prayer

My current sermon series has been “Patterns of Prayer.” During this Covid-19 crisis, racial tensions, political turmoil, and uncertain lives, I felt it necessary to focus my study on the subject of prayer. Prayer is something that everyone knows about, but most of us would admit that we could do better. For me, this series has been tremendously beneficial. God has taught me more about himself in this series than maybe any other that I’ve preached.

So why write an article about it? This post is aimed to encourage you to pray. Specifically, intercede for someone else.

Here are some reasons you should make time to today to pray:

  1. God invites you to pray. In Luke 11:9, Jesus teaches us to ask, seek, and knock. He wants us to bring our burdens before him.
  2. You need prayer more than you think. Prayer is our avenue of talking with God. Too often we ignore God because of all the other things we have going on. Make time to talk with God today.
  3. Someone else needs you to pray for them. Interceding for another person is a privilege. God partners with our prayers to meet the needs (physical, spiritual, emotional) of those around us.

When you pray today, pray specifically and pray scripturally. For example, pray for your friend by name. Pray for their healing, their need to be met, their soul to be saved, etc. But pray in a specific way that will allow you to know if God answers the prayer. While prayers like “bless my friend” or “be with the missionaries” are well meant, they are not specific enough for us to know they have been answered. Specific prayers allow us to experience the answers.

Also pray scripturally. If you are praying for someone to come to know Christ, pray that God would open their eyes to see his glory (2 Corinthians 4:4) or that God would convict their heart of sin (John 16:8-11). If you are praying that a friend would experience peace, pray that your friend would be thankful and experience the peace of God that passes understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). If you are praying for a child or grandchild to know God’s will, pray Psalm 23 over their decisions and opportunities. Praying scripturally helps us align our prayers with God’s will.

Praying specifically and scripturally allows us to experience God’s answers to prayer. Here are a few of the specific ways God answered my prayers recently.

  • Our family prayed for God’s protection while we traveled. Answer: A vehicle in front of us experienced a blowout and a tractor trailer nearly rear-ended us. We experienced God’s answer for protection.
  • A family friend had brain surgery, and we prayed for her peace and that the surgery would go as planned. Answer: She was released from the hospital earlier than expected and experienced God’s peace during and after the surgery.
  • A church member was admitted to the hospital with stroke-like symptoms. We prayed that the medical team would have wisdom in his care, and that his health would improve. Answer: His issue was not a stroke, but something more manageable. He is now home.
  • A lady who is connected to our church has been struggling with sensing God in her life. For nearly a year, we’ve prayed that God would save her and make himself real to her. Answer: This past week, she put her faith in Christ alone for salvation.

God doesn’t always answer every prayer request as quickly or in the way that I might ask. But he does answer. I would encourage you to develop a prayer journal where you track how God works in your prayer life. Reflect often on his answered prayers. Remember, you can bring anything before God in prayer, but he loves it when you intercede for someone else.

Photo by Danylo Suprun on Unsplash

Currently, I’m listening to an audiobook entitled, The Good Life by Charles Colson. Colson worked in Richard Nixon’s White House and was charged with criminal activity related to the Watergate scandal. The event brought Colson face to face with his sin and led to his conversion. After prison, Colson began Prison Fellowship which seeks to introduce prisoners to faith in Jesus Christ.

Colson’s story is fascinating. According to his own testimony, he became enamored with the power and influence of the presidency. At the height of his political influence, his office was just a few doors down from the Oval Office. Colson’s dream of political influence was dashed by Watergate.

Political influence drives many. A few get to serve politicians or in the White House. Many more use local elections or their social media platforms to be heard. Have you ever wondered would it be like to have political influence?

As I was considering this subject, I was reminded that I have the daily privilege of entering the presence of the Ruler of the universe. Truly, there is only One with real influence. Kings, presidents, politicians, and political operatives seek power. But one day their power will wane, and like Richard Nixon, they will leave the scene of power. Yet, God remains.

God’s sovereign rule is glorious and establishes the overwhelming privilege of our prayer lives. Here is just a brief sample of verses to remind us this truth:

And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 

Nehemiah 1:5

“Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name: 

Jeremiah 33:2

24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
    and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers were gathered together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

Acts 4:24-26 (quoting Psalm 2)

We could go on. The Bible is full of testimonies of God’s rule and reign. When God invites us to pray, he invites us to talk to him who has influence and all glory. For the believer, there is no greater influence than what we have with God.

Because God invites us to pray, he desires to work through us as his people to accomplish his eternal purposes.

  • I can’t change Washington or Raleigh.
  • I can’t stop pandemics or fix racial unrest.
  • I can’t convict sinners or cause repentance.
  • I can’t heal the sick or remove depression.

But I can pray, and so can you. We can pray about any and all of these things. God has a plan and purpose for what’s going on in our world and in your life. Prayer is our means to connect with God’s purposes. It is an opportunity to participate with God in his sovereign rule.

Will you accept this privilege?

Photo by Elijah Macleod on Unsplash