Obedience and Prayer (Hebrews 13:17-19)

May 31, 2020

Book: Hebrews

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Obedience and Prayer

Hebrews 13:17-19 (Pastor Heo)

17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. 19 I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.

Why does God bless us? We know from the example of Abraham – he blesses some to bless others. Through Abraham, all people on earth will be blessed. Also today, we are channels of heavenly blessing.

So, our relationship with God is revealed through our relationship with man.

  • We pray like this in the Lord’s Prayer “forgive our debts as we also forgive our debtors…”
  • Bible says, “If you forgive others, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, if not, then not…”
  • and also “If you say you love God but do not love others, you are a liar.”

All of these things make it clear about our relationship with God – we can see through our relationship to others.

Today’s two keywords = Obedience and Prayer

Obedience: surrendering to God + submission

Also, our obedience to God can be seen as a reflection of our obedience to man. And we must pray for our coworkers and leaders.


Do you like surrendering, submission? This is not a popular word, it looks like “loser.” But these days in the modern culture, we like the words, “overcoming, fighting, winning, etc” – but we must know that obedience is essential to a Christian life. Christ says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

3 Reasons to surrender to God:

1. Surrendering is the heart of worship

Worship is our lifestyle – the heart of our lifestyles, and the heart of worship is obedience

Romans 12:1 “I urge you brothers in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual act of worship.”

The word: to worship and, to surrender are the same in root.

From Greek: proscunero

English = prostrate (throwing our bodies flat on the ground with faces touching the ground in full submission and surrender) so full worship = to surrender

You will not surrender to God unless you trust him. You cannot trust him until you know him better.

If you say “I know God” but do not obey you are a liar.

2. We are humans and he is God – we are created beings with limitations

Yes, we accept our limitations mentally, but sometimes we do not accept them emotionally – we react with anger, resentment. We want to be stronger, healthier, more talented, taller, more beautiful. We want to do it all, have it all, and when we can’t, we become upset. When we see others have what we want and we do not have, we react with envy, anger, self-pity.

Yet, we must accept our limitations by surrending.

3. Humans are designed to surrender

We are designed to surrender to God – if not God, it will be something else: money, pride, our ego, sinful nature, etc

We are designed to worship God, but if we fail, then we will create other things to give our lives to – this is called idolatry.

What is surrendering to God?

This is not passive resignation, nor an excuse for laziness. This means a positive attitude to fulfill God’s will on me – a holy enthusiasm to please God for his glory.

When we live a surrendered life, that decision will be tested. This means sometimes doing a difficult or unpopular job – doing a dangerous job, or doing the opposite of what we FEEL like doing.

Paul: “I die every day.” What does this mean? There is a moment of surrender.

Also, the practice of surrender is moment by moment and life-long. We must make this a daily habit. That is why Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Let me share the blessings of obedience and surrender. Can you imagine how blessed you are in surrendering to God?

3 blessings in surrendering to God

1. This makes our life meaningful.

Is your life meaningful or meaningless?

For example, this microphone is meaningful because it is used by me. It is useful as long as it is being used. But if no one is using it, it is meaningless.

Like this, we are made by God – he is our maker – so our life is meaningful only when he is using us, because he is our creator and maker.

God can use anybody and everybody. He can use tall, short, rich, poor, black, white, educated, uneducated. But he cannot use the disobedient.

Being obedient is an essential element to being used by God.

We know the story of the virgin Mary. God used her to be the mother of Jesus Christ, not because of her status, but because of her surrender – even though she could not understand fully. Yet, she obeyed fully, saying, “I’m a servant of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said.”

2. We can receive peace and blessing

God is love. Surrendering to him brings peace, not bondage, and freedom. When we surrender to Christ, we can discover he is a friend and brother, not a dictator.

When we accept Christ as our Lord, he accepts us as his friend. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Surrender to him and you will find real peace and freedom.

3. Surrendering brings power and victory

Surrendering to bring us power is a paradox.

The more we surrender to God, the more powerful we become. The importance of a surrendered life is in the hands of God. Nothing is more powerful than a surrendered life in the hands of God.

If you surrender to God, there is nothing to fear in this world.

The faith displayed in chp 11 shows many experienced great power and victory – but only when they surrendered fully, immediately to God.

This is the secret to be powerful and victorious in this life.

How, practically, can we obey God and surrender our whole lives to God?

1. First of all, we should surrender to Jesus Christ and accept him as our personal Savior.

This is the command of all commands in the Bible.

“One day they came to him and asked, ‘what must we do to do the work of God?’ Jesus answered, ‘Believe in me.'”

Phil 2 “At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, and every mouth confess that Jesus is Lord.”

The first thing we must do to surrender to God is accept Christ as Savior and Lord.

2. Obey human beings and human leadership – especially church leadership

We show our obedience to God by obeying man, also we must obey man in order to obey God.

v. 17

“17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Romans 13 “Everyone must submit himself to the human (governing) authorities because all authorities that exist have been established by God.” So, he who rebels against the human establishment rebels against God.

1 Peter 2:18 “Servants, submit yourselves to your human masters, not only good and considerate masters, but also harsh masters.”

Obeying human leaders is not easy, but obeying harsh masters is even more difficult.

We obey human leaders in order to obey God, but this is not an easy job – so we need his help.

Even to surrender to him, we need his help, his power. That’s why we need to pray.

v. 18-19

“18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. 19 I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.”

Jesus is our example and we are to be like him. He is the supreme example in the Bible.

We know his example: In the garden before his crucifixion, he prayed until his sweat became as drops of blood on the ground, “Father, if it is possible, take this cup from me, but not my will but yours be done.”

Hebrews summarizes his whole life: “While on earth, he offered up prayers with loud cries and he was heard and accepted because of his obedience.”

Even still, Jesus is sitting on the right hand of God and praying for us. So, if he is still praying for us, we also must pray for others.

If the Son of God needed to pray, how much MORE do we need to pray.

Please meditate on these two keywords: Obedience and Prayer.

Let us be obedient to God and pray for his grace and mercy.

God bless his church, his children.

Let’s pray.