on Romans and prayer

We continue with our Romans series today and begin a new series on prayer.

By Whom and Among Whom (Rm 1.5-6)

Last week we completed Paul’s summary of the gospel. This week we move from doctrine to impact in human lives. The gospel is more than just intellectual theorizing; the gospel is the life-changing transformation from death to life. Paul speaks first of the gospel impact on his own life, and the lives of the apostles. God’s work is first and primarily through God-called Men. Men called by grace and sent by God carry the Message of ‘obedience of faith’, the obedience which is faith. The result is an impact on the Multitudes, those who are among the nations called by the gospel to bring glory to Christ.

The gospel of God … the gospel from God … the whole mission of Christ, extended through the apostles and God-called men of every generation is all about this: ‘among whom are ye’.

Teach Us to Pray (Lk 11.1)

When it comes to prayer, what sincere Christian is satisfied? An unnamed disciple asked the Lord, ‘teach us to pray’, after observing the Lord at prayer. The true disciple longs for vital communion with God in prayer. As we begin to consider the topic, we observe first of all our Lord Jesus Christ, our exemplar in prayer. Luke’s gospel records many situations in which the Lord is found praying – at his baptism, choosing the disciples, in private times alone, in public, in intercession, and on the cross. Our Lord’s dependence on the Father and his communion with the Father is our great example in prayer. We observe also our longing for prayer in the prayer of the disciple. Have you ever thought about this request made of the Lord? It is a prayer itself, one in keeping with the Father’s will, and one that is immediately answered (read Lk 11.1-13). The first lesson the disciple learns is learned unconsciously and spontaneously: he asks something of the Lord in the Father’s will, "teach us to pray". Last, we observe our predecessor in prayer, John the Baptist. The Lord is our example, fully man, fully dependent on the Father, but John is our predecessor, only man, and as fully dependent on the Father. J. Vernon McGee observed that this passage is the last mention of John the Baptist in the Gospels, and it marks John as a man of prayer. Prayer ought to mark our lives as well.

We closed this message with an illustration out of E. M. Bounds book, The Necessity of Prayer and a hymn by William Cowper out of the Olney Hymnal:

“A dear friend of mine who was quite a lover of the chase, told me the following story: ‘Rising early one morning,’ he said, ‘I heard the baying of a score of deerhounds in pursuit of their quarry. Looking away to a broad, open field in front of me, I saw a young fawn making its way across, and giving signs, moreover, that its race was well-nigh run. Reaching the rails of the enclosure, it leaped over and crouched within ten feet from where I stood. A moment later two of the hounds came over, when the fawn ran in my direction and pushed its head between my legs. I lifted the little thing to my breast, and, swinging round and round, fought off the dogs. I felt, just then, that all the dogs in the West could not, and should not capture that fawn after its weakness had appealed to my strength.’ So is it, when human helplessness appeals to Almighty God. Well do I remember when the hounds of sin were after my soul, until, at last, I ran into the arms of Almighty God.” — A. C. DIXON.[1]

Exhortation to Prayer by William Cowper

What various hindrances we meet
In coming to a mercy–seat?
Yet who that knows the worth of prayer,
But wishes to be often there.

Prayer makes the darkened cloud withdraw,
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;
Gives exercise to faith and love,
Brings every blessing from above.

Restraining prayer, we cease to fight;
Prayer makes the Christian’s armor bright;
And Satan trembles, when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.

While Moses stood with arms spread wide,
Success was found on Israel’s side;
But when through weariness they failed,
That moment Amalek prevailed.

Have you no words? ah, think again,
Words flow apace when you complain;
And fill your fellow–creature’s ear
With the sad tale of all your care.

Were half the breath thus vainly spent,
To heav’n in supplication sent;
Your cheerful song would oft’ner be,
Hear what the LORD has done for me. [2]


Today was a blessed day in our services with 50 in attendance. We have been a bit up and down for the last couple of months with various people away, but today almost everyone who regularly attends was there. We also had a visit from a couple who are friends of another couple in the church. Today was an encouraging day. The Lord has done great things for us this year and we look forward to whatever is in store in the coming year.

[1] Quoted in E. M. Bounds, The Necessity of Prayer, Ch. 1, from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/bounds/necessity.i.ii.html (Accessed 11.17.07).

[2] William Cowper “Exhortation to prayer.” Olney Hymnal, Hymn 60.


  1. Kent Brandenburg says:

    Nothing has been more helpful to my prayer than the model prayer.

  2. Don Johnson says:

    Well, that is next in the series, as I am sure you know. In Minnick’s series on Matthew he went phrase by phrase for a whole series of messages. Very good stuff. I won’t be taking that much time, but surely that prayer, with which we are so familiar, is often overlooked because of its familiarity.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  3. Chris Anderson says:

    Glad to hear you had an encouraging day, Don. What a joy to see the Lord build His church!