By Nathan Jones
What advice does Jude offer to spiritually body-build our prayer life?
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" TWave Radio episode, Pastor Vic Batista of Miami's Calvary Chapel Aventura and I will continue our study of the little book of Jude from a prophetic perspective.
Jude, Training in Spiritual Bodybuilding (Verses 20-23)
Vic Batista: In our previous segment we ended with verses 16-19: "These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage." Jude was explaining how false teachers and counterfeit Christians would plague the Church for the purpose of causing division, distraction, and eventual destruction.
In this segment, Jude is going to contrast the behavior of these evil people to the behavior of those who are saved by Jesus Christ. He is going to address the saint's spiritual bodybuilding.
Nathan Jones: Jude in trying to protect his churches from false teachers and will now teach them spiritual bodybuilding. When we engage in the spiritual disciplines, believers in Christ can discern and counter the tactics of the Enemy, as well as protect ourselves. And so, in verses 20-23 Jude provides the follow advice.
"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh."
Vic Batista: That's powerful advice! There's a lot of meat there. Working out physically by going to the gym does have some advantages, but here Jude instead is encouraging us as believers in Christ to build ourselves up in the most holy faith.
Jude first mentions praying in the Holy Spirit. I believe that when we pray during our quiet time that sometimes we can enter into a different realm of intimacy with the Lord by the Holy Spirit.
Nathan Jones: Exactly. If you need a comparison, think about your wife. What if you only pecked your wife on the cheek and said a few words to her once a day, and that was all you ever said to her? Or, maybe you spoke to her every Sunday. You might ask, "Hi, how are you doing?" You spend an hour with her and then you are off again for the entire rest of the week.
It's very important that we don't treat God that way, yet we often do. The general, everyday Christian doesn't think about God except on Sunday mornings and maybe with a quick prayer when they are in some kind of disaster or distress. That's not how you build a relationship! We are talking about the God of the Universe who created us and then died on the cross so that we could be saved. He wants to spend eternity with us.
Prayer can be difficult because we are separated from God by our sins, so right now we cannot see Him face-to-face. He doesn't talk verbally to us. But, He promised to give us the Holy Spirit once we became saved to guide and lead us in life and in prayer. When we read the Bible and pray, we can draw closer to God and grow in our relationship with Him. That is what Jude is advising us to engage in as one of our spiritual disciplines — spiritual bodybuilding — in order to help protect us from these false teachers.
Vic Batista: What excellent advice! I believe prayer needs to be like that, constantly spending time with God so that we can build ourselves up spiritually.
Why is prayer so difficult? Why is it that every time I say I want to pray or read the Bible, I find myself falling asleep? Why is that?
Nathan Jones: It could depend on what time you are reading your Bible. I used to read before bed, but I would start nodding off, my mind would wander, then my brain began shutting down. Bad idea, bad idea. Knowing I needed to make a change, I switched my daily prayer time to the mornings. I would drop some of my kids off at their schools and then have some time between later dropping off my other kid at his school. That became the perfect time to sit down and have my devotional time.
It is very important that we carve out some time during the day when we are not bothered, distracted, tired, and are not watching TV at the same time or playing music. In silence we just let the Word of God speak to us. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you undistracted.
A good spiritual exercise is to pray over what your are reading in the Bible. That is one of the spiritual disciplines that I hold in esteem. I actually took a class on spiritual disciplines back in seminary. The professor stressed that if your prayer life seems rote and you find yourself reciting the same words every time you talk to God, then you should pray over a particular Scripture that you are reading, especially the Psalms. The Psalms are wonderful Scriptures to pray over. The prayers David wrote, make them your prayers as well. You'll find that your prayer life will really grow and flourish.
Vic Batista: Spiritual growth does take discipline. Prayer is essential to spiritual warfare. The Enemy doesn't want us to pray or read the Bible. Therefore, it's so important we make the time to refresh our spiritual life by minimizing distractions and praying.
Nathan Jones: We live in a very distracted world. There are so many things to keep our minds busy, even more than ever before. We've lost something that generations in the past had when they were sitting out on their front porches for entertainment. They didn't have the distraction of TV and radio, constant engagements in clubs, and all of these things to do. They would meditate on God's Word. They grew into spiritual giants because of it.
Today, even with so much information that we can so easily access, we remain very spiritually shallow because we are not engaging in spiritual disciplines. We are spiritually like that meek, wimpy guy who goes to the gym for the very first time and hasn't yet touched any of the workout equipment. We don't look like the mountain-sized men and women who usually can be found working out daily in the gym. We haven't engaged in the spiritual disciplines in God's gym, and the result is that we remain weak in our faith and our relationship with Jesus. When we are spiritually weak, we will find ourselves falling for false teachings.
Vic Batista: I love the book of Ephesians, for it contains certain prayers that people can also pray themselves. For example there's Ephesians 3:14-21. I often pray for leaders and pastors and individuals, and then also encourage people to pray so for me as well. Paul writes:
"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
Vic Batista: The Apostle Paul like Jude is telling us that prayer is very important to the Christian walk. It is one of the best ways that we can build the spiritual body up.
In the seventeenth and last segment of our study of the book of Jude, Jude will teach us how to pray and keep our love of Jesus fresh.