- Preaching the Living WORD through the Written WORD - 2 Tim 4:2 -
FIVE KEYS TO SPIRITUAL GROWTH
I.†††† THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER TO SPIRITUAL GROWTH
A.††† Prayer Is A Ministry Of The Son And The Spirit
1.†††† When we come to the Scriptures, we find that prayer is a ministry of the Son of God and the Spirit.
2.†††† Concerning the Son, we not only find that during His incarnation, prayer was a vital ministry, but that the resurrected Son continues an intercessory ministry for the believer.
a)††† In Heb 7:25, Christ makes intercession (entugchánō - approach with petitions on behalf of someone else) as the believerís Advocate (1Jo 2:1; Heb 9:24). According to Joh 17, Christís High-Priestly prayer, we could assume that Christ makes intercession for the believer to be kept (11), protected (15), sanctified (17), and perfected (21). Thus, He is able to save forever.
b)††† Furthermore, the believer is not under condemnation or left to himself, but the resurrected Christ is interceding on His behalf (Rom 8:34).
3.†††† The Holy Spirit also has an intercessory ministry on behalf of the believer. He helps with the believerís prayer life, interceding according to Godís will (Rom 8:26-27).
4.†††† We could conclude that our spiritual growth is greatly dependent on the ministry of prayer by the Son and the Spirit. Furthermore, if prayer was and is an important part of divine ministry, how much more should it be important and necessary for the believer for his own spiritual growth?
B.††† Prayer Is A Means Of Sanctification
1.†††† In Joh 15:1-7, Jesus teaches His disciples the truths about bearing fruit in the Christian life. As the believer maintains an abiding relationship in Christ, He will progressively go from bearing fruit (2c), to bearing more fruit (2d), to bearing much fruit (5).
2.†††† In verse 7, Jesus teaches how we are to abide in Christ and therefore bear fruit in Christ.
a)††† First, the believer must abide in Christ by walking in obedience, which includes confession of sin.
b)††† Secondly, Godís Word must abide in the believer. Two chapters later (Joh 17:17) Jesus prays for the believerís sanctification through the Word of God.
c)†††† Thirdly, the believer is to ask and pray for more fruit.
(1)†† As the believer is saturated with the Word of God, his desires will be in accordance with Godís Word; therefore, one of the requests will be for fruit according to Godís will.
(2)†† The promise then is that when we ask anything according to Godís will, he hears us, and if he hears us, our prayer for fruit will be granted (1Jo 5:14-15).
d)††† Jesus teaches us that without Him we can do nothing (4, 5). Not coming to Christ in prayer for fruit implies that we think that we can grow without Him. Therefore, it is vitally important that we abide in Him, His Word abides in us, and we come to Him in prayer for sanctification and spiritual growth.
C.††† Prayer Is A Means To Overcome Temptation
1.†††† Several times during Jesusí earthly ministry, He associates prayer with overcoming temptation. Overcoming temptation is paramount to growing spiritually.
2.†††† In Jesusí model prayer for His disciples He instructed them to pray so that they would not enter into temptation (Mat 6:13).
a)††† Specifically, the disciples were to pray that God would not lead them into temptation. Temptation (peirasmos) can either mean influence of evil or trials.
b)††† To understand this phrase we must first realize that God cannot be tempted by evil nor does He tempt anyone with evil (Jam 1:13).
c)†††† However, because He is sovereign, He can and does allow His children to be both tempted and tested; but not without providing the grace to endure and overcome it, a way to escape it, a deliverance from Satan, or removing it from the believer altogether.†
d)††† The prayer in Mat 6:13 is the expression of a believerís heart who does not want to be lead into temptation, but if God sovereignly allows it, they are requesting to overcome it by His grace and to be delivered from the evil one (tou ponerou, i.e. the evil(one).
3.†††† In the
a)††† Jesus explains why the disciples (all disciples) struggle with temptation. It is because the flesh is weak even though the Spirit is willing (Mat 26:41).
b)††† The sad reality was that instead of praying, the disciples had fallen asleep, even after Jesusí admonitions (Mat 26:40, 43). Believers must guard against falling asleep spiritually and having to face temptation without prayer (Mat 26:45-46). Otherwise, there will be defeat instead of spiritual growth.
D.††† Prayer Is The Believerís Ministry Of Intercession For Others
1.†††† Not only does Christ and the Holy Spirit have an intercessory ministry, but the believer has the privilege of praying for others. In fact, we can contribute to the spiritual growth of others by interceding for them.
2.†††† This was emphatically illustrated at the end of Jesusí life for the spiritual welfare of Peter (Luk 22:31-32).
3.†††† At the conclusion of the teaching on the armor of God, Paul exhorts believers in their offensive strategy, i.e. prayer. In Eph 6:18, Paul instructs believers of the, ďall prayer,Ē all types of prayer (petitions, requests, thanksgivings etc.) at all times with all perseverance for all the saints.
4.†††† In addition, believers are not only to stand in the gap through intercessory prayer for believers but also for all men including authorities (Eze 22:30; 1Ti 2:1-3).
II.††† THE APPLICATION OF PRAYER FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH
A.††† Prayer Is The Continual Practice Of The Believer
1.†††† If there were nothing else recorded in Scripture, believers would understand prayer through Jesusí example (Mar 1:35; Mat 14:23; Luk 6:12; 11:1 cp. Luk 18:1).
early church was continually devoted to prayer (Act 2:42). In fact, the word
ďcontinually devotedĒ (proskarteréō) is used five times out
of ten for the practice of prayer (Act 1:14; 2:42; 6:4; Rom 12:12;
3.†††† There is no question that one of the keys to spiritual growth is prayer; all types of prayer at all times with all perseverance for ourselves and all the saints (1Th 5:17).
B.††† Prayer Is The Continual Ministry Of The Church
1.†††† The ministry of the apostles and spiritual leaders was one, which was continually devoted to prayer (Act 6:4).
2.†††† So common was prayer to the early church that a particular place was designated as a ďProsucheĒ (ďplace of prayerĒ; Act 16:13, 16).
3.†††† E.M. Bounds wrote, What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more novel methods, but men whom the Holy [Spirit] can use--men of prayer, men mighty in prayer.