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Battle Plan for Prayer

Revival…it starts with me.

Today we shared from the final chapter in the book, The Battle Plan for Prayer, from Alex and Stephen Kendrick, something that we also shared back in 2017-18. This last chapter encourages us to pray for revival. It basically summarizes the past 34 chapters in the book and asks the reader to think about all of those different elements, putting them together to pray for a turnaround of our attitudes towards prayer and about what God can really do in our world in 2021.

The prayer is for you, for me, for the church, for the world and ultimately for the glory of God. The challenge is to ask him fervently and continuously to do marvelous work in our day; not just now, not just soon, but for the rest of our lives.

Alex and Stephen share their desire to not give in to the general sense of helplessness about the state of our country and other nations of the world. They encourage us not to give into the apathy, the fear, and the inevitability that no one can do really anything about it. So this conversation is timely for not only a new year, but the events of the last 36 hours.

We should not fall into the trap of becoming disinterested churches that aren’t making a mark for Christ in our community and neighborhoods. We should not fall into the trap of tolerating our own sins, being consumed by our own selfish pursuits, and living a lifeless religion while millions of people are dying without Jesus.

The chapter is a very direct, in-your-face, call to action to encourage us to the humble and repentant hearts that we need to truly stimulate a revival within ourselves and our world.

So…think about this…what would the world look like if we saw God’s Spirit poured out in abundance on us? God has a track record of doing this! He’s helped revive families, restored broken lives, and salvation has overcome addictions and self-destruction.

There’s no reason we can’t see all of these things and more. Unless we decide not to pray. Unless we decide not to care. Unless we decide to believe the enemy’s deceptions, instead of believing the proofs and promises of God’s word, across time.

Once again, scripture clearly lays out the raw ingredients that have consistently led to revival. The first comes from 2 Chronicles chapter 7 verse 14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and I will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

In the Book of Joel, chapter 2 verses 12 and 13 it says, “Even now, declares the Lord, return to me with all your heart and with fasting, weeping and mourning and rend your heart and not your garments.”

When Jesus announced the arrival of his earthly ministry in Luke chapter 4, he declared, “the spirit of the Lord is on me,” with whom he would set the captives free, open the eyes of the blind and release the oppressed from their bondage.

That same Holy Spirit is still here for believers and he is STILL able to work mightily in us…IF we are God’s surrendered people.

The secret to revival, is united, repentant, humble prayer. A prayer that is persistent. A prayer that is extraordinary, believing that what God wants is always better and more important than what we want!

God simply wants people that are devoted to him. People that are in love with him. People whose hearts are ready to be used for reaping the Harvest. And most importantly, people whose lives are surrendered to his word and then ready to receive the blessings that only he can provide.

We need to seek him with all our hearts.

OUR PRAYER:

Lord God our Father in heaven, we need you. We’re desperate for you. We pray now in the name and through the blood of Jesus that you would stir up faith and repentance among us like never before. We ask that you would soften our hearts toward you and break our hearts towards sin. Unite your church in fervency, fasting, and devotion to prayer, desiring nothing more eagerly than our desire for you and your glory to be poured out upon us. May we humble ourselves and pray, turn from our wicked ways and seek your face until you heal our land. Have mercy on us Lord. Forgive us. Cleanse us. Heal us. Send Revival, oh Lord, bring millions to saving faith in your son Jesus and cause us, as your children, to be solely devoted to serving you, loving you and extending love to others. May the world see your glory and may your name be honored and adored among the nations in our generation. In Jesus name, we pray in faith, amen.

Thanks for listening!
– Joe and Alyssa

Rhythms of Prayer

Good afternoon! Still kicking with the ‘Battle Plan for Prayer’ Praise Thursdays!
Today, we talked about the rhythms of prayer.

The fervent call for revival in the final chapter of the book is not merely wishful thinking. God has poured out his spirit and moved among cities and nations in times passed, stirring up the church, bringing countless thousands to salvation. But you can see that kind of revival right here as well. In your city. And in your country. God works revival on the waves of united, fervent, persistent prayer.  The great, known revivals that have left the most indelible mark on the past generations grew in the fertile soil of prayer closet in prayer groups and playing churches – often few months and years of cultivation among the leaders who refuse to stop believing that God will hear and respond.
 That’s why number of ministries and churches today or championing are united rid of a prayer, inspired by what was known centuries ago as concert of prayer. He’s involve willing individuals and groups would commit to regular cycles of prayer, which would been spread to other places were people were following a similar schedule. God response to the surrendered, repentance, expect a part of his people, and he blesses and moves even more when we’re working together.
 Consider rallying your church to adopt the following rhythm of prayer in the days ahead.
Weekly prayer: individually.
At least once a week, whether alone or in a small group, set aside a particular time to pray specifically for revival and your family, and your church, and spiritual awakening in the nation. Pray for the affected preaching and active listening of the word throughout your city during that week.
Monthly prayer: churchwide
 Preferably as an entire church body, but at least as a whole group, Bible study class, or larger prayer meeting, come together at least once a month and a special meeting for the sole purpose of praying for revival and spiritual awakening.
Quarterly prayer: community
Consider gathering once a quarter with multiple churches in your area, united in prayer for an enormous day, evening, or afternoon, of prayer for the spiritual needs of your city. Even if you’re not able to gather together, in a separate location, all over your community is going to be praying together about the same thing, at the same time, will be a powerful experience and effort.
Yearly prayer: nationally
 The national Day of prayer which is the first Thursday of May, offers an annual opportunity for believers across the country to focus as one on revival and repentance, coast to coast. Don’t let this day slip up on you, or become lost in the days business. Carve out this time to pray for relief with Christians revival and awakening in our land.

Thanks for listening!
-Lilly

Praying for Laborers for the Harvest

Luke 10:2 is a reminder that the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. We are to beseech the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His harvest.

What does beseech mean? It means to ask urgently and fervently.

Today in our series inspired by the book The Battle Plan for Prayer, by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, we are being asked to urgently and fervently pray for people to serve in some form of ministry.

Jesus was moved by a deep compassion for people, because all of us experience times where we are hurting, empty, wandering and searching for purpose and meaning.  Matthew 9:36-38 says Jesus had compassion for the crowds, because they were like “sheep without a shepherd.”  That’s us, sometimes, and maybe more than we want to admit.  We’re wandering.  And so many people we come into contact with are also wandering.  So we need ministers of the gospel committed to shepherding the sheep.

Jesus’ solution to overwhelming needs was always prayer.  If we are praying for God’s kingdom to come, then we must also pray for more people to seek that kingdom FIRST and serve that kingdom.

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Remember that just one person committed to serving the kingdom and bringing the gospel and God’s Word to people in need can impact marriages, families, businesses, churches and a culture. The books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther are examples of this from the bible.

Too many times we are too caught up in our own personal needs and entertainment and we forget about the spiritually lost. Millions still need to hear the gospel.  Yes, the task seems enormous, but nothing is impossible with God.  His kingdom calling should be a high priority for our prayer life.

Any follower of Jesus is called to be a laborer in God’s harvest field. That labor can take the form of praying, serving, giving and going. When we obey this global mandate, we become part of an army of others who are doing the same.

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So, how does this work practically?  Locally, we need to be praying for our pastors. The work they do is eternal and vital, but also draining and demanding. The expectations we sometimes place on them are endless.

But we also know the enemy is constantly on the attack against them.  He tries to wear them down.  Wear their families down. Tempt them. Many of their responsibilities are private – like study and preparation, spiritual counsel and dealing with conflict.  We can pray that the Holy Spirit is their partner in these times that are quiet or confidential.

Ephesians 6:19-20 says:

“19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”

So we can pray for protection around our pastor’s heart, marriage and home. That he or she can confidently, freely and unapologetically fulfill his or her ministry. That the Holy Spirit will help them draw many to the Gospel.

You can also pray for pastors from other churches locally, regionally or globally.

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Locally and globally, we can also pray for other types of ministries like family counseling ministries, Christian schools and colleges, humanitarian aid ministries and YES, Christian media!  Pray I Corinthians 15:58 over them:

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Pray for present and future missionaries – both domestic and foreign.  Pray that His word and salvation will be known and embraced.  You can ‘pray the word’ again over them – Colossians 4:2-6:

“2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Pray for the lost in the nations around the world – God has a heart for ALL the nations!  America and its 320 million people only represent 5% of the global population of 7 billion!

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This week’s prayer:

Lord, give me your heart for the nations.  A heart of love and compassion for the lost. A renewed love of the gospel and a deep admiration and concern for those who are already giving their lives in service to you. Provide for them, encourage them, prosper their work and embolden their hearts. Raise up and equip more workers for Your harvest fields. Fill them with your spirit, deliver them from the evil one and empower them to boldly proclaim and represent You and Your Word to the world, until you return. Help me to be obedient to your voice and do my part in advancing your kingdom on earth.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Thanks for listening!
– Joe

Praying for Authority

Actions and decisions made by people in authority create a significant impact on those within their sphere of influence- both good and bad. Think of a business owner who leads with integrity and excellence, as opposed to one who cuts corners, breaks laws, and routinely passes blame. Think of a father who loves, supports, and wisely trains his children, compared with one who ignores or abuses them. Think of biblical examples like Moses and Aaron, the leaders of Ancient Israel, whose different ways of responding to God at Mount Sinai resulted in the Ten Commandments on one hand and a golden calf on the other. Our authorities can either help us in doing the will of God or they can make it harder for us to pursue.

Since the influence of people in these positions can cause such a ripple effect, and because and because their various roles are fraught with hard choices and difficulty, the Bible commands us to pray for all those in leadership over us.

Prayers for their salvation, for their ability to lead or govern, for their commitment to the highest standards and priorities, both professionally and personally.
But while each of us, in one way or another, answers to authorities higher than ourselves- supervisors, parents, officials, law enforcement- most of us also represent some kind of authority over others: children, employees, students, anyone who looks to us for guidance, direction, and instruction, So this biblical command of prayer equally applies to these relationships as well – prayers for both them and for ourselves, that we who ‘keep watch over their souls” will take responsibility seriously and perform it with great care and honor, knowing we will give an account for how we handle the job.

We tend to think of authority in terms of organizational charts and the ordinary tasks of each day. But it’s more importantly a God-ordained arrangement. “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” So prayer creates a revolutionary spin on the natural tendency to resist or resent authority. God’s call for us is to realize that unless they are asking us to sin our obeying of authority (in all other situations) is actually obeying Him. And by praying for those in authority we are working in the best interest of everyone.

Authority basically orbits around the four centers of activity: family, church, government, and employment. In our families, for instance, children should be praying for their parents; parents for their children; wives for their husbands; husbands for their wives. This is all part of how God works within a family both to bless its individual members and to make it a force of kingdom influence. Families operate best when following God’s design.

The proper ordering of authority within the home, combined with prayer for one another, strengthens every ligament of relationship while leading each person to see themselves as ultimately submitted to the Lord. Caring and helping one another. Praying for one another. All out of obedience to Him.

In the church we’re not only called to submit our pastors and leadership but also to steadily pray for them, praying for the hearts and their submission to Christ so that we and others can imitate their faith and example. What a change from the all too typical dislike and disapproval of church leaders, whispered and overheard in homes and back hallways. Our love and support of them is meant to make their work a joy, which in turn blesses the entire church and its ability to stay focused on its true calling.

But like Jesus did for his disciples and like Paul did for the churches, even so pastors, too, should be praying for their people, feeling a burden of concern for them. They must recognize the gravity of their authoritative role in teaching people faithfully, guarding their hearts, and leading them well under the lordship of Christ, who is the “head of the body” – the one who takes “first place in everything”.

In government, as well as in the workplace, the same sort of praying applies. Be faithfully praying for your country’s top leaders and elected officials, even those whose views differ from yours, knowing their leadership touches the lives of many people under their jurisdiction. God still uses imperfect authorities to carry out His perfect purposes. The Lord, of course, is able to turn the heart of a ruler and our impassioned prayers and petitions are part of how He does it.

Pray also for your boss and management at work. Like all those in authority, they are charged with these four overarching responsibilities, among other things 1. Providing direction, instruction, and an example to follow. 2. Protect with boundaries and rules. 3. Praise those who do right and 4. Punish those who do wrong. Let these areas of influence guide your praying. You might even add a fifth- pointing others to Christ – because any leader in any job, in dedicating his or her position to God, can be used as a force of spiritual change, both in the lives of the individuals as well as the culture at large.

Prayer and authority are a powerful combination. Prayers targeted upward in support of those who lead us, as well as prayers targeted downward for those under our care.

Ultimately, Christ is the reason all things were created, “both in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for him.” So even in praying for people in our offices, schools, and other everyday settings, we are living out a holy calling. It is both highly practical and exceedingly eternal. God is honored by this kind of praying. And because of it, His will is more readily and pervasively done.

“Father I acknowledge that all authority is from You and that all of my authorities only have power because of You. I choose to pray for the biblical, governmental, family, employment authorities You have placed over my life as a demonstration of my submission to you. Please draw them to salvation and give them a fear of the Lord in all their decisions. Use them to guide, protect, praise, and discipline me in order that I might do your will even as I do the same for those under my authority. Use me to be a blessing. Grant me favor so I can daily help people live out their full potential under Your total authority and Lordship.”

Thanks for listening!
-Lilly

Praying for Family

This week, as we continue our series inspired by the Kendrick brothers’ book. The Battle Plan for Prayer, we’re focusing on how to do pray for family.

So how do we engage in praying for the ones we love?

If you are married, you start with your wife or your husband. Your marriage is to be a real-life application of the gospel to your children, friends and everyone else who knows you.

Ephesians 5:25 reminds husbands to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Wives, in verse 22, are asked to support and honor the leadership of their husbands as they would honor the Lord.

What this all means is that we run to Christ for love, joy and peace, then take all of that and pour it into our marriages.  We pray for each other, asking for God to direct when disagreements happen, which they inevitably will.  When that happens, we should be committed to listening respectfully, confessing openly and extending patience and kindness. We should be hard to offend and quick to forgive!

The example we are setting in our marriages is too valuable to let the voices of other people become more important than our spouse’s voice.

We can also pray that our spouse is devoted to Christ, surrendered to following His Word and His lordship. We can pray that each of our spouse’s relationships are marked by love and unselfishness, especially the ones that are strained.  We can pray for peace, healing and restoration where things are broken.

We can pray that God would keep our spouse clearly aware of God’s desires, knowing how to handle each day’s decisions. We can pray that God keeps us, as their partner, attuned to their needs so we can be a voice of clarity in their lives.

We can pray David’s prayer in Psalm 20:4 for our spouses: “May He give you what your heart desires and fulfill your whole purpose.”

The Lord will guide our marriages as we are more specific in our praying for them.

Satan is in the business of causing confusion in our families, so we must pray against that.

The enemy also wants to confuse our kids, distract them, apply unneeded pressure to them and doubt their sense of worth and identity.

Our role as a parent is to stand in the gap of these areas, listening to our children and knowing the condition of their hearts.  Praying with our kids, with our arms around them and then praying for them even when they are not physically with us.

We are to intercede for our children in prayer for their protection, their friendships, their character and their ability to stand up to temptation.  Our children may not realize the level of spiritual opposition to claim their eyes and their interests.  Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

But WE KNOW the level of opposition. We’ve felt it. So…defend your kids in prayer. Claim God’s promises of victory in their lives. Pray for God’s spirit to go ahead of them wherever they may be. That they may draw others to Him.

If your kids are older, then pray that they will remain faithful to God in their generation, love him and keep His commands, like it talks about in Deuteronomy 7:9. Oh, and all of this also applies to our grandchildren!

Alex and Stephen share in this chapter that the Psalmist was thinking about multiple generations when he wrote:

“so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
 Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.”

Just like we’ve shared throughout this series, we can ask God to ‘unlock’ the Word so that we can pray specifically for our family and future generations.

The battle plan for prayer for your family is simply awaiting your dedicated attention to it!  To make it a priority…to make your family a prayer target.  Prayer is the most effective investment we can make along with all the other ones, like love, time, physical and emotional support, sweat equity and financial generosity.

Today’s prayer:

Lord, I bring my family before you today – their needs, struggles, their goals, their concerns, their present and their future.  These loved ones of mine are actually yours, Lord, and you have graciously shared them with me. Help me to best express my gratitude to you by never failing to pray for them, to seek your will for them, and to ask for your wisdom as I relate in love and loyalty towards them.

Give me discernment as to their physical and spiritual needs in each season, and help me faithfully lift them up to you in faith, love and in the power of the Holy Spirit. May many generations be blessed because of my prayers.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Our Christmas Gift Exchange winners are Jeff from Mount Vernon and Brenda from Fredericktown – congratulations!

Thanks for listening!
– Joe and Hannah

Praying for Other Believers

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“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.” (Philemon 7)

Perhaps some of the most commonly spoken words from one Christian to another are “I’ll be praying for you. “And perhaps the most commonly unspoken words are the prayers that would have been said if those promises were truly kept.

This week in our series inspired by The Battle Plan for Prayer, Alex and Stephen Kendrick remind us of the importance of praying for other believers.

We need each other‘s prayers. It’s one of the most loving things we can do for each other. Your brothers and sisters in Christ, at any challenging point in their lives, need to be able to take a deep breath and realize they’re not alone; that their Christian family has their back. They need the assurance that you and others are praying. Especially if you said you’d be praying.

Paul described this as being “on the alert. “Something we do “at all times.” We pray “with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18)  Notice how all- encompassing this command and expectation is.

The early church in Acts was so involved with one another they were constantly “taking their meals together,” enjoying what the Bible describes as “gladness and sincerity of heart”.  As a result, despite a rash of persecution and life-threatening challenges in the days that followed, we see God’s spirit working miracles among them. We read about bold witnesses for Christ. We read about people coming to faith by the dozens. We see sin exposed and repented of.  We see teamwork. We see abundant generosity and unselfishness. We see regular demonstrations of God‘s power. We see everything we wish happened in our day, in our churches…

…And one of the ways we can contribute most effectively to a revival of church unity today is through the active practice of praying for each other as believers. It heals us. It unites us as one.

Almost all of Paul’s letters in the New Testament were written to different churches. But no matter how close his personal relationship with them, he wrote assuring them that he was genuinely, consistently, perfectly, praying for them.  Romans 1: 9-12, Philippians 1:3-4; the book of Colossians, they all show examples of this.

Our routine should follow the faithful footprints of this example. Encouraging other believers. Thanking God for them. Worshiping with them. Bringing their concerns before the Lord, both physical and spiritual.

You can use The Lord’s Prayer as an example of how to pray for others…

“Father in heaven, I pray for my brother (my sister),  praising your name for them, asking you to fill their hearts with worship for you today. May their primary desire always be to advance your kingdom, wherever they happen to be, whatever they happen to be doing.
May they align themselves on the earth with your will, just as surely as you’re will is followed and accomplished in heaven.
Provide them, I pray, with their daily bread – with everything you know is required for them to thrive and be cared for. And grant them repentance, forgiving them of their sins even as you forgive me of mine.
Keep their relationships free from bitterness and difficulty as we forgive those who sin against them. Please, Lord, protect them from temptation, from allowing them to be overloaded with adversity.
I deliver them from all evil, from every scheme and attack of the enemy, from every weapon intended to defeat and discourage them. For yours, Lord, is the kingdom,  The power, the glory, forever. You have already given them victory through the finished work of Christ. So I pray for them today, and I pray in his name, amen.”

Now that’s strategically targeting a prayer.

Too often, prayer request times between believers become: “Pray for my aunt’s kidney condition. Pray for my cousin’s colon cancer. Pray for my brother’s big toe.” And while we all need and appreciate prayer towards physical health, we must be careful not to prioritize temporary physical needs over eternal spiritual ones.

The apostle Paul prayed for God to reveal his will and love, to strengthen and equip people toward spiritual fruitfulness and for them to increase in their knowledge of God and faithfulness to God. We can learn so much about how to pray for one another.

Think of how a commitment to prayer for our fellow believers could energize our relationships and our shared sense of mission.

 

CLOSING PRAYER: “Lord, thank you for the church you’ve given me, and for the friends and families you’ve enabled me to know shared faith in Christ. I pray you would cement our relationships even further by helping us commit to pray for one another. Lord, be pleased by how we love and care for each other. May your name be glorified as you work in our midst. We will be watching you, and we will be praising you. Bless us, I pray, that the world would see your power and the difference you make in our lives. Amen!”

Thanks for listening!
-Joe, Hannah and Lilly

Praise Thursday: Praying for the Lost

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20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

2 Corinthians 5:20 is a great reminder that as believers, we should place a high priority on praying for the lost – those who haven’t put faith in Jesus Christ and haven’t established a relationship with him.

This week, as we continue our series inspired by the Kendrick brothers’ book. The Battle Plan for Prayer, we’re focusing on how to do this: pray for the lost.

If we’re honest, we pray for ourselves more than we pray for anyone else. After all, who among our friends and family knows our hopes, struggles, and concerns more completely than we do? Our next prayer targets, after ourselves, are most likely the people closest to us, followed by other friends and relatives.

In Romans 10, Paul shared his heart’s desire and prayer for the salvation of the people. Then in I Timothy 2:4, we learned that God wants “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Even John 3:16 proclaims that God‘s love motivated him to send his son for the salvation of people all over the world.

So there’s no question God is pleased and glorified when people turn to him and receive him by faith, through Jesus Christ.  It should challenge us to pray for the lost.

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So we know we should pray for the lost.  We know from 2nd Corinthians that God “reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation”, so here’s a question: why aren’t we praying fervently and faithfully to that end?

One reason? The enemy stands against us and our prayers. His plan is to prevent as many people as possible from hearing and receiving the good news. 2 Corinthians 4: 3-4 says, “our gospel…is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is in the image of God.” Satan knows he’s lost the war. His desire now is simply to cause much damage as he can… While he can.

BUT…we can stand against him in prayer, asking God to open the eyes of the lost and reveal to them their need for a savior.  We can ask him to send us and others to tell them about his love and forgiveness. When we embody the fruit of the spirit, and live gentle, patient lives with a clear testimony and lifestyle, Paul said “perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2: 25-26)

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Our prayers against the enemy’s tactics, along with our obedience to Christ, can create opportunities for more people to hear and understand the truth of the Gospel. That’s why Paul asks the church: “devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of Thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may proclaim it clearly.” (Colossians 4:2-4)

God can be trusted to grant us these openings to share our testimony of how Christ has changed our life.  Our story can open the hearts of others.  We can pray for these opportunities! When we pray and look for them, we won’t have any trouble spotting them. But we must be ready and willing to take advantage of them when they appear. This leads us to the next part of our prayer strategy: readiness.

When the time comes to open our mouth and speak, we need the boldness to say what ought to be said. Paul prayed in Ephesians 6:19, “Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth will make known with boldness the mystery of The Gospel.” We need the same kind of readiness and confidence that Paul had.  The challenge is to not allow embarrassment or the fear of rejection to stop us from sharing the most important message in the universe. Otherwise, we’re communicating, “my comfort level is more important to me than your salvation. “

That’s why we should pray for boldness like Paul…not to overwhelm people by our intensity…but so that we won’t back down from saying what God leads us to say with the right heart and demeanor. The Holy Spirit does what only he can do: bring repentance.

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Jesus himself said the reason he came to earth was to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10.) As part of his body on the earth today, we can view this as a critical part of our purpose. In everything we do, and every situation, we need to be ready to share the love of Christ with a lost, dying world.

But, our prayer shouldn’t be limited only to those within our area of influence. Let’s pray for people we will never meet. Pray for missionaries to be given the boldness to share. Pray for leaders to hear the gospel. Pray for those in the spotlight and who influence. Pray for the unreached people groups who desperately need someone to come share the good news with them.

So how do we pray for the lost? We pray for God to begin working in their hearts to prepare them to receive the truth. We pray against the enemy that he would be prevented from blinding their eyes and hearts. We pray for opportunities and boldness, both for ourselves and others, to share the gospel with them.

We pray for conviction of sin to agitate their hearts, bringing about true repentance and a desire for Christ’s cleansing.  And we pray for God‘s blessing, guidance, protection, and the presences to be on all of those who obey him and who keep him.

The awareness that we were also once lost should raise our urgency to pray. Time is limited. Opportunities may be limited as well. So let’s obey what God has called us to do:

The word boldly and freely declares in Romans 10:13, “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” And we get to be a part of it. Through prayer.

CLOSING PRAYER

Lord, give me a greater heart for the lost, a heart that doesn’t ignore them or work around them, but rather breaks for them. Hurts for them. Guard me from even subtly downplaying their need for you…or considering their salvation someone else’s job to worry about.

Open my eyes as I travel throughout each day, watching for you to open doors so I can give effective testimony to your goodness and faithfulness.

And do battle against our enemy, oh Lord; that he would not succeed in blocking the truth from getting through to those who are dying without it, without you.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this kingdom priority. Help me see it is a privilege, not a burden – willing to sacrifice for the incredible sacrifice you made for me.  

 

 

Praying Extraordinarily

Psalm 77:2 says, “I sought the Lord and my day of trouble. My hands were continually lifted up all night long.”

Many times, our prayer strategies go to the next level when situations reach a point of desperation. Health, finances, family struggles…these unexpected moments of intensity call for ‘drop everything’ prayer. It’s when you call or text friends to pray. Rally the church…prayer chains…everybody praying. Desperation can still be strategic.

This week, as we continue our series inspired by the Kendrick brothers’ book. The Battle Plan for Prayer, we’re focusing on how to pray extraordinarily.

The experience of Esther in the Old Testament led to the necessity for extraordinary prayer. You may recall how she, a beautiful young Jewish woman, was selected as a candidate for Queen of Persia when the king deposed his own wife. But from inside the palace, Esther learned from her childhood guardian, Mordecai, about a plan to exterminate the Jewish people.

The situation was dire – no less for Esther than anyone else. She wasn’t yet in a position to approach the king with any petition without permission. Customs of the day meant she could be lawfully killed for attempting to enter his presence. But she made a courageous call for extraordinary prayer: “So, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go into the king, which is not according to law; and if I perish, I perish“ (Esther 4:16).

The result of their praying was miraculous. The mastermind of the genocide was killed instead, hung on his own gallows, and Mortdecai, the Jew, was raised to a key position of leadership, charged with the state-sanctioned program of protecting the Jews from for the persecution. That’s the kind of prayer model the Bible guides us to follow.

There are three important elements of the extraordinary prayers in Esther: corporate prayer, fasting prayer and fervent prayer.

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CORPORATE: Extraordinary prayer is a team effort. We read about this in Acts. The apostles gathered after Jesus’ ascension into heaven and prayed together.

When Peter was literally thrown into prison under heavy guard, “prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God” (Acts 12:5). The night before his execution, chained between two soldiers, Peter was trying to sleep. Then an angel appeared, set him free and let him past the guards and gates on his way back home. As one old time author has said “the angel sent Peter out of prison, but it was the prayer that sent the angel.”

FASTING: They prayed with fasting. We know that fasting is one of the keys to prayer. But serious matters call for unusual sacrifice with focus, devotion and dedication.

God, through the prophet Joel, commanded his people to return to him “with all your heart…with fasting, weeping and mourning,“ (Joel 2:12).

Jesus, at the outset of his earthly ministry, prepared himself for the challenges ahead by committing to 40 days of fasting in Matthew 4:2. By taking time to deny the daily demands of our flesh to focus all of our attention on God, we can go more deeply and intimately into focused prayer in times of difficulty, strain, and emergency.

We fast because we mean business. Fasting together means we’re united in appealing to him and hearing from him. When it’s done in sincerity, God consistently honors it.

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FERVENT: They prayed fervently, persistently and passionately. Circumstances can reach a point where our survival instinct alone can produce fervent praying. When the men on board the ship with the prophet Jonah began fearing for their lives, they called earnestly on the god they didn’t even know, begging for mercy from the storm (Jonah 1:14). God spared them.

But many situations in our lives and world are just as severe and call equally for fervent prayer. Sin is in our nature, pride is in our churches, heartbreak is in our homes and persecution happens among our brothers and sisters. The seeds of hardship and hospitality against Christians – experienced even now and many nations of the world – are already here on our shores. But is the church of God broken and surrendered? Are we willing to be “miserable and mourn and weep when necessary?” (James 4:9)

We know without a doubt that difficult times will come (2 Timothy 3:1). Jesus realistically told his disciples, “you will have suffering in this world,“ in John 16:33. “Do not be surprised “Peter said, “at the fiery ordeal among you.” When these problems reach an insurmountable breaking point, they require an unusual power that will only result from extraordinary prayer.

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All of us tend to revert to a default level of praying – most likely an easier and more comfortable praying then we like to admit. But Jesus, in his own life, would ramp up the fervency of his praying depending on the need of the moment. From a joyful request, to praying all night, the crying out on his face before going to the cross.

Fervent prayer touches God’s heart. “The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).  But imagine what the combined, persistent, united prayers of many righteous people, each of them fasting and praying, might accomplish. It doesn’t just connect – it works miracles, moves mountains, ushers in revival, and changes the course of nations. Extraordinary prayer can produce extraordinary results!

Lord God Almighty, I praise you that nothing is impossible with you. Train us and lead us into extraordinary prayer. Help us throw off any sin, surrendering ourselves completely to you. May we see the needs of our city and our nation the way that you see them. Unite believers in my church and community an extra ordinary prayer. May we walk in love, I agree and heart, fast and faith, and unite in for rent, persistent prayer. Bring revival and spiritual awakening to our land. Be glorified through us, oh God!

 

  • Thanks for listening!
    -Lilly

Praise Thursday – Preemptive Prayer

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What would you do if you knew someone was getting ready to attack you?  If you were the leader of a country and you knew attack could happen any day?  You would start doing everything possible to prepare – looking at resources, evaluating troop placements and developing a strategy.

This is what Chapter 27 talks about in The Battle Plan for Prayer. Alex and Stephen Kendrick remind us that our preemptive plans start in prayer. Last week, we talked about OFFensive prayer – seeking to take new ground for the kingdom. So, the spiritual battle for our heart is real. The Bible reminds us that we have a real enemy who is out to steal, distort, distract and destroy.

Christ himself recognized Satan – he resisted and rebuked him throughout his ministry on Earth.  I John 3:8 says, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.”

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that Satan is simply a symbol of evil. He is not a fable. Not a figment of our imagination.  The Bible specifically mentions Satan by name in more than one dozen books. So, taking a posture of preemptive prayer is critical.


Today we’re talking about taking a stance of preemptive prayer. Because we have a real enemy seeking to attack us at any moment. How do we know Satan is real?  We have the story of Peter in the Gospels.

Jesus taught Peter and the rest of the disciples to preemptively pray, “do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:13). Then, on the night of Christ’s betrayal, Jesus warned him, “behold Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you” (Luke 22). Later that same evening Jesus instructed him to “keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

But…Peter fell asleep instead, and a few minutes later he was awake and off guard. Peter emotionally overreacted, hacked off a man’s ear, abandoned Jesus, then adamantly denied Christ three times instead of being loyal like he had promised a few hours earlier. He never prayed preemptively, so as a result he wept bitterly, was devastated and depressed for days, until Christ restored him.

We must learn to pray preemptively, lifting everything in our lives to the Lord. Prayer is the way we spiritually fasten in our armor and ask God to protect us before stepping into the heat of combat.


How can we pray preemptively? By understanding how the enemy attacks. If we know his moves, we can prepare and pray more specifically.

The book gives us four of the devil’s signature schemes.

#1 – Distraction. Psalm 55 reminder that David wrote, “I’m restless in my complaint and I’m surely distracted because of the voice of the enemy.” Satan will constantly try to get us off track.

#2 – Deception. Jesus said whenever Satan speaks lies because he speaks from his own nature, “for he is a liar and the father of lies.” That comes from John 8:44. Strongholds, addictions and sins are founded upon lies…promises never delivered…false advertising. Sin will fail you, let you down and leave you empty. We are not strong enough to stand on our own. We need God’s presence and the Bible’s trustworthiness.

#3 – Derision. Satan’s lies include running you down or running down (deriding) someone else in your mind. Bringing up things from your past. Falsely presuming someone else is guilty.  Yes, we’ve been forgiven in the blood of Christ, but he keeps reminding us of old wounds and inciting doubt. In order to the fight the accusations, you need to be studying the Word; to help you find your identity in Christ. We also continue to pray for wisdom and discernment.


How can we pray preemptively? By understanding how the enemy attacks. If we know his moves, we can prepare and pray more specifically.

The last scheme is #4 – Division. One hallmark of the gospel is the unity it brings to everyone, since we are all one in Christ. But Satan knows that the “house divided against itself will not stand” (Mark 3:25).

Anger and argument among God’s people may not destroy the gospel, but it can destroy our testimony and our effectiveness in sharing it. Disunity paints Christians and our faith as weak, hypocritical and phony.  So, we can’t live foolishly, ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). We should pray for God to help us stay focused on his will.

Ephesians 6 reminds us of the spiritual armor: truth dispelling his lies; righteousness from Christ worn around our chest and lived out in bold active and grateful obedience. Prayer is how we stay together. It’s what unites us and it’s what helps protect us.

The question is not whether the enemy is coming out to engage you in battle. He will. Seen or unseen. The question is whether you’re going to prepare in prayer first, or wait until the devil has you in his grip before you call on the One who has already defeated him.


Lord, thank you for alerting us in your words to the tactics and activity of the devil. Thank you also for equipping us with spiritual weaponry to stand firm and push back against his assaults and his campaign of lies, distortions, distractions and accusations. Help us not to be ignorant of his schemes. Give us the grace to discern how the enemy will try to attack so we can wisely pray preemptively and prepare ourselves to stand firm. Keep us steady, Lord, clear-minded, braced, ready, walking wisely and living in victory. Fix our eyes upon you by faith, kept by your power. In Jesus name. Amen.

Thanks for listening!
-Joe, Lilly and Hannah

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