Ours is truly a great salvation. It includes salvation from the penalty of sin, which, for believers, is a past work of God in their lives. The New Testament portrays salvation in the present tense as a process that started with our conversion and continues from day to day. God is at work in us to deliver us from the sin that surrounds us. This is not only salvation from the punishment of sin or the very presence of sin, it is also salvation from the power of sin. Salvation from the presence of sin, is a future experience for all Christians.
Today we focus our attention on another of the great gifts that God uses to bring about our full redemption from sin as a present experience. Today we look at God’s gift of prayer as part of the divine means made available to those who experience salvation. Two weeks ago I said If you ignore God's Word there is no way to experience the fullness of God’s salvation. The same thing is true about prayer. Ignoring prayer will cause us to not be able to experience the fullness of our salvation. Ignoring prayer is to impoverish our lives today and deprive us of spiritual rewards beyond Christ’s second coming and the resurrection of the dead.
Click the YouTube link at the end of the manuscript to hear an audio recording of the sermon.
Luke 18:1-8 NIV Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ ” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Matthew 7:7-11 NIV “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Text: “Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1 NIV).
Our salvation is so great that most of us never enter into an understanding of its full significance. The word salvation is a word that refers to many of God’s activities on our behalf. For example, it is used to refer to our initial experience with God when we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That is salvation in the past tense. Salvation also is the word that refers to the ultimate consummation of God’s gracious work in us and for us when Jesus Christ comes again. That is salvation in the future tense.
Salvation is also used to describe the total process by which the Holy Spirit seeks to reproduce within each believer the character of Jesus Christ and in which the believer cooperates with the Holy Spirit to become truly Christian in every area of life. That is salvation in the present tense. We have talked about all these tenses of salvation in this series titled “Experiencing The Great Salvation”.
Today we focus our attention on another of the great gifts that God uses to bring about our full redemption from sin as a present experience. Two Sundays ago we looked at how God has provided the Scriptures so that his children can be delivered from sin’s destructive power.
Today we look at God’s gift of prayer as part of the divine means made available to those who experience salvation. Two weeks ago I said If you ignore God's Word there is no way to experience the fullness of God’s salvation. The same thing is true about prayer. Ignoring prayer will cause us to not be able to experience the fullness of our salvation. Ignoring prayer is to impoverish our lives today and deprive us of spiritual rewards beyond Christ’s second coming and the resurrection of the dead.
1. The experience of salvation actually begins with a prayer (Luke 18:13–14).
Luke 18:9-14 NIV To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
That the Christian life begins with prayer can be illustrated by the fact that the prayer of the tax collector who cried out to God for mercy was heard, and he experienced justification.
To have Jesus Christ in your heart, you must invite him to come in. Jesus will not be an intruder or an unwelcome guest so you invite Him with prayer.
Romans 10:10-13 NIV For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Some people pray what’s called the “Sinner’s Prayer”. Now there is no sinner’s prayer in Scripture so there are many versions but the point is that salvation begins with a sinner praying for it.
Here’s an example of a prayer that someone shared with me recently:
Dear God, I believe you love me and gave your only Son to live on earth and die in payment for my sin that separates me from you. I believe your son Jesus Christ lived on earth, died for me, and you physically & spiritually raised him from the dead. I believe Jesus is alive today, and I open my heart and invite Him in as Lord and Savior of my life. I want to live forever in Christ, with Christ. I give Him control, rule and reign in my heart and in my life, by the gift of Your Spirit. Thank you for your love and grace in saving me.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Salvation from the penalty of sin is just the beginning of God’s great salvation for us. He wants to save us from the power and practice of sin. We know that God has given us the Scriptures to deliver us from evil and to make possible a fruitful life. We talked about that two weeks ago.
Psalms 1:1-3 NIV Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord , and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.
God declared to Joshua, before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, that attention to his Word would provide him with the key to success.
Joshua 1:8 NIV Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Peter said that the Holy Scriptures provide food for the nourishment of believers’ souls.
1 Peter 2:1-3 NIV Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
So we can agree that Scriptures can help to deliver us from evil and to make possible a fruitful life. But today let us focus our hearts and minds on the exciting truth that our heavenly Father has also designed prayer to help his children experience salvation today, in the present.
After the gift of faith and a personal relationship with him, there is no greater gift that our Father God has given us than the gift of prayer.
- Some people see prayer as a duty, and it is.
- Some see prayer only as one of God’s commandments to us; and if you think of it as a commandment, be assured that it was motivated by God’s love for us.
- Still others see prayer as a necessity of life, like food and air.
We should recognize and respond to prayer as a divine invitation to come into our heavenly Father’s throne room so we may receive the blessings he has for us.
Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Prayer will equip us to live on the highest possible plane and to experience life in its richest quality.
Prayer should be recognized as an opportunity for communication with God in the form of dialogue rather than a monologue. Hearing what our Father has to say is much more important than merely voicing our petitions.
A. Prayer brings an awareness of God’s nearness
James 4:7-10 NIV Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
This can bring great comfort and inspire confidence as we realize that God waits like the father of the prodigal son, in Jesus’ parable, for us to come home.
Luke 15:17-22, 24 NIV “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
B. A prayer of confession brings the assurance of forgiveness
1 John 1:8-10 NIV If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
To confess means to agree with God. Sin is a present reality because all of us are less than perfect. God wants to forgive us, cleanse us, and make wonderful fellowship possible.
C. A prayer of humility brings mercy and grace for every time of need
Hebrews 4:16 NIV Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Our Savior is compassionate because he has suffered as we have; he is able to minister to our deepest personal needs.
Hebrews 2:14-18 NIV Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
The scripture that I just read said it’s not the angels that He helps but Abraham’s descendants. Well believers are considered Abraham’s descendants, so we’re included.
Galatians 3:7-9 NIV Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
D. A prayer of petition and thanksgiving brings peace that passes understanding
Philippians 4:6-7 NIV Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Children of God are encouraged to make every need and every problem a matter of earnest prayer to the loving Father, because that's what He wants us to do.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
If you surveyed books on prayer in a Christian bookstore, you'd find varied and often conflicting advice. Some authorities insist that successful prayer is scheduled; others favor impromptu prayer. One writer says fasting should accompany prayer, but another tells us to pray in any circumstance. Still another says that prayer is best done when alone, though someone else urges us to join with others. Some claim that prayer requires careful preparation and thought, while a conflicting authority says prayer should flow spontaneously from our hearts.
Prayer is a relationship. It is interacting between you and God. It’s a dynamic conversation between two individuals who love, care for and enjoy one another.
The primary purpose of prayer is not to change circumstances; the primary purpose of prayer is to change us! But either way, the chief objective remains the same: to glorify God in any and every situation.
The prayer for pardon brings conversion, cleansing, and acceptance. Call on God now, for he has promised to hear you and bless you. He will not turn you away. God is waiting to show you grace and mercy today!