Tag Archives: Lord

Prayer – Nations, People and Revival

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jointheclubx-largeFollowing 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.

Nations

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.

Nations prayer 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.

People

“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.

Revivallatter-rain-of-the-holy-spirit

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

 

 

 

Satan has asked…

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Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”             Luke 22:31-32

Why do bad and tragic things happen to the nicest of people? Why is there suffering in the world? While philosophers and theologians have sweated over these questions for years trying to come up with some convincing theodicy, I would venture to contribute a very simple answer to the debate.

Bad things happen because “Satan asks”.

It is as if the generous faculty of prayer which God has offered and built into his creation has been profoundly understood, yet usurped, by the prince of darkness and deception.

One of the earliest books of the Bible ever to be written is the book of Job. In the very first chapters, Job 1:6-11, we see a kind of angelic prayer meeting as the “sons of God” come to present themselves to the Lord. Satan joins in the gathering and tries to undermine the divine eulogy of Job by saying that his integrity is based merely on self interest. “…Stretch out your hand and strike everything he has and he will surely curse you to your face…”  Satan has a perverse logic in his asking that demands a response from the Lord. Simply destroying Satan would leave his perverted prayer unanswered, raising a question mark in eternity. So the Lord chooses to answer, through the suffering of his servant – a suffering which prefigures the ultimate answer to Satan’s jibe which came in the suffering form of Christ at Calvary.

Satan asks about Job, but he is continually asking about the servants of the Lord. Now it is Simon Peter’s turn to become the unfortunate object of Satan’s prayer. I wonder how many mighty leaders may have underestimated the terrible power of this demonic asking and found themselves in compromising circumstances? How many tragic events in world history may also find their origin in this shadowy orison?

Satan has been asking throughout history. Even when the Father affirmed his pleasure in His Son Jesus by declaring in Luke 3:22:

“You are my Son whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Satan counter attacked with the twice twisted prayer question: “If you are the Son of God”, hammering home his final prayer proposition to usurp the very position of God.

“…if you worship me…”

The world suffers under this Satan onslaught of damning prayer. Many never seem to be able to rise above the dark tide. However, good news is on the way. For those who believe, there is a greater asking. “But I have prayed for you”

God himself has incarnated into intercessory prayer which at the same time satisfies and overcomes the enemies’ demands. He bled out a greater cry of victory in a prayer that straddles the history of mankind and redeems us from the claims of the evil one.

What might Jesus have prayed?

The great intercession of John 17 gives us some direction. “Glorify…” Jesus quest was always glory for the Father through his own glory. This can also be our own prayer in the midst of suffering. “…What shall I say? (pray)…Save me?…No…Glorify your name…” John 12:27-28

This prayer for glory opens heaven –“it thundered”, casts out and annuls the supplications of the enemy.

“Now is the time for judgement on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.” John 12:31

Jesus also prayed for protection for his chosen ones. “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name…protect them from the evil one.” John 17:11 &15

In Zechariah 3:2 we can also overhear the Lord’s stinging rebuke of the evil one’s prayerful accusation. “The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you!”

Jesus prayed for Simon, and he is praying for you. He ever lives to intercede for his people – Hebrews 7:25.

Jesus prayer means that your faith will not fail. Don’t ever give up – maintain your place in the prayer of Christ. The only reason for a failure of prayer is in its ceasing! Jesus, ever lives to pray so never stop! Enter more fully into this “slow burn” prayer of victory.

You can always come home! This was a lesson the prodigal son learned and we must all recognise that, in the heat of the battle – and even in dismal failure, we can still overhear the victorious prayer of grace echoing down from the cross through the ages, and we can find our way back to the Lord.

The school of hard knocks holds much wisdom, and when we return, like Peter, we can indeed strengthen our brothers and sisters. The body of Christ in the world today needs the encouragement of grace filled servants, possessing the word of God on their lips and the intercession of Christ in their hearts, to be strengthened for the last battle and powerful to resist the Satanic supplications of the enemy’s asking.

May we continually enter into a greater asking, basking in the overcoming prayer of Christ.

“I have prayed for you…”

 

Bitter or Better?

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A journey from Mara to Elim.

“Moses cried out to the Lord and the Lord showed him a piece of wood.” Ex 15:25

Wooden cross on the top of Zámčisko

Like the Israelites we, on our own life’s journey, also encounter “lakes of bitterness.” I was literally in the region of the “Great Lakes” one year on a ministry visit to Rwanda. This country has known its share of bitterness. One of the pastors I stayed with still bore the scars of the conflict on his forehead. His wife showed me a neat semi circle of a scar that meandered all across her ankle and Achilles tendon.

“My foot was nearly severed in the massacre,” she said, taking down a faded black and white portrait of her Father. “I was only a young girl of eighteen when I lost him and all the rest of my family in the genocide.”

I stared at the deep scars on strong black flesh, glanced again at the lost Father and wondered how on earth love can survive.

Another friend shared how after 25 years of loyal service he had found himself out of a job and passed over for promotion. Nameless thousands survive on a dollar day, noble African ladies till the fields with a baby on their back, while other nameless thousands in the West throw away almost as much food as we eat!

One of the basic human needs is for both material and psychological fulfilment. On their journey to the promise land the people of God were thirsting after a satisfying cool drink. Imagine the disappointment and anger when their drink turned out so bitter!

Have some of your own legitimate thirsts been thwarted? What has left a bitter taste in your own mouth? That bitter taste often impregnates our words which are a good indicator of our “bitterness” level!

The writer of Hebrews 12:14-15 clearly saw the terrible toxic potential of bitterness to eat away at the very structures of our lives together.

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

The cross is the only instrument sharp enough to cut out the roots of bitterness. Only one man ever owned a bitterness free heart. He hung that heart up upon a cross like a cosmic sponge and soaked up the “Great Lake” of mankind’s “Mara”.

Like Moses, we need to cry out in desperation until we gain a fresh revelation of that “piece of wood”, that old rugged cross, which, when applied to the bitter waters of aching hearts can make them sweet again.

“He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.”

May our words and personalities find a renewed sweetness as we allow the work of the cross to function in the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives.

Cry out to God. Don’t stop at Mara! It is not your final destination.

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” Psalm 57:2

With the cleansing of the bitter waters and the call to obedience comes a deep revelation of the covenant name – Yahweh  Rapha.

“I am the Lord who heals you.” Exodus 15:26

Peter quoted the prophet Isaiah when writing to a persecuted church, reminding them that,

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”  1 Peter 2:24

Revelation and Ezekiel also encourage us with the promise of a “tree” of life in heaven whose leaves are for “the healing of nations.” Rev22:2

We serve a loving, reconciling, powerful God who makes us better rather than bitter!

Our destination is Elim. Have you ever longed for the picture postcard palm trees? We have so much more in Christ – perfect provision and eternal life welling up for us in abundance.

And so, let’s go back to the scars of Rwanda. I recently ventured to the cinema to see the Oscar winning film “Slumdog Millionaire”, and in the last scene the lover kisses the scars of his bride and redeems the pain.

It is only a very pale reflection of our reality, but I believe Christ will heal our deepest scars; kiss away Rwanda’s (and all nations’) wounds in his ultimate healing embrace of His Bride the Church.

“Crown Him the Lord of love; see from His hands and side,

Those wounds still visible above in beauty glorified.

No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight,

But downward bears his burning eye,

At mysteries so bright.”