Prayer for Power (30)

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Prayer Text for Today is Acts 12:1-19

When it comes to prayer I more often feel like an amateur making rookie mistakes than an accomplished prayer all-star! Like many people I feel sometimes that my prayers are ineffectual and I’m left wondering why God seems unmoved by even my most ardent requests.

Maybe I ask too small. Maybe I ask without really believing that God will bring that blessing into being. Perhaps God is answering while I impatiently and immaturely cultivate unspiritual expectations. It could be that I’m too focused on evidences and not focused on the Father who gives good gifts to His children. And very likely I’ve forgotten more answered prayers than I am willing to admit. Such are my own prayer confessions. So I might not be the best person to write about power in prayer. Praying for power and praying in power are to be sought by all Christians.

The persecuted infant church experienced some of the persecutions that would cause many of us to question the power of our prayers. James, the brother of John was executed by Herod. Apostle Peter was in prison, maybe he was to be next. God’s people were doing what prayer-oriented people do:

So Peter was kept in prison, but prayer was being made earnestly to God for him by the church. ~Acts 12:5

The earnest prayers of the church were offered up for Peter. Just as they are today for Christians being persecuted and imprisoned today. The church is to be in prayer for all of those imprisoned by addiction, pain, financial disaster, disease and sin.  We pray all of those kinds of prayers today and they are all answered. Every one of them. That is prayer power. We’re looking at all the wrong things when we consider the weakness of our own prayers. We do so (I just did in the first paragraph!),  but we are being distracted away from seeing Christ when we do.

The main lesson about prayer is just this: Do it! Do it! Do it! You want to be taught to pray. My answer is pray and never faint, and then you shall never fail… ~John Laidlaw

When the church gathers to pray, Heaven hears and acts … and we conform to the answers that come from God.

Peter, however, kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astounded. ~Acts 12:16

I’m really glad they were astounded. Kind of like when one of my prayers are answered… I’m shocked! The Enemy goes into action to suggest that it wasn’t really an answer, that was going to happen anyway. How many Christians have more faith in coincidence than Christ?

A man who is intimate with God will never be intimidated by men.” ~Leonard Ravenhill

We find power in prayer by being consistent in prayer. This is where we fail. It’s not so much that God has fallen down on His job but that we find ourselves amazed that He actually hears and answers? Pray for greater power in prayer! This is not like Obi-Wan Kenobi utilizing The Force to get others to do his will! (Star Wars geeks can thank me later!) No, the power is all in God’s hands…and when we place ourselves, our hopes, our desires, our will, and our lives in His hands we begin to be fashioned into the shape of His will. In His goodness and wisdom we find more of the life we always wanted than we were able to find on our own efforts. That is real power.

If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ. ~C. H. Spurgeon

So our prayer today is to be a people of prayer, serve in a church of prayer, and watch for the answers to prayer. And it’s OK to be astounded at the answers … we serve a God who is more amazing than we could have ever imagined! When you start to doubt prayer…yourself…God … remember that you’re suffering a power outage because you are connecting to the wrong source. Find your real prayer power by connecting to God and being content to pour out your heart to Him, knowing He knows what to do next. (Haven’t you heard Garth Brooks singing that some of God’s greatest gifts are Unanswered Prayers!)

Have you ever heard Larnelle Harris singing a song based on this text called Rhoda, Open the Door? Hear it below.

 

What doors do we need to open today?

Prayerfully, JD

Praying Like Jesus (29)

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~ Guest Post by Keith Roberts ~

Prayer Text for Today is John 17

How would you like to hear Jesus pray? In person. Out loud. What would that experience do to you? How would you react to hearing the Messiah himself pray for you – out loud? How would it inspire and energize your own prayer life?

The Gospel of John presents the Bible’s most extensive record of Jesus praying aloud in chapter 17.

“After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed…”

As this stunning prayer unfolds for twenty-six verses, we overhear Jesus praying. He’s headed to the cross in a few hours, leaving his disciples behind with orders to extend his work to all nations. As he dies for them, some of them will later die for him. In the meantime, how will they cope with his absence? How can they withstand the persecution to come? How many will lose their faith; how many will stand firm? Will Satan overcome them and rip this newborn kingdom to pieces as it leaves the womb? At best, these men seem minimally qualified to be stand-ins for the Messiah himself. Therefore, Jesus prays. Here’s what he prays:

*That he will gloriously complete his Messianic mission – “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son might glorify you.” (17:1 NIV)

*That his disciples will be protected by the Name – “Father, protect them by the power of your name – the name you gave me – so that they may be one as we are one.” (17:11 NIV)

*That they will be protected from the evil one – “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.” (17:15 NIV)

*That the Father’s word will set them apart as holy people – “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (17:16-17 NIV)

*That their future converts will live in unity – “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one…” (17:20-23 NIV)

*That they will be with the Messiah forever in heaven – “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory…” (17:24 NIV)

*That the Father’s love will be in them, and the Messiah himself will be in them. – “I have made you known to them… in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (17:26 NIV)

This is pure intercession. It’s the strong praying for the weak, offering the sacrifice of intercession as the Great High Priest. Some Bibles actually title John’s record of Jesus’ prayer “The High Priestly Prayer”. Even now Jesus still prays like this. He’s still praying for us who walk the earth as disciples doing his will, the distant children of that apostolic generation in John chapter seventeen.

“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25 NIV)

And – in addition – the Holy Spirit eternally intercedes for us: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Holy Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26 NIV)

Besides that, the church intercedes – millions of prayers a day ascend to the Father in heaven on behalf of each other. And – amazingly – Heaven is full of intercession! The saints of God who’ve gone on ahead of us pray continually in the throne room, according to Revelation 5:8; 6:9-11 & 8:3-5.

The universe vibrates with prayer. A massive flow of prayer goes from earth to heaven, intertwines with the prayers of Jesus, with the Spirit’s intercession, with the prayers of the ancient apostles and martyrs in Heaven and the constant intercessions of the church on earth.

When you pray, you are not alone. Like throwing a cup of water into the mighty Mississippi River, your tiny prayers get caught up in that massive prayer-flow and impact Heaven.
As your prayers – in Jesus’ name – reach the Father’s ears, they sound like the thunderous prayers of Jesus himself. To the Father, you sound just like Jesus! So keep on praying!

 

Keith & Judy Roberts

Keith & Judy Roberts

Keith Roberts and his wife Judy live in Calhoun, Louisiana where he is the longtime preacher and elder for the Church of Christ there. This church sponsors the annual Prayer Enrichment Workshop – a great event. Keith’s book Why God Waits For You to Pray is truly an excellent encouragement to a deeper prayer life (you can buy it at the link below!). Keith is available to do prayer workshops and always does a great job. I am grateful to have Keith in the same North Louisiana parish in which I reside and our time together is always beneficial! You can connect with Keith on Facebook HERE and Twitter HERE.

Prayer Persistence (28)

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~ Guest Post by Ted Hook Knight ~

Prayer Text for Today is Luke 11:1-13

In this text the disciples ask the Lord, “Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples to pray.” We are not told why the disciples felt the need to learn how to pray, but their request is certainly to be admired. In fact, I can think of few requests, if any, which might be more important and beneficial to a disciple’s life than to ask for help from the Lord to learn how to pray. Prayer is that power that affords us the blessing of transcending the earth and communicating with God and that is an awesome power to possess.

Perhaps the greatest lesson that Jesus taught them was not so much in the words which He said, but in teaching them the importance of being persistent in prayer. Maybe they were like us. We seem to be in such a hurry and we want answers right now and answers which are in accord with our wishes and needs. Then, if the response is not just the way that we feel it should be, we give up and move on, wrongfully thinking that the Lord has ignored our plea. That is surely as sad mistake.

Jesus uses the man who needs bread to feed an unexpected guest. The friend whom he approaches in the late night tells him that he and his children are in bed and he cannot get up and give him bread. I love these words in Lk. 11:8: “I say to you, even if he will not get up and give him something because he is his friend; because of his troublesome persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs” (English Study Bible). Then he talks to them about asking, seeking, and knocking, and assures them that their persistence will pay off.

Friends, it is a sad mistake to give up too quickly on prayer. I could cite several personal experiences where I believe with all of my heart, God answered prayers for me because of my persistence. Perhaps you have had the same experience. It is at the point of discouragement that we must pray more fervently and never give up. We may be assured that God will answer our prayers! No doubt about it. Don’t quit too soon. In fact, just don’t quit praying persistently at all.

“We cannot pray more prayers than God can hear and answer.”

1010579_1380632842211172_2071156188_nTed Hook Knight has been associated with the Levy Church of Christ in North Little Rock, AR since 1966. He speaks in Gospel Meetings throughout the United States and also travels to Romania on mission journeys. He is married to Barbara, whom he refers to as “My Lady”. You can follow him on Facebook HERE, where you will be challenged and encouraged.