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 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?

Prayer Challenge Seventy-Five

DEVOTIONAL: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11, ESV.

CHALLENGE: On the defensive… When the enemy attacks we need to be ready. Kendrick tells us “Christians are equipped with everything needed for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), but many are not ready when the enemy attacks.” When we go into battle unprepared we will be defeated. “God’s Word says spiritual war is taking place around you.” But God does not send us into the fighting to fend for ourselves, we are given the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace (as shoes), the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God), and prayer (Eph. 6:13-18). All Christians as saints have been given these by God, yet we do not use them in our daily lives. Whether defensively, preemptively, or offensively let us “put on the whole armor of God”.

We all go through good times and hard times. The armor is a gift from God to fight this battle as individual soldiers and as an army. Which part of God’s armor do you struggle with the most? Which one is your strength and can be used to lend aid to others?

Prayer Challenge Seventy-Four

DEVOTIONAL: “Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” (2 Corinthians 2:10-11, ESV.

CHALLENGE: For almost a year we have been going through Stephen and Alex Kendrick’s book The Battle Plan for Prayer. So far we have seen what prayer is and isn’t (chap. 4-7), preparing ourselves to pray (chap. 8-12), conditioning our hearts to pray (chap. 13-19), and prayer strategies (chap. 20-29). Chapter 27 is titled “Praying Preemptively”, praying before something happens. Here we encounter the first real military metaphor for what a prayer life should look like and what it did look like for Jesus Christ.

“If you were the leader of a country and discovered you would soon be attacked by a brutal, invading army, what would you do?” This may seem like a rhetorical question, but we still need to consider its spiritual implications. Jesus considered it for His church and the apostle John wrote, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8b).

We know the enemy, and we know his plans for us. The Kendrick brothers list four major areas Satan uses to attack the saints: distraction, deception, derision, and division.

Looking back at the early church, the Reformation or even at the twenty-first century church we can see all of these attacks. We know what to expect, but why are we so easily swayed from praying in good times against such evils in the world by praying for their exact opposites?

Against distracting we should be praying for focus. Against deception pray for God’s truth. Against derision let us pray for wisdom and discernment and keep in the Word. And finally against division remember unity in Christ is the greatest weapon we can wield. Let us always pray for the positives of God’s promises instead of allowing the negatives of Satan’s lies to manifest in us.

Christmas Prayer Challenge

DEVOTIONAL: “And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:9b-11, ESV.

CHALLENGE: Christmas is upon us, and New Year’s is soon thereafter. Many of us will be celebrating Christ’s birth while others honour gifts from the fabled gift-giver known as Santa Clause or Saint Nick. I am not saying that presents are all bad, for baby Jesus was given three from the Magi. Thus the gifts are not the reason that we need to search our hearts for this season.

When the wisemen sought the “King of the Jews”, it was not to bring Him the gold and frankincense and myrrh. They sought Jesus in order to worship Him. King Herod asked them to bring back word so that he can also worship Him (v. 8). So he claimed while the truth was to kill the Christ Child (v. 16).

How does Herod’s evil heart relate to our gift-giving during Christmas?

It all goes to the heart of the matter and the heart of the season. What does Christmas mean to us? What does family mean? Why do me gather on this holy day?

Our intentions may not be to rid the world of Jesus, but we do just that when we shift our focus from Him to the material goods we exchange. Give gifts not for the sake of gift-giving, but for the sake of family and to share in the love of Christ our Lord and Saviour.

Why do you celebrate Christmas? Are we praying for our communities to know the true reason for the season? Are we sharing with others the greatest gift of all, who is Christ the Lord?