A PERSON OF PRAYER – EVIDENCED BY COMMUNION WITH GOD
A life of prayer is another characteristic of a genuine disciple. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” 1 Corinthians 6:19 characterizes in this way, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” We are a house of worship, a temple of prayer. A church where there is no prayer – is no church, no temple; and a disciple that does not practice prayer is no Christian.
Paul declared in Romans 8:26-27, that “the Spirit Himself makes intercession … He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Jonathan Edwards, the great personality of the first Great Awakening noted,
“… those who have entertained an hope of their being true converts, and yet … have left off the duty of secret prayer … have left off calling upon God, it is time for you to leave off hoping and flattering yourselves with an imagination that you are the children of God.”
FULL OF FAITH
Christianity is impossible without faith (Heb. 11:6). With Spirit-fullness comes faith (Acts 6:5; 11:24). The fruit of faith is obedience (Acts. 6:7; Rom. 1:5). It is the gateway to the release of God’s power (Acts 6:8; 14:9). It motivates us to purity (Acts 15:9; Rom 1:17; 3:22). It strengthens us (Acts 16:5). Our access to God is by faith (Eph. 3:12). Christ dwells in us by faith (Eph. 3:17). Faith is a shield (Eph. 6:23; I Thess. 5:8). Out of it comes joy (Phil. 1:25) as well as sacrifice and service (Phil. 2:7). It is something we continue in if we are to be grounded and unmovable (Col. 1:23). It is alive – it grows (II Thess. 1:3). It is key to our endurance (II Thess. 1:4). Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
FORGIVING AND GRACIOUS
The stunning reality of our sin and guilt, and the forgiveness of God changes us. We are not simply forgiven, we become a forgiving people. Our disposition towards those who have done us wrong is changed by the cross. The evidence of our genuine conversion, our own forgiveness from God, is that we are now “kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving … even as God in Christ forgave” us (Eph. 4:32). “If anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Col. 3:12). Jesus was explicit, “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt. 6:15; 18:35). To be the beneficiary of a gospel of reconciliation, and to preach such a message, demands a forgiving people (II Cor. 5:18-19; Lk. 11:4).
MARKED BY POWER
Supernatural evidences attend the life of a Spirit-filled believer. Signs are to follow them (Mk. 16:17). Gifts, the supernatural grace of God is to flow through them (I Cor. 12). Common people are to be endowed with uncommon power (II Cor. 4:7). This is life-giving resurrection power (Phil. 3:10). There is to be something exceptional about our message – something beyond mere words (I Cor. 2:4), and that is the power of the Holy Spirit (I Thess. 1:5; Heb. 4:12). Godliness without power is not Christianity (II Tim. 3:5). It was not merely preaching that tamed the Roman Empire, it was the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 17:6).
There is a supernatural quality about the life of a true believer. There is faith and hope. There is care and compassion. There is love – a concern for the widow and the orphan. There is a servant heart and an obedient spirit. There is humility in the place of the push and shove spirit so characteristic of the world.
In I Corinthians, Paul gives us one of the most important contexts for self-examination to take place. It is at the table of the Lord, over the broken bread and the cup. These are the proofs of God’s judgment of sin, even when that sin was found on His only begotten son (John 1:18; 3:16; I John 4:9). Here, we are to examine ourselves (I Cor. 11:27-28). The idea of examination probably goes back to the Old Testament laver (Ex. 30:17-21) located in the courtyard of the Tabernacle (Ex. 40:7, 30). It was made of mirrored brass and filled with water (38:8). A dozen times a day, a priest might stand over it and examine himself, and then draw water and wash. To not do so was to risk God’s judgment – death (30:20). The word of God, the Bible, is a mirror to us (James 1:23). We examine ourselves as we prayerfully read it. We are to examine ourselves as the word is preached.
“Costly grace” Bonheoffer believed, was “the treasure hidden in the field” for which a man would sell everything he had. It was “pearl of great price.” Such grace must be “sought again and again and again.” And wherever it is found, it “calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.” It is costly because “it cost God the life of his Son.” It is not cheap. And yet, “it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.”
Such grace is a sanctuary, a sanctified and holy place – not so much geographical as relational. Still, it requires a level of protection from the world. It cannot be “thrown to the dogs.” It is alive – a living world of grace that spoke into our lives not once, but continues to speak. It “compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him.”
In South Bend, a waitress was due $29.87 in tips. A clerical error resulted in Notre Dame’s issuing check to her for catering services in the amount of $29,387. The woman received the check, deposited it in her account, and forthrightly purchased a 2002 Volkswagen Jetta. How could she ever have assumed, innocently, that her share of tips for the evening were almost $30,000? She had an overly abundant confidence in her charming waitress skills. The university asked her to return the money. She refused. After all, she had already spent $17,000 when authorities contacted her. So, Notre Dame sued her. Incredibly, the court did not demand immediate repayment – or impunity. She put up the car for collateral and agreed to pay the debt back, at an amazing rate of $50.00 per month. Where, other than a judicial system that has lost its way, can you find car financing rates like that? It will take 28 years for the waitress to repay the debt. In her defense, she says that she did attempt to contact the institution about the overpayment but the staff did not call her back. Imagine that. What nobility – she made a phone call. Her integrity was thus protected. Her character defended. And with that in place, she spent the money! Perhaps she will take the judge for a ride!
Are you a Christian? What evidence do you have? “Examine yourself, to see if you are in the faith! Bring proof – you could be disapproved.”
Find more teachings from P. Douglas Small and prayer resources at www.alivepublications.org.
Check out our new ebooks ready to download to your mobile device.
Current special: Purchase The Praying Church Handbook – Volume II – Personal and Family Prayer and receive Volume I – Foundations OR Volume III – The Church and Prayer for FREE!
 Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards – “Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer,” (John Childs and Son: London, 1742), 74.
 Newspaper Article Wire Report: “Woman agrees to pay back large tip given by mistake,” (Augusta Chronicle, Sunday, November 1, 2009), Section A, page 2. The woman’s name was Sara Gasper. The terms of agreement included attorney fees for the University settled by the St. Joseph Circuit Court.