(Matthew 26:37-46 NKJ) And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” 39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” 40 Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 “Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”
Pray that you may not enter into temptation. Jesus, right before His crucifixion, took His 3 disciples up to the Garden of Gethsemane and asked them to stay alert and awake with Him, asking them to pray that they may not enter into temptation.
(Matthew 24:42-44 NKJ) “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Throughout the history of mankind, Satan has always worked ahead of us when there is a crucial point in history, when there is something important that is about to take place like crucifixion and the coming of the Lord. When there is something good that is about to happen, or when God is about to do something important in His timeline of the History of Redemption, or before the 2nd Coming Lord returns, Satan always interrupts. Just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Satan intercepted and made them take of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God is telling Zion Church today to wake up and be alert. Be awake in prayer and spirit. We need to be alert to the times we are living in because of Covid-19. Daniel also came to understand about the times, which is the return from the Babylonian captivity. He realised through reading the bible that he only had a couple of years left and the time that all the Israelites were longing for to return to Jerusalem and to be able to rebuild the temple is coming very close. You and I think that if we come also to understand the times, we would rejoice. Daniel should have rejoiced. But rather, Daniel repented, he put on sackcloth and ashes, meaning he was repenting, because he knew the people of God were not ready, and the people’s timing of faith was not matching with God’s timing. I believe that you and I also need to pray. It is time when God is calling on our church and Christians today to come and pray together. That is why many groups of Christians and leaders are praying together. Zion Church needs to pray for His will and His kingdom first, and then we need to pray for our church, for each other and for ourselves. Why do we need to pray?
When There is Prayer There is Progress
In other words when there is no prayer, or insufficient prayer, there is no progress in our life, in our faith, and in the work of redemption. In other words, prayer and the Word are the 2 wheels on both sides, they have to go together in order for the vehicle to move forward. When we do not have Word and prayer working together, our life and faith will either go spinning around or not go forward. Word and prayer, is eating the spiritual food and the spiritual breathing (conversation with God) which are the 2 most basic things for Christianity and Christians. At the same time they are also the most important fundamental things, upon these 2 we build up everything else. Without these 2 things, we cannot do anything else. It is like eating and drinking for our bodies. Nobody will feel like it is so boring or so difficult to eat, or so tedious to breathe continuously and we will therefore stop for a while. We don’t even question breathing or eating because it is the most basic thing to survive. When we don’t do it, we will die. Breathing and eating is essential to live. People sometimes focus only on the Word but lack prayer. Others focus only on prayer but no Word. We need both. Especially today we need to focus on prayer. In order for us to receive the blessing that God wants to give to us, we need that prayer. We need to talk to God. In order for us to come to understand the Word, and we need prayer.
In Acts chapter 10, we see the family of the Roman centurion Cornelius who was seeking and hungering for the Word of God. They prayed, and God heard their prayer and God sent a message and revelation to Peter and allowed Peter to come and minister to them. Without their prayer, even if Peter had come to minister to them and had given them the Word, they would not have received the Holy Spirit, and the power of the Word will not be activated. Act 10:44 tells us everyone who heard the Word received the Holy Spirit.
How many hours in a day do we pray? How many minutes? How many times a day? God has given us a little more time during Covid-19 to come closer to God. If there were things not progressing and if we feel like our faith and our work and any aspect of our life was blocked, like a clogged drain, if you feel like that spiritually it is because there is not enough prayer, there is no effective prayer, and things are blocked and clogged up. We can only understand the Word through the foundation of prayer. And only after that can the Word become grace when we listen.
We need to seek for God’s grace through prayers before we can receive the Word. Before we do our work, even in this world at our jobs, we have to seek for God’s grace. We have to pray and converse with God, if we really believe God is alive and God is in our lives, we need to talk to Him and converse with Him.
In the Old Testament the prophet Elijah when in a battle with the false prophets, brought down fire from heaven through the power of prayer. Jesus also said without prayer no good thing can come out. It is through prayer that even miracles will take place, Jesus said. People will come to know Jesus, come to know the Word. Already half of this year is almost gone, it has been a very interesting but special year, we have the second half left. I pray and really like to ask of Zion Church to make the remainder of this year become a time of true prayer, true belief, real faith, real salvation, and a time when we can really find real true joy in the Word of God. In order to prepare for that, we need to pray.
When There is Prayer, Trials and Temptations Cannot Affect Us Negatively
I did not say there will not be any temptations and trials, there will be tests, trials and temptations. However, when there is prayer those things cannot affect us negatively. When there is no prayer, trials and temptations affect us. During the Exodus, trials and the plagues came to the Israelites and Egyptians, those plagues affected the Egyptians negatively but God protected the Israelites from judgement. In other words if we do not have prayer means we do not know God. Do we know God only with our heads? Or because we had a conversation with Him? Can I say that spiritually we are connected to God because we are spiritually talking to Him even now?
(1 Timothy 4:5 NKJ) For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
We are set apart from trials, darkness and eternal death through Word and prayer.
(Matthew 26:41 NKJ) “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Jesus said to pray so we do not fall into temptations. Spiritually do not slumber and fall asleep and fall into the whispers of this world. Who are the ones who fall asleep? Those who feel they have no freedom, they fall away in times of temptation which suck them in, and stop coming to church, darkness encompasses them, they will be lost in darkness, depression, sorrow and self-pity that they cannot get out of it. Satan is working very hard to cause even good Christians to stumble, darkness will continue to attack us. Things like Corona virus, the negative effects of heretical problems, financial problems, family problems, discord between brothers and sisters in church, relationship problems, Jesus warned us to pray that we may not fall into temptation. Once we fall into temptation and trial, we may not be able to come out. May we hear the voice of Jesus even when there are problems that come our way, even in times of trials and temptations, God will bring better results. When hardships come, when hurts come, when difficulties come, those things cause us to repent so that we can be in a better place and can jump over to a higher level than these problems. Just like an eagle spreading its wings, when stormy winds come, it uses the wind to soar up even higher. That is the attitude of those alert and awake. Peter was able to come out of prison through the prayers of the church. Amazing things happened because the Apostle Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises. As a result, even the prison keepers were evangelised. Sometimes when we do God’s work, things that we do not expect and would not prefer to happen, does happen. However as long as there is prayer, we do not need to worry. God will use that to turn things around for the better. Even if things are not ideal today, the first thing God is asking of us is prayer.
When There is Prayer, There is The Work of Prosperity and The Work of God Building Up
When there is no prayer, all will crumble and collapse, like a dam which holds water, it needs to open up and close when needed. When that dam opens up, all that water will ruin crops. If there is a little hole in the dam, it will become bigger and bigger and cause the dam to collapse. That crack and hole needs to be fixed. Our prayer is what fixes those holes in our lives that is causing our faith, blessings, grace that we received, to leak out. We do not know. Prayer allows those leaks and cracks that we don’t even know about, to be mended again. Just like the pitch in Noah’s ark. That pitch is kaphar in Hebrew and this word is related to the word “atonement” which means to cover. That pitch is like the blood of Jesus covering our inside and outside, like the walls of Ezekiel’s Temple that is so thick that nothing can penetrate through it. It is our faith that seals those cracks and holes. If we wait too long, that crack will become a greater hole and the whole dam will collapse.
(1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJ) pray without ceasing,
(Psalm 116:2 NKJ) Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.
When we pray, God will stop those surging torrents from entering our lives. Outside His realm of protection, spiritually there are waves and winds of Satan out there in the world trying to swallow us up. Let us pray for our brothers and sisters out there who are without protection. We are afraid of not wearing a mask when we go outside because we feel that we are without protection from the virus that is unseen. Same thing spiritually, we need our spiritual cover and protection which is prayer. When we eat our food, we eat not only physically, but spiritually also. When we hear the Word of God, we need to pray, that the Word will keep us from harm, from eating poison, like the poison and venom of what the serpent offered to Adam. When we pray, God will establish us and build us up. We might build up our lives, our business, our profiles in different things, but those will keep on collapsing, like a sand castle. When we pray and have the foundation of the Word, and God establishes it, no one can destroy it.
(2 Kings 19:20 NKJ) Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel:`Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard.’
Prophet Isaiah and King Hezekiah prayed to God when they were surrounded by 100s of 1000s of Assyrian soldiers surrounding the city. They thought there is no possible way to defeat them according to human strategy, that is why they knelt down to pray to God. It is God who can restore us, establish us, and protect us from collapsing. Sometimes these things happen because He wants us to wake up and pray.
Our Lord Jesus Christ said He will be amongst those who pray together, when 2 or 3 people get together God is there.
(Matthew 18:19-20 NKJ) “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
God is a personal God and God is alive, first we need to believe in God that we are not just chanting a spell, or placing an order, sending a message up to heaven. We need to believe that God is here, listening to us, and that He is personal, He is with you. When we pray, try to get into a practice of believing and focusing that God is sitting right here in front of you. Speak to Him as though you are speaking to your good Father.
(John 14:13-14 NKJ) “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
Does that mean if I say “God make me a billionaire tomorrow!” that He will do it? It is according to His glory and His will. What do we need to pray for? God is not just a genie in a bottle. The focus is not on what I want. God is telling us to pray, remembering why we are praying. What is your purpose? What is your identity? What is your direction? Why are you praying to God?
(John 15:7 NKJ) “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
We need to ask ourselves: Is the Word of God abiding in me? Or am I just asking selfishly praying for what I want and what is merely beneficial to myself? Praying is a conversation, it is both ways. That is why praying needs to be paired up with receiving the Word. Through the Word God sometimes God speaks to us and gives us the answer. Through meditation and praying, God gives us wisdom and allows us to think from His perspective and allows us to see from His perspective.
Secondly, we need to concentrate and focus when we pray. IN Chinese character, it means to bring our heart and mind together to the centre. That is why we often close our eyes and put our hands together. That is focusing and bringing everything together. Cutting off all the other distractions. Are we focused in our prayer? Do we have at least 1 time in a day when we cut out everything and really focus on God and only God? That is when we realise God’s focus on us too. Eye contact needs both parties to look at each other. Noah found favor in the eyes of God, that means he found himself in God’s eyes. We need to focus and really gaze into God’s eyes in our prayers. I believe and I know and am certain that when we pray in His name, and God is in you and you in God, and the Word of God in you, God will answer you. God will not answer you to your favor but He will surely answer you. You will come to understand it.
May you and I be transformed into people who will like and give thanks to God for the answer that He gives us because the answer that He gives us is the best way. Even when we talk to someone in a conversation, the person that cannot concentrate on what is being said, and talks about this and that and other things and only speaks from his own perspective and does not listen, whatever that person is saying does not have any weight. Our prayer needs to have weight.
Thirdly, prayer needs to be based on repentance. Your prayer has power when sin is taken away. Just like when fuel or oil refined well, without dross or waste inside, it will burn better and brighter. We need to accept and realize the wrong things we have done. We need to pray for that hatred and sin blocking my heart to be taken away in prayer. We need to really pray for God to allow me to repent.
(Acts 2:38 NKJ) Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
If there is sin between God and us, that iniquity will block blessings from coming down and our prayers from going up. Even if we pray with tears all night long, we cannot be sure that prayer reaches God.
(Isaiah 59:1-2 NKJ) Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.
(Psalm 66:18 NKJ) If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.
The greatest sin is not believing in God. The greatest sin is not recognizing that He is alive and that He loves us.
(Acts 3:19 NKJ) “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,
Now let us ask ourselves, am I a person of prayer, how effective is my prayer? Do I really speak to God? Jesus told us in today’s passage: Pray that you will not fall into temptation. Those who pray will have purpose, be established, have security, safety and direction. They will see what the Lord wants. God will allow us to see what He sees, have the vision that He has, and will allow us to go the same direction. Without prayer, we are like spiritually blind people. Without prayer, we are suffocating. Without prayer, we are like people without masks in the midst of corona virus. Without prayer, it is only a matter of time to destruction. I pray you and I will get into the practice of prayer, and experience the power of prayer and the joy of prayer in talking to God. When we pray, Deuteronomy 4:7 tells us that the Lord draws closer to us.
Matthew 21:22, Mark 11:24, when we pray we have to believe He will answer according to His good will. When Daniel prayed, God gave him a revelation about the end times. When Isaiah prayed, God sent angels and the hosts of heaven to help him. That God is your God and my God.
May we follow through to the path that God has prepared for us. Through prayer, God will save and help each and every family member. When we pray, God will take away all that darkness, God will put our church and our members and everyone into His created order, His redemptive order, and into His heavenly order.