Sermon 2-7-2021

Scripture, Romans 8: 26-31

Holy Spirit Lead Our Prayer

     We have talked a lot about what it means or what it looks like to BE IN POSITION when it comes to our demonstrating and living out our faith as servants of Jesus Christ.  We have also worked on the idea of living on mission. Our mission  is to love God and care for people, striving to be a place for healing and a people of Joy.  Our mission is an uphill battle fighting against an increasingly secular and skeptical world and, coupled with that, our own struggles of life and suffering even death in our body, but also victory and deliverance.  I am reminded of the ancient ships that would sail into or through storms,  if things were perilous they would often drop their anchors because dragging the anchor would give them just enough control so they could keep the boat on course or at least keep it from capsizing even sinking altogether. (archeology Noah)  Anchors are important for this reason as well as to hold us in place when winds and currents and storms try to push us off of our moorings, do you see where I am going this morning?  Jesus Christ is the rock of our salvation or safe harbor, and the anchor that keeps us on course or keeps us from drifting out to sea is the Holy Spirit.  So let’s use this image to guide us throughout the text and into a life of prayer because to be a people of Joy and a place for healing we must first and foremost be a people of prayer.  We must STRIVE to be a people who know what it means to pray in the Spirit.

     One of the biggest struggles I have and I am sure many of you as well is that prayer can sometimes dry up, our lives don’t have that fervent juicy spiritual richness they once had, and being in Christ and members of this body we “FEEL” obligated to pray even when our bodies aren’t in the mood.  This text speaks directly to we who are seeking God’s will and maybe we just aren’t getting it or can’t see it or maybe we do see it and we don’t like it because the cost of walking in God’s will seems unattainably high.  The reality is that it is too high for us, His will is beyond us, His purpose does not always fit into our little brains.  When we come into a living relationship with Jesus Christ we are imputed with His righteousness, declared innocent NOT because we are but because He paid our sinner’s debt.  We are now set apart for eternity yes but The gift of the Holy Spirit is something we MUST pay very close attention to because without this presence we will quickly fall back into a life of limitations and disappointment because our flesh is so weak and let’s face it, needy.  So what dries up our prayer life?  In a word Position and we talk about this a lot but if we are not in a position to hear from the Holy Spirit the desires of our heart will be almost always tainted by the desires of our bodies or our own minds.

     The first thing that dries up the Prayer life of a believer is unconfessed sin (Read Psalm 32: 3-7).  The Lord knows, but wants to hear it from us, say it the way God sees it.  If it involves another person and is reconcilable GO leave your prayer at the altar and be reconciled, then pray in the Spirit, the only thing accomplished by unconfessed sin is that we move spiritually away from the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and we find ourselves out of position.  The life of one in Christ is very introspective in that we are always looking for the opportunity to be more Christlike and that begins with one confession at  time, and is then followed by TANGIBLE courses of action that demonstrate a life of repentance; it is this pattern of behavior that brings us into a position to truly pray in the Spirit.

     The second thing is that we, many times, pray in the desires of our flesh and not the desires of the Holy Spirit.  We pray for things and stuff and circumstances that make us happy, but the reality is that God may not be as interested in our happiness as we think He ought to be.  Jesus Christ did not die on the cross for my happiness’ sake, He died for my righteousness’ sake.  Looking at Psalm 37 we say Hey! God says He will give us the desires of our hearts, and yes it says that and some of us may even have a coffee cup or tee shirt that says that but without the first part which says DELIGHT YOURSELF IN THE LORD, the desires of our hearts will undoubtedly lead to sin and back to square one, a confession.  This is another reason that confession without repentance will not bear the fruit of righteousness God wants for our lives.  What does God desire of us?  What do God’s desires look like?  The prophets teach us this basic concept of living a life pleasing to God. (Micah 6:8)

     When Jesus was talking about John the Baptist He said that all the prophets wanted to see what John saw; we have what John saw in our hearts and in this Word.  We have Jesus Christ as a model for our lives so we know what it means to walk humbly, we know what it looks like to love sacrificially, we can see in HIM what a sinless life looks like, and we can build our prayer lives into a pattern of humility, and sacrificial love, a life where we sin less (not that we will ever be sinless), and pray in the Spirit through the desires we see manifested in Jesus Christ. It is the Joy of the Father when His children commune with the presence of the Holy Spirit everyday. Read John 4:21-24/ 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10.  When I am weak, when my desires don’t really matter much, we have the ability to see , hear and feel the presence of the Holy Spirit and are in position to pray in the Spirit and in the will of the Father.

    If our prayer lives are drying up check to see inside first, am I harboring anything that is keeping the Holy Spirit from abiding within my heart and mind knowing that His righteousness will come to those who seek first our own cleansing.  Am I harboring a sinful life pattern? Are my desires born out of our delight for the Lord?  If the answer is no in any way we must remember that our sanctification is developed as a matter of degrees , but it is the command of God that we surrender ALL to Him.  So now let’s look at this passage.

     The Holy Spirit is there to help us in our weakness.  We struggle to keep patterns of sin at bay or to keep the desires of this world from infecting our prayer time so we don’t know what to pray about, how to pray, or even what to say.  Now on the surface this reads like the Spirit is coming with groans of encouragement and intercession, and that’s true but I’m also thinking of a different kind of groan. When we mess up the same way time and time again; anyone with children knows what this can be like when a pattern of behavior needs to change and the stubbornness of our child causes the unwanted behavior to happen again and again, we groan sometimes with understandable groans sometimes not so understandable, but these groans go both ways because verse 27 teaches that when the Holy Spirit comes in He KNOWS us, and note not to judge, not to condemn but to intercede on our behalf, to step into the gap, show us where we need to confess give us the strength to repent and the faith that our new direction will be better than the old one. 

      This takes time, but not just time staring at the ceiling waiting for something magical to happen.  God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit yes but also through HIS WORD, and this is our final reason our prayer life dries up; we are not giving the Lord the time, the one commitment that we busy Americans so often discount, but is in reality the MOST important aspect in the life of a SAINT.  Commit to spending some time in His Word, because if this hour on Sunday is all we are getting then the reason for an anemic prayer life is that we are starving to death.  I don’t use the word death lightly here either, because one of the primary things the Holy Spirit does in my life is that He drives me into the depths of His Word, where the desires of HIS heart are described, where the passions of King Jesus are given to us so that by the power of His Holy Spirit we can participate in the work of the kingdom and then share in the glory to come.  We can be REBORN and made alive in Christ.  Spend time in the word. I read an article last fall that claims only 4x a week about a half hour each of Bible reading is enough to change the direction of someone’s life, so let’s put that into practice and see what the Lord can do with some buffed up saints here at 4th St.. Let’s be STRONG in our faith, so that we can be STRONG in our prayer lives.  A wimpy saint is not who we are called to be, but again we must have a righteous perspective and we will close with this thought from 2 Corinthian 12:7, because Paul was very strong in the Lord but as a man he had been beaten scourged imprisoned and given this thorn in the flesh.  We have some struggles that we are walking through as a body here at 4th St. but I want us to know that in our weakness HE can be the strong one HE can be the one who makes the intercession so that when we pray we do not pray in our own strength with our own words with our own desires, BUT HE the name of Jesus Christ is exalted so that even in our weakness, even in our pain, even in our triumphs NONE of it will ever appear to be of human decent but that the glory of God and the Power of His Holy Spirit is alive in this house and alive in the hearts of the Saints who call this bethel home.  (Romans 12: 1-3)

     Let’s move toward Holiness by living in the Spirit which is in accordance with His Word. Let’s think in the Spirit by allowing our minds to focus on Jesus Christ the author and finisher of our faith, and in doing this PURGE away the sins that keep us from experiencing the best of what God has for those who call Him Lord.  We don’t have power in our prayer because we don’t make room for the Holy Spirit to take over our hearts and minds, which will change our desires and mold us to His will.  To pray in the Spirit is not to pray so that we can somehow alter the will of the Father  granting me the desires of my heart, but that our desires can be altered by the Spirit to see the will of the Father.  When I am weak He is Strong.  

     Give TIME to seeking His desires for my life, give Time to honest reflection through His Word so that the patterns of my life are being conformed daily into the likeness of my redeemer Jesus Christ, and give time in praising His name and His strength so that I never pray in my own strength but through the strength of His word and the Power of His Holy Spirit we can pray boldly in the Spirit even in our weakest moments, let’s pray