As the Bible calls everyone to a life of righteousness, the question arises: how do we do so practically? Pastor Bobby Chaw explains that the source of transformation is prayer.
On the weekend of Feb 27 and 28, City Harvest Church’s executive pastor, Bobby Chaw preached on the importance of prayer and how prayer helps one grow into Christlikeness.
Referencing recent sermons that CHC’s senior pastor Kong Hee has been preaching, Pastor Bobby reminded the church that the Bible calls Christians to grow into Christlikeness, both through mortification and vivification. “As we learn to do both, we can grow and learn to be more like Jesus,” he explained.
“So the question boils down to this: practically, how do we die to sin (mortification) and live in righteousness (vivification)?”
Pointing to the Book of Luke, Pastor Bobby noted that this Gospel was particularly interesting as Luke emphasised the humanity of Christ, showing Christians how to live out human life. An example is Luke 2:40, which records that Jesus was born as a baby and eventually grew stronger. The transformation into Christlikeness was a process of daily choosing to die to sin and live in righteousness (Lk 9:23).
“This process begins at the place of prayer,” the pastor preached. “Something always happens when you pray.” He went on to examine three different prayers that Jesus made in the final week of His time on Earth and encouraged the church to learn from them.
“FATHER, NOT MY WILL, BUT YOURS BE DONE”
“When you face temptation and betrayal in life; when you’re disappointed; when your heart is broken, what should you do?” Pastor Bobby asked. “Pray! Because transformation happens when you pray.”
On the very night that Jesus was to be betrayed, He prayed (Lk 22:40-43). “Prayer is not changing God’s will to our whims and fancies, but it is aligning your thoughts, desires and intentions with His will,” he explained. In prayer, one wrestles with God and submits to His will. It is also in prayer when one gives to God all of his wrong thoughts—such as thoughts of retaliation or adultery—and submits them to Jesus.
Pastor Bobby goes on to comment that Jesus, being fully human, was abandoned and deserted by His closest friends. “He would have felt frustrated and disappointed, perhaps even angry,” the pastor extrapolated. “Yet the Bible says three times that Jesus prayed, ‘Not My will, but Yours be done”. This shows that choosing to submit to God is not a one-time event—one has to do it on a daily basis.
However, the pastor acknowledged that this is hard to achieve. “It is impossible without the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in your life,” he said. “That’s why you must come to the place of prayer.”
“FATHER, FORGIVE THEM”
Luke 23:33 records that when Jesus was on the cross, despite being tortured and crucified by the soldiers, He prayed for them.
“In fact, Jesus taught the disciples to always pray for their enemies,” (Lk 6:27) Pastor Bobby taught. It is hard to pray for those who mistreat and hurt you but Pastor Bobby reminded the church that they can turn to Jesus in prayer, and He will fight with them (Rom 12:19).
On how one should pray for his enemies, the pastor explained that instead of praying for retribution, a believer should pray in the way that he wants others to pray for him.
In Matthew 7, Jesus taught His disciples how to pray and he concluded His teaching with v12, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” This means that if a person wants others to pray for their provision and good health, that is how he should pray for his enemies.
“When you do that, the Holy Spirit will work in your life. Transformation always happens when you pray,” the pastor reiterated.
“FATHER, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT”
Luke 23:46 records the last prayer Jesus made at His final moments on the cross which quoted Psalm 31:5, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.“
The pastor taught the congregation that the word “commit” in the Psalm means to entrust to someone for safekeeping, care and protection. When Jesus made that prayer, He was entrusting His entire life and destiny into God’s Hands.
“When you encounter deathly situations, pray and surrender your life to the Father,” encouraged Pastor Bobby. He explained that every failure in life is a form of death: when a person has a heart failure; when one experiences a marriage failure—there is death of a body or a relationship. When one encounters such failures, one is unable to see his future.
“Jesus is showing us that when you are in such a situation, pray! Commit yourself to the Lord,” he said.
Reading John 10:29, the pastor showed that when one commits their life and their destiny to the Father, no failure or death will be able to take them out of His hand. He reinforced his message that when one comes to the end of himself, there is only one thing to do: to surrender and commit his life fully to Christ.
He told the story of Horatio Spafford, a successful lawyer and businessman who wrote the classic hymn “It Is Well With My Soul”. In 1871, his young son died of pneumonia, and much of his business was lost in the Great Chicago Fire. Two years later, the ship that was carrying his wife and children to Europe collided with another ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Only his wife survived the shipwreck. When she arrived in Europe, she wrote to him asking him what should she do.
Spafford boarded the next available ship to join his wife in Europe. When his ship was passing over the place where his children drowned, Spafford wrote the words, “Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.”
Pastor Bobby echoed, “’What shall I do?’ Maybe this is a question that is ringing in many of our hearts.” Jesus gave His followers a picture of what to do when all seemed lost: like Jesus, believers are to pray, “Father, into Your Hands, I commit my life.”
In closing, Pastor Bobby shared that, following the sermons on the nine fruits of the Spirit, many church members had asked if cultivating all the nine is possible. “You must understand that God will not ask us to do something that we cannot do, or ask us to experience something that cannot be experienced,” he encouraged the church. “We have the ability to grow and develop all the fruits of the spirit. However, we must give time to prayer to be transformed to be more and more like Christ.”