The Apostle’s Prayer

Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

Turn with me in your Bibles to Hebrews chapter 13. Hebrews, James, 1&2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, Revelation … the 9th book from the end of the Bible. As Wednesday night is “Prayer Meeting” night, we have been looking at various prayers in the Bible. The early Apostles asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). With those words Jesus gave us what we today call “The Lord’s Prayer”. Though the “Lord’s Prayer” is a beautiful model of prayer, there are many prayers in the Bible. The Bible is given to us to grow us as believers. The Apostle said in

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect (ἄρτιος ártios, [pronounced ar’-tee-os] COMPLETE or MATURE AS A BELIEVER), thoroughly furnished unto all good works (we are ORDERED to do GOOD WORKS – Ephesians 2:10).

God gave the Scripture as the means by which the Christian grows into spiritual maturity. As the Word of God increases in the soul of the believer and in the life of the Church, the Gospel spreads. When “the Word of God increased … the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly (Acts 6:7). When Herod the King was destroyed by the angel of the Lord, because he gave not God the glory, “the Word of God grew and multiplied” (Acts 12:23-24). God’s Word grows us.

Are you in Hebrews 13? We will look at:

Hebrews 13:20-21 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

This is one of five prayers found in the Book of Hebrews.

What is interesting about the Book of Hebrews is that – unlike the other Apostolic writings – this Book does not tell us who it’s Author is.

Yes, I know God wrote the Book. The Apostle Peter tells us that theprophecy came not by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). The Church has long held that the Book of Hebrews was written by an Apostle, but God never told us which Apostle wrote the Book. God had a reason for this.

The early Church was persecuted for following Jesus, persecuted by both Gentiles as well as Jewish leaders. By masking the writer of this Book, God protected him from attacks from Judea and from his own family.

What can we learn from this prayer?

1. A prayer does not have to be LONG to be effective – but it mustglorify God. There are many short prayers in Scripture that God answered. There is the Prayer of Peter, when he was walking on water and started sinking:

Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30)

Jesus answered that prayer, for He reached out His hand to catch and keep Peter from drowning. There is the Prayer of Blind Bartimaeus, who asked Jesus,

Lord, let me receive my sight.” (Mark 10:51)

Or the Prayer of the Ten Lepers,

Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Luke 17:13)

Jesus Christ is LORD. He is MASTER. The Bible says:

Philippians 2:8-10 And being found in fashion as a man, {Jesus} humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, … 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus is LORD. This is the name that the Father has given to the Son. LORD. This is the name that the Spirit acknowledges is Christ’s. HE IS LORD. When we confess Him LORD, we give glory to God the Father.

Our prayers must glorify God – not ourselves. It must glorify His limitless Grace, and our unbounding weakness. When the Pharisee prayed in the Temple he prayed:

Luke 18:11-12 … God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

The Pharisee glorified himself in the prayer – not God. The Publican, however prayed:

God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13)

We can pray and ask many things of God – children often ask their parents for things which they ought not have, things which the loving parent will never grant. And yet, God does not mind our asking it – though He will not grant it if it does not glory Him and benefit the supplicant. In the Apostle’s prayer today, he prays to {God} be glory for ever and ever. Every prayer should glorify God! One of the shortest prayers in the Bible is one our Jesus prayed in:

John 12:28 Father, glorify Thy Name.

The Father answered Jesus immediately. He said, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again”. The prayer that glorifies God will be answered, for God will glorify His Name.

2. Prayer that God honors must be true to the teachings of the Scripture. God will not honor prayer that does not honor His Word. Notice how the Apostle weaves Scripture truth into his prayer.

Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant..

There is a lot of Bible in this prayer! Our God is the God of peace. It is God Who initiates peace between us and Him – though He Himself is the aggrieved party. God made peace with us by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to this earth to die for our sins. The Apostle wrote earlier:

Hebrews 13:12-13 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

God sanctif[ied] or set us apart from the lost world by shedding of His own blood. Jesus willing suffered without the gate. This means He stepped out of His comfort zone, and went outside the gates of Jerusalem to a garbage dump called Golgotha to make payment for our sins. Jesus went to a place outside of the civilized world to give Himself for us. We should be willing to remain sanctified or set apart from the lost world, as Jesus was and is.

The shedding of blood without the gate is what makes us right with God. We read:

Romans 5:1-2 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

We have “peace with God” not because we are worthy, but because Jesus Christ took our condemnation on Himself.

He bore the blows that we should have received for sin. We honor God by receiving Christ as Savior.

John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Those without Christ cannot pray and expect anything from God – unless their prayer is to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. When we affirm what God has declared, that

1 Peter 2:24 … {Jesus} Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by Whose stripes ye were healed.

Jesus died for us. But He not only died, but rose from the grave.

Hebrews 13:20 the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus

It is God the Holy Spirit Who caused Christ to become incarnate – made of flesh. The Angel said to Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35). The Spirit gave Jesus flesh. The FATHER resurrected Jesus from the dead. In Acts 2:24, Peter preached “God raised Jesus from the dead. And we are told in

Galatians 1:1 … God the Father, who raised {Jesus} from the dead …

The Bible also says that Jesus raised Himself from the dead (John 2:9; 10:18). God raised Christ from the dead. Jesus is the acceptable sacrifice for our sins. But Jesus is also:

Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant..

the great shepherd of the sheep as well as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus Christ is our Sacrifice, but He is also our Savior and Lord. He lives to lead us as His people. We are saved by the blood of the everlasting covenant. Jesus as perfect Man died for us. Jesus as perfect Man paid for our sins. Jesus as perfect Man was raised from the grave. But Jesus as GOD leads us. His Blood is eternal. Because of Christ, we who are saved are in an everlasting covenant.

3. Prayer that God honors brings requests according to God’s will. We read:

Hebrews 13:21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Word Study: The verb rendered Make you perfect is the Greek καταρτίζω katartízō, {pronounced kat-ar-tid’-zo}. It doesn’t mean to make perfect, but to bring to a state of usefulness. We see the verb used in

Matthew 4:21 …. mending {katartízō} their nets

for fishermen restoring their nets to what they originally were meant to be. The word is used by Paul in:

1 Corinthians 1:10 … I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together {katartízō} in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Where the Church is called into unity in Christ.

The word {katartízō} means to be restored to what you should have been, to be completed, or made fit or able.

Believers are called to work TOGETHER for the glory of God. God’s people are called to do all of God’s will, doing good toward God and those around us for the glory of Christ’s Kingdom. We do not belong to this world, but to Eternity. Again we read:

Hebrews 13:14-16 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. 15 By {Jesus} therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

The Apostle’s Prayer is that the Church not just HEAR the Word of God, but DO it, knowing that – though it be unpopular on this earth – we do not belong to this earth.

The commentator Arthur W. Pink writes:

…a man cannot be a good Christian without doing God’s will. If it be God’s will that he should restrain from an act or practice, he dare not proceed to do it: see Jeremiah 35:6; Acts 4:19. On the other hand, if it be the revealed mind of God that he should do something, he dare not omit it, no matter how it cross his inclination or fleshly interests: “To him that knoweth to do good, and doth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). It is not enough that we thoroughly understands the will of God: we must do it; and the more we do it, the better shall we understand: John 7:17.”

The Apostle prayed that the Church would learn to DO God’s will – and in so doing, we learn more of God. Jesus said:

John 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

The Apostle is praying that Christ’s Church would be busy to do our Lord’s Will. He prayed that God would …

Hebrews 13:21 Make you {complete} in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ;

that the Church would work together to do good works as God defines good works, and that every work of the Church would be well pleasing in his sight. We are called to please our Lord in our individual lives. We are called to please the Lord by the outward works we produce for Him. We are reminded daily that our God is the Silent Witness of all we do or don’t do. The Scripture says:

Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.

As His Church, as His People, let us live …

1 Thessalonians 2:4 … not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

Let us …

Colossians 1:10 … walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God

God expects our loving labor for Him. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 14:6). The faith that saved is is a “faith that worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6). The Apostle’s prayer is that the Church BE the Church, BE the Lighthouse of God in a dark and doomed world. While there is life in us, let us live for our God, serving Him “acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28).

May God touch our hearts to do so, especially in these dark days of America. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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