Prayer is much more than something else we do to practice our faith in Jesus. Faithful prayer is crucial for a vital connection to the life of God. There can be no "fruit" without it.
What's going on when our prayers seem to "fall on deaf ears" in heaven? Why would a good God not be quick to come to our rescue? Matthew tells us about a time when Jesus was accosted by a Canaanite woman. Jesus was very reluctant to help her -- her daughter was tormented by a demon. As we think about the story, we learn valuable lessons about our own relationship with God. We are inspired again to worship God in the name of Jesus.
Guest speaker, Mike Sickenger (one of our elders), brings a message encouraging us to pray often, pray faithfully, and pray about many things.
Ask. Seek. Knock. God knows what each of us needs at every moment. He already moves to meet our needs. (Remember Matt 6:24-34.) Like any good father--and infinitely more than the best human fathers--God wants us to ask him for whatever is on our heart. Not that he will grant everything we wish for. But so that he can teach us and relate to us like fathers relate to their children.
Jesus models for Peter, James, John--and for us--that the willing spirit is able to overcome the gravity of the flesh through faithfulness in prayer.
After the amazing "mountain top" experience of the transfiguration, Jesus, Peter, James, and John return to the base of the mountain to find Jesus' gospel movement in crisis. The other nine disciples created a scandal for Jesus when they couldn't drive out a powerful demon from a man's son. Jesus gets the job done. In the process, he teaches a crucial lesson about what it means to be his followers. Disciples can follow Jesus and do the good works of his way only by prayer.
Jesus taught in parables to hide the truth from those who did not really want to know the truth. The other side of that coin, so to speak, is that Jesus used the parables to reveal the truth to those who want to know and live by the truth. This is the lesson of Mark's account of the Parable of the Soils in Mark 4:1-20. The difference between receiving the truth or not is found in the fact that the few who would learn from Jesus asked him to help them understand.
In light of this, we learn a general principle of discipleship. Whatever "The Question" is in our lives at the moment, bring it to Jesus in order to learn the true answer.
Jesus sets a powerful example of discipleship. In this lesson, we notice three practices we can do to follow Jesus like he follows the Father.
Below are some resources that might be helpful. One is an outline for taking notes on the sermon. The other is a manuscript version of the message.
Paul asks the Christians in Rome to "strive with [him] in prayer" as he perseveres in the good work of carrying relief to the Christians in Judea. In the same way, the work of prayer is a way to be with one another, working together even when many miles separate us.
#9 in the series on Paul's Letters from a Roman Prison. Preached Sunday evening.
Praying together in the Spirit of God is the key for the Church wearing the "full armor of God" together to stand against the "schemes of the devil."