Midweek Fellowship – March 16, 2016
Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina
In the time of death of King Uzziah, it was the time when the people of God were very insensitive to the things that were happening. God called the prophet Isaiah and He said, “Who can go before Me?” Isaiah said, “Here I am, send me, Lord, and I will go to the people who keep on hearing but do not hear; who keep on seeing, but do not see; and they have rendered their hearts insensitive.” This is so true today. Many people today are walking life, going through each day without a consciousness and attention made to the things that are happening in their homes, the things that are taking place in the lives of their family members, and the communication that is being brought out.
Wisdom is crying out in the streets, but how many of us are paying attention to it? How many of us have paused from the busyness of the things that we are doing - whether it is school work or in the office, whether it is the things that are consuming us every day in terms of entertainment and amusement. How many of us are really taking the time to allow the spirit of God to speak to us? How many of us start the day each morning to realize, “I am going to face this day. This is going to be a day that no one has ever lived ever in their lives. No one will know what will happen today. Lord, I need Your help. Make me know Your ways, Lord. Teach me Your paths so that I will make the right choices in life so that my decisions will be the decision that will be led by You.” How many of us wake up and go on with the day without the help of God and His spirit in us? This is the time that we need to be sensitive spiritually to the things that are taking place all around us, to the things that are taking place in our lives and in our hearts.
As we have learned from the previous series of Oremus, we see that in the cross, Christ is the center and that the Word and prayer as the vertical beam; witnessing and fellowship as the horizontal beam. Prayer is very important as an essential component of our lives in Christ. PRAY! P is for purpose. Why do we need to pray? The very essence of prayer is to communicate with God, to hear what He has to say to us with the things that we face each day. R is the requirements so that we can pray. What are the things needed? All of them are provided by God by faith which is necessary in prayer. God provided us with the resources that we would need and we need to apply them in our lives. A is for the attitude that we must have in prayer. Now that we know that we must pray and its purpose and requirements, what should our heart attitude be in prayer? Y is the yield of prayer, the produce, the fruit or the benefit of prayer in our lives. What is the effect of prayer in our lives that we earnestly pray as we communicate to God? What is really the benefit of prayer in our lives?
A video about prayer shares the following, “What is prayer? In many, many ways, prayer is a simple thing to do; but sometimes, we have a limited view of what prayer actually is; that prayer is a means of supplication and making a request to God. Prayer is more than this. Prayer is talking to God and having a relationship with Him. Prayer is making ourselves available to God and allowing ourselves to make Himself available to us. Prayer is a way to ask God for provisions for tomorrow and the means by which He provides the sustenance that we need for today. We pray not to get our own way, but rather, we pray to align ourselves to God’s will. We pray as an expression of dependence upon God. Yes, God loves to hear our prayers and our requests. He listens to them. He delights in them and He responds to them. It is just that prayer is also where we can confess our sins. Prayer is to listen to God’s voice. Prayer is not just asking for more fruit, but through prayer, we begin to bear more fruit. Prayer is not just words spoken in specific times of the day. It is living with a mind-set that allows God to transform you throughout all of your days. Don’t think of prayer as just an activity done before meals or bedtime. Rather, think of prayer as a way of life.”
Prayer is not about us informing God. God knows what is happening in our lives. Prayer is God transforming us. We are being changed from glory to glory. We see the example of Jesus in how He was transformed and became what He should be. God wants us to grow into His image and likeness. The transformation is the process of spiritual growth of which all of us need to be involved in. The spiritual growth is growing in a constant way. We grow in a constant, progressive movement towards being more and more like Christ. It is consistent, not sporadic, not stirred by feelings. We have to develop our lives in such a way that we can be consistent. Prayer is a lifestyle of opening our relationship with God.
Any activity is governed by three things, and if we want to excel in any activity, we must be FIT. F is frequency – being frequent in what we have to do. There is also the I, which is the intensity – that of being focus and paying attention to what we are doing. With frequency and intensity, we must give it the T, which is time. If we want to grow in our prayer life, we must give it frequency, intensity and time.
There is a necessity and constant growth in Christ. Lent is a very appropriate time to have this. It is in Lent, which literally means springtime, where we blossom and burst forth in life. We begin to show forth that which is in us.
What are the benefits, the fruits of prayer? Of the many fruits of prayer, we will focus on three. One, prayer teaches us and makes us be able to wait. Today, we are a very impatient people. We want things now. Many times, if we don’t get it now, we try to short-circuit the process. We want the easy way into things. We want things where we don’t sweat too much like how to lose thirty pounds without sweat or how to be beautiful in six hours without sweat or how to be muscular in three week without sweat. We can’t seem to wait not realizing that in everything, it takes time.
James 5:7 says, “Be patient then brothers and sisters until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.” One of the very important activities that we, in the city, are missing is the activity of planting. We don’t understand that the kingdom of God is based on sowing and reaping. Sowing and reaping involves time. We don’t get the results immediately. The process that a grain undergoes is first through the blade, then the head and then the mature grain. There is always the process that is why Paul was exhorting the people, “Don’t grow tired of doing good.” Just because you do good now, it doesn’t mean that you will reap immediately because in due season, you will reap if you do not grow weary.
Isaiah 40:31 says, “Yet those who wait for the Lord, you will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like the eagles, they will run and not grow tired, and they will walk and not be weary.” We must remember that God’s timetable is different from ours. We have to learn to wait upon God. We have to learn how He causes the process in our lives to transform us. Transformation is what God is doing.
If a child spills the milk, parents immediately come to the rescue to wipe it clean. We cannot seem to make the child do the work. We think that a five-year old child can’t accomplish such task thoroughly. When a child goes through the process of an event, he learns better because they progressively grow into maturity. We cut the process because we want things done in our standard.
In instances where I leave a classroom and see that things are not kept well, the thought that I would have is to do the task so that it would be more orderly. We can’t seem to want to undergo through the process of doing things in order to see a better result later on. What we do is to plant the right seed. God’s timing is different from ours.
James 1:4 says, “And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Don’t short-circuit the process. Don’t try to make things easier for us. The natural way is the best way. We don’t want things to be hard. We want the easy road, but the road of the Kingdom is the road that is narrow and many times hard. Life is hard but God is good. Life is unfair but God is Sovereign. God is in-charge. Don’t let the difficult things faze us because God is the One who will work in our lives.
Romans 12:12 in the Amplified Version says, “Constantly rejoicing in hope because of our confidence in Christ, steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer, continually seeking wisdom, guidance and strength.” People have become impatient in the way they drive or parents have become impatient with their children. People don’t like to go through the protocol in availing of the government services, so there is bribery or they avail fixers to get whatever they need. In so doing, being impatient has a very negative effect in many lives of people.
Prayer teaches us to wait, to be patient. In Hebrew 6:11-12 says, “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patient inherit the promises.” Sluggish in another translation means, “So that you will not be bored as a Christian.” Many times, we find Christian life boring because we try to equate Christian life with the life of the world. Because the pace of Christianity is not like the world, we get bored rather than receiving that faith and patience are what inherits the promise.
The second fruit of prayer is that prayer activates our faith. Mark 11:24 says, “For I say to you, all things which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them and they will be granted to you.” Why is it important to activate faith? Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Without faith, life would not have a reason to be lived. 1John 5:4 says, “Beloved children, you are from God. Whatever is born of God overcomes the world and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” It is our faith that will cause us to conquer and overcome. Faith has to be activated and prayer activates our faith. It makes our faith enriched and always and constantly on the move.
The third fruit of prayer is that prayer makes us see life clearly. When we pray, we begin to have a better and clearer vision of life. Proverbs 15:30 says, “Bright eyes gladden the heart and good news puts fat on the bones.” The literal rendering of this is eyes that see well. How many of us always see the negative, the impossible, and the difficult rather than the possible and the potential in situations? How many of us immediately resort to a wrong attitude towards a job that we have, a course we are taking or a task we are to do? How many of us in the Church look at things and have a wrong attitude toward it rather than seeing things in the light of what God is doing? We are not seeing it the way God is seeing it.
Prayer lifts us up to the level where God is and makes us see things the way God sees them. God makes us see things as they unfold in lives. Even though things are not yet happening, we can continue to let God do His perfect in our lives.
Matthew 6:22-23, “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if you eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” How do we see things? Do we see them with clear eyes that are always seeing the potential and the possibility things that can take place? Or do we see with bad eyes that are obstructed with suspicion, fault-finding, doubt and fear?
There is a story of two salesmen that were selling shoes and they were sent to an island in the Pacific. When the plane touched down, the first salesman immediately sent an email to his office and said, “Get me back to headquarters. I can’t sell shoes here because no one wears shoes in this island.” The second salesman upon arrival in the island sent a message, “Send me a truckload of shoes because we’ve got a great potential to sell our product here. No one has ever worn shoes here in this island. We will make wearing shoes a fashion here in this island.” There is one situation but seen differently – the potential and the impossibility.
What do we see in our daily walk? If we have the attitude of always seeing the difficulty, maybe it is time to increase our prayer life. Prayer makes us see things clearly the way God intended it to be seen. Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God (in everything.)” In every situation, when we have a clear vision and our hearts are pure and because we pray and spend time in prayer to God, we will see things the way God intends them to be.
God causes all things to work together for good and when we do allow that, we always see the good in all things. Even if we acknowledge that there is something wrong, we know that there is always the solution to a problem. In God’s kingdom, the answer and the solution always come before the problem. Before sin came, Jesus was already the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Before a problem comes, God has already a solution. This is what the kingdom of God shows. When we see this and we pray, we would see it clearly in our lives.
Be challenged to level up in our prayer life. Once we do, we begin to appreciate people better; we begin to do our jobs more diligently and more excellently. We begin to be thankful for everything. There is always a good reason to thank God for everything that we have. Sometimes, we take people for granted even children. For parents, when was the last time your son heard you say, “I thank God for you, son!” When we begin to thank God, God will show you how to minister to a person. There may be the problem and the difficulty, but when we pray, God will give us a clearer insight of how to be a solution to a problem. We no longer see the problem but the solution and we begin to have the mind of Christ.
God wants from us a transformation. It is not to inform Him, but for Him to transform us. This is prayer! Let us grow into it. Spend quiet, quality time with God. It will reap benefits in the long run. Don’t just do it once or twice. Being spiritually fit involves frequency, intensity and time.