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D.A. Carson – Prayer for Power

15 Jan

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:14-19

To put the matter simply, Paul wants us to have the power to grasp the love of God in Christ Jesus, to the end that we might be mature. To be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” is simply a Pauline way of saying “to be all that God wants you to be,” or “to be spiritually mature.” A similar expression is found in the next chapter of this epistle, where Paul tells us how various people in the church are to serve “so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (4:12–13). God himself, Christ himself, is the standard. God elsewhere says, “Be perfect, for I am perfect,” and “Be holy, for I am holy”; now he says here, in effect, “Be mature, be complete, as I am mature, complete.”

Do you see the stunning implication? Paul assumes that we cannot be as spiritually mature as we ought to be unless we receive power from God to enable us to grasp the limitless dimensions of the love of Christ. We may think we are peculiarly mature Christians because of our theology, our education, our years of experience, our traditions; but Paul knows better. He knows we cannot be as mature as we ought to be until we “know this love that surpasses knowledge.” That is why he prays as he does: he wants us to grow in our grasp of Christ’s love so that we will become mature, “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

~D. A. Carson~

A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1992), 196.

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John Piper – A Prayer for Your Joy

4 Mar

I pray that you will hear and follow the call to find your joy in all that God promises to be for you in Jesus. And I pray that the expulsive power of this new affection will go on freeing you from the fleeting pleasures of sin and empower you for a life of sacrificial love.

~John Piper~

Future Grace (Colorado Springs, CO; Multnomah Books; 2011) p. 15.

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Donald Whitney – Pray Continually

19 Feb


1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray continually.” While “Devote yourselves to prayer” emphasizes prayer as an activity, “Pray continually” reminds us that prayer is also a relationship. Prayer is in one sense an expression of a Christian’s unbroken relationship with the Father.

This verse, then, doesn’t mean that we do nothing but pray, for the Bible expects many other things of us besides prayer, including times of rest when we could not consciously pray. But it does mean that if talking with and thinking of God can’t be in the forefront of your mind, it should always be peeking over and ready to take the place of what you are concentrating on. You might think of praying without ceasing as communicating with God on one line while also taking calls on another. Even while you are talking on the other line, you never lose your awareness of the need to return your attention to the Lord. So praying without ceasing means you never really stop conversing with God; you simply have frequent interruptions.

~Donald Whitney~

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Spring, CO; Navpress; 1991) p. 67-68.

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Jerry Bridges – Peace Through Thanksgiving

22 Nov

The great antidote to anxiety is to come to God in prayer about everything. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Nothing’s too big for Him to handle or too small to escape His attention. Paul said we’re to come to God “with thanksgiving.” We should thank Him for His past faithfulness in delivering us from troubles. We should thank Him for the fact that He’s in control of every circumstance of our lives and that nothing can touch us that He doesn’t allow. We should thank Him that in His infinite wisdom He’s able to work in this circumstance for our good. We can thank Him that He won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).

The promised result is not deliverance, but the peace of God. One of the reasons we don’t find this peace is that all too often we won’t settle for anything other than deliverance from the trouble. But God, through Paul, promises us peace, a peace that is unexplainable. It will guard our hearts and minds against the anxiety to which you and I are so prone.

~Jerry Bridges~

Holiness: Day by Day (Colorado Springs, CO; Navpress; 2008) p. 81

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John Piper – Why Don’t We Pray More?

15 Oct

Unless I’m badly mistaken, one of the main reasons so many of God’s children don’t have a significant life of prayer is not so much that we don’t want to, but that we don’t plan to. If you want to take a four-week vacation, you don’t just get up one summer morning and say, “Hey, let’s go today!” You won’t have anything ready. You won’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned.

But that is how many of us treat prayer. We get up day after day and realize that significant times of prayer should be a part of our life, but nothing’s ever ready. We don’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned. No time. No place. No procedure. And we all know that the opposite of planning is not a wonderful flow of deep, spontaneous experiences in prayer. The opposite of planning is the rut. If you don’t plan a vacation, you will probably stay home and watch TV. The natural, unplanned flow of spiritual life sinks to the lowest ebb of vitality. There is a race to be run and a fight to be fought. If you want renewal in your life of prayer, you must plan to see it.

Therefore, my simple exhortation is this: Let us take time this very day to rethink our priorities and how prayer fits in. Make some new resolve. Try some new venture with God. Set a time. Set a place. Choose a portion of Scripture to guide you. Don’t be tyrannized by the press of busy days. We all need midcourse corrections. Make this a day of turning to prayer—for the glory of God and for the fullness of your joy.

~John Piper~

Desiring God (Wheaton, Illinois; Crossway Books; 2011) p. 182-183.

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D.A. Carson – Prayer Discloses the True State of Affairs

6 Jul

Even a little reflective acquaintance with the God of the Bible acknowledges that he is not less than utterly sovereign, and not less than personal and responsive. Correspondingly, the Bible boasts many examples of praise and adoration, and no fewer examples of intercession. Indeed, “Christian prayer is marked decisively by petition, because this form of prayer discloses the true state of affairs. It reminds the believer that God is the source of all good, and that human beings are utterly dependent and stand in need of everything.”

~D. A. Carson~

A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic; 1992) p. 31

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John Piper – Prayer and Loving Others

5 May

Fellowship with Jesus is essential to joy, but there is something about it that impels us outward, to share His life with others. A Christian can’t be happy and stingy: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Therefore, the second reason a life of prayer leads to fullness of joy is that it gives us the power to love. If the pump of love runs dry, it is because the pipe of prayer isn’t deep enough.

~John Piper~

Desiring God (Wheaton, Illinois; Crossway Books; 2011) p. 178.

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