Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Prayer & Discipleship Part II

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:14-16

The right to come before the Ruler of the Universe was provided by the death of Christ on Calvary.  It is a privilege bought and paid for by His sacrifice.  But prayer is not only a privilege, it is also a duty, or a responsibility. Jesus said that men ought to pray because he knows what prayer can do: Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, (Luke 18:1)  The word "ought" implies a moral obligation.

Prayer can comfort a troubled spirit. It can bring insight to a confused mind.  It can strengthen a weary life.  It can save a soul. And because prayer has such great power, men have a moral obligation to pray.  The alternative to praying is to faint.  It is to fall out and melt away in the difficult task of living.  Prayer then is the source of strength that enables us to stand up to life.

Prayer is a power, but it is not a substitute for work.  It is not a substitute for plowing a field, seeing a doctor, or studying for a test. It is not a substitute; it is a supplement.  It is a request that God will do more for us than we can do for ourselves.  It is a request for a miracle.  When my child is sick, I don't just pray, or just take him to a doctor. I do both. I want what antibiotics can do, but I also want what God can do.

Prayer then grows out of the conviction that God is my father and that He stands ready, willing, and able to help me in all of the circumstances of life.  One of the tragedies of most modern disciples is that they are trying to live without prayer. That's why we are weak and anemic in our spiritual lives. We have neglected communion with God.

We cannot have God's power in our lives unless we pray.  So, developing a strong prayer life is essential to a victorious Christian life. As we will see this week, the essential ingredients of an effective prayer life are seen clearly in the life of Daniel.  Daniel is one of the great men of the Old Testament.  He lived a beautiful and exemplary life.

He was taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, when he conquered Jerusalem.  Because of his intelligence and promise, he was taken to the king's court and trained for diplomatic service.  God blessed his good life and humble spirit and he rose to prominence and favor.  However, he soon became a victim of jealousy by other men in the kingdom.

These men observed his life for a period of time.  They realized that if they were going to discredit Daniel it would have to be at the point of his religion.  So they persuaded the king to pass a decree to put to death anyone who prayed to any god except the king.  Daniel heard about the decree but he was not deterred by it.  He had been a faithful follower of Jehovah all of his life and the decree of the king was not going to change his habit of praying three times a day.  For this, he was threatened with his life. 

Interestingly our lives are threatened with the loss of joy, peace and wisdom from the lack of prayer.  Possibly Daniel’s example will help us all develop a more disciplined and effective prayer life.

Scripture to Claim:
The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life.  Psalms 42:8

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