Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

Christian living Archive

Monday

29

April 2024

Essential to living

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"I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." (John 6:35) | read more on hopereflected.com

Bread has been around since ancient times and is one of the most basic and fundamental food staples. It’s an important—and enjoyable—food that can be used in versatile ways and that has many variations to accommodate people with all kinds of food allergies and sensitivities.

“Labour not for the meat which perisheth”

Readers of the last two columns are familiar with the miracle in which Jesus turned five barley loaves and two small fishes into a feast for five thousand people (with leftovers, no less!). Jesus had provided a feast that filled these poor, hungry people, and they wanted more.

The multitudes in the passage of John 6 were following Jesus, pursuing after Him with passion because of their own self-interest.

Jesus called them out on their self-serving seeking, saying, “Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.” (John 6:26).

He exhorted them, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” (v. 27).

Seeking after Christ and feasting on His Word

Bread is of no use to us if we don’t make it or go to the store and buy it. Furthermore, bread is no use to us if we just leave it sitting in the bread drawer and we never eat it. It must, as Ellicott wrote in his Commentary for English Readers, be “appropriated and eaten.”

From this, we can draw a similar picture of our relationship with Christ. If we say that we believe in Him, then we should as effect seek after Him and feast on His Word.

What good is it if we claim Christian as our title but we have nothing to show for it?

Thank God, our salvation is not based on good works, but certainly we should have good works to demonstrate as a result of our salvation.

The bread of life

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (6:35).

The bread of life.

Jesus is essential to living.

He is not optional.

He is our only Hope, and of a surety, He is our greatest Hope.

He is the only way to Heaven.

As Matthew Henry wrote, “he is to the Soul what bread is to the body, nourishes and supports the spiritual life. He is the Bread of God. Bread which the Father gives, which he has made to be the food of our souls.”

The bread of life must be part of our daily life

So many of us are guilty of indulging in a “fast-food” faith.

The bread of life must be a part of our daily life. To be nourished by The Word requires us to dedicate and spend time in His Word. Just as basic hunger and thirst reminds us to feed our physical bodies and stay hydrated, when we find our souls hungry and thirsty, it should serve as a reminder that we must come to Him and we must believe on Him.

Originally published as “Essential to living.” Independent Plus. September 29, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Tuesday

23

April 2024

Without any other motive

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To truly know God we must long for Him without any other motive than reaching God Himself. (A.W. Tozer) | Read more about seeking God on HopeReflected.com

We just read in the preceding verses of John 6 that Jesus fed the people through an incredible miracle—Jesus took five loaves and two fishes and turned them into a feast for thousands. Now the crowd had found Him after much searching and even taking a ship across the sea.

I don’t know about you, but my first question after finding Jesus would likely not be, “Rabbi, when camest thou hither?” (John 6:25). And yet, we read that this is the first question that the people posed to Christ.

Putting it all together

Here is where it all begins to make sense; of course, the people asked, “Rabbi, when camest thou hither?” (John 6:25) when they found him in Capernaum, because they wanted to know how He could have possibly crossed over the sea when He didn’t travel with His disciples, and there was no other boat to carry Him across.

Less than 24 hours before they had witnessed first-hand His miracle of turning five loaves and two fishes into an abundant feast for thousands of people (themselves included), but it didn’t appear to occur to them that Christ could cross the sea in a style reminiscent of Moses or Joshua.

Why not?

Jesus knows what we do and why we do it

It is only in reading Jesus’s answer to the people that we understand.

These people went out of their way to find Christ, not for Christ Himself, but because of what He could do for them. “Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.” (John 6:26).

As Matthew Henry so aptly wrote in his commentary, “Christ knows not only what we do, but why we do it.” These people were interested in Christ and wanted to follow after Him “not because he taught them, but because he fed them.”

Examining our motives

The crowd in John 6 were literally hungry, many of them being poor and without food. It did not matter to them how Jesus went about preparing the feast for them, or the means by which He fed them; it mattered to them that they were fed.

As Jesus admonished them, “Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.” (John 6:26).

As we seek after Jesus, are we doing so because of Him, or because of what He can do for us?

We respect Christ, we show reverence for Him, but so often our hearts are not in the right place. Our motives are selfish. We’re more interested in what Christ can do for us than what He can do through us; more interested in the gifts than the Giver, as the old saying goes. Then we wonder why we can’t feel God’s presence and why we feel distant and down. As Tozer wrote, “To truly know God we must long for Him without any other motive than reaching God Himself.”

Originally published as “Without any other motive.” Independent Plus. September 22, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Friday

2

February 2024

Seeking after Christ

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"...if you seek him, he will be found of you;" (2 Chronicles 15:2) | Read more about seeking Christ on hopereflected.com

“When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.” (John 6:24)

The day after the miracle of the five loaves and the two fishes, and Jesus walking on the water, we read more about those that had been affected by the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes.  

This group of people realized that Jesus was no longer with them, and neither were His disciples.

In John 6:24, we read that “When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.”

Noticed by His absence

The people recognized that Jesus was not there with them. Someone may say that during Jesus’s earthly ministry His physical presence would be easy to recognize, as would His absence, but this simple phrase “When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there,” is included in this passage for a reason.

Those who had been fed by the five loaves and two fishes just the day before recognized when Jesus wasn’t with them.

As Christians, how much more ought we to have an understanding of Christ’s presence in our life.

Your first thought may be that sometimes it’s extremely hard to understand Christ’s presence in your life, and I would completely agree. Look at the people in John 6; the reason they knew that Christ was absent from them was that they were actively looking for Him. They saw that the boats were gone, they knew that Jesus didn’t go with His disciples, and they knew that He was no longer with them on their side of the sea (v 22).

During the times when we’re missing Christ’s presence in our life, it is very likely due to the fact that we are not actively looking for Him.

Where should we go to seek out Christ?

In such times, we must, like the people, go on the search.

“When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.” (v 24). The people didn’t just say, “Well, Christ isn’t here, guess we’ll just head home now and go back to our old life,” no, they got in a boat and went to the most likely place where they thought He would be.

How does this translate to our present day?

We should go to the places where Christ is most likely to be found – in His church and with His people.

We should seek Him out through the pages of His Word.

“…if ye seek him, he will be found of you;”

2 Chronicles 15:2

It’s important to note as well that seeking after Christ will not always be easy.

For the people in John 6, most of them were poor, and likely didn’t have much experience traveling by sea, but that is exactly what they did to find Jesus. “they also took shipping,” (v 24).

Seeking after Christ is something that will ultimately provide us with comfort, but it will not always be convenient. Rest assured however, that just as Azariah told Asa, “if ye seek him, he will be found of you;” (2 Chronicles 15:2).

When we earnestly seek after Christ, we will find Him.

Originally published as “Seeking after Christ.” Independent Plus. September 15, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Wednesday

17

January 2024

Don’t be weary in well-doing

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You can’t reap if you don’t sow

He that observeth the wind shall now sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. (Ecclesiastes 11:4) | Read more about not growing weary in well-doing on hopereflected.com

There’s an old saying that goes something like this: If you wait until the time is perfect to do something, you’ll never do anything. As Solomon—considered to be the wisest king in history—wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes, “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” (11:4). It doesn’t require any experience with farming to understand that if you don’t sow then you can’t reap. The same is true in all areas of life; not just in agriculture.

“Be not deceived”

Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. …let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:7, 9).

Eventually, we will harvest the seeds that we spend our time in life planting.

The question is, will the harvest be good?

Farmers know that the harvest season is hard; there’s a lot of labour that goes into reaping and gathering everything that was planted earlier in the year. The timing’s got to be just right for successful sowing and to reap the rewards of, well, reaping.

Now just imagine if a farmer allowed him or herself to be distracted by the winds or the clouds and as a result didn’t sow any seeds or gather the harvest?

They’d be at great risk of losing everything.

The same is true with how we spend our lives.

Paul wrote “Be not deceived” because many people are deceived. They think they have time to waste, that they can “have fun” now and get serious later; that “finding God” means never having any “freedom” again; that they are entitled to collect benefits without working at all; that they should live for today without thought for tomorrow.

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today

The trouble is for many that tomorrow will come more quickly than they realize. Every person, regardless of what they believe, Christian or non-Christian – we will all reap what we sow.

Just like the farmer in Ecclesiastes 11:4, when we put off doing the right thing because we’re waiting for our own convenience or for the right time, then we won’t ever do the right thing, and we won’t ever receive the rewards thereof.

Paul encouraged Christians to “not be weary in well doing:” (Gal. 6:9).

Why?

Because well-doing can be wearying!

When we look around us and see the world rewarding bad behavior, coddling criminal activity, and celebrating sin, it’s hard to watch. It can be wearying to continue to in well-doing when the world is telling us that we are wrong.

“You reap what you sow, later than you sow, and more than you sow.”

Dr. Charles Stanley

The late Dr. Charles Stanley famously said, “You reap what you sow, later than you sow, and more than you sow.”

This principle applies to every life.

When we’re feeling weary, this is important to remember.

Tomorrow is coming, The “due season” is dawning. Until then, our job is not to be observing the wind or regarding the clouds, but pressing on and not being weary in well-doing.  

Originally published as “Don’t be weary in well-doing.” Independent Plus. September 8, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Thursday

11

January 2024

“In the multitude of my thoughts”

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In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul. (Psalm 94:19) | Read more about it on hopereflected.com

“In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.” (Psalm 94:19)

Every day, our thoughts are more than we can count, and how many of them are to our benefit instead of burdening us down?

Depending on the day, of course, your answer may vary.

What is common however, is that we all have a multitude of thoughts, whether for good or bad.

Albert Barnes wrote of our thoughts, “How many are vain and frivolous; how many are skeptical; how many are polluted and polluting!” Sometimes the very thoughts we try to mute are the very ones we mull around the most.

When your mind is racing

As if it weren’t hard enough to keep our thoughts under control on a good day, how much more difficult does this become when we’re walking through trying times! To keep our focus anywhere other than our problems requires a great deal of perseverance.

Our thoughts are plenty and have a tendency to wander. David described this as “the multitude of my thoughts,” (Psalm 94:19). The word “multitude” here is the same word used to describe the great multitudes of people that followed Jesus in the Gospels, and describes an abundance, a great number, or a large crowd.

David wrote Psalm 94 during a time of intense persecution against his people. He wrote these words of comfort not just for himself, but for those who were experiencing tribulation alongside him. He encouraged his people to keep their focus on God. When he was experiencing all of these anxious and perplexing thoughts, David said of God that, “thy comforts delight my soul.” (Psalm 94:19).

What are God’s comforts?

So, what are God’s comforts and how can we allow His comforts to delight our souls when we are downtrodden with the multitude of our thoughts?

Spurgeon said in his sermon “Comforted and Comforting” that “God is the God of all comfort; — not merely of some comfort, but of all comfort. If you need every kind of comfort that was ever given to men, God has it in reserve, and he will give it to you. If there are any comforts to be found by God’s people in sickness, in prison, in want, in depression, the God of all comfort will deal them out to you according as you have need of them.”

the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Whatever our thoughts may be centred around — health, food for the table, financial uncertainties, recession, depression, unrest in the world — God is, as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.”

Whatever the condition, God has the comfort. Reassurance for anxiety; hope for depression; faith for doubts; benevolence for selfishness.

In the multitude of our thoughts, we must allow Him room to work.

As we cannot get warm without making an effort to do so by putting on more clothes, nestling under a blanket, or standing by a fire, so we cannot be comforted if we do not seek out the very One which will provide us comfort.

Originally published as “’In the multitude of my thoughts’.” Independent Plus. September 1, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Monday

8

January 2024

A fool flaunts his folly

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"In everything the prudent acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly." (Proverbs 13:16) | Read more on hopereflected.com

Words are the streams

James wrote that “the tongue can no man tame;” (James 3:8). It’s funny how such a small thing can wield so much power.

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29).

“Corrupt” here means rotten, worthless, or unfit for use.

In Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, he explains that the root word for “corrupt” is applied to “putrid vegetable or animal substances. Then it is applied to a tree that is of a useless character…”.

The words that proceed out of our mouths are based on our character. As Matthew Henry wrote, “The heart is the fountain, words are the streams. A troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring, must send forth muddy and unpleasant streams. Nothing but the salt of grace, cast into the spring, will heal the waters, season the speech, and purify the corrupt communication.”

Unless we get things right at the source, we are at risk of spewing garbage rather than ministering grace.

We are not alone in our struggle to tame the tongue

Proverbs 13:16 says that “in everything the prudent acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly.” Making a joke of sin and making light of holy things don’t really seem like a big deal because we’ve been conditioned to believe that they’re not a big deal, and that we’re not a big deal unless we’re doing those very things.

Standing up for what’s sacred?

Don’t be a fuddy-duddy; you’re no fun!

Just take a look at what the world laughs at, and who the world holds in high regard.

Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Colosse that we are to put off “anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;” (Colossians 3:8-9). “Filthy” here has the same meaning of the “corrupt” communication in Ephesians 4:29.

Rotten and worthless words that are unfit for use are so provoking that these cautions were included in two different letters to two entirely different groups of Christians. To think that we are alone in our struggle to tame the tongue would be grossly ignorant. Some people are just better than others at knowing when to speak and when to stay silent.

“By their fruits ye shall know them.”

Matthew 7:20

Jesus said in Matthew 7 that “By their fruits ye shall know them.” (7:20).

What are our fruits?

Our character, our actions, and of course, our words.

What do others hear from us in the course of conversation? Jesus also cautioned in Matthew that “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36-37). This is not a threat, but certainly a reminder that what we say—and what we don’t say—is of eternal significance.

We can talk a lot, but when our words and our actions don’t line up, others are going to notice. We can lie with our words but our actions betray us.

Originally published as “A fool flaunts his folly.” Independent Plus. August 25, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Thursday

4

January 2024

Gossiping gives no grace

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"Where no wood is, there the fire goes out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth." (Proverbs 26:20) | Read more about gossip on hopereflected.com

“Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.” (Proverbs 26:20)

We are wise not to speak when we don’t have all the facts. Gossiping gives no grace and only gives us a false sense of importance when in fact it is a fruitless exercise. “He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.” (Proverbs 20:19).

When it comes to slanderers, Proverbs 20:19 gives us wise instruction: Steer clear, avoid sharing sensitive information, and be smart. Let’s call gossiping out for what it is—evil (James 3:15-16). I don’t think I am alone in learning the hard way that no good comes from speaking when we don’t have all the facts.

Think before you speak

While we can apologize for what we say, we can’t take it back, and so it is critically important that we think before we speak. We are not the first generation to be faced with this challenge; there are so many examples of the consequences of the tongue throughout Scripture.

David wrote in Psalm 101:5, “Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.”

Our speech often reveals our pride, and unfortunately, to boost their self-importance, some people purposely speak lies about others and put them down. Matthew Henry wrote that “Many endeavour to raise themselves into the favour of princes by unjust representations of persons and things, which they think will please their prince.”

There is a reason that “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Exodus 20:16) is included as one of the ten commandments.

What to do when you’re the target of gossip

Conversely, when we are the target of gossip and slander, we must be equally as careful to guard our tongues.

We need to watch what we say when we’re hurt or angry.

Solomon wrote “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1). We know what keeps the peace (it’s not speaking when we’re angry). The trouble is, it’s upsetting when someone calls our character into question. It’s when we’re overly emotional that we endanger ourselves and can lose control of our tongues.

It is a characteristic of the wise to hold the tongue in the heat of anger— “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” (Proverbs 19:1)—and even more a demonstration of wisdom to overlook an offense.

Rather than react without thinking, we ought as Matthew Henry wrote to “Give it time, and it will cool.”

Death and life are in the power of the tongue

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue:
and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

Proverbs 18:21

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (Proverbs 18:21). Matthew Henry wrote that “Many a one has been his own death by a foul tongue, or the death of others by a false tongue; and on the contrary, many a one has saved his own life, or procured the comfort of it, by a prudent gentle tongue, and saved the lives of others by a seasonable testimony or intercession for them.”

Originally published as “Gossiping gives no grace.” Independent Plus. August 18, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

Thursday

9

November 2023

Remembrance is important

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Remembrance is important. Read more about remembrance in the Bible and Remembrance Day on hopereflected.com

Remembering our past helps us prepare for the future

There is a saying that he who controls the past controls the future, and he who controls the present controls the past.

While we can’t wholly live in the present if we are constantly stuck in the past, we also can’t properly prepare for the future unless we remember our past.

Whatever way you look at it, remembrance is important.

Many of us are familiar with the book of Joshua, in which God tells Joshua on three occasions in the first chapter  (vv. 6, 7, 9) to be strong and of a good courage.

“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

Joshua 1:9

For Joshua, these verses were a remembrance of what Moses had told him previously (in Deuteronomy 3:22, 31:6-8, 23), to be strong and of a good courage for it is God Himself who fights for you.

Hear and learn and observe to do

Deuteronomy, by definition, is a copy or a repetition of the law.

Reading through the book, it holds true to its name. There is lots of repetition.

Why?

Because we learn through repetition.

Habits are created by repetition.

Repetition helps us to remember, and remembrance is important.

We read in Deuteronomy 31:9 that Moses wrote the law and commanded the priests that it should be read before Israel every seven years. He commanded the priests that the law should be read “before all Israel in their hearing” (v. 11), “that they may hear…that they may learn…and observe to do….” (v. 12), and not only for the benefit of the adults, Moses specifically commanded it to be read so that the children who didn’t know could hear and learn (v. 13).

Why dedicate an entire book of the Bible with a specific focus on repeating God’s law and passing it on to future generations?

Because we are prone to forgetfulness.

Remembrance doesn’t come naturally to us; it is something that must be practiced.

Remembrance is important.

Remembering the past is a vital component in how we conduct ourselves in the present and in how we prepare for the future.

Remembrance Day

Take Remembrance Day, for example. Every year at the beginning of November, we wear poppies as a symbol of remembrance for those who lost their lives in active service in the First World War, Second World War, right up to today. The poppy was chosen because this flower was very common in the First World War, flourishing in the soil where our soldiers were giving their lives for our freedom.

The Royal Canadian Legion (as well as The Royal British Legion and the American Legion) run their annual Poppy Campaigns and Poppy Appeals to raise funds and promote awareness for our Veterans and their families. They are also committed to educating today’s youth and passing on the tradition and meaning of Remembrance Day and Veteran’s Day for generations to come.

Were it not for initiatives such as these, who would remember?

Committed to helping the people remember

Moses, right up to his death, was committed to helping the people of Israel remember. He was especially concerned with the children, because unless they heard and learned the law, they would have no way of coming to know the Lord.

Moses even wrote a song to “be a witness” (v. 19) that future generations would sing to remember just how far God had brought them and to bring them back to what was right.

We don’t judge ourselves by our past, but we make plans for the future based on what we have learned from the past.

Originally published as “Remembrance is important.” Independent Plus. November 9, 2023: 6. Print. Web.

Friday

3

November 2023

Characteristics of prayer

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Follow up to Vain repetitions and Persistence in prayer

We prevail with men by importunity because they are displeased with it, but with God because He is pleased with it. (Matthew Henry) | Read more about prayer on hopereflected.com

At the beginning of 2022, I finished reading the Puritan classic Importunity: Refusing to Give Up in Prayer by Christopher Love. Luke 11:8 is inscribed at the beginning of each chapter: “I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.”

I’ve often wondered about the meaning of this parable Jesus shared in Luke 11—of the man who goes to borrow a loaf of bread in the middle of the night from his neighbour, and refuses to stop knocking at the door until the neighbour finally gets up and gives him bread—and Love’s Importunity explains it neatly.

Similar to what Jesus shared in Luke 18:1, the parable in Luke 11 teaches us how we should approach God in prayer. In the opening verse of Luke 11, Jesus’s disciples asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray…” (v. 1). In response, Jesus shared what we know today as “The Lord’s Prayer”, and He then shared the parable of the neighbour who comes for bread in the middle of the night.

We must come to God

One of the characteristics of prayer is that no matter the time, we must come to God.

The man in this parable comes to his neighbour at midnight (Luke 11:5).

It’s important to remember that when we feel the Lord’s prompting (and yes, sometimes it may be in the middle of the night) we ought to come to God. Charles Spurgeon wrote that “you should pray because you must pray, not because the set time for praying has arrived, but because your heart must cry unto your Lord.”

We must come to God boldly

Another characteristic of prayer that we learn from the parable in Luke 11 is that we are to come to God boldly.

Let’s be honest, if your neighbour came knocking at your door in the middle of the night, and said they wouldn’t stop knocking until you answered the door and gave them some bread, no doubt you’d be annoyed (and tempted not to answer the door).

The man in Luke 11:8 wasn’t concerned about annoying his neighbour, he was incredibly bold in his approach. So we are to be bold in our approach to God. Matthew Henry wrote in his commentary “We prevail with men by importunity because they are displeased with it, but with God because he is pleased with it.”

Make no mistake, God wants us to come to Him boldly.

“Make no mistake, God wants us to come to Him boldly.”

Hope Reflected

We are to be persistent in prayer

Jesus teaches us through the parable in Luke 11 that we are to be persistent in prayer—this is the “importunity” He describes in verse 8, and we are also to pray for what we need.

Christopher Love wrote that the meaning of Romans 12:12 “continuing instant in prayer” “is a phrase borrowed from dogs who are on a hunt and will not cease following the game till they get it…. So you are to hunger after God, and after mercy, and not rest satisfied till God grants the mercy you stand in need of.”

Originally published as “Characteristics of prayer.” Independent Plus. August 11, 2022: 5. Print. Web.

For more on the topic of prayer, click here.

Monday

23

October 2023

Persistence in prayer

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Rejoicing and patience are the fuel which keep us going and enable us "always to pray, and not to faint;" (Luke 18:1). Read more about persistence in prayer on hopereflected.com

Difference between vain repetition and being instant in prayer

It is important to clarify that Jesus’s instruction to “use not vain repetitions” (Matthew 6:7) does not mean that we should be careful how often we pray or how often we pray about specific subjects.

In Luke 18:1, Jesus Himself instructed us that “men ought always to pray, and not to faint;”. Similarly, Paul instructed the church at Rome to continue “instant in prayer;” (Romans 12:12) and the Christians at Thessalonica to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Persistence and perseverance in prayer should be marked characteristics of the Christian’s life.

In Benson’s Commentary, the Reverend Joseph Benson suggested that we do wrong when we cease from prayer. “It frequently happens, that after men have prayed for any particular blessing, they desist, because God does not immediately grant them their petition. To show the evil of this, and to recommend importunity and perseverance in prayer… the present parable is introduced.”

Drawing parallels about prayer from the parable of the widow and the judge

The parable to which he refers is that in Luke 18:1-8, where after Jesus said “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;” (Luke 18:1), He shared the parable of the widow and the judge.

In the parable, the widow presses the judge until he gives her justice. As the judge listened to the widow in her persistency, so God responds to us when we are persistent in prayer. This is why Jesus said “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;”.

It pleases God when we exercise persistence in prayer

It pleases God when we exercise persistence in prayer. While God’s response may not always be what we want it to be, or in the timing that we think is right, we can be assured that He does answer prayer.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul instructed the Christians at Rome that they should be “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;” (Romans 12:12). This is an interesting verse because it suggests before “continuing instant in prayer” that we first rejoice, and second be patient, almost as though these are precursors to persistence in prayer.

Fuel to pray

In MacLaren’s Expositions of Scripture, Alexander MacLaren drew a parallel between Romans 12:12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 where Paul instructed the Christians at Thessalonica to “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Without holding these other attitudes, we cannot be persistent in prayer.

Rejoicing and patience are the fuel which keep us going and enable us “always to pray, and not to faint;” (Luke 18:1).

“Rejoicing and patience are the fuel which keep us going and enable us
‘always to pray, and not to faint;’ (Luke 18:1).”

Hope Reflected

More than appeals

As Jesus said that we are not to use vain repetitions, our prayers should not be merely appeals to God, our prayers should be an attitude wherein we are referencing God in every thing we do.

C.S. Lewis wrote that “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping. It does not change God – it changes me.”

Vain repetitions are many words with no meaning; persistence in prayer has power because it requires us to have great faith.

Originally published as “Persistence in prayer.” Independent Plus. August 4, 2022: 5. Print. Web.