Our ability to communicate with God by way of prayer is one of the most wonderful gifts we have as Christians. Think of the times we pray daily for our family, for friends, ourselves, our church, our country and many other things. A chance to pray to our Lord for safety and also in times of trouble. Then most of all, the times that we pray in thanksgiving for His love and all that He does in our lives and also for forgiveness (so we can restore our fellowship) for the many times that we let our Savior down. As we read in Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” In 1 Samuel 12:23 we read, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you, but I will teach you the good and the right way”. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 praying is tied in with rejoicing and thanks, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. NKJV. We see a very vivid answer to a prayer in Judges 16:28 & 30b “Then Samson called to the Lord, saying O Lord God, remember me I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes. And he pushed with all his might and the temple fell on the lords and all the people.” NKJV. The Lord used Samson to perform Gods punishment on the Philistines for their unbelief.
I am sure that many of us can attest to answered prayer in our life. There may have been times that we prayed for safety on a trip and the Lord kept us from a sure accident, or maybe we offered up prayer on behalf of someone having a serious operation. I know that I can look back on many times that I felt that the Lord had answered a prayer of mine and of course we all feel that many (small) prayers of ours are answered every day.
There are times that we do not receive the answer we had hoped for. By way of God’s Devine will, He allows us to travel down another path. He always answers our prayer, but it is in His will not ours. He looks down our long corridor of time, to Him everything is as one single day, and He deems it wise for a certain outcome. We have to put our trust fully in Him and His decisions in life. That is called faith.
So far I have been writing of individual prayer. Prayer that is offered up in the privacy of our home, car, maybe at a park or one of many other places. Indeed, Jesus tells of that very type of prayer in Matthew 6:6. “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly”(NKJV). Our church is blessed with many of these prayer warriors. There are many that spend many minutes, sometimes hours and at numerous times of the day in prayer.
There is another example that we see in the Bible and that is corporate prayer. One is found in Acts 1:13-14 “And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, 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 continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus and with His brothers”. NKJV
This is also a very important way of praying and making our request known to God. We not only reinforce one another in a certain request and also join in on that prayer, but It is wonderful to see the joy on a person’s face as they recall a prayer and how God answered it. It not only reinforces their faith, but it encourages those that hear the results.
Not long ago our small group studied Jim Cymbala’s video “When God’s People Pray”. He is the pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. The church is a strong pillar and their choir is world known as one of the finest. When he first started it, the church struggled to survive. He realized that if any church was to survive and be a strong beacon it required much prayer. The church started putting a strong emphasis on prayer and started on the way to being that strong beacon that they now are. He has said that their weekly prayer meeting is larger than their Sunday morning service. The video is full of the miraculous works of God. It tells of those reclaimed from the sewer of society and of those that just plain would not listen to God’s tug on their heart. They receive prayer request from around the world and spend hours, in corporate prayer, praying for those request and receive many follow ups of how those prayers were answered around the world. Praying as a church body is very important and I believe a church would do well to employ both examples.
Our country, like Israel in the days of old, is slipping backwards into sin at a rapid pace. Like Israel we have taken our eyes off the Lord and chased after the pleasures of the world. The remedy is still the same, turn our hearts back to God. Prayer is still an important tool in doing that and it is my prayer that all of us Christians will step up our prayer life as individuals and in corporate prayer. Be diligent in praying to the Lord in thanksgiving, confession, and intercession. As it says in James 5:16b, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” May we all be on our knees in prayer to our gracious Lord and Savior.
In Christian Love