Sunday School Lesson - The Fervent Prayer
Today we greet a brand new year and in many ways this could be a new start.
It is a time for resolutions if you will to begin bringing about in our lives improvements, hopefully those things which will bring us in our walk closer to God.
All children want to grow.
Whenever we have an annual family gathering at our house all the children gather at that special kitchen pantry door and say to Grandma or Grandpa, Please measure me and see how much I’ve grown since last time.
That door is filled with a family history of growth and it should be just as great or more to desire growth in the Lord.
And that desire ought to extend to the matter of prayer for we as the Body of Christ are to function by a constant connection to the Head of the Body, our Lord Jesus Christ.
For a body not in touch with the head is a confused, non-directed body, a body without proper control or direction, a body which cannot fulfill the will of the Head.
It is a body crippled and disabled.
So God demonstrates by our body being intimately connected to our head that same need for an intimate connection with Jesus Christ who is our Head and therefore he tells us in:
James 5:16, The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Please note, the use of the singular word “prayer” and the singular word “man.”
God is telling us that one prayer, prayed by one person, can be exceedingly powerful.
It is not the number of prayers that we pray nor the number of pray-ers, as though the quantity of our prayers or the quantity of pray-ers moves God.
But the emphasize of James is twofold: Fervency and righteousness.
God is looking to answer prayer from those who are right before Him.
God delights in the prayers of His people, but prayer is not a work of man that moves God to action due to the volume or intensity of our efforts.
James is telling us that one righteous man or one woman, privately praying in his or her closet, may effectively bring about great intervention from God.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines fervent: to be hot, to boil, to glow, to swell with heat, to ferment, to swarm as bees whose motions resemble the boiling of water.
It means ardent, very warm, earnest; excited, animated, glowing.
The word fervent is only used in the New Testament and only used seven times.
It is translated from Greek words meaning, to be hot, to have zeal or ardor, to be intent, without ceasing, to set on fire.
The word fervently is used twice, both in the New Testament, and translated from Greek words meaning agonizing, or intently.
Let us read Acts 2:1-4 to get an understanding of this, And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now the Day of Pentecost brought a new thing.
It brought the indwelling of the Holy Spirit into the heart of believers on a continuous basis.
But notice the picture that God paints of the coming of the Holy Spirit.
It is a picture of fire.
The cloven tongue of fire sat upon each of those who were filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The Holy Spirit comes as a fire, to dwell in us; we are to be baptized, with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
God has given this picture to show what he expects from his children.
For he expects a fervency, a boiling of soul, a servant on fire to do the will of God.
The receiving of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit is to put us on fire for God.
There is no excuse then for being lukewarm for God has seen to it to give us his Spirit.
As a dead body is cold, those without his Spirit will ever be cold, but those yielded to his Spirit will be hot and on fire for God.
A dead body can only be warmed externally but those indwelt by God’s Spirit are warmed internally in the heart.
If we yield ourselves to God’s Spirit we will have fervency for God.
God dwells in a flame; the Holy Spirit descends in fire.
We are to be absorbed in God’s will.
We are to be so greatly in earnest about doing God’s will that our whole being takes fire.
That is the condition of men or women who occupy themselves in effective prayer.
For God wants warm-hearted servants.
Prayer without fervor is casual or ritualistic prayer that places no value on the answer to the request.
Prayer without fervor is prayer that is so general that it cannot be told whether God answers or not.
Prayer without fervor cares not if the answer appears to be no.
Prayer without fervor is letting go of God when God says let me go.
But fervor hangs on to God like a super glue and God is pleased to bless that kind of resolve.
Prayer without fervor is the slack hand that becometh poor.
Fervor-less prayer has no heart in it.
It is an empty thing.
It is an unfit vessel.
As a blacksmith waits for the iron to be red hot in order to form a usable instrument God is looking for pray-ers that are red hot.
From those kind of pray-ers he can form an instrument that he can use for his glory.
It is the fervent prayer, the boiling prayer that God is waiting to answer.
The fervent prayer is the prayer that is effective and prevails.
As a blacksmith does not work cold iron God does not work the cold iron of the soul.
Coldness of Spirit freezes out petitions and supplications for prayer only rises by heat.
Someone has said that: Heaven is a mighty poor market for ice.
Jesus Christ said in Luke 18:1, Men ought always to pray, and not to faint. (to be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, exhausted)
He said this as he introduced the parable of the widow who continually faced the unjust judge.
She would not let go of the judge until he granted her request.
In other words she would not faint from her request.
She would not be weak, she would not fail in heart from her request.
She was fervent in her asking and refused to take no for an answer.
She intended to prevail.
Fervency is that quality to carry us through a long period of pleading prayer.
Don’t let go.
There are many things around you that will say Let go, many forces that cry out to you to let go but fervency should cry the louder to keep on keeping on in prayer.
It takes fire of the soul to keep on keeping on in prayer.
Look at some of the great Bible characters who displayed fervency of spirit when seeking God.
The Psalmist declares with great fervency in Psalm 119:20:
“My soul breaketh (is crushed) for the longing that it hath unto Thy judgments at all times.”
And in Psalm 42:1-2, As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?
What strong desires of heart are displayed here!
What earnest longings for the Word of the living God!
David declares in Psalm 38:9, “Lord, all my desire is before Thee; and my groaning is not hid from Thee.”
David tells us that our inward groanings, our secret desires, the longings of our heart are not hidden from the eyes of Him with whom we have to deal in prayer.
Fervency is not prayer but it comes from an earnest and sincere soul and is precious in the sight of God.
Fervency comes from the heart not in the head
Fervency is not an expression of the intellect.
It is not in our power, to create fervency of spirit at will, but we can pray that God will implant it.
It is never out of place to pray for God to plant fervency within us, and for Him to keep alive the spirit of fervent prayer.
If we desire at all we desire something.
How much we desire it, is the temperature of our fervency.
In this regard, Adoniram Judson, the great missionary, said:
“A travailing spirit, the throes of a great burdened desire, belongs to prayer. A fervency strong enough to drive away sleep, which devotes and inflames the spirit, and which retires all earthly ties, all this belongs to wrestling, prevailing prayer. The Spirit, the power, the air, and food of prayer is in such a spirit.”
Christians who are fervent in spirit strive to attain righteousness, truth, grace, and all other Biblical graces which God has predestinated to clothe the character of His children.
In Romans 15:30, Paul uses the word “strive,” as he requested the Romans to cooperate with him in prayer.
Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;
In Colossians 4:12, we have the same word, but translated differently: “Epaphras always laboring fervently for you in prayer.”
Paul charged the Romans to “strive together with him in prayer,” that is, to help him in his struggle of prayer.
The word means to enter into a contest, to fight against adversaries.
Strive together with him in prayer means to engage with fervent zeal to endeavor to obtain.
This is what our prayer time together on Saturday morning is about.
We strive together with our Pastor in our prayers for the ministry that God has raised up and the needs of the body of Christ in doing His work.
Fervent prayer is a time of wrestling with God.
A work of the Lord which does not operate by prayer might as well operate by the best business practices the world can provide and forget about thinking they are doing God’s work!
But this ministry strives to operate by prayer and only by answered prayer this ministry continues!
There are needs, every day needs, and needs for the future.
There are needs to bring before the Lord concerning the services on Sunday, and Wednesday, the Bible class this morning.
There are great needs for all of the various ministries the Lord has raised up here and other places.
We are servants of the Lord and we are to go to the Lord with a fervent spirit seeking His hand in the various aspects of the work.
Unless you know the need in a personal and specific way it is hard to have a fervent spirit concerning the need.
That is why it is so important to get to know the details of the ministries here, and to know the details of the work of the missionaries that we support.
That is why you need to know where the Lord desires to take you in your personal growth in Jesus Christ.
Be personally acquainted with your need to grow in Christian graces which manifest themselves in the fruit of the Spirit.
How fervent we can become when our child becomes deathly ill!
Is that because we are so intimately acquainted with the need?
I think that is so.
We are to pray for fervency of heart but we are to do our part, and let God do His part.