Public prayer answered

Those from one city will say to those from another, ‘We are going to worship the Lord Almighty and pray for his blessing. Come with us!’ Many[c] peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to worship the Lord Almighty and to pray for his blessing. – Zechariah 8:21-22 GNT

What a demonstration of public worship and of prayer. God is the object of that worship and prayer, not any idols that may have been built and prayed to before. While there are many ways to pray, and private prayer is definitley one of them, there is something to be said about public prayer – a place where God grants His presence and shows Himself to be a God hearing and answering prayer.

There is a call to each and every generation to make the duty of prayer a part of their conscience business of the day. They would not live a day without spending time with God. In fact, their very being is dependent on Him as is receiving His mercy and grace.

Jesus shared a public prayer with us in the raising of Lazarus.

Deeply moved once more, Jesus went to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone placed at the entrance. “Take the stone away!” Jesus ordered.

Martha, the dead man’s sister, answered, “There will be a bad smell, Lord. He has been buried four days!”

Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believed?” They took the stone away. Jesus looked up and said, “I thank you, Father, that you listen to me. I know that you always listen to me, but I say this for the sake of the people here, so that they will believe that you sent me.” After he had said this, he called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” He came out, his hands and feet wrapped in grave cloths, and with a cloth around his face. “Untie him,” Jesus told them, “and let him go.” – John 11:38-44 GNT

There are a few reason Jesus prayed out loud other than this was a time that the crowd (and I) needed to hear Him pray. I love the fact that He did not pray this prayer for His own benefit. I also loved the fact that He did not ask God to raise Lazarus, but rather thanked God for listening to His prayers. His only request that the people listening would believe that the Father had sent Him.

Much prayer is insincere. People ask for things which they do not wish. Many a woman is praying for the conversion of her husband, who does not really wish her husband to be converted. She thinks that she does, but if she knew what would be involved in the conversion of her husband, how it would necessitate an entire revolution in his manner of doing business, and how consequently it would reduce their income and make necessary an entire change in their method of living, the real prayer of her heart would be, if she were to be sincere with God:
“O God, do not convert my husband.”
She does not wish his conversion at so great cost.

Many a church is praying for a revival that does not really desire a revival. They think they do, for to their minds a revival means an increase of membership, an increase of income, an increase of reputation among the churches, but if they knew what a real revival meant, what a searching of hearts on the part of professed Christians would be involved, what a radical transformation of individual, domestic and social life would be brought about, and many other things that would come to pass if the Spirit of God was poured out in reality and power; if all this were known, the real cry of the church would be:
“O God, keep us from having a revival.”

Many a minister is praying for the baptism with the Holy Spirit who does not really desire it. He thinks he does, for the baptism with the Spirit means to him new joy, new power in preaching the Word, a wider reputation among men, a larger prominence in the church of Christ. But if he understood what a baptism with the Holy Spirit really involved, how for example it would necessarily bring him into antagonism with the world, and with unspiritual Christians, how it would cause his name to be “cast out as evil,” how it might necessitate his leaving a good comfortable living and going down to work in the slums, or even in some foreign land; if he understood all this, his prayer quite likely would be—if he were to express the real wish of his heart,— “O God, save me from being baptized with the Holy Ghost.”

But when we do come to the place where we really desire the conversion of friends at any cost, really desire the outpouring of the Holy Spirit whatever it may involve, really desire the baptism with the Holy Ghost come what may, where we desire anything “in truth” and then call upon God for it “in truth,” God is going to hear. – R.A. Torrey