Summary: Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus: Effective Prayer
Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus:
January 24, 2009
Today is Sanctity of Life Sunday. Most of us would agree that taking the life of the unborn is an injustice just like taking the life of one who is handicapped or even taking the life an older person because they are not useful. But those are just a few of the many injustices that every Christ follower will face in this life. So I want to spend our time today describing how Jesus’ tells us to deal with injustices. To help us get the bigger pictures I want to spend a few moments setting the context for us before we read.
I have spent some time describing that most Jews of Jesus’ day thought the Kingdom would come in power and glory and judgment in Christ’s first coming and that Jesus is relentless in making it clear that his first coming is not that way. The Jews were expecting all the injustices – suffering, persecution, and the evils of the day would be set aright and the enemies of God’s people and others causing those injustices would be judged. In chapter 17 we saw that Jesus made delineation between his first coming, which brings salvation, and his second coming, which brings judgment. Yet the disciples have a difficult understanding this and will continue to do so even after his resurrection (Acts 1:6).
So in today’s passage Jesus is telling his disciples how to deal with the injustices that will come, so they don’t get discouraged, disheartened and give up. How do you deal with injustices? I know Eileen can get discouraged and frustrated with it. How do you just deal with difficulties in life? Jesus tells us the way you maintain your faith (v. 8), rise above discouragement and unbelief is to pray.
The key to all prayer is kingdom centered prayer. We have said recently that prayer malfunctions when it is centered on my personal comforts. This is critical to our prayer lives and it is critical to our spiritual well being.
1. Effective Prayer is Focused on God’s Kingdom
The widow pestered the judge until she got justice. To pray for justice is to ask God to exert his Lordship, his sovereign rule to advance his Kingdom. It is to pray thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. There is complete justice in heaven so we pray that God bring justice here. There are three aspects to kingdom centered prayer, that we need to keep in mind when praying (see Ex 3312-23; Acts 4:29-31).
First it means that we acknowledge our need of God’s grace. Moses in this great prayer says, ‘if I have found grace in your sight (12, 13, 16, and 17). Christ followers are a people who recognize their need daily of His grace.
Second aspect of kingdom centered prayer is a compassion and zeal for the flourishing of Christ’s church. Moses prays for God’s presence to go with Israel. In Acts 4, the religious leaders chastise Peter and John for preaching the gospel and healing people and command them to stop. After their release they pray to the Sovereign Lord, a kingdom term, for boldness and power to give evidence of the kingdom. In response to injustice against them they pray for the advancement of the Kingdom. They are not zealous for their own comfort or security but for the flourishing of His church and that is exactly what God does. He gives them great boldness and signs and wonders.
The third aspect of Kingdom centered prayer is that it yearns to know God, to see his face, to see his glory. We see this in Moses’ prayer (Ex. 33:13). Moses prays, ‘show me your ways (God’s nature and character) so that I might know you.’ Then later, ‘show me your glory’ and again, that is exactly what God did.
2. Effective Prayer is Bold and Specific
The widow was bold. She went to the unjust judge with a specific request for justice until she got it. Get this; someone has wronged her, maybe even with a bride to the unjust judge. She was helpless and hopeless but she believed he was able and willing. She believed that asking the judge for justice would move him and it did. Jesus’ point is if unjust judge gave justice, how much more will God who is righteous (always does what is right) and good (benevolent) give justice to his children. Effective Kingdom centered praying makes bold, big requests shaped by Gods ways, to see His glory displayed. Moses makes a bold, even outlandish request – show me your glory and God showed him his glory.
We can be bold and specific because God is a covenantal God (7). God said to Moses I have known you. God knows Moses and his people (17) because they have found grace in his sight. God chose Moses to lead and Israel to be his people and lavished on them his grace and mercy. He committed himself to them by covenant. And that is the reason he says he will give us justice, we are his elect children. Remember John 15:16, I chose you and appointed you to bear fruit. That is the same word here. He is saying that deep, down below your ability to know, it was I who laid claim on you and drew you to myself and I lay my reputation on the line to make sure that you get justice. You do not deserve it; you have not earned it. God chose you to be his son and shower his grace and mercy on you (why son).