MATTHEW 26:36-37 – Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.
LUKE 9:28 – Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray.
THEME OF THE DAY. HOW TO ENSURE A STUNTED SPIRITUAL LIFE. Did today’s theme catch us a little by surprise? I mean why in the world would someone provide a road map to a stagnant, stunted, and stale spiritual life? Perhaps some of you are ready to hit the delete button and go no further. You may even be thinking, “Pastor Jim, I don’t need any help when it comes to what it takes to have a stunted spiritual life. I already get too easily defeated by my laziness, wrong priorities in my time, busyness, life’s demands and the pressure of my sinful flesh. Please, don’t add another “log on the fire” of my spiritual challenges.” Well, friends, take heart. I am with you. And the “recipe” I am providing toward a stunted spiritual life is really just the opposite. I want to help us avoid it by simply encouraging us to one thing. Yes, one thing, but it is one thing that I know with confidence, by way of the Bible and personal experience, will go a long way in preventing the “ho hum” dryness of our walks with Jesus. So, don’t delete. Read on.
In today’s two separate scriptures, there are three commonalities. There is a group of individuals – Jesus, James and John. We also see the initiative of the Lord Jesus – And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He took with Him Peter and John and James. And finally, we are given the reason for the togetherness – to pray.
Here we discover the sure-fire way to prevent a stunted spiritual life. Prayer. Prayer, not just in the isolation of our own prayer closets, but with other Christians. Neglect this, and we will hinder spiritual growth. A lot. The most important thing Christians do is pray. Prayer is the lifeblood in our walks with the Lord. A non-praying Christian is in spiritual trouble. And a non-praying Christian with other Christians is not only a Biblical contradiction but even disobedience. When it comes to spiritual intimacy and relationships among Christians, prayer is the main thing we do together. Jesus knew and practiced this truth. He took three of His disciples to a mountain for prayer and also took them into the arena of spiritual warfare in the Garden of Gethsemane for prayer. But not only the Lord, but His church, His healthy church, practiced this. In the early accounts in the book of Acts, notice the prominence of the theme of praying together . . .
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers (Acts 1:14).
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2:42).
Praying together as believers is a high mark of spiritual health and maturity. It also is a strong preventative toward spiritual decay. But we must realize it is costly. The devil and our flesh will go into overdrive in preventing a community of prayer among believers. They know the power. They know what may be accomplished. So with that awareness, we must be prepared to do battle. And the greatest obstacle to praying with other believers consistently is the flesh screaming “fatigue, tired, rest, exhausted.” More Christians will fall prey to tiredness than anything else when it comes to praying with other Christians. Words like “It is too early” or “It is too late” will keep us away from praying together. Fight this. Let the joy of the Lord be our strength, yes, physical strength, to pray together. We must. It is too important and a necessity to prevent a stale spiritual life.
PRAYER: “Father, please open my eyes to Your heart about prayer and praying with Your people.”
QUOTE: “One of the signs of a good spiritual condition is the desire and practice of praying with other Christians.”