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Two hours in prayer?!!

Two Hours of Prayer

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If there is one thing that will strike a combination of fear and guilt into the heart of a “good Christian” it is a Leonard Ravenhill quote.

The guy was on fire for Jesus and wasn’t ashamed to let anyone and everyone know.

One of his most used, especially around the theme of leadership is:

Ministers who do not spend two hours a day in prayer are not worth a dime a dozen – degrees or no degrees.

This used to frighten me.

What?! Two hours in prayer?! Really?!

As a subscriber to the blueprint model of prayer (see previous post) it seemed odd to me that I even needed to. It seemed like it was another ‘hoop’ that you needed to jump through. Another ‘requirement’ that wasn’t really mentioned when you signed up to following Jesus.

But, through grace, Father God has taken me through an amazing journey of opening up the importance of prayer and just why it is needed.

Jesus First Theology

I believe that everything can be solved with Jesus.

I hold to a Jesus first theology.

For me Jesus is the source, the perfecter and the first port of call when looking at any subject in the Bible. Not only does the whole wealth of scripture point to Him but He answers all the questions the scriptures themselves raise.

Jesus’ words and actions are more important than any other in the Bible, this includes Paul.

Now please don’t get me wrong, we need to hold to the whole cannon of scripture and test scripture against scripture but for me Jesus is the place I start and end any study.

So, I have a couple of key questions I like to use when looking at any subject in the Bible.

These are:

1) How did Jesus do this?

2) What did Jesus teach on this subject?

We’ll use the second question now as we look at what Jesus’ taught on prayer.

Jesus’ Prayer

Jesus gives us one of the clearest examples of the how and the substance of prayer in his example from Matthew 6:9-13

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

The first verse that immediately jumps out is, ‘Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’. In this verse Jesus is asking all who will follow Him to ask God to make earth like it is in heaven. To bring the very joy, life and hope of heaven and have it on earth.

The trouble is that if I hold to the blueprint view of God’s goodness and power then He is going to do the best thing already, which is obviously bringing heaven to earth.

Isn’t it?

But, it would seem that actually this verse presupposes that things on earth are not like those in heaven. It suggests that God’s will is not being done on earth, like it is in heaven. It suggest that things on earth have gone very wrong and are now out of alignment with heaven. So badly in fact that God is raising up a group of people who will now pray until earth realigns itself with heaven.

It suddenly became very clear to me that Jesus is not teaching us to change our thoughts and attitudes to God’s will on earth; rather we are actively encouraged to pray God’s will into being on earth.

This was a mind blowing revelation to me that my prayers counted for something.

Those feeble prayers for healing, for restoration, for hope could receive a bone shaking amen from heaven*

But…two hours?!!

I had started to understand that prayer was not just what you did to be a ‘good Christian’, but that my prayers had some weight to them.

But, what sorts of things should I pray for and what about that quote?! Two hours still seemed like a lot of time to be praying even with this new revelation.

I believe that the parable stories of Jesus grant us great insight into how to see heaven and pray it into being while also helping us to uncover whether Leonard Ravenhill was bonkers or he had a point. 

This will be our topic next time as we continue to see why I believe prayer and gathering for prayer is so important in the life of any believer.

Until then, I encourage you to pray the Jesus’ prayer in the coming days and ask Jesus for a deeper revelation of the phrases he used.

Be blessed in your adventures,

Steve

*thank you to 24/7 and Pete Greig’s Vision for this phrase.

Praying from the blueprint

Blueprint

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Let’s be honest, prayer meetings can be dull, dull, dull!

In my last post I mentioned that prayer gatherings could and should be enjoyable. They should be a time gathered together to enjoy God, each others company and join our voices in praying heaven to earth.

If this is the case, why are they at times so dull?

Here is the first in a few posts on the why, before I look in future posts at how we can gather with purpose and dare I say it; with enjoyment.

Just to clarify I’m dealing here with gathering for petitionary prayer, that is the asking of God for something or some action to take place.

Draw a blueprint, it’ll be easier…

In times past I have not prayed as passionately, fervently or as frequently as I may have done because deep down I held to a way of thinking where it make no real sense to pray.

So, I would pray out of obedience or out of guilt that prayer is just something that ‘good’ Christians were supposed to do. All the time burying the question about – what real difference does prayer make?

I used to believe, maybe not consciously but at least on some subconscious level, that everything follows some sort of divine blueprint. It seemed to make sense to me that if God is all-powerful and all good, then it followed that God always going to do the best thing and He has the power to bring about the best thing.

So, if I ask Him to do something that was already the best thing, He’s already going to do it. But, if I ask Him to do something that is not the best thing then He’s not going to do it anyway. So, why pray and why spend hours doing so?

An worked out example of this sort of thinking can be found in praying for healing. If we pray and the person was healed I would say something like, “Amen, it’s was God’s will for them to be healed”.  If the person was not healed then I would recite things like, “..well God’s timing is perfect and God knows best, so what is best is not their healing at the moment. But, we look to a day when all will be healed.”

Which are all good biblical thoughts, but on reflection I have used the verses behind this message as a defence of my position rather than find ways to weep with those who weep and bring words of comfort to those in need.

Ultimately I have found that this worldview led me to the belief that prayer doesn’t really change things it simply changes us and our thoughts on any given subject or event. Therefore God invites us to pray because it is good for us.

The trouble is we are wired for congruity, which is to say that unless something makes sense between our head and our heart we won’t do them as passionately as if they did.

Which was proved in my prayer life.

Especially in gathering with others to pray, which would be boring and I would be sitting there wondering why we were bothering.

Where am I?

As you now know I used to hold this position. I have attended prayer meetings because it’s the right thing to do. Perhaps you are reading this and you hold to this position. You may have been or still are questioning why should you even pray?

But, I want to encourage you with my story of discovering a different way of thinking about prayer  that has reignited my love of prayer and especially in gathering with others to do so.

A clear biblical position that shows through petitionary prayer that we really do have say in the world in which we have been called and that God is still all powerful and all good.

Now you may be asking what changed for me and is it even biblical?

That will be our topic next time.

In the meantime, it’s over to you what do you think about prayer? 

 I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

 Until next time, be blessed in your adventures,

 Steve

 

 

11 reasons to go to your church’s prayer gathering

Bored of Prayer?

Used under Creative Commons Licence Photo Credit: Tom Stoval

Saturday morning, midweek, late Friday evening, pick a time it doesn’t really matter – why bother to go to a prayer gathering?

Aren’t they out of date, a  thing of the past and something that is just dull?

Well I think prayer gatherings should and can be great times around the presence of Jesus and I present eleven reasons why you might like to consider going to your prayer gathering.

I’ll be back in the coming days with some ideas about making the best of use of your time at a prayer gathering but in the meantime here they are:

One // Jesus is there – Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am among them.  Matthew 18:20

Two // Jesus did it – Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray.  Luke 9:28

Three // Shows our reliance of God – If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

Four // The early church did it – And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42

Five // We glorify God together – May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Romans 15:5-6

Six // We edify one another – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16

Seven // It helps us to be consistent/persistent in our prayers – Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer  Romans 12:12

Eight // It pleases God – Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!  Psalm 133:1

Nine // Encourages a Thankful & Peace Filled Church - Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians  4:4-7

Ten // For Fellowship – And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42

Eleven // God answers prayer – Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16

What do you think? What would you add?

Do you avoid your prayer gathering? Why?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Be blessed,

Steve

 

5 tips for Evangelism

proclaim

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Photo Credit : The Justified Sinner

I believe that God’s kingdom is an advancing kingdom. It is designed to grow, to multiply and to expand. We are called to play our part in the growing kingdom of God. But, often Evangelism can seem very daunting or impossible. Here are five thoughts that may help; let me know what you think…be blessed.

1. Pray

Prayer is evangelism. There I said it; because it’s true. As we pray and spend time in conversations with our Father, we catch His heart for His people. Prayer shifts ,it unlocks, it causes change, it brings more Holy Spirit encounters and it releases more of God’s reign on the Earth.

2. Sow

We are called to go and make disciples of all nations. To sow the good news of a good God who loves all. We are to scatter the news liberally in as many ways as we possibly can. So, let’s do it. Do it creatively, do it with honour, with love, with patience, but let’s do it…

3. Story

You don’t have to have all the answers; all you need to have is a relationship with Jesus. You are the only one who can talk about how Jesus has changed your life – so tell your story. Your life story has power within it, because it is a story of the God of all creation working His story out in you.

4. Invite

At some point we have to start inviting people to gather with us. This could be a meal in our homes? It could be an invite to our Life Groups, Alpha Course or even to a Sunday gathering? Where better can people find about the relationship they can have with Jesus than from us? Let us be bold and courageous.

5. Love

If all this is still a little scary, then fall back to the essence of it all. We are to love God and to love others. We are to build our relationship with Jesus and to make Him known. Let us love, serve, pray, help, bless, encourage and release those around us.

God can do far more than we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

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