. Exodus 33:11 says, “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” (Exodus 33:11) Another worshiper of God, Abraham, was also called “friend.” James 2:23-24 says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” (James 2:23-24: Isaiah 41:8) At least two other times in the Bible Abraham is referred to as being God’s friend, one of those being when the Lord was speaking to God’s people, reminding them that they were chosen for a purpose. (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8) The term “he was called friend” in James 2:23 is another way of saying that he was right with God. It was not that Abraham earned favor with God by his obedience, rather through his obedience he was showing what a real friend to God is. (The Expositors Bible Commentary) In Isaiah 41:8 Abraham was referred to by God through the prophet Isaiah as being “my friend.” “My friend” literally means “loving Me.” (A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory) It was a special privilege of Abraham to be known as God’s friend. A truth that must be grasped by all who want to be intercessors and true worshipers of the Lord Jesus is, Abraham loved God, and he showed his love by his obedience. (The Pulpit Commentary)
Jesus called His disciples “friends.” He elevated the disciples above mere tools and made them partners in His work. Christian friendship with Christ is much more than casual acquaintance; it is a partnership of mutual esteem and affection. Jesus defined friendship in terms of obedience to His commands. John 15:14-16 says, “You are My friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” (John 15:14-16) Warren Wiersbe was so correct when he wrote, “The first duty of every soul is to find not its freedom but its Master.” Mr. Wiersbe capitalized the letter “M” in Master, referring that true freedom is found in surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ who is the only One who can teach you what truly liberty is.
Another truth the Holy Spirit wants you to grasp is that an intercessor who has the ear of the Lord is a worshiper who wants to be taught of God and live in His presence
A foundational step to becoming intercessors who have the ear of God is to walk in the type of obedience that reflects we are His friends. Another truth the Holy Spirit wants you to grasp is that an intercessor who has the ear of the Lord is a worshiper who wants to be taught of God and live in His presence. The heart of the great intercessor Moses is so revealed to us in Exodus 33:12-13, “Moses said to the LORD, ‘You have been telling me, lead these people, but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, I know you by name and you have found favor with me. If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.’” (Exodus 33:12-13) Here we read of Moses’ prayer and the Lord’s answer. Every great intercessor for the Lord has this heart. This was the cry of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:10, “…I want to know Christ… I press on to the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
The Lord God had called Moses to lead the people, however, we read in Exodus 33:1-3 that God said He would not go with Moses to the land of promise. His reason for not going with Moses to the promised land was that the people of God were so stiff-necked that He might destroy them. (Exodus 33:1-3) God said that He would send an angel ahead of them to drive out the people who lived in the land. This angel is different from the angel of His presence. A church that is going to have fellowship with God and give the true worship that enables them to enjoy His presence must understand that sin will exclude them from enjoying the presence of God’s Spirit. A true church will recognize when she begins to replace worship in spirit and truth with traditionalism, legalism, and denominationalism, and is worshiping the Lord in faddism. A true church has leaders who are led by the Holy Spirit and who do not look at the church through rose colored classes.
Moses does not argue with the Lord about the church of his time being stiff-necked. He relies upon what God told Him. Moses becomes that worshiper who knows and then clings to the promises of God. He speaks to the Lord saying “It is you who has called me to lead these people.” Moses is a bold intercessor here and he stands upon what God had already made known to him. His prayer is, “[Lord] You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’” “Know you by name” means that Moses belonged to God. The Lord had singled him out for a purpose and the Lord would see His purpose accomplished through Moses. “You have found favor with me,” meant that Moses had acceptance, enjoyed a special standing, or was given a privileged position to serve the Lord and be an intercessor for God’s people. Moses was to point and lead a people of God to the promised land, a land of abundance. (Bible Knowledge Commentary; The Expositors Bible Commentary; Commentary on the Old Testament; The Complete Word Study of the Old Testament)
The Holy Spirit moved through the Apostle Peter to write to God’s elect, those who are strangers in this world. (1 Peter 1::2) 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) True worshipers are chosen people, property of God, the blood purchased church singled out for the purpose of proclaiming the great work of God and declaring the praises of Jesus Christ to a stiff-necked people who want only their own way in life. (Easton Bible Dictionary) Through the blood of Jesus Christ Christians have favor with God, enjoy a special standing and have all the privileges that come with knowing and serving the Lord Jesus. Their standing is under the authority of Christ to go and make disciples and the privilege is enjoying the abundant life promised in Christ.
Moses sets the example of the heart that is to be found in the life of a worshiper who has the ear of God, Moses’ petition was “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.” (Exodus 33:13) Intercessors who see the power of God working in their lives and their ministries are those who have a teachable spirit. These intercessors have the heart of the Psalmist who knew the application of being taught of God. Their song of praise is a life drawn out from the control of sin, to that which proclaims, “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are they who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart. They do nothing wrong; they walk in His ways. You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.” (Psalm 119:1-4)
Ed Wood told the story about a woman who had read the Bible and stated that it was the dullest book she had ever read. When she became a born again Christian and fell in love with the author, she found the Word of God to be life giving. Those who have hard cold hearts to the Lord can care less about a relationship with Jesus Christ. They find the Word of God and the things of God dull. Worshipers who fall in love with Christ and listen to His teaching find the Bible inspiring, life giving and full of information on how to live for the glory of Christ.
In his prayer of intercession for the people of God, Moses prayed, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15-16) The church who has the ear of the Lord open to their prayers is the church that knows unless the Lord is working in and through them they might as well as shut their doors. If He is not going to lead, protect and give empowerment to their labors done for Him they might as well as not do anything. There is nothing wrong with asking the Lord to show that He is pleased with His church and to work through her in a way that shows clearly that Holy Spirit is working in and through the church of Jesus Christ.
Worshipers who are taught of God and are hungry for the Lord Jesus’ presence in their lives and ministry are told what God told Moses about his ordained task, “My Presence will go with you.” (Exodus 33:14) “…I will do everything you have asked, because I am pleased with you and know you by name.” (Exodus 33:17) The church that worships in spirit and truth has the promise of God’s Word, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Her proclamation is, “So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.’ What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6) Moses, on many occasions, had stood before an army that desired to destroy the people and the work of God. As God’s people called upon Him in the heart of a true worshiper the Lord brought deliverance and victory. The church who is expressing a life of true worship will find that the Lord’s presence is with them.
Jesus’ promise in the giving of the “Great Commission” is “And surely I am with you always…” (Matthew 28:20) “Always” (pasa tas hemeras) means “all the days,” or “day in and day out” or rather “the whole of the day.” The application is that the presence of Christ is with His church through the Holy Spirit as Companion, Friend, and Guide. He is with them in private and public prayer meetings, during the giving of exhortation, while applying disciplines, in trials of persecution and affliction, and in the administration of our Christian duties. Literally the Lord Jesus’ presence will never be withdrawn for us for a single moment. (Word Meanings; The Pulpit Commentary; Vines; Word Pictures in the New Testament)
Worshipers pray through to completion what the Lord calls them to do
True worshipers enjoy the Lord Jesus’ presence and pray through to completion what the Lord calls them to do. The Bible says, “…my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house.” (Numbers 12:7)
In Exodus chapter 3 we read of God seeing the misery of His people in Egypt. The Lord said to Moses, “…I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. …I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelite’s out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:7,10) Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34) A true worshiper of Christ has the same calling as Moses. They are to take a message of freedom that Christ can bring (John 8:36) to a people in the world who are held captive to the slavery of the flesh, the world, and the lies of the devil. Worshipers will make every effort to be interceding for those in bondage of sin, petitioning God to send the Spirit of Christ to bring deliverance to family members, friends and co-workers. They will be faithful to their call no matter how powerful their adversaries are and no matter how much the people of God grumble, complain and or lose faith.
In Exodus 14 we see this faithful intercessor, Moses, praying and following through to a healthy completion what God told him to do. As they are encamped at the Red Sea God tells Moses all about what is to take place. God is going to bring glory to Himself. (Exodus 14:4) He is going to harden Pharaoh’s heart and Moses is going to have to suffer the results of an unbelieving people who see Pharaoh’s army coming after them. This is where Moses shows himself a worshiper who prays a plan through and can hear the voice of God to get clear direction. Moses authenticity is shown forth at the edge of the Red Sea. True worshipers are found authentic in the heat of battle only as they prayerfully trust in the Lord and walk in obedience to Him.
Exodus 14:10-12 says, “As Pharaoh approached, the Israelite’s looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, `Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Exodus 14:10-12) From Exodus chapter 7-11 we read of God showing the Egyptians and the people of God that He is greater than any of the gods the Egyptians worshiped. In Exodus chapter 12 we read that Israel did not get guns and blast themselves out of Egypt in battle. As a matter of fact they were summoned to leave by Pharaoh. (Exodus 12:31) The Egyptians urged them to leave (Exodus 12:33) and as they were leaving, “The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave [the Israelite’s] what they asked for, so they plundered the Egyptians.” (Exodus 12:36) Now here at the Red Sea the unfaithful are making faithful Moses’ life difficult.
How often has the church seen the Lord show Himself faithful and as soon as Satan, the great big adversary of the church raises up a force against the work of God, the people begin to grumble, begin to complain, and show lack of faith. Not only was Moses’ character being exposed at the Red Sea but that of the people of God as well. Too many churches and pastors are being exposed in the heat of battle today and being found to have Israel’s faith. True worshipers are found genuine in the heat of the battle of the Lord. They have the heart of Moses who interceded for God, giving the Word of the Lord, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. …The Lord will fight for you…” (Exodus 14:13-14)
As we continue to read we notice that a true intercessor for the Lord has ears to hear and a heart obey the Lord’s instructions. The Lord tells Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelite’s to get up and move on.” (Exodus 14:15) The rest of the story is that God fought for Israel and brought them through the Red Sea on dry ground and when it was all over “…the Israelite’s saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, they feared the Lord and put their trust in Him and in Moses His servant.” (Exodus 14:31) True worshipers pray through to completion what the Lord has told them to do, just as Moses did. The end results are that they enjoy the power of God in their lives and ministries before the Lord. The people of God walk in a reverent fear of the Lord and see God’s hand doing a work in their families, friends and co-workers. Trust is established in the church of Jesus Christ.
Worshipers are like
Worshipers are Christians who have the ear of God because He knows they are His friend, they long to be taught of the Lord and enjoy His presence, and they pray through to a healthy completion of what they are told to do. Worshipers are like, “Moses, faithful… [servants] in… God’s house, testifying to all that Christ has and will do “in the future.” Their trust is in, “Christ [who] is faithful as a Son over God’s house. [They] are His house, [if they] hold on to [their] courage and the hope of which we boast.” (Hebrews 3:5-6) They are worshipers because of what Christ did on the Cross of Calvary. Jesus’ death on the Cross tore open the curtain in the temple, symbolizing that all who have faith in Christ may enter into the presence of God. Thus the prayer of Christians is, Holy Spirit, “Make Us Worshipers.”
Principles to Enjoying the Grace of God
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Today’s passage of Scripture lays the foundation for the confidence Christians may have in approaching the “Throne of Grace.” Christ being in heaven and without sin builds a full trust in the child of God. Christians who have Holy Spirit revelation and illumination on the truths found in today’s message have the blessings of assistance in overcoming sin and guidance throughout their entire Christian walk. (The Expositors Bible Commentary)
I would propose to you that true prayer is spiritual business from beginning to end, and when offered in Jesus’ Name, according to God’s will prayer is powerful and effective. (James 5:16; Barnes Notes)
What are three principles to enjoying the “Throne of Grace?” It is imperative that we understand that 1.) The Throne is of a holy God. 2.) The Throne is of a Sovereign God and 3.) Know what the Throne of Grace is.
Throne of a holy God
In approaching the Courts of God one must remember that it is the Throne of a holy God. It should be approached in reverence. There are several passages of Scripture that show the response of great men who received a divine grace from God. In the year king Uzziah died, Isaiah saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Angels were flying above Him and calling one to another, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord Almighty…” (Isaiah 6:4)
In this Biblical record of the angels calling to one another we read of the prophet Isaiah getting a vision of God and receiving the commission of proclaiming a message to the Lord’s people. Isaiah’s work was about to grow. Perhaps the Lord saw fit to renew Isaiah’s commission through a vision because, like most prophets, he had seen very little of what man calls success in his ministry. Maybe he had considered giving up so God saw fit to renew his commission through a vision.
Whatever was in the heart of the prophet Isaiah was overridden by what God wanted proclaimed about Himself, God is “Holy, holy, holy. When something is mentioned in the Word of God three times the people of God had better take note of it.
Isaiah’s response while standing before the throne was, “Woe to me!… I am ruined!” (Isaiah 6:5) Isaiah began to confess his sin and the sins of his people. (Isaiah 6:5) Standing in God’s light allowed Isaiah to see himself and the Israelites for who they really were. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)
I have noticed Christians who spend a great deal of time in the light of God’s Word. The Holy Spirit just comes upon them and reveals to them what is in their hearts. They confess and they receive a special grace from God as well as becoming broken hearted over what they see in their communities.
They have Holy Spirit Illumination of was written by the beloved John, “But if we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1: 7) The Greek word for purifies (kathoriza) means in a spiritual sense to purify from the pollution of and the guilt of sin.
That is exactly what happened to Isaiah in his vision and commission from God. After Isaiah’s confession an angel took a live coal, which came from the altar where sin had been dealt with, which is symbolic of Christ’s death. The angel touched the mouth of Isaiah and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:7) Isaiah understood that the throne of God, the temple, representing the place of God presence was to be entered in reverence. God’s response to Isaiah’s heart was a cleansing that comes not because of what Isaiah had accomplished, but from that which represented the work of Christ.
The angel of God touched the lips of Isaiah with a “live coal” from the altar which symbolized the place where the penalty of sin was paid by a substitute offered in the sinner’s place. Dr. Kay suggests that this fire is “the Divine love.” The greatest love ever shown to mankind was when God sent His Son and Jesus came willingly to pay the ultimate price for sinners.
John the Baptist has great news for us. In Matthew 3:11 he speaks of the future work of Christ to His church, “[Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” To the believer, the Holy Spirit as fire ministers warmth to the spiritual heart, bringing illumination and revelation that enable the child of God to obey. He purifies and cleanses the soul. Because the carnal nature of mankind survives the baptism of water, it takes the continued work of the Holy Spirit to assure a personal life of holiness. (The Holy Spirit, L.Thomas Holdcrat)
While attending the North American Conference for Itinerant Evangelists in Louisville, Kentucky, Bonnie and I attended a very large prayer meeting. Nearly 2,500 evangelists and their spouses were seeking the Lord in true heartfelt prayer. As we were praying the Holy Spirit came powerfully upon that service. We were able to get past denominationalism, legalism, and traditionalism. One man who was sitting not far in front of me went running to the front, fell on his face and began to weep and cry out to God. This visitation of the Holy Spirit came on a day when had spent the whole day on the messenger of the gospel and his need for the holiness of God in his life.
Men from the Billy Graham organization went and put their hands upon him and prayed with him. It was very evident the Lord was doing a cleansing. Wonderful things happen when you seek the Throne of Grace and are willing to just let the Holy Spirit into the sanctuary of the heart to do the work of God.
Charles Spurgeon wrote it well: “In prayer we are to come to the Throne of Grace in reverence. Rebels with unrepented sin in their hearts and those who will not leave their pride should not come before the Throne.”
The Body of Christ is to approach the Throne of Grace with the heart of the Psalmist who wrote; “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offense way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting.” (Psalm 139:24) Walking in this foundational truth allows Christians to enjoy the Throne of Grace and enables them to walk in reverent fear of the Lord, knowing that He is holy.
Christians need to grasp the truth revealed to the Apostle Peter as the Holy Spirit moved him to write to God’s elect. “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:13-16)
Throne of a Sovereign God
The second principle to enjoying the Throne of Grace is to rest on the fact that it is the throne of a Sovereign God. Psalm 103:19 in the New American Standard Bible says, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all.”
Sovereignty is a prerogative arising out of the perfection of the Supreme Being. God is Spirit (John 4:24) and therefore a person, infinite, eternal, and immutable in His being. He is perfect as Creator and the Preserver of the universe and everything in it.
The Spirit of the Living God reveals to us in Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him.” Let the Holy Spirit place this truth in your heart as you approach the Throne of God, “…His dominion is an eternal dominion; His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:34-35)
In other words, the child of God who enjoys the Throne of Grace understands that He does not approach God saying, “What are you doing! Why don’t you do it this way?” But rather saying, “Father, you are loving and you know best, therefore, give me the will to want your will and pray accordingly.
A Holy Spirit led prayer warrior prays as King David prayed, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11) When Christians fully have a Biblical view of God’s love and sovereign control they express a life that says, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; (Psalm 24:1)
From these passages of Scripture and many more we see what is plain. 1.) The sovereignty of God is universal. It extends over all His creatures from the highest to the lowest. 2.) God’s sovereignty is absolute. There is no limit to be placed to His authority. 3.) It is immutable. It can neither be ignored nor rejected. It binds all creatures as inexorable. This means that prayers cannot bind God to our will, but we should desire to pray His that will be done.
The Word of God as a whole teaches us that His sovereignty is exercised, 1.) In establishing the laws, physical and moral, by which all creatures are to be governed. 2.) In determining the nature and powers of the different orders of created beings, and in assigning each its appropriate sphere. 3.) In appointing each individual his position and lot. It is the Lord who boxes the bounds of our habitation. Our times are in His hands. He determines when, where, and under what circumstances each individual of our race is to be born, live, and die. Nations, no less than individuals, are thus in the hands of God, who assigns them their heritage in the earth, controls their destiny. 4.) God does what He wills with His own. He gives to some riches, to others, honor; to others, health; while others are poor, unknown, or victims of disease. To some, the light of the gospel is sent; others are left in darkness. Some are brought through faith unto salvation; others perish in unbelief. (Systematic Theology, Hodge)
There are some people frightened by the sovereignty of God and other protest. Holy Spirit illuminated Christians rejoice with the apostle Paul who wrote about our spiritual blessings in Christ, “In Him we were chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.” (Ephesians 1: 11)
The child of God who allows the Holy Spirit to place a trust of God’s sovereignty in his heart establishes the same relationship with God in prayer that Christ had on this earth. Our best Biblical example of submission to the sovereignty of God in prayer is found in Gethsemane. In Matthew 26:36-46 we read some very key passages of Scripture that teach us a key truth to accepting God’s sovereignty and enabling us to pray, “Your will be done.”
This key truth is found in observing our greatest example in prayer, Jesus. In Matthew’s account we read of Jesus being overwhelmed with sorrow, even to the point of death. (Matthew 26:38) Our Lord struggled in those hours and Luke tells us that Jesus was in anguish… and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44) Jesus was not a man in anguish because of dreading the results of sin that He had committed, but we read here the language of innocent dread of suffering over that which was about to be laid upon Him.
Between those prayers of, “…if you are willing, take this cup from Me;” and “Yet not My will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42) our Lord came to understand that the way of the Cross was the only way to atone for the sins of the world. (Hebrews 9:22) Jesus clearly understood the sovereignty of His Father and submitted to God’s perfect will. The Bible says that Jesus’ prayers were “…heard because of His reverent submission.” (Hebrews 5:7) “Heard” (eiskakouo) means to have prayers heard favorably, to have the petitions granted or answered yes to.
Knowing that God is in full control and able to do all things according to His will, enables the child of God to run to the Throne of Grace and enjoy the sovereignty of God in His life. The Lord knows what is best for us and He will clean our hearts and prepare us for service to accomplish His will.
The Throne is a place where Christians find grace
The Throne in heaven is where a holy God reigns and His sovereignty rules over all and 3.) It is a place where Christians find grace.
Our text says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Grace (charis) used in Hebrews 4:16 means “through the graces counsel of God.” (Spiros Zodhiates)
Dr. Jim Berg has a definition of grace that will help us apply God’s grace in our lives. He writes, “God’s grace is revealing His will to you and then enabling you to achieve it.”
How does a child of God enjoy the counsel of God? Psalm 119:105 says, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Not only does the Word of God inform us of His will, but also serves as light on a path in darkness. The Word of God tells how to live a life of righteousness in a sin dark world system. The lamp of the spiritual heart is fed with the oil of the Holy Spirit. The Book of Ephesians tells us that the sword of the Holy Spirit is the Word of God. (Ephesians)
Let me give you some examples. The first grace God offers sinners is the revelation of their need to know Christ. Then He draws sinners to Christ. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus said, “No one comes to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” (John 6:44)
The Father draws sinners through the Holy Spirit by bringing revelation of God’s Word to a hard heart. (The Bible Exposition Commentary) Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears My words and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24) Jesus also taught this about the Holy Spirit’s work, “When He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8)
If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, it is not because of the work of man, it is God drawing and enabling you to receive the Son of God into your spiritual heart and life. Accepting Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord opens the curtains to the Holy of holies, allowing you to have fellowship with a loving father. You may go before His Throne of Grace and give heartfelt petitions for the souls of family members, friends, and co-workers. God’s Word gives this counsel, “…[He is] not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
A second blessing of walking in the counsel of God’s Word is to enjoy the promises of having all our needs met by Him. Matthew 6:33 tell us the blessings of not putting off God’s will for us. Jesus said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) If a person is pursuing God’s will for them as directed through the written Word, he will see the Lord provide for his ordinary needs in life, such as food, clothing and shelter. (Matthew 6:31) (The Bible Exposition Commentary; The Bible Knowledge Commentary; Matthew Henry Commentary)
A third grace to enjoy from our heavenly Father is having the High Priest, Jesus Christ standing at the Throne interceding for us. The Book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus sits at the right hand of God in heaven. (Hebrews 8:1) Jesus serves as a High Priest who is able to sympathize with us in everything we face in life.
There is great significance in having Jesus as our High Priest, serving at the Throne of Grace. Hebrews 2: 17-18 says “For this reason He had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for sins of the people.” The Book of Hebrews tell us “…that we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.”
Our Lord knows our weakness (asthenia). That means He knows our incapacity or rather our limitations. This includes all weaknesses, moral and physical, which predispose a person to sin and facilitates the functions which birth forth sinful acts and meditations. This nature undermines our resistance to temptation and makes it impossible to get victory through our own strength. (Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains; Word Studies in the New Testament; Wuest’s Word Study)
The Lord knows how we feel when our flesh, the world and the lies of the devil attack us persistently and from every direction in life down here. Because all the sins of the world were laid upon Jesus, He is able to sympathize with us. “Sympathize” (subpathesai) means to have compassion upon, literally feel for and suffer within one’s own heart with the person being tormented in his weaknesses.
Every parent knows what it feels like to see a child hurting from a physical injury that keeps him from performing at his peak. Every parent struggles and hurts with their children as they struggle against the temptations of sin. I have seen the look upon parents when they watch their children come out of a cancer treatment center. Many a husband or wife has suffered with their spouse in battling a life crippling disease. Jesus felt the pain of every illness, crime committed and torment that comes with fighting sin that longs to destroy relationships.
Christians who are fully enjoying God’s grace in finances have sought His Word and found the Biblical principles to stewardship. Christians who are enjoying God’s grace through His wisdom have taken James seriously when he wrote; “If any man lacks wisdom, he should ask of God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5) There are many areas of life of which the Bible gives clear directions. Those who are enjoying the counsel of God are illuminated Christians that spend painstaking hours prayerfully studying the Bible.
Whatever bondage the flesh, the world or the devil may use to get a hold on the child of God can be defeated by going to the Throne of Grace. Jesus, through the Spirit of Christ, which is the name of the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:9, will empower His children to overcome everything that tries to destroy a healthy relationship with the Lord Jesus and hinder service unto Him.
In Closing: We are to approach the Throne with reverence and in a true humble state, for the One who sits upon it is Holy. The Bible beckons Christians to be hungry for the holiness of God. Know for a fact that God is Sovereign and He does all things as He pleases and He does all things well.
Christ, the Great High Priest, purchased Christians with His own blood and He is able to sympathize with us regarding every part our lives. God’s grace is sufficient and the Lord longs to enable obedient Christians to walk in His counsel all the days of their lives.
Pastor Kavanaugh knew the power of the Throne of Grace. Once while visiting with an unsaved doctor he was challenged to give a reason for the hope that he had. The doctor said, “I find it hard to believe that an intelligent man like you believes in the Word of God.”
Pastor Kavanaugh responded with this powerful teaching. “Suppose doctor, you had a disease that if not treated with medical intervention would cause you too surely die and someone gave you a drug that restored you back to good health. For twenty-five years you gave this same drug to others who had contacted this same disease which saved them from certain death. Those who were able to get the medicine survived and those who did not died.”
“What if someone who had this dreaded disease refused to take this medicine when offered and then died. What would you think?” The doctor said “Well he was a fool!”
The pastor replied; “The dreaded disease of sin had me bound and I was surely living for the flesh, the pleasures of this world and listened often to the lies of the devil. I was surely headed for eternal death. Twenty-five years ago God’s grace revealed to me that I was a sinner bound for the gates of hell. My life was in fact being directed by the disease of sin.”
“God’s grace revealed to me the Name of a Savior who died for my sins and offers to me forgiveness and a new fresh start with God. This grace has changed my life and purpose for living. This grace gives me counsel from the living God through what is revealed in the Bible. This grace knows my weaknesses and sympathizes with me in my struggles to overcome all that longs to destroy me. In His grace I find help in times of trouble and endurance to achieve all He calls me to do.”
For those who will approach the “Thrown of Grace” there is forgiveness, cleansing, protection in God’s sovereignty and grace that abounds for the enabling to live the abundant life promised in Christ.