Prayer masterclass (Matthew 6:5-15)
Why pray? (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Praying like Elijah
‘Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit’ (James 5:17-18).
It is easy to feel insignificant. As individuals, we might feel past our prime, unable to contribute in the ways we once did. Our resources; money, time, energy, may all seem depleted.
Even when we look beyond ourselves to the community of believers to which we belong, we feel small and insignificant. Finances are tight. Our influence feels negligible. We long to see people saved, but it has been some time since that happened.
But what an encouragement we have in these verses! How surprising, seeing the great Elijah compared to little, insignificant us, and to find ourselves on level footing! He was a man with a nature like ours!
There was nothing in him that made him powerful. Nothing in him gave him authority over the skies and the rain. Yet he prayed, and God answered, God acted.
The power was not in Elijah, but the God who responds to the prayer of his people. We call on the God who reigns over it all. The God who does not divide his people into those he will listen to and those he won’t.
So, let us pray. Let us pray bold prayers. Outlandish prayers! Prayers for ourselves, the church, our nation, the world. Even if we struggle to believe it could ever happen, let us pray, remembering that we are just like Elijah, and God listened to him. He ‘is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think’ (Eph 3:20). Let us devote ourselves to prayer.
Praying for deliverance and acceptance
‘I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints’ (Rom 15:30-31).
Paul is a Bible hero. It’s easy to read his story, to read his wise, challenging and caring words in his letters, and think he was self-sufficient. He could travel place to place, endure stoning and ridicule and arrest, and based on his own strength he could knuckle through it all: alone, and strong.
But this is to misread him. For one thing, he was a team player. He was always with others, and when he was alone he longed to have friends with him. Read Acts and you see Barnabas, Silas, Timothy and others. Read through his letters and continually you’ll come across names of his fellow workers.
More than this, however, he never relied on his own strength. He always asked churches for prayer. Paul knew his dependence on God. He knew that God was in control of all circumstances; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Are you in prayer for the ministry in Eaglehawk? That not only will we be delivered from unbelievers – from antagonism and unjust laws – but also that those unbelievers would become believers? Are you praying that the ministry would be acceptable to the saints here, that we would all be unified in the truth, loving one another and proclaiming together the mysteries of the gospel?
Would you like some guidance in your prayers? Join the prayer team, calling on God to work in and through our church, knowing that you are joining with others praying the same thing.
Serving through prayer
‘Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ … that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak’ (Col 4:2-4).
One of the great tragedies of the modern church, and many modern Christians, is our prayerlessness. When you consider the great moments of the Christian church, there’s always at least one thing they have in common – God’s people were praying.
And how could it be any other way? Christians have always known that God is absolutely in control. All things – whether the affairs of nations or the concerns of our own lives – are completely in his hands. And because God’s people knew he was in control, they turned to him.
In our day and age we love being independent. We fool ourselves into thinking we can do it ourselves. How easy so many of us find it to go through our entire day without a word of prayer! We forget how dependent we are on God for everything – even our very next breath.
But Paul was very aware of his need, and so he called the Colossians to prayer. He wasn’t too proud to ask for prayer because he knew that without God, he was powerless.
Are you praying for our church? For the people in it, its ministries, the people around us? Without God we can do nothing.
Are you feeling unable to contribute to the life of the church beyond attending on Sundays? Don’t! You can still serve! Be part of what God is doing among us – join the prayer team we are forming. Devote yourself to prayer, and see what God does through you, for his glory.