~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Joshua Weir. You can hear the whole sermon, 1000 Nuances to “Yes”, by clicking here.
Moment by Moment
Many of us have seen instantaneous intervention from God in our lives. Perhaps we had struggled with an addiction, struggled with a condition, struggled with something . . . and upon prayer: “BOOM!” It was gone. Never to come back. Praise God for those instantaneous miracles!
We often come to assume that God always or only moves in that same instantaneous way – that His provision in our lives is SUPPOSED to be instantaneous or else it was not really His provision. But, ask most mature believers (who have seen God move in tremendous ways in their lives) and you will hear that much of God has accomplished in and through their lives has been hour-by-hour, day-by-day, week-by-week.
We may think “what about Paul?” His life was filled with miracles wasn’t it? Well, the scriptures do record many, many miraculous events that involved Paul, but there were also many years of his believing life that did not make the pages of scripture – years where there may or may not have been noticeable, countable miracles. God does not only release His grace in the miraculous moments of your life . . . He wants to show Himself strong day-in and day-out – in the midst of the mundane! Life is a series of mundane events. If we engage with God in the midst of the mundane events, those mundane events become impregnated with LIFE! Our hour-by-hour life becomes rich and full!
God is Glorified when we are Glorified
Jn 14:13-14 “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.“ It glorifies God for our prayers to be answered!
Jn 15:7-8 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” Being a student of God and His Word should be a very fruitful experience! When we abide in Him, we should be asking what we desire (see Ps. 37:4) because it will be done for us! All of this is to the end result of glorifying the Father!
Concrete Expressions of His Goodness
God wants to move in our lives in a noticeable way. Other people ought to be able to see God moving in the details of our lives – perhaps that we are out of debt, not anxious about the future of our job, that I succeed in my work place, et cetera. We often want to raise the dead and heal the sick, but we don’t have a budget and we’re in debt. God wants to work in the mundane not just the miraculous! When we engage with the supernatural God in the very smallest details, He meets us in them!
God is looking for our lives to bear real fruit. He doesn’t want us to just know glittering spiritual generalities that we can hang on our refrigerator. Real fruit comes from real action, so we want to not only know a theory, but also how to implement it! Look at the prayer of Jabez as an example: “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested.” (1 Chron. 4:10) This is a prayer model that can be applied to our own lives. When we pray it, is should be about God intervening in specific ways in our life. God is looking for His children to make specific requests because specific requests can receive specific answers.
A Change in Perspective on Prayer
When your understanding about an area of your life changes, it not only changes your thinking – but also changes your actions! When our actions change, our results change. We say different things, we do different things, we respond to circumstances differently – all from a change in understanding. If we change our understanding about prayer, the results of our prayer life will change as well.
Luke 11:9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” The aorist Greek verb tense is indicating that we should “keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking!” Luke 18:1-8 shares a parable that communicates the same principle:
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’”
Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
Our persistence in prayer is not about convincing or pushing God. It is about keeping a process-oriented perspective in our prayer life. We tend to have a product-oriented perspective as it relates to prayer – seeing prayer as black or white, yes or no, either or. Yet, when we pray about certain needs, there may be many pieces that need to move in order for the fullness of our prayer to come to pass.
For instance, if you are selling your house, there may be specific remodeling issues you need grace to address. There may be specific remodeling issues that the person who is going to buy your house needs grace to address in their current house that they are going to sell. There may be a need for God’s grace over that person finding your home in their search process. There may be a need for God’s grace over the other person finding a buyer for their home . . . We often have situations like this in our lives (such as selling a home) and we tend to pray “God help me sell my home” and get frustrated if it does not sell right away. But there may be 1000 nuances to His answer to our singular prayer. There may be many facets of the ultimate “yes” that He has already been arranging behind the scenes of our lives. This is why we sometimes need to “always pray and not lose heart!”
If we don’t have this perspective, we get discouraged quickly in prayer. If we don’t have that perspective, we don’t understand why we should keep praying. But when we understand that our prayers are moving all kinds of things, we begin to operate persistently in prayer, even enjoying the process.
Some Examples of Persistence in Prayer
1 Kings 18:41-44 (Elijah prays for the end of the drought):
Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.”
So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.”
Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot,and go down before the rain stops you.’”
Ex. 14:21 (Moses prays for the parting of the Red Sea – all night long):
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided.
If we can understand that God is moving in many ways to bring our prayers to fruition, we will not become frustrated by the process, but instead keep praying! Grace is released every time we pray! You may have failures in prayer. You may pray for someone to get healed and they don’t get healed . . . KEEP PRAYING! You may pray for your job promotion and you don’t get it . . . KEEP PRAYING! If it didn’t come through, it wasn’t God’s issue. It wasn’t God being angry with you. It may not have even been a lack of faith. There can be so many dynamics that exist in some situations that we can’t know them all. But we can know that God has called us to persistence in prayer and we can know that EVERY TIME we pray, God is releasing grace into the situation and circumstance we are praying for. Don’t get in your head, just keep engaging. KEEP PRAYING! Look for and enjoy the nuances “towards the yes.”