What is Jesus’ Most Important Teaching on Prayer? +15 Great Quotes on Prayer #64 + C.S. Lewis on the Necessity of Forgiveness!
I guess I should start by apologizing for the slightly click-baity title. There is a tension in doing Christian things on social media, and I’ve been wrestling with it for years, having begun podcasting in 2005. You want to have titles for things that are eye-catching, but you don’t want to rope people in with false-promises, flash, or over-dramatizations. I suppose I could have titled today’s podcast something like, ‘some stuff on prayer,’ but that seems like it would not be very inspiring. I could have gone to the other extreme: ‘The Pope and Southern Baptist President J.D. Greear both beg you to listen to this one awe-inspiring, can’t miss podcast on how to become a WaRrIoR in PRAYER!!’ But that would be a lie, because I don’t really know the Pope, and I doubt he and J.D. would beg you to do much of anything in unison. So, I settled on, “What is Jesus’ Most Important Teaching on Prayer?” I guess that perseverance in prayer may NOT actually be His most important teaching on prayer (He never says…) but I do think it is really important, and I’m sorry if my headline pulled you in with a false promise. I’ll include my attorney’s name and number at the end of this post if you would like to pursue legal action.
In addition to a DRAMATIC discussion about prayer from Luke 18, we are also reading Exodus 15, which contains the first (I think) worship song in the Bible AND a beautiful instance of dancing in worship led by Moses’ sister Miriam. Job 33 features young Elihu attempting to lay some wisdom down on Job and his friends and 2 Corinthians 3 shares the powerful truth that Christians are ‘living letters’ from God to the world. I love that illustration! ONE important thing! I left off an amazing quote by C.S. Lewis on forgiveness from yesterday’s show. I want to include it today because it is a good and challenging word for us.
We say a great many things in church (and out of church too) without thinking of what we are saying. For instance, we say in the Creed “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.” I had been saying it for several years before I asked myself why it was in the Creed. At first sight it seems hardly worth putting in. “If one is a Christian,” I thought, “of course one believes in the forgiveness of sins. It goes without saying.” But the people who compiled the Creed apparently thought that this was a part of our belief which we needed to be reminded of every time we went to church. And I have begun to see that, as far as I am concerned, they were right. To believe in the forgiveness of sins is not nearly so easy as I thought. Real belief in it is the sort of thing that very easily slips away if we don’t keep on polishing it up.C. S. Lewis, A Year with C. S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works, ed. Patricia S. Klein, 1st ed. (New York: HarperOne, 2003), 262.
We believe that God forgives us our sins; but also that He will not do so unless we forgive other people their sins against us. There is no doubt about the second part of this statement. It is in the Lord’s Prayer; was emphatically stated by our Lord. If you don’t forgive you will not be forgiven. No part of His teaching is clearer, and there are no exceptions to it. He doesn’t say that we are to forgive other people’s sins provided they are not too frightful, or provided there are extenuating circumstances, or anything of that sort. We are to forgive them all, however spiteful, however mean, however often they are repeated. If we don’t, we shall be forgiven none of our own.
“My present deadness I attribute to want of sufficient time and tranquility for private devotion. Oh that I might be a man of prayer!” Henry Martyn.
“Intercessory prayer is exceedingly prevalent. What wonders it has wrought! The Word of God teems with its marvelous deeds. Believer, thou hast a mighty engine in thy hand, use it well, use it constantly, use it with faith, and thou shalt surely be a benefactor to thy brethren.” – C. H. Spurgeon
“There is no way that Christians, in a private capacity, can do so much to promote the work of God and advance the kingdom of Christ as by prayer.” – Jonathan Edwards
4 Key Teachings of Jesus on Prayer:
1. NEVER EVER GIVE UP! Luke 18:1-8 “One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.” Also 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “ pray constantly, “
2. BE IMPUDENT!! Luke 11: 5 Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, 6 ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ 7 And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ 8 But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. (impudence) 9 “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
Definition of IMPUDENCE : the quality or state of being impudent 1. Characterized by offensive boldness; insolent or impertinent. Synonyms: Audacious, Bold, Brash, brassy, impertinent, etc.
Isaiah 62:6-7 I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD,give yourselves no rest, 7 and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.
3. HAVE FAITH _ DON”T DOUBT!! Mark 11:20-25 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” 22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Two keys to prayer here in this passage. #1 Have faith. Doubt quenches prayer. How to overcome doubt? Pray with other people and pray with the WORD – Faith comes by the WORD. MEDITATE to begin prayer
#4 FORGIVE!! Can you see one other key to prayer in Mark 11? Forgive those you have something against FIRST in prayer. Also consider Matthew 6:12-15 “This is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, let your name be kept holy. Let your kingdom come. Let your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. Give us our daily bread today. Forgive us as we forgive others. Don’t allow us to be tempted. Instead, rescue us from the evil one. “If you forgive the failures of others, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failures “
Ten Great Quotes on Praying With Perseverance. Always Pray, Never Give Up!
“Our praying, however, needs to be pressed and pursued with an energy that never tires, a persistency which will not be denied, and a courage which never fails.” E.M. Bounds
“Have you any days of fasting and prayer? Storm the throne of grace and persevere therein, and mercy will come down.” – John Wesley
“O brother, pray; in spite of Satan, pray; spend hours in prayer; rather neglect friends than not pray; rather fast, and lose breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper–and sleep too–than not pray. And we must not talk about prayer, we must pray in right earnest. The Lord is near. He comes softly while the virgin slumbers.” Andrew A. Bonar
“Much of our praying is like the boy who rings the door bell, but then runs away before the door is open.” Quoted by Leonard Ravenhill
“It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must patiently, believingly, continue in prayer until we obtain an answer; and further we have not only to continue in prayer unto the end, but we have also to believe that God does hear us, and will answer our prayers. Most frequently we fail in not continuing in prayer until the blessing is obtained, and in not expecting the blessing.” – George Müller
“Elijah was a man skilled in the art of prayer, who altered the course nature, strangled the economy of a nation, prayed and fire fell, prayed and people fell, prayed and rain fell. We need rain, rain rain! The churches are so parched that seed cannot germinate. Our altars are dry with no hot tears of penitents. Oh for an Elijah! When Israel cried for water, a man smote a rock, and that flinty fortress became a womb out of which a life-giving stream was born. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” God send us a man that can smite the rock! – Leonard Ravenhill, When Revival Tarries.
“None can believe how powerful prayer is, and what it is able to effect, but those who have learned it by experience. It is a great matter when in extreme need to take hold on prayer.” – Martin Luther
“There is no power like that of prevailing prayer — of Abraham pleading for Sodom, Jacob wrestling in the stillness of the night, Moses standing in the breach, Hannah intoxicated with sorrow, David heart-broken with remorse and grief, Jesus in sweat and blood. Add to this list from the records of the church your personal observation and experience, and always there is cost of passion unto blood. Such prayer prevails. It turns ordinary mortals into men of power. It brings power. It brings fire. It brings rain. It brings life. It brings God.”
“The Church has not yet touched the fringe of the possibilities of intercessory prayer. Her largest victories will be witnessed when individual Christians everywhere come to recognize their priesthood unto God and day by day give themselves unto prayer.” John R. Mott
“The devil is aware that one hour of close fellowship, hearty converse with God in prayer, is able to pull down what he hath been contriving and building many a year.” John Flavel
BONUS: “The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.” – Samuel Chadwick