VIDEO The Purpose of Prayer

…one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray…” Luke 11:1

Prayer is not a normal part of the life of the natural man. We hear it said that a person’s life will suffer if he doesn’t pray, but I question that. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer. When a person is born again from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve or nourish that life. Prayer is the way that the life of God in us is nourished. Our common ideas regarding prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer simply as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical purpose of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.

“Ask, and you will receive…” (John 16:24). We complain before God, and sometimes we are apologetic or indifferent to Him, but we actually ask Him for very few things. Yet a child exhibits a magnificent boldness to ask! Our Lord said, “…unless you…become as little children…” (Matthew 18:3). Ask and God will do. Give Jesus Christ the opportunity and the room to work. The problem is that no one will ever do this until he is at his wits’ end. When a person is at his wits’ end, it no longer seems to be a cowardly thing to pray; in fact, it is the only way he can get in touch with the truth and the reality of God Himself. Be yourself before God and present Him with your problems— the very things that have brought you to your wits’ end. But as long as you think you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.

To say that “prayer changes things” is not as close to the truth as saying, “Prayer changes me and then I change things.” God has established things so that prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

There is no allowance whatever in the New Testament for the man who says he is saved by grace but who does not produce the graceful goods. Jesus Christ by His Redemption can make our actual life in keeping with our religious profession.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount


Asking and Receiving, Luke 11:1-13 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

Love and Lean on God

Ruth clung to her. Ruth 1:14

Zach was funny, smart, and well-liked. But he secretly struggled with depression. After he committed suicide at age fifteen, his mom, Lori, said of him, “It’s just hard to comprehend how someone that had so much going for him would come to that point. Zach . . . was not exempt from suicide.” There are moments in the quiet when Lori pours out her sorrow to God. She says that the deep sadness after suicide is “a whole different level of grief.” Yet she and her family have learned to lean on God and others for strength, and now they’re using their time to love others who are grappling with depression.

Lori’s motto has become “Love and lean.” This idea is also seen in the Old Testament story of Ruth. Naomi lost her husband and two sons—one who was married to Ruth (Ruth 1:3–5). Naomi, bitter and depressed, urged Ruth to return to her mother’s family where she could be cared for. Ruth, though also grieving, “clung” to her mother-in-law and committed to staying with her and caring for her (vv. 14–17). They returned to Bethlehem, Naomi’s homeland, where Ruth would be a foreigner. But they had each other to love and lean on, and God provided for them (2:11–12).

During our times of grief, God’s love remains steady. We always have Him to lean on as we also lean on and love others in His strength.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

What does it mean for you to lean on God during your times of grief? Who may need your support right now?

Father, I’m grateful for Your faithful love and care for me. Use me to encourage others to trust You.

Give and Take

God planned for His children to rely on each other, which includes both providing and receiving help.

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the scriptures referenced throughout.

Deep, honest relationships require time and effort. But as human beings, we all have physical, mental, and emotional limits that we can’t ignore. Even Jesus, who was all-powerful, took time to step away from the crowds and His disciples to recharge by connecting with the Father (Luke 5:16).

When we can’t give as much to our relationships as we hoped, it might be our turn to receive. Moses is a great example of this. When he held up the staff of God, Israel prevailed over Amalek, but as his arms grew tired and he lowered them, Amalek gained around. So “Aaron and Hur supported [Moses’] hands, one on one side and one on the other. So his hands were steady until the sun set. And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword” (Exodus 17:12-13).

Moses’ story reminds us that sometimes the best thing we can do is let our family and friends help. God designed us to lean on one another, after all (1 Corinthians 12:18-26).

Think About It

• Do you know when to invest in your relationships and when to step back? Take a moment to ask the Lord for wisdom to navigate this gave and take.

Can a Christian Not Sin?

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1)

If the question is asked “Does a Christian not sin?” then the answer is no. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us….If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8, 10). Even the most godly Christian does sin occasionally—in thought if not in deed, in omission if not in commission. The God-given antidote is 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

But there is a danger if we use such verses as an excuse for sinning or for taking sin too lightly. If the question is asked “Can a Christian not sin?” then the answer is yes! God indeed, in Christ, has made every provision necessary for a believer never to commit sin, and we are without any legitimate excuse whenever we do.

This must be so for at least two reasons. In the first place, Jesus Christ in His humanity is our example, and He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). He accomplished this, not because of His deity, but solely in His humanity.

Secondly, God has commanded us not to sin, and He would never command us to do the impossible. For every temptation, there is a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13), and we have no excuse if we fail to take it. Our only recourse is to repent and confess the sin.

Our text commands us to sin not! But then, it also reminds us that Christ is our great advocate before the Father. He is righteous and has already taken our sins away as our propitiatory sacrifice, so “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). HMM

God Always Acts Like Himself

Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy.Psalm 99:9

God always acts like Himself wherever He may be and whatever He may be doing. When God became flesh and dwelt among us He did not cease to act as He had been acting from eternity. “He veiled His deity but He did not void it.” The ancient name dimmed down to spare the helpless eyes of mortal men, but as much as was seen was true fire.

Christ restrained His powers but He did not violate His holiness. In whatsoever He did He was holy, harmless, separate from sinners and higher than the highest heaven.

Just as in eternity God acted like Himself and when incarnated in human flesh still continued in all His conduct to be true to His holiness, so does He when He enters the nature of a believing man. This is the method by which He makes the redeemed man holy. OGM063-064

We can only become holy through the holiness of

God. CTBC, Vol. 1/200

Body and Soul—United

Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? … God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Many centuries of misunderstanding have brought about a division between body and soul. This division is in evidence in some parts of the church today. Jesus, however, did not see His body as something to be ignored but as something to be used. As He said, “You prepared a body for Me” (Heb 10:5).

His body and soul were attuned. He neither neglected His body nor pampered it, but offered it as the vehicle of God’s will and purpose. And He kept it fit for God. There is no mention of His ever being sick. Tired, yes, but never ill.

It is accepted today that body and soul are a unity, that a sick soul can produce a sick body, just as a healthy spirit contributes to a healthy body. It also works the other way around—a healthy body can contribute to good emotional and mental health. We Christians tend to overemphasize the spiritual side of life while underestimating the importance of physical facts like body chemistry, weather, water, air pollution, and nutrition. But through ignorance of the way in which body and soul are related, we succeed only in tearing them apart. I believe what is said about husband and wife in the marriage service can also be applied to the body and the soul: “Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate” (Mt 19:6).

A good pianist may be able to get a lot out of a poor instrument, but he cannot give full expression to the music if the piano is out of tune. You cannot ignore the physical if you want to stay spiritually fresh.

Prayer

O Father, help me see that my body is not something over which to be offended, but something to be offered. Give me a balanced understanding of this matter so that I can be at my best for You—spirit, soul, and body. Amen.

Further Study

1Kg 19; Rm 8:11; 1Co 3:16

What was part of Elijah’s problem?

How did the angel minister to Elijah?

Open Doors and Adversaries

. . . because a wide door for effective ministry has opened for me—yet many oppose me.1 Corinthians 16:9

Open doors of service may also let in adversaries. Paul had many of both. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians from Ephesus, he was trying to determine where to go next. He chose to remain longer in Ephesus because of the open doors of service God granted him. Knowing that God had opened the doors of ministry, Paul was not going to leave, regardless of how many enemies he faced. We might assume that Paul would reach the opposite conclusion. In light of the opposition he faced, he could have concluded that it was best to serve in less hostile regions. Instead, Paul based his decisions on God’s activity rather than on what people were doing.

As you respond to God’s invitations, don’t be caught by surprise when adversaries try to thwart what you are doing. If you concentrate on your opponents, you will be sidetracked from God’s activity. Don’t base your decisions on what people are doing. They cannot prevent you from carrying out God’s will (Rom. 8:31). Many times the most rewarding spiritual work is done in the crucible of persecution and opposition. While Paul was in Ephesus, a riot broke out in reaction to his ministry. The city theater resounded with an angry mob who shouted for two hours in support of their god, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:23–41). Despite this fierce rejection of the gospel, Ephesus became one of the chief cities from which the gospel spread throughout Asia.

It takes spiritual discernment to see beyond human activity to God’s will. As you seek places of service, look beyond what people are saying to find what God is doing.