Saturday, October 22, 2011

Praying: The price


I looked for a man among them who would stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so that I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. (Ezekiel 22.10)

Intercessory prayer can only really flow out of a deep level of personal identification.

Compare the way we pray for a starving child in Africa to the way we would pray if it were our own child. The difference is not so much the scale of emotion as the level of intimacy.
When distant strangers become intimate neighbours our prayers for them find passion.
The Bible is full of such identification. Jeremiah identified so strongly with Israel's pain that he wrote: "Oh my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart the whole land lies in ruins." (Jeremiah 419)
Hosea was even called to identify with Israel's unfaithfulness to the extent of marrying an adulterous wife.

When Nehemiah heard about the disgrace of Israel,

"I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: O Lord... I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father's house, have committed against you.
Sins of the nation

As we seek God for national revival, we have a priestly duty to confess the sins of our nation.

In scripture this is never a detached theological exercise, but a heart-cry, often accompanied by fasting, mourning and the wearing of sackcloth and ashes. In such prayer, we acknowledge that the filth of society infects and affects us too, and we cry out that in God's perfect anger, he would remember mercy and spare us.
Daniel prayed a remarkable intercessory prayer for Israel, owning its disobedience as his own, although he himself was "highly esteemed" by God (Daniel 1011).

"While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill Gabriel came to me in swift flight." (Daniel 9.21)

Sins of the church
Sadly, we must also own the sins of the church since no one part of the body can detach itself from the rest and claim purity. The terrible truth is that Christ's body is riddled with sickness. There is institutional inflexibility, disregard for scripture, a quenching of the Spirit, gross materialism, sexual immorality and division. No local expression can ignore the bigger problems, nor can any denomination, network or group achieve theological purity and holiness by separating off. Unity means loving one another enough to appreciate our differences, share our successes and even carry the shame of each other's sin.


Charles Finney said that the two prerequisites for revival are prayer and unity.

Without a commitment to work with other churches and bless other traditions, we cannot expect our prayers for revival to be heard. Unity must be our top priority, therefore, for at least three major reasons: God commands unity.

Remarkably, Jesus only ever commanded us to do two things:

"Preach the Gospel" (Mat.28.20) and "love one another" (John 13.34).

It is the depth of our love for each other, not our doctrinal purity, that marks us out as Christians.
Jesus' final prayer for the church was "that all of them may be one... so that the world may believe that you have sent me." (John 17.20-21).
I suspect he knew that Satan's strategy against us down the years would be to "divide and conquer". He definitely knew that God bestows blessing wherever "brothers live together in unity". (Psalm 133)

Revival requires unity

 Ed Silvoso, for example, lists unity as the primary step in "preparing an atmosphere for effective evangelism".
As we pray for revival, therefore, it is essential that we allow God to convict us of any trace of competitiveness, jealousy or sectarian prejudice against other flavours of faith.
Unity is good for your health!

Unity does not require uniformity and it is actually a good thing that the church is made up of so many different denominations, streams and traditions. How sad it would be if we had to worship like clones, when God has made us all so different! The unity that "commands God's blessing" is relational, it involves loving - and liking - one another. We will never achieve unity around doctrine and I suspect God doesn't want us to all believe exactly the same things about everything anyway!
 Wesley, Whitefield and Edwards are excellent role models for us in this. They worked together wholeheartedly, spoke well of each other unreservedly and agreed to disagree on points of theology and practice. Fellowship with those who think differently is good for us, just as cross pollination is always healthier than inter-breeding.
The  prayer that prepares the way of the Lord goes far deeper than saying "please send revival" in a thousand different ways.

It is moved by passion for the church and compassion for the lost. It identifies with the wounds and the sins of others and it wrestles, like Jacob, with God for the blessing. Jacob identified with Israel so completely that God gave it to him as his name. From that moment onwards his identity was utterly, perhaps terrifyingly, caught up in the promise of God for a nation. We too should embrace the name, the identity and the destiny of our communities. But priestly identification at such a level can cost a very great deal; having wrestled in prayer, Jacob limped for the rest of his life.

Praying the price
Prayer warriors will often carry scars that are righteous trophies of battle, the wounds of the faithful.

I'm not talking about hurts and insecurities, which relate to the selfishness of others and need to be healed. I'm talking about the intercessory pain and anguish often experienced prior to breakthrough. The enemy will often target intercessors as they lead God's people into battle, and although they know the joy of breakthrough, they may also carry the scars of the fight.

Moving house is never easy. Lorraine Fenner, who heads up our church's intercessory team, has successfully prayed a number of people into houses that they had been struggling to buy. It is as though her prayers can cut through interminable legal red tape. But ironically, Lorraine's own family lived in cramped conditions for a number of years, unable to move as potential houses fell through at the last moment with depressing regularity.
The apostle Paul experienced such frustration on an even bigger scale. Having been used to perform remarkable miracles, he lived his life with a 'thorn in the flesh' that God would not remove.

It is no coincidence that many prayer warriors have known a great deal of personal pain and this has somehow refined their faith and focused their eyes on eternity in a way that makes Satan tremble.

Such intercessory warriors should be honoured and protected by the church because their ministry is probably the most sacrificial service Christians can give themselves to. That is why the church thrives in the blood of martyrs: martyrdom is the ultimate sacrifice, unlocking the purest power of the cross.

The price paid by those in revival is little compared to that of those who prayed it in and I suspect that particular honour awaits these faithful forerunners in heaven. "It may be that in the eyes of God it is a greater honour to be chosen prior to the outbreak of revival, to be an emissary and a channel of the living God in the preparation time, in the harder time, than in revival time itself. Masses of people then will benefit from the flooding of the rivers of God, but the honour of the battlefield, I suggest, is given to the pioneers who prepare the way for the later flood tides. It may be that you now live in the hour of greatest opportunity from God's standpoint. What an hour in which to be alive!"
Source: Extract from 'Awakening Cry' Pete Greig

Are you praying for Someone?
He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor." Isaiah 59:16 NKJV

"The Spirit himself makes intercession for us…" Romans 8:26 NKJV

"I will pour out…the Spirit of grace and supplication…" Zechariah 12:10 NKJV

In the early '70s, my family moved to California from Kuala Lumpur. My oldest sister was in her first year of college. I was an idealistic 14-year-old, enamored by the romantic notions of the hippy movement.

One night, I tagged along with my two sisters to what we thought was a concert in the student lounge. Before the music began, we sat on the lawn of the campus, getting high.

Three people walked over to our little huddle and began to talk to us about God. Something strange and unfamiliar stirred in my heart for the first time.

We wandered into the lounge, listened to some rock band play, and heard a testimony followed by a simple gospel message. I alone stood up to pray, heart pounding, so self-conscious among the seated college crowd.

That was the night I gave my life to Christ. Some 40 years later, I'm writing this in gratitude to that someone who prayed.

Someone had a burden for students.
Someone booked the lounge that night.
Someone invited a preacher and musicians to whom I could relate.
Someone put up posters and invited kids like me to come.
Someone cared about four girls sitting on the college lawn getting high.
Someone spoke simply and clearly enough for a 14-year-old to get it!
Someone sat with me after the concert to follow up after I prayed the sinner's prayer.
I was given a small gospel of John that someone else had paid for.

And three days later, someone wrote a letter and made a phone call, inviting me to go to church that week. My life was changed…forever.

Every facet of that evening was an important link in the chain of events that transformed my life and, later on, the lives of my sisters, my brother, and our family.

This is the first time in 40 years that I have wondered, who was it that prayed for me?


Now I feel the Holy Spirit asking me, whom are you praying for? Is it a loved one, a friend, a neighbor?

Just think what God would do if more of us prayed, and invited, and brought someone to hear to gospel.

Source: Kathe Laurie website: 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Learning To Pray

Learning To Pray
The Bible talks about prayer more than it talks about singing, and so it is essential that we teach this new generation how to live life in conversation with the living God. If you think about it that is the most exciting thing you can possibly do. But a circle of plastic chairs in a cold church hall on a Thursday night is not going to get anybody excited. Nor is listening to people screaming in tongues. We need to tell stories of the miracles that happen when we pray that get young people excited. And we need to be honest about the times when prayer doesn't work they can smell a fake at a hundred metres. And we need to be creative about the ways in which we facilitate and lead prayer. 
It's interesting to me that the first person that the Bible describes as being filled with the Holy Spirit is not a prophet, not a priest and not a king. It was Bezalel and his job was to make the place of prayer (the tabernacle) a place in which it was easy to connect with God through the use of the arts.

But what if you don't feel like praying…

Prayer is a discipline.  It's a bit like my relationship with my wife: when we first fell in love it was all just pure chemistry and all we ever wanted to do was spend time together. For a lot of people prayer starts out like that it's just adrenalin. The excitement of knowing that you are talking to the living God! But nowadays in my marriage I have to plan 'date nights' in my diary, and maybe we go out for a meal, light a candle, listen to some smoochy music.  By disciplining myself to spend time like this with my wife, we keep the passion alive.  It's not a sign of an unhealthy relationship it's a sign of a deepening and a maturing relationship. 

It's the same with prayer.  By disciplining ourselves to spend time with God, we can move beyond the stages of infatuation, into a deeper, more mature relationship with him.  Some people make time to pray at the gym. Others find it helpful to listen to loud music, or to be silent and still. Learn to pray the way God made you.

How can we stay in Gods presence, daily?

I love these stories of brother Lawrence who worked in the kitchen of a monastery and learned to 'practise the presence of God' all the time. If you spend ten minutes in prayer each day, that is just so that you can spend the other twenty-three hours and fifty minutes with a greater awareness of the presence of God. 
Prayer is the time that you re-align your thinking to the reality of God's love. It is good and important to have daily disciplines of prayer, but it is also important not to beat yourself up if you sometimes don't manage it. This is a thrilling invitation, not a heavy religious duty. Don't get guilty just get God!

How do you hear Gods voice? How do you know it's God, not your own thinking?

I am terrible at discerning God's voice but I am getting a little bit better and I try to learn all that I can from people who are brilliant at hearing his 'still small voice'. Some people think that God communicates with us like land mail that comes through our door. He sends word occasionally, when we really need it but he's silent the rest of the time. Other people think that God communicates more like a cell phone. He texts or calls several times a week but the rest of the time he's busy doing other stuff.  And then there are others who think that God broadcasts more like a radio station he is continually 'on air' and we just have to learn to tune into what he is saying and listen.

I am trying to get a lot better at listening to God in the normal and ordinary things. The Bible is our guide to understanding God's heart and purposes, but I try to listen to him when I'm watching TV, when I'm talking to my friends, when I'm out running in the countryside.  Keeping a journal is one of the ways I find it helpful to capture and reflect on what God is saying to me.

I sometimes think it's like when you start a relationship with somebody. At first when they phone you they have to say what their name is but after a while you learn to recognise their voice and they can simply say 'Hi it's me'. As we go on in our relationship with God we get much better at recognising God's voice.
Source: An Interview with Pete Greig who is a founding champion of the 24-7 Prayer International Movement

Further Articles related to learning to Pray can be found in Archives:
How to Pray June 2011* Keys to Effective Prayers  May 2009 * Teach Me How to Pray Feb 2006 Archives

Friday, October 14, 2011

How to have Prayer Power!

PRAYER MUST BE A PRIORITY.  "That men ought always to pray" (Luke 18:1).

Prayer was a priority with Jesus. Many people pray when they don't know what else to do. The Son of God prayed before He did anything. (Matthew 6:33, Mark 1:35, Matthew 26:40-41)

Is prayer a daily priority in your life?
How to have Prayer Power!  
Whatever your goals and dreams are, you can do much more with God than without Him.  Jesus said, "with God all things are possible". The power of prayer has improved the lives of millions of people. Prayer works!  Prayer brings blessings and miracles!

By praying, we are relying on God, and not ourselves.  We are telling God that our source is Him.  Prayer seeks help from God. 
Humanism seeks to do things without God. When we are willing to pray for everything, we are telling God that He is our source for everything.

God answers prayer!  When prayers go up, blessings come down.  

Jesus said, "Ask, and it shall be given you."  God will give you your hopes, your dreams, and your needs – if you ask! 
God created us to be able to talk to him. We do not have to be perfect to pray. God accepts us where we are at, and will help us move in His direction – teaching us to pray His word and agree with Him!

THE BIBLE – is the resource on prayer. The Bible reveals God's will and His promises for us!  The Bible has the solution to all problems. 

It is important for us to read the Bible to be sure we are praying God's will, and God's solutions!

JESUS – is the teacher on prayer!  Jesus is our greatest example for having great Prayer habits and enormous Faith.  He reveals to us the secrets on how to tap into God's power and get great results in prayer!  To get Miraculous results we must be connected with the Miraculous God!

The most powerful prayers come when we pray God's word and His will.  God cannot do anything against His word.  Blessings overflow when we get in unity with God.  That is the secret.

 Question: "What is the power of prayer?"

The idea that power is inherent in prayer is a very popular one. According to the Bible, the power of prayer is, quite simply, the power of God, who hears and answers prayer. Consider the following:

1) The Lord God Almighty can do all things; there is nothing impossible for Him (
Luke 1:37).

2) The Lord God Almighty invites His people to pray to Him. Prayer to God should be made persistently (
Luke 18:1), with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6), in faith (James 1:5), within the will of God (Matthew 6:10), for the glory of God (John 14:13-14), and from a heart right with God (James 5:16).

3) The Lord God Almighty hears the prayers of His children. He commands us to pray, and He promises to listen when we do. "In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears" (
Psalm 18:6).

4) The Lord God Almighty answers prayer. "I call on you, O God, for you will answer me" (
Psalm 17:6). "The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles" (Psalm 34:17).

Another popular idea is that the amount of faith we have determines whether or not God will answer our prayers. 

However, sometimes the Lord answers our prayers in spite of our own lack of faith. In Acts 12, the church prays for Peter's release from prison (v. 5), and God answers their prayer (vv. 7-11). Peter goes to the door of the prayer meeting and knocks, but those who are praying refuse at first to believe that it is really Peter. They prayed he would be released, but they failed to expect an answer to their prayers.

The power of prayer does not flow from us; it is not special words we say or the special way we say them or even how often we say them. The power of prayer is not based on a certain direction we face or a certain position of our bodies. The power of prayer does not come from the use of artifacts or icons or candles or beads. 

The power of prayer comes from the omnipotent One who hears our prayers and answers them.

Prayer places us in contact with Almighty God, and we should expect almighty results, whether or not He chooses to grant our petitions or deny our requests. Whatever the answer to our prayers, the God to whom we pray is the source of the power of prayer, and He can and will answer us, according to His perfect will and timing.

Recommended Resource:
Prayer, The Great Adventure by David Jeremiah.
 Power Of Prayer - How powerful is it?

The power of prayer should not be underestimated. James 5:16-18 declares, "…The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops." God most definitely listens to prayers, answers prayers, and moves in response to prayers.

Jesus taught, "…I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20).

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us, "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

The Bible urges us, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints" (Ephesians 6:18).

Power Of Prayer - How do I tap into it?
 1 John 5:14-15 tells us, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him."

 No matter the person praying, the passion behind the prayer, or the purpose of the prayer - God answers prayers that are in agreement with His will. His answers are not always yes, but are always in our best interest. When our desires line up with His will, we will come to understand that in time. When we pray passionately and purposefully, according to God's will, God responds powerfully!

We cannot access powerful prayer by using "magic formulas." Our prayers being answered is not based on the eloquence of our prayers. We don't have to use certain words or phrases to get God to answer our prayers. In fact, Jesus rebukes those who pray using repetitions, "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him" (Matthew 6:7-8).

Prayer is communicating with God. All you have to do is ask God for His help.

Psalm 107:28-30 reminds us, "Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven."

The power of prayer is not the result of the person praying. Rather, the power resides in the God who is being prayed to.