Summary: Jesus confronted the complex. His message was and is simple. Let’s get back to the basics He taught us! Why make it difficult?
Some things are complex and complicated. Tax Code. The scoring in boxing. Relationships. The fascination with pumpkin spice!
However, faith was never supposed to be complex or confusing. Man has this propensity to make things harder than they should be. When Jesus arrives on the scene man had severely complicated matters. So, we have been trying to get back to the simple things Jesus called us to do. I have been asking you to wrestle with whether you are really a disciple. We said disciples are disciples because they choose to obey. A local local church has properly defined “disciple” in what may be one of the best and most succinct ways. They say a disciple is a “fully devoted follower of Christ.” I think they are right. But my question is what then is a disciple fully devoted to? What are the simple things these first followers did? Fortunately for us we are told.
Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
I talked last week about study. I am not going to discuss the fact that they devoted themselves to fellowship because I have talked to you probably 50 times over the last 10 years about our need for one another. Although I do believe it is worth noting that fellowship is mentioned 3 different times in this passage. So, we see another thing the disciples were devoted to.
The record indicates that . . .
I am probably just like you when I hear someone start a teaching or a sermon on prayer because I think we all feel inadequate in this area. I usually leave one of those teachings feeling like my prayer life will never meet the “standard” and therefore another attempt is made, out of guilt, to become the defined prayer warrior! I don’t want that to happen out of today’s message. If we make things complex, then we tend to gravitate to eloquent prayers. However, Scripture declares in James 5:16 that it is the effectual fervent prayer not the eloquent prayer that availeth much! So then, how do we make sure our prayer is effective? In order to do that I want us to look at the two types of prayer that I believe that Jesus and the disciples modeled for us.
Disciples pray consistently
Luke 5:16 (NIV) - But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
One of the reasons that the disciples devoted themselves to consistent prayer is that their rabbi modeled a consistent prayer life. Parents - Selah.
This is why Paul would come along and say in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 - Pray without ceasing. The Greek word for “without ceasing” doesn't mean nonstop — but actually means constantly recurring. Paul would come back again in Colossians 4:2 and give us a command - Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Simply put to be a disciple we must have a consistent - ongoing - personal conversation with Jesus. (SLIDE 9b) Communication will determine your connectedness! We used to judge whether someone was praying by whether they attended prayer meetings. However, the private ongoing dialogue with Christ in every situation, circumstance, and moment and life is the real indication of discipleship.
How consistent in your prayer life? Do you catch yourself talking to our Rabbi on an ongoing manner? How many hours of each day do we neglect the opportunity to speak to Him? Are you constantly checking in? Are your prayers proof of desire towards Him?
We talk about the fact that sheep know the Shepard’s voice but I want to flip the script. Does the Shepard recognize your voice? Is He familiar with it? There are people in my life that never have to identify themselves when they call. I don’t need caller ID because through frequency and consistency I have become familiar with their voice. Disciples carry on an ongoing conversation with Jesus.
Disciples prayed persistently
Consistent and persistent sound and are somewhat similar. However, persistent prayer is something that disciples must also develop.
Persistence is an acquired skill. You learn to endure. You learn to hang on. Your strain and struggle develops strength. Why is persistence necessary? Persistence in prayer says that I believe who you are even when who you are hasn’t brought the results I desire to see.