Summary: In continuing our series in "Keys to Spiritual Growth," we look at three more keys to spiritual growth.
Today we continue in my sermon series on “Keys to Spiritual Growth.” My foundational text for this series is 2 Peter 3:18:
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen" (2 Peter 3:18).
Did you know that great musicians never stop trying to improve?
The great concert pianist, Arthur Rubinstein, used to say that if he missed one day of practice, he noticed it in the quality of his performance. If he missed two days of practice, the critics noticed it. And if he missed three days of practice, the audience noticed it.
As you live your Christian life, do you notice improvement? Do you notice spiritual growth? Or do you notice a spiritual declension if you neglect your spiritual disciplines for a day or two?
I have been preaching a series of messages titled “Keys to Spiritual Growth,” which is designed to help you grow spiritually.
Over the previous few weeks I said that the master key to all spiritual growth is the glory of God. God has created all things—including us—for his own glory. Living for the glory of God is the master key to spiritual growth. But there are other keys as well. So far we have looked at the following keys to spiritual growth:
1. Confessing Christ as Lord
2. Aiming Our Lives at Glorifying God
3. Confessing Our Sins
4. Trusting God
5. Bearing Fruit
6. Praising God
7. Loving God
Today, let’s look at three more keys that will help you grow spiritually. These keys are:
Praying is a vital key to spiritual growth.
We know that prayer is vital to spiritual growth, but knowing it and doing it are two different things for most of us.
Years ago I read a survey about how much time Christians spend in prayer on a daily basis. Did you know that the average Christian spends only 7 minutes each day in prayer? But what was surprising to me when I read that survey was that even though the average Christian spends only 7 minutes a day in prayer, the average pastor spends only 5 minutes a day in prayer! That was really shocking! Is it any wonder that so many Christians are not growing spiritually?
Imagine a young man named John who says he is in love with a girl named Jane. John has proclaimed to all he knows that Jane is the girl for him. She is the love of his life. She is the woman of his dreams. Do you think you would really believe him if you knew that he spent only 7 minutes a day talking to her? He says he loves her but he is so busy that he can only give her 7 minutes a day of his time. Do you think that John’s relationship with Jane will grow if:
• he only spends 7 minutes a day talking to her?
• he was mechanical and rote in his relationship with her?
• he was dutiful in his relationship with her?
No! If John really loves Jane, he delights in her! He wants to spend time with her. He wants to spend lots of time with her.
In just the same way, prayer is an expression of my delight in God. I love God. I want to spend time with God. I want to spend lots of time with God. And I do so in prayer.
As we think about prayer today, let me talk about just one aspect of prayer, and that is the promise of answered prayer.
In John 14:13 Jesus says, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name.” Verse 14 repeats that great promise: “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
Why does Jesus answer prayer? Jesus gives us the primary reason for answering prayer at the end of verse 13: “. . . so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.”
God answers prayer for his sake as well as for ours. He does it to put himself on display. Understanding that increases our confidence in prayer: we know that God answers prayer because it is an opportunity for him to receive glory.
We grow spiritually as we interact with God in prayer and see his glory on display.
The context of verse 13 shows that the disciples were greatly distressed because Jesus told them that he would be leaving them. He told them, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3).
The disciples had relied on Jesus for so long that they feared being without him. He had provided all their resources. He provided tax money from the mouth of a fish (Matthew 17:27), and created food when they were hungry (Matthew 14:19-21). He was their beloved leader and their spiritual, theological, and economic resource. So they panicked at the thought of him leaving them.