Faithlife Sermons

From Suffering to Glory

The Power of Prayer  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  41:16
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Introduction
This month I want to lead you into exploring the practice and affects of prayer.
Prayer is important. Jesus said:
Matthew 7:7 ESV
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Prayer is a mystery. N.T. Wright suggests that “many Christians, including many clergy, have come to accept that they don’t find prayer easy, that they don’t really understanding what it does or can do.”
Robert Mounce - “Prayer has always been one of the great mysteries of the spiritual life. We understand that God is listening, but we sense our inadequacy when it comes to knowing how to pray or exactly what we should pray for.
An assumption is often made that Christians just naturally understand and engage in prayer. The fact is that prayer is a struggle that most are ashamed to admit.
But, admitting the struggle is a starting point in understanding the value, necessity, and power of speaking to and listening to God.
Romans 8:26–28 ESV
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
In these three verses on prayer, I want to bring to the surface of our attention four essential truths that will help us developing the discipline of prayer.

Acknowledge Weaknesses

Romans 8:26 - “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses.”
A critical perquisite in an effective prayer life is admitting that we are weak.
It is not that the Spirit helps in those occasional times when Christians are weak; the Christian’s state is one of weakness and the Spirit continually helps them.
This weakness may include physical, emotional, and spiritual disability.
This weakness admits that we are limited in our understanding on even what to pray.
Romans 7:26 “For we do not know what to pray for as we ought.”
Does our prayers line up with God’s will?
Does our prayers give God the glory and please Him?
Does our prayers display selfishness and self preservation?
In our weaknesses both the content and the manner of proper prayer my elude us.
However, an honest recognition of our own limitations is an essential step in engaging in an effective prayer life.
This recognition does not close our eyes to reality.
This recognition centers on being honest and seeing things as honestly and truthfully as we can.
This recognition admits our own shortcomings and failure to see things clearly.
It is from this starting point that we begin the appreciate the second truth found in this passage:

Recognize the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit

Romans 8:26 ESV
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
The Spirit helps us in our weakness. And, not just helps us one time, but continues to help us—every moment of every day.
How many times have we wondered how to pray for a friend suffering a serious illness?
Sometimes volumes of prayer have gone up to God, but the response from heaven was not what we wanted or expected.
When our lack of faith undermines certainty in prayer, the Spirit himself intercedes on our behalf.
So intense is his prayer that Paul described it as “groans that words cannot express.”
When the Holy Spirit helps us in our prayers, He leads us into a state of anguish or distress — experiencing the weight and importance of the need we are bringing to God.
Three important thoughts come to mind with this intense, emotional anguish:
First, the Spirit is leading us into identification with Jesus Christ! Jesus “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” — Isaiah 53:4.
Second, the Spirit is leading us into recognizing that prayer is deeply emotional—not a ritual or performance.
Third, the Spirit helps us in our prayers, but does not replace us!
As we engage is Spirit-helped prayer, the Holy Spirit is working behind the scenes to guide our prayer life toward effectiveness.
Romans 8:27 ESV
27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Confidently Embrace the Will of God

The Holy Spirit is our advocate—interceding on our behalf—aligning us according to God’s will.
As a follower of Christ, you are invited by God to participate in His redemptive purpose.
But, how do you know your part in God’s plan. The Holy Spirit helps you discover your place in God’s kingdom work.
When we understand and see “the big picture”—we begin to grasp that God’s plan is greater than our needs. It begins to affect our emotions and our attitudes—giving us peace and joy.
Romans 8:28 ESV
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Even in hardship and suffering, even in bitter disappointments, even when wrongly treated, Christians can know that God will work amidst such situations to fulfill His good purpose in His children.
God weaves everything together for good for his children. The “good” in this context does not refer to earthly comfort but conformity to Christ (v. 29), closer fellowship with God, bearing good fruit for the kingdom, and final glorification (v. 30).
Conclusion
I want to encourage you to accept the challenge to make January a time of disciplined, God-glorifying prayer—a prayer that will change your life and contribute to the advancement of God’s Kingdom.
But, the most important prayer anyone could ever pray is a prayer to place your trust in Jesus Christ.
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