05 Nov 2023

Continue Steadfastly In Prayer [Colossians 4:2-4]


The easiest thing to do in prayer is. . . to quit! That's why Paul says, "continue steadfastly in prayer. " It means we are to have a gritty determination to persevere, to stick to prayer, and not give up in prayer. Prayerlessness is often blamed on busyness or tiredness. But the reality is that prayerlessness is a form of pride. This sermon will help you see exactly why we need to pray, and we hope it will reboot or encourage your prayer life. This sermon will also help you see the importance of being watchful and thankful in prayer. It will also direct you to the priority in prayer- the advancement of the gospel.



Sermon Transcript

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Let's look at Colossians chapter 4. We are just going to look at three verses this morning, and they are, "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us that God may open to us a door for the word to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison, that I may make it clear which is how I ought to speak" (Colossians 2-4). So, this is a passage about prayer.

A little boy was in a restaurant and he was about to tuck into his meal. His parents then said to him, son, don't you remember, you have to pray before you eat? To which the son replies, I don't have to pray, I'm in a restaurant. Why does it make a difference? The son replies, well, because I'm sure, unlike my mom, the chef knows how to cook.

This is a lesson on prayer. It is a very important subject for the Christian, and yet it is a subject that brings tremendous guilt and shame to us, because for many of us, we know we don't pray as we ought to.

Maybe prayer has become routine. Maybe prayer has dropped off your calendar. Maybe prayer is just pure drudgery for you. Well, we all come this morning, perhaps with something to confess before God, and I believe that our God is a forgiving God. But I also hope that the message today will be used by the Spirit to inform us about the beauty and importance of prayer, and that perhaps God will give us all a fresh start to be faithful, to be constant, to be steadfast in prayer.

I'd like to remind all of us that this is in the context of seeking things above. Paul had been speaking about how Christians are united with Jesus by faith, that union is so deep and profound that when Jesus died on the cross, we also died with Him.

So that old man that is before Christ, is now dead and buried. We are so united with Jesus that we are also raised together with Him. We now have a new life. The man standing before you is a different man from the day he believed in Jesus Christ. That old Jason died, and in that man's place is a new creation.

So Paul says, since you are given this new life, then seek the things that are above. We explained that this means we are to pursue obedience to Jesus. This is what we desire, this is what we crave for, this is what we seek, obedience to Jesus in everyday life, in everything that we do.

Now this is not cryptic, nor abstract, because Paul went on to explain seeking things above, seeking obedience to Jesus in everyday life means we are to pursue purity in life. We are to pursue unity in the church. We are to pursue order in the household. We spend two weeks, looking at wives and husbands, children and parents, slaves and masters.

This week we are going to look at seeking things above means we are to be faithful in prayer, and next week we are going to look at what it means to conduct ourselves with wisdom and grace before a watching world.

But today, as I've mentioned, we are looking at the subject of prayer, continue steadfastly in prayer, exact words taken from verse 2. Three things, as usual, I'd like you to walk away with, if possible, by the grace of God.

1. Adherence to Prayer

Number one, this is a text that reminds us about the need to adhere to prayer, to stick to prayer, and not give up on prayer. Paul says, continue steadfastly in prayer. It's two words in our English, but in the Greek it's just one word, proskartereo, which means to adhere, to stick, to persevere, to hold on.

So Paul is saying, in the realm of prayer, you need this kind of gritty determination not to give up. Elsewhere, this word is translated devote, to be faithful, committed to prayer. So stick to it, adhere to prayer, and not give up.

Let me ask you, what's the easiest thing to do in prayer? Think about it for yourself, what's the easiest thing to do in prayer? You may have a lot of answers, you may have a lot of considerations, but I'll not trick you, I'll say this is a trick question, because I think the easiest thing to do in prayer is to give up.

Orh, huh, it's true, isn't it? The easiest thing to do in prayer is to give up, and exactly for that reason, I think, Paul says, do not give up. I know it's easy to give up. It's likely that people give up, but if we are obedient to Jesus, then proskartereo in your prayer. Do not give up, adhere to prayer.

Maybe life has gotten busy for you, maybe your schedules are packed, you are worn out most of the time, and so we find ourselves quite tempted, and indeed, we find ourselves succumbing to the temptation to give up in prayer.

We give up in prayer because somehow we think maybe prayer is not that effective anyway. We don't see that much of a result, so we doubt if prayer really works. Or we give up maybe because we think that God is sovereign and unchanging, and whatever He determines from eternity time past, will be done anyway, or as the song goes, que sera sera, whatever will be, will be. So why bother to pray? And therefore, with these kinds of thinking, it's easy to give up.

But let me say, I think the real fundamental reason, why you and I will give up in prayer is because we are proud. It's not because you're busy, it's not because you're tired, the fundamental reason is because we are proud.

We think we can go on without God anyway. We don't quite need Him. Oh yes, if I have some spare time, pray. But otherwise, life goes on, I don't really need Him. So prayerlessness is really an expression of arrogance and pride.

Someone asked, what's the difference between praying in church and praying in a casino? The answer, when you pray in the casino, you really mean it.

To many people, prayer is just going through the motions, doesn't really make a difference. I don't really need it. That's pride. We don't see how desperate we really are.

So Paul says, stick to it, persevere. The word proskartereo is a word that is often used in association with prayer. In the early church, this is what happened, the apostles were, with one accord, devoting themselves to prayer. The word devote is the word proskartereo. They are devoted to prayer. They were committed to pray. They did not give up on prayer. This is what they prioritised.

When the church, the early church was born on the day of Pentecost, subsequent to that, this is the description of the people. They devoted themselves, proskartereo, to the apostles' teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers. The church, the people were devoted, committed, stuck to it, adhered to it, persevered in it, they did not give up.

In Acts chapter 6, the apostles knew that there were urgent needs around them and needs needed to be met. But at the very same time, they knew their priority, they stuck to their priority, they proskartereo themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word.

Later on, the apostle Paul would write about proskartereo in prayer. The word constant is the same Greek word proskartereo. This is what he told them they must do. This is in the context of what it means to be a living sacrifice. Because of the mercies of God, Paul says, present yourselves a living sacrifice and he is not abstract about it because he goes on to say what that living sacrifice, living for God, worship for God, looks like. It includes perseverance and faithfulness in the realm of prayer.

Later on, whilst in prison also, the apostle Paul would write in Ephesians, you are to be praying at all times. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance. The word perseverance is, perseverance, is the word proskarteresis, which is the noun form of proskartereo. Persevere, stick to it, adhere to it. This is how you should pray. It's easy to give up, but that's why we need this command to remind us.

Did Paul live this out himself? Was he an example of proskartereo kinds of prayer? I think so. He began this letter by telling the Colossians, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you. We have always been praying for you. So guys, continue steadfastly in prayer. Stick to it, don't give up. Life gets busy, I know. You can be tired, I understand, but stick to this, because this is what it means to worship Jesus, this is what it means to seek obedience to Christ in everyday life, faithfulness in prayer.

Now, I think it's very important, this is not quite what is in the text, but I think it's pastorally important to help you understand why should you pray.

Most of us, we always like to find out why. So I like to answer this frequently asked question, why pray? What's the use of prayer? Because there are some, like I've said, who think that God is so sovereign, He doesn't change His mind. God is immutable. The immutability of God is one of His attributes. He's so perfect, He knows all things, He's so sovereign, that really nothing changes His mind. Because His mind, His will, His plan is always perfect from the word go.

So if we understand the immutability of God, we may think to ourselves, then why bother to pray? Since His mind is clear and fixed and unchanging, my prayer will not matter, because God is immutable. And so you have these kinds of thoughts that may dilute your fervor and your adherence to prayer.

So, I, I just want to be helpful here. Why pray? Instead of asking you, because of the interest of time, I'll just list it out, alright? But you can think for yourself first. If someone comes along and says, John, why do I need to pray? How would you answer? I ask you now, why should you pray? How would you answer? Don't know? Bible says so lor. Actually that's not a bad answer, but it may not be a totally adequate answer, that's all.

So, don't know, I just am told to pray, it's a good answer in that it is commanded. Even if, so I'm saying I start from the basic, the fundamental, even if I have no other reason given in Scripture why I should pray, simply because God says so is a good enough reason for me. That's basic Christianity 101.

It helps if I understand why, but even if I don't, it's clear, I do it. So why should you and I pray? Because over and over again in the Bible, God commands His people to pray.

Why should a church pray, together? I think it's because God tells us so. We have examples in the early church where they gathered together in prayer. So we should be a prayerful people, a house of prayer.

A second reason, I think, is that prayer is actually a very natural expression of our communion with God. It's what relationships are all about, isn't it? You don't have a relationship with anybody if the person does not talk to you and you do not talk to the person, if there's no communication. God speaks to us today through His Word and we relate with Him, to Him, in prayer and it's, it's in that prayer, that asking, that seeing His answer that deepens and develops intimacy and relationship communion with God.

We see, for example, in Deuteronomy, "for what great nation is there that has a God so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon Him? " (Deuteronomy 4:7) The nation of Israel is to know the nearness, the intimacy, the love of God as they pray and as God replies and answers and responds.

We read Psalm 116, "I love the LORD because He has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy" (Psalm 116:1). It's that relationship. Psalm 145, "the LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth" (Psalm 145:18).

So why should I pray? Why should you pray? God commands so. Number two, that's what it means to have communion with Him, to grow and develop in a relationship with this God, who is a prayer-answering God.

And number three, we pray because prayer really does make a difference. That, there is great result and there is great effect in prayer. I think prayer is extremely consequential. It is not inconsequential. It is very consequential.

You see, there is a thinking today, that because God is sovereign, that was what I was speaking about, because God is sovereign and unchanging, prayer doesn't change things.

In fact, this is something I learned years ago. That because God is so immutable, sovereign, unchanging, His will is perfect, please don't imagine that your prayer can change anything because your prayer can never change the infinitely wise will of God. So why pray? The answer given is that prayer only changes me.

So I pray because I need to align my thinking to God's thinking. I need to tell myself that I'm weak and needy and desperate, so that's why I pray. Prayer doesn't change things. That was what I was thinking for quite some time.

But then, when you open the pages of the Bible and read verses like Matthew 7:7, "ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you." It doesn't sound very inconsequential. It sounds very effective. It sounds like it really does make a difference. Ask! In the Greek, it's keep on asking and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened unto you. It seems to be very consequential, don't you think?

How about James? You do not have. Why? Because God willed that you will not have. No, that's not what James said. "You do not have because you do not ask" (James 4:2). How about how James states the illustration of Elijah? He said, "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours." (James 5:17) He's like us, in many ways. He's not some superhuman. And Elijah "prayed fervently that it might not rain and so for three years and six months, it did not rain on the earth." (James 5:17)

So, the logic James is positioning for us is the drought is a result of Elijah's prayer. That's what he's saying. And just in case you think this is a fluke, he goes on to say, he prayed again and heaven gave rain. So the rain is a result of prayer.

So when I think about this, I realize this is not quite Biblical at all. Prayer is not just to change us. Prayer is not inconsequential. So how do you square that up? How do you square up, the fact that God is immutable and at the same time, my prayer really does change things? How do you put that together?

Well, I think it's not that complicated. Let me draw it up for you in a sense on this slide. Prayer changes things. I think I can safely say that from Matthew 7, James 4, James 5, and many other verses.

The problem is when we think prayer changes God's will so that things will change. This doesn't work. This is not correct, because God's will does not change. His plans, God is always on plan A. There is no plan B for God.

So the right way of thinking is not that my prayer changes God's will in a sense, but that it has always been God's will to use my prayer to change things.

So give you an example again of Elijah. Why did Elijah pray for rain? Huh, is it because Elijah's own idea to pray and to change God's mind? No. The behind the scenes look in 1 Kings, is that "after many days, the word of the LORD came to Elijah." (1 Kings 18:1) It was God who said to Elijah, "go show yourself to Ahab and I will send rain" (1 Kings 18:1). And knowing God's will here, Elijah applied himself to ask, to seek, to knock, to pray, and rain came. Not that Elijah changed God's mind, but God used Elijah and his prayer to change things.

So prayer does change things. It's just that it does not change God's will. It is God who uses your prayer to change things. So in a sense, when I do not pray, I do not get, that's true. And if I do pray, and if it is prayed in the center of God's will, it is not to consume upon my own lust, God gives. And it's not because I twisted God's will, but when I look back, I realize it was God's will that gave me that grace to pray and see that beautiful change that I've been asking for.

So, brothers, sisters, why do we pray? Because God tells us so. Because that's what it means to be a Christian, to be His child, to ask, to see our Father answer us and deepen in this relationship. And we pray because it does make a difference. God wants us to pray. He uses our prayer to change lives and to change things. And if you do not pray, you do not get.

Finally, I think it's important to pray because it gives you peace, it gives you the calmness. This, I think, is clear in Philippians chapter 4, that it is by prayer that we receive the peace of God, that guards our hearts. He doesn't want you to be fearful or anxious or worried. He wants you to come to Him. And as you pray, He grants you peace. He gives you a supernatural peace. He doesn't guarantee that everything is going to turn out smooth for you, but there will be a peace for you even when times are difficult. That is the peace that surpasses all understanding. That when you have cancer, you can still have peace. That when you're facing death, you are still not worried. That is the peace that flows from prayer.

A song we sing, What a friend we have in Jesus, contains this stanza, O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. So, it's been a long first point. Don't be anxious. Points two and three are way shorter, alright? So, adherence to prayer, continue steadfastly. That's point number one. It's easy to give up. It's the easiest thing to do in prayer. But if you seek things above, you stick to it. Because you understand how important it is.

2. Alertness in Prayer

The second thing I'd like to help you in is to see the alertness required in prayer. Paul says, watch, uh, continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. The word watchful means to be alert, or to be awake, or to be vigilant. My wife often complains that I'm getting old. Why am I getting old? Because she says, whenever I sit down, I will doze off very quickly. I doze off at my desk, and I doze off even when I go movies with my family. My kids sometimes will check, Daddy sleep already or not? It's kind of a standard pattern, no matter how exciting the show, I will fall asleep one. She says, she says it's the old man syndrome.

I am not very watchful, I admit, in the movies. But the Bible says we have to be watchful in prayer. So what does it mean for you and I to be watchful in prayer? What does it mean to be alert and awake in prayer? Some of you may take it very literally. It means when you pray, please open your eyes and don't fall asleep. But I think that may not be the primary thought Paul has in mind. What is he really saying when he says being watchful?

Well, there are some suggestions. The first suggestion is to look at this word in an eschatological way. Eschatology means the study of end times. To look at it from the future point of view, the, the viewpoint that Jesus is coming back. So since you know that Jesus is coming back, be alert, be awake, to be vigilant, knowing that He's coming back, please be faithful in prayer now. That could be one suggestion, especially when there was a eschatological look in chapter 3 verse 24, 25 about the reward of inheritance. So it could be.

A second suggestion is a little bit more difficult to see, but I think it's not invalid, and that is to see that the book of Colossians, is a book that is very similar in many ways to Ephesians. You'll realize that several things are very similar there, there are quite a lot of parallels, and in Ephesians, in chapter 6, Paul talks about spiritual warfare.

Paul talks about how we need to stand against the wiles of the evil one, because Satan is always trying to deceive us, to beguile us, and to tempt us away from the simplicity of faith in Christ. So Paul then says, because of the spiritual warfare that is relevant and real around us, put on the whole armor of God. That chest plate, that belt, that helmet, the shoes, and at the end he says, praying with all prayer.

So that prayer in that context, later on you'll see that verse, is in the context of being in a spiritual battle. So that watchful, now he doesn't say any of that spiritual battle here in Colossians, so that's why I say it's not so easy to see, and may not be what Paul has in mind, but that is a suggestion people have, that watchfulness is to be aware that we are facing temptation, spiritual battles, and just like what Jesus says, watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. That could be a possibility, but it is quite a roundabout way to go about it.

So the most obvious watchful application is simply being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Being watchful in your prayer, so that when God answers, you are very quick and ready to give thanks. That I think is probably the most likely meaning Paul wants to convey here. That in prayer, we are not just to come with a whole host of requests, but we are also ready and quick to give thanks for all that God has answered. To praise Him for it all.

So in prayer there should be this three-step waltz. One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three. What is the one, two, three? Pray, watch, give thanks. Pray, watch, give thanks. Pray, watch, give thanks. Because a lot of times we forget to watch. We just ask, and ask, and ask, and ask, and we do not learn to give thanks.

There is this story of a lady who sells curry puffs at the corner of a street. Fifty cents per curry puff, and sad to say, not many people buy from this little poor old lady. But there's this man, young man, who walks by her trolley every day, and he works nearby, and he would look at her, say hi, and drop one dollar on the table, and just walk away. He pays her, but he never takes any curry puff from her.

This took place for five years. At the end of the five years, not at the end, but one day, he walked by, looked at her, said hi, and as usual, placed that one dollar note or coin on the table. This time, the lady said, sir, hold on a second. You have been my best customer all these years. I really appreciate your business, but I just want you to know that inflation is real, and my curry puff is now 1.30 each.

You know, sometimes we are like this little old lady. We come to God with a mindset that we can take Him for granted, and we just ask, and we have this, this terrible mindset that we, we really take God for granted. But that's not what Paul has in mind. We should be a people who are very quick to do that waltz, as it were, to pray, to watch, to give thanks.

This thanksgiving, you must observe, is a very prominent idea or theme in Colossians. Seven times in four chapters, different parts. Paul began this letter by saying, I, we always thank God for you guys. He says in verse 12, "giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light." He urges them to continue steadfast in the faith, and to be "abounding in thanksgiving." (Colossians 2:7)

The Apostle Paul wrote quite a bit about thanksgiving in chapter 3. "Be thankful" (Colossians 3:15). Sing "with thankfulness in your heart", verse 16. And then in verse 17, "giving thanks to God the Father". And now in your prayer, be "watchful in it with thanksgiving." (Colossians 4:2) That's what prayer life should look like. We are steadfast in prayer, and we are watchful in it with thanksgiving in prayer.

3. Application of Prayer

Finally, I want to share with you the application of prayer. So he has kind of explained what they are to do. Be a people steadfast in prayer, watchful in it with thanksgiving. And now he kind of a urges them, since you are praying, since you will pray, I let me give you an application, please also pray for us. At the same time, pray also for us. The us here refers to Paul and Timothy, the co-author. That's how we have identified them in chapter 1, verse 1. So pray for us. Pray for Tim. Pray for me. Why? Pray for what? "Pray that God may open to us a door for the Word." (Colossians 4:3) I think this is clearly a metaphor, an imagery for the free course of the Word in the lives of people.

So pray for us that we may have an opportunity to share the Word, to disseminate the Word, to spread the Word. The Word here is, I think, a short way of referring to the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ, because Colossians 1, verse 25 says, "to make the Word of God fully known, the mystery." And then he goes on in verse 27, which is about Christ in us.

So he says, pray for us that God may give us an opportunity for the spread, for the dissemination, for the proclamation of the Gospel. And he says "to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison" (Colossians 4:3). I'm in prison right now because of the Gospel. But please pray for me that I can have an open door to continue preaching the Gospel.

So he prays, or he asks them to pray for opportunity, and then he calls them to pray for clarity, "that I may make it clear which is how I ought to speak" (Colossians 4:4). So he prays for opportunity, or he asks for prayer for opportunity, and he asks for prayer for clarity.

In Ephesians 6, he talks about boldly, preaching boldly. Here he talks about preaching clearly. It is important, if we think about it, that if we are to serve God in the ministry of the Gospel, we must be clear. Spurgeon had a really interesting illustration. He says, Jesus said to the disciples, feed My sheep. But many Christians, many preachers, put the feeding trough so high, huh, they preach so chim. Spurgeon didn't say chim, but they, they preach in such a complicated, complex, high falutin way, that the average person cannot reach up to it.

So it seems as if they did not hear Jesus say, feed My sheep, they only heard Jesus say, feed My giraffes. Oh no, we must not do that. The Word of God is rich, and complex, and beautiful. But I think one essential criteria for a preacher is that he must make it clear. Not to dumb down truth, but to make it understandable, clear, which is how I ought to speak. Not with flowery, oratorical skills, or impressing people with your scholastic abilities. Help them get to what God is saying, in all its multivariate beauty, beauty. Make it clear.

Paul says, this is what I ask you to pray for. Opportunity and clarity, for the sake of the Gospel. Even though he is now in prison. Notice that the priority of the Apostle Paul is not, please pray for me that I may get out of prison soon. Please pray for me that I'm not going to suffer so much. Please pray for me so that I will not be in prison. No, he prays for the advancement of the Gospel. That's his priority. And I think that's very important for us, as God's children, to know how to pray. We are not to be absolutely absorbed with our own selfish needs. Nothing wrong with praying for yourself, but I think it's only right to pray for yourself in the context of how we are serving God and His kingdom.

I shared this several times, I think in recent days too, that all our prayers must be able to connect to the glory of God. And if your prayer cannot connect to the glory of God, I don't think we should pray that. I think Jesus taught us how to pray. He told us right from the word go, our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. It's all about God's Name. Your kingdom come, not my kingdom come. Your will be done, not my will be done. And only as we are seeking His priorities, His program, His plans, then I can start to pray. And in that context, then I can pray, provision, give us this day our daily bread. Only in that context, then I can pray, Lord forgive me, pardon, forgive us our debts or trespasses. And only in that context should we pray, lead us not into temptation, our protection.

So, Paul is very consistent here because in Ephesians 6, he also says pretty much the same thing. We have to pray at all times, keep alert. Perseverance is proskarteresis, which we have looked at just now. For what? Get me out of prison? No, to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly. Interesting, right? A little difference here, as I ought to speak. So, Paul prays for the advancement of the Gospel, not the advancement of the apostle Paul. like Jesus, that's what prayer is about.

Let me ask you, do you think this prayer works? Do you think it worked? Did it make a difference? I am assuming that when the Colossians read this, they would pray for Paul. I'm assuming that when they read this, they would pray, Lord, grant Paul and Timothy opportunity and grant them wisdom for clarity. I think they might have prayed that for them. And do you think that as they prayed, there is an impact, there is a difference?

We can't be absolutely sure, but I think it is really interesting. There, there are four prison epistles, right? Er, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon. We have looked at Colossians here. We have kind of looked at Ephesians, ambassador in chains. Philippians is the other letter where Paul is in prison. And when, when he was in prison, now we don't know exactly the chronology in exact details. In fact, most people don't even know exactly which prison was Paul in when he was writing Colossians. Some say in Rome, some say in Ephesus. It's hard to be dogmatic there.

But if it turns out that Philippians is somewhat a little, written a little later than Colossians, then this is really interesting. Because Philippians 1 tells us, "I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me" (Philippians 1:12), I'm in prison now ah. Most of us will say, wow, very suay lah, you. No, Paul says not suay, no. Whatever "has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel" (Philippians 1:12). Why? "So that it has become known throughout the imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ" (Philippians 1:13). Everybody knows why I'm here. The Gospel. And in that, it has opened doors for me to share the Gospel.

So for Paul, being in prison, locked up, is not the end of the ministry. That's why I think he could confidently say to the Colossians, even if this is a separate event, please pray for me. I believe that even if I'm in prison, the Gospel can go out. Just pray for opportunity. Just pray for clarity.

And then at the end of Philippians, it's super cool, "all the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household" (Philippians 4: 22). People have come to faith in Caesar's household. How? Paul. Prayer has opened the doors and given clarity that people may understand, receive, repent, and believe.

I think in our church, we must have preachers, we must have members who are declaring the Gospel clearly and boldly. Unapologetic for truth. But at the same time, we must also see that just because we can present clearly doesn't mean that people will be saved. We need to pray. And I think it is in that preaching and that prayer combination that people can be gloriously saved.

So, reminder, all this is in a context, I believe, of seeking obedience to Christ as new creations. That would mean a change in the way we live and in the way we pray. So, let me end off with just asking you, how are you doing in adherence to prayer? Are you tired? Busy? And therefore say to ourselves, you know what? Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be. God is sovereign. Even if I don't pray, it will happen, one.

Are you saying to yourself, you know, I've been praying for so long, I'm not sure even if it works. So maybe I can chill a little. Or would you say, I'm a new creation? Even if I don't know how it works and whether it really works in this case, God tells me to be faithful in prayer, I will proskartereo, I will stick to it, I will adhere, I will have that gritty determination not to give up, but be faithful in prayer.

Let me ask you, dear church, are we faithful as a congregation, as a people in prayer? You know, this morning I was asked, next year we are going to have three services. The first service is at 8.30am. What's going to happen to our prayer, prayer meeting in the morning? What time do you start ah? It's not easy. It takes sacrifice. It takes a gritty determination. Because the easiest thing to do is to give up in prayer.

I think the church, we aspire to be a church like the book of Acts. I think I see the book of Acts as a people committed to congregational prayer. Now some of you, you may be praying at home, that's fine. That's good. But I also see that the early church gathered to pray. And they stuck to it. They devoted themselves to it. So this is a question we all have to ask. How devoted, committed am I to personal prayer and praying with my brothers and sisters in Christ for the church, for the Gospel represented in the church and how the Gospel should advance?

How alert are we in prayer? We just pray, give a whole list, a laundry list to God and we forget about it. Or do we check back and say, Lord, thank you for answering my prayers? Don't be the, like that little old lady. But be faithful in a three-step rhythm. The waltz, to pray, to watch, to give thanks. And finally, I hope that as a church, yes, we should pray for one another, we should pray for our needs, we should pray for health, for healing, struggles and so on. That's fine, but let's connect all our prayers ultimately to the glory of God. That's what it means to seek things above. That's what it means to be a Christian. Let's bow for a word of prayer together.

I want to speak to my friends and guests who are here not as Christians yet. You're not yet a Christian, you're not yet a believer. And so I think this whole subject of prayer is quite abstract or quite far or distant for you. But I want to say that we are praying for you. In fact, right now I'm going to urge our church, all of us who are already Christians, to be praying for you in our hearts. To pray that you would see very clearly the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Every religion in this world is saying, do better. Let me tell you, the Bible says it is done. And it is done perfectly by Jesus. What is done? That payment for sin is done perfectly by Jesus. When He sacrificed Himself and died on the cross and rose again the third day, the Bible is telling us it is finished. The debt of sin is fully paid. So we want to pray that God would make this very clear for you. That you would see that there is one Saviour and the only Saviour, Jesus Christ. And He has done it all on the cross.

We want to pray that you will now respond to Him in a right way. To humble yourself and to acknowledge, you need Jesus to save you. And that you would have Him as your Lord and Saviour. That you will turn from your sin, you will repent, and you will believe that it is His finished work that can cleanse you from all sin. And our prayer is that you will follow Jesus in your life. And in so doing, enter into life eternal.

I say also to my brothers and sisters in Christ, like I've said, prayer is a subject that stirs up tremendous guilt and shame. But today, we can find cleansing and forgiveness at the cross for our prayerlessness. And I believe God's will for you is that you will be able to start afresh and anew in your prayer life. The easiest thing to do is to give up. And correspondingly, a pleasing thing to do in God's eyes is that you will not give up.

So Father, this morning we pray for guests and friends that they will come to know Jesus. We thank You that whilst we cannot touch hearts, change lives, You can. And in a way that is mysterious and yet amazing, we also believe it is Your will to use our prayers right now so that You may change lives.

Please also help this church grow in humility. That we will not be proud and think that we can do without You. But instead, we will be a people who will stick to, adhere to, persevere devoted in prayer. Make us a house of prayer. Make us quick to give thanks. Make us a praiseful, thankful people that the world may know how wonderful, faithful and great a God You are. Thank You. We pray all this in Jesus' Name. Amen.


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