Sunday, July 27, 2008

Prayer Imparts Strength!

Prayer Imparts Strength to obey!

By Abraham Israel

Basically Christian life is not a religious life, but it is a relationship with God. The moment we speak about relationship the key factor that influences a relationship is love. The Bible says that,
“…God is love” (1 John 4:8)
. This clearly shows that our God is a God of relationship and not religion. Religion will say, ‘Do, Do…..’. God says, ‘I have done it for you and I love you…’.

God showed His love towards us by sending his Son to the cross to die for our sins. Jesus also expressed His love towards us by saying,
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13). He did not stop there and say ‘that’s all’, but He continued in the very next verse telling us how to respond to this love that He initiated toward us unconditionally, “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you.” (v14). And in the 17th verse He tells clearly what the command is, “These things I command you, that you love one another”. So to love one another is a divine command from Jesus. We cannot fulfill this divine command with the natural strength of ours. Divine command can only be fulfilled by God’s divine strength. (Ps 29:11)

God says in His word,
“For rebellion is as the sin of witch craft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry…..To obey the voice of the Lord is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Sam 15:13, 22)
. Here God says it is better to obey what He says to you, than for you to sacrifice all that you have for Him. Anything that we do with out His guidance by His voice is rejected as He rejected King Saul in the Old Testament times. We cannot do what we want to do for God, we should do always do what He wants us to do step by step. True obedience can be fulfilled only because of our love toward Him and because of a relationship with Him.

And this step by step guidance is
“not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor 3:6). And also in 2 Tim 1:7
, the word of God says that God has given us a spirit of love. This proves to us that the Holy Spirit is the channel of God’s love by whom we receive the love of God.

So in order to receive anything from God we need to ask God. The word of God says,
“So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you” (Luke 11:9, Amp). This verse teaches us to ask, seek and knock for more of God and His guidance continuously day in and day out as a life style (Luke 11:13), through His Holy Spirit. In Matt 7:7, 8 also Jesus teaches us to ask, seek and knock continuously and Jesus promises that the result is so sure that He says, ‘askers will receive, seekers will find and knockers will find it opened’. Then in verse 11 He says, “…how much more will our Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”. Here the Greek word ‘agathos’ is used to describe the word ‘good things’, which gives us the meaning of good constitution or nature, useful, salutary, good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy, excellent, distinguished, upright, honourable. In context to this challenge He says what to ask for by saying, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets” (v12). In other words, Jesus is saying, ‘Only when our Father gives us good things from heaven as a result of us asking Him, then only we will be able to do good to others and in return receive good things from men.’ (Luke 2:52).Here Jesus spoke about this asking to God and receiving, and giving to men and receiving as the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. We cannot give to others what we do not have. A person can only give what he already knows that he is having (Acts 3:6; Psalm 16:2)

Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus describes the first and the second basic commandments on which all the law and the prophets hang by saying, “… ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets”. In other words these verses say, ‘When you love the Lord, you will come to know yourself and you will start to love yourself first and all the fear and insecurity of rejection from others because of your flaws and weaknesses will be cast out of you. Then you will come to know your belonging and will be secure in His love first, so that you will be able to show His selfless and unconditional love of God to others.’ This is why the Bible says in 1 John 4:18-19, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us”

Comparing the above two verses in context, we come to understand that Jesus expects us to ask the Lord to fill us with His love again and again, so that obedience to Him will be made perfect through the love of God filling our hearts. This will make us obey God by making us love others unconditionally which will fulfill all His commandments. If we will only ask God in prayer in obedience to His word, He will fill us with His love in our spirit so that we will bear fruit and glorify the Father.

The greatest example for us is nobody other than Jesus “… being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:8). The reward for His obedience is given on the next verse, “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name” (Phil 2:9). When we have read the above verse, the question that may come to our mind is how Jesus was able to fully obey the Father in all things? Is it because He was fully divine? The answer is no. The real secret is given in Heb 5:7-8, “[Jesus] who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered”. From the above verses we can understand that Jesus learned obedience to the perfect will of the Father through His prayers and supplications with vehement cries and tears to God. Always prayer and obedience go together. Prayer strengthens our soul to obey God’s will and brings our body, soul and spirit inline with the will of God.

Jesus who knew that His very purpose to have come to the planet earth was to fulfill the plan of redemption and salvation (John 3:17), when He was sorrowful and deeply distressed even to the point of death in His soul, He prayed earnestly to God saying, “…Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36). If Jesus had not prayed earnestly like this, He would have given in to temptation just like any one of us and the whole plan of salvation would have been aborted forever. The reason why Jesus prayed and He also expected His disciples to pray along with Him is because with out it they will “… enter into temptation [because] the spirit indeed is willing [all the time], but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). Exactly the inner man which is created according to God’s image is always willing to please God, but the outer man [the flesh] is powerful to overcome the inner man [the spirit man] except when a person is strengthened in the inner man because of praying to God. So to be strengthened in the inner man, the first thing we need to do is “Watch [hear from God what the will of God is or what God is saying to you right now] and pray [ask God to give you His strength to do according to what God has already revealed to you while watching]…”. If you are careless to disobey the above steps, the dangerous thing that will happen is “…you [will] enter in to temptation.”. In other words, we will not be able to obey what God has told us to do and will give in to the temptation.

Never neglect to pray, because prayer gives you the power to fulfill God’s plan for your life. God’s blessing is not automatic; it comes into your life only by your obedience to God through your fervent prayers. As the Bible also says in Job 36:11, “If they obey and serve Him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures”.

Disobedience brings destruction

“But if they do not obey, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge” (Job 36:12). Disobedience to God not only will make you miserable in your life, but you will die miserably if you continue in it. We know in Saul’s life what had happened when he disobeyed God again and again. Not only he perished, but his whole family died miserably due to this one man’s disobedience to God. Due to one man’s disobedience [i.e. Adam], death came to all men and death entered through sin to all men. Disobedience to God’s command is what had brought the curse of sin upon the whole mankind. Samson died miserably due to a disobedient heart that leaked out the information that God had told Him to keep secretly. These are some of the examples that we can see and learn as an object lesson about the cost of disobedience in one’s life toward God and His commandments.

Ask God and receive. Never stop to do this because if any one draws back, His soul has no pleasure in him. God is pleased when we ask Him to give us His strength to please Him in obedience. When you obey what He says, then He is able to give you exceedingly and abundantly above all you can ask or even think because He owns it all! Praise Jesus!


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