Rev’d Jonathan Gale
Well Esau didn’t think much of his birthright, did he? Jacob offers to buy it for bread and lentil stew and, voila; it’s gone. Perhaps he should have valued the privilege he had more. He did that unforgiveable thing of looking a gift horse in the mouth.
What he was despising was the relationship he had with his father, who, as we know, loved him.
Jesus’ Parable of the Sower demonstrates a similar thing. Three types of people (represented by a pathway, rocky ground, and ground that grows thorns) are not receptive to God’s word. Their lives are barren because they don’t nurture the communication of God the Father to them. In doing so they despise the relationship they could have had with God.
The thing is this: when you love someone, you communicate with them. You don’t ignore them when they talk to you. God loves us: it is the prime fact of the Kingdom of God. What do you think God wants as a result? Communication: prayer!
In the Ephesians passage we have that graphic image of the believer putting on the armour of God. It is, as Paul says, armour against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Did you know that you were meant to engage in spiritual warfare?
The armour consists of:
- The belt of truth
- The breastplate of righteousness
- The shoes that make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace
- The shield of faith
- The helmet of salvation and
- The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Now we could talk at length about each of these and what they require of us but perhaps on another occasion. What is interesting is that Paul, having armed us with what we need to take on the evil forces, then immediately gives us the activity this armour is designed to support. In other words, here is the job description that goes with the armour:
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 19Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,* 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
When we love God we pray because we communicate with the one we love! Prayer is described as the Christian’s lifeblood because it is communication with the God of love.
Paul asks us to pray for all the saints – for the fellow believers.
This is how we honour our birthright.
1 Peter 1: 23 23You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.
When we are born into a family, we learn to talk in that family. When a child does not learn to talk, we are saddened.
In one short sentence of 12 words Paul mentions prayer three times: 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication.
Supplication is asking, so we are to pray for our fellow Christians. That is why we are refreshing the Families Praying for Families prayer list. Our earnest hope is that when you receive an email asking you to pray for some fellow parishioners, you will do so daily and faithfully.
I’d like to conclude with a brief template for prayer. The first principle of any prayer is to listen to God, before we expect God to answer our requests.
A useful mnemonic is A.C.T.S. ACTS
A – adoration. We begin by acknowledging God for who he is and what he means to us. That is why Jesus begins the Lord’s Prayer with “Our Father”.
C – confession. We proceed to acknowledge before God that we are not perfect and that we need his forgiveness.
T – thanksgiving. Gratitude is a mark of the mature Christian. It reflects an ability to see reality – that we owe so much to God. We therefore thank God for his love and care for us.
And finally …
S – supplication. Or asking.
The most immature form of prayer is presenting God with a shopping list of our needs and worse still, our desires. Don’t get me wrong; God loves to answer our prayers. He tells us to ask. But we are to ask in the name of Jesus, which, more than anything means according to the character of Jesus. That’s why it is so important to adore, confess and give thanks first. It provides right perspective.
This is why Psalm 37 says Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
The scandal of the Prodigal Son was that he despised his father and walked out on him. If we are to honour our birthright as Christians we should join God’s army of regular and faithful pray-ers. We put on the whole armour of God in order that we might pray for the saints – our fellow believers.
It is so important that we do. Satan has a vested interest in seeing that the Kingdom of God is rendered ineffective by getting at the world-wide church that Jesus is actively building. The world-wide church is made up of individual churches and individual churches are made up of individual believers.
James 5: 16b says pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
A.C.T.S. – ACTS
- Thanksgiving and …
If you don’t receive an email or a letter in the next week or two, contact Holly and she’ll sort that out. When you do receive your request pray, pray, pray, pray. Pray faithfully and earnestly each day. And keep on praying.
Luke 18 – Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 18 – 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.