One of the wisest things we have done as a group of elders in the church here in Feltham appertains to prayer. At the beginning of our elders meetings we pray for approximately 45 minutes for everything in the life of the church.
It is such a beautiful thing to pray together as brothers who are like-minded and like-hearted on wanting the best welfare of the church. This is all very much in harmony with the joy described in this post about prayer with others
It gives a great atmosphere to our times together. Discussion, which takes place after the prayer-time, is always different when prayer has been made.
I do feel it shortens our meetings as well. This is just an intuitive response and hard to measure. However, my perception is that through prayer so many issues are processed in (and by) the Lord. This is far better than processing them through our discussing.
In my early days at Feltham I spent many happy times praying with just me and brother, Julio Alverio. Sadly, Julio now has his mental faculties significantly denuded and is in a care home. The happy memories still stand though.
It is interesting how praying with other believers can vary some much. To be able to pray with a small number of brothers, even just one, who are prepared to just to “go for it” and seek the Lord in praise, worship and supplication can be so very special. The sense of togetherness and freedom and lack of inhibition is so good.
Alas, this is not the case with everyone. Some seem to think that if you have verbally prayed once or twice then you have completed your roster. In such situations there is an awkwardness.
Writing this gives rise to memories of many happy times when prayer has been made to the Lord. Foretastes of heaven these are, might I say. And if you read this and are one of those brothers, then thanks to you for your fellowship and joyous unity in the gospel.
I was reading a review by Tim Challies (see here) of The book “Gay Girl, Good God” which is written by Jackie Hill Perry. She is a lady who was converted out of a lesbian lifestyle. In the review there is this quote from the book:
“[S]omeone had obviously been talking to God about me and it was the reason why God wouldn’t leave me alone. Obviously, whatever was being asked of Him, regarding me, was making my little sinful world spin. It was dizzying to live on now-a-days. Trying to stand up straight (or should I say, queer), made everything I loved, mainly myself and my girlfriend, blurry. Nothing was clear except God’s loud voice saying, ‘Come.’”
I was really struck by her observation about how someone was talking to God about her. This provokes me to be aware of the importance of supplicatory prayer. The Lord is the sovereign Lord who works all things according to the counsel of His own glorious will. Yet notwithstanding the validity of the glorious truth of the sovereignty of God the Lord has ordained that He works out His good purpose through our payers.
This leads me to ponder upon who am I talking to God about? And perhaps more fundamentally do I believe that the Lord really works through my prayers for people and about people?
In all this we need to be aware that the Lord moves through prayers that are in accordance with his will. When we pray for teh Lord to glorify His Name in the salvation and sanctification of people we can be sure that the Lord is happy with that prayer. Similarly when we pray for people to be convicted sin and led to faith in Christ we can know we are in the Lord’s will.
So I want us to be stirred to pray believing that the Lord moves thorough our prayers. So who am I regularly speaking to the Lord about? And what about you? Who is on your prayer list?
And then let us be anticipating the outcome of our prayers as we talk to God about people.
Here is our church newsletter for November 2018. It contains an article on the importance of the church praying together.
I was watching a TV programme on crisp making last week. It was noted that as a final part of packaging the crisps, the crisp packets are given a blast of nitrogen. The reason for this is so that the freshness of the crisps could be maintained. Apparently, if they are just allowed to be packaged in a packet with normal air then they lose their freshness far more quickly than if the packet has enhanced nitrogen content.
This led me to muse upon the air that we surround ourselves with. If we are relentlessly just breathing the air of this world then we will soon lose our freshness for the Lord. There will be a certain limpness in our charachter and lifestyle.
The only way of counteracting this drift is to breathe the air of another place. We need to be seeking the Lord through His Word and prayer so that we escape from the air of this world and breathe some other air which will freshen us in our gracious Lord and Master. As a result our characters will be transformed; renewal will take place.
It is my observation that the people who spend time in this other air can be distinguished. There is that freshness about them; that aliveness to the ways of God.
Alas for those who do not enter that heavenly air through prayer and the Word there is a “withering on the vine”. Yes they are true believers, but through failure to seek the Lord they have lost that vitality of life which is found in the Spirit. Just breathing the air of this world will not foster freshness and aliveness in the Lord.
So what of you and me what air are we breathing?
It is normal in many of our church services to close everything off in prayer. This prayer is very important, but is often badly done, I fear. Here are some thoughts:
- You are closing the service not doing a resume of the service.
- It is not the time to re-preach your sermon. They have heard your sermon once; they don’t want to hear it again in prayer.
- Be praying for response to what has gone before.
- Pray for the Word not just to fall to the ground, but be effective in lives.
- Set the people up for moving forward.
- As a rule keep the prayer short. The people know the service is closing that is what they are expecting you to do.
- If you go on and on with your closing prayer closing you will frustrate the people.
PRAYER IS… RELATIONSHIP. Prayer is speaking to the Lord. Prayer is having a living open communication with the Lord God eternal. It is a phenomenal privilege that we, who are the creatures of dust (see Gen. 2:7) can come and have fellowship with the Lord. Prayer flows from the enjoying of a relationship. When we are drawing near to God, we are in awe of who He is and we bring proper acknowledgement of His essential majesty and holiness. Therefore, we reverence this One and always start our praying in the atmosphere of Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name (Matt. 6:9). And yet we can come boldly to him. In Hebrews, we read that we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
PRAYER IS… VITAL. Your life is now hidden with Christ in God (Col 4:3b) is Paul’s statement concerning where our true life is now as Christians. We are a people of life. That life is not centred in this world, but flows from the heavenly realm. Prayer brings this life into our lives now. If we are not praying then we are not truly living. Without experiencing this vital relationship with the Lord in prayer we are the living dead.
Prayer is vital for life. Paul tells the Phillipians that they should not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Phil. 4:6). In every situation prayer should be found. All our living should be prayer initiated and prayed saturated living. Prayer is needed to set us up for every day of our lives. Our Lord Jesus is our great example here:Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mark. 1:35). A prayer-less life is a useless life.
Moreover, prayer to the Lord is needed in every crisis of life. Nehemiah when brought before the King lifted up an emergency, but very necessary prayer. We read The king said to me, ‘What is it you want?’Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king (Neh. 2:4-5). The panics of life should always be immersed in prayer to the Lord so that peace might replace panic (see Phil 4:7)
PRAYER IS… WRONG when
- …..it is based on selfishness. James tells his Christian readers that When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (James 1:3).
- …..it is based on prideful display. The Lord condemns the Pharisees for praying to be seen by men ‘And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full (Matt. 6:5).
- …..there is unconfessed sin. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened (Ps 66:18). The Lord was similarly wearied with the prophets professed engagements with him in Malachi 1. Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?’– says the Lord Almighty (v9).
- …..it is an excuse for doing nothing. When the lady on your street wants a lift to church and you have a car and say “I will pray about it”. Then that is an evasive approach and wrong.
- …..it is a cover for disobedience. When you know that God has called you to a certain task and you say that you are going to pray about whether or not to do it then that is using prayer as an excuse for disobedience.
- …..it is used as a good luck charm. We do not pray out of superstition. We pray because we want to move in God’s favour. The people in Jeremiah’s day were just talking about the temple of the Lord and the the temple of the Lord (see Jer. 7:4). They were using the temple as a lucky charm to get God on our side. We can do the same with prayer.
- …..you know the will of God. When you are asked to lie for you to reply by saying “I will pray about the matter” is completely inappropriate. There is no need to pray; you just need to refuse to lie.
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of August 2016)