Thought for the Week - 15th SeptemberPastor Gareth Watkins
Romans 8: 26-27
A piano has many keys, but is only ever any good when somebody can play it. Someone can mess about with the keys, but it’ll only play a nice tune when someone comes along who can actually play it. That’s a bit like a human life in God’s hands. Our lives will only accomplish the things God wants us to do in His hands. We won’t accomplish those things outside of Him. We need to be led by Him and He will accomplish in us the life He wants to obtain for us.
It’s an incredible thought – God wants to do something in this world, in this time that we’re alive, within our lives, and outwork it through us! We need to be led.
In ourselves, we will make a mess. We are not the leaders. We are to be led by the Holy Spirit of God. We are not to go in front, or change God’s mind, or put obstacles in the way. But we are to learn to bow the knee to the will of God, and to be trained up by the Holy Spirit. It’s something that’s rare! We’re being trained by the Holy Spirit.
A good example is to look at a life of a Christian regarding their prayer life. Do all Christians pray? How often do they pray? Do they pray the Lord’s Prayer and that’s it? Do they pray different prayers that take time? Do they pray for their family and that’s it? What do people do in terms of their prayer life? In terms of being trained up by God, surely there’s more to go if you’re going to be led by the Holy Spirit in the aspect of praying?
If we think of prayer life as one aspect of being trained up and led by the Holy Spirit, there’s corporate prayer, where people come together as a body of believers to pray for bigger subjects – world leaders, local church, Sunday schools, and the life of God within the church. Bigger rather than the individual subject. Does the Holy Spirit lead in that sort of way? Intercessory prayer, where there’s a deep groaning and a feeling of God’s heart for a particular subject. Surely there has to be a leading that we must following on with. Most Christians don’t know how to pray. Of those that do, only some would go into the deeper places of intercession. Only handfuls of people go into that place.
If we’re going to be led by the Holy Spirit, we have to let Him lead. That subject shows us how people are being trained by God or not. People can say they’re going on with God, but are they? Are you going on with God in such a way? Prayer in this context is something that God will take us on into through a communion, through our communication with God. It reflects a two way relationship that we have with Him. It’s something we need to learn and keep on learning. It’s a consistent development.
Prayer is very contested. If you were to say you’ll pray every night at 6:30pm, you’ll find out how difficult that is. Similarly, every week when it comes to prayer meeting, something will try to knock you out of that time, to rob that space – invade your thoughts, make you feel unwell, something natural – all sorts of things will come in to try to rob that space from being led by God in that time. Prayer is something we need to learn.
In the verses above, Paul starts off with various points about prayer. We read:
“for we do not know what we should pray”
We need to be led. In a natural sense, we don’t know what we should pray. What we need is the Holy Spirit to lead us into an understanding of how we should pray. This is just one subject – I’m trying to give an example of being led by the Holy Spirit by the way of the prayer life that we should have. But we don’t know how to pray. So we need the Holy Spirit to show us what we should be praying for.
Paul makes some important points. He says that God knows that we have a weakness. What is our weakness? Our weakness is our sin, our selfishness, our desire to do our own thing, and our stubbornness. We may feel we’re unworthy. We may feel that we’re not important enough to pray. There are weaknesses built into us that are sinful, that are just coming through our nature whether we like it or not. God has called us from where we are – a natural man, born in sin – and He calls us to pray. Yet this thing is much contested and is robbed from us. We call that a weakness. We have a weakness.
The Holy Spirit – if we’re led by the Holy Spirit – will help us in our weakness. For a start He’ll convict us. He’ll speak to us and prompt us that we should be praying. We’ll know in ourselves that we should be praying. I know I have to pray every morning. I get up early to pray and read my bible, otherwise I would be neglecting that thing that I’m called to do. If someone comes to the house early or something disturbs the process, I feel guilty all day. It’s almost like a conviction that comes within me that this is something I should do, and that God wants me to do. And something has robbed it. Things come. God convicts us and shows us. He speaks to us through the bible and through others. The Holy Spirit will lead us through our weaknesses.
We need so much guidance from God. We need guidance from God in what we’re about and how we live. Because of our weaknesses and our need for guidance, God is good. God, knowing these things, sends us the Holy Spirit to lead us and to guide us in this subject of prayer. It could be another subject. It could be in terms of our faith, giving of our collection, it could be any number of different subjects. We’re meant to pray.
I love people hearing people praying! Some people use lovely words and recall different scriptures, but it’s just words. Other people get up and pray, and you just enter into the presence of God straight away. It’s not necessarily the words they use, it’s what’s in them coming out of that connection to God. You can feel it. You know that person has brought you in that prayer right into the atmosphere of the Holy Spirit. Someone else could have spoken marvellous prayers, but this person brings you right into the company of God Almighty Himself. And yet I’m needing to be led into that place. I need to be led into the room, because I could have been too tired to go. I needed to be led into the Holy Spirit and presence of God. Because we have weaknesses.
Prayer can catapult us into the presence of God. Why? To accomplish what God wants in you by way of the Holy Spirit. God wants the Holy Spirit to come into you, to lead you in the way that He wants you to go. If all the while you’re busy trying to lead yourself, then this leadership of God is going to be pushed to one side. This gift of the Holy Spirit as a helper and comforter, will be pushed to one side.
God says there’s no limit to what you can do through the Holy Spirit and God Himself. This is not for the big people, the well-off people, the educated people and those who’ve been in the church for a long time. This is for those who’ve been called by God. Who’ve been born again and led by the Holy Spirit. God Himself through the Holy Spirit will give you the ability to accomplish that what He’s got in you. It’s not for those who might have two degrees in Theology or brought up in a nice Christian family. This is for those who know Christ as saviour and have then been led by the Holy Spirit.
There’s no limit. There’s no limit to what God can do in your life.
There’s no ministry that comes out of our church without prayer. There’s not one single ministry, whether it’s children or outreach that will flourish without our prayer life. Where there’s personal prayer and corporate prayer. We need to be learning to be led by the Holy Spirit in terms of our prayer life. We all need to learn to be led in such a way. To learn to pray needs the leading of the Holy Spirit. We have to open ourselves up to such a prayer that moves us in such a way that brings a change in spiritual places. We need to find a prayer that engages with God in such a way that heaven moves. It’s not just about saying nice words.
Evan Roberts, who led the Welsh Revival, uttered terrible groans as the pressure of his own prayers that the Holy Spirit laid on him. He couldn’t even speak properly as a result of these prayers; all he could do was groan as it came out of him, as the pressure of the prayer for the Welsh Revival was breaking inside of him. Because of what God did and led through the Holy Spirit in his life, out of him came this revival, that resulted in hundreds and thousands of Welsh people were saved.
To be a working man, like he was, wasn’t acceptable in the church in those days – you had to be part of the tradition. This man was called out from the working classes to lead this Welsh Revival. Natural man doesn’t accept the spiritual life. The natural person that we are, doesn’t accept the spiritual life. The natural man doesn’t receive these things of God, it’s the spiritual man that God has built into us that receives this type of detail. So to be led by God, it’s the spiritual aspect that needs to grow, and the natural sinful man needs to be left behind for us to grow. The natural man will be too tired, won’t be bothered, and will have bigger barns to build. Natural man has to leave these things behind to be led by the Holy Spirit Himself.
1 Corinthians 2: 12-14
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Paul shows us there are two sources of spiritual life. There’s a spirit of the world, the spirit of this age. We don’t want to be receiving of this – we’ve received enough of this growing up and in our adult life. What we need to be looking for, as we’re led of the Holy Spirit, is the life of the Spirit that is from God. We need to be receiving from that life of the Spirit that is from God. There are two sources: the worldly source and the spiritual source that is based on the Holy Spirit of God.
Do we think enough about that? When we read, watch TV, learning a course – what are we actually taking in? There’s a natural, worldly, philosophical man. But all these things need to change, because in this matter the only thing that matters is the spiritual word that comes from God Himself. That we may know the things that have been given to us by God. We don’t know anything of ourselves. Of ourselves we can’t help ourselves.
For example, I know of a man who is fed up of living. I can’t say anything at all that would help that man really. But what I can do is take him to Christ who’ll give him the Holy Spirit that will change all the things that have been given to him, into other things that have been given to him by God. These things won’t be an education in man’s wisdom, but they will be the Holy Spirit things that will lead him into life, a new life on this earth, and a life that will go on into eternity. Natural man does not receive these things. Two sources of spiritual life.
When a man begins his Christian life, he’s drawn by God, he becomes born again and then comes the point he chooses whether or not to be led by the Holy Spirit. A man needs to be led by the Holy Spirit. He needs to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. He needs everything that God will give him to be led in such a way.
Our sinful nature will kick against it. Life will kick against it. We’re going to have to continually struggle and fight against our own selves, this natural man, this worldly man, who will pop up time and time again as we go along. Because we want to go on.
In 1 Corinthians 8: 2 we read:
2 And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.
This is a scripture that refers to how we think of things as educated people, or people who’ve been brought up in this world. If we think we know everything, we actually know nothing. This passage is referring, I would say, to our natural man. There comes a point where education can make us proud, like money can make us proud, like beauty can make us proud. If we think we know everything, the world has put such a clamp on us that we actually know nothing.
If anyone wants to follow God, we have to undo the reasoning that can be sitting in our background. We need to bow our knee. The only way we’ll know anything is by being led. We need to be led by the Holy Spirit, through the different aspects that come to our lives. When it comes to our education, and our desires in this life, it has to be Spirit led. Christ died an agonising death that this transition will occur. That we can look to Him and find this gateway unto this new life. It starts by looking at Him. It doesn’t start by us looking to our own sources, our own abilities, our own desires, it starts by looking to Him and saying “Lord this is my life, take my life, and let me engage with you in my spiritual life.”
Those who want to follow Christ must learn to be led by the Holy Spirit.