Prayer makes disciples of power
2 Corinthians 4:1–10
In the beginning there was only darkness and chaos. Then God spoke and there was light. God has made this light shine in our hearts. That is how we know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus.
Satan is the god of this world. He makes people blind in their minds if they don’t believe, and then they cannot see the light. They live in darkness but they don’t even know that they are living in darkness.
Brian Ive, who made the documentary film ‘The Drop Box’ , was just such a person living in darkness. He says, “I didn’t smoke cigarettes and watched Fox News with my mom, so I assumed I was probably a Christian.” [http://thedropboxbook.davidccook.com/]
Brian was a film student in California who wanted to become famous. When he heard about the drop box in Seoul he saw it as his chance to make a documentary that would make him famous.
What Brian found in Seoul was not what he expected. He was converted to Christianity. He says it brought him a sense of purpose and freedom from struggles such as anger issues and pornography addiction.
Brian says that when he met Pastor Lee he found a man who was a constantly pouring stream of love that never dried up.
He says, “When I witnessed the love and courage of Pastor Lee, I saw the real deal. He was giving his life for something that wasn’t cultural.”
Can you see how he was saved because Pastor Lee was a disciple making disciples? It wasn’t because he walked around the whole time looking at everyone and thinking to himself, ‘How can I make them into a disciple?’
Pastor Lee is an example for us to follow. He is just like us in one way. He is, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians, a ‘fragile clay jar’. How can a fragile clay jar pour out endless love on abandoned and disabled babies?
Paul says of these fragile clay jars that they contain a ‘great treasure’. All of us disciples contain a great treasure. It is the light of God, and it is great power from God.
These fragile jars are crushed but not broken because of this power.
Some Christians are like Pastor Lee in Seoul. Other people are like Brian was, and they think they are probably Christian because they don’t smoke, or they attend church services sometimes. But they don’t have any great power. When they are crushed, they break. When they are perplexed, they despair. When they are knocked down, they are unable to get back up.
The essential ingredients for life are water, sunlight, oxygen. You cannot live long without water, and without oxygen you would die very quickly indeed.
The essential ingredients for spiritual life are what? Maybe you say faith and love. Maybe you think Holy Spirit and God’s word. Good answers. Certainly one of the ingredients is prayer. It is hard to single one out as most important because they are connected.
Prayer was a key to Jesus life and ministry. Prayer was central to the work of the God’s people all through the Old Testament.
Psalm 107:28-30 – “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor!
그때 그들이 그 고통 가운데서 여호와께 부르짖으므로 그가 위험에서 그들을 구해 내시고 광풍을 그치게 하여 물결을 잠잠하게 하셨다. 바다가 잔잔하므로 그들이 기뻐하였으니 여호와께서 그들을 고대하던 항구로 안전하게 인도하셨다.
Do you recognise that Psalm as something that Jesus actually lived out?
Jesus was a great person of prayer. We know he prayed early in the morning. We know he prayed aloud with words his disciples could understand. They wrote down some of the words he prayed.
If we are Christians who don’t know what to do and feel lost, perhaps there is a problem with our prayer life. Maybe we don’t even have a prayer life.
Two hundred years ago William Carey, a founder of the Baptist Missionary Society, said, “Prayer – secret, fervent, believing prayer – lies at the root of all personal godliness.”
Too many times we rush off to do something for God without stopping to pray. We feel something deeply and dash into action without first asking God what he wants done. So many times all this dashing and doing causes problems.
As we said last week, doing is really important. Faith without action is dead. Belief without work is nothing but superstition. We need to dash into prayer. We must do prayer first, before we do anything else in the name of God.
When we stop to pray about North Korea, for example, what should we pray? First we should ask God for his guidance on what to pray.
1 John 5:14 says “he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.” And James 4:3 tells us that when we don’t get an answer it is because our prayers were selfish and motivated by seeking our own pleasure. It’s really rather simple, who or what is getting priority in your prayers? Is it your pleasure first, or God’s pleasure?
One of the really important things to pray for is to ask God to help us see things as he sees them. Ask God how he views North Korea and the people who live there.
One pastor discovered that he had a bad habit of seeing the faults in others.
He would then comment on those faults, and even told himself it was OK.
When he realised that the Holy Spirit was nudging him, this pastor took time for serious prayer. He confessed and repented. Then he asked God to allow him to see people as God saw them. He asked God to open his eyes.
He tells how all of a sudden he saw everyone differently. He didn’t see all of their secrets and sins, or know what they were thinking. He experienced a new type of vision. Instead of seeing the outside, he could now see the inside. He could see that they were suffering and in pain. He could see how hard it was for them to live in a sinful world. And he began to feel God’s love flow through him to the people he met.
He tells of a time in the grocery store when he saw an elderly lady who had the look of a very angry person. Instead of turning away as normal, he opened the door for her, wished her well and smiled at her. She said, Thank you.
He says he suddenly felt God’s love for her. He saw a lady near the end of her life with pain and torment on her face. He just knew her life had been tough. Only God knew why, but it was obvious she was in pain and probably not much fun to be around.
With prayer the world doesn’t change, but we change. Then as we are filled with God’s power he changes the world and people. He uses fragile jars to make disciples.
If we are Christians without power, perhaps it is because our prayers are silent, superficial and hasty.
Listen to what Brian said about Pastor Lee’s prayers.
“Pastor Lee’s source of energy was so full that he could pour out without losing a drop. It was almost like there was constantly something being poured in. Like he was standing underneath the supply. I copied how he prayed on those summer mornings. And when the kids would start to get frustrating again, I’d pray with Pastor Lee, on my knees and out loud.
“What I found out is that you can love only as much as you are experiencing love. That’s why Pastor Lee could love those who weren’t outwardly beautiful, mobile, or able to speak. He didn’t need anything from them. He had everything. He could just give.”
In order to be disciples who make disciples, we have to be disciples who pray. Then we shall find as it says in Galatians 2:20 that, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
“내가 그리스도와 함께 십자가에 못박혀 죽었으므로 이제는 내가 사는 것이 아니라 내 속에 그리스도께서 사시는 것입니다. 지금 나는 나를 사랑하시고 나를 위해 죽으신 하나님의 아들을 믿는 믿음으로 살고 있습니다.”
Please pray more, aloud, sincerely. Ask God to open your eyes to see what he sees. Ask God to soften your heart to feel what he feels. Ask God to fill your fragile clay jar with his power and do his work through you.
God will answer this prayer, and God will change you. You have been warned.