I was recently asked to share on the topic of Prayer at our weekly Community (Cell/ Home Group/ Bible Study)… here are my notes...
The first and most important purpose of prayer is simply a communication and connection between us and God. The more time we spend “chatting” (and listening) with God, the deeper our relationship with Him grows; its like that for any relationship. The more time we spend actually listening to Him, the better our understanding is of His heart – how much more effective will our prayers be if we pray the will of the Father’s heart, knowing that He wants what we are asking for?
The Bible speaks about us having the authority to loose & bind things in Heaven and on Earth (Matt 16:19). This authority carries with it an incredible responsibility – we must seek God’s will in our prayers; praying specifically into areas as the Father desires will enable God and His angels to move in those areas with greater effectiveness. I recently read a book by Frank E Peretti, This Present Darkness, which illustrates this so beautifully: without the saints prayers, the angels were unable to go into battle because there was not enough prayer coverage. What I also loved about that book was how a simple man was feared by the demonic powers, because he prayed. He didn’t do fancy miracle type stuff – he just obeyed the Holy Spirit and prayed. Isn’t that what we are all called to and capable of? Even now, I feel the chastisement for not praying enough…
Prayer is a weapon of warfare (2 Corinthians 10:4). Prayer is proclaiming God’s Truth over a situation, declaring His sovereignty “despite reality”. We stand confident, faith-filled proclaiming God’s Will & Truth as superior to our very limited vision. Our God is the God of the Impossible, calling things that are not, as though they are – we need to be a voice of authority, agreeing with that Truth and speaking it into being as His Body on Earth. Obviously, it is paramount that we first know God’s Will..!
Its a matter of Authority. I know from experience, that there is a difference to how I pray at times – there are times when I am kinda just “hoping” that God will answer my prayers. Its when I am asking Him to open a door, yet am not altogether sure whether His will may actually be to have that door closed. My prayers don’t necessarily lack faith, they just have a very real understanding that they are submitted to His Will – and that will may be “No”. There are also times when I have been able to pray with such incredible confidence because I have know His will in a matter.
Prophetic words are God’s Will spoken as direction and encouragement; it is God giving us very real, very reliable promises upon which we may stand. We have been given permission to remind God of His promises; to claim them with joy and thanksgiving. We may not know His timing, but we can be confident that He who called is Faithful and will fulfill His Word. We may pray with confidence because we pray in alignment to his will. What father won’t gladly give his child the gift he has already promised? Our assurance comes, knowing His answer is “YES!”.
Isaiah 62:6-7 speaks of Watchmen on the Walls, who are not silent and who give God no rest until He fulfills His promises. As believers, we should be eachothers’ watchmen; we need to remind God of His promises for others, for our church, for our country… We need to become relentless in proclaiming God’s Promises upon eachother – its an act of Faith that stirs the Discouraged and speaks Life when Hopelessness threatens. We also need to share God’s Promises upon our lives with others who will pray and speak Life into those areas until we see Breakthrough… I have seen too many people suffer under the “burden” of carrying a promise alone. Promises can be long in coming, as a Body we need to help eachother carry their Promises until the moment of Fulfillment – and then get the joy of sharing in their celebrations.
3. Person of God
A friend explained this to me years ago, and its also kinda just “stuck”… know who you are praying to – the different persons within the Trinty have different “functions”. [Please NOTE: I believe that God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit are all equally God as taught in the Bible; 3 persons in one – I am not saying we worship three different Gods..!]
The Holy Spirit is a person. He is a “he” not an “it”… John 16:13 describes Him as our Helper who will guide us into all the Truth. His role is to help us know the Father’s Will. He only speaks of what He has heard the Father say in Heaven. Consequently, we pray to Him for help in a situation, for wisdom and guidance etc.
Jesus the Son is the Bridegroom, the Redeemer, the Lover of our Souls… each of these titles speaks of Intimacy; of a relationship that centres on the healing and restoration of our hearts. Our hearts matter to Jesus. When we pray to Jesus, we come before Him (seated on the Mercy Seat in Heaven) humbling ourselves and pouring our hearts out before Him; we declare His praises – He is Victorious, the Conquering King; we ask Him for His Peace (John 14:27 – Holy Spirit gives us gifts; Jesus leaves us His Peace that surpasses all understanding); we stand in the Grace of His Blood – it is because of His Blood that we are able to approach God’s Throne with confidence.
God the Father is the Giver of Good Things (Matt 7:9-11). He knows our needs, yet at times, He waits until we ask Him before He opens His Hand of Provision. (Matt 6:31-33) For Him, it is more important that we trust and turn to Him, than the actual fulfillment of our needs; its about our relationship with Him. Prayer is seeking God and choosing to trust God; its deliberately placing our faith in Him – and this deepens our relationship with Him. When we need or desire something, we need to approach the Father. We could ask Jesus to fulfill that same need, but although He has the same authority to answer our prayer, He will point us towards the Father. It is about honouring the Father. Just as the Father delights in His Son, so the Son shows us that the perfect example is humbling ourselves to the Father’s Will – to submit to His Authority.
4. Permission to Intercede
Intercession basically means standing in the gap for someone else. Jesus intercedes for us constantly; He reminds God of His Sacrifice upon the Cross and that because of His Blood, we may find Mercy and Favour. So too, we can stand in the gap for others, asking God to extend His Mercy and Grace to others because of the Favour we have with Him (because of Jesus’ Blood). As believers, it is our responsibility to intercede for others – it is our responsibility to intercede for our workplace, for our country… we need to stand in the Authority placed upon us as Christ’s Body on Earth and seek God’s Will in every situation. We need to speak His Will and Truth upon a situation, no matter how dire it may seem – if we don’t, who will? And if we don’t ask, how can we complain that God has not provided?
It is time to rise up in the Authority we have been given and to take a deliberate stand in speaking God’s Will into the place where we find ourselves; who knows, maybe like Esther, you have been placed here for a time such as this (Esther 4:14).