Midweek Fellowship – February 3, 2016
Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina
Understand the works and the ways of God because it is so powerful and very important that we grow in our Christian life.Oremus (let us pray) is the call that we want to be instilled in our hearts. I hope that there is an impact that is happening in our lives that we are challenged to pray, to get down on our knees, to pray before the Father and to make Him understand and see how much we depend upon Him and call upon Him. He is the God that is truly more than enough. Our help is in the Name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
We must restore this consciousness. We must restore this dependence. We must restore this desire to be always acknowledging His presence in our lives every moment of the day. There are many distractions that cause us to veer away our thoughts, to make our minds just so confused, and to make us depend on human strength rather in the power and in the ways of God. We trust and depend on Him and Him only. Psalm 118:8 says, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to trust in man.”
As we spiritually grow, we see the cross of our lives where Christ, being the center of lives, is seen in the vertical beam, which is to know God by His Word and by prayer. The horizontal beam is to make Him known, which is through fellowshipwith each other and by witnessing to one another. These are the four elements we have seen about spiritual growth and how each is important in every aspect of our lives.
In His Word, the first challenge we have been given is to memorize Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Let us not be intimidated memorizing Scriptures because one of the things that is important in our lives is the Word of God.
Our focus in this series is prayer. We are called to pray. Using the acronym PRAY, P is for the purpose of prayer. R is the requirements of prayer which are the three F’s – faith; forgiveness; and fortitude. A is the attitude in prayer and Y is the yield or the benefit, the fruit of prayer. Our goal is to be able to prod us to say, “Let us pray.” We don’t have to have a doctorate on prayer. We don’t need to know all the other things that the Bible teaches on prayer. They are important, but they are not necessary for us just to start praying because prayer is a simple communication and relation with God.
Prayer is a divine means given by God to man so that we can have access to the many resources that heaven has for His people. Heaven is filled with God’s provisions for every need in our lives. Ephesians 3:20 says that He has is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we can ask or even imagine. When we understand and meditate on that, God resources are ready to meet every need in our lives because even before the problem came, the answer was already there. Which or who came first: sin or God the Son? God the Son came first so that even before the problem came, sin, God the Son was already there. He was the Lamb slain for us from the foundation of the world.
God’s provisions are abundant, if only we can access them or download these provisions. These provisions are available to us. Downloading them is by the means of prayer. Prayer is that vertical beam that makes us know God and His provisions in our lives. It is the relational communication that we have in God. We are to relate to God. Relationship is very important in prayer which leads to the attitude that we should have in prayer.
What is the attitude in prayer that we must take? The attitude in prayer and in our lives is what will cause the victory that will see us through in things and in our ways. St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is one of the happiest book in the Bible. Its impact in our lives is seen more especially because when Paul wrote this, he was writing it from his prison cell in Rome. The situation he was under was not pleasant one and also, the memories of the Philippi were not very pleasant.
In Acts 16, which is the setting of the Philippian ministry of Paul, as he was led there, he was introduced to a lady called Lydia who was a seller of purple fabrics from Thyatira. She sponsored the ministry of Paul in Philippi. It was okay in the beginning, however, it was not some time later that Paul met opposition. It was in Philippi where he was falsely accused and tried. He was whipped, put in prison, beaten, chained, and experienced a great earthquake. Philippi could have leaved bitter, unpleasant, and horrible memories to anyone; however, this can’t be seen in the letter of Paul to the Philippians because his attitude was a very happy one.
This is what prayer should have as its foundation. The letter to the Philippians is a happy letter and it is based on his relationship, a kindred spirit that he maintained with the Philippian church. There was a special bond that he had with his group of people. His letter is not a theological letter which was not as deep as his letter in Ephesians, Galatians or Romans. It was not as disciplinary as his letter to the Corinth or setting leadership principles as his letter to Timothy and Titus. It was just a letter that was so candid because when we read between the lines, there was a relationship. Prayer’s basis is that of a relationship. It is a relational communication with God. It is building that relationship that will be the springboard and the very thing from which prayer overflows from.
The strength of prayer is in relationships and the strength of relationships is in prayer. It is side by side. When you realize this and you begin to pray, prayer produces intimacies. You become intimate to the one you pray. You begin to become intimate with the one you pray. You become intimate for the one you pray. Many times, we have a problem with people, but when you begin to pray for them, you break that bitter feeling that you have with them because there is a kindred spirit that suddenly ties you with them. You become intimate with the one you pray which is why husbands and wives are encouraged to pray. Families are encouraged to pray because the family that prays together stays together.
Philippians 1:1-11 says, “Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your]participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
In these eleven verses, I will share about the attitude that we should have in prayer. The first attitude we must have is an attitude of gratitude. Verse 3 says, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.” Gratitude is a powerful attitude. When we remember people, many of us will have bitter memories of things, of events and of people. We are easy and prone to think of the bad rather than the good. When we come in prayer, this must be changed with an attitude of always remembering the good. We do this by being thankful. Paul could have remembered his whippings, his beatings, his imprisonment and the false accusations against him and even being driven out of Philippi, but all he had are nice things to thank God for them.
Begin to see our lives as a life with thanksgiving, 1Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything, give thanks for this is the will of God.” In Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” In the Contemporary English Version, it says, “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything.” The antidote for worry is prayer. Worry is practical atheism where we live as if there is no God. When we are anxious or worried, we live as if God does not exist. We think, “If it is going to be, it depends on me, and because I can’t control the situation, I have to worry.” Worry can be cured by prayer with thanksgiving. With thankful hearts, offer up our prayers and requests to God.
1Thessalonians 5:18 in the Living Bible says, “No matter what happens, always be thankful for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Many people want to know God’s will. One Scripture explicitly tells us what God’s will is for us: to always be thankful! How do we not begin to appreciate beautiful things? It is when we start to lose appreciation for them and we start to lose the beauty of them in our lives. How many of us are thankful for our families? How many of us are thankful that we can come home tonight and have a Daddy and a Mommy waiting for us? You might say, “They will get angry at me.” Praise God because somebody gets angry at you instead of being a vagrant wandering about in the streets where no one cares if you have eaten or not. Thank God that you have a mother who says, “Haven’t you eaten yet?” Be thankful that you have a home to clean and that somebody tells you to clean it. Be thankful that you have a plate that you could wash when you go home which means that you had something to eat.
Be thankful in everything and this is the foundation of prayer. Appreciate everything that you have. It doesn’t say, “Be thankful for everything,” because when we are sick, we can’t be thankful for the sickness, but we can be thankful in the sickness. Be thankful in everything, not necessarily for everything. In Ephesians 5:20, the Living Bible says, “Always give thanks for everything to our God and Father, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The second attitude that we must have in prayer is the attitude of joy. Philippians 1:4 says, “Always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all.” Romans 14:7 say, “The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” There is sorrow and pain, but the undergirding attitude should be joy. Do you think Jesus suffered when He was in the cross? He did! Do you think He felt the pain? He did! Do you think He felt sad? I am sure He did, but what does Hebrews 12:2 say? “Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.” Jesus endured the situation with joy.
When we come in prayer, we come with joy because joy is an attitude of great expectations in our lives. Joy is something that will cause us to always be lifted in our hearts. Even though we may mourn for a dear brethren who might have lost a loved one, there is sorrow and pain because there was love. But despite of that, the joy never leaves because joy is more than the emotions we have. Joy is an attitude and a decision we make. “I am going to be joyful no matter what it takes. I am not going to let the enemy steal my joy.”
Sometimes, if someone irritates us or if someone gets to our nerves, what we have in our minds is anger, irritation. As parents, we sometimes nag our children. Does nagging ever work? Prayer does! Why do we spend more time in things which does not work rather in things which work? Prayer works! Rather than being critical of a person, have joy in our heart and pray for them. In that way, it will be the antidote and it will change the situation.
The third attitude that we should have in prayer is the attitude of hope. Joy is always attached to hope. Jesus, for the joy set before Him, had a hope. Philippians 1:6 says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” We easily lose hope on a person or on a situation, but remember, it is not over until it is over. Paul says, “I am confident.” This is hope! God’s work in us is not yet finished. Even though people may pass away physically, the hope is still there because we know that they are with the Lord. Hope is a virtue, an attitude that we must always maintain and not put away. When we lose hope, we lose all sense of life and direction. When we lose hope, we lose all sense of living our lives. Faith is important, but faith without hope will just be haywire because we don’t know where to aim our faith at. Hope gives us that target and that aim for.
1Peter 1:3 says, “Praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has given us new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Living hope is what we have been given and provided for. Luke 18:1 says, “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart or hope.” Jesus taught us that we are to pray always and in that prayer, we should always have hope.
Philippians 1:9-11 says, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” When you pray for your loved ones, when you pray for people who irritate you, with thanksgiving and joy and with great hope, believe that there will be change. Do not lose hope because the situation will change for the better. Do not lost joy and always be thankful.
In summarizing verses 9-11, pray for those whom you pray for that they may, one, grow in love. Two, pray that they may have discernment which is to make wise choices in life; that they would know what is right and wrong; and they will have real knowledge of the things that are true and that they may discern that. Three, pray that they may live in truth and in integrity. Pray that they may live a life that is blameless and without reproach. Fourth, pray that they may become more Christ-like in their lives.