Prayer Challenge Eighty-Three

DEVOTIONAL: As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:4-5, ESV.

CHALLENGE: As Christians we are Christ’s disciples; as disciples of Christ we need to be training to become like Him. In order to be trained we require communication between the trainer and the trainee. As Christians we do this through reading the Bible (God to us) and prayer (us to Him). J. Oswald Sanders touches on this in chapter 13,”The Disciple’s Prayer Life”, of his book Spiritual Discipleship. Being a disciple means to be in the thick of things, during the good times and the bad times. God want us to come to Him no matter what situation we find ourselves in. That is the blessed gift of prayer, we can go before our High Priest. Sanders describes prayer as “an amazing paradox. In is a blend of simplicity and profundity. It can be agony or an ecstasy. It can focus on a single objective, or it can roam the world.”

“To the maturing disciple, God’s interests will always be paramount.” How are we praying? What or whose interests are paramount in our prayer lives? Are we praying like the Master prayed in the Gospels?

 

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Prayer Challenge Eighty-Two

DEVOTIONAL: “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” Matthew 9:37-38, ESV.

CHALLENGE: Praying for the church and praying for revival. The Great Awakening of the 1700’s began with prayer: a small town in Germany did not necessarily pray for change in the world around them, but for change within their church (see page 217-218, The Battle Plan for Prayer). When “dissension and infighting” turns to “joy, unity” within the church people around us begin to see “the mighty power of the Holy Spirit” at work. This was the beginning of the modern missionary movement that converted John and Charles Wesley as well as Jonathan Edwards.

“Ordinary people praying in extraordinary fashion.” This has happened throughout the ages, from the apostles to the Great Awakening. Kendrick says this is our prayer. “For you, for us, for the church, for the world. And ultimately for the glory of God.” How are we continuing praying in such a fashion?

If we desire for revival around us, for Christian revival in the world, we need to pray for the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us. “There’s no reason why we can’t see God’s Spirit poured out in abundance on us…” “There’s no reason why we can’t see” transformation of the “whole cultural landscape” around us.

Pray for the harvest. Pray that labourers heed Jesus’ call. Pray that we hear and obey the call to be labourers in the God’s harvest.

Prayer Challenge Eighty-One

DEVOTIONAL: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.” 1 Timothy 2:1-3, ESV.

CHALLENGE: In the twenty-first century praying for our authorities can be stressful, or, on the other hand, we just do not do it for personal reasons. News headlines are full of anti-this or anti-that protests, marches or books being released. Instead of praying, generally speaking, we are complaining that we didn’t get our way.

Kendrick opens chapter 33 of The Battle Plan for Prayer with the following two statements: “Actions and decisions made by people in authority create a significant impact on those within their sphere of influence—both good and bad.” “Our authorities either help us in doing the will of God, or they make it harder for us to pursue.”

Kendrick talks about government and how we should pray for them. By doing so we are obeying God our Father.

Whether it is local/city, provincial/state or federal governments, they all are in place for a reason. Kendrick also adds other forms such as “supervisors, parents, officials, law enforcement”. And to top that off “most of us also represent some kind of authority.

Do we want those beneath us to constantly be in rebellion? If we as non-elected authority figures desire peace and obedience, how much more do those in elected office deserve to control a peaceful and respectful country?

Let us pray for those who are in power over us, as well as those who we hold authority over. Pray for our respective nation, each other’s countries, and the world.

Prayer Challenge Eighty

DEVOTIONAL: “…that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” Psalm 78:6-7, ESV.

CHALLENGE: Family members are a big part of our prayer lives, at least they should be: spouses, children, parents, extended family, friends who are like family, etc. We pray for them all, but what are we praying for on their behalf? Kendrick says, “Surely by now, you’re way past the kind of praying that’s content with only asking God to ‘bless’ and ‘be with’ your” family. “Shouldn’t you know what you’re really asking Him for?”

Kendrick gives several pointers in respect to praying for spouses and children. For husbands or wives: “You should pray that both of you would maintain a sense of protective passion for [the] primary function of your marriage. That Christ would be where you run for love, joy and peace, not your spouse. And that you bring” all this back to your spouse. Related to this you pray that your husband or wife “be devoted to Christ” even above their devotion to you.

If we love “the Lord our God” with everything we have then we will love one another “as Christ first loved us”.

Praying for children can be easy and difficult. Whether they are young or grown-up we should pray “that they remain faithful to God in their generation.” How can we be living prayers for the next generations? We need to remain faithful to God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. Be examples of faithfulness in the workforce, at church, to our spouses, and to them, the children.

Let our general prayers, which “can get general answers”, become specific prayers, then “we will praise God more and recognize His handiwork when we pray specifically.”

Prayer Challenge Seventy-Nine

DEVOTIONAL: “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers…For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” Philemon 4 & 7, ESV.

CHALLENGE: Praying for other believers should come to us as naturally as breathing. It is the cornerstone of a church and a Christian’s life. When we do not pray for one another we are not seeking God’s grace and mercy in all we do. Kendrick opens the chapter “Praying for Believers” with a profound and sad truth: “Perhaps some of the most commonly spoken words from one Christian to another are “I’ll be praying for you.” And yet perhaps the most commonly unspoken words are the prayers that would have been said if those promises were truly kept.”

Some believers have a vibrant prayer life, some pray when they feel like it, and others rarely pray. The same goes for churches. We take each other for granted and we take our “son-ship” as co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:16-17a) for granted.

As children of God we have the privilege to come before our Father who is in heaven. We have the privilege to pray on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Why should we continuously pray for one another? Kendrick gives us several examples from the early church in Acts. “We see people coming to faith… We see sin exposed and repented of. We see teamwork. We see abundant generosity and unselfishness. We see regular demonstration of God’s power.” Can such activity if the Holy Spirit happen within our churches today? Definitely!

Make witnessing God at work be our goal as we pray for our brothers and sisters, when they succeed and they struggle.

Let us not our “I’ll be praying for you” be mere words but actual actions we take. Whether we pray with them on the spot, or we pray for them during our private prayer times. Who have you promised to pray for this past week, this past month, and forgot to do so?

Prayer Challenge Seventy-Eight

DEVOTIONAL: “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1Timothy 2:3-4, ESV.

CHALLENGE: Praying for the lost should be of utmost importance. Kendrick opens chapter 30 with a statement as to why we tend to not follow this truth. “If we are honest, we properly pray for ourselves more than for anyone else. After all, who among our family and friends knows our hopes, struggles, and concerns more completely than we do?” Praying for the lost is what we, as Christians, should be doing. We do not necessarily need to know their “hopes, struggles, and concerns” to be praying for them.

Praying for their salvation is enough (for now) because we are in a spiritual war and prayer is our weapon. “Satan knows he’s lost the war. His desire now is simply to cause as much damage as he can…while he can.” Kendrick says, “we can stand against him in prayer, asking God to open the eyes of the lost…” Easier said than done, right?

We all know someone who is not yet a Christian: a friend, family member, co-worker, teammate, fellow student, neighbour, etc. How can we continuously pray for them to come to saving knowledge of Christ our Lord and Saviour? Kendrick answers this with five statements: (see pages 191-192 of The Battle Plan for Prayer for more details.)

  1. “We pray for God to begin working in their hearts…”
  2. “We pray against the enemy…”
  3. “We pray for opportunities and boldness…”
  4. “We pray for conviction of sin to agitate their hearts…”
  5. “We pray for God’s blessing, guidance, protection and presence to be on all those who obey Him and seek Him.”

Praying for the lost in our lives and in our world—let us watch God’s transforming power at work as we do this as a church and as individuals.

February Bible Reading

Reading the Holy Scriptures is an adventure, we never know what the Holy Spirit will show us today. Being convicted to change our behaviour or attitude is perhaps a reason many people, including Christians, do not want to read their Bibles regularly. Since I made my 2017 resolution to read through the Bible I have fallen behind, way behind.

As I was reading last night, a question came to mind, one that many have asked in the past: am I ready for the sake of reading the Bible? Or am I reading for the sake of desiring to get closer to God? The latter was my ultimate new year’s resolution, and one that I continue to want to strive towards. This time round I will not give up. This year I will catch up and continue. I may fall behind again and again, but I shouldn’t allow that to discourage me. God doesn’t give up on His children, why should we ever give up getting to know Him on a personal level?

For those of you who are joining me in my reading in God’s Holy Word, here is February’s reading schedule.