Pearl of Great Value - Matt. 13:45-46

Bible Studies, by Richard Kirby

 

A Continual Feast: The Fellowship of Prayer

 

"Phil. 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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.” 

This is a wonderful promise which, if we would but practice the wisdom it implies, would keep us always in peaceful, unbroken fellowship with God. It tells us not to be anxious about anything, but to apply to God about everything. Everything! Someone has said, “If a matter is big enough to hang a worry on, it’s big enough to take to the heavenly Father.”  There’s no one who doesn’t fret and stew sometimes; there are a million things to concern us. And that’s precisely Paul’s point. Take those million things to God. If we would consult with God about all matters of any importance and earnestly request His involvement in every situation, we would never find ourselves in an anxious state. But more than that, we would be approaching God for help and wisdom all day, every day. We would stay in fellowship with Him. 

People who pray spasmodically, only during major crises, are like people who eat and drink only on special occasions; and the rest of the time they starve themselves between feasts. When we put on Christ in Baptism it was not so we could live from feast to famine to feast again, but so that we could enjoy a continual feast, living in constant fellowship with Him and the Father. 

At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus demonstrated His constant fellowship with the Father: “So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me’” (John 11:41-42). He didn’t even have to pray out loud. He spoke aloud so that his hearers would see the connection between His prayer and what would follow. “I knew that you always hear me.” Jesus was always in fellowship with the Father. He once said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19). That was one of the secrets of His power: He consulted the Father about everything and thus stayed in constant fellowship with Him. The other secret, of course, was that He was always perfectly obedient

We don’t need to ever be disturbed by doubts and defeats if we make everything a matter of earnest prayer. 

Have you ever suddenly had the need to pray and felt far from the Lord?  It’s probably a common experience we all share. We’ve been busy or preoccupied, we’ve been unspiritual, we’ve lost our temper recently, we’ve seen unwholesome things on TV or the Internet, or we have otherwise defiled our consciences: we’ve lost our sense of connection with the Father and with Jesus. This would not occur if we prayed about everything. 

Peter agrees with Paul in this matter: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (I Pet. 5:7). What an invitation! At the throne of God Jesus says to us, “Do you have a care? Cast it on Me. Are you anxious about your health, your job, your children, world affairs, terrorism? Cast that anxiety on Me; I will take it for you because I care very much about you and your concerns.” 

To practice this discipline would require more self-awareness than most of us are used to. Often we are neither conscious of God, nor of our own feelings. Too much introspection and self-analysis can be paralyzing—the paralysis of analysis, it’s sometimes called. But if we are determined to accept this invitation to bring everything to God, and to cast every anxiety on Christ, we will have to pay closer attention to our own minds than we habitually do. Let’s ask God to make us aware of the sneaky, subtle anxieties that plague us. He will separate us from them and help us with them. I saw a sign on a desk that read, “Why worry, when you can pray?”  But that’s just it. We aren’t always aware that we are worrying.

May God help us to watch our hearts closely to identify each care, every need, so that we can take it to God in faith.  

Let me conclude by commenting on one of my favorite scriptures, Matthew chapter 11, verses 28 through 30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 

The rest Jesus is offering here is just sort of thing we have been speaking of—not a permanent end of work, but a refreshing, a rest, a relief from the burden of the day. “You are weary and burdened? Come to Me and find rest,” He is saying. Yet there is much work to be done, so “Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me...,” He says.  John tells us that “His commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:3). Indeed, all of God’s commands are for our good. 

Psalm 19:7-8: “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”  The center of God’s Will is the safest, most peaceful place in the universe. 

“I am gentle and humble in heart.” I referred earlier to the two secrets of Jesus’ power: His total submission to the will of the Father, and His constant recourse to Him in prayer. These two things will be the secret of our power and peace also. 

“You will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Submitting to the rule of Christ in our lives doesn’t mean ease or inactivity. We have to take up our cross daily; we still endure hardships as soldiers of Christ; we will often have to deny ourselves, we must always labor to enter into that final Rest. But all who, like their Master, are meek and lowly in heart, will find rest for their souls. There is no striving, no restless selfism, no anxiety, no grasping ambition; there is just a simple, humble, yielding to Christ in all things.

In such a life there can be struggles, sorrows, persecution, and loss; but in it all, the one who bears the yoke of Jesus will experience joy and rest. And along with that joy and rest, we can enjoy the perpetual feast of fellowship through prayer, a continual banquet of love and intimacy

Remember the promise of Paul that comes immediately after our text: 

Phil. 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

   

Heavenly Father, please make us aware throughout the day of all our little nagging anxieties, and give us a strategy to help us remember to bring them all to You. We want nothing so much as we want to live always in Your presence and to please You. Increase out love, increase our awareness, increase our meekness and humility. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen