Sermon 02-09-20

Sermon 02-09-20

Spiritual Vision and Prayer

Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-8

A teacher passed out a test and noticed one student quietly staring up at the ceiling, so the teacher asked: What are you waiting on?

The student looked at the teacher and answered: The Lord.

Isaiah 40:31 tells us: They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. That’s a beautiful picture of spiritual strength from God, given to those that wait on Him, is it not?

So… How does one wait upon the Lord?

This term wait, is from the Hebrew word “qavah” which carries the meaning of waiting in hope, expectation and in patience with eagerness. Originally the word also had to do with twisted strands of a rope under tension, holding on and holding together. With this in mind we see that waiting on the Lord includes endurance while waiting.

Prayer is the most common spiritual exercise during times of waiting on the Lord. Praises are the most common spiritual exercise at the fulfillment of prayers during the waiting.

Someone said, prayers and supplications are prayed in anticipation (in waiting), and praises and thanksgivings are declared in proclamation (upon fulfillment). God’s people do both. We pray to God with intercessions and requests, we praise God with thanksgivings and exaltations. These are spiritual exercises for God’s people.

Our Bibles are filled with examples and instructions on prayer, thanksgivings and praises. These are some of the most telling aspects of a spiritual life. What we believe about prayer shapes how we pray, what we pray for and how we recognize and respond to answered prayers.

1 Timothy 2:8 cuts the chase. God’s word says, “I desire all men everywhere to pray.” Is that just Paul’s desire or is it God’s desire too. Verses 1- 3 make it clear. This pleases God. Jesus taught us about private prayer in Matthew 6, showing us that prayer in private is perhaps the most normal kind of prayers. But then Jesus continues saying, “And when ye pray…” speaking of a gathering for prayer with and for one another, or together in agreement for some need or mission. In fact, the earliest example in Acts of prayer is Acts 1:14 where the apostles, some women, including Mary, Jesus’ mother and His brothers were gathered in an upper room waiting on the Lord and joined together in prayer. During this waiting and praying service, Peter stood up and initiated the appointment of a replacement for Judas, who had betrayed Jesus and hanged himself. Verses 15-26 tell us about this. Included in this section is another group prayer: vs 24.

Waiting on the Lord and praying go together. This can be both private or in company with others.

Acts 2:42 tells us what the very first Christians were devoted to right after their baptism into Christ: They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Acts 3 begins with Peter and John going up to the temple at the hour of prayer. Chapter 4 records how after being threatened by the Jewish leaders Peter and John gathered with the church, reported what had happened and what did they all do? Joined together in prayer! We even have a record of what they prayed in Acts 4:23-31.

Our church family has had women’s prayer groups, men’s prayer groups for years. Some include Bible study in with these prayer times, and that is in accord with Acts 2:42 is it not? They devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Our services here begin and end with prayer and have prayers interspersed throughout, do they not? This is good. God wants His people to be a people of prayer, an obedient people of prayer. Everything we do in obedience to the word of God is something we do right. Obedience to God is both a duty and a blessing.

Can we improve spiritually in our prayers as a church? We have plenty of room to grow, do we not? God’s word reminds us that our communion with God in prayer is a central part of God’s spiritual vision for us. Remember Daniel’s devotion to prayer? You know the story, but let’s read it from Daniel 6 (read)

What did Daniel do when he learned about the law against prayer? And remember, the punishment was death by becoming a meal for hungry lions. What did Daniel do in the face of such a law and threat to his exercise of faith? Now, think about us today. What do we do when we learn about laws and rules that threaten our practice of faith?

Let’s go back to the church’s prayer in Acts 4. What did they pray for? Notice, prayer is like a plug that connected them to the Holy Spirit’s power. This didn’t always protect them from physical harm, but it always promoted spiritual empowerment and the spread of the gospel.

How did the early church grow and spread throughout the nations? How did they handle threats? What would have happened if the church had taken the threats more seriously than their duty to exercise their faith?

Don’t we grieve about the moral decay in our nation and world? What are we doing about it? What did the early church do about it? What did they risk? How did they plug into God’s power to face the world’s threats? Let’s begin right now to join together in prayer for our families, our community, our schools and businesses, our local government, our state and national government, and the world’s governing authorities. Let’s seek God’s help to turn the tide of moral decay, of sinful corruption, of spiritual forces of evil at work against God’s kingdom.

Let’s join together in prayer for one another’s faith and spiritual relationship with Christ and submission to His Holy Spirit’s leadership in our lives and through His word.

Holy Heavenly Father, You are sovereign over all things! We are Your creation and we owe You our lives and our full allegiance. Father, You have spoken through the mouths of Your servants and preserved in scriptures Your holy words and will for us. Your word speaks of how the nations rise up against You and seek to throw off Your authority over them. We witness this all around us today. Just as our Lord, Jesus said, “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.” Holy Father, help us to love the light! Fill us with Your Spirit and draw us into Your truth. We see what happens to those who love evil. Blinded by the evil one, they actually deny You as creator and King. The nations, which owe their very existence to You, rebel against You even denying that You are God. Our own nation, whose national moto is, “In God we trust,” has in large part turned away from You. You, O Father, who have so bountifully blessed our nation with wealth and power, resources and talent… You are the reason for our greatness and strength. But we as a nation have turned from Your word despising Your moral laws have given ourselves over to sensuality and sin and every evil practice with a continual lust for more. We not only tolerate sin, we celebrate it and our laws have begun to defend it and threaten any who stand against it. As Your word says, “Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.

But, holy Father, Your word tells us that we are Your chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that we may declare the praises of You who called us out of darkness into Your marvelous light! Once we were not a people, but now we are the people of God. Once we had not received mercy, but now, by Your grace and love, we have received mercy!

Bless us to remember that our citizenship is in heaven. Help us to eagerly await the coming of Jesus Christ, our Holy Lord and Savior who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control will transform our lowly bodies that they will be like His glorious body.

Grant us courage, Holy Father, courage to stand, courage to confess our faith, courage to walk in Your will and obey your word. Grant us boldness to speak Your truth in love. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit, Holy Father, and may we bring glory and honor to the name of Christ Jesus Your Holy Son, through whom we have access into Your presence and by whom we are saved. In whose name we pray, amen.