In the third and last instalment of his series, Pastor Kong Hee elaborated on three other aspects of Jesus’ prayer life.
Three weeks ago, Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church, began teaching the church about the way Jesus prayed. This past weekend (Mar 7 and 8), in the weekend service that was held online, he gave the last three keys to Jesus’ prayer life.
PRAYER IS CONFESSION
In Matthew 6:12, the Lord’s Prayer says,“forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”. While Christians are saved by the grace of God, they are not perfect and fall into sin from time to time.
Simul justus et peccator is a Latin phrase that means “simultaneously righteous and sinner.” This implies that while God considers His believers righteous, there is still a sinful nature in them.
Reading 1 Timothy 1:15, which reads, “…that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief”, the pastor explained that when Paul wrote this, he was at the end of his ministry. The word, “am” that Paul used was in the present tense, indicating that Paul still considered himself a sinner even after accomplishing so much.
“In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is calling His followers to a life of repentance, which is very necessary for healthy, holy living,” Pastor Kong stated.
When Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church in 1517, the first statement he declared was, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘repent’ (Matt 4:17), He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” In other words, one must seek God’s forgiveness in prayer every day.
“I often use the Ten Commandments as a ‘spiritual MRI’,” described the pastor. “It is very useful for showing us where we have sinned so that we can bring it before God in prayer.”
One example he gave was the Second Commandment, “You shall not make for yourself a graven image” (Ex 20:4). Pastor Kong explained that graven images are anything that captures the attention of the mind or is a constant preoccupation. It could be a person, money, worry or an anger issue that has taken the place of God in the person’s mind.
Another example is “You shall not murder”. Pastor Kong reminded the congregation of his previous sermon, “Remember what Jesus teaches? Murder is not just the act, it is the anger in our minds and hearts. Have I been resentful or bitter towards people? Sulky in my attitude or spiteful and unkind with my words?”
“When I humble myself and bring my sins before God, asking for His forgiveness, my conscience gets a good scrub,” he elaborated. “The Holy Spirit sanitizes my heart—like how we use a hand sanitizer—and helps me to walk in a constant atmosphere of holiness. Repentance is the way we remove filth from our lives. Without repentance, real spiritual growth cannot happen. We must develop the conscious habit of confessing our sins, that’s why Jesus included it in the Lord’s Prayer.”
While repentance is important, forgiving others is equally important. Forgiving others is clear evidence that one has truly repented of his sins. “We are just imitating Jesus, because, on the cross, Jesus [forgave and prayed] for His enemies.”
Some people refuse to forgive because they are afraid of getting hurt again, noted the pastor. Yet, science has shown that holding on to anger and resentment results in stress and affects the immune system.
“Forgiveness is a choice not to suffer,” Pastor Kong pointed out. “We forgive for our own good. Sometimes the person we forgive might not even care. But we forgive because we have been forgiven by God.
“You have a choice to decide to be better or bitter, choose to be like Jesus. Not only will you feel better mentally, emotionally and physically, you will also grow spiritually in Christlikeness.”
PRAYER IS PETITION
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught His disciples to boldly ask God to “give us this day our daily bread” (Matt 6:11) Pastor Kong taught that it is important to ask in prayer, and not assume that God should know what one needs.
John 16:24 read, “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” Jesus said that when His believers ask in His name, they will receive—it is crucial to ask in the name of Jesus.
“A person’s name speaks of who he is and what he does,” Pastor Kong explained. “So whatever we pray must be in line with Jesus’ character and His finished work on the cross. Jesus loves to save, to heal and deliver; that is His character. So we must boldly ask Him to save us!”
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures,” reads James 4:3. Jesus is holy. If a person asks Him to satisfy their own unholy cravings, which is not in line with His character, God would not answer that prayer, pointed out Pastor Kong.
“Asking in Jesus’ name also means praying boldly in His authority,” the pastor said. Matt 21:22 tells believers that they must believe they will receive when they ask.
Luke 11:9 reads, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Jesus taught His disciples to ask and keep on asking. He went on to tell the parable of the widow in Luke 18:7-8, emphasizing on the need to “cry out day and night to Him”. In Jesus’ own words, that is what faith is: asking God again and again.
Pastor Kong then addressed the issue of God’s sovereignty. Some people are concerned that if they are God for a healing or a miracle, they are coming against the sovereignty of God.
Jesus, in the Gospels, healed the sick and raised the dead without considering that He was going against the sovereignty of God. He sent out His disciples to pray for healing and has commissioned Christians to do the same.
“We must pray in faith for signs and wonders to happen. But we must also always allow God to have the final say on who would receive a miracle, as well as when and how they will receive it.”
PRAYER IS ADORATION
What does it mean to adore a person? It means to deeply love the person for who he or she is. Similarly, adoring Jesus is to see how beautiful He is in Himself. It is to be in awe of His beauty and not for what He has done or can offer.
Pastor Kong explained that the things that capture a person’s thoughts and imagination rule their lives. If a person fills his heart and mind with the beauty of God, he can experience supernatural peace and have courage to go through each and every day.
“Prayer cannot merely be coming to God for His blessings and going through lists of requests,” the pastor explained. “We must be attracted to God for who He is. Prayer is a time for adoration.”
In Luke 1:46-55, Mary prayed a prayer of adoration—the Magnificat—to the Lord. She was only 14, yet every word she used was a reference to the Scriptures.
“The vocabulary of Scripture is beautiful,” said Pastor Kong. “The Bible is written with the spiritual vocabulary of heaven. When we speak the language of heaven, our words are no longer empty but are filled with spirit and life!”
The Bible even helps one to express their frustrations to God so that they can have an emotional release. In Psalms 73, the psalmist was so angry that he prayed, “This life is too painful for me” (v16), “My heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind.” (v21).
The Bible teaches how to balance the good and bad like anger and love, disappointment with hope. Believers can learn how to fully and honestly express their frustration, at the same time receive healing and courage.
“When we enter into adoration during our prayer time, worshiping with the words of the Scripture, it brings love and forgiveness, healing and humility, and inner peace into our soul. This is the power of adoration in prayer,” explained the pastor.
In conclusion, Pastor Kong urged the church to learn to pray like Jesus. “The secret to prayer is Bible meditation, which will bring us into a conversation with God. In prayer, there must be regular confession, and let’s be very bold and full of faith in our petition. But don’t forget to spend time in adoration, focusing on the beauty of Jesus.”