Blessed is the Nation that Comes Together in Prayer

praying in a huddleAs the clock struck twelve, the crowds had only one thing on their mind—getting to the place of prayer. The whole city was shut down, businesses closed their doors, schools dismissed class early, and even the legislature had called it a day. The year was 1905, and from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., the eyes of the city were looking to God for his guidance. The mayor of Denver had declared a day of prayer, resulting in more than twelve thousand in attendance in downtown prayer meetings.

During this same time, over two hundred businesses closed for three hours of prayer in Portland, Oregon. In Burlington, Iowa, many stores and factories closed to allow their employees to go to prayer meetings. There seemed to be a yearning and anticipation for a fresh move of God sweeping through people of every social and ethnic level. Churches were bulging full of people praying and seeking God. The news of the great Welsh revival spread through the land like wild fire, causing a hunger to be aroused in America. The result of this great move of prayer was powerful. Many denominations recorded a significant increase in their membership. Things were beginning to be stirred and get in place for the soon coming Azusa Street Revival in 1906.

Nearly fifty years earlier, a similar movement of prayer took place, bringing our country to its knees. It all started in 1857, in Manhattan, New York, area, with an individual named Jeremiah Lanphier, who had a burden from the Lord to start a noon prayer meeting. He advertised and promoted it, which soon brought a steady increase in attendance. Before long, prayer meetings began to spring up in almost every public building downtown. The local newspaper’s publicity thrust a landslide of prayer, beginning a movement that spread throughout New England

The revival that followed had no boundaries going out in every direction changing lives. Shortly after the revival had begun, the country found itself in the middle of the bloodiest war ever fought on American soil. Yet, due to the moving of God, many of the men who lost their lives had been prepared for eternity through God’s grace and mercy.

The effects of this revival touched even the White House. President Lincoln, being concerned about America and how it had become too successful and self-sufficient, full of pride, gave his Proclamation for a National Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer. On April 30, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln said, “It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” The results of this great revival not only carried on, but also lasted for many years. It had begun in a passion for prayer and was sustained with faithfulness of prayer!


When God’s people come together in persistent powerful prayer, God breaks in with radical results!       Tweet


Mathew Henry once said, “When God intends a great mercy for his people, he first sets them a praying.” We must find the place of prayer! Revival has never come through great preaching or successful programs. We must set ourselves to prayer, seeking to be changed by the power of God. Only when we have touched the hem of his garments will we see a visitation of God!

Desperate Prayer for Revival

Earthquake Destruction1As we awaited the birth of our first baby girl, I can still hear my wife crying in desperation, “Get this baby out of me!” We were in the delivery room and in the last stages of delivery. Even though I had forgotten exactly the proper way of breathing and coaching, I was still attempting to try. With my wife holding my hand, I felt I was the model husband. Yet in seconds, all rationalization went out the window, as I felt her fingernails digging into my arm and the ear-piercing cry of her agonizing pain. I unfortunately, didn’t realize there comes a point in the birthing process when there is no turning back. Either there must be a delivery, or there will be an overwhelming feeling as if the woman is going to die. My wife told me later that at that point, she knew she couldn’t quit, but had to push through the agony and horrendous pain, or she felt she would die.

It is the same kind of desperate heartfelt pain that men and women have felt as they have agonized in prayer for revival. All through history, you will find there were individuals desperate for a move of God. It reminds me of the young Hudson Taylor in England, as he began to get a stronger and a more desperate burden for China. He cried out to God in agony saying, “I feel that I cannot go on living unless I do something for China.” The desperate, inward hunger and vision God had put on his heart was beginning to be birthed. Only later would history tell of the impact and influence this man had on China!


Desperate need requires desperate Prayers!      (Tweet)


Before the Azusa Street Revival broke out, it is interesting to know that William Seymour travailed in prayer for some time. Michael Brown, in his book, writes about Seymour’s prayer life before the revival ever came. “Daddy” Seymour became desperate for more of God, yet for two and a half years, he prayed for five hours a day. “I got to Los Angeles,” he relates, “and there the hunger was not less, but more. I prayed, God, what can I do?” The Spirit said, “Pray more. There are better things to be had in spiritual life, but they must be sought out with faith and prayer.” Then he said, “But Lord, I am praying five hours a day now, I increased my hours of prayer to seven, and prayed on for a year and a half more. I prayed to God to give me what Parham preached, the real Holy Ghost and fire… like the apostles had.” Briefly before the revival, a local pastor had also written to Evan Roberts in Wales, asking him for the key to the Welsh revival. They soon received a reply, encouraging them to pray and surrender all to the Lord, believing God’s promises as they held daily meetings. We can see the response to this advice from the account of Frank Bartleman, another minister in the Azusa outpouring. “We prayed for a spirit of revival until the burden became well-nigh unbearable. I cried out like a woman in birth pangs. The Spirit was interceding through us.”

Through history God has used the desperate prayers of his saints to usher in great revivals. Desperate need requires desperate prayers! It is only when we also get to this place of desperation that we will see revival in our time.

God can You hear me down here?

ceii phone user1Do you remember an older commercial about a man with a cell phone in various locations asking, “Can you hear me now?” Most cell phone users know that good reception depends upon where you or the people that you are talking to are located. Some Christians have that same mentality when it comes to praying. They think you have to be in the right spot. Can you picture believers walking around saying, “God can you hear me now?” As funny as that might seem many believers feel that way. But actually He knows what we’re going to say before we say it! Isaiah declares, “It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear,” (Isa. 65:24). God hears the prayers of His children no matter where they’re located.


“ God is everywhere and is listening to my prayers”   –  Tweet


When I was in Junior High, my dream of being like Jacques Cousteau, the famous oceanographer came a little closer to reality. After a summer of doing small jobs and saving my money, I was finally able to sign up for my long awaited scuba lessons. It was during a session that I learned a lifelong lesson of God’s omnipresence. It was my first open water experience with the instructor. We arrived at the reservoir and got ready to dive to the bottom. The last words I remember him saying was once we get to the bottom of the reservoir to follow him closely. This seemed easy enough until we reached the bottom. We were at about thirty-five feet down and the water was murky with only about six inches of visibility. I couldn’t see my instructor or really anything. I was gulping air from my tank at record speed. I just sat at the bottom not able to see anything, feeling all alone and not sure what to do. I began to pray. Now mind you, I was in a completely different world. Though it seems strange unless you have experienced this scenario it was odd praying under water. The questions came to my mind, “Can God hear me down here?” No sooner had the words left my mouth through my regulator than a hand came through the murky water and grabbed me. It was my instructor! Now, to a Junior High boy at the bottom of a reservoir sucking air from a small tank as if every breath was my last, that was a huge miracle! I realized that God is everywhere and is listening to my prayers. King David declared something similar in Psalms 139:7, 9-10, “Where can I go from Your spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence… If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”

In II Kings 20:1-6 we read where God answers Hezekiah’s prayer. I see a Heavenly Father’s passion for one of His children and answers his request. It reminds me of how I love to answer my children’s requests. In the midst of bad news  and agony, Hezekiah went to the right source and God immediately answered his prayer. God heard his heart cry and extended his life. Many times when we receive bad news we get bitter and upset but we don’t go to the right source with our concern. Hezekiah received a gift from the Lord because he asked. In  Jeremiah 33:3 it says, “Call to Me, and I will answer you…”. God loves His children and will hear and answer us when we call to Him in pray.

  

I Can’t Pray Because My Knees Hurt

AR0162-002In the midst of the beautiful Rocky Mountains the old deserted logging roads made great walking trails above our ranch. Growing up I remember how my mother loved to take her walks in the brisk mountain air. There were times that my siblings and I would be having fun and run up the trail to catch my mother only to find her deep in prayer. After several times of interrupting her we soon realized that this was her private time of praying. She loved to walk and talk with the Lord.

The Bible reveals many different postures of prayer; some people prayed sitting, some standing, some kneeling as well as lying prostrate before the Lord. Paul encouraged Timothy to pray with hands lifted up (1 Tim. 2:8). Others stand or sit in circles holding hands. Still some people think if you’re not kneeling then you’re not really praying. I don’t believe there is any one posture that we must use to pray, on the contrary, there are many ways. Whatever position seems to help you keep focused in your prayer life is the right way. My mother’s posture of prayer was her walks.


If we sow in prayer then we will reap in the fruit of answered prayer.   (Tweet)


After my friend gave his life to the Lord in high school, he became aware that one of the basic principles of growing in Christ was learning to pray. With the best of intentions, he got up before school and tried to pray, but would fall back asleep consistently. One day he had a genius idea. He would stand on the open toilet and pray, knowing that would give him the incentive to keep awake and pray. Well, we might not have to go to that extreme, but whatever gets us to the place of prayer and keeps our eyes on the Lord, that’s the posture we need to take.

Prayer is like evaporated water that comes from the ocean. As we continue to pray it builds up in the clouds then the clouds move with the wind of God’s will and pour down their abundance of rain. Some say the bowls of intercession that we read about in Revelation 5:8 become full and overflow upon the earth. In other words, prayer produces fruit!. If we sow in prayer then we will reap in the fruit of answered prayer. But we must find a posture of prayer that enables us to fill the bowls in heaven with our intercession.

In response to the disciples question “teach us to pray”, Jesus says, “When you pray, say:” (Luke 11:2).  Jesus’ statement is not telling them a time or position of prayer, but rather indicates that prayer is an ordinary and normal function of a believer’s life. Jesus could have told them His favorite posture of prayer but He specifically didn’t, knowing it would cause His followers to make a religious ritual out of one set posture. Rather, He just conveys that we need to pray. Jesus’ only mention of a posture of prayer was moments earlier when He was referring to the way the Pharisees were standing on the street corner to be seen by man. Indicating that our heart must be right not our posture.

My sister loves to pray as she runs the trail along the rim of the Snake River canyon. But the point is not where or how we should pray, kneeling, sitting or lying down, but that our posture is conducive for us to pray.

I am Not Letting Go!

holding onOne of my favorite stories is found in Matthew 15:22-28, where we see a woman from Canaan come to Jesus. You could say she was from the other side of the tracks. Yet, I believe she came to the one person who she knew could help her daughter. In Mark’s gospel he records this same story in chapter 7:25. It says that she “Heard about Him, and she came and fell at His feet.” What did she hear? By her actions I believe she heard He was a merciful loving miracle worker; therefore she was persistent in getting His attention. She believed He was good and just, so she honored and worshipped Him as Lord. As if there was no other hope, this gentile woman cried out to Jesus for divine mercy, that her daughter would be delivered from the enemy’s grip.

The response she received could have easily discourage and offend her, causing her to give up. First, Jesus kept silent and did not answer. Most people hate the silent treatment—it deeply frustrates them. I think the majority of us in this situation would have stomped off offended. Right?

Secondly, Jesus says in a roundabout way that the miracle she desired was not for her. And as if that was not devastating enough He tells her that the promises were not for her. Then, He calls her a dog (Mk. 7:27)! But, instead of getting bitter and offended, this woman replies with the most astounding words. “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table,”(Mk. 7:28). She declares that the crumbs from the Master’s table are good enough for her situation. In essence, she says it only takes one crumb from the Master to solve her need.


                        Persistence and commitment in prayer will always bring a fruitful and rewarding result.   (Tweet)


            In all this, she is worshipping Him, undistracted by her feelings or her pride. Her persistence reveals the faith within her. I believe she had a glimpse of His heartbeat, therefore, she pressed in towards Him. In her time of great need, her request seemed to be long in coming, but she wouldn’t stop. Her faith was being purified and perfected to the point that Jesus announced that she had great faith! The result was her daughter was healed that very instant.

            As we press into His presence concerning His promises, we can be faced with elements that can cause us to either back down or press in harder. Sometimes, God is silent and at other times He deliberately offends our minds to reveal what’s in our hearts and to see if we are serious about seeking Him. If we tenaciously press in and not let go of His promises we will see them manifest. Too often, when our requests are slow to be answered we are offended and gripped with bitterness towards God. The bottom line is that we don’t understand God’s workings and therefore we are robbed many times of God’s miracles. We might not understand God’s ways, but He is always working in us both to will and to do for His pleasure. The same was true in this woman’s situation. He is always working in us for His glory.


     If we tenaciously press in and not let go of His promises we will see them manifest. (Tweet)


It’s God’s heart for us to walk in His purposes and blessings. However, there are often delays in what we ask because He desires to work in us things that will enable us to see the manifestation of His promises. When we understand these principles, then we will have a confidence and a persistence that will enable us to hold on to His promises until we see their fulfillment.

The Nature of Prayer

sunrise2I’d like to briefly highlight six different characteristics of prayer that we find in scripture. These are definitely not the only ones in scripture, but will be a great benefit. Each one is vital to the over-all power and strength that comes through a life committed to prayer.

First, there is adoration, which is to love deeply, to worship, idolize something. We see that in Matthew 14:33 where it says, “Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” Adoration brings our heart into focus and positions us to receive from the Lord.

Second, a more common aspect of prayer is confession, which is the disclosure of our wrong doing or our sins. In Nehemiah 1:6 it says, “Please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now…and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You…”  Also, in 1 John 1:9 we read, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us…” Someone once said, “Confession is good for the soul,” but it’s equally valuable for the spirit. It is crucial to make time in our prayer life where we are able to confess and be cleansed.

Third, there is petition and supplication, which is a solemn request, an entreaty, to ask for something humbly. We read in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Just as a parent loves to hear their children’s requests even so our Heavenly Father listens to us as we come and ask of Him.


I believe those that selflessly intercede for others in times of need will themselves reap great breakthrough    (Tweet)


Fourth, is intercession, which is entreating God on another’s behalf. Some refer to this as standing in the gap for someone else. In Acts 12:5 we read, “Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” This group of believers was specifically praying for Peter’s protection and deliverance, which was the key for his supernatural breakthrough. I believe those that selflessly intercede for others in times of need will themselves reap great breakthrough.

Fifth, is communion, a time of intimate interaction and sharing ones heart. It is much greater than just filling the time with talking. He desires for us to come into His presence and sit at His feet communicating our inner most thoughts with Him, with or without words.  We see Mary communing with Jesus in Lk 10:39 as she sat at His feet.

The Sixth and last characteristic of prayer that I will touch on is thanksgiving, which is the act of giving thanks to God. We need to have an attitude of thankfulness for what God has done or is doing or even what He is going to do. Giving thanks to the Lord is a big part of prayer. In Colossians 4:2 it says, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” We are also to “enter His gates with thanksgiving,” (Ps.100:4, nas).

All six of these facets compose a beautiful and powerful communication with our Savior and Lord. There are so many different aspects of a life of prayer. I encourage you not to be limited by man’s traditions or manmade formulas. Having your prayers filled with these different characteristics will bring a freshness and fulfillment in your time of prayer.

I Want It Now!

200157668-001A society surrounded by the convenience of instant everything, brings a slow death to the tenacious spirit. Many people want prayers answered before their lips stop moving, unfortunately, many times, it doesn’t happen that way. The scriptures teach us in Colossians 4:2, “to continue earnestly in prayer,” and in Romans 12:12, it says “continuing steadfastly in prayer.”  We are exhorted to be persistent in our prayer life.

Jesus shares a parable in Luke 18:1-8, driving home the point of persistent prayer. It says, “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’” Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily…”

                        A society surrounded by the convenience of instant everything,                                   brings a slow death to the tenacious spirit.    (tweet)

            When I was young, I was told that if I asked or prayed for something more than once I would be praying in unbelief. That’s totally contrary to scripture! The continual knocking or coming to the judge brought the widow’s answer. The Bible does say in James 1:6-8, that we must have faith when we pray, but being continuously in prayer doesn’t mean you have unbelief. On the contrary, I think it indicates that you do have faith in God. Your action of continual asking shows you believe He will answer.

I like what Marilyn Hickey says, “Prayers are like seeds that are watered daily. Different ones take different lengths of time to sprout and to grow.” If you think about the farmer’s process, he plants his seed then waters it day after day until he sees a sprout breaking through the soil. The farmer is like the diligent believer who plants his seed and then through continual prayers of faith waters it until the answer breaks through and comes to pass. Keeping with this analogy, if praying continually is wrong then the farmer watering his seed daily would also be wrong.

                    Many people want prayers answered before their lips stop moving,                          unfortunately, many times, it doesn’t happen that way     (Tweet)

            Let’s look at I Kings 18:41-45. We see Elijah telling Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of an abundance of rain.” Then Elijah went to the top of Mt. Carmel to pray. That’s when this story gets very interesting. After Elijah prayed, he sent his servant to look for rain clouds. Six times his servant checked and didn’t see anything, Elijah continued in prayer. The scriptures say, “Then it came to pass the seventh time that he said, ‘There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!’ The downpour from that small cloud broke three and a half years of drought. This all happened because Elijah wouldn’t quit praying—he had faith to be steadfast in prayer.

            Living a life of prayer will always be a life of adventure and power. Ephesians 6:18 tells us, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication … with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”  In other words be tenacious and persistent in prayer. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the answer to your prayers immediately. Keep knocking on Heaven’s door.