Jesus’ message was this: “The Kingdom of God is at hand!”
What was the nature of this Kingdom? Was it a fractured organization, like the kingdoms of men? Or, was there an undivided unity, unbreakable, indissoluble, a living organism of power?
Jesus on Prayer
Dr. Luke describes a private session with the Twelve where Jesus repeated His instructions on prayer first given in the Sermon on the Mount. He again prescribes what we call the Lord’s Prayer. In this setting, Jesus went on to teach the necessity of unity of mind and purpose when we pray.
An undivided purpose will help us continue in prayer, even when answers are delayed. This purposeful repetition is based on the sterling character of God. Persistence in prayer will get the answer. Three steps unite the one praying in this persistence:
“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.”
Great promises are given to those whose unity of purpose causes them to persist in prayer.
“For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds,
and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
If even flawed earthly fathers know how to give good things to their children,
“…how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Effective prayer comes from a unified, undivided heart full of confidence in the power and grace of God.
An old accusation returns.
The default position of the religious leaders who opposed Jesus to explain the power of Jesus over evil spirits was that He was secretly allied with them. Jesus and Satan were on the same side. Nonsense! But it was all they had.
Jesus cast a demon from a man who lost his powers of speech to the hellish invader. When suddenly the man could speak, the multitude marveled at the miracle. Then the powerless leaders accused Jesus of being in league with the devil. Jesus answered the tired charge:
“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?
There was no answer to this, of course. So Jesus elaborated, unmasking a tactic of demonic activity—once expelled, a demon will return to their former host. If that soul is clean but empty, he and some friends move back in with even greater force.
The divided kingdom of priests, Levites, Pharisees, and Sadducees was no match for the undivided Kingdom of God.
“…if I cast out demons with the finger of God,
surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
When the Kingdom of God comes upon us, prayers are answered in response to our undivided, persistent prayers of faith. The Lord’s brother, James, who would pastor the Jerusalem church in the years to come, echoed the emphasis of Jesus on praying with an undivided heart. The man who prays from a divided mind will not see answers to his prayers. (James 1:5-8)
Beware of the Empty Heart
When we have been cleansed by Calvary’s stream, we must welcome the Holy Spirit into our hearts to take up residence there. If we let our hearts run on empty, this is Satan’s opportunity. If we continually fill our hearts with the truth and presence of the Almighty, Satan will have no access to them.
Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.” And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. “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. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute. So it was, when the demon had gone out, that the mute spoke; and the multitudes marveled. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.” Others, testing Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven. But He, knowing their thoughts, said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? Because you say I cast out demons by Beelzebub. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”
Lord Jesus, give me an undivided heart! You are the Stronger Man! You guard my heart, keeping me from evil. With an undivided heart, I will pray. “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.” Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever! Amen.
We Are One in the Spirit
We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord.
We are one in the Spirit, We are one in the Lord.
And we pray that our unity will this day be restored.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.
Yes, they’ll know we are Christian by our love.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.