Sep 3, 2015

Pondering Prayer

One of the common themes you will see in every religion is a call to prayer; which simply put is a devout petition to God or an object of worship. It is also a spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration or confession, or the act or practice of praying to God or an object of worship.
As a Christian, I would submit to you that our individual lives and our life and vitality are dependent upon prayer.

Our work needs to flow out of resting in God’s presence through prayer. Prayer is not peripheral to the programs in our lives; it is the atmosphere in which our programs will be fruitful. Jesus said,
"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).

Did you catch that? Without Jesus we can do nothing. Because that is true, wouldn’t it make sense that we need to spend time in prayer to see what is on His heart and what He is doing?

The Apostle Paul wrote that we should
“Pray without ceasing,” (1Thessalonians 5:17).

What Paul is essentially saying is: to pray (GREEK = “proseuchomai”) to God, that is, supplicate, worship: - pray (earnestly, for), make prayer uninterruptedly (GREEK = “adialeiptōs”), that is, without omission (on an appropriate occasion); without ceasing.

You might ask “How do I do that?”; “I have to go to a real job, in a real city, with real people! God can’t possibly want me to spend my whole day (and night) down on my knees with my hands folded!

Come on Tom, GET REAL!”

To that I would say; “That all depends on what you perceive what ‘praying all the time’ means.” Prayer means to make requests, beseech, to worship; to talk with God. All day long we talk to people, co-workers, friends, spouses, relatives, neighbors, and strangers, so it can’t be the idea of talking that throws us off. I think that it has more to do with the fact that we simply forget that God is ever near, waiting to talk with us, or that we don’t really see the reason that we should pray.

To pray without ceasing doesn’t mean that all we do is stay home on our knees with our hands folded, doing nothing but prayer. It means instead that nothing that we do should hinder our availability to be able to pray. This means that there may be some activities we may need to stop doing. Prayer will help forward and not hinder all other lawful business and good work. In fact we are more successful when we acknowledge our dependence upon the Holy Spirit to help us in all areas throughout the whole day.

So, why should we pray? Let me give you some reasons specifically as it relates to evangelism. Prayer is the most tangible trace of eternity in the human heart. Intercessory prayer on behalf of the felt needs of the lost is one of the best ways to open their eyes to the glorious light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul wrote concerning this:
“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2Corinthians 4:3-4)

Another reason to pray is that the Great Commission began with a city where the first disciples of Jesus Christ resided. God’s plan to take the city for Jesus begins when you and I move forward together in united prayer. The strongholds of Satan are best infiltrated by gathering together for prayer. When we pray, we establish God’s perimeter in the midst of Satan’s domain by proclaiming the King’s Domain (kingdom of God). When we pray we enforce the judgment awarded to Jesus at Calvary; the salvation of the lost.

Dr. A.T. Pierson wrote; “From the day of Pentecost, there has been not one great spiritual awakening in any land which has not begun in a union of prayer, though only among 2 or 3, no such outward movement has continued after such prayer meetings declined.”

For us to remain silent when our neighbors’ house is burning is wrong. To not pray for Jesus to open the eyes of those around us who don’t yet know Him, and to not pray for their salvation would be the same thing as keeping silent as we watched their house being robbed at night as they slept.

The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy regarding prayer;
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” (1Timothy 2:1-8)

But it isn’t enough to just know about prayer, we need to actually pray. So what should we pray for? Pray for God’s heart of compassion for the lost:
  1. Seek God’s heart.
  2. Ask that God would send a conviction of sin.
  3. Ask for compassion for the lost.
  4. Ask for a burden for the city, neighborhood, etc. where you live and work.
    The great Christian author Evelyn Christenson wrote;
    “When people start praying together in one accord to our Father in heaven, in the name of Jesus, and practice praying together, things change. Our lives change, our churches change, our communities change. Change takes place not when we study about prayer, not when we talk about it, not even when we memorize beautiful Scripture verses on prayer; it is only when we actually pray that things begin to happen.”
    All Scriptures from New King James Version © 1984 Thomas Nelson                    

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