Midweek Fellowship – January 20, 2016
Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina
Continuing with our series “OREMUS” which is a Latin word for “Let us pray,” we look at the importance of levelling up in our Christian life. It is vital that we grow in our spiritual life and begin to be prolific in everything we do. We cannot say we are Christians and still be the same people that we were many years ago. It is expedient; it is necessary; it is a part of our life in Christianity as people who have been planted with a seed. 1Peter1 calls it as an incorruptible seed. It is a seed that does not perish. It is a seed that does not become stale. The seed is destined to grow. This seed is in you and me. We were born-again with this seed and if we are to really flow and allow God to work in our lives, this seed will grow and should grow.
Last week, we started the series to show to us that spiritual growth is first, a necessary part of the kingdom of God. The growth is part of our lives. Second, the ultimate goal of our growth is to become like Jesus. Christ-likeness is the goal. St. Paul said, “I want to press on toward the goal of the upward call of God, in Christ Jesus.” Third, spiritual growth must be intentional. It must be purposeful. There must be a direction in our growth. We have to show that our lives, destined to grown, is to grow toward that which God desires. We must have a desire to grow and we must make the effort to grow. There must be an intentional effort on our part for growth. Our desire is to align ourselves and be like Christ. We align ourselves with God’s desire and then, we become like Christ.
I pray that we are allowing these words to take root in our lives and in our hearts. Unless, we understand these and allow the Spirit of God to teach us these things, we will continue to live a life that is mediocre, a life that is just mundane, and a life that is just continually being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. We must intend to grow. We must desire to grow. Growth does not just happen. We must make an every effort. Just like in the physical body, it will not grow until one brings himself in a condition of growth. If he does not provide his body with the necessary requirements of growth, then, his body will not grow. He may age, but he will not grow. His muscles and his bones will become weak and eventually, he dies.
Discipleship, which spiritual growth is all about, is the very activity that we must involve ourselves in. We must transform and translate ourselves from just being the multitudes and the crowd that followed Christ. We must now begin to enter and to transform ourselves to become disciples who will sit at the feet of Jesus and become disciples of the Kingdom.
The fourth point in spiritual growth is that there are special activities and exercises for growth. One is the Word of God. The challenge last week was to begin with the first basic thing which is the Word of God. It starts with first reading the Bible, meditating on it, and allowing it to richly dwell in our hearts and in our lives. This is the written Word that will be the vertical beam of the cross of Christ in our lives. The challenge was to look at Galatians 2:20 and to continue to memorize this verse. One said, “Father, it is not the memory but the actions.” Yes, but the actions begin with the knowledge. Memorization is a tool, not the answer, to be able to do your job better. God has given us and has equipped us with the skill to memorize. Galatians 2:20 is the Scripture for transformation, of surrender, of losing ourselves from our old self and now, identifying ourselves with Christ. Let this Scripture richly dwell in you.
The horizontal beam has fellowship, being with people of like precious faith, for its second point. The most exciting place and the only place that you should desire to be in is the Church. This is where kindred, the brethren are. This should be the most exciting place that you must crave to be in. You must not allow it to be forsaken in your lives. The Church is where fellowship of Christians, people of like precious faith, become exhorted and edified.
The third point is in the witnessing for Christ. The second challenge given to you last week is to share Jesus with someone you do not know. You may know somebody like your neighbour or your officemate, but you may not have really talked to them about Christ. How do you share Jesus? You can be a good person, a good example, but sharing Jesus is the starting point. The actions are the proving point. Many people say, “I will just live a good life.” The Bible teaches us to share this example by doing good deeds, but there is also the instruction in Scriptures to be able to share Christ with others. Witnessing is not just in deeds. Witnessing also begins with words. I know that we should emphasize the deed part, but the word part is the beginning. Just like God, His Word spoke and His actions confirmed the Word. Jesus was the Word that became flesh, but it began with the Word. Witnessing is sharing Jesus to someone who do not know. To witness Christ, do we know the gospel? Mark 16:15 says, “Go into all the world and preach the good news.” Do we know the good news?
In our series, we are going to talk about the fourth basic thing in spiritual growth, which is prayer. We would look at prayer as our work and we are to be challenged to pray. What is the purpose of prayer? Why do we pray? What is prayer all about? What are the requirements of prayer? What is needed? What is the attitude that we must have when we pray? What is the result of prayer? What is the yield of prayer in our lives and what is the effect of prayer in the lives of other people?
In Ephesians 3:14, St. Paul says, “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that he would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” St. Paul says that in prayer, we are to be equipped with spiritual power. This is a prayer that Paul prayed so that this spiritual power be manifested. The power begins with the inner man, in the spirit.
In Ephesians 6:18, it says, “With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” How many times is prayer or the form of prayer repeated in this one Scripture? In the Contemporary English version, it says, “Never stop praying especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people.” If you don’t see the emphasis of prayer here, I don’t know what will make you see it. Prayer is very vital in the work that we have as God’s people.
The incident in Exodus 17 was the time that Israel came out of Egypt and they crossed the Red Sea. They were in the wilderness and they had a problem with water. They fought with Amalek who was an enemy. Moses sent Joshua to do the fighting and as Joshua was sent out, Exodus 17:11 says that, “It came about that when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.” This shows us that there is a connection between prayer and what is happening in the physical things that we see around us. There is this very important activity called prayer that connects the resources of heaven to the needs of earth. There is a connection that when we pray, things will happen. When we do not pray, things will still happen, but not according to what God desires. There will be an opposition and there will be difficulties that will be faced.
What is the purpose of prayer? Why do we need to pray? I am zeroing in on the specific things that prayer is all about. The first reason that we pray is because it is commanded by Christ. Jesus commands us to pray. In Matthew 26:1, Jesus says, “Keep watching and praying that you may enter not into temptation.” See the connection of our actions with our prayer life. Unless we make our prayer life active, we cannot expect our spiritual life to grow and our actions to be that of Christ. It does not come any other way. Prayer is something that we must begin to practice because it is that which will give us the ability.
Someone said that we pray so that we will not enter into sin because people who are enticed by sin begin to lose their prayer life. This is what we must avoid. Jesus said in Luke 18:1, “Now Jesus was telling them a parable to show that at all times, they ought to pray and not lose heart.” It is a command of Jesus. It is a desire of Jesus that we begin to pray. In John 16:24 Jesus says, “Until now, you have asked for noting in My name. Ask (pray) and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” Our Christian life is a life filled with joy, contentment, and satisfaction. This is why Paul would say, “In all circumstances, I have understood how I can be contented.” How can Paul have peace? He was a man of prayer.
When we begin to allow prayer to take root in our lives, we will experience contentment. Things which caused anxiety before, things which caused fear before will suddenly go away. Prayer is the spiritual thermometer of our spiritual life. If you want to know the spiritual setting of your spiritual thermostat, begin to see your prayer life. This determines what our life spiritually is. If we are not prayerful, we will not expect our lives to be spiritually prolific. Prayer is a very, very vital aspect of our spiritual growth. It is something that we cannot just set aside. Prayer is something that we need to bring back in our lives as Christians. When we talk about prayer, it is setting a time and a beginning to bring our lives to a level of Christianity where we can really set a time with God, allowing Him to speak to us even as we speak to Him. We begin to level up with our time with Him, in our communion with Him.
The second reason why we should pray is that prayer is a relational communication with God. The whole aspect of our lives as Christians is to have a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ. Mark 3:13-14 says, “When Jesus went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach.” The reason why Jesus appointed the twelve was not firstly to send them out. The first reason was so that they could be with Him. God wants a relationship with us. His desire is to commune with us. It is prayer that opens this way. There is absolutely nothing more important than developing a relationship with God.
In 1Timothy 6:20-21, Paul was saying to Timothy, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge’ –which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.” In the Living Bible Translation, verse 21 says, “Some of these people have missed the most important thing in their life. They don’t know God. May God have mercy upon them.” Don’t miss on the most important reason why you live. The significance of our lives, the purpose of our lives, first of all, is to be with Jesus. It is to know Him. In our Church’s vision, that is the first statement – to know God. We are actualizing, putting what knowing God means, first, by our prayer life. Thus, we must begin to develop that prayer life in our lives.
The third reason for prayer is that it is a divinely ordained link between the spiritual and the physical realm. It is between the visible and the invisible. It is a means of connecting the supernatural with the natural. Before we existed, God was already there. In the beginning was God. The Bible says that God is a Spirit. The angels who were with Him, whom He created, were spirit beings. Heaven is a spiritual place. Then God said, “Let Us create a physical realm.” God created the realm of the physical world, the realm of the senses, the realm where we can touch, feel, taste, hear and see. He placed man to be the ruler of this realm. When He created man, He said, “Be fruit, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it and rule over them.” The way for man to rule this physical realm is to connect himself with the spiritual realm from which the power of the physical realm derives its ability.
The power of the physical world comes from the Spirit. Things that happen in our lives are not physical in nature. You get sick not because of a disease of germs and virus only. You get sick because there is a spiritual cause. The cause is sin. People die not just because they are biologically dead. Death is a spiritual phenomenon. There are things that happen physically that we don’t understand because their roots are spiritual. God devised a way in order that we can connect and grab the provisions of what Ephesians 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.” Everything we need is already provided in the spiritual realm. There is a bank in heaven that we could withdraw from in order that whatever need we have here on earth is realized. The way to connect to that and to link that is prayer. Prayer is the means to grab the spiritual blessings so that we can have them in the physical world and so that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is the fourth point that is connected with the third point.
The fourth point is prayer is the means to bring heaven on earth. Matthew 6:9-10, “Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be don, on earth as it is in heaven.” Prayer is a means to make heaven involved in earth’s affairs.
All of these things are necessary that we need to understand. They are not all of the purposes of prayer because prayer is something so broad that will take us a long time to study. The whole purpose is not to fill us with information and knowledge. The whole goal of this series is to answer the call, “Let us pray.”
I pray that we can plant the seed to make us pray because this is the very link that we can have. The things that are happening in the physical world, even the things that we think that are just naturally occurring, began in the spiritual realm. The way to bring that here is through prayer. We must learn the importance of prayer. God has called us to be channels of this prayer. As written in the Old Testament, God looked for a man who could stand in the gap and who could say, “Who will go before us? Who shall I send? Who will be willing to pray and be a channel so that the things of heaven can be enjoyed on earth?
Church, you are here today for a purpose and for a reason. You are not here just by accident. God ordained that you be here so that you can be challenged to pray. If you are already praying, increase your prayer life. Level up your prayer life. Martin Luther starts his day by three hours of prayer. He spends more time talking to God about people than talking to people about God. After he spends three hours of prayer, he said, “I can spend five minutes with someone and they will be changed because it is not my words that will change them, but it is the power of my prayer with God that will change their lives.”
Spend more time talking to God about you, about people, about your husband, about your wife, about your children, about your parents. Talk to God about them and you will spend less time talking to them about God because you will see the results immediately when we begin to let our prayer life to be really a channel of blessing. Prayer is the very essence. Prayer is the very core. Take away all frails of Christianity. Take away all the vestments. Take away all the trappings. It boils down to prayer and our relationship with God.