Following on from Boaz’s promise in the last post we can now join the 41414 club. What’s that? It is a select group of people who hold on to the promise of the 4th Gospel, Chapter 14, Verse 14:
“You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.”
So what do we ask for?
We have already seen that we do not have to waste time praying for ourselves or our stuff – we do not pray “like pagans” striving with “many words” or “running after things,” but we simply seek our Father King who “knows what we need.” We should learn to avoid Self/Sin centred praying as well. Too many prayer hours are wasted in telling God how awful we are! There is obviously a place for confession and genuine – not just spoken, repentance but when we read the basic model prayer the Lord gave us we find there are a lot more things to begin with. Seek the Father, seek the King, seek His will, receive bread…and then, before launching into the spiritual warfare of overcoming temptation and evil, you get forgiven and forgive others. Here are three major thrusts for our prayers to rise upon.
Psalm 2:8, building on the promise of sonship, and giving a Messianic root to Jesus’ prayer promise above, clearly encourages us to open up our prayer window onto the world and pray for nations.
“Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.”
True prayer is initiated in a strong missional thrust. Prayer allows the Church to participate in the missio Dei.
Click on the photo left to find a fantastic resource to help you pray for nations. As you watch the news, refuse to be overwhelmed by the Godless, negative information overload about various tragedies across the world, but carry the situations that touch your heart to the Lord in prayer.
Praying for nations may well change your lifestyle and take you quickly into the realm of intercession – but that is another article in the waiting.
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4
You can pray for “everyone.” Wonderful! Try and enthuse your prayer by picking up God’s longing and strong desire that “all men be saved” through hearing the truth of the Gospel. Rather than wasting controversial hours on debating or philosophising about who is “lost,” fill your heart with compassion for the crowds and pray the Lord of the harvest to mobilise active evangelists. Many people have the time to moan about their leaders – but who takes the time to groan for them in prayer? Are you a moaner or a groaner?
Verse 8 in the same passage brings the same challenge – instead of getting hot under the collar we need to get on our knees.
“I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.”
We would have far less divisions in church and society if we learnt to lift our hands in prayer rather than making fists.
The ordinary trials and little prayers of everyday life pave the way to great spiritual revival.
James’ practical epistle illustrates this principle. In chapter 5:13-20, he talks about prayer and mentions the great prophet Elijah. We see this great prophet opening the heavens with his earnest prayer – his cry for physical rain mirroring our own cries for spiritual rain on the barren lands and hearts of this world.
“Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” v.18
The prophet Zechariah encourages us to:
“Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime – (in the time of the latter rain)…” Zechariah 10:1
“I could never be an Elijah,” we think, “I’ve got too many troubles, and I can’t even get rid of this runny nose!”
Well, such struggles with weakness are the first battles for revival. “Elijah was a man just like us…” v.17
And from the beginning of James’ teaching we see that our very ordinary struggles take us on a journey towards prayerful victory.
“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick?” v.13-14
The key to being successful on this journey is Community leading us to righteousness. True prayer for revival is community based and will lead us to mutual accountability and righteousness. So many verses here call us to community:
“He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.” v.14
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” v.16
“My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” v.19-20
We are called to spur one another on to integrity and righteousness. We cannot pray beyond our personal and corporate degree of righteousness. We cannot pray big prayers and live little lies together. An envisioned, truthful, prayer community is a powerful tool for revival. Community builds faith – “the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.” v.15. Community is a practical outworking of our personal justification. You may feel weak, but push through into praying for nations, people and an open heaven.
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” v.17