Prayer Challenge Eighty-Four

DEVOTIONAL: For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, ESV.

CHALLENGE: Praying disciples are not perfect disciples; they are obedient disciples. Watching the news or reading the headlines from around the world we see that evil is everywhere and is only getting worse. We cannot stand on the sidelines and expect the next Christian “prayer warrior” to fight the battle with prayer. We cannot allow our pastors or ministers to wage the war on behalf of his congregation alone. As the Apostle Paul said to the church at Corinth, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of flesh but of divine power…” (emphasis added). As Christians we are disciples, as disciples we are in the spiritual war together.

The Holy Spirit equips us to fight, and our weapon is prayer. Praying with authority is the greatest weapon the enemy fears. J. Oswald Sanders describes prayer as the “most formidable and potent in our conflict with ‘the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Ephesians 6:12).”

What gives us the power to pray with authority? The Scriptures can help. But above all, a relationship with our Lord and Saviour and a faith that He will do what He says He will do. What is standing our your way of praying with authority to “fight the good fight” (1 Timothy 6:12a)?

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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?

 

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.

Prayer Challenge Seventy-Seven

DEVOTIONAL: “I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.” Psalm 77:1-2, ESV.

CHALLENGE: Extraordinary change requires extraordinary prayer. The Scriptures are filled with wonderful examples of God’s people faithfully praying to bring about God-honouring changes. Kendrick gives three examples of ordinary people with extraordinary prayer methods. Reading the book of Esther we see the use of corporate prayer. Esther beseeched her people the Jews to pray together for deliverance from Haman, “the mastermind of the genocide”.

Of corporate prayer Kendrick says, “Extraordinary prayer is a team effort.” And “The result of their united, above-and-beyond praying was miraculous.” This also is true of the apostles in the New Testament. In Acts 12 Peter is set for execution, and the disciples praying for him with fasting. “Serious matters call for unusual sacrifice with focused devotion and dedication.”

The final example of extraordinary prayer comes from Jonah’s shipmates during the storm. “They prayed fervently. Persistently and passionately.” They prayed to Jonah’s God for deliverance.

Reading these stories and many more in the Bible we see prayer shaping the people and their circumstances. Jesus’ life was filled with devote prayer, communion with His Father. How have corporate prayer, fasting and fervent prayer shaped you this past year? How have they affected your family, church and community? How can they change our walk with God?