‘As Jesus Is, So Are We’ / Grace Leadership Institute (GLI) February session
Facilitated by Pastor Joedy
The 3 Important Pillars of a Disciple: Prayer, The Word, and Worship
1st Pillar: Prayer
It’s unfortunate that we have religious roots that run as early as the origins of our nation. We’re thankful for the Gospel of Christ that eventually came, and is now changing lives at a great rate.
The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
Priests that came before Christ came and went; they were born, and they died. But Christ serves not only as our Priest, but our everlasting, undying High Priest who, as the scripture shares, prays for us – and since He IS everlasting, so He prays for us forever.
Here are some points to remember regarding how Christ prayed, and how we can approach prayer:
A. Jesus’ Prayer Life Is Rooted In His Relationship with the Father.
It’s not a religious activity. It’s the celebration of our relationship with God. In our praying we dwell in His secret place (Psalm 91:1-2), and we take refuge in Him. Prayer and trust come together. We used to trust in prayer; that is, we used to place our trust in the activity of prayer for us to be blessed – but now we pray, trusting in the One we pray to. It’s a difference we think is pretty subtle, but when you see it, you’d realize just how HUGE it is. As I used to say, and still say: It’s not about us making it about us making it about God, but it is about us making it about God – and what it means to ‘make it’ about God is to, simply trust God…
…and to trust God is to, simply, pray.
Mark 1:35 says the following: And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
Luke 5:15-16 goes as follows: But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
He finds it ideal to pray in the morning – or in extremes, really: Early morning, or late in the evening. Are we to follow this example? Not necessarily – But Jesus made it a point to pray and only pray before He interacted with anyone else, because He knew that this was not about His doing anything more than celebrating the relationship that He had with God as His Father.
We’re supposed to serve the Lord, sure; but in our serving we ought to know that the Lord is delighted to serve us. The Son of Man did not come to be serve, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom – and the basis for this sort of love and service comes from our understanding God more than a Creator, but a Father. Fathers don’t give their children scorpions or anything to harm them – And by the Father of Fathers, we know that He gives us everything – He loves us that much!
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.John 5:19-20
We like to talk about that second part of the second verse… But I think we ought to remember the first part. The Father loves the Son and shows Him all that He is doing. By this we are able to move and do greater works.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
It’s all about relationship! I mean, we start our prayers off by calling and therefore acknowledging God as our Father. To call God our Father is a revelation of the Spirit of Christ alive in us.
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Religion would have us looking to ideal physical locations – but for us, anywhere could be a secret place – as Christ is with us, He is our Secret Place, in whom we take refuge. If guidelines are to be defined I suppose, to ‘shut the door’ is one to keep in mind – it’s preferred for us to be alone and isolated. But now that I think about it I guess Christ is also our Door – shutting us out, not in the name of rejection or separation, but for us to truly have intimate and dedicated time with the Lord.
But here’s a reminder! We don’t pray religiously so we won’t feel bad… we pray enthusiastically because our God – rather, our Father – is good, no matter what we feel!
B. Jesus’ Teaching On Prayer: ‘Prayer is not a religious activity, but practicing being in and with God’s presence.’
I’d rather say, it’s us intentionally celebrating God’s presence; Though we know He is with us all the time, we take time specifically to spend with Him. In that context I suppose we day that prayer is a date.
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Prayer in the religious sense is people crying out as loud as they can for as long as they can, hoping that the gods might hear, hoping that they would respond. Prayer beads and rituals, all that is birthed in the context that there was no relationship, and it’s up to our righteousness – our works, our reputation, etc. – to establish and maintain one with the heavenlies.
At this point it’s probably good to talk about what prayer in Christ ISN’T. Some myths or erroneous beliefs on prayer are as follows:
- Prayer is religious prayer. It’s not the longer you pray, the harder you pray, the better the result. It’s the heart and the content of your prayer that counts.
- Since God knows, there’s no need to pray. We’ve talked about Isaiah 65:24 and our take on it in previous posts, but Pastor Joedy does share that Christ commanded us to pray – way past Isaiah 65 was written.
- Pastor Joedy pulls up a beautiful point here, through the story of Blind Bartimaeus. Christ heard his voice in the multitude of voices crying out to Him for help and mercy, and when He called him over, though He knew what Blind Bartimaeus wanted, He asked him, ‘what do you want from me?’ Essentially, when He was asking ‘what do you want from Me?’, He was asking, ‘what do you believe I can do?’
- Prayer is a merit system; but if this was the case, we’re also saying more prayer means more favor from God – or, prayer is conditional.
So what IS prayer? Prayer is a relational reality; A person prays because he has been graced by God to know Him and what He can do, this relational reality is called humility and faith; God gives grace to the humble. Simply put, prayer is placing trust in God because you know what He has done for you, and you know what He can do.
Consider this prayer of Jeremiah:
Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed;
save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.
Our calls for healing and salvation are representative of humility, and our statements, ‘I will be healed’, ‘I shall be saved’, are representative of faith.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Far past Jeremiah, Christ gives us more insight into what Pastor Joedy called relational reality. We abide in Christ in humility (consequently, our abiding with the all-powerful Son of God brings us to humility, naturally), and we proclaim that Christ abides in us, in faith (as Christ abides in us, faith arises). We’re reminded that our strength and power come from Christ. We’re told to be strong in the Lord. We’re reminded that we can do all things in Christ. And just as we’ve been talking about with Pastor Prince’s word beyond strength and power is Christ who brings us to the right place and the right time. We’re humbled and brought to faith.
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.
1 Corinthians 2:12
We’re in a great relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and we will never stop learning. In our learning we come to a realization, or another perspective: Praying is practicing God’s presence, praising Him, and living in His personal touch of love, resulting to intimacy and intervention of His power in our lives and others.
C. Jesus’ Name: The Basis Of Answered Prayer
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
Now, just because we physically mention the name of Jesus, doesn’t mean that we have a relationship with Him. That’s the real point here. Take a look at what’s written in Acts 19: And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. (Acts 19:11-16)
What we’re saying when we pray in the name of Jesus, is that we’re praying according to the relationship we have with Him. Now there are truths in the name of Jesus, and the basis of answered prayer:
- Promise – Through the invitation, ‘YOU MAY ASK ME’; Jesus knows our need and He is willing to provide. Those who ask, shall receive. Let’s get to the habit of asking, and asking more. Praying, with the awareness and celebration of Christ’s abiding in us, and our abiding in Him. And His words teaches us what to desire:
- His joy, peace, and righteousness.
- His free gifts.
- Help for our daily needs.
- Person – Through the incarnation: ‘I AM GOING TO THE FATHER’; He came from the Father with a mission. He lived, loved by the Father. He went all the way to the cross, died and rose again… and that is why we pray in His Name.
- Power – Power, that is, to produce through the intervention of God; His promise, ‘I WILL DO IT’; God is faithful to do what He promised, and He is more than able. Nothing is too hard or too difficult for God!
- Purpose – We’re assured of His answering our prayers, ‘SO THAT THE FATHER MAY BE GLORIFIED IN THE SON’. WE pray, not to glorify ourselves, but to allow Christ more opportunities to glorify the Father! Every prayer is answered, and in every prayer, our God, our Father is glorified!
We pray in faith and humility, and in the process we are given stronger faith, and made even more humble: A far cry from the Pharisee who prays out loud, and is made proud even more.
We pray for the glory of the Father, knowing just how much the Son has glorified us, by way of His finished work, reconciling us to the Father. Glory to glory, in another perspective.
Christ was as real as He could be with us, loving us for who we were, knowing how we were made, knowing all there was to know about us, knowing how sin and death augmented us; Knowing what was present, and what was lost, and what we could be.
Consequently, in our praying, among other things, we can be just as real with Him, bold in knowing more about Him because we ‘know’ Him that intimately; bold and confident to know how righteousness and life restored each and every aspect of our lives. We can be real with God, learning more about how we were born again and re-made, learning more and taking in and appreciating the implications relative to our being new creations. The more of ourselves that we intentionally release, the more of ourselves that we lay down before the Throne, the more we are brought to coming to peace with our past while recognizing the potential of the future at the same time.
Around this time I’m also reminded of one of my first bosses: Chris Millora was our Quality Manager – He introduced himself to us when we were promoted to Quality Analysts over at the BPO I chose to work in, and his opening statement to us was as follows – His job is to lose his job: That is, to instill a level of quality within us which is not merely enforced but lived, ideally so that quality (quality, that is, according to standards agreed upon by both client and service provider) is so much the norm that there is no more need for personnel, much less managers for said personnel, to exist.
I… think, that also applies to us. We are not forsaking the gathering of the brethren – but on the other hand, it’s not like we’re expecting people to come every Sunday, for every week. The point here is that we don’t have people dependent on our teaching, but empowered by Christ. So people come and go, and we appreciate them when they are around – but we also pray for them in love whenever they aren’t with us, confident that they have more than just lessons from Jesus, but that they have Jesus HIMSELF.
I think that’s a vision, or a defined goal for our church – that, for each and every service, those who need fish would be given fish, but for those who are willing to listen, we’d also teach them how to fish. And it’s pretty simple – we’d continue to preach the Gospel, that proclaims that Christ paid such a great price for us to be able to approach God for what we need from Him – Whether it be encouragement to move, or restoration to be able to move in the first place, God forbid that we point people to anyone or anything other than Christ.
So with that said, it’s not like we want to lose our jobs as well: We don’t really have a choice, really. We are still in this world that is just so infected with sin and death, that there’s always going to be someone somewhere in need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There’s always going to be someone, somewhere who is in need of knowing or remembering the Ministry of Reconciliation. There’s always going to be someone, somewhere who is in need of knowing or remembering the Goodness of God, which leads to repentance.
So what Chris says doesn’t completely apply to us. No, I think what I wanted to try to say here was that we wouldn’t want people dependent on our service – no, as we pray, and as we continue to place our trust in Christ by doing so, we encourage others to pray, or just ultimately for them to place their trust in Jesus Christ as well.
I’m not sure I made any sense here. I’ve decided to elaborate on these things only after the actual seminar.
There are two more posts to go. And until the next one is posted, God bless you.
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