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Topical Prayer: Misc

2. Miscellaneous

The A.C.T.S. of Prayer

“Pray??” “I don’t know what to say.” “Talk to God?” “I don’t know what to talk about.” If we haven’t said this we surely have felt it. The following is a topical outline for the content of our prayers, whether public or private. Knowing what to talk about can not only help us get started in praying but also can us have the right content and balance in our praying. The order is very important. Don’t miss the message in the order of the points of the outline. “Supplication” or requesting from God is the last thing not the first thing and surely not the only thing in our prayers. God is not a cosmic bell hop to supply our desires. We are to first “adore” Him for Who He is and then “confess” that we are unworthy and then “thank” Him for what He has done, is doing, and has promised to do. Then if we have something that we desire, as we abide in Christ, we ask or “supplicate” our loving and generous God for those things in the will of God. This acrostic is easily remember, even when we are praying with our eyes shut.

Adoration

“Adoration may be defined the homage rendered to God in the immediate view of his majesty, blessedness and glory, filling ;the soul with corresponding emotions of veneration and awe.” Palmer

Ex 15:11-- “Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?”

Ps 104:1,2-- “Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. 2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:”

“Oh, the selfishness of the thought which restricts prayer to mere petition! Shall nothing drive us to God but the pressure of want? Shall we think of him only when we are hungry, and forget him when we are full?..Is there nothing attractive in the character of Jehovah Himself to draw us with the power of a magnet?” Palmer

Confession

Confession means “speaking together”-- relating to sin, it means that we agree with God about our sin. To confess our sins is to acknowledge the Sovereignly of God. A true Christian will be grieved when he sees sin in his life and will agree with God that it is sin ;and he will turn from it.

Ps 51:4--“Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.”

Lk 18:13--“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.”

Ja 5:16--“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Ac 19:18--“And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.”

Thanksgiving

To give thanks is to acknowledge benefit received and express gratitude.

Co. 4:2-- “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;”

1 Th 5:18-- “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

1 Co 1:4-- “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ..”

2 Co 9:15-- “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”

Ro 1:21-- “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

Supplication

Supplication is prayer as the expression of need. Sometimes our need is an indication of what God wants to do us.

Ps 55:1--“Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication.”

Ph 4:6-- “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

John 15:7 “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”

(Each of the above could be the subject making four sessions of prayer)

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Adoring God

Sometimes we use the acrostic “A.C.T.S.” as an outline to help us in prayer. A = adore, C = confession, T = thanksgiving, S = supplication. Let’s consider the first, Adoring God. A dictionary defines “adore” 1. To worship as divine, 2. To love or revere deeply. “Adoration may be defined as the homage rendered to God in the immediate view of his majesty, blessedness and glory, filling the soul with corresponding emotions of veneration and awe.” Palmer

When Jesus was asked “‘which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’” Mat 22:36.37 John follows this with “The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 Jn 4:8 The true child of God has a love for Him but if it does not express itself in verbal communication is not a very passionate love.

Adoring God should be the easy but sometimes it is hard to express our love to Him. The problem is not because God is lacking in adorable qualities, but that our depraved nature can not appreciate the character of God. Even though we are saved from the awful and eternal judgment of God, and even saved from the sorrow and consequences of sin here in the nasty now and now, still, our nature is dull and slow to receive an understanding and appreciation of the character of God. Sometime it is hard to express our love for God when great and unexplained tragedy has occurred in our lives. Job said “If he slays me, I will hope in him.” 13:15. It is wiser to bow in submission and adoration of God than to try to judge him.

To adore God involves both our understanding and our emotions. As we come to understand that God is “omnipresent (is in all places at all times), omnisciencent (knows everything whether past, present, future, or potential), omnipotent (is all powerful wether directly of through means), immutable (can not change, is always the same), infinitely holy and completely just, glorious in all His manifestation, self-existent and eternal, sovereign, faithful, wise, loving, graceful, merciful, long-suffering, gentle, kind, and the list goes on and on. Who is a more loveable person than God? There is none other. “Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” Ex 15:11 Who most deserves to be loved and adored? It is the God of our salvation.

God is to be approached in both awe and adoration. When we pray we should tell God that we love Him because of who He is and what He has done for us. “Oh, the selfishness of the thought which restricts prayer to mere petition! Shall nothing drive us to God but the pressure of want? Shall we think of him only when we are hungry, and forget him when we are full?..Is there nothing attractive in the character of Jehovah Himself to draw us with the power of a magnet?” Palmer

If we abide in adoration for our God sin not will capture our affections. “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” Jn 14:15 Obedience is a response of devotion and adoration of the Redeemer who set us free.

God has not saved us without respect to our emotions, they are a vital part of our relation and communication with Him. Our counselors tell us that is important for husband and wife to express their love for one another in both actions and words. It is important that we tell our spouse “I Love You” but is more important that we tell God “I Love You” and Jesus “I Love You.” We need to tell God that we love him. It does not fulfill a need in Him, but it does please Him and glorify him. We have a genuine need to express our love and adoration to God personally (secretly and corporately). This process gets our emotions out where we can recognize and confirm them and have a stronger and more intimate relationship with our God.

Our Lord ranks love for Him as of more importance than love for our family, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Mat 10:37 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Lk 14:26 Our Lord is using the term “hate” in a figurative sense, which is operating on a relative scale. God is to be loved more than family or self.. Our love for God should make our love for a spouse, a parent or a child seem like hate, relatively. Our service for God is hindered if of our love for Him is not of the right quality.

Since “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Rom 5:5 shouldn’t we pour out our love to God. Privately for sure and publicly for His glory. As we pray we should express our love to Jesus. Surely we are not ashamed of Him, especially after He has done so much for us.

“Lips cry ‘God be merciful’ That ne’er cry ‘God be praised.’ O come let us adore Him!” The Kneeling Christian

“The most healthy state of a Christian is to be always empty in self and constantly depending upon the Lord for supplies; to be always poor in self and rich in Jesus; weak as water personally, but mighty through God to do great exploits; and hence the use of prayer, because, while it adores God, it lays the creature where it should be, in the very dust.” CHS

More Love to Thee, O Christ

.

More love to thee, O Christ,

More love to thee!

Hear thou the prayer I make

On bended knee;

This is my earnest plea,

More love, O Christ, to thee,

More love to Thee

More love Thee

Once earthly joy I craved,

Sought peace and rest;

Now Thee alone I seek’

Give what is best;

This all my prayer shall be,

More love, O Christ to thee,

More love to Thee,

More love to Thee

Let sorrow do its work,

Send grief and pain;

Sweet are the messengers,

Sweet their refrain,

When they can sing with me,

More love, O Christ, to Thee,

More love to Thee,

More love to Thee

Then shall my latest breath

Whisper thy praise;

This be the parting cry,

My heart shall raise,

This still its prayer shall be,

More love, O Christ to Thee,

More love to Thee,

More love to Thee.

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Confession in Prayer

Sometimes we use the acrostic “A.C.T.S.” to help us in prayer. A = adore, C = confession, T = thanksgiving, S = supplication. Let us look at confession in prayer. Confession means “speaking together”-- relating to sin, it means that we agree with God about our sin. “...God and ourselves, unite in a concurrent declaration in regard to sin. God...declares it the abominable thing which his soul hateth. The sinner...feels the terribleness of it in his own experience; and running upon this line, unites with God in declaring it that abominable thing which every soul ought to hate.” (Theology of Prayer, B.M. Palmer) A true Christian will be grieved when he sees sin in his life and will agree with God that it is sin and he will turn from it. Confessing our sin clears God of our wrong doing and protects His name. Confession is necessary in order to pray: 1. Because God is offended. 2. Because We are guilty, therefore, disqualified to pray. 3. Because the essence of prayer is honestly communicating with God.

We need to confess that our basic nature is to sin.

That we are far from God and not naturally in submission to God’s law and will. The theologians call this original sin. “Look, I was prone to do wrong from birth; I was a sinner the moment my mother conceived me.” Ps 51:5 We are not sinners because of bad examples around us. We were willing and eager student to learn sin. “ If God places no trust in his holy ones, if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes, how much less man, who is abominable and corrupt, who drinks in evil like water! ” Job 15:15,16

We need to confess actual sins that we have committed.

Privately committed sins need to be confessed privately. Publicly committed sins need to be confessed publicly. We can sin in act, word, and thought. Our sin may not get out of our thoughts but it is still actual sin. We need to recognize that we are guilty and that it separates us from God and His blessings. We need to confess our personal sins “The tax collector, however, stood far off and would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am!’” Lk 18:13

We need to confess our corporate sins.

Ezra confessed the corporate sin of Israel. “I prayed, ‘O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed, my God, to lift my face to you. For our iniquities have climbed higher than our head, and our guilt extends to the heavens.’” Ezra 9:6

We need to confess that our sin is basically against God.

Even though sin hurts other, it is basically sin against God and must always be dwelt with in our relationship with God. “Against you, especially you, I have sinned; I have done what is sinful in your sight. So you are just when you confront me; you are right when you condemn me.” Ps 51:4

We need to confess to one another.

“So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.” Jam 5:16 This keeps us humble, makes us accountable and helps us discipline ourselves to prevent it happening again.

We need to confess our sins so God will hear us.

“ If I had harbored sin in my heart, the sovereign Master would not have listened. However, God heard; he listened to my prayer. God deserves praise, for he did not reject my prayer or abandon his love for me!” Ps 66:18-20

It is not a matter of “If we have sinned, we should confess.” The Bible tells us plainly that we have sinned and we are to confess it. “If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.” 1 Jn 1:8-10 The basic definition for sin in the NT is “to miss the mark,” this definition alone give us abundant opportunity for confession because we have all missed very badly the standard that God’s holiness requires.

How do we discover the sin in our life to confess? To compare ourselves to others will not reveal our sin to us. On the contrary, it will increase our sin by hiding the sin we have and feeding our pride. We must put ourselves before God and give Him time to show us ourselves. This can be done personally and corporately. The Psalmist said “Examine me, and probe my thoughts! Test me, and know my concerns! See if there is any idolatrous tendency in me, and lead me in the reliable ancient path!” Ps 139:23-24 The most mature saints have not matured past the need for confession but have learned how to detect sin in their lives and deal with it quickly. “The one who covers his transgressions will not prosper, but whoever confesses and abandons them will find mercy.” Prov 28:13

"Prayer has often been compared to breathing; we have only to carry out the comparison fully to see how wonderful the place is which the holy spirit occupies. With every breath we expel the impure air which would soon cause our death, and inhale again the fresh air to which we owe our life. So we give out from us, in confession the sins, in prayer the needs and the desires of our heart. And in drawing in our breath again, we inhale the fresh air of the promises, and the love, and the life of God in Christ. We do this through the holy spirit, who is the breath of our life..." A. Murray

What better can we do, than to the place

Repairing, where He judged us, prostrate fall

Before Him reverent; and there confess

Humbly our faults, and pardon beg; with tears

Watering the ground, and with our sighs the air

Frequenting?

(John Milton has Adam saying to Eve)

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Corporate Prayer: What Is It

The word “corporate” is an adjective meaning 1. Of or being a corporation. 2. Combined into one body: joint or corporate action. The term “corporate prayer” would mean two or more children of God praying the same prayer at the same time. When one person is verbalizing the prayer we call it “leading in prayer.” If more than one person is verbalizing the prayer, we call it “praying in unison.” If all are praying the same prayer in mind and spirit then we are experiencing true “Corporate prayer.” “Corporate prayer” is not just several people in the same room taking turns praying, but each one experiencing union of soul with the one leading and all becoming one in communion with God. This union of mind and spirit is the result of the work of the Spirit.

Paul make two concluding statements about tongues in the church service: 1 Cor 14:15-17 “What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not edified.” and in verse 26 “What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” The thrust of Paul’s teaching is that when someone speaks, sings, or prays it must be with understanding so others can participate and agree and say “Amen” which means “so be it.”

It is normal that not every one gets to pray audibly in the prayer meeting. Some think that they have wasted their time in coming to the meeting since they did not get to participate and they may have done so if that is all they came to do. But that should not and need not be the case. We that are silent need to join our spirits with the one speaking to God. “Even though we may not take part audibly in the action, yet if we are there in a right spirit - there really to wait upon God, we marvelously help the tone of a meeting.” C.H. Mackintosh

It is not always necessary that we take prayer requests, we can lead one another to the throne to pray with the “corporate support” of the entire group. If one Jacob can prevail over the angel, then what could several Jacobs accomplish? “While it is true that one man who knows how to pray and make intercession in the Spirit has far more power with God than a host of half-hearted ones, it is nevertheless a glorious fact that the prayers of a sanctified host, when of one heart and soul, become irresistible.” –Thomas Payne

Our Lord Jesus teaches us about agreeing together, “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Mat 18:19-20 This lesson of our Lord involves more than just agreeing in prayer, but it is fundamental to His teaching and to effectual corporate prayer.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Compare a machine in working order with a box of the same parts. “What we cannot obtain by solitary prayer we may by social...because where our individual strength fails, there union and concord are effectual.” Chrysostom 400 AD

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”

Lev 26:6-9 “I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land. ‘But you will chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword; five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword. So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you.” A ratio of effectiveness of 1/20 increases to 1/100 by an increase in corporate size. “There is a power in conferring and covenanting, on the part of kindred spirits, to come before God, and plead together some special promise.” The Prayer Meeting and Its History, J. B. Johnston

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“The prayer that God particularly delights to answer is united prayer. There is power in the prayer of a single individual, and the prayer of individuals has wrought great things, but there is far greater power in united prayer.” The Power of Prayer, R.A. Torrey

"It is a tremendous responsibility to lead God's people to God's throne and into God's presence in public prayer. God can so strongly anoint the one who leads in prayer that all present are brought into consciousness of God's presence until the one praying is forgotten and the people as one in heart and soul unite and agree in the prayer." Mighty Prevailing Prayer, Wesley Duewel, p 129

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Corporate Prayer: The Open Secret

By “open secret” we mean something that is common knowledge but everyone’s actions make it look like it is a secret. Concerning the apostolical history of meetings for prayer Spurgeon said, “these meetings must have been very common indeed. They were, doubtless, every-day things...” Let’s look at the N.T. passages that refer to the “corporate prayer meeting.”

Matt 6:5,6 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” The Jews practice was that everywhere there were ten men they should build a house for prayer, this they called the Synagogue.

Mark 11:17 “And He began to teach and say to them, Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? But you have made it a robbers’ den.” (Lk 19:46)

Lk 1:8-10 “Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.”

Lk 18:10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.”

Act 1:13,14 “When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” One of the first uses of the prayer-meeting, then, is to encourage a discouraged people.

Ac 2:41-43 “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.” If we are to understand the functions of “teaching” “fellowship , “breaking of bread” as corporate functions why would we think of this reference to “prayer” as anything else? Just look at the results.

Ac 3:1-7 “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, Look at us! And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk! And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened.” Today the Church in America has the silver and gold but not the power to change peoples lives.

Ac 4:31 “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” The prayer-meeting is the comfort and resource of a persecuted church.

Ac 6:4 “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” If “ministry of the word” is corporate why not “prayer”?

Ac 12:5 “So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.”

This prayer meeting may have been in a home but still it was the church praying in a prayer meeting(s) that prevailed.

Ac 13:2,3 “While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” The early Christians had an atmosphere in which the Holy Spirit could speak and here He give instruction for missionary operations.

Ac 14:22,23 “Strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” In the midst of persecution we must commend each other to the Lord by prayer.

Ac 16:12,13 “and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia, a Roman colony; and we were staying in this city for some days. And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled.”

A prayer-meeting became the first foothold of the gospel in Europe just as it is for any work of God.

1 Cor 11:4,5 “Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.” 14:15 “What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.” Paul was so concerned about “corporate prayer” in the Corinthian church that he gave detailed instruction for it.

1 Thess 5:17 “pray without ceasing;” This is given in a context of exhortation to the corporate church body.

1 Tim 2:1,8 “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men....Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” When Paul gave instruction to Timothy he included corporate prayer.

“How could we expect a blessing if we were too idle to ask for it? How could we look for a Pentecost if we never met with one accord, in one place, to wait upon the Lord? Brethren, we shall never see much change for the better in our churches in general till the prayer meeting occupies a higher place in the esteem of Christians.” Only a Prayer Meeting, p 13. We like to glory in Spurgeon’s success but we fail to strive for a Monday night service which he said “scarcely ever numbers less than from a thousand to twelve hundred attendants...” p 27

“The prayer-meeting is an institution which ought to be very precious to us, and to be cherished very much by us as a Church, for to it we owe everything. When our comparatively little chapel was all but empty, was it not a well-known fact that the prayer-meeting was always full? And when the Church increased, and the place was scarce large enough, it was the prayer meeting that did it all. When we went to Exeter Hall, we were a praying people, indeed; and when we entered on the larger speculation, as it seemed, of the Surrey Music-hall, what cries and tears went up to heaven for our success! And so it has been ever since. It is in the spirit of prayer that our strength lies; and if we lose this, the locks will be shorn from Samson, and the Church of God will become weak as water and though we, as Samson did, go and try to shake ourselves as at other times, we shall hear the cry, The Philistines be upon thee, and our eyes will be put out, and our glory will depart, unless we continue mighty and earnest in prayer.”

What Should Be the Great Object of the Prayer-meeting,

1. First, it must be the glory of God, or else the petition is not sufficiently put up.

2. And then, in subservience to that, let us pray for a blessing on the Church.

3. Then we should also pray for the conversion of the ungodly.

“History confirms the truth that wherever evangelical and vital religion flourish, there lives the earnest gatherings for social prayer.” The Prayer Meeting and Its History, J. B. Johnston

A church is never more like the New Testament church than when it is praying.

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Corporate Prayer: How to Have the Manifest Presence of God

The basic assumption of James 4:8 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” is that there is a something more than the omnipresence of God. God can draw nearer than the presence that He has at all times in all places. Before the fall God came in special visitation to Adam and Eve. “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” Gen 3:8 That presence must have been something more than His omnipresence. When they fell they hid from that presence. In our salvation God has restored our relationship with Him but we are still struggling with His special presence. What is the manifest presence of God? It is not the presence of God as He is all present or omnipresence. It is not His providence that is ever waiting on us. It is when He becomes undeniably real, irresistibly and powerfully changing saint and sinner, when He gloriously glorifies Himself among His people. The presence of God is unquestionably Sovereign and irresistible, nothing stands in His way. When He reveled Himself to us in our initial salvation experience it was His sovereign prerogative to do so and likewise with His manifest presence.

In Jn 14:21 our Lord teaches us about His and His Father’s relation to us, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him. Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world? Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” The word “disclose” is emphanizo meaning to manifest, exhibit to view, to show one's self, come to view, appear, be manifest, to indicate, disclose, declare, make known. Too often we read into the Scriptures what is norm in our experience. There is much more for us in our relation to God than we know.

Paul said to the Corinthians “I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. 1 Cor 2:3-5 Demonstration here is a making manifest, showing forth, a demonstration, proof. May God help us to experience the “ demonstration of the Spirit and of power” personally and corporately.

The question then is “How can we have this special and manifest presence of God?”

The answer may be simple in principle but difficult to acquire. In Matt 6:5,6 Jesus give us instruction in praying, “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” We are not told not to pray in the synagogue or assembly, but that we are not to do it “ like the hypocrites.” Public praying is good but it requires a counterpart “private praying.” “The term translated room refers to the inner room of a house, normally without any windows opening outside, the most private location possible.”

The important thing is that we have a time and a place each day that we go to for private communion with God. It is best if it is where we won’t be distracted and where others cannot hear us. The best method is to be on our knees and pray out loud to God. The word “reward” means to pay off, discharge what is due, to give back, restore. Our Lord is saying that God will give us what is due if we pray in secret. Note that the context here is public or corporate praying. If we base our public life, praying and otherwise, in our private life then God will bless our public life. How are we to have the special and manifest presence of God in our corporate experience? Answer--Have the manifest presence in our private prayer experience. We cannot expect to have the “manifest presence of God” publicly if we do not have it privately. If we do not have it privately or publicly who's fault will it be. The secret of praying is praying in secret.

It is also true that the degree of spiritual maturity that each of us brings to this corporate prayer meeting will increase the corporate experience of the presence of God. There is a sense in which we can “bring the presence of God with us” to the prayer meeting. No, we cannot control God but we can abide in His presence and carry that with us where ever we go.

For us to advocate that we have the manifest presence of God in our church services and not first and fundamentally have it in our secret prayer lives is classic hypocrisy.

“If we pray among a select society of Christians, we draw near to God with holy boldness, something like what we use in our duties of secret worship. We have reason to take more freedom among fellow saints and whose hearts have felt many of the same workings as our own.” A Guide to Prayer, Isaac Watts, p 58

If we be faithful to secret prayer God will be faithful to our corporate prayer.

A dynamic praying church must be built from the inside out, employing all four levels of prayer: the secret closet, the family altar, small group praying and finally, the congregational setting. Developing your Secret Closet of Prayer, Richard Burr, p 19.

Lord, I have Shut the Door

Lord, I have shut the door, Here do I bow;

Speak, for my soul attend Turns to Thee now.

Rebuke Thou what is vain, Counsel my Soul,

Thy holy will reveal, My will control.

In this blest quietness clamorings cease;

Here in Thy presence dwells Infinite peace;

Yonder, the strife and cry, Yonder the sin;

Lord, I have shut the door, Thou art within!

Lord, I have shut the door, Strengthen my heart;

Yonder awaits the task - I share a part.

Only through grace bestowed May I be true;

Here, while alone with Thee, My strength renew.

By William M. Runyan, Copyright 1923. Renewal 1951 extended.

Hope Publishing Co., owner. All rights reserved.

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Paul’s Exhortation to Corporate Prayer

“First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people.” 1 Timothy 2:1

Paul begins this letter by exhorting Timothy concerning doctrine (1:3-7) and continues talking about the law (1:8-11), and how all this related to him (1:12-17), and again exhorts Timothy to fight the good fight (1:18-20). The two main parts of public worship are the ministry of the word and prayer and Paul is dealing with these as two areas of concern. Now, Paul moves from the doctrinal to the practical, especially as it relates to their corporate conduct.

The word for “first” means “first in time or place or first in rank,” here the latter definition applies. “The exhortation here is not addressed particularly to Timothy, but relates to all who were called to lead public prayer.” (Barnes’ Notes on the NT, p 1133) Paul is referring to “Timothy and the congregations; Timothy is to direct them, and the congregations are to follow his directions. Few commentators will entertain the thought that Paul’s directions are intended only for individuals and not for congregations. Timothy should not be regarded as being the pastor of the church in Ephesus, the elders were the pastors. Timothy was Paul’s representative who directed pastors and churches in the entire province; hence, Paul also puts these directions into writing in case somebody raised objection.” (Interpretation of First Timothy, R.C.H. Lenski, p 538) That Paul is referring to corporate conduct is further evidenced when he begins chapter 3 by dealing with “the office of overseer” which is a church body issues.

Paul is compassionate in his dealing with Timothy. When he says, “I urge” he is using the word that means to call to one’s side, to admonish, exhort. The noun form of this word, parakletos, is used to refer to the Holy Spirit, the comforter or the one that comes along side to help and strengthen. This word also occurs in 1:3, there it is in the aorist tense where it has a sense of finality to it to as he deals with doctrine and here it is present tense indicating that the exhortation to prayer is ongoing and continual. These two occurrences indicate that these two sections are to be considered in comparison to each other, the one doctrinal and the other practical.

Paul proceeds to give us four things that ought to be included in corporate prayer.

1. “Requests” as seeking, asking, entreating, entreaty to God. “The picture behind the word is that of a beggar sitting at the side of the road, begging for the help of the king as he passes by. It expresses destitution and inadequacy, inability to meet one’s own needs, and total dependence on another. It is need expressed in a cry... a definite need keenly felt.” (Prayer Power Unlimited, J. Oswald Sanders, p 29)

2. “Prayers” as addressed to God or a place set apart or suited for the offering of prayer. “As used here the word for prayers means prayer-wishes that are expressed in the presence and by the side of another…it is the word that refers to needs that are always present, in contrast to petitions (requests) which have specific situations in view.” (Prayer Power Unlimited, J. Oswald Sanders, p 29)

3. “Intercessions” means a falling in with, meeting with, an interview, that for which an interview is held, a conference or conversation, a petition, supplication. “In intercession, we are concerned about the needs and interests of others. Intercession is the unselfish and altruistic aspect of prayer…in intercessions the believer is acting as an intermediary between God and other people. We forget ourselves and our own needs in our identification with the needs of the one for whom we pray.” (Prayer Power Unlimited, J. Oswald Sanders, p 30)

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Thanksgiving in Prayer

“Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving” Col 4:2

“First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people.”

1 Tim 2:1

Sometimes we use the acrostic “A.C.T.S.” as an outline to help us in prayer. A = adore, C = confession, T = thanksgiving, S = supplication. Let us consider thanksgiving in prayer. Thanksgiving is defined as, “To give thanks is to acknowledge the bounty of that hand from which we receive our blessings, and to ascribe honour and praise to the power, the wisdom and the goodness of God upon that account.” A Guide to Prayer, Isaac Watts p 29 “Thanksgiving is the act of expressing specific gratitude to God for blessings He has bestowed upon us.” The Hour that Changes the World, Dick Eastman p 95

There are two types of things we are to give God thanks for:

1. Those things He has given us.

Those things He has given us without our asking. God has included us in His great plan of redemption. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” 2 Cor 9:15 We are to thank God for being a just God. We are to thank God for revealing Himself to us sinful creatures. For His protecting us from harm and suffering that others endure.

Those things He has given us in answer to our prayer. “The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness. ” James 5:16 For our forgiveness of sins and our hope of eternal life. For delivering us from dangers and evils that we face. The ten lepers could pray for mercy and healing but only one returned to express thankfulness. How soon we forget where our blessings come from.

For all the mercies of life; for things spiritual, for Christ Himself, and for all spiritual blessings in him; for electing, redeeming, sanctifying, adopting, pardoning, and justifying grace; for the work of sanctification in our lives, and for eternal life itself; for the Gospel that we have heard and that we hear preached, promises of God, truths that the Holy Spirit has helped us to see, the privilege of public worship without persecution.

2. Those things that He will do for us, both that which we will not ask for and that which we will ask for. When our Lord was about to raise Lazarus from the dead He said “Father, I thank you that you have listened to me.” Jn 11:41 Obviously Jesus had already prayed about this situation and received the answer and was now thanking His Father for what He was about to do. In Mt 15:36 Jesus thanked His Father for the seven loaves knowing what His Father was about to do. It honors God for us to thank Him for what He has not yet done but what we expect Him to do in the future.

The giving of thanks is not something reserved for private prayer. I Chron 16:8 says “Give thanks to the Lord! Call on his name! Make known his accomplishments among the nations!” In Eph 5:19,20 we are told “speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for each other in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, ” The “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody” are things done in the meeting of the saints, the corporate meeting. So should we “Give thanks” in the corporate prayer meeting. The prayer meeting is a place of His special presence and we ought to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give him thanks! Praise his name!” Ps 100:4 “Always rejoice, constantly pray, in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Th 5:16-18 The context of this passage is the body life of the local church, this is probably a reference to the prayer meeting.

We give God extra glory when we thank Him in circumstance that are not convent, in times of adversity, desertion, temptation, affliction, and persecution, as well as in prosperity. “Let them present thank offerings, and loudly proclaim what he has done!” Ps 107:22 A sacrifice offering of thanksgiving is to express thankfulness when we are hurting, being reproached, suffering for His name, depressed, discouraged, in doubt, defeated. It is associated with pain and giving up something of value to us.

The world is searching for peace, internationally and personally but peace can only come from a right relationship with God that includes thankfulness. “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, tell your requests to God in your every prayer and petition—with thanksgiving. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Ph 4:6,7 “If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to all happiness and all perfection, he must tell you to make a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing.” William Law

We are to be full and overflowing with thankfulness. “Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Col 2:6,7

Just as we are saved through the work of Jesus Christ so we are to give our thanks back to God through Him. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father through him.” Col 3:17

“Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

“Praise and thanksgiving not only open the gates of heaven for me to approach God, but also ‘prepare a way’ for God to bless me.” The Kneeling Christian

Thanks to God

Thanks, O God, for boundless mercy from Thy gracious throne above;

Thanks for ev’ry need provided from the fulness of thy Love!

Thanks for daily toil and labor and for rest when shadows fall;

Thanks for love of friend and neighbor and Thy goodness unto all!

Thanks for thorns as well as roses; thanks for weakness and for health;

Thanks for clouds as well as sunshine; thanks for poverty and wealth!

Thanks for pain as well as pleasure – all thou sendest day by day;

And Thy Word, our dearest treasure, shedding light upon our way.

Thanks, O God, for home and fireside, here we share our daily bread;

Thanks for hours of sweet communion, when by Thee our souls are fed!

Thanks for grace in time of sorrow and for joy and peace in Thee;

Thanks for hope today, tomorrow, and for all eternity!

Thanks to God by August Ludvig Storm, 1862-1914,

translated by Carel E. Backstrom, 1901-

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Supplication in Prayer

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication

with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Ph 4:6

Sometimes we use the acrostic “A.C.T.S.” to help us in prayer. A = adore, c = confession, t = thanksgiving, s = supplication. Let’s consider the fourth, “Supplication in Prayer.” Supplication is prayer as the expression of need, its asking for something desired. Sometimes our need is an indication of what God wants to do for us. He wants us to enter into what He is doing in our lives by learning what our need is, asking for it and trusting Him for it.

In Luke11:1-4 We have two prayers. The second is the answer to the first. “Now Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he stopped, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” That was the first prayer, they asked for “prayer” to be taught to them. This may be the most fundamental prayer of all. Praying is not a natural skill, it is an acquired and developed ability. We must be taught by the Spirit to pray. The first answer to the question of what should we supplicate and ask for in pray is, “We should pray for ourselves to have the ability to pray.” Once this skill is achieved it’s exercise will supply all the other needs we have.

“And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Father, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we ourselves also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And bring us not into temptation.” Lk 11:2-4 Jesus now becomes a teacher of prayer. He did not think like some people that say that prayer can not be taught. “Everything that is legitimate to pray about can be found in the Lord’s Prayer.” (And When you Pray, Ray Pritchard p 23). If you can’t find it in this model prayer you shouldn’t pray for it. Sometimes we struggle with exactly what to pray for but Jesus specified five catagorize of petition or supplication:

1. Glorification of God. “Hallowed be thy name.” There is no problem here to know what to pray for. We are to pray that everything glorify our God. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever! Amen.” Rom 11:36 We have authority to pray only for those things that Glorify God. “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” 1 Cor 10:31 What ever the circumstance, need or crisis we are to pray that it will bring glory to our God.

2. Kingdom business. “Thy kingdom come.” Let’s not miss the fact that “the kingdom of God” is something we are to pray about. We don’t think that this is limited to the Second Coming of our Lord as described in 2 Thess 1:4 “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.” Rom 14:17 tells us what our kingdom business is “For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The next category deals with food and drink but first we are to pray about spiritual and practical things that will glorify God. It is not just to pray for the kingdom but pray for the kingdom first. A big responsibility in this area is intercession for others. Paul was very desirous for the Christians to pray for him. “Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time pray for us too, that God may open a door for the message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may make it known as I should.” Col 4:2-4 “Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is being proclaimed, and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Phil 1:18,19

3. Daily need. “Give us day by day our daily bread.” God could and many times does supply our need, without our asking. So why ask at all? Answer: Jesus said to, that is why. Our needs are great and varied. We need a lot more than food; we need the health to eat and use its energy for God. We should include in this category the needs of others. Our needs are spiritual as well as physical. We need for God to work in our hearts to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ. Let’s not miss the fact that the needs here referenced are “daily” not “monthly” or “yearly.” A large bank account balance is not a “daily need.” Sometimes God in His super abundant grace allows us to have savings and retirement accounts but it is daily needs that we have authority to pray for.

4. Forgiveness of sin. “And forgive us our sins; ” If we are truly Christian we are saved, justified and forgiven for all our sins, past, present and future then; why ask for forgiveness? There is a difference between our legal position and our life performance. Part of our sanctification is coming to understand what sin is, to identify our sins and deal with them. Asking for forgiveness acknowledges the fact of our sin, and agrees with God that it is wrong and is an effort to move away from that sin. In this category we have the authority to deal directly with God; no middle person is needed. “If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.” 1 Jn 1:8,9

5. Predeliverence from sin. “And bring us not into temptation.” A genuine Christian does not want to sin; he knows that he is weak in himself and cannot keep himself from sin. He doesn’t trust himself and does not want to be tested. To ask that God deliver us from the opportunity to sin is a safe and healthy attitude to have. “The meaning is, that God would not suffer us to be overcome by temptation; that we may not be given up to the power of temptation, and be drawn into sin.” (The Lord’s Prayer, Thomas Watson, p 187) This is the opposite of Peter’s attitude when He said “Even if I must die with you, I will never deny you.” And all the disciples said the same thing.” Matt 26:35 The wise Christian knows he is liable to fall and wants to avoid it.

I CANNOT PRAY

I cannot say OUR if my religion has no room for others and their needs.

I cannot say FATHER if I do not demonstrate this relationship in my daily living.

I cannot say WHO ART IN HEAVEN if all my interests and pursuits are in earthly things.

I cannot say HALLOWED BY MY NAME if I, who am called to bear His Name, am not holy.

I cannot say THY KINGDOM COME if I am unwilling to give up my own sovereignty and accept the righteous reign of God.

I cannot say ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN unless I am truly ready to give myself to His service here and now.

I cannot say GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD without expending honest effort for it, or by ignoring the genuine needs of others.

I cannot say FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US if I continue to harbor a grudge against anyone.

I cannot say LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION if I deliberately choose to remain in a situation where I am likely to be tempted.

I cannot say DELIVER US FROM EVIL if I am not prepared to fight in the spiritual realm with the weapon of prayer.

I cannot say THINE IS THE KINGDOM if I do not give the King the disciplined obedience of a loyal subject.

I cannot say THINE IS THE POWER if I fear what my neighbors and friends may say or do.

I cannot say THINE IS THE GLORY if I am seeking my own glory first.

I cannot say FOREVER if I am too anxious about each day’s events.

I cannot say AMEN unless I honestly say “Cost what it may, This is my prayer.”

Source unknown

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The Act of Prayer has its own Benefit

“Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.” —Lamentations 3:41

The act of prayer teaches us our unworthiness, which is a very salutary lesson for such proud beings as we are. If God gave us favours without constraining us to pray for them we should never know how poor we are, but a true prayer is an inventory of wants, a catalogue of necessities, a revelation of hidden poverty. While it is an application to divine wealth, it is a confession of human emptiness. The most healthy state of a Christian is to be always empty in self and constantly depending upon the Lord for supplies; to be always poor in self and rich in Jesus; weak as water personally, but mighty through God to do great exploits; and hence the use of prayer, because, while it adores God, it lays the creature where it should be, in the very dust.

Prayer is in itself, apart from the answer which it brings, a great benefit to the Christian. As the runner gains strength for the race by daily exercise, so for the great race of life we acquire energy by the hallowed labour of prayer. Prayer plumes the wings of God's young eaglets, that they may learn to mount above the clouds. Prayer girds the loins of God's warriors, and sends them forth to combat with their sinews braced and their muscles firm. An earnest pleader cometh out of his closet, even as the sun ariseth from the chambers of the east, rejoicing like a strong man to run his race.

Prayer is that uplifted hand of Moses which routs the Amalekites more than the sword of Joshua; (Ex 17:12 “But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; And his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.”)

It is the arrow shot from the chamber of the prophet foreboding defeat to the Syrians (2 Ki 13:18 “16 And he said to the king of Israel, Put thy hand upon the bow; and he put his hand upon it. And Elisha laid his hands upon the king's hands. 17 And he said, Open the window eastward; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot; and he shot. And he said, Jehovah's arrow of victory, even the arrow of victory over Syria; for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them. 18 And he said, Take the arrows; and he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground; and he smote thrice, and stayed. 19 And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times: then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it, whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.”).

Prayer girds human weakness with divine strength, turns human folly into heavenly wisdom, and gives to troubled mortals the peace of God. We know not what prayer cannot do! We thank thee, great God, for the mercy-seat, a choice proof of thy marvelous loving kindness. Help us to use it aright throughout this day!

Morning & Evening, C.H. Spurgeon October 11 AM

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American Christians

I. The problem.

The American Christians are: Insulated from the way most Christians live and the problems they face.

In the age of information and extremes we are extremely ignorant to what the Christians in China, Korea, Sudan, Russia, etc, are experiencing as to persecutions and to revival blessings. The average Christian in America can not believe that there are 168,000 Christian martyrs per year. We have been dumbed down by the TV and newspaper news media.

The American Christians are: Intoxicated with material things.

The affluencey of the American Christian reveals his carnality. We buy and consume in the same styles and to the same degrees as the unsaved pagans in our neighborhoods. The Christian family in American has the same number of TVs and the same designer cloths as anyone else.

The American Christians are: Inoculated to the presence and power of God.

When one is inoculated to a disease he is given a small sample of the disease so his immune system will build a defense against it. American Christians have had small sample of real Biblical Christianity and have developed an immunity to getting the real thing. We go to church a little bit, we read our Bibles sometimes, we pray at our meals and when we have a crisis and we call that normal Christianity. It is normal “American Christianity” but not normal Net Testament Christianity.

Because of this the American Christian is not a praying Christian. He doesn’t feel the need or sense the urgency to pray. Oh, where are the “men of God” that should be proclaiming needs of the day.

II. The Solution

Answer to Insulation: Education, get the facts of what’s going on in the world. Involvement, adopt a mission field to learn about and pray for. Joh 15:15 “No longer do I call you servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I heard from my Father, I have made known unto you.”

Answer to Intoxication: Fasting. We need to pray that God would wean us from the world and make us hungry for Him.

Mt 10:38 “And he that doth not take his cross and follow after me, is not worthy of me.”

Mt 16:24 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

Answer to Inoculation: Personal experience of the God. We ask as Elisha did, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah” We say there is a God but we practice “practical atheism”. We need to experience privately and corporately.

Lu 14:27 “Whosoever doth not bear his own cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”

Lu 9:23 “And he said unto all, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

Mr 10:21 “And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.”

Php 3:10 “that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death;”

Gal 2: 20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.”

Every converted sinner is a soul revived to prayer. Every saint restored from backsliding, is a soul returned to the life and power of prayer. Every congregation enjoying an outpouring of the Spirit, is a congregation revived and alive to the prayer meeting. The Prayer Meeting and Its History, J. B. Johnston

No time to pray!

No time to pray!

O, who so fraught with earthly care

As not to give a humble prayer

Some part of day!

No time to pray!

What heart so clean, so pure within,

That needeth not some check from sin.

Needs not to pray?

No time to pray?

‘Mid each day's dangers, what retreat

More needful than the mercy seat?

Who need not pray?

No time to pray!

Must care or business' urgent call

So press us as to take it all,

Each passing day?

What thought more drear

Than that our God His face should hide,

And say, through all life's swelling tide,

No time to hear!

Anonymous

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Boring and Blasting, Ours and His

From: Prayer, by Ole. Hallesby, p 75

"pray without ceasing;" 1 Thess 5:17

"And let us not be weary in welldoing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Gal 6:9

We notice, too, that God now and then sends us an awakening. Nevertheless there is something in this connection which we should think about, especially with reference to our prayers. In the first place, I would point out the fact that awakenings occur very seldom. As a rule decades elapse between revivals in our cities and rural communities. In the next place, I would make mention of the fact that the revivals which do take place are usually not very great, being limited to a single locality. Finally, I would say that they are often representative of but very little spiritual power. By this I do not mean that there are no powers at work. There are often tremendous, almost brutal powers at work. But it becomes apparent, often during a revival, and especially afterwards, that there was much human power and but little divine power in the work that was done.

The reason for all this is that we fail to labor in prayer. We long for revivals; we speak of revivals; we work for revivals; and we even pray a little for them. But we do not enter upon that labor in prayer which is the essential preparation for every revival.

Many of us misunderstand the work of the Spirit in the unconverted. We think that this work is limited essentially to the time when the awakenings are taking place. We seem to think that the unconverted are not subject to divine influence between times. This is a complete misunderstanding. The Spirit works without interruption, during awakenings and between awakenings, even though He works differently, and the effect therefore also is different in the hearts of men.

The work of the Spirit can be compared to mining. The Spirit's work is to blast to pieces the sinner's hardness of heart and his frivolous opposition to God. The period of the awakening can be likened to the time when the blasts are fired. The time between the awakenings corresponds, on the other hand, to the time when the deep holes are being bored with great effort into the hard rock.

To bore these holes is hard and difficult and a task which tries one's patience. To light the fuse and fire the shot is not only easy but also very interesting work. One sees "results" from such work. It creates interest, too; shots resound, and pieces fly in every direction!

It takes trained workmen to do the boring. Anybody can light a fuse. This fact sheds a great deal of light upon the history of revivals, a history which is often strange and incomprehensible.

There are many people who would like to light the fuse. Many would like to be evangelistic preachers. And some preachers are even so zealous that they light a fuse before the hole has been bored and explosive matter put in place. The resulting revival becomes, therefore, nothing but a little display of fireworks!

During a revival our zeal for souls is so great that we are all active. Some are so active that they are almost dangerous during an after-meeting. When, on the other hand, the awakening has subsided, and everyday conditions, perhaps even dry seasons, return, then most of us lose our zeal and cease our activity.

But that is just when the Spirit calls us to do the quiet, difficult, trying work of boring holy explosive material into the souls of the unconverted by daily and unceasing prayer. This is the real preparatory work for the next awakening. The reason why such a long period of time elapses between awakenings is simply that the Spirit cannot find believers who are willing to do the heavy part of the mining work.

Everybody desires awakenings; but we prefer to let others do the boring into the hard rock. There are, God be praised, in every community some who take up this work which tries one's patience so sorely. The Lord reward you, brother and sister, and, above all, give you grace to persevere in the holy work you have taken up!

Let us be faithful to prepare the way with persistent praying.

Let us be faithful to wait on the Spirit to give wondrous workings of His power.

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Fervent Praying

James 5:16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

The words “effectual” and “fervent” are the translation of one Greek word energeo meaning to be operative, be at work, put forth power, to effect, show one's self operative. It has the prefix en which means “In” “inside” or “within” so the emphasis is what is going on within our own soul.

Also, energeo is present tense and middle voice. This kind of praying is ongoing or continuous and is done personally and with much involvement. It is doing something in and to the one praying. After all God is not the one that needs to be changed, it is us that needs to be conformed to Him. From the Divine perspective, this may be the main benefit of praying, i.e. the change it brings in us. This kind of praying is not cold or even lukewarm, not formal but personal, not indifferent but importunate. This quality of praying “avails much.” Here the word means to be strong, to have power as shown by extraordinary deeds.

“Some translate the word ‘inspired,’ the Spirit of God breathes into men the breath of spiritual life, and they live, and being quickened by him, they breathe; and prayer is the breath of the spiritual man, and is no other than the reverberation of the Spirit of God in him; and such prayer cannot fail of success: it may be rendered ‘inwrought.’ True prayer is not what is written in a book, but what is wrought in the heart, by the Spirit of God; who is the enditer of prayer, who impresses the minds of his people with a sense of their wants, and fills their mouths with arguments, and puts strength into them to plead with God, and makes intercession for them according to the will of God; such prayer is always heard, and regarded by him: this has great power with God; whatever is asked, believing, is received; God can deny nothing prayed for in this manner.” John Gill

This quality of praying was manifested when:

1. Elijah prayed earnestly Ja 5:17 “Elijah was a man of like passions with us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth for three years and six months.”

2. Moses prayed pleadingly Ex 32: 11-13 “And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.”

3. Daniel prayed intensely Dan 9:17-19 “Now therefore, O our God, hearken unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousness, but for thy great mercies' sake. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God, because thy city and thy people are called by thy name.“

4. Paul prayed agonizingly Rom 15:30 “Now I beseech you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;“

5. Jesus prayed persistently Mat 26:39-44 “And he went forward a little, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Again a second time he went away, and prayed, saying, My Father, if this cannot pass away, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came again and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. And he left them again, and went away, and prayed a third time, saying again the same words.”

Outline from Principles and Practice of Prayer, p 119, by Ivan French.

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How to Pray

“How to do anything is the secret and soul of its accomplishment.” F.E. Marsh

1. Pray Secretly in the closet of communion. Ma 6:6 “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Lk 9:18

2. Pray Watchfully in the alertness of wakefulness. Ma 24:42 “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” Mat 26:41 “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

3. Pray Believingly in the simplicity of faith. Ma 21:22 “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

4. Pray Unceasingly in the continuance of well-doing. 1 Thes 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

5. Pray Abidingly in the will of God and in Christ. Jn 15:7,8 “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

6. Pray Directly in the pointedness of definite petition. Jam 5:17,18 “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”

7. Pray Effectually in the power of the Spirit. Jude 20 “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,” Rom 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

We often speak of the “Secret of Success.” Prayer is the secret to spiritual life, growth and service.

If prayer is the secret to Christian service then the secret to praying is “praying in secret.”

It is a necessity for our prayer meetings, that each person attending the corporate prayer meeting be praying in secret so when they come to the prayer meeting they will bring with them the presence of God the Spirit.

To know the secret and not to use it is worse than not knowing it at all. Jam 4:17 “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

One of the main objects of prayer is our “prayer life.” We should be constantly be praying that we will grow in our communion with our Savor and our God.

Nothing is more calculated to begat a spirit of prayer than to unite in social prayer with one who has the Spirit himself. Mighty Prevailing Prayer, Wesley Duewel

Be not afraid to pray; to pray is right;

Pray if thou canst with hope, but ever pray,

Though hope be weak or sick with long delay;

Pray in the darkness if there be no light;

And if for any wish thou dare not pray

Then pray to God to cast that wish away.

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In Praying We Should

Claim His attributes - Plead His justice, His mercy, His faithfulness, His wisdom, His longsuffering, His tenderness. Abraham pleaded for God’s justice when he prayed for the city of Sodom. He asked for the city to be saved and at the closing of his prayer he said, “Shall not the judge of all earth do right?”

Ge 18:25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of ll the earth do right?

I. Claim His promises.

When Jacob was waiting on the other side of the brook, when his brother Esau was coming with armed men, he pleaded with God not to destroy the mother and children, but the main reason he used for pleading in this prayer was: “And thou said, surely I will do thee good.”

Ge 32:12 And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

III. Claim the Great Name of God. Moses did this in his prayer on one occasion when he was praying for Israel. “What will thou do for thy great name? The Egyptians will say, Because the Lord could not bring them into the land, therefore he slew them in the wilderness.”

IV. Claim mercy for our unworthiness - David prayed, “Lord, have mercy upon mine iniquity, for it is very great.” Ps 25:16 Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.

V. Claim the sufferings, death, merit and intercession of Christ Jesus.

Jesus himself said, “If you need anything of God, all that the Father has belongs to me; go and use my name.”

Col 1:12-14 “giving thanks unto the Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love; in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins:”

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Intercessory Prayer: Some Biblical Examples

“I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men;”

1 Tim 2:1

If we are really interested in others we will pray for them. But, the fact of the matter is that, most of our praying is for ourselves. Even when we pray for our family and friends it is, in part, a form of praying for ourselves. Intercession means “to go to or meet a person, especially for the purpose of conversation, consultation, or supplication, to pray, entreat.” To “interceed” is to go to God for someone and ask for their benefit. The highest form of prayer is intercession for others, and the most effective ministry is that which we exercise for other’s benefit. The following are a few cases of noble intercessors who prayed for blessing upon others.

1. Moses, the self-abnegator, who was willing to be blotted out from the Lord’s book so long as Israel was spared. Exod 32:30-32 “And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto Jehovah; peradventure I shall make atonement for your sin. And Moses returned unto Jehovah, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin-- and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.”

2. Samuel, the faithful prophet, pleaded for Israel. 1 Sam 7:8,9 “And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto Jehovah our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines. And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a whole burnt-offering unto Jehovah: and Samuel cried unto Jehovah for Israel; and Jehovah answered him.”

3. Daniel, the humble statesman, pleaded for the nation of Judah when in captivity by identifying himself with the sin of the nation. Dan 9:4-6 “And I prayed unto Jehovah my God, and made confession, and said, Oh, Lord, the great and dreadful God, who keepeth covenant and lovingkindness with them that love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned, and have dealt perversely, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even turning aside from thy precepts and from thine ordinances; neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, that spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.”

4. Epaphras, the loving pleader, interceded for the saints at Closse that they might stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. Col 4:12,13 “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, saluteth you, always striving for you in his prayers, that ye may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness, that he hath much labor for you, and for them in Laodicea, and for them in Hierapolis.”

5. Paul, the intense intercessor, pleaded for the Church at Ephesus, that they might have God’s unparalleled riches. Eph 1:17-19 “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe,” 3:16-20 “that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God.”

6. John, the loving disciple, who prayed for his friend Gaius, that he might have soul prosperity. 3 John 2 “Beloved, I pray that in all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”

7. Christ, the gracious Lord, who prayed for Peter that his faith not fail. Lk 22:31,32 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat: but I made supplication for thee, that thy faith fail not; and do thou, when once thou hast turned again, establish thy brethren.”

The wonderful intercessory prayer as recorded in Jn 17 is a sample of how the Lord is interceding for His people now. “Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Heb 7:25

(Outline from 1000 New Bible Readings, F. E. Marsh, p 216)

There is no better way to serve others than to pray for them.

Prevailing prayer is almost always for the sake of others. --Mighty Prevailing Prayer, Wesley Duewel

Lord, help me live from day to day

In such a self-forgetful way,

That even when I kneel to pray,

My prayer shall be for others.

–Charles Delucena Meigs

“Intercession is the noblest work God entrusts to us humans.” T.W. Hunt

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Intercessory Prayer: Who and What

“This kind of prayer is perhaps the noblest of all. It draws the believer out of himself into the lives of others, it enlarges his own soul, expands his interest and increases his sympathies. It brings him very near to Christ, for He was constantly giving of Himself to others, serving others and praying for others.” (Principles and Practice of Prayer, French, p 73)

The Three Intercessors are:

The Lord Jesus Jn 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever.” Jn 16:26 “In that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you;”Jn 17:9,15,20 “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me; for they are thine... I pray not that thou shouldest take them from the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one...Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe on me through their word;”

Ro 8:34 “It is Christ Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Jesus prayed for Peter Lk 22:31 “Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Heb 7:25

The Holy Spirit Rom 8:26,27 “And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

The believer 1 Tim 2:1,2 “I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men; for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity.” Abraham, the Father of the Faithful, is interceding for Lot and a wicked city in Gen 18:23 “And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou consume the righteous with the wicked?”

Intercessory Prayer is praying for the kingdom of God: Jesus taught us to pray for the kingdom. Lk 11:2 “And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Father, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.” Lk 10:2 “And he said unto them, The harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers into his harvest.” Ps 122:6 “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee.”

Intercessory Prayer is desired by a true seeker for salvation: Ac 8:24 “And Simon answered and said, Pray ye for me to the Lord, that none of the things which ye have spoken come upon me.”

Intercessory Prayer is for other’s holiness: 2 Co 13:7 “Now we pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we may appear approved, but that ye may do that which is honorable, though we be as reprobate.” 2 Co 13:9 “For we rejoice, when we are weak, and ye are strong: this we also pray for, even your perfecting.”

Intercessory Prayer is for others spiritual maturity: Php 1:9 “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment;” Col 1:9 “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray and make request for you, that ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,”

Intercessory Prayer is praying for those who treat us wrongfully: Mt 5:44 “pray for them that persecute you.” Lu 6:28 “bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.” Job 41:8 “my servant Job shall pray for you; for him will I accept, that I deal not with you after your folly; for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.“

Intercessory Prayer is getting for others what God wants to give: 3 Jn 1:2 “Beloved, I pray that in all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”

Intercessory Prayer is what we ask of one another: 1 Th 5:25 “Brethren, pray for us.” Jas 5:16 “Confess therefore your sins one to another, and pray one for another.”

Intercessory Prayer is the preaching of the Word of God: 2 Th 3:1 “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run and be glorified, even as also it is with you.”

In introducing his book The Ministry of Intercession, Andrew Murray says, “The present volume owes its existence to the desire to enforce two truths, of which formerly I had no such impression as now. The one is--that Christ actually meant prayer to be the great power by which His Church should do its work, and that the neglect of prayer is the great reason the Church has not greater power over the masses in Christian and in heathen countries...The second truth...we have far too little conception of the place that intercession, as distinguished from prayer for ourselves, ought to have in the Church and the Christian life.” The Ministry of Intercession, p 4.

“The power of the Church truly to bless rests on intercession--asking and receiving heavenly gifts to carry to men.” The Ministry of Intercession, Andrew Murray, p 5.

“In intercession our King upon the throne finds His highest glory; in it we shall find our highest glory too.” The Ministry of Intercession, Andrew Murray, p 5.

What an awesome privilege and responsibility it is to be an intercessor.

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Intercessory Prayer: The Test of our Praying

“If Petition is prayer relative to our personal need, Intercession is prayer relative to the need of others, for we can never intercede on our own behalf. In all intercession at least three persons must always be concerned: the one who speaks, the one spoken to, and the one spoken for or against. And at least three things must always be presumed: need on the part of the one spoken of; power, on the part of the one spoken to and contact with both these persons, on the part of the one who speaks. In worship, confession, and petition there need only be two persons involved, but, let me repeat, in intercession there can never be less than three.” .Method in Prayer, W. Graham Scroggie p 73

Intercessory Prayer:

Obeys the command of our Lord.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34,35 To love means “to choose the object to love and sacrificially dedicate oneself to its well being.” Our Lord “commands” this, it is not optional for us to love each other. “This I command you, that you love one another.” Jn15:17 It is a sin not to obey His command. Praying for each other may be the easiest way to exercise the love we are to have for one another. If this is the case, then, not to pray for one another is the greatest way to sin against our brothers and to disobey our Lord. “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you.” 1 Sam 12:23

Follows the example of our Lord.

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;” Heb 3:1 A priest is one that goes between two parties, or intercedes. “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Heb 7:25 No one could pray more genuinely than our Lord as He prays in Jn 17. In v 1-8 He prays for Himself, in 9-19 He prays for His own, in 20-26 He prays for the world. “In intercession our King upon the throne finds His highest glory: in it we shall find our highest glory too.” (Ministry of Intercession, Andrew Murray p 5) “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Heb 2:17 If Jesus has condescended to be made like us, how much more should we be made like Him. We need to join with Him in His intercessory work.

Evidences the validity of our profession.

To say we love the brethren and not to pray for them puts a question on our profession. But the Scripture goes further, “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Pet 2:5 Believers are a priesthood, and priest are to be intercessors. If we are not doing the work of a priest, then our priesthood is in question. The principle of Mat 12.34 “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” applies to prayer. Most of our praying is for ourselves. Even when we pray for our friends and family, it is a form of praying for ourselves. The content of our prayers reveals where the care of our heart is. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Jn 14:15 To not love our brothers and pray for them is to evidence that we do not love our Lord.

Exercises our relationship to the world.

“ I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” 1 Tim 2:1-5 Here the Scripture commands us to intercede for the unsaved and even wicked rulers of the world. Sometimes God wants to change the way governments are being run and He want us to have a part in that by seeing and feeling the need and asking Him for that change.

Advances the Kingdom of God.

“And He was saying to them, The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Luke 10:2 We are to pray for labors. Advancing the Kingdom of God is hard labor and it has eternal results. Our Lord said “labors” not hired professionals. God will give the wisdom and provisions, that is not to concern us. It is laborers with warm hearts and flexible wills that get the job done. Paul ask “Brethren, pray for us.” 1 The 5:25 Paul was always asking for the Christians to be praying for his missionary efforts. “The power of the Church truly to bless rests on intercession--asking and receiving heavenly gifts to carry to men.” (Ministry of Intercession, Andrew Murray p 5)

“Let us all unite in praying to God that He would visit our souls and fit us for that work of intercession, which is at this moment the greatest need of the Church and the world. It is only by intercession that power can be brought down from Heaven which will enable the Church to conquer the world. Let us stir up the slumbering gift that is lying unused, and seek to gather and train and band together as many as we can, to be God's remembrancers, and to give Him no rest till He makes His Church a joy in the earth. Nothing but intense believing prayer can meet the intense spirit of worldliness, of which complaint is everywhere made.” Ministry of Intercession, Andrew Murray p 19

“Intercession is the noblest work God entrusts to us humans.” T.W. Hunt

The heartbeat of intercession is servanthood. (Love On Its Knees, Dick Eastman p 6)

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Joy in Prayer

Prayer can be and should be the most joyous experience this side of Heaven. When we think of Heaven, we have to think of a place of infinite joy. If, as Peter says of our Lord Jesus “whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory:” 1 Pet 1:8

When we are in prayer, we are in a special presence of the most joyous person there is or can be. Nothing can diminish His joy. God is perfect and infinite in His joy. Just as we cannot expose ourselves to the bright rays of the sun and be unaffected by it, so we can not expose our souls to the glory of the “Son” of God and not be affected and changed by it. “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.” 2 Co 3:18 So as we encounter the infinitely joyous one, we take on an unspeakable joy. Jesus connected “prayer” and “joy” when He said in John 16:24 “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be made full.”

But why is it that our prayer meetings are so dull and depressing, instead of exciting and joyous. It is expected that a prayer meeting is the least exciting meeting that a church has. Many pastors and churches have given up the prayer meeting and wonder why their churches are dead and powerless. It appears to us that our churches have become self-centered and complacent and that has made them spiritual cadavers.

We experience “Joy” in praying when we properly order our relationships. All persons can be grouped into one of three groups: 1. God, 2. Others, 3. Ourselves. The order in which we prioritize these three groups determines our joy in prayer.

J Jesus

O Others

Y Yourself

J Jesus Communion

We are made social beings. We are to socialize horizontally with other humans and we are to socialize vertically with God. Prayer should be first and foremost an active relationship and fellowship in a social sense. Not a rehearsing of a list of wants. Our priority should be our socially experiencing our God. It is common with the most spiritual saints of God that they give priority to their relationship with God, even to the point of engaging in that vertical relationship before (that is early in the morning) they relate to others horizontally. “Thou wilt show me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; In thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Ps 16:11 A local church should give priority to the prayer meeting as a personal encounter with God.

O Others Intercession

Most answered prayer is prayer for others. Intercession is a test as to the genuineness of our motive in prayer. Are we most interested in getting blessings for ourselves or for others? Do we pray for those outside of our natural family and church family? Paul’s testimony was “always in every supplication of mine on behalf of you all making my supplication with joy,“ Phip 1:4 “Wherefore, my brethren beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my beloved.” Phip 4:1 If we seek our own joy we will miss it, but if we seek the joy and good of others, then we will have ours. “Not that we have lordship over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for in faith ye stand fast.” 2 Cor 1:24

Y Yourself Supplication

“There is nothing wrong with asking for ourselves, if we ask last.” Remember the principle, “So the last shall be first, and the first last.” Mt 20:16 The Bible commands us “draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need.” Heb 4:16 Jesus commands us to “ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be made full.” John 16:24 How can we refuse to do what will give us full joy. It seems that our needs are a gift from God for our prayer life. We are to come “with boldness,” which means with free speaking. As we abide in Him we can approach God with openness and without reservation about what we pray about. “Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying on your behalf: I am filled with comfort, I overflow with joy in all our affliction.” 2 Co 7:4

“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Ro 14:17 Our prayer meetings can be the most joyous and exciting of all of our church services as well as the power source for its ministry.

Prayer is not given us as a burden to be borne, or an irksome duty to fulfil, but to be a joy and power to which there is no limit. The Kneeling Christian

The reason we do not pray as we ought is because we do not enjoy prayer as we ought.

Lord, what a change within us one short hour

Spent in Thy presence will prevail to make!

What heavy burdens from our bosoms take,

What parched grounds refresh, as with a shower!

We kneel, and all around us seems to lower;

We rise, and all the distant and the near

Stands forth in sunny outline, brave and clear.

We kneel, how weak! we rise, how full of power!

Why, therefore, should we do ourselves this wrong,

Or others, that we are not always strong,

That we are ever overborne with care,

That we should ever weak or heartless be,

Anxious or troubled, when with us is prayer,

And joy, and strength, and courage are with Thee?

R. C. Trench

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Kneeology 101

The apostle Paul said “..I bow my knees unto the Father.” Eph 3:14 When praying we need to kneel in:

1. Reverence Phi 2:10 “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;”

2. Dedication 2 Chr 6:12,13 “And he stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands: For Solomon had made a brazen scaffold, of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court: and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven,”

3. Worship Ps 95:6 “ O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”

4. Continuance Dan 6:10 “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.”

5. Confession Ezr 9:5,6 “And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God. And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.”

6. Submission Isa 45:22,23 “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.”

7. Forgiveness Ac 7:59,60 “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

8. Privacy Ac 9:40 “But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

9. Public Ac 21:5 “And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.”

10. Fellowship Ac 20:36,37 “And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him,”

11. Intercession Ma 17:14,15 “And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son...”

12. Sincerity Mk 10:17 “And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?... and he went away sorrowful…”

While bodily posture is secondary to the attitude of the soul, it is instructive to note that at times Jesus prayed while standing, just where He happened to be at the moment. At another time, He knelt while on yet another occasion it is recorded that He fell on His face. If the Son of God got down upon His knees, yes upon His face before God, what attitude should we ordinary mortals assume as we go into His presence? While posture is not everything, it is something. Principles and Practice of Prayer, Ivan French

Advantages of kneeling:

<>It follows Biblical examples and principles cited above.

<>It promotes humility. Sometimes a proud person kneels but it is not his kneeling that made him proud.

<>Some say that body language is 80% of our communication. If this is true, what does our kneeling or refusing to kneel say to God. Making excuses for not kneeling is dangerous.

E. M. Bounds said of Edward Payson "He prayed without ceasing and felt safe nowhere but at the throne of grace. He may be said to have studied theology on his knees. Much of his time he spent literally prostrated with his Bible open before him pleading the promise...The scars on his bedroom floor testify to this fact. Next to Payson's bed where deep grooves in the hardwood floor where his knees had pressed repeatedly in times of travail.”

Remember: “God’s Army Marches on It’s Knees”

How dare we work for Christ without being much on our knees? The Kneeling Christian

Lord, what a change within us one short hour

Spent in Thy presence will prevail to make!

What heavy burdens from our bosoms take,

What parched grounds refresh, as with a shower!

We kneel, and all around us seems to lower;

We rise, and all the distant and the near

Stands forth in sunny outline, brave and clear.

We kneel, how weak! we rise, how full of power!

Why, therefore, should we do ourselves this wrong,

Or others, that we are not always strong,

That we are ever overborne with care,

That we should ever weak or heartless be,

Anxious or troubled, when with us is prayer,

And joy, and strength, and courage are with Thee?

R. C. Trench

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"Let us lift up our heart”

"Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens." Lam 3:41 The act of prayer teaches us our unworthiness, which is a very healthy lesson for such proud beings as we are. If God gave us favors without constraining us to pray for them, we should never know how poor we are; but a true prayer is an inventory of wants, a catalogue of necessities, a revelation of hidden poverty. While it is an application to divine wealth, it is a confession of human emptiness. The most healthy state of a Christian is to be always empty in self and constantly depending upon the Lord for supplies; to be always poor in self and rich in Jesus; weak as water personally, but mighty through God to do great exploits; and hence, the use of prayer, because, while it adores God, it lays the creature where it should be, in the very dust. Prayer is in itself, apart from the answer which it brings, a great benefit to the Christian. As the runner gains strength for the race by daily exercise, so for the great race of life, we acquire energy by the hallowed labor of prayer. Prayer prepares the wings of God's young eaglets, that they may learn to mount above the clouds. Prayer girds the loins of God's warriors, and sends them forth to combat with their sinews braced and their muscles firm. An earnest pleader comes out of his closet, even as the sun arises from the chambers of the east, rejoicing like a strong man to run his race. Prayer is that uplifted hand of Moses which routs the Amalekites more than the sword of Joshua; it is the arrow shot from the chamber of the prophet foreboding defeat to the Syrians. Prayer girds human weakness with divine strength, turns human folly into heavenly wisdom, and gives to troubled mortals the peace of God. We know not what prayer cannot do! We thank thee, great God, for the mercy-seat, a choice proof of thy marvellous lovingkindness. Help us to use it aright throughout this day!

C.H. Spurgeon Morning & Evening, October 11 AM (Revised)

What the Church needs today is not more or better machinery, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use --men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. Power Through Prayer, E. M. Bounds

Come, My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare.

Come, my soul, thy suit prepare:

Jesus loves to answer prayer;

He himself has bide thee pray,

Therefore will not say thee nay;

Therefore will not say thee nay.

Thou art coming to a King,

large petitions with thee bring;

for his grace and power are such,

none can ever ask too much;

none can ever ask too much.

With my burden I begin:

“Lord, remove this load of sin;

let thy blood, for sinners spilt,

set my conscience free of guilt;

set my conscience free of guilt.

Lord, I come to thee for rest,

take possession of my breast;

there thy blood-bought right maintain,

and without a rival reign;

and without a rival reign.

While I am a pilgrim here,

let thy love my spirit cheer;

as my Guide, my Guard, my Friend,

lead me to my journey’s end;

lead me to my journey’s end.

Show me what I have to do,

ev’ry hour my strength renew:

let me live a life of faith,

let me die thy people’s death;

let me die thy people’s death.

John Newton, 1779; HENDON 7.7.7.7.rep; Henri A Cesar Marlan, 1827

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Missionary Praying

When you ask a missionary what is their greatest need, they most often say “Pray for Us.” We usually take that request too lightly. The Scriptures teach us to pray for missionaries. Paul consistently asked for prayer for his missionary work; he was an Apostle by office and a Missionary by function.

There is much debate over whether the great commission was given to individuals or to the church. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Mat 28:19 Jesus was speaking to individual believers that were in a body of believers. We think it is was both. The church can not do anything except through its individual members, the fulfilling of the great commission can only be done as a team effort.

There are three ways to fulfill the Great Commission:

1. In Person 2. In Provision 3. In Prayer

It may take years for a person to get to the field and with much provision. Prayer is instantaneous in its reaching our Father in Heaven and can be instantaneous in His answering back to earth. The global positions of the prayor and the prayee have no significance in the prayer process.

In lands where the Gospel has been preached, demonical activity is minimized. In lands where the Gospel has not been preached demonical activity is maximized. The essence of being a missionary is the going to an unevangelized people and driving out the demons of darkness with the light of the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Why should we pray for missionaries?

1. Because of the nature of missionary activity.

Eph 6:12f “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand. Stand firm therefore, by fastening the belt of truth around your waist, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness, by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace, and in all of this, by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” In Dan 10 names of various princes are named which were the powers of those localities.

2. Because prayer based on God’s Word is the only weapon man can use to touch the invisible foe.

Paul continues in Eph 6 “With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints. Pray for me, that I may be given the message when I begin to speak—that I may confidently make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may be able to speak boldly as I ought to speak.” We can of ourselves do nothing. Jn 5:30

3. Because God has designed that the missionary on the field not do his work alone.

Ex 17:8-13 “Amalek came and attacked Israel in Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” So Joshua fought against Amalek just as Moses had instructed him; and Moses and Aaron and Her went up to the top of the hill. And whenever Moses would raise his hands, then Israel prevailed; but whenever he would rest his hands, then Malek prevailed. When the hands of Moses became heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and Aaron and Her held up his hands, one on one side and one on the other, and so his hands were steady until the sun went down. So Joshua destroyed Malek and his army with the edge of the sword.” When the intercessor’s hands fall, Malek prevails on the mission field.

“Experience has repeatedly shown that the believing prayer of one humble intercessor at home can bring about a revival on the foreign field and save thousands. The experience of one missionary was that, as far as man can see results, he was able to do more for the heathen toiling as an intercessor in America than while he was among the heathen without intercessors pleading for him.” (Principles and Practice of Prayer, Ivan H. French)

What should we pray in praying for the missionaries?

It is hard for some of us to believe but many church fellowships do not have any missionaries that they know and are personally are involved with. Some things that churches should pray are:

1. For some of its members to be called to the mission field.

2. For God to bring some of His laborers to them for their provisional and prayer support.

3. For God to bring to their fellowship a foreign national for Him to use them to convert and prepare to send to his home people.

4. For individual missionaries. Specific individuals in the church could have responsibility for specific missionaries.

5. For specific nationals, by name, that God would save them.

6. For God to raise up nationals to evangelize their own people.

7. For the language ability and cultural interaction of the missionary.

8. For fresh fillings of the Holy Spirit of those on the field.

9. For the health of the missionaries in adverse environments, being under severe strain and burden for the work.

10. For the loneliness that comes to all missionaries. They can’t go to a friend’s house for fellowship and encouragement. Missionaries normally separate themselves from their natural families but no amount of distance can separate them from their Spiritual family, their brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Lord Jesus prayed all night for the first 12 missionaries. Isn’t that example a mandate for us. “It is a significant fact that there is no distinct command for man to send forth missionaries. That work was done by Christ Himself and then by His Spirit when He chose Paul and Barnabas.” (Principles and Practice of Prayer, Ivan H. French) Our responsibility is to pray. Mat 9:37,38 “Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”

Hudson Taylor wrote back to England from China to request ten prayer warriors for ten struggling mission stations. Later he wrote and informed them that seven of those ten mission stations had miraculously revived. Someone in England, who had read both letters, sent the letter back and told Taylor that they had been able to find only seven prayer warriors to pray.

The missionary leaves by taking ship or plane; the intercessor leaves by shutting the door of his closet. Principles and Practice of Prayer, Ivan French

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Perseverance in Prayer

1 Thess. 5:17 - "Pray without ceasing"

(From Works of Ezekiel Hopkins, 1874, Vol. 3, pp 579-581)

1. That may be said to be done without ceasing, which is done constantly, and at set times and seasons. So we have the word used, Gen. 8:22: “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease:” that is, they shall not cease, in their courses and appointed times. So, here, “Pray without ceasing” that is, observe a constant course of prayer, at fixed and appointed times; still keeping yourselves from any superstitious observations. And, thus, Exod. 29:42: the daily sacrifice is called “a continual burnt-offering;” and yet it was offered up only every morning and every evening, and yet God accounts it a continual offering. So here “Pray” continually, or “without ceasing:” that is, keep up frequent and appointed times for prayer, without intermission.

2. To pray without ceasing, is to pray with all importunity and vehemence. So, in Acts 12:5, “the Church” is said to pray for Peter “without ceasing;” that is, they were very earnest and importunate, and would give God no rest until he heard them. So, also, in the parable of the unjust steward, which our Saviour spake on purpose to show how prevalent with God importunity is, Luke 18:1, it is said, that the Lord would teach them that they “ought always to pray:'' that is, that they ought to pray earnestly and importunity is not giving over till they were heard. So, also, I Sam. 7:7,8 the children of Israel entreated Samuel not to cease crying to the Lord for them: that is, that he would improve all his interest at the throne of grace to the utmost in their behalf. So we are bid to “pray without ceasing:” that is, to be earnest and vehement, resolving to take no denial at the hands of God. But yet we must do other duties also, though we are vehement in this. We may learn how to demean ourselves in this case towards God, by beggars who betimes come to your doors and bring their work along with them: they beg importunately, and yet they work betwixt whiles: so also should we do: we should beg as importunately of God, as if we depended merely upon his charity; and yet, betwixt whiles, we should work as industriously as if we were ourselves to get our livings with our own hands.

3. To “pray without ceasing,” is to improve all occasions, at every turn, to be darting up our souls unto God in holy meditations and ejaculations. And this we may and ought to do, when we hear or read the word, or in whatever duty of religion we are engaged: yea, this we may and ought to do, in our worldly employments. If your hearts and affections be heavenly, your thoughts will force out a passage, through the crowd and tumult of worldly businesses, to Heaven. Ejaculations which are swift messengers, which require not much time to perform their errands in. For there is a holy mystery in pointing our earthly employments with these heavenly ejaculations, as men point their writings sometimes with stops [periods]; even now and them shooting up a short mental prayer unto heaven: such pauses as these are, you will find to be no impediments to your worldly affairs. This is the way for a Christian to be retired and private, in the midst of a multitude; to turn his shop or his field into a closet; to trade for earth, and yet to get heaven also into the bargain. So we read of Nehemiah 2:4, that, while the king was discoursing to him on the state of Judea, Nehemiah prayed unto God: that is, he sent up secret prayers to God, which, though they escaped the king's notice and observation, yet were so prevalent as to bow and incline his heart.

4. There is yet something more in this praying ''without ceasing.” And that is this: we may then be said to “pray without ceasing” when we keep our hearts in such a frame, as that we are fit at all times to pour out our souls before God in prayer. When we keep alive and cherish a praying spirit; and can, upon all opportunities, draw near to God, with full souls and with lively and vigorous affections: this is to “pray without ceasing.” And this I take to be the most genuine, natural sense of the words, and the true scope of the Apostle here; to have the habit of prayer, inclining them always freely and sweetly to breathe out their requests unto God, and to take all occasions to prostrate themselves before his throne of grace.

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Pray Big for God’s Glory

Mrs. Charles E. Cowman in Springs in the Valley reminds of us a story about “Alexander the Great who had a famous, but indigent, philosopher in his court who was once particularly straightened in his circumstances. To whom should he apply but to his patron, the conqueror of the world? His request was no sooner made than granted. Alexander gave him a commission to receive of his treasury whatever he wanted. He immediately demanded in his sovereign’s name ten thousand pounds. The treasurer, surprised at so large a demand, refused to comply, but waited upon the king and represented the affair, adding withal how unreasonable he thought the petition and how exorbitant the sum. Alexander listened with patience, but as soon as he heard the remonstrance replied, ‘Let the money be instantly paid. I am delighted with this philosopher’s way of thinking; he has done me a singular honor: by the largeness of his request he shows the high idea he has conceived both of my superior wealth and my royal munificience.’”

We can dishonor God by asking too little. Yes, He can give us a parking place but He can also open great and unlimited fields of Christian service. “Saints have never yet reached the limit to the possibilities of prayer. Whatever has been attained or achieved has touched but the fringe of the garment of a prayer-hearing God. We honor the riches both of His power and love only by large demands.” A. T. Pierson

We remember the story in 2 Kings 13 of Joash the king of Israel who went to see Elisha when the prophet was dying. Elisha’s instructions are recorded in verses 15-19, “And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows; and he took unto him bow and arrows. And he said to the king of Israel, Put thy hand upon the bow; and he put his hand upon it. And Elisha laid his hands upon the king's hands. And he said, Open the window eastward; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot; and he shot. And he said, Jehovah's arrow of victory, even the arrow of victory over Syria; for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them. And he said, Take the arrows; and he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground; and he smote thrice, and stayed. And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times: then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it, whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.” God’s wants to give us more victory than we ask for. “We have not because we ask not.” Ja 4:2

Asking too little not only limits the blessings we get from God, but also limits the glory He gets out of our lives. We forget that He “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Eph 3:20

When asking someone for help, we are embarrassed and careful not to ask for too much. We know others are limited and we don’t want to strain or be burdensome to them. When we come to pray, we act as if God is limited or stingy with His blessings. We ask as if we were afraid to ask “BIG”. We seem to be content with creature comforts, our daily bread and the physical health of ourselves and our friends, when we should be praying for God to do great and mighty things in the advancement of His kingdom. Why pray for a good attendance at church Sunday when we can pray for a great ingathering of souls across our nation. Why just pray for lost family members when we could be praying for the lost around the world. God’s kingdom is bigger than our church or denomination.

God can not give too much, or run out of supplies, or be found unable to accomplish His will. All we have to do is to abide in Him and “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Mt 21:22

Did God make this world and all things in it and does He not continue to sustain and govern it? It is without question that such an Omnipotent God could not be strained with our request.

The problem with our praying is not that we ask for too much, but that we don’t ask for enough. God is more glorified when He does greater and more unusual things, especially those that the world can see.

Thou art coming to a King,

Large petitions with thee bring;

For his grace and power are such

None can ever ask too much.

–John Newton

“Nothing is beyond the reach of prayer except that which was out of the will of God.” Prayer Power Unlimited, J. Oswald Sanders

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Prayer--What it Does

Pleads the Name of Jesus

Jn 14:13,14 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

Regards the Work of Jesus

Heb 10:19-22 “ Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Abides in the Person of Jesus

Jn 15:4-11 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

Yields to the Will of Jesus

1 Jn 5:14,15 “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”

Expects Fulfillment of Promise

2 Cor 1:18-20 “But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no. For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.”

Remembers the Conditions

2 Cor 7:1 “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

No time to pray!

No time to pray!

O, who so fraught with earthly care

As not to give a humble prayer

Some part of day!

No time to pray!

What heart so clean, so pure within,

That needeth not some check from sin.

Needs not to pray?

No time to pray?

‘Mid each day’s dangers, what retreat

More needful than the mercy seat?

Who need not pray?

No time to pray!

Must care or business’ urgent call

So press us as to take it all,

Each passing day?

What thought more drear

Than that our God His face should hide,

And say, through all life’s swelling tide,

No time to hear!

Anonymous

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Praying for Preaching

We speak to God in prayer and God speaks to us in and through the Word of God.

I. God’s Method

Our Lord commanded us to preach, “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’” Mk 16:15 Paul understood this “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God...For since in the wisdom of God, the world by its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased to save those who believe by the foolishness of preaching...but we preach about a crucified Christ, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Cor 1:18-25

Sometimes it is difficult to know God’s will and how to pray, but when it comes to preaching there is no doubt about what God wants. His revealed will is for us to carry out His method of advancing His kingdom, preaching the Word. Jesus said “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” Jn 15:16 Here our Lord connects prayer and preaching with “whatsoever you ask.” If one man says to another man “whatsoever” that is generous enough, but when God says “whatsoever” it is truly unlimited.

Paul told the Romans “Thus I am eager also to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Rom 1:15-16 Do we really want to see the unsaved converted? God says that the Gospel preached is His power to salvation. Then what should we do? Answer: Pray for preaching and those who preach. We thank God that we still have the freedom to preach the Word of God. We should pray for specific preaching opportunities, for God to call men to preach, for people to come to preaching. For the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the preaching of the Word.

II. God’s Messenger

Paul repeatedly asked for others to pray for his preaching. “That the true apostolic preacher must have the prayers of other good people to give to his ministry its full quota of success. Paul is a preeminent example. He asks, he covets, he pleads in an impassioned way for the help of all God’s saints. He knew that in the spiritual realm, as elsewhere, in union there is strength; that the concentration and aggregation of faith, desire, and prayer increased the volume of spiritual force until it became overwhelming and irresistible in its power. Units of prayer combined, like drops of water, make an ocean which defies resistance. So Paul, with his clear and full apprehension of spiritual dynamics, determined to make his ministry as impressive, as eternal, as irresistible as the ocean, by gathering all the scattered units of prayer and precipitating them on his ministry. May not the solution of Paul's preeminence in labors and results, and impress on the Church and the world, be found in this fact that he was able to center on himself and his ministry more of prayer than others? To his brethren at Rome he wrote: ‘Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in prayers to God for me.’ To the Ephesians he says: ‘Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.’ To the Colossians he emphasizes: ‘Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: that I may make it manifest as I ought to speak.’ To the Thessalonians he says sharply, strongly: ‘Brethren, pray for us.’ Paul calls on the Corinthian Church to help him: ‘Ye also helping together by prayer for us.’ This was to be part of their work. They were to lay to the helping hand of prayer. He in an additional and closing charge to the Thessalonian Church about the importance and necessity of their prayers says: ‘Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men.’ He impresses the Philippians that all his trials and opposition can be made subservient to the spread of the gospel by the efficiency of their prayers for him. Philemon was to prepare a lodging for him, for through Philemon’s prayer Paul was to be his guest..Paul’s attitude on this question illustrates his humility and his deep insight into the spiritual forces which project the gospel. More than this, it teaches a lesson for all times, that if Paul was so dependent on the prayers of God's saints to give his ministry success, how much greater the necessity that the prayers of God's saints be centered on the ministry of today!” E. M. Bounds

“If some Christians that have been complaining of their ministers had said and acted less before men and had applied themselves with all their might to cry to God for their ministers -- had, as it were, risen and stormed heaven with their humble, fervent and incessant prayers for them -- they would have been much more in the way of success.” Jonathan Edwards

Spurgeon said much about others praying. “The preacher, no matter how brilliant, godly, or eloquent, has no power without the Spirit's help: The bell in the steeple may be well hung, fairly fashioned, and of soundest metal, but it is dumb until the ringer makes it speak. And ...the preacher has no voice of quickening for the dead in sin, or of comfort for living saints unless the divine spirit gives him a gracious pull, and begs him speak with power. Hence the need of prayer for both preacher and hearers.”

“As prayer meetings fail in a congregation, so will the ministrations of the pastor become unfruitful, the preaching of the word fail to convert sinners and promote holiness in the professors of religion.” The Prayer Meeting and Its History, J. B. Johnston

God has not changed His methods. The modern techniques of today’s churches are not in accordance with God’s method and He has no obligation to honor them, but He will honor the preaching of His Word. We must pray for preaching, and our brothers that preach and those who hear.

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The Pray-er’s Attitude

What is the attitude of the heart of one that is truly praying? Following are some attitudes that we should strive for.

Prayer is a duty.

Duty is not the highest of motives, but it is a legitimate one and a good one. Jesus said that men ought always to pray. Luke 18:1 We call Jesus “Lord.” How can we call Him Lord and fail to do what He says (Luke 6:46)? That which is done from a sense of duty (obedience) soon becomes delight.

Prayer is a privilege.

It is none other than Almighty God who invites us to pray Jer. 33:3, Jesus Christ, the second person of the Triune God, who has made it possible for us to pray John 14:6; Heb. 10:19, 20 Holy Spirit, the third person of the Triune God, who has come to assist us in our praying (Rom. 8:26, 27). Does not the opportunity extended to us, unworthy sinners, fill us with a sense of privilege as we approach the throne of grace?

Prayer must be in humility.

No one has the inherent right to enter into the presence of God and petition Him. That right was forfeited by sin and reclaimed for us at the great price of the death of Jesus Christ. Correct views of our own depravity, the graces extended to us and the sinfulness of our hearts (Jer. 17:9) will remove all arrogance and enable us to approach God boldly (Heb. 4:16), yet humbly (Luke 18:13).

Prayer must be in submission.

Prayer that pleases the Father is that which is offered to Him in the spirit of His own Son, "Yet not My will, but Thine be done" (Luke 22:42, NASB). But God, for great and wise reasons, denied requests of Moses, Elijah, and Paul. In every case, His denial issued in greater blessing. The logic of submission is simply God's wisdom. He knows me, the way ahead and the thing that is best. Therefore, I rest in Him (Phil. 4:6, 7).

Prayer must be in fervency.

Too much of our praying is perfunctory, even lackadaisical. It lacks real seriousness, genuine desire and fervent longing: Elijah prayed earnestly James 5:16, 17, Moses prayed pleadingly Ex. 32:11-13, 31,32; 33:12-16, Daniel prayed intensely Dan. 9:17-19, Paul prayed agonizingly Rom. 15:30; Gal. 4:19, Jesus prayed persistently Matt. 26:39-44.

We should give all diligence to develop these attitudes in our prayer

Revised from Principles and Practice of Prayer, Ivan French chapter 12 Attitudes and Approaches in Prayer

“A great part of my time is spent in getting my heart in tune for prayer.”

Robert Murray McCheyne

Teach Me to Pray, Lord

Teach me to pray Lord, teach me to pray,

This is my heart cry day unto day;

I long to know Thy will and Thy way;

Teach me to pray Lord, teach me to pray.

Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer,

Here ‘mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care;

Men lost and dying, souls in despair;

O give me power, power in prayer.

My weakened will, Lord, teach me to pray;

My sinful nature Thou canst subdue;

Fill me just now with power anew,

Power to pray and power to do!

Teach me to pray Lord, teach me to pray;

Thou art my Pattern, day unto day;

Thou art my surety, now and for aye;

Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray.

Refrain:

Living in Thee, Lord and Thou in me;

Constant abiding, this is my plea;

Grant me Thy power, boundless and free:

Power with men and with power with Thee.

Words and music by Albert S. Reitzd; copyright 1925, renewal Broadman Press. All rights reserved. Used by permission

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Pray the Lord of the Harvest

Matt 9:35-38 “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is he plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

We are to pray for laborers. “The power of the Church truly to bless rests on intercession–asking and receiving heavenly gifts to carry to men.” (Ministry of Intercession, Andrew Murray, p 5) Advancing the Kingdom of God is hard labor and it has eternal consequences. Our Lord said “laborers” not hired professionals. God will give the wisdom and provisions, that is not to concern us. It is laborers with warm hearts and flexible wills that get the job done.

Laborers are simply to do what they are told when they are told. Sometimes without explanations or understanding. They are not managers or executives. The employer or Lord of the harvest is responsible to know what they should do and what to do with the results of the laborer. Laborers many times are not professionals. They have basic skills that they develop with experience and use to their Master’s benefit. Paul was always asking for the Christians to be praying for his missionary efforts. “Brethren, pray for us.” 1 Thess 5:25 Paul considered himself to be sent out into the harvest.

The word here for “send out” is the same word to casting out demons. It means to cast or send out. Sometimes it is used to refer to being deprived of the power and influence one exercises in the world or to expel a person from a society: to banish from a family, to draw out with force, tear out with implication of force overcoming opposite force; to cause a thing to move straight on its intended goal; to reject with contempt, to cast off or away, to lead one forth or away somewhere with a force which he cannot resist. This language is many times an accurate description of how God puts His people to work in His kingdom and some of the circumstances and reactions encountered in that process.

The church, its members and leaders, is to pray for laborers in two areas:

1. For itself. The local church needs a variety of gifts and graces to be manifested in its weekly and daily life. There needs to be continual prayer that the Lord of the harvest would raise up and send forth individuals in the body to “do the work of the ministry.” The pastor is not to do some of everything or all of anything. A healthy and spiritual body life involves everyone, each according to his giftedness laboring where the Master wants them. When God gives the laborers, it is the responsibility of the rest of the church to recognize and support them in their God ordained tasks.

2. For the fulfillment of the great commission. Fulfilling the great commission “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have you.” (Mat 28:19,20) is our great responsibility. “All nations” include our own not just those across the ocean. This charge includes all the organizational and support functions necessary to fulfill it. Laborers are needed for every part of this endeavor and we are charged to pray for them to be sent and sustained in the work. We can not muster the work force, only God can do that, but He has commanded us to pray and in this way be part of the cause of making it happen.

We are hypocrites if we pray for others to go and are not willing to go ourselves. If we rejoice when the children others are going out and are glad when our children are staying close to us, then we are double-minded and grieve the Holy Spirit. A laborer is a laborer regardless of where he is laboring. The Master of the harvest wants us to be faithful to the task He assigns us. Note the last words of our text, “ into his harvest.” It is His work and it cannot fail. It is our privilege to have a part. Our function is two-fold. 1. Execute the task assigned us to His glory. 2. Requisition a multitude of additional laborers to carry the work on for His unlimited glory.

Hudson Taylor wrote back to England from China requesting ten prayer warriors for ten struggling mission stations. Later he wrote and informed them that seven of those ten mission stations had miraculously revived. Someone in England, who had read both letters, sent the letter back and told Taylor that they had been able to find only seven prayer warriors to pray.

In 1860 while in England, recovering from sickness, Taylor wrote “I had a growing conviction that God would have me seek from Him the needed workers and go forth with them ... In the study of the divine Word, I learned that to obtain successful workers, not elaborate appeals for help, but first earnest prayer to God to thrust forth laborers, and second the deepening of the spiritual life of the Church, so that men should be unable to stay at home, were what was needed...I had no doubt but that if I prayed for fellow-workers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, they would be given. I had no doubt but that, in answer to such prayer, the means for our going forth would be provided, and that doors would be opened before us in unreached parts of the Empire.” Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, p 110

Send Thou, O Lord, to every place

Swift messengers before Thy face,

The heralds of Thy wondrous grace,

Where Thou, Thyself, wilt come.

Send men whose eyes have seen the King,

Men in whose ears His sweet words ring,

Send such Thy lost ones home to bring:

Send them where Thou wilt come—

To bring good news to souls in sin,

The bruised and broken hearts to win,

In every place to bring them in,

Where Thou, Thyself, wilt come.

Gird each one with the Spirit’s sword,

The sword of Thine own deathless Word,

And make them conquerors, conquering Lord,

Where Thou, Thyself, wilt come.

Raise up, O Lord the Holy Ghost,

From this broad land a mighty host,

Their war cry–We will seek the lost,

Where Thou, O Christ, wilt come!

A Member of the China Inland Mission, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, p 251

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Prayer, What It Is

The Empty Hand Of Need

Mat 8:2,3 “And a leper approached, and bowed low before him, saying, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ 3 He stretched out his hand and touched him saying, ‘I am willing. Be clean!’ Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”

The Cry Of Despair

Ps 107:1-28 “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, and his loyal love endures! 2 Let those delivered by the Lord speak out, those whom he delivered from the power of the enemy, 3 and gathered from foreign lands, from east and west, from north and south. 4 They wandered through the wilderness on a desert road; they found no city in which to live. 5 They were hungry and thirsty; they fainted from exhaustion. 6 They cried out to the Lord in their distress; he delivered them from their troubles. 7 He led them on a level road, that they might find a city in which to live. 8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his loyal love, and for the amazing things he has done for people! 9 For he has satisfied those who thirst, and those who hunger he has filled with food. 10 They sat in utter darkness, bound in painful iron chains, 11 because they had rebelled against God’s commands, and rejected the instructions of the sovereign king. 12 So he used suffering to humble them; they stumbled and no one helped them up. 13 They cried out to the Lord in their distress; he delivered them from their troubles. 14 He brought them out of the utter darkness, and tore off their shackles. 15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his loyal love, and for the amazing things he has done for people! 16 For he shattered the bronze gates,and hacked through the iron bars. 17 They acted like fools in their rebellious ways, and suffered because of their sins. 18 They lost their appetite for all food, and they drew near the gates of death. 19 They cried out to the Lord in their distress;

he delivered them from their troubles. 20 He sent them an assuring word and healed them; he rescued them from the pits where they were trapped. 21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his loyal love, and for the amazing things he has done for people! 22 Let them present thank offerings, and loudly proclaim what he has done! 23 Some traveled on the sea in ships, and carried cargo over the vast waters. 24 They witnessed the acts of the Lord, his amazing feats on the deep water. 25 He gave the order for a windstorm, and it stirred up the waves of the sea. 26 They reached up to the sky, then dropped into the depths. The sailors’ strength left them because the danger was so great. 27 They swayed and staggered like a drunk, and all their skill proved ineffective. 28 They cried out to the Lord in their distress; he delivered them from their troubles.”

The Key To Heaven Supplies

Ac 4:31 “When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God courageously.

The Hedge Of Protection

Neh 6:9 “They all were wanting to scare us, supposing, “Their hands will grow slack from the work, and it won’t get done.” So now, strengthen my hands!”

The Sap Of Fruitfulness

Jn 15:7,8 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples.”

The Companion Of Praise

Ac 16:25 “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the rest of the prisoners were listening to them.”

NET

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Prevenient Praying

The word “prevenient” means to go before, to prepare the way. Sometimes an army will make a “pre-emptive strike” to get the advantage over the enemy. Some times they will send “special forces” in ahead of the regular solders to prepare the way. Another term to describe this kind of action is “pro-active.” “Prevenient praying” then, is to go before and prepare the way by praying. We don’t wait until something happens but we seek God’s will and pray and work to bring it about. In the hussels and hassels of life we sometimes let ourselves live under the “tyranny of the urgent.” Always reacting to one emergency and then another.

Sometimes our prayer life becomes one of praying for one trouble then another, after they have become troublesome. Certainly we should pray concerning our troubles, this is one of the reasons we have trouble, to make us pray. But if we are always on the defensive, we won’t be gaining much ground. Someone has said the life is over 90% reaction to our circumstances and less than 10% action that we initiate ourselves. There is something here for us to consider in relation to praying. We certainly have the responsibility to pray for the unsaved, the sick and afflicted, believers in sin, etc. But, the well rounded prayer life (individually and corporately) will go beyond the pressing problems of the moment and carry us into the future with an eye for God’s glory. Some Biblical examples of prevenient or proactive praying are:

1.

Our Lord taught us to pray saying, to our Father “your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Mat 6:9-13 Much of what He mentions here is not a reaction to a problem but deals with things that are not but ought to be, “kingdom come,” “daily bread” seems to be a reference to the coming day, but especially, “do not lead us into temptation.” Jesus is teaching us to pray “Preveniently,” before the fact, that we should not be taken into tempting, trying, and testing times that might hinder our service for God. What is the greatest danger to need protection from? It can be none other than sin. Each of us has the cancer of sin within us. Jesus is teaching us to pray for protection from temptation. We should be praying that God, in His providence, will not allow us to be drawn away by our own sinful nature from Him into sin. Every Christian needs to pray this prayer.

2.

When we pray for the Lord of the harvest to send labours we are praying pro-actively and preveniently. Ma 9:37, 38 “Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” We know there is much to be done so we pray for God to call and prepare believers to get the job done.

3.

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Mat 16:18 Jesus said that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church; this implies that we are attacking the gates of Hell, that is being on the offensive. This involves praying before the fact. Isn’t this what we are doing when we send missionaries into heathen lands?

4.

When Jesus was praying the night before His crucifixion, He prayed; “I pray not that thou shouldest take them from the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world even as I am not of the world. ” Jn 17:15,16 Jesus knew that Satan would try to destroy us so He prayed before the fact that we would be safe. We should take great comfort in our Lord’s praying for us and pray for one another in this way.

5.

When Paul was telling the Roman Christians what he was praying about, he said “and I always ask in my prayers, if perhaps now at last I may succeed in visiting you in the will of God.” Rom 1:10 He was praying for safe travel and the opportunity to see them and be a spiritual help to them.

6.

Paul told the Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, tell your requests to God in your every prayer and petition—with thanksgiving. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6 Being thankful will preempt discouragement. “This pre-answer gratitude is a preemptive strike against bitterness and disappointment over how and when our heavenly Father chooses us answer. Also, it is an expression of enormous faith to thank Him in advance of His response. Our understanding that He will always do right by our petitions prompts us to be grateful to Him before they are answered.” Developing your Secret Closet of Prayer, Richard Burr, p 114.

7.

“Finally, pray for us, brothers and sisters, that the Lord’s message may spread quickly and be honored as in fact it was among you,” 2 Thes 3:1 We don’t want the preaching of God’s Word to be ineffective so we pray He would empower His Word to work in the hearts of men.

8.

“Praying ahead of our exploits for God allows us to command an offensive position against our adversary. Prevenient praying precludes presumption by ‘covering all the bases.’ ...Prevenient prayer in the corporate setting assumes a special significance. The Scriptures often speak of the church as the army of God. God’s plan is for His army to establish His Kingdom on earth. Lone warriors, however gifted, will never accomplish His purposes. In corporate prayer every member of the body assembles on the front lines of the outreach effort.” The Praying Church, Sue Curran 95.

The more preveniently and proactively we pray, the more efficiently we will be in our prayer life and the more we will advance the Kingdom of God into new territority, claiming it for God.

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Three Biblical Principles for Corporate Prayer


1. The Family Principle 

The church is the family of God.  In any family it is right and proper for all the children to make requests of their parent. It can be expected that the request will have a considerable impact upon the will and emotions of the parent.  Using this as an analogy in the spiritual realm, we are reminded that it is appropriate for the children to petition their heavenly Father.

In a family there is “bi-directional love” which is vertical and horizontal.  There is a vertical love between the parent(s) and the children.  We see in 1 Joh 3:1  “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” 

There is a horizontal love between the children.   Jesus says in John 14:34,35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  The standard is given by our Lord in John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”

As we pray to our loving Father we will not want anything that He does not want for us.  As we pray we will be concerned for our brothers and sisters around the world and pray for them.  When they hurt, we hurt; when they rejoice, we rejoice.

2. The Body Principle 


The body life is realized when each individual part or member of the body is living in contact with the head and function as the head directs.

In 1 Cor 12 we are taught that the local church is the Body of Christ. “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” 1 Cor 12: 12 When a body is in a state of good health, all of its parts function harmoniously and according to their intended purpose.  So when the members of the spiritual Body, the church, are functioning harmoniously with their Head and with each other, it may be expected that the Body will accomplish it’s intended purpose for the Kingdom of God in this world. 

Act 12:1-25 tells of how Peter was put in prison,  “4 When he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people. 5 So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.”  The church prayed and the angel was sent to deliver Peter.   The application of this principle to a praying church is both individual and corporate.  Individually each believer is to pray to God personally and privately.  He is to maintain his own prayer life.   At the same time he is to maintain corporate or partner praying with his fellow believers.  Just as each organ in a physical body performs its function, so each believer fulfills his responsibility and joins in prayer as they commune with God.  This could be in pairs, in small groups, or in the entire corporate body prayer meeting. 

3. The Unity Principle


When we pray in unity, we need to: 1. Recognize that our life comes only from our Father and thank Him for giving us that life. Joh 1:13  “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. ” 2. Recognize our dependence upon him.  We must be in agreement that we can do nothing without Him

In Mat 18:19 we have an outstanding promise: “if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.”  Even though the context of this verse has specific reference to procedural matters in the church, the principle carries over into other areas of our life.  When we come to God united and agreeing in what we ask, we gain a special presence of and power with God.

The great day of Pentecost was realized in an atmosphere of unity in prayer.  “When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. 14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.   Acts 1:13,14 

Unity is established by the Spirit,  “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”  1 Cor 12:13   If we are being led by the Spirit, we will be led to unity whenever that is possible.

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling. ”  Eph 4:1-4

Richard Lovelace speaks of visiting a famous harpist’s storeroom, where he kept harps of various sizes. When he plucked the largest harp, every harp in the storeroom resounded with the same note.  When the Spirit plucks the heart of one believer in the church, then every other believer should harmonize with what the Spirit is doing.

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The School of Prayer Part 1

“Lord teach us to pray.” Lk 11:1

As the disciples made the above request so should we. Some have said that prayer can not be taught, it must be “caught” or learned by experience. But this was not Jesus’ answer. He immediately began to teach them. The following is from Ole Hallesby’s book on Prayer, 161f.

“So few of us become sanctified and skilled petitioners because we do not continue in the school of prayer...There is something about this school which tries our patience sorely. Jesus Himself alludes to it on several occasions, especially in Luke 18:1-8, where He says ‘that they ought always to pray and not faint…’

“It is the Spirit of prayer who superintends the instruction in the school of prayer. He does not offer a variety of subjects, but concentrates purposely on a few central things. It is not necessary to master a large variety of subjects in order to become skilled in prayer...

In the first place, the Spirit must be given an opportunity to reveal Christ to us every day. This is absolutely essential. Christ is such that we need only ‘see’ Him, and prayer will rise from our hearts. Voluntary prayer, confident prayer. We know that Christ can answer prayer. We know also that it gives Him joy to do so. Prayer and intercession have become a delightful and fascinating means of co-operation between Christ and the praying soul. The instruction which the Spirit imparts has as its aim the removal of everything which hinders Him from revealing Christ in our hearts...

In the second place, the instruction which the Spirit imparts, aims at making us earnestly solicitous. Intercessory prayer is like an ellipse, which rotates about two definite points: Christ and our need. The work of the Spirit in connection with prayer is to show us both, not merely theoretically, but practically, making them vital to us from day to day. Comfort yourself with the thought that it is the Spirit who is working these things in your heart every day. It is not necessary for you to strive in your own strength to keep your eyes open to Christ and the needs of the world. No, all you need to do is to listen to the Spirit as He speaks to you every day in the Word and through prayer about Christ and your need, and you will soon notice yourself making progress both in prayer and in intercession.

In the third place, the Spirit teaches us the necessity of self-denial in connection with prayer.There is something about prayer and intercession which calls for more self-denial than any other work to which the Spirit calls us. The greater part of the work of intercession is, of course, done in secret; and work of this kind requires the expenditure of greater effort than work which can be seen of men. It is astonishing to see how much it means to us to have others see what we do. It is not only that we all have a great weakness for the praise of others, but the fact that our work is appreciated and valued is a remarkable stimulant to us.

Furthermore, we all love to see results from our labors. But the work of prayer is of such a nature that it is impossible for us always to know definitely whether what happens is a fruit of our own intercession or that of others.

“Both of these facts call for a great deal of self-denial in connection with prayer...

“In the fine and difficult art of prayer, intercession is undoubtedly the most difficult of accomplishment. As far as my understanding of these things goes, intercessory prayer is the finest and most exacting kind of work that it is possible for men to perform.”

The request “Lord teach us to pray” is itself a prayer. Our Lord began immediately to answer that prayer in the following verses. We need to ask our Lord, and the Holy Spirit, to teach us to pray and be ready for Him to do so. Our Lord’s lesson on “Praying” included three things: 1. an outline for the contents of prayer in verses 2-4, 2. the need for persistence, in verses 5-10, and 3. encouragement that the Father will give us the one thing needed in verses 11-13.

“Jesus taught his disciples that the highest exercise of prayer was in obtaining God’s divinest bestowment, the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Lk 11:13 William Patton

“Prayer is an art which only the Spirit can teach us. He is the giver of all prayer.” C. H. Spurgeon

“The biggest thing God ever did for me was to teach me to pray in the Spirit.” Samuel Chadwick

O Lord, by Whom ye come to God,

The Life, the Truth, the Way,

The path of prayer Thyself hast trod;

Lord, teach us now to pray.

Teach Me to Pray, Lord

Teach me to pray Lord, teach me to pray,

This is my heart cry day unto day;

I long to know Thy will and Thy way;

Teach me to pray Lord, teach me to pray.

Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer,

Here ‘mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care;

Men lost and dying, souls in despair;

O give me power, power in prayer.

My weakened will, Lord, teach me to pray;

My sinful nature Thou canst subdue;

Fill me just now with power anew,

Power to pray and power to do!

Teach me to pray Lord, teach me to pray;

Thou art my Pattern, day unto day;

Thou art my surety, now and for aye;

Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray.

REFRAIN

Living in Thee, Lord and Thou in me;

Constant abiding, this is my plea;

Grant me Thy power, boundless and free:

Power with men and with power with Thee.

Words and music by Albert S. Reitzd; copyright 1925, renewal Broadman Press.

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The School of Prayer Part 2:The Content of Prayer

The request “Lord teach us to pray,” in Lk 11:1 is itself a prayer. Our Lord immediately answered that prayer in the following verses. He gives three lessons on “Praying”: 1. An outline for the contents of prayer in verses 2-4, 2. The need for persistence, in verses 5-10, and 3. Encouragement that the Father will give us the one thing needed in verses 11-13.

Let us look at the first lesson in our Lord’s teaching on praying. “And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Father, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we ourselves also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And bring us not into temptation.” These words are repeated in corporate worship thousands of times each Lord’s day. We feel that the greatest value in this prayer is not the saying of the words but in what it suggests for content in our prayers; either public, corporate, or private. The first part centers around the person of God. The Second part concerns our need.

The Person of God: “Father, Hallowed be thy name.” The most basic thing about prayer is that, is a conversation between two persons, a child and a Father. Our prayer must be addressed to God alone Who is our Father in creation, election, and sanctifying grace. The first thing we should talk about in prayer is God Himself. We should “hallow” or sanctify His name, meaning “to separate from profane things and dedicate to God.” Sanctifying His name is not making Him holy but is acknowledging, and declaring Him to be holy, and glorifying Him, and all His perfections. Isa 12:4 “And in that day shall ye say, Give thanks unto Jehovah, call upon his name, declare his doings among the peoples, make mention that his name is exalted.” Eph 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ:”

The Plan of God: “Thy kingdom come.” The kingdom is essentially the “rule of God”. We are to pray for God’s will to be realized. Where? In our society, church, family, and personal life. There is an underlining issue of authority here. God has the “right” to rule in all areas of everyone’s life. To pray this we must be in submission to God, lest we be hypocrites. Ps 47:7,8 “For God is the King of all the earth: Sing ye praises with understanding. God reigneth over the nations: God sitteth upon his holy throne.” The kingdom of God does not come with observation and is within us, Lk 17:20,21, but it is also something to be seen, Jn 3:3.

The Provision of God: “Give us day by day our daily bread.” This subject of our praying too often becomes the main thrust of our prayer and even the only concern in our prayer. But in its proper place it is a necessary part of prayer. The reference is to “daily bread” not “daily caviar.” Php 4:19 “God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Jam 4:2 “...ye have not, because ye ask not.“

The Pardon of God : “And forgive us our sins; for we ourselves also forgive every one that is indebted to us.” Pardon or forgiveness is necessary to prayer in three ways: 1. The fact of our being pardoned, or forgiven for our sin, 2. The realization of that fact in our consciences and 3. Practicing forgiveness in our relationships with others. Jesus is linking our forgiveness from God with our forgiveness to others. Mat 18:21-35

The Protection of God: “And bring us not into temptation.” What is the greatest danger to need protection from? It can be none other than sin. Each of us has the cancer of sin within us. Jesus is teaching us to pray for protection from temptation. This might be called “preemptive praying.” “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man: but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed.” Jam 1:13,14 We should be praying that God, in His providence, will not allow us to be drawn away by our own sinful nature from Him into sin. Every Christian needs to pray this prayer. The psalmist said, “...I will fear no evil; for thou art with me.” Ps 23:4

The words of verses 2-4 is a “pattern prayer;” it is not the real prayer. The real prayer is that which we pray following this example. The difference is like the difference between a “cookie cutter” and a “cookie.” Just as a “cookie cutter” is not acceptable food, neither is the mere repetition of these words acceptable to God as real prayer. The cutter gives design and development to the cookie as this model prayer does to our prayers. What may be most important in this model prayer is the order of these ideas. That is, making God’s glory and will come before our needs. When we are praying (privately or corporately), it would be good to follow these topics in the order that Jesus has given them.

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The School of Prayer Part 3: Importunity

The request “Lord teach us to pray,” in Luk 11:1 is itself a prayer. Our Lord immediately answered that prayer in the following verses. He gives three lessons on “Praying”: 1. An outline for the contents of prayer in verses 2-4, 2. A lesson by comparison showing the need for persistence in verses 5-10, and 3. A lesson by contrast showing that the Father will give us the one thing needed in verses 11-13.

Let us look at the second lesson in our Lord’s teaching on praying, The need for persistence. “And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine is come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him; and he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will arise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

There are three friends in this story: the needing friend, the interceding friend, and the supplying friend. The lesson is about the intercessory prayer, but it is about something more: it is about persistence in intercessory prayer. To many this sounds inappropriate and even irreverent, but it can not be that because the Lord Jesus is doing the teaching.

Christ Jesus encourages us to be fervent and persistent in our prayer for others. We must come for the needs of those that God has brought into our lives, as a man does to his neighbor or friend. We must come for bread; for that which is needful and we all have many people in our lives that have much need. If God does not answer our prayers speedily, He will in due time, if we continue to pray. Heb 4:16 “Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need.” The word for “boldly” here means “free speakingly;” that is for any and all needs. God gives us needs for us to pray about and He promises that He will meet that need or give us mercy and grace to bear it, either way the need is removed.

The implication, here, and in Lk 8:1-8, is that God is reluctant to answer prayer. But-- “The lesson is that lukewarmness in prayer, as in everything else, is nauseating to God and comes away empty-handed. On the other hand, shameless persistence, the importunity that will not be denied, returns with the answer in its hands...There may be other reasons why the divine response tarries and importunity is needed...

1. We may be asking without caring greatly about the issue. If we are not in earnest, why should God bestir Himself? We shall find Him when we seek with all our hearts.

2. We may be asking for selfish reasons, and the discipline of delay is necessary to purge us of this. Selfish motivation is self-defeating in prayer.

3. We may unconsciously be unwilling to pay the price involved in the answering of our prayers, and our Father desires us to face up to this fact.

4. We may be misinterpreting what God is doing in our lives in answer to our prayers....

5. ...apparent delay or denial of an answer...secures our humble dependence on God. If He bestowed our desires as gifts of nature and did not want our solicitations, we would tend to become independent of Him.”

Prayer Power Unlimited, J. Oswald Sanders, p 84,86

Every unanswered prayer is a clarion call to search the heart to see what is wrong there; for the promise is unmistakably clear: "If ye shall ask anything in My name, that will I do" John 14:14 Adoniram Judson said, “God loves importunate prayer so much that He will not give us much blessing without it. And the reason He loves such prayer is that He loves us, and knows that it is a necessary preparation for our receiving the richest blessing He is waiting and longing to bestow.”

Our Lord concludes this lesson with triple emphasis: “Ask--Seek--Knock” and He re-emphasizes it again by saying, “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” This teaching is from Jesus the Son of God; it has to be true.

Which “friend” are you “the needing friend,” or “the interceding friend?” It is God’s will that we grow spiritually and become the intercessor that can be good stewards in the business of the kingdom.

“God delays in answering our prayers because men would pluck their mercies green; God would have them ripe.”

Unanswered yet? Nay, do not say unanswered,

Perhaps your part is not yet wholly done,

The work began when first your prayer was uttered,

And God will finish what He has begun.

Keep incense burning at the shrine of prayer,

And glory shall descend sometime, somewhere.

Unanswered yet? Faith cannot be unanswered;

Here feet are firmly planted on the Rock;

Amid the wildest storms she stands undaunted,

Nor quails before the loudest thunder shock.

She knows Omnipotence has heard her prayer,

And cries, “It shall be done sometime, somewhere.”

Ophelia Guyon Browning

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The School of Prayer Part 4: A Package Deal

The request “Lord teach us to pray,” in Lk 11:1 is itself a prayer. Our Lord immediately answered that prayer in the following verses. He gives three lessons on “Praying”: 1. An outline for the contents of prayer in verses 2-4, 2. The need for persistence, in verses 5-10, and 3. Encouragement that the Father will give us the one thing needed in verses 11-13.

Let us look at the third lesson in our Lord’s teaching on praying, The praying for the Holy Spirit. “And of which of you that is a father shall his son ask a loaf, and he give him a stone? or a fish, and he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he give him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

Sometimes a father is asked for basic and necessary things that he does not have to give. A human father is limited and many times unable to do what he wants. Never is it such with God. God gives more than we ask. More than we can imagine. “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Eph 3:20

God’s children are to ask for the Holy Spirit; they are to receive Him and God is sure to give Him when we ask persistently. Nothing could be more obvious from our text.

Our relationship with the other members of the Trinity is not as personal as it is with the “Holy Spirit.” In comparing our text with Ma 7:11 we must conclude that the Holy Spirit is equivalent to all “good things.” The sum total of all of our needs is the presence of God liberated in our lives. The best prayer is the most important prayer and the one of which Jesus says “how much more shall your Heavenly Father give you.” Only here Jesus adds the Holy Spirit (pneuma hagion) as the great gift (the summum bonum) that the Father is ready to bestow.

Jesus tells us in Jn 14:16,17, 26 “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him: ye know him; for he abideth with you, and shall be in you... But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.” The word “comforter” is a translation of paracletos also translated Advocate or Helper. It means properly “one who is summoned to the side of another” to help him in a court of justice by defending him, Anyone who is summoned to plead a cause. ”Advocate” is the proper rendering of the word in every case where it occurs. It is worthy of notice that although Paul nowhere uses the word paracletos, but he presents the idea when he speaks of the “intercession” both of Christ and the Spirit Ro 8:27,34.

If any of us are living a meager Christian life of coolness, prayerlessness and uselessness, it is because we do not have the Spirit. We do not have the Spirit because we do not seek him importunately and with a deep sense of our need of him.

Having the Holy Spirit is the real answer to the question “How to Pray?” The ultimate object for and answer to prayer is the Holy Spirit who is the author and sustainer of prayer. The Holy Spirit is the initial cause of faith and salvation and He is the continuous cause of prayerfulness and fruitfulness.

We might think of the Holy Spirit here as a “Package.” When we buy a car, we don’t buy just a motor and gears and wheels. We buy a package which includes all the things that make up a car, even some things like a radio, air conditioner, even a service warranty to make sure the car continues to function as intended. When we buy a computer we usually get many more things along with it to support it and make it practical, like tech support, web access, and a printer. When we get the Holy Spirit, He comes with all that is necessary for our lives to be fully functional and glorifying to Jesus Christ. One of the primary parts of this “Holy Spirit” package are “gifts.” The Holy Spirit gives gifts to believers to indicate how they are to function in the Body of Christ.

So when we pray for and receive the Holy Spirit, we have done all that is necessary to realize the will of God, advance the Kingdom of God, and Glorify the Son of God. To ask for the Spirit is to pray “in Jesus Name.” He told us to do it and when we pray for the Holy Spirit we are acting on His authority.

Jesus taught his disciples that the highest exercise of prayer was in obtaining God’s divinest bestowment, the gift of the Holy Spirit. Lk 11:13 William Patton

But it is the Holy Spirit of God Who is the prayer’s great Helper. The Kneeling Christian

All true prayer is exercised in the sphere of the Holy Spirit, motivated and empowered by Him. Eph 6:18

Breath on Me

Breathe on me, breathe on me, Holy Spirit, breathe on me

Take Thou my heart, cleanse every part, Holy Spirit, breathe on me.

Holy Spirit, breathe on me, Until, my heart is clean;

Let Sunshine fill its in most part, With not a cloud between.

Holy Spirit, breathe on me, My stubborn will subdue;

Teach me in words of living flame, What Christ would have me do.

Holy Spirit, breath on me, Fill me with power divine;

Kindle a flame of love and zeal, Within this heart of mine.

Holy Spirit breath on me, Till I am all Thine own,

Until my will is lost in Thine, To live for Thee alone.

Edwin Hatch 1835-1889

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Unpossessed Possessions

Can any of us say that the blessings that we have from the Lord are all that God has for us, or that God can not or will not to do greater things for us? Paul said in 1 Cor 2:9 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Also in 3:21 “All things are yours, for you are Christ’s.” These inspired statements are clear, but confusing when we realize how spiritually impoverished we are. They are ours, but so many of us do not possess our possessions.

Unrealized Wealth is illustrated in The Kneeling Christian Ch 8 “The owners of Mount Morgan, in Queensland, toiled arduously for years on its barren slopes, eking out a miserable existence, never knowing that under their feet was one of the richest sources of gold the world has ever known. There was wealth, vast, undreamt of, yet unimagined and unrealized. It was ‘theirs,’ yet ‘not theirs.’ The Word of God is telling the Christian of the riches we have in Christ Jesus, but we do not seem to know how to possess them.” Jesus said Jn 14:12-14 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he shall do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” This text reveals both the potential and the problem. The potential is that we can do greater works that our Lord Jesus did. Hard to believe it, but He said it and it is true. With the statement comes the question, “Why am I not doing these works?” The solution to the problem is in the text, v 14 “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” Here is the solution, “asking in Jesus name.” If we don’t know how to “ask in Jesus Name” then we have our first prayer objective. We must begin to beg God to show us what it is to “ask in Jesus Name.”

God told Jeremiah “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (33:3) God has blessings for us that we don’t know about, that our eye has not seen, our ear not heard, nor our heart desired. The way to know, see, hear, and desire is to ask. Ask for desire, vision, courage, and the ability to ask.

There are two men in the O.T. that set us a good example. Joshua 14:6-14 gives us the story of Caleb. Caleb was forty years old when he and the other spies went out to spy out the land for Israel to possess. Because the other spies did not believe that God was able to do what He said, the nation of Israel had to wander in the wilderness. Forty five years later, after the wilderness wandering and the initial battles for the land had been fought, Caleb asks “Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.” This is a man that “wholly followed the Lord,” with patient persistence in asking for what God had for Him. His possession did not go unpossessed.

The other man is Jabez. We only hear of him once in Scripture 1 Chr 4:10 “And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.” Jabez wanted more land, more responsibility, more opportunity but not just of the temporal type but spiritual blessings, covenant blessings, the sure mercies of David, which are the real as opposed to the unreal physical things. He was willing to deal with any problems, like the Canaanites, that might be there. He was looking at the increase of his boarders as a spiritual enlargement. A deliverance from spiritual enemies, with the grace and spiritual ability to use the blessings for God’s glory. He asked God for more and “God granted him that which he requested.”

Ps 119:32 “I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.”

1 John 5:14,15 “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”

God can not grant us our request if we don’t “request.”

God help us to possess all our possessions.

Lord, Listen to Your Children

Lord, listen to your children praying,

Lord, send your Spirit in this place;

Lord, listen to your children praying,

Send us love, send us pow’r, send us grace.

Some-thing’s gonna happen like the world has never known,

When the people of the Lord get down to pray;

A door's gon-na swing open, and the walls come a tumbling down,

When the people of the Lord get down to pray.

He’s gon-na take over, He’s gon-na take control,

When the people of the Lord get down to pray;

He’s gon-na move the mountain He’s gon-na make the waters roll,

When the people of the Lord get down to pray.

You’re gon-na know it when the Lord stretches out His hand,

When the people of the Lord get down to pray;

There’s gon’na be a brand new song of vic-try in this land,

When the people of the Lord get down to pray.

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Violent Praying

“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and forceful people lay hold of it.” Mat 11:12

Prayer is a duty which keeps the business of religion flowing. When we either join in prayer with others or pray alone, we must use holy violence; not eloquence but violence in prayer makes it effective. Theodorus, speaking of Luther, once said, “I overheard him in prayer, but, good God, with what life and spirit did he pray! It was with so much reverence as if he were speaking to God, yet with so much confidence, as if he had been speaking to his friend.”

There must be a stirring up of the heart, first, to prayer, and secondly, in prayer. First, a stirring up of the heart to prayer: “As for you, if you prove faithful, and if you stretch out your hands toward him,” Job 11:13. This preparing of our heart is accomplished by holy thoughts and ejaculations. The musician first tunes his instrument before he plays. Secondly, there must be a stirring up of the heart in prayer. Prayer is a lifting up of the mind and soul to God, which cannot be done rightly without offering violence to one’s self. The names given to prayer imply violence. It is called wrestling in Gen 32:24, and a pouring out of the soul in 1 Sam 1:15, both of which imply vehemency. Affection is required as well as invention. The apostle speaks of an effectual, fervent prayer, which is a parallel phrase to offering violence. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Ja 5:16

Far from offering violent prayer are they who give God a dead, heartless prayer. God would not have the blind offered Mat 1:8; to offer the blind is as offering the dead. Some are half asleep when they pray and will a sleepy prayer ever awaken God? The prayers that God likes best come seething hot from the heart.

Far are they from offering violent prayer who give God distracted prayer. While praying, they are thinking of their jobs and business. How can one shoot straight who doesn’t keep his eye on the target? Will a king tolerate his subject delivering a petition and speaking to him while he is playing with a toy? When we send our hearts on an errand to Heaven, how often do they loiter and play by the way?

Prayer without fervency and violence is no prayer; it is speaking, not praying. Lifeless prayer is no more prayer than the picture of a man is a man. To say a prayer is not to pray; Aschanius taught his parrot the Lord's Prayer. Ambrose said it well, “It is the life and affection in a duty that baptizeth it, and gives it a name.” It is the violence and wrestling of the affections that make it a prayer, else it is no prayer.

The zeal and violence of the affections in prayer best suits God's nature. He is a Spirit, Jn 4:24, and surely that prayer which is full of life and spirit is the savory meat He loves, “you yourselves as living stones are built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” 1 Pet 2:5. It is not the stretching of the lungs, but the vehemency of the desire, that makes music in God's ears. 1 Tim 4:8

It is only violence and intenseness of spirit in prayer that has the promise of mercy affixed to it, “Knock, and it shall be opened” Mat 7:7. Knocking is a violent motion. It is violence in prayer that makes heaven's gates fly open and fetches in whatever mercies we stand in need of.

When we pray with a sense of our wants, we become the more violent in prayer. A beggar pinched with want will be earnest in craving alms. Christian, review your wants; you want a humble, spiritual frame of heart; you want the light of God's countenance; the sense of want will quicken prayer. A man can never pray fervently who does not pray feelingly. How earnest was Samson for water when he was ready to die! “I die of thirst” Judg 15:18.

If we would be violent in prayer, let us beg for a violent wind. The Spirit of God is resembled to “a violent wind” in Acts 2:1,2; “Now when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting.” We are violent when this blessed wind fills our sails, when we are “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith, by praying in the Holy Spirit” Jude 20. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.” Rom 8:26

(Condensed and revised from Heaven Taken by Storm, by Thomas Watson, Chapter 5 Offering Violence by Prayer)

Prayer does not consist in gifted expressions and a volubility of speech; but in a brokenness of heart.

Prayer does not consist in the elegance of the phrase, but in the strength of the affection.

John Mason (1646-1694)

I often say my prayers, but do I ever pray?

And do the wishes of my heart, go with the words I say?

I might as well kneel down, and worship gods of stone,

As offer to the living God, a prayer of words alone.

O watch and fight, and pray.

The battle ne’er give o’er.

Renew it boldly every day,

And help divine implore.

Ne’er think the victory won,

Nor lay thine armor down;

The work of faith will not be done,

Till thou obtain thy crown.

Fight on, my soul...

George Heath

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What Prayer Is Part 1

John Bunyan

Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God hath promised, or according to the Word, for the good of the church, with submission, in faith, to the will of God.

In this description are these seven things. First, It is a sincere; Second, A sensible; Third, An affectionate, pouring out of the soul to God, through Christ; Fourth, By the strength or assistance of the Spirit; Fifth, For such things as God hath promised, or, according to his word; Sixth, For the good of the church; Seventh, With submission in faith to the will of God.

For the first of these, it is a Sincere pouring out of the soul to God. Sincerity is such a grace as runs through all the graces of God in us, and through all the actings of a Christian, and hath the sway in them too, or else their actings are not any thing regarded of God, and so of and in prayer, of which particularly David speaks, when he mentions prayer. "I cried unto him," the Lord "with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear" my prayer (Psa 66:17,18). Part of the exercise of prayer is sincerity, without which God looks not upon it as prayer in a good sense (Psa 16:1-4). Then "ye shall seek me and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jer 29:12-13). The want of this made the Lord reject their prayers in Hosea 7:14, where he saith, "They have not cried unto me with their heart," that is, in sincerity, "when they howled upon their beds." But for a pretence, for a show in hypocrisy, to be seen of men, and applauded for the same, they prayed. Sincerity was that which Christ commended in Nathaniel, when he was under the fig tree. "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile." Probably this good man was pouring out of his soul to God in prayer under the fig tree, and that in a sincere and unfeigned spirit before the Lord. The prayer that hath this in it as one of the principal ingredients, is the prayer that God looks at. Thus, "The prayer of the upright is his delight" (Prov 15:8).

And why must sincerity be one of the essentials of prayer which is accepted of God, but because sincerity carries the soul in all simplicity to open its heart to God, and to tell him the case plainly, without equivocation; to condemn itself plainly, without dissembling; to cry to God heartily, without complimenting. "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou has chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke" (Jer 31:18). Sincerity is the same in a corner alone, as it is before the face of the world. It knows not how to wear two vizards, one for an appearance before men, and another for a short snatch in a corner; but it must have God, and be with him in the duty of prayer. It is not lip-labour that it doth regard, for it is the heart that God looks at, and that which sincerity looks at, and that which prayer comes from, if it be that prayer which is accompanied with sincerity.

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What Prayer Is Part 2

John Bunyan

Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God hath promised, or according to the Word, for the good of the church, with submission, in faith, to the will of God.

It is a sincere and Sensible pouring out of the heart or soul. It is not, as many take it to be, even a few babbling, prating, complimentary expressions, but a sensible feeling there is in the heart. Prayer hath in it a sensibleness of diverse things; sometimes sense of sin, sometimes of mercy received, sometimes of the readiness of God to give mercy, &c.

1. A sense of the want of mercy, by reason of the danger of sin. The soul, I say, feels, and from feeling sighs, groans, and breaks at the heart. For right prayer bubbleth out of the heart when it is overpressed with grief and bitterness, as blood is forced out of the flesh by reason of some heavy burden that lieth upon it (I Sam 1:10; Psa 69:3). David roars, cries, weeps, faints at heart, fails at the eyes, loseth his moisture, &c., (Psa 38:8-10). Hezekiah mourns like a dove (Isa 38:14). Ephraim bemoans himself (Jer 31:18). Peter weeps bitterly (Matt 26:75). Christ hath strong cryings and tears (Heb 5:7). And all this from a sense of the justice of God, the guilt of sin, the pains of hell and destruction. "The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow." Then cried I unto the Lord (Psa 116:3,4). And in another place, "My sore ran in the night" (Psa 77:2). Again, "I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long" (Psa 38:6). In all these instances, and in hundreds more that might be named, you may see that prayer carrieth in it a sensible feeling disposition, and that first from a sense of sin.

2. Sometimes there is a sweet sense of mercy received; encouraging, comforting, strengthening, enlivening, enlightening mercy, &c. Thus David pours out his soul, to bless, and praise, and admire the great God for his loving-kindness to such poor vile wretches. "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.6 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's" (Psa 103:1-5). And thus is the prayer of saints sometimes turned into praise and thanksgiving, and yet are prayers still. This is a mystery; God's people pray with their praises, as it is written, "Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer, and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known unto God" (Phil 4:6). A sensible thanksgiving, for mercies received, is a mighty prayer in the sight of God; it prevails with him unspeakably.

3. In prayer there is sometimes in the soul a sense of mercy to be received. This again sets the soul all on a flame. "Thou, O lord of hosts," saith David, "hast revealed to thy servant, saying I will build thee an house; therefore hath thy servant found in his heart to pray - unto thee" (II Sam 7:27). This provoked Jacob, David, Daniel, with others even a sense of mercies to be received which caused them, not by fits and starts, nor yet in a foolish frothy way, to babble over a few words written in a paper; but mightily, fervently, and continually, to groan out their conditions before the Lord, as being sensible, sensible, I say, of their wants, their misery, and the willingness of God to show mercy (Gen 32:10,11; Dan 9:3,4).

A good sense of sin, and the wrath of God, with some encouragement from God to come unto him, is a better Common-prayer-book than that which is taken out of the Papistical mass-book, being the scraps and fragments of the devices of some popes, some friars, and I wot not what.

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What Prayer Is Part 3

John Bunyan

Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God hath promised, or according to the Word, for the good of the church, with submission, in faith, to the will of God.

Prayer is a sincere, sensible, and an Affectionate pouring out of the soul to God. O! the heat, strength, life, vigour, and affection, that is in right prayer! "As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God" (Psa 42:1). "I have longed after thy precepts" (Psa 119:40). "I have longed for thy salvation" (ver 174). "My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God" (Psa 84:2). "My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times" (Psa 119:20). Mark ye here, "My soul longeth," it longeth, it longeth, &c. O what affection is here discovered in prayer! The like you have in Daniel. "O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God" (Dan 9:19). Every syllable carrieth a mighty vehemency in it. This is called the fervent, or the working prayer, by James. And so again, "And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly" (Luke 22:44). Or had his affections more and more drawn out after God for his helping hand. O! How wide are the most of men with their prayers from this prayer, that is, PRAYER in God's account! Alas! The greatest part of men make no conscience at all of the duty; and as for them that do, it is to be feared that many of them are very great strangers to a sincere, sensible, and affectionate pouring out their hearts or souls to God; but even content themselves with a little lip-labour and bodily exercise, mumbling over a few imaginary prayers. When the affections are indeed engaged in prayer, then, then the whole man is engaged, and that in such sort, that the soul will spend itself to nothing, as it were, rather than it will go without that good desired, even communion and solace with Christ. And hence it is that the saints have spent their strengths, and lost their lives, rather than go without the blessing (Psa 69:3; 38:9,10; Gen 32:24,26).

All this is too, too evident by the ignorance, profaneness, and spirit of envy, that reign in the hearts of those men that are so hot for the forms, and not the power of praying. Scarce one of forty among them know what it is to be born again, to have communion with the Father through the Son; to feel the power of grace sanctifying their hearts: but for all their prayers, they still live cursed, drunken, whorish, and abominable lives, full of malice, envy, deceit, persecuting of the dear children of God. O what a dreadful after-clap is coming upon them! which all their hypocritical assembling themselves together, with all their prayers, shall never be able to help them against, or shelter them from.

Again, It is a pouring out of the heart or soul. There is in prayer an unbosoming of a man's self, an opening of the heart to God, an affectionate pouring out of the soul in requests, sighs, and groans. "All my desire is before thee," saith David, "and my groaning is not hid from thee" (Psa 38:9). And again, "My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me" (Psa 42:2,4). Mark, "I pour out my soul." It is an expression signifying, that in prayer there goeth the very life and whole strength to God. As in another place, "Trust in him at all times; ye people, - pour out your heart before him" (Psa 62:8). This is the prayer to which the promise is made, for the delivering of a poor creature out of captivity and thralldom. "If from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul" (Deut 4:29).

Again, It is a pouring out of the heart or soul TO GOD. This showeth also the excellency of the spirit of prayer. It is the great God to which it retires. "When shall I come and appear before God?" And it argueth, that the soul that thus prayeth indeed, sees an emptiness in all things under heaven; that in God alone there is rest and satisfaction for the soul. "Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God" (I Tim 5:5). So saith David, "In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be put to confusion. Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape; incline thine ear to me, and save me. Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: - for thou art my rock and my fortress; deliver me, O my God, - out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man. For thou art my hope, O Lord God, thou art my trust from my youth" (Psa 71:1-5). Many in a wording way speak of God; but right prayer makes God his hope, stay, and all. Right prayer sees nothing substantial, and worth the looking after, but God. And that, as I said before, it doth in a sincere, sensible, and affectionate way.

Again, It is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, THROUGH CHRIST. This through Christ must needs be added, or else it is to be questioned, whether it be prayer, though in appearance it be never so eminent or eloquent.

Christ is the way through whom the soul hath admittance to God, and without whom it is impossible that so much as one desire should come into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth (John 14:6). "If ye shall ask anything in my name"; "whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, I will do it" (John 14:13,14). This was Daniel's way in praying for the people of God; he did it in the name of Christ. "Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake" (Dan 9:17). And so David, "For thy name's sake," that is, for thy Christ's sake, "pardon mine iniquity, for it is great" (Psa 25:11). But now, it is not every one that maketh mention of Christ's name in prayer, that doth indeed, and in truth, effectually pray to God in the name of Christ, or through him. This coming to God through Christ is the hardest part that is found in prayer. A man may more easily be sensible of his works, ay, and sincerely too desire mercy, and yet not be able to come to God by Christ. That man that comes to God by Christ, he must first have the knowledge of him; "for he that cometh to God, must believe that he is" (Heb 11:6). And so he that comes to God through Christ, must be enabled to know Christ. Lord, saith Moses, "show me now thy way, that I may know thee" (Ex 33:13).

This Christ, none but the Father can reveal (Matt 11:27). And to come through Christ, is for the soul to be enabled of God to shroud itself under the shadow of the Lord Jesus, as a man shroudeth himself under a thing for safeguard (Matt 16:16). Hence it is that David so often terms Christ his shield, buckler, tower, fortress, rock of defence, &c., (Psa 18:2; 27:1; 28:1). Not only because by him he overcame his enemies, but because through him he found favour with God the Father. And so he saith to Abraham, "Fear not, I am thy shield," &c., (Gen 15:1). The man then that comes to God through Christ, must have faith, by which he puts on Christ, and in him appears before God. Now he that hath faith is born of God, born again, and so becomes one of the sons of God; by virtue of which he is joined to Christ, and made a member of him (John 3:5,7; 1:12). And therefore, secondly he, as a member of Christ, comes to God; I say, as a member of him, so that God looks on that man as a part of Christ, part of his body, flesh, and bones, united to him by election, conversion, illumination, the Spirit being conveyed into the heart of that poor man by God (Eph 5:30). So that now he comes to God in Christ's merits, in his blood, righteousness, victory, intercession, and so stands before him, being "accepted in his Beloved" (Eph 1:6). And because this poor creature is thus a member of the Lord Jesus, and under this consideration hath admittance to come to God; therefore, by virtue of this union also, is the Holy Spirit conveyed into him, whereby he is able to pour out himself, to wit, his soul, before God, with his audience. And this leads me to the next, or fourth particular.

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What Prayer Is Part 4

John Bunyan

Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God hath promised, or according to the Word, for the good of the church, with submission, in faith, to the will of God.

Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate, pouring out OT the heart or soul to God through Christ, by the strength or Assistance of the Spirit. For these things do so depend one upon another, that it is impossible that it should be prayer, without there be a joint concurrence of them; for though it be never so famous, yet without these things, it is only such prayer as is rejected of God. For without a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart to God, it is but lip-labour; and if it be not through Christ, it falleth far short of ever sounding well in the ears of God. So also, if it be not in the strength and assistance of the Spirit, it is but like the sons of Aaron, offering with strange fire (Lev 10:1,2). But I shall speak more to this under the second head; and therefore in the meantime, that which is not petitioned through the teaching and assistance of the Spirit, it is not possible that it should be "according to the will of God (Rom 8:26,27).

Rom 8: 26 And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; 27 and he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

1 Corth 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

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What Prayer Is Part 5

John Bunyan

What prayer is. Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God hath promised, or according to the Word, for the good of the church, with submission, in faith, to the will of God.

Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart, or soul, to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Spirit, for Such Things as God Hath Promised, &c., (Matt 6:6-8). Prayer it is, when it is within the compass of God's Word; and it is blasphemy, or at best vain babbling, when the petition is beside the book. David therefore still in his prayer kept his eye on the Word of God. "My soul," saith he, "cleaveth to the dust; quicken me according to thy word." And again, "My soul melteth for heaviness, strengthen thou me according unto thy word" (Psa 119:25-28; see also 41, 42, 58, 65, 74, 81, 82, 107, 147, 154, 169, 170). And, "remember thy word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope" (ver 49). And indeed the Holy Ghost doth not immediately quicken and stir up the heart of the Christian without, but by, with, and through the Word, by bringing that to the heart, and by opening of that, whereby the man is provoked to go to the Lord, and to tell him how it is with him, and also to argue, and supplicate, according to the Word; thus it was with Daniel, that mighty prophet of the Lord. He understanding by books that the captivity of the children of Israel was hard at an end; then, according unto that word, he maketh his prayer to God. "I Daniel," saith he, "understood by books," viz., the writings of Jeremiah, "the number of the years whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, - that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face to the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes" (Dan 9:2,3). So that I say, as the Spirit is the helper and the governor of the soul, when it prayeth according to the will of God; so it guideth by and according to, the Word of God and his promise. Hence it is that our Lord Jesus Christ himself did make a stop, although his life lay at stake for it. I could now pray to my Father, and he should give me more than twelve legions of angels; but how then must the scripture be fulfilled that thus it must be? (Matt 26:53,54). As who should say, Were there but a word for it in the scripture, I should soon be out of the hands of mine enemies, I should be helped by angels; but the scripture will not warrant this kind of praying, for that saith otherwise. It is a praying then according to the Word and promise. The Spirit by the Word must direct, as well in the manner, as in the matter of prayer. "I will pray with the Spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also" (I Cor 14:15). But there is no understanding without the Word. For if they reject the word of the Lord, "what wisdom is in them?" (Jer 8:9).

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What Prayer Is Part 6

John Bunyan

Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God hath promised, or according to the Word, for the good of the church, with submission, in faith, to the will of God.

For the Good of the Church. This clause reacheth in whatsoever tendeth either to the honour of God, Christ's advancement, or his people's benefit. For God, and Christ, and his people are so linked together that if the good of the one be prayed for, to wit, the church, the glory of God, and advancement of Christ, must needs be included. For as Christ is in the Father, so the saints are in Christ; and he that toucheth the saints, toucheth the apple of God's eye; and therefore pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and you pray for all that is required of you. For Jerusalem will never be in perfect peace until she be in heaven; and there is nothing that Christ doth more desire than to have her there. That also is the place that God through Christ hath given to her. He then that prayeth for the peace and good of Zion, or the church, doth ask that in prayer which Christ hath purchased with his blood; and also that which the Father hath given to him as the price thereof. Now he that prayeth for this, must pray for abundance of grace for the church, for help against all its temptations; that God would let nothing be too hard for it; and that all things might work together for its good, that God would keep them blameless and harmless, the sons of God, to his glory, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. And this is the substance of Christ's own prayer in John 17. And all Paul's prayers did run that way, as one of his prayers doth eminently show. "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge, and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere, and without offence, till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God" (Phil 1:9-11). But a short prayer, you see, and yet full of good desires for the church, from the beginning to the end; that it may stand and go on, and that in the most excellent frame of spirit, even without blame, sincere, and without offence, until the day of Christ, let its temptations or persecutions be what they will (Eph 1:16-21; 3:14-19; Col 1:9-13).

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What Prayer Is Part 7

John Bunyan

Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God hath promised, or according to the Word, for the good of the church, with submission, in faith, to the will of God.

And because, as I said, prayer doth Submit to the Will of God, and say, Thy will be done, as Christ hath taught us (Matt 6:10); therefore the people of the Lord in humility are to lay themselves and their prayers, and all that they have, at the foot of their God, to be disposed of by him as he in his heavenly wisdom seeth best. Yet not doubting but God will answer the desire of his people that way that shall be most for their advantage and his glory. When the saints therefore do pray with submission to the will of God, it doth not argue that they are to doubt or question God's love and kindness to them. But because they at all times are not so wise, but that sometimes Satan may get that advantage of them, as to tempt them to pray for that which, if they had it, would neither prove to God's glory nor his people's good. "Yet this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us; and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him," that is, we asking in the Spirit of grace and supplication (I John 5:14,15). For, as I said before, that petition that is not put up in and through the Spirit, it is not to be answered, because it is beside the will of God. For the Spirit only knoweth that, and so consequently knoweth how to pray according to that will of God. "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God" (I Cor 2:11). But more of this hereafter. Thus you see, first, what prayer is.

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Why Importunity Is Needed

Luke 11:5-9 “And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine is come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him; and he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee? I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will arise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Our Lord says the man got what he wanted “Because of his importunity” To importune means “To press with repeated requests.” Importunity is making repeated request, i.e. asking, seeking, knocking. Why does God want us to be ‘Importunate’ ? If it is His will why doesn’t He give the answer straight away. Importunity is necessary because of:

1. Insufficient Desire

We may be asking without really caring about what we are asking. Jesus taught us to “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Mt 22:37 To be any less is not fitting for the God of Omnipotent power and Infinite Glory. We shall find Him when we seek with all our hearts “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jer 29:13 “It is reasonable that God should withhold a blessing, until we feel our need of it sufficiently.”

2. Inappropriate Motives

We may be asking for selfish reasons, and the discipline of delay is necessary to purge us. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it in your pleasures.” Jas 4:3 Our motive in all things should be solely to “do all to the glory of God.” 1 Co 10:31 If we knew the truth about ourselves it might shock us to know that we are really worshiping ourselves in much of our praying.

3. Ignorance of what God is doing

We may be misinterpreting what God is doing in our lives in answer to our prayers. This was true of John Newton, the converted slave trader. He give his testimony in verse:

I asked the Lord, that I might grow

In faith, and love, and every grace,

Might more of His salvation know,

And seek more earnestly His face.

It was He who taught me thus to pray,

And He, I trust has answered prayer;

But it has been in such a way,

As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,

At once He'd answer my request:

And by His love's constraining power,

Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel

The hidden evils of my heart;

And let the angry powers of hell

Assault my soul in every part.

Yes more, with His own hand He seemed

Intent to aggravate my woe;

Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,

Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,

Will You pursue Your worm to death?

"This in this way," the Lord replied,

"I answer prayer for grace and faith."

"These inward trials I employ,

From self and pride to set you free;

And break your schemes of earthly joy,

That you may seek your all in Me."

5. Incomplete Dependence on God

As we react to God’s delays with importunate praying we realize how completely we are dependent on Him. “It secures our humble dependence on God.” D.M. McIntyre “Except Jehovah build the house, They labor in vain that build it: Except Jehovah keep the city, The watchman waketh but in vain.” Ps 127:1 “Not until we are shut up to a difficulty which we can in no way touch, may we rely on prayer alone.”

6. Immaturity in our Relationship with God

Intimacy with God, in long and serious interaction with Him will make us spiritually mature. We must learn to abide in Him whether we have quick answers or long delays. “The promises to hear prayer are not made to the mere form, but to the appropriate spirit.” “Importunate perseverance is a pre-requisite to success in prayer, because it has an intimate connection with the preparation of a right spiritual condition in us.” The round-the-clock prayer meeting begun in Count Zinzendorf’s community in 1727 continued for 100 years! The community was called Herrnhut, ‘the Lord’s Watch” (Isa 62:6-7).” (Teach us To Pray, Carson) Imagine that, a prayer meeting that lasts 876,000 hours. That kind of persistence and importunity did and still can have world wide impact.

Pray, though the gifts you ask for

May never comfort your fears,

May never repay your pleading:

Yet pray, and with hopeful tears,

An answer --not that you sought for,

But diviner--will come one day:

Yet strive and wait and pray.

Adelaide A. Procter

(Quotes from: Prayer and its Remarkable Answers, William Patton p 72)

It can easily be shown that all want of success, and all failure in the spiritual life and in Christian work, is due to defective or insufficient prayer. The Kneeling Christian

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The Principle Business Of The Church Is Prayer

“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And he said to them, ‘it is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you are making it a robbers’ den’” Mat 21:12,13

The following was written in 1936 and is still true for us today.

A careful study of the Church in the Acts will reveal how very much time the early church spent in prayer. It seems that when any problem, difficulty, or persecution arose, the Church resorted to prayer-not argument, controversy or reasoning, not even preaching, important as was and is, but to prayer.

Perhaps it is not amiss to say that, comparatively, too much emphasis is placed on preaching and too little on prayer in the modern church. Oft times we find the preacher’s general prayer from the pulpit to be of the nature of a short sermon. Jesus called the temple “a house of prayer” we have made it a house of preaching. Jesus never taught his disciples to preach--so far as the record goes--but He did teach them to pray.

It has been said that the Sunday morning service of a church advertises the popularity of that church-you are able to tell the standing of the church by the class of people attending the morning service, and the make of automobiles parked outside the church. The evening is said to advertise the popularity of the preacher-that is where he gets his chance to speak on striking, popular, sensational themes or to review the latest popular novel thus affording him an opportunity to display his native powers and ability. The midweek meeting is said to advertise the popularity of the Lord, and, alas what a small number of people attend that meeting as compared with the Sunday morning and evening meetings! The mid-week meeting is, or rather should be, a meeting for prayer, but, actually, prayer has a very subordinate place in it. It would seem as if, God’s people can be gathered together for anything--but prayer.

Let us not forget, then, that prayer is the business of the Church, a business which cannot be neglected without serious spiritual loss. Suppose the business of any large city should suspend operations for one week, no telephone communication, no railroads running, no street cars operating, no ledger or desk opened, no bank handing out money, no office open to transact business, can you imagine what would happen? You say that such a thing is absolutely out of the question nowadays; that it is unthinkable and you begin to enumerate the awful consequences following such a supposed suspension of business. You say that “babies would perish for want of milk; adults die for want of food; people freeze for want adults die for want of food; people freeze for want of fuel; well,” you say, “it is just impossible, that’s all.” But have you ever thought on what the result would be if the church suspends her business of praying? “If a man see his brother sin . . . he shall pray, and God shall give life for those that sin...” Yes, but suppose we do not pray! Then that soul is not forgiven, shall we say Oh, the fearful spiritual disaster following in the wake of the neglect of prayer by the Church! Churchly organizations and activities without prayer are as useless as a telephone or radio without electricity.

The more time we spend in prayer the more we show our dependence upon God; the less time we devote to pleading with God the more conscious we are of our own ability. Less of prayer, more of self; more of prayer, more of God.

A praying church is an invincible church. The gates of Hades shall ne’er prevail against it, and the powers of evil shall tremble in its presence.

Any man or church that is to busy to pray is busier than God ever expected any church or human being to be. Why Pray? by William Evans, 1937 p 31,32

“Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s palace, and successfully completed all that he had planned on doing in the house of the Lord and in his palace. Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chr 7: 11-14

History confirms the truth that wherever evangelical and vital religion flourish, there lives the earnest gatherings for social prayer. The Prayer Meeting and Its History, J. B. Johnston

“If we pray among a select society of Christians, we draw near to God with holy boldness, something like what we use in our duties of secret worship. We have reason to take more freedom among fellow saints and whose hearts have felt many of the same workings as our own.” A Guide to Prayer, Isaac Watts, p 58

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True Grounds for Prayer

“The pagan idea was that there is something in a prayer--a mysterious power or a hidden value--which if brought to bear upon God may attract Him, propitiate Him, or in some way cause Him to change His mind, and come to the help of the supplicant.…the popular notion to-day is that the thing which attracts God is not the prayer itself, but the faith that is behind it and that runs through it…. the ground upon which it rests is always something outside of God.  The pagan prays because he has faith it’s the power or virtue of his prayers and the paganized Christian (or, more accurately, the Christianized pagan) prays because he has faith in the power of faith.”   What Did Jesus Really Teach About Prayer? Edward Pell, p 83  Pell wrote those words in 1921 but we still see the errors today.

The two errors are: 
1. Trusting in the mechanics of prayer.
  Jesus rebuked this, “when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.”  Mat 6: 7

When the Lord answered the disciples’ request to teach them to pray, Luk 11:1-13, He did not mean for them to mechanically repeat the words that He gave, but to have dialogue, interaction with their Father.  There is nothing magical about the words of the Lord’s Prayer.  Neither is there anything magical about closing a prayer with the phrase, “In Jesus name.”  It is not the saying of the words but the living of the meaning of them that gives prayer reality and connection with God. 

Prayer does not have its ground in the saying of words, in form or contents.  It matters not how much a man prays for forgiveness he will not receive it if he is unforgiving to his brother.   “Forgive us as we forgive others…” Jesus taught.

2. Trusting in our faith in our prayers.
  It is said that if we just have sufficient faith our prayers will be answered.  That is, if we really believe.  And then when our prayers are not answered in the way we want we are told that it is because we don’t have sufficient faith.  Jesus said that with a small amount of faith, “the size of a grain of mustard seed” you could command a mountain to move. “And He said to them, Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”   Mat 17:20 

Both of these errors focus on man and his assumed ability.  The Scripture clearly says.  “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should” Rom 8:26

We would counter these two errors with two grounds for praying are:

1.  The fact that God is our Father.


When Jesus taught the disciples to pray,  “He said to them, when you pray, say:  Father...” Luk 11:2  He was teaching us to come to God as a father, that is on the grounds of a father child relationship.  Jesus goes on in the lesson to reinforce the reasonableness of treating God as our Father.  We can safely expect that God will be a better, more loving, kind, and gentle Heavenly Father than any earthly father.  Our Heavenly Father is not limited in the good that He can do for us.

Jesus did not put His faith in His prayers or in the faith of his prayers.  His strength came from the relationship that he had with His Father.  

We can claim the Fatherhood of God but our praying will be fruitless if we don’t ground our praying in a second foundation.

2.  The exercise of abiding in Him, i.e. an obedient relationship.


Joh 15:4,7    “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me… If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”  What is it that is not included in “whatever?”  Anything and everything can be and is ours when we truly abide in Him.

As we pray, privately or corporately, let’s not concern ourselves with the method, manner, and even the matter of our prayers.  Not the loudness or the length of them.  Let’s just be children of our Heavenly Father and fellowship with Him and seek His will.


Sweet Hour of Prayer


Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer,
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne,
Make all my wants and wishes known!
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer.

Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer,
The joys I feel, the bliss I share
of those whose anxious spirits burn
with strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place
Where God, my Saviour, shows his face,
and gladly take my station there,
and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer.

Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer,
thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him, whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless:
And since he bids me seek his face,
Believe his word, and trust his grace,
I’ll cast on him my every care, and wait for thee,
Sweet hour of prayer.

By William W. Walford 1842

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Related Topics: Prayer