Understanding God's Outrageous & Extravagant Love, the Foundation For Effective Prayer
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scriptures: Luke 11:1-13
Sunday 12th June 2016
As we continue our series on prayer, titled ‘Protocol for Effective Prayer’, today’s message ‘Understanding God’s Outrageous and Extravagant Love, the Foundation for Effective Prayer’ will enable us to better understand and appreciate the Lord’s prayer which we discussed briefly last week.
Again, let’s read our foundation scripture for this series, from Luke 11:1-13, which reads: “Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Jesus said, “This is how you should pray: “Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. Give us each day the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation.” Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (NLT).
Our foundation scriptures give us a profound insight into the protocol for effective prayer. Having watched Jesus pray and arrived at a conclusion that the success of his ministry was directly related to his prayer life, one of his disciples asked him to teach them to pray. Verse 1 alludes to the fact that John taught his disciples to pray, which bible historians have researched to most likely be the eighteen prayers of the Jews recited at the third, sixth and ninth hour of the day. It may also be, according to bible historians, that this disciple who requested to be taught how to pray was not around when Jesus taught about this prayer on the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in Matthew 6.
Instead of following the traditional style of prayer, Jesus decided to approach prayer from a different perspective. He introduced his disciples to God, as their Father. The NIV translation put it this way: He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come’” (Luke 11:2). By introducing the concept of the Fatherhood of God to them, he was presenting to them a precious relationship that had the potential of changing their paradigm on prayers. It is a concept that many of us as believers still struggle to fully comprehend. Down the generations we, like the disciples, have been introduced to the Sovereignty of God, in the various names of God recorded in the Old Testament. God is Elohim at creation. He introduced Himself as El-Shaddai (Almighty) to Abraham, and as Yahweh (the Lord) to Moses.
Here are a few other names of God in the Old Testament: Adonai-Jehovah (Sovereign Lord), El-Elyon (the Lord most High), El-Olam (the everlasting God), Jehovah-Jireh (the Lord our Provider), Jehovah-Nissi (the Lord our Banner), Jehovah-Ropheka (the Lord our Healer), Jehovah Shalom (the Lord our Healer), Jehovah Tsidkenu (the Lord our Righteousness), Jehovah-Sabaoth (the Lord of Host), Jehovah Shammah (the Lord is Present), Jehovah Eloheenu (the Lord our God) and much more. All these divine names for God represent the various ways in which He had revealed Himself to the Israelites in the past. However, Jesus took this further by introducing the disciples to God as our Father, established on His love for us.
Once we begin to see God as our Father, it changes our perception of who He is and our attitude towards Him. Secondly, our confidence is ignited, and a strong desire to approach Him is established. Thirdly, the undeniable answers to our prayers is assured, even believing that He would bless us with much more than we could ask or think. Suddenly, we begin to appreciate that the battles of life that we face can be won, because the victory has been assured with our Father beside us all the way. Besides the victory that we have in God, we also have the assurance of divine blessings, protection, favour and so much more. The Message translation of John 3:1 gives us an insight into the profound love that God has for us. ‘What marvellous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are’.
God’s love for us is reflected in His care for us. Deuteronomy 1:31 reads; ‘And you saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you travelled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place’ (NLT). His affection for us is revealed in Galatians 4:6-7, which reads: ‘And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir’. Understanding that God is Abba, Father gives us a sense of closeness, confidence and warmth that a child enjoys from his parents when he calls out to them. God’s desire to give to us is underscored in James 1:17; ‘Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow’. God always gives us the best as His children. Whenever He disciplines us, it is always for our good. Here is Hebrews 12:10, which read: ‘For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness’ (NLT).
The necessity of persisting in prayer, which we examined extensively in last week’s sermon is followed by these words in Luke 11:9-10: ‘“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened’ (NLT). It is God’s way of reiterating His love for us. Whenever we ask, seek or knock, He will always respond to us. God’s mind is already made up about us. His love towards us is extravagant and overflowing. Ephesians 2:4-6 in the Amplified translation put it this way: ‘But God—so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us, even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation). And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One'. Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, arrest, humiliation, torture, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and ascension and authority in Heaven, is all a reflection of God’s outrageous and extravagant love for us. Here is the reason why St. Paul wrote in Romans 8:32-33 : ‘If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?’ (MSG).
Let’s round up today’s message with four ways in which God’s love for us transforms us. In approaching God who loves us; (a) Firstly, it gives us Boldness and Confidence: Hebrews 4:15-16 encourages us to approach the throne of God with boldness, knowing we would obtain mercy and grace at all times. (b) Secondly, it takes away every anxiety and sense of unworthiness: Luke 12:6-7 reminds us that of God’s constant provision for the sparrows, worth five for two copper coins. If the sparrows are taken care of by God, He will undoubtedly embrace, esteem and provide for all our needs. (c) Thirdly, it triggers faith with us: Hebrews 11:6 underscores for us that without faith, it is impossible to please God. Our faith is predicated on God’s love for us. (d) Lastly, it assures us of answered prayers: Luke 11:11-13 reminds us that God is a loving God, who desires to give all that we need.
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