Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.
Matthew 18:1

Today I am asking us to pray for a spirit of godly strength and determination in our church to do what God has called us to do. Let’s pray for our leaders, and for our entire membership.

There is no question that much good that God desires to do in this world through our efforts is not done because we have stopped trying to do it. It is easy for us to “grow weary while doing good” (Gal. 6:9). It is our human tendency to depend on ourselves to the point of physical and emotional exhaustion, and then in discouragement quit the fight, often complaining that God and others did not help enough.

We need divine strength to press on in the things that God has led us to do. God does shut doors, just as He did with Paul and Silas in Acts 16. Christ did not perform many miracles in Nazareth because of their unbelief (Matthew 13:58). Christ also told His disciples that when they could not find the hand of God at work in at least one person in a village, to move on to the next and look for him there (Luke 10:10-11). God sometimes leads His servants in inexplicable ways.

But none of these realities changes the need for Christians to have the spirit of determination and endurance. Wherever God is doing a great work in this world, you will find people there who have prayed, served, and not quit the work that God had called them to do.

Prayer is given to us specifically so that we may gain strength. We are to pray for both the strength to continue to pray and for the strength to continue to serve. Those who kneel the longest, stand the longest. Those who kneel the weakest, rise the strongest. The very nature of prayer is trust in the power and might of God – that He can help us.

As Christians in this day, we stand on the shoulders of giants in the faith – we continue their work today. Christ said, “Others have labored, and you have entered into their labors” (John 4:38).  The prophets, the apostles, the martyrs of the faith, and our Lord Himself, served steadfastly – along with thousands of nameless (to us) believers – giving a witness to God in difficult times. We have entered into their labor today in the simple things that God has called us to do.

We are seeking to build a community of faith – others have done as much through the centuries. We are seeking to construct a new house of worship – others have built larger church buildings with less resources than we have. We have entered into their labors in what God has called us to do. Just as in the past, people gave their lives and efforts for the work of God, so God calls us in this day to serve with our whole hearts.

God has not changed. His truth has not changed. The spiritual needs of mankind have not changed. The ability of God to strengthen our hearts by His Spirit to serve Him has also not changed. It is up to us today to learn to depend upon His strength.

In prayer we are able to confess our failures and receive forgiveness and cleansing. In prayer we are able to bring every single issue that concerns us to Him and leave them before Him. In prayer we are able to learn the deeper secrets of living and serving in the power of His Spirit. In prayer we are able to find divine redemptive strength and the wisdom of God. And we find these things in prayer, because we meet Christ there.

One of the greatest statements ever made about the early disciples of Christ is found in Acts 4:13:

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

And for us today, there can be no greater testimony. We find strength and holy determination because we have been with Jesus.

Helmut Thielicke preached a memorable series of sermons on the Lord’s prayer in Stuttgart in the closing days of World War II. The depth in them has resonated with believers through the centuries. He spoke about the difference between Christians the those in the world. In one of these sermons he said:

That’s why it is that the mystery of the kingdom of God can never be recognized from the outside, by a disinterested spectator, but only from within, by entering into it, in other words, by looking into the eyes of Jesus Christ. That is to say, in the kingdom of God everything is a matter of perspective; everything depends upon where you stand. If you stand at the wrong place, you see absolutely nothing. On the other hand, if you stand at the right place, then even children, fools, and the despised of this world can see the great mysteries of the kingdom of God.
It is like the colored windows of a church. If you go around the outside of the church, you see nothing but gray monochrome and cannot tell whether they are merely dirty, sooty panes or works of art. In other words, you are seeing them from the wrong perspective. But the moment you enter the nave of the church, the windows begin to shine and the whole story of salvation, captured in color, rises up before you. The mystery of the kingdom of God can be seen only if we are “in” it.

As we stand in Christ, we see everything differently.

Lord, give us a spirit of holy determination to accomplish the things You have called us to do. Teach us to lean on You in prayer, to see You in our devotions, to find Your strength exerting itself in our hearts. When we are tired and weary, let us realize that You are with us always. Amen.

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