Ephesians 6:13, 18 NIV – Therefore put on the full armor of God… And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
What Ephesians 6 is telling us is that in the midst of this broken world, we don’t fight with the implements of this world – we pray. This is why we must make prayer a continual activity that encompasses our whole selves: rooted in a fear of the Lord, listening for His answer, asking according to His will, and acting as He directs.
Paul’s imperatives of being strong, putting on the full armor of God are both passive and active – to be strong, to put on, to stand, with the knowledge that strength is not something of our own: “The…form of the verb “be strong” indicates that this empowering is something done to us Christians, not something we do ourselves; its present tense shows the empowering is continual. This instruction is not for a quick fix, but for a life spent drawing strength from Christ.” [Snodgrass, Klyne, The NIV Application Commentary: Ephesians, 338]
Let’s worship to “Surrounded” written by Michael W. Smith (Click here).
Prayer: Lord, we put on the full armor of God and pray in the Spirit with all kinds of prayers. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Psalm 34:15-17 NLT – The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right;
his ears are open to their cries for help.
But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil;
he will erase their memory from the earth.
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
There is this physicality to these words – the eyes, ears, and face of the Lord, echoing prior language of taste, see, and look. Prayer is a visceral thing – not simply a passive asking but one that requires a response to God’s answer. It demands that we are to wait, listen for God’s answer and to obey.
“Some people…think [prayer is] something that you do at a set time; that it’s just asking God for what you want. But prayer is more than that. Prayer is listening for God’s answer. It’s that intimate practice of asking according to His will and moving as He directs.” [Perkins, John M., One Blood, 147]
This is the fullness of prayer, and as God’s created people, made up of eyes, ears, face, breath, and bones we are to put prayer into action through repetition, practicing until it becomes our identity as those who seek God, seek good, pursue peace and fear the Lord.
Let’s worship to “Here Again” by Elevation worship (Click here).
Prayer: Lord, we pray with our whole being and obey. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Psalm 34:4-7 NLT – I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
The way the psalmist uses “those who fear him” suggests that this awareness is properly not a one-time acknowledgement but a way of life. For those who take up this way of life, the psalm again offers a promise. Using the metaphor of the Lord as an army encamping in a protective fashion around those who fear the Lord, the psalm promises that God will similarly deliver others, just as the Lord has delivered the psalmist. When we fear the Lord, we care more about what God thinks than what we think. We begin to care more about the God things – the majestic things.
As God-fearers we make the LORD the basis and guide for the conduct of life. And God’s promise is that there is no insufficiency for those who fear him!
Let’s worship to the song “Majesty” by Hillsong and Delirious (Click here).
Prayer: Lord, thank you for answering our prayers and freeing us from all our fears. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
1 Samuel 17:45 NIV – David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
In the events leading up to this, David makes a series of decisions that by any human measure would be head-scratchers. Instead of dressing in the armor that the king wanted him to wear, he uses just his sling and his plain shepherd clothes. Instead of depending on human ideas, structures or traditions, he goes before Goliath with confidence only because of what he knows of the Lord.
“In this battle for biblical reconciliation, we don’t go against the Enemy with swords, spears, and javelins….We pray…We pray because this battle is the Lord’s…Like David, we believe that God’s power is more than enough to bring victory.” [Perkins, John M., One Blood, 149]
This is something David possessed years of training in. Not the expected ways of a warrior: He was a gopher, a shepherd, and a musician to the king. In the midst of these things, he worshipped by himself, at times in loneliness meeting God. He wrote songs. He cried out. We see this pattern occur over and over, whatever his circumstance, be it times when he was repenting, or times when he was under duress, or times of rest or prosperity.
Prayer: Lord, train us to be prayer warriors. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Ephesians 3:14-16 MSG – My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.
The rhythm behind all the rituals of prayer and worship – how active it all is, how perpetual it is, whether it’s a prayer whispered in between tasks, or a simple prayer of thanks before a meal, or big extended breakthrough prayer times. We do this so that we are always listening, not wanting to miss out on a moment with God. To wait for God’s answer in an active way, all the time and to act on how God answers us.
“And I’m convinced that prayer and work go together. We’ve got to work and we’ve got to pray. We’ve got to do all that we can humanly do to move toward God’s vision for unity in the body of Christ. And we’ve got to pray that He will reign over our efforts and will bring His supernatural power to bear against the forces that oppose us.” [Perkins, John M., One Blood, 149]
Let’s sing “Obsession” by Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes, Martin Smith (Click here).
Prayer: Lord, may our life response be on our knees before you, our magnificent Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (MSG) – If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love is the essential ingredient that makes things fruitful in this life of discipleship – in our prayers, our family relationships, our working, our making decisions, our pursuit of justice, our fighting, for the first step and the last, and all the other areas of discipleship we have covered. Without love we are nothing, we gain nothing. Let God’s love fill every part of our magnificent obsession lives together.
Let’s build our lives on Jesus’ love as we sing “Build My Life” by Housefires (Click here).
Let’s Pray: Lord Jesus, we build our lives- who we are before you and also how we interact with others – on your love. May we walk in this most excellent way in all we do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
John 13:34-35 – A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
“What would it take for unbelievers to say this again? What would it take for them to marvel at how deep our love is for one another? Nothing less than the sacrificial love of God on display again and again as we choose to die to ourselves and bury our age-old excuses for remaining in separate camps…and living anew as One…One Church…One Blood.” [John Perkins, One Blood, 171]
Loving one another is how we show ourselves to be Jesus’ disciples, that we are walking in his way. Jesus defines this love for us – “as I have loved you”. Hear Jesus’ command today afresh and put it into practice – ask Jesus who you can love today and how. May our love deepen for one another in our church.
Let’s worship to “No Longer I” by Matt Redman (Click here).
Let’s pray with John Perkins [One Blood, 171]:““Lord Jesus, teach us what it means to love like you love. Cause us to become uncomfortable with surface level friendships. Help us to yearn and hunger for deep fellowship that is real and can be seen and that will light the way for those who are in darkness… Lord, make us one.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Romans 5:5b – … God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
“‘Will you forgive me?’ And I could not…I could only hate him. And then I took…one of these boundless resources, Romans 5:5…and I said ‘Thank you, Jesus, that you have brought into my heart God’s love through the Holy Spirit who is given to me. And thank you, Father, that your love is stronger than my hatred and unforgiveness.’ That same moment I was free and I could say ‘brother, give me your hand’…And it was as if I felt God’s love stream through my arms. You never touch so, the ocean of God’s love, as that you forgive your enemies.” [Corrie ten Boom]
God’s love is stronger than our hurts, hatred and unforgiveness. We have ready access to that love because it has already been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit – poured out! Not just a measure, but in fullness. Is there hurt and unforgiveness in your heart towards someone? Take hold of Romans 5:5 today and allow God’s love to flow freely to heal and forgive.
Let’s continue to respond as we sing “How He Loves” by John Mark McMillan (Click here).
Let’s Pray: Father, thank you for your strong love poured out into my heart. Help me to experience the fullness of it through forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
“Something about His being willing to die on the cross for me, in spite of my sin and my unworthiness…well, if you think about that long enough, it will change you. It will force you to get outside yourself and ask if you are willing to love others the same way.” [John Perkins, One Blood, Kindle 162]
The greatest injustice in this world is our rejection of God who created us out of love, and for life with him. His response to that injustice, to our sin against him, was to love us by dying on the cross and reconciling us to himself. His love has triumphed over our sin! Let’s think about that “long enough” today and be changed by his love for us. God has brought us into new life with him where we also get to love others in the same way, letting love triumph over sin and injustice.
Let’s rejoice in his love for us as we sing “My heart is overwhelmed” by Hillsong (Click here).
Let’s Pray: Lord Jesus, thank you that your love has triumphed over my rejection and sin and unworthiness, making me your very own. Help me to behold your love at the cross today until I am changed, willing to love others in the same way you have loved me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
1 Corinthians 13:13 – And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
“[Love] is the way of the new age that has been ushered in with the appearance of the Messiah…Love is the way of existence in the heavenlies. As this breaks into the present in Christ, his people, filled with the Spirit of Christ, are to take on this way of existence and develop a life where love guides their approach to all things. Of course this will immediately be seen in how they live and speak and think.” [Paul D. Gardner, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, 1 Corinthians, Kindle 17,500]
“Love is that quality which distinctively stamps the life of heaven, where regard and respect for the other dominates the character of life with God…” [Anthony C. Thiselton, NIGTC, First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1035].
Paul makes clear in 1 Cor 13 what is of supreme importance in this life – love. It is the way of heaven that we get to live in here and now!
In thankfulness, let’s sing “To My Knees” by Hillsong (Click here).
Let’s Pray: Jesus, thank you for this life of love you have given us and are teaching us to live. Help us to speak, walk, and think more fluently in it, walking increasingly in your kingdom ways here and now. In Jesus’ name, Amen.