Jesus starts this discussion by telling us how we should not pray. We are not to pray just to be seen and heard by others. If that is our motivation then the only reward we will get is the praise of those who see and hear us. Whether our prayers are realistic or ritualistic is not determined by where we pray or the words that we say. It isn’t the length of the prayer but the strength of the faith behind the prayer. One of the most real and shortest prayers is the cry of Peter when he was sinking in the sea of Galilee. His cry was “Save me, Lord”. Jesus immediately reached out His hand and brought Peter to safety. After He tells us how not to pray, He tells how we should pray. It is a short, powerful, beautiful prayer that covers everything from God’s holiness to our dependence on God for our daily bread. It covers forgiveness and God’s desire that His will would be done on earth even as it is in heaven. It shows us that we need the leadership of the Holy Spirit so that we will not be led into temptation but that we will be delivered from evil. We could pray this prayer continually and whether it becomes ritualistic instead of real would be determined by our attitude. God has given many examples of prayer in the Psalms where David cries out with all of his heart and might. He has also given us prayers of thanksgiving for His many blessings and benefits. When we reach the point that we have no words to express our desires, He has given us the Holy Spirit to pray through us, with us and for us.
It isn’t our words or our bodily position that determines whether our prayers are real or rituals, it is the attitude of the heart toward God and toward our fellow man that makes the difference. It is our faith that God can and will do these things for us and that we are willing to do these things for those around us.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
John’s disciples came to tell him about Jesus baptizing people and how everyone was going to Jesus and not coming to John. John explains to his disciples that this is how things should be. Using the wedding analogy, John explains to them how he is the friend of the bridegroom and Jesus is really the bridegroom. John also tells them that he is filled with joy at the success that Jesus is having in baptizing the people. John knows that Jesus must become greater and greater and that he, John, must become of lesser importance. All of us should pray that we see and understand God’s plan for us as clearly as John saw and understood God’s purpose for his life. John knew the importance of being where and doing exactly what God had planned for him. John had no desire to be anything less or anything more than what God had planned for him. How many ministries, large and small, have failed because their leaders decided they had become so important they no longer needed to be obedient to God’s plan? How many of us have failed because we reached the point that we thought we had a better plan than God or we thought we were no longer required to do things God’s way? How many of us have fallen because we thought we were above giving into temptations? Let us pray that God will keep us humble and that we do not succumb to the temptation to be God in our little corner of the world. Those of us who are thinking “that could never happen to me” are in the most danger. Pride is the main ingredient in the recipe for failure
Our salvation is by grace through faith, not by works and it is a free gift. But living a holy, peaceful life requires diligence. We must stay in God’s Word and depend on the leadership of God’s Spirit. To accomplish this, we must be sure that we forgive others so that no root of bitterness springs up in our hearts and pushes out the love that we should have. We must look after each other and teach others to lead a Godly, moral life. This should be done humbly and modestly, not trying to bring glory to ourselves but focusing on Jesus. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, but we must encourage others to do it now and not wait until it is too late. God’s Spirit will not always strive with men. So, pray that others will accept the free gift before it is too late, at the same time, being sure that we don’t fall to temptation.
41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak! – Matt. 26:41 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Why do Christians have to endure trials and persecutions? I suppose people have been asking this question since the first century. The disciples never quite understood why Jesus had to suffer and die until after the Resurrection. God does not allow us to go through suffering so that He will know where we are on our journey, He allows it so that we will know. He allows it so that our “I can” will turn into “No, I can’t but God can”. “No pain, no gain” applies to spiritual growth as well as physical. Would understanding the “why” really make the pain any less real or painful? I am sure that since Jesus was in on the plan of redemption, He understood the why, but that didn’t keep Him from asking His Father if there might not be another way. As he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane.
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”–Matt. 26:42 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. As we study God’s Word and pray each day, our faith should continually grow stronger. God has given each of us a spiritual gift to glorify Him and edify our Christian brothers and sisters. As we use those gifts in His service, it should cause our faith to grow stronger. God does not want us to walk around afraid to speak about all the marvelous things He has done for us. He tells us over and over “Do not fear”, “do not be afraid”, “be courageous”. We can speak out because we have His power and love abiding in us in the form of His Holy Spirit. He gives us strength to endure any situation, He has told us that He would never allow us to be tempted above our ability to resist and that with the temptation, He would always provide a way out.
To live in the light means to be obedient to God by allowing His Spirit to lead us into all truth. Does this mean that we never sin? No, if it were possible for us to live sinless lives, then Jesus died in vain. It means that we do not choose a lifestyle that constantly repeats the same sins. All humans fall to temptation, but we should not allow the devil to use those failures to beat us up and keep us depressed. Do our failures send us to hell? No, but they do break our relationship with Jesus Christ. So what do we do? John tells us in verse 9, when we fail and we will, then we must confess our sins and allow God to cleanse us from our sins. Then our relationship is restored and we can rejoice in His goodness and mercy
There are many times in our journey that we fall short of the mark. There will always be those times as long as we remain in these human bodies. When it comes to being tempted, we are very weak. Because Jesus went through the same temptations when He walked on this earth, He understands our failures. The devil will take those failures and beat us up over and over, telling us how we are no longer a child of God because we failed. But don’t let those failures stop you from repenting. Just remember that guilt and condemnation come from the devil, who is a thief and a liar. Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit and calls us to the throne room of God where we can ask for and receive His forgiveness. We can be very sure that we will receive mercy and grace from our Father. We will receive this not because we have done anything to earn it, but simply because of what Jesus did for us at the Cross. Even right now, Jesus is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. The Father will not refuse anything that the Son ask from Him. So, hold on and press on because Jesus has paid the price.