I have begun making it a practice to go home and study more and pray about the notes taken from the sermon this morning. I am not very good at keeping journals, in fact I have about 5 unfinished ones in my book shelf. I am however more apt to sit down and blog since I enjoy doing it so much. I have never had much traffic on my site, but this is kind of more for me anyway. I only publish it so that hopefully God can bless someone else through it. So after studying further and considering the scriptures with what the pastor spoke about here are my “Sermon Notes”.
Today’s text was Luke 18:1-8. Chip Henderson opened with a wonderful illustration about a person he knows and his persistence that got him a wife and a law degree. Chip started out the exposition with:
God welcomes you and Jesus invites you to pray persistently.
This sermon series is aimed at encouraging us (the body of believers at Pinelake) and teaching us to be people of prayer. As you have gathered by now this week was about Persistent Prayer. In my life I have also been seeking to be a person of prayer and this sermon series has come at a wonderful time. It is helping me in my prayer life and my journey to study and learn how to be a person of prayer. I have begun reading books and looking in scripture to find how to become a person of strong and effective prayer. Most importantly I have embarked on a journey of practicing those principals that I am learning. Today was a big step in the direction of lessons learned in prayer. The Lord God has spoken to me this morning as He has been in weeks past, but answered questions and put to rest some issues I have had the past couple of nights.
Luke tells us in verse 1 of chapter 18 that the whole purpose of the parable Jesus is about to tell is to “…show that at all times they (his disciples) ought to pray and not to lose heart…”
- Take away number one is: Jesus teaches us to pray persistently.
I know that this isn’t something buried beneath the text, but there is one phrase that hit me pretty hard.
…and not LOSE HEART…
This may be something that is limited to my prayer experience, but I have found it very easy to do just that, lose heart. I pray for something and find that when the answer I seek doesn’t come I get discouraged and lose heart. The implication of these words “lose heart” are as Chip said also translated “don’t let your heart go bad.” I have been guilty of this and as soon as Chip said that my heart sank to by bowels. Just last night my son had woken up from a nap just as we were going to bed. This proved to be inconvenient, so we turned on the television in our room and started to doze off while he sat watching tv (don’t judge, I didn’t know what else to do). After a while it was way late and the television went off but he stayed awake whining and fidgeting. He started complaining that his stomach was hurting. So I laid my hands on him and began to pray for healing. It didn’t come, he just kept on grumbling. Immediately my heart “went bad”. I started to harbor negative feelings towards the whole idea. “You said ask and you would give me”, “Why every time I pray for healing it never happens?” “Why do you I even try when you never answer me”. Frustrated and discouraged I grumbled to the All Mighty.
Jesus tells us to pray at all times and not lose heart. The very thing I did, and have done a lot of in the past. By the way, next thing I know I wake up and there he is sound asleep next to me. Even in my grumbling the Lord saw fit to not only stop the ache, but put him safely to sleep.
Verses 2-5 is Jesus telling the parable of a widow who persistently went to an unrighteous judge and sought out legal protection against an opponent. He ignored her request over and over again until one day he grew weary of her every day over and over coming to him asking for protection. He gave in just to get her to leave him alone. Jesus continues afterward telling His disciples my second take away.
2. The judge was unrighteous, but God is perfectly righteous and gives justice to His people who ask Him.
I think that the point here is that Jesus is showing that if persistent prayer moves a person who neither fears God nor cares about the well-being of human beings gives in to persistent petitions how much more will a God who loves His people bring justice to them?
When those of us who are called by His name cry out to the All Mighty seeking Him and petitioning Him, He hears us and not only answers us, but does so without delay.
3. He wants to hear out prayers.
There is no doubt that the bible teaches that He knows our thoughts and sees our hearts. This may be the biggest thing that hit me this week. Verse 7 says that He gives justice to His people who “cry to Him day and night…”
One thing that I do not do is pray verbally when alone in prayer. I don’t really know why, but I just never do it. I guess when I think about it I feel a little silly doing that. Why though? I don’t know why I would feel that way if I believe in a real and living God. If not, then yes it would be silly. If God were just a myth or claim that we make to comfort us in a messed up world. The truth is that I DO believe in the one living and true God, why then do I reluctantly verbalize my prayers when alone. I couldn’t help but wonder how many other people feel the same way. No, He is real, He is alive, He is listening and wanting to hear our cry for Him. My newest challenge is to begin to verbally bring my requests to the real and present God.
Finally, Jesus said that:
4. God will act quickly for those who pray persistently.
Chip used an illustration from Elijah. Elijah said that there will be a great drought and it will not rain again until he said so. After some pretty exciting situations of prayer and the power of God revealing His glory, Elijah goes up to mount Carmel and prays for rain. He sends his assistant to check the weather and nothing. Seven times this happens and on the seventh time his assistant forecasted a cloud the size of a human fist in the distance. He knew this was it! Chip asked a good questions, “What would have happened if Elijah stopped praying after there was nothing in the sky at prayer number six?”
Such a good point, because this is totally me. I pray and then give up after a lot less than six. How often to do I pray and then stop frustrated just before the blessing is bestowed. Or whose “quickly” am I thinking about? My quickly is right here right now, but in scope of human history that can look a lot different. God’s timing is perfect and though we really want something when we want it and even when we think that it is necessary, God views our lives outside of time and from a perspective that we could never have. He knows best and His will is what we say we want anyway. I believe that God does answer and do so quickly, but perhaps we should think of quickly in not only a scope of human history, but take it further and think of it in terms of eternity.
Sometimes our prayer is answered and the benefit comes after our lives on earth are over and we see them come into fruition in eternity with Him.
The lesson is that God answers those who pray persistently to Him, happily and quickly. Don’t stop, keep praying, verbally, faithfully, and don’t lose heart! He hears you and will answer you. Keep praying.