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Be Prayerful – Week 27 / July 7th
“Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that
day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they
continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in
the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
Acts 2: 41-42
There is no doubt that prayer is the foundation upon which our real relationship with God, by Jesus Christ, is built and sustained. There is no mystery about prayer, as some would have us believe. It is not complicated and its success is not dependent upon knowing a particular technique. Prayer is just talking to God in a way that you pour out your heart to Him and carry upon your shoulders the burden of His work on earth. This is precisely what Jesus did. (Hebrews 5:7)
Prayer is thus living in fellowship with God by the power of His Holy Spirit and therefore those who live by it are in a close relationship with Him. This automatically empowers and transforms one; as to be in God’s presence continuously means to be like Him. So, prayer fired by God’s word is a very powerful weapon that can accomplish anything and transform our world. Most important of all is that prayer should not only be a personal pursuit but a corporate one. That is, all the people of God, without exception, should be involved with it. Thus, a local congregation of 200 people should have two hundred people in the weekly prayer meeting. This is not radical as according to the New Testament it is the norm! All those who were saved prayed together all the time. (Acts 2:40-42) Consequently they shook their world and within a few decades transformed it.
We of course know this to be true but for some reason we will not do it and then we lament the ungodliness and darkness that is overtaking our communities and nations on our watch! It’s actually all a question of leadership. Leaders have to get up, indeed as never before, and call their congregations to prayer. We must bear in mind that Jesus said that His house “should be a house of prayer for all nations.” (Matthew 21:12-13) Therefore this means that if we have to define the nature of the local church we should do so by stating that chiefly it is a house of prayer. It is not defined as a house of preaching or singing, while these pursuits are good and required. No, the local church should and must be a house of prayer. The early church was just that and the results speak for themselves. (Acts1:14)
I well remember the days in the early 1970s in Cape Town when the midweek prayer meeting at the Harfield Road Assembly of God was almost as big as the Sunday morning worship service. The minister and local elders gave leadership to these weekly prayer meetings and consequently the “work” exploded and expanded in every direction. Out of this prayer meeting churches were planted and hundreds of hippies got saved. Prayer was the power and backbone of all of this! Today by contrast the weekly prayer meeting is small and if ten percent of the congregation attend you would be “lucky”. Consequently, wickedness marches forward everywhere and the people of God wonder why? It is because we have become prayer-less! The Devil is more than happy to allow us to have “good meetings” just as long as we do not gather in good numbers to pray. He will oppose this vehemently since it is the source of our real power!
The question is, when will we change and begin praying together? A casual reading of the bible makes all of this self-evident. Prayer is commanded and spoken of everywhere. Paul says that we are to pray without ceasing and Jesus Himself commanded prayer and built His ministry upon it. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)(Matthew 26:41) Daniel prayed daily and thereby incurred the wrath of the Devil and yet he transformed our world by his faithful intercession and the early church constantly gave themselves to prayer. Consequently the very place in which they prayed was shaken by the power of God. (Acts 4:31) All of this we well know but we will not do! Why?
I was recently in Finland preaching in many churches there on the need for prayer. I noted that time and time again when I got to the place in the sermon where I really challenged the people about prayer the Devil would disrupt the meeting in one way or another. It was truly a learning moment to witness this as a cell phone would go off, a child would begin to scream, a person would begin to cough uncontrollably and eventually get up and leave or, as happened in one church, someone stood up to call another person out of the meeting. All of this just as I was calling them to regular corporate prayer. We need to know that the Devil hates prayer as he knows that it will be the reason why his work and influence in the world will be defeated.
Dear friends, we need to start praying as never before. The darkness and urgency of the hour dictates this. The prophet Joel gives us an urgent call to prayer and so he states that everyone, even the bride and groom in their bridal chamber, must give themselves to prayer. (Joel 2:15-17) Let us not be found wanting in terms of this holy calling.