I pray

It did not take me long to read of a leader that I do not admire – Jehoram. This is how his leaderhip of eight years was honoured.

Jehoram had become king at the age of thirty-two and had ruled in Jerusalem for eight years. Nobody was sorry when he died. They buried him in David’s City, but not in the royal tombs. – 2 Chronicles 21:20 GNT

Our Canadian Parliament Buildings have many inscriptions that dedicate it, it’s leadership and our country to God – all scripture references.

I read this story about the White House in the United States that grabbed my attention for it is a great inscription.

The first occupant of the White House, John Adams. He served as vice president under George Washington but he was the first president of the White House, who lived in the White House, and the White House wasn’t finished, and when he first moved in, and he moved in late November in the year 1800, and they had to light fires in every room in order to dry out the plaster. And his wife wouldn’t be there for several weeks and he wrote letters, and those letters are extant and they’re part of the nation’s treasure. In one of those letters Adams wrote something, and these two sentences were so impressive, and so deeply moved Franklin Roosevelt, that he had it carved into the mantel piece of the state dining room, and when Harry Truman supervised the rebuilding of the White House, he insisted that the inscription remain where it is today, and when John F. Kennedy was president, he had the inscription carved into the mantel piece in marble, and it said this: “I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.”

I am preparing a sermon on the personal encounter of Saul with Jesus. A man set against the followers of Christ. I believe someone was praying for him, I believe the testimonies of how the Christian families reacted when they were imprisoned or in Stephen’s case, stoned to death, allowed the Holy Spirit to speak into his soul. His testimony has to be the most amazing experience of meeting Jesus and being transformed ever recorded.

Prayer can change leaders into great men. It is a prayer I pray today for my leaders. I do not want a Jehoram in a place of power, authority and civic rule.

There are many Christians to-day who are doing things that are not pleasing to God, and leaving undone things which would be pleasing to God. When you speak to them about these things they will confront you at once with the question, “Is there any command in the Bible not to do this thing?” And if you cannot show them some verse in which the matter in question is plainly forbidden, they think they are under no obligation whatever to give it up; but a true child of God does not demand a specific command. If we make it our study to find out and to do the things which are pleasing to God, He will make His study to do the things which are pleasing to us. Here again we find the explanation of much unanswered prayer: We are not making it the study of our lives to know what would please our Father, and so our prayers are not answered. – R.A. Torrey

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It is not a little thing to lay out my case in prayer

When the Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites come out in battle against Judah, Jehoshaphat comes to God in prayer and lays the whole thing to Him. He asks God to protect His people. It is a model prayer, bringing in the promise of God.

That promise was given time and time again and how many times was that promised ignored? Not today, and I loved the response.

They have lived here and have built a temple to honor you, knowing that if any disaster struck them to punish them—a war,[b] an epidemic, or a famine—then they could come and stand in front of this Temple where you are worshiped. They could pray to you in their trouble, and you would hear them and rescue them. – 2 Chronicles 20:8-9  GNT

Here is another look at prayer.

When the Lamb broke open the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and they were given seven trumpets.

Another angel, who had a gold incense container, came and stood at the altar. He was given a lot of incense to add to the prayers of all God’s people and to offer it on the gold altar that stands before the throne. The smoke of the burning incense went up with the prayers of God’s people from the hands of the angel standing before God. Then the angel took the incense container, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it on the earth. There were rumblings and peals of thunder, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. – Revelation 8:1-5  GNT

The power of the prayers of God’s people – as their prayers go up – God’s justice comes down. It reminds me of the prayer Jesus taught us to pray – Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. I love praying that prayer because I can pray it in full confidence that my praying is not in vain. I need to remember that my prayers are like incense before God – He will respond. 

I love the idea of corporate prayer being part of this.

“The greatest workings of God come by corporate prayer, and we will not see the power of God in sufficient measure to transform the world until we pray together.” – John Franklin

While not the most visible aspect of Christian ministry, it is crucial to the success of the Great Commission. Things happen and take place because of prayer.

You will succeed, not by military might or by your own strength, but by my spirit. – Zechariah 4:6b  GNT

I think of ministries like Charles Spurgeon who had men praying under his pulpit. D.L. Moody’s ministry came about by a prayer meeting at a YMCA. George Whitfield walked through the fields at night having spent all that time in prayer. Here Zechariah reminds me that it is the Holy Spirit that is released. The Holy Spirit descends on me when I pray. The Holy Spirit loves a heart that is willing to wait on Him.  

If we would have power in prayer, we must be earnest students of His Word to find out what His will regarding us is, and then having found it, do it. One unconfessed act of disobedience on our part will shut the ear of God against many petitions. R.A. Torrey

The returns of prayer – guidance on how to pray

What does it take for God to be moved? When I pray, is that when I see God’s presence moving in my life as He gloriously steps in and delivers me?

Be silent, everyone, in the presence of the Lord, for he is coming from his holy dwelling place. – Zechariah 2:13 GNT

It is in the asking, seeking and knocking as I seek the mercy of God and the work of His hands in my life – prayer moves God and I can see Him coming.

For those who cannot, I am learning that questions help. Such as in the case of Jesus at the pool.

Jesus saw him lying there, and he knew that the man had been sick for such a long time; so he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” – John 5:6 GNT

When I am asked by someone to pray for them I usually do not right away. I am learning to ask them what they want God to do for them? In fact, when I am walking in my neighbourhood and greet someone and share that I would like to pray for them – this is the first question I ask. It gives me discernment at many levels and when I ask God for wisdom as I pray, the Holy Spirit also guides me on how to pray as well.

I was once speaking to a woman who had been a professed Christian, but had given it all up. I asked her why she was not a Christian still. She replied, because she did not believe the Bible. I asked her why she did not believe the Bible.
“Because I have tried its promises and found them untrue.”
“Which promises?”
“The promises about prayer.”
“Which promises about prayer?”
“Does it not say in the Bible, ‘Whatsoever ye ask believing ye shall receive’?”
“It says something nearly like that.”
“Well, I asked fully expecting to get and did not receive, so the promise failed.”
“Was the promise made to you?”
“Why, certainly, it is made to all Christians, is it not?”
“No, God carefully defines who the ‘ye’s’ are, whose believing prayers He agrees to answer.”
I then turned her to 1 John 3:22, and read the description of those whose prayers had
power with God.
“Now,” I said, “were you keeping His commandments and doing those things which
are pleasing in His sight?”
She frankly confessed that she was not, and soon came to see that the real difficulty was not with God’s promises, but with herself. That is the difficulty with many an unanswered prayer to-day: the one who offers it is not obedient. – R. A. Torrey

What happens to our prayers – makes us pray

I have never wondered what happens to my prayers when I pray, but this was an interesting description for me —

As he did so, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. – Revelation 5:8 GNT

Remarkable imagery on how my prayers are offered to Jesus. I am sure there is symbolism here, however, I have no doubt that Jesus intercedes for me. In terms of symbolism, I see the preciousness of my prayers – incense, which is modelled in the Old Testament too and they are held in gold bowls.

The harps symbolise worship. Prayer and worship come together.

They sang a new song:

“You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to break open its seals.
For you were killed, and by your sacrificial death you bought for God
    people from every tribe, language, nation, and race.
You have made them a kingdom of priests to serve our God,
    and they shall rule on earth.” – Revelation 5:9-10 GNT

I am encouraged in my purpose to live as a priest to serve God. Through my praise and prayer followed by my obedience, the purposes of God are established.

How long does it take? There have been a lot of prayers that have asked God, how long?

 How much longer will it be before you show them mercy? – Zechariah 1:12b GNT

It will be when it is time and until then, I pray.

John says in so many words, that everything he asked for he got. How many of us can say this: “Whatsoever I ask I receive”? But John explains why this was so, “Because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” In other words, the one who expects God to do as he asks Him, must on his part DO WHATEVER GOD BIDS HIM. If we give a listening ear to all God’s commands to us, He will give a listening ear to all our petitions to Him. If, on the other hand, we turn a deaf ear to His precepts, He will be likely to turn a deaf ear to our prayers. Here we find the secret of much unanswered prayer. We are not listening to God’s Word, and therefore He is not listening to our petitions. – R. A. Torrey

This is the way to pray – to pray for others

Looking at how people pray when they are in tight spots of life helps me model my own thoughts and attitudes of prayer. King Asa was in such a spot when in the tenth year of his leadership the Ethiopians came against Judah. A million men against six hundred thousand. Here is King Asa’s prayer …

Asa prayed to the Lord his God, “O Lord, you can help a weak army as easily as a powerful one. Help us now, O Lord our God, because we are relying on you, and in your name we have come out to fight against this huge army. Lord, you are our God; no one can hope to defeat you.” – 2 Chronicles 14:11 GNT

Help – the only word used to describe the ask. Being prone to pray and worry, or pray and work it out or devise a program followed by prayer for God’s blessing, we miss the purpose of prayer – not to get my will done, but rather God’s.

This is another example of that expression – this prayer fills my soul with strength.

The four living creatures sing songs of glory and honor and thanks to the one who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever. When they do so, the twenty-four elders fall down before the one who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives forever and ever. They throw their crowns down in front of the throne and say,

“Our Lord and God! You are worthy
    to receive glory, honor, and power.
For you created all things,
    and by your will they were given existence and life.” – Revelation 4:9-11 GNT

If prayer ever gets dull, or I become easily distracted, not focused, I quiet my soul in this type of prayer and I find God personal and alive.

When I am praying, I am talking to God. The words above scream out that I am accessing my powerful God. My God who is worthy of all the glory is spending time with me. It is in recognizing who I am spending time with that creates my focus. Prayer becomes the most important part of my life.

There is power in UNITED PRAYER. Of course there is power in the prayer of an individual, but there is vastly increased power in united prayer. God delights in the unity of His people, and seeks to emphasize it in every way, and so He pronounces a special blessing upon united prayer. We read in Matt. 18:19, “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven.” This unity, however, must be real. The passage just quoted does not say that if two shall agree in asking, but if two shall agree AS TOUCHING anything they shall ask. Two persons might agree to ask for the same thing, and yet there be no real agreement as touching the thing they asked. One might ask it because he really desired it, the other might ask it simply to please his friend. But where there is real agreement, where the Spirit of God brings two believers into perfect harmony as concerning that which they may ask of God, where the Spirit lays the same burden on two hearts; in all such prayer there is absolutely irresistible
power. – R.A. Torrey