Prayer for spiritual needs are answered

Kisongo Trek Resource

Another great Psalm that leads us to prayer is Psalm 79. It starts with lament, moves into supplication and then there is prayer for vindication, forgiveness and reprisal and finally ending in praise for God responding.

Lord, will you be angry with us forever?
    Will your anger continue to burn like fire? – Psalm 79:5 GNT

I love that the writer did not ask why there was trouble but rather the question of how long must they suffer. It is the question that moved them from lament to prayer.

Turn your anger on the nations that do not worship you,
    on the people who do not pray to you. – Psalm 79:6 GNT

Doesn’t this make sense – why pick on me? Why not the ones who are really out of line? Hear us the prayerful, and mess around with the prayerless.

Do not punish us for the sins of our ancestors.
    Have mercy on us now;
    we have lost all hope. – Psalm 79:8 GNT

The urgency of the prayer was the acknowledgment that there were generational sins involved. I need to make this my prayer and make it a continual prayer. 

The concept of former iniquities suggests a principle. “Sins accumulate against nations. Generations lay up stores of transgressions to be visited upon their successors; hence this urgent prayer.” – Spurgeon

The Book of Common Prayer has this verse sounding like this –

O remember not our old sins, but have mercy upon us, and that soon; for we are come to great misery.”

I have never called on God in regards to His honour, but I like it when I read this prayer here. One day I might have too.

Help us, O God, and save us;
    rescue us and forgive our sins
    for the sake of your own honor. – Psalm 79:9 GNT

I will try to wisely use it understanding it will be my greatest weapon when I am in battle with the evil one. In fact, is not the name and honour of God the mightiest weapon I have when it comes to prayer?

“Prayer is therefore here made by the faithful, that God, not to gratify any vindictive spirit of theirs, but to vindicate his own attributes, would break the teeth of the oppressor, and work a public and glorious salvation for his chosen.” – Horne

There is something about God watching over me that gives me joy in the midst of my troubles.

I watch over it and water it continually. I guard it night and day so that no one will harm it. – Isaiah 27:3 GNT

In fact this idea comes from Jesus teaching on delivering me from evil and I know He hears for His is the power. For this reason I have courage when I pray today.

We have courage in God’s presence, because we are sure that he hears us if we ask him for anything that is according to his will. He hears us whenever we ask him; and since we know this is true, we know also that he gives us what we ask from him. – 1 John 5:14-15 GNT

My courage comes from the assurance of eternal life. I am not sure that one could pray according to the will of God except that they would be in a place where they have already prayed asking God to save them from their sins.

THE PROMISE: WHEN WE PRAY, GOD HEARS US AND WE HAVE THE REQUESTS THAT WE ASK OF HIM

Isn’t this why prayer is not optional – it is absolutely essential for if I do not pray then I am not living by faith in God. And if I do not pray, I am trusting in myself, which is no difference to what the world is doing.

  • This promise means I can have courage when I approach God in prayer
  • This promise means I come into His presence when I pray
  • This promise means I can ask anything according to His will and He will hear me
  • This promise means that I know He hears me and I will receive from Him the requests that I have asked from Him

Here is a truth I know to be real – I must ask according to God’s will. Only when I do not know God am I not seeking God’s will in prayer. Prayer is not talking God into giving me what I want, it is rather me submitting my will to His.

Maybe the big question is, how do I determine what God’s will is? And the next difficulty to overcome is how can I pray according to God’s will when His ways are not even my ways – I am thinking in ways that make sense to me. Ask John when it came to the death of his brother James. James died, yet Peter was rescued from the same fate. Notice Jesus did not pray that Peter would be able to resist the evil one’s attack, as I would have, He prayed rather that Peter’s faith would not fail and that he would be restored.

Prayer is what I do even when I do not understand God’s will or ways. I should be praying for God to give life to whose who are separated from Him.

If you see a believer commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray to God, who will give that person life. This applies to those whose sins do not lead to death. But there is sin which leads to death, and I do not say that you should pray to God about that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which does not lead to death. – 1 John 5:16-17 GNT

Prayer is essential in the restoration process.

…thou must in thy meditation quicken thy own heart. Enter into a serious debate with it. Plead with it in the most moving and affecting language, and urge it with the most powerful and weighty arguments. It is what holy men of God have practiced in all ages. Thus David: ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.’ And again; ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul! and forget not all his benefits!’ This soliloquy is to be made use of according to the several affections of the soul, and according to its several necessities. It is a preaching to one’s self; for as every good master or father of a family is a good preacher to his own family, so every good Christian is a good preacher to his own soul. – Richard Baxter

 

 

The value of prayer

the value of prayer

It was interesting to read in Leviticus chapter six this morning and in particular, a new element was introduced – fire. In my research I could not believe how many commented on this passage and its significance was not lost to me. Let me share some of them with you, but first let me allow you to read this one verse in particular.

The fire must always be kept burning on the altar and never allowed to go out. – Leviticus 6:13 GNT 

“No more should our faith, love, zeal (that flame of God, as Solomon calls it, Song of Solomon 8:9), that should never go out; the waters should not quench it, nor the ashes cover it.” – John Trapp

F.B. Meyer observed that the perpetual fire was an emblem of:

· God’s love, because there was never and will never be a time when God does not love.

· The prayers of Jesus for His people, because He forever lives to pray for His people (Hebrews 7:25).

· The ministry of the Holy Spirit, because the fire first lit on the Day of Pentecost still burns among the people of God.

By this law we are taught to keep up in our minds a constant disposition to all acts of piety and devotion, an habitual affection to divine things, so as to be always ready to every good word and work. We must not only not quench the Spirit, but we must stir up the gift that is in us. Though we be not always sacrificing, yet we must keep the fire of holy love always burning; and thus we must pray always. – Matthew Henry

Charles Wesley brings several of these interpretations together in his hymn – O Thou Who Camest From Above

O thou who earnest from above
The pure celestial fire to impart
Kindle a flame of sacred love
On the mean altar of my heart.

There let it for Thy glory burn
With inextinguishable blaze
And trembling to its source return
In humble prayer and fervent praise

In considering what prayer may look like, I am encouraged when I read Psalm five.

Listen to my words, O Lord,
    and hear my sighs. – Psalm 5:1 GNT

It is not about keeping our eyes closed and speaking prayer continuously – it could be very much a simple or deep or exasperated sigh. It is about God listening and in this case hearing from my heart. I believe God can answer prayer even before I speak them.

In no means does this take place of the spoken prayer for we are taught of its importance.

However, when I do not know how to pray or the exact words to pray I know the Holy Spirit will help me pray.

His next statement matters.

Listen to my cry for help,
    my God and king!

I pray to you, O Lord – Psalm 5:2 GNT

When David uses the word “cry” I believe it is for the sense of urgency involved in the need.

You hear my voice in the morning;
at sunrise I offer my prayer[b]
    and wait for your answer. – Psalm 5:3 GNT

I am a morning person so I like the habit starting my day with prayer. Who knows what the day will be bringing? Who knows what decisions and temptations will be coming my way? What kind of leadership will I be called on to perform? I am feeble, helpless, sinful, prone to making mistakes, living in a world of temptation and surrounded by dangers I know nothing about. When people talk about fitness, I practice my spiritual fitness looking to God each morning for His guidance and protection.

How can I be expected to follow God if I do not have instructions for the day? It is my time to declare Him as Lord when I do. My time with Him in the morning becomes my “tithe” of the day. He knows my sincerity when I do.

 It is not unexpected to read the apostle Paul urging the Christians in Colossae to pray and to do so persistently.

Be persistent in prayer, and keep alert as you pray, giving thanks to God. At the same time pray also for us, so that God will give us a good opportunity to preach his message about the secret of Christ. For that is why I am now in prison. Pray, then, that I may speak, as I should, in such a way as to make it clear. – Colossians 4:2-4 GNT

He adds two other elements that increase the value of prayer – “keep alert” and “giving thanks.” It is about being spiritual aware of what should be prayed about – to my needs and the needs of others. I love the idea of giving thanks because I know the temptation to fill my time of prayer with asks more than praise. The idea of keeping alert is something I practice before prayer – during prayer – after prayer – I need to be aware of God’s leading.

Paul also asks for prayers on his behalf – a bit unexpected. But as a man with passions there was no special spiritual elevation. He was tempted, capable of weakness and fatigue and faced the challenges that I face, that we all face, trying to do what is right.

However, I do love the specific prayer request he made – “Pray, then, that I may speak, as I should, in such a way as to make it clear.” He wanted good opportunities – he wanted open doors – he wanted success to have the gospel preached and ultimately he wanted to see changed hearts and lives. 

Everything in this passage highlights the value of prayer and how it relates to the gospel. If I ask God to help me, to guide and direct me will doors open for me in ministry?

He had been comparing Himself to a vine, His disciples to the branches in the vine. Some branches continued in the vine, that is, remained in living union with the vine, so that the sap or life of the vine constantly flowed into these branches. They had no independent life of their own. Everything in them was simply the outcome of the life of the vine flowing into them. Their buds, their leaves, their blossoms, their fruit, were really not theirs, but the buds, leaves, blossoms and fruit of the vine. Other branches were completely severed from the vine, or else the flow of the sap or life of the vine into them was in some way hindered. Now for us to abide in Christ is for us to bear the same relation to Him that the first sort of branches bear to the vine; that is to say, to abide in Christ is to renounce any independent life of our own, to give up trying to think our thoughts, or form our resolutions, or cultivate our feelings, and simply and constantly look to Christ to think His thoughts in us, to form His purposes in us, to feel His emotions and affections in us. It is to renounce all life independent of Christ, and constantly to look to Him for the inflow of His life into us, and the outworking of His life through us. When we do this, and in so far as we do this, our prayers will obtain that which we seek from God. – Torrey