We usually see prayer as a comfort – and so it is. But it is something much more than that: it is a powerful weapon.
2 Corinthians 10:4 tells us that we are fighting a war, and that the Christian’s weapons are not carnal (of the flesh), but spiritual – and mighty, with divine power, to destroy strongholds.
Prayer is a weapon we can use anywhere! Lock us up, and chain us to the wall, and people can still pray!
Like “the Word of God,” prayer cannot be bound.
That is why the enemy doesn’t stand a chance.
Totalitarian countries commit godly people to prison, thinking that will make them less ‘dangerous’, not knowing that they are letting off a tirade of powerful prayer against themselves and their evil systems.
Samson – blinded and chained – prayed, and at that moment he killed more of Israel’s enemies than he had done in all his life put together!
Elijah – a human being (just like us) PRAYED! And miracles happened.
So if there’s one thing the enemy doesn’t want us to do, it is pray! And so he sees to it that our minds wander, and our eyelids get heavy. Watch the disciples in Gethsemane. At the most critical moment in the history of the world, they fall asleep.
Oh we can have all the free speech that we want. Free speech will not help us all that much in today’s battles.
But if we really want to fight the enemy, and destroy his strongholds, the weapon is at our disposal. It is PRAYER!
In this month’s PULPIT:-
- Seeking The Lord
- The Big IFs of Answered Prayer
- The Sin of Prayerlessness
Seeking the Lord
Background: 2 Chronicles 20.
Today we shall watch a man named Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat knew he should seek the Lord.
There is a time to seek the Lord!
“And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast through-out all Judah.” — 2 Chronicles 20:3.
Some problems are dealt with by our own endeavours. For example financial problems can be solved by getting a job! Earning enough – or spending less.
(Whatever the ‘prosperity preachers’ teach! – as well as obeying biblical principles.
When it comes to financial burdens, biblical principles do apply:
“Give , and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” — Luke 6:38.
“Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness…” — 2 Corinthians 9:10.
When it comes to reaping remember: We reap what we sow. We reap more than we sow. We reap later than we sow.
However, some problems need God’s special help.
That was the situation for Jehoshaphat:
“It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle. Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi.” — 2 Chronicles 20:1-2.
Jehospahat recognized that he needed the Lord’s help in a special way.
Some of us may never face a marauding army, but there are situations about which it is time we sought the Lord:-
- Unsaved families.
- Worldliness in the Church.
- A pagan nation.
Right now is the time for us to seek the Lord!
Although we cannot just decide to pray, and have a revival, remember: Every real revival has been preceded by prayer!
There is a place to seek the Lord!
“And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee? Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying, If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.” — 2 Chronicles 20:5-9.
Did you notice that statement?
“For Thy Name is in this house!”
Jehoshaphat called the people to pray in God’s House.
God’s House is dedicated to God.
God does not live in temples made with hands.
We ourselves are temples of the Holy Spirit if we are born again.
But those two facts can become an excuse for our not attending the “house of God” for prayer.
There is something special about a place set apart for prayer.
For the early Church it was the Upper Room. In that upper room they…
- Celebrated the Passover!
- Listened about Christ’s Passion!
- Sought the Lord in Prayer!
- Received the Holy Spirit!
In the desert Jacob was aware of God’s presence. He said surely the Lord is in this place. And he called it Bethel: ‘House of God’.
This building is a special place of prayer. It is dedicated to God.
The Lord’s Name is honoured in His House.
“LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.” — Psalms 26:8.
Beloved, His Name is honoured in this house!
In this church we do not honour a denomination…
… We do not promote a pastor in this place…
…Here we uplift the Name of the Lord!
We commend this place as a place to seek the Lord!
There is a way to seek the Lord!
First of all we must be united in purpose and vision.
Remember the early Church met in one accord!
Also together, with our brothers and sisters. Sometimes we must pray alone, but if we can do so it is so encouraging to pray with others.
“And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.” — 2 Chronicles 20:4.
And we should meet together with our families.
“And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.” — 2 Chronicles 20:13.
And again we must not come doubting. We assemble with faith.
As he prayed, Jehoshaphat recalled the wonders and exploits that God had done for His People earlier.
We do not try to remind God of what He can do – we remind ourselves what God can do, so that our faith will soar.
God responds to faith.
Also notice this: we must pray with worshipping hearts.
“And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD. And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud voice on high.” — 2 Chronicles 20:18-19.
“And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.” — 2 Chronicles 20:21-22.
The Big IFS of Answered Prayer
Reading: Daniel Chapters 9/10.
In Daniel 10 there is an interesting verse that gives us a clue about the organization of spirits – angelic and demonic.
Here’s the verse:
“Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” — Daniel 10:12-13.
The implication is this: “prince” of Persia appears to be the ruler of a demonic principality.
Daniel displayed five qualities. We may call them the Five IFS of Answered Prayer…
First of all a right heart.
“And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: – Daniel 9:3-5.
David said “IF I regard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear me!”
Nothing will shut Heaven’s door like sin!
“When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them…” — 1 Kings 8:35.
A right heart will unlock the door of heaven.
“And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” — 2 Chronicles 7:12-14.
Then Daniel had a right motive.
“O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.” — Daniel 9:16.
James said: “IF you ask with a right motive, then you will receive.” (implied). “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.” — James 4:2.
Daniel’s motive was not focused on himself. His motive was two fold: He had a heart for Jerusalem.
The city of David has a special place in God’s heart. We should: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” and remember: “they shall prosper that love thee.”
He also cared about God’s people.
And his motive was for the welfare of God’s people. They had become a reproach to all around. The Church in the world should be a powerful motivation for our prayers.
Next we see that this man had a right relationship.
Peter said: “IF we treat our loved ones right, then our prayers will not be obstructed.
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” — 1 Peter 3:7.
Right relationships really do matter. Daniel recognized this, and so he worked on relationships: with his God, and with God’s family.
“Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.” — Daniel 9:21-23.
Gabriel told him that he was greatly loved in heaven! What a wonderful relationship with the Heavenly Father.
What is more, he was united in prayer with God’s people. (See 2:17-18) And do you remember the story of Job? Job’s captivity was turned when he prayed for his friends!
Also Daniel had a right priority.
“O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desola-tions, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.” — Daniel 9:16-18.
John said: “IF we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: — 1 John 5:14.
Daniel’s priority was the Name of the Lord! And also to know the will of the Lord. As he read Jeremiah’s word he recognized that this was an important time for prophetic fulfilment. And he wanted to know God’s plan (will) for Israel
We need to learn to honour the Lord. Let that – and only that – be your priority.
Finally, this man had a right attitude.
Daniel sought the Kingdom of God:-
Fervently – Vs. 3.
Humbly – Vs. 7.
Thankfully – Vs. 9
Respectfully – Vs. 14.
Expectantly – Vs. 15.
The Sin of Prayerlessness
Did you know that it is a sin not to pray?
“Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way…” — 1 Samuel 12:23.
The greatest battle of prayer ever fought took place in the Garden of Gethsemane:
“And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father , if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.” — Luke 22:39-47.
Those three disciples had been with Him on the most important occasions.
Now He really needed them to watch and pray, they were asleep.
Sadly, however, we probably only know a handful of people who are really people of prayer! And if that is true, it goes without saying that we as individuals may not really be people of prayer.
But let’s focus our attention on the prayerlessness of the disciples, and we can see five reasons why it’s a sin not to pray:-
- They disobeyed God’s command!
Jesus told them to watch with Him. He is God, they disobeyed His command.
God’s commandments are not optional. They are not just suggestions!
Prayer is everyone’s ministry. Prayer is the one thing we all can do. Not all of us can sing, or preach, but we can all pray. Unfortunately, oftentimes when people talk about “taking an active part” – they really mean being in the public eye! And prayer isn’t something we do in public.
Prayer is a constant ministry. Jesus said: “Men ought always to pray and not to faint.” Luke 18:1.
Paul put it this way: “Pray without ceasing!” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
Can you imagine if there were certain days of the year when God did not permit us to pray! He is always willing to hear and answer, we must always be ready to pray.
“Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” — Psalms 121:4.
It is a command to pray – to ignore that command is sinful.
- They rejected God’s promises!
“Ask , and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you..” — Matthew 7:7.
There are very precious promises for those who pray. Not to pray is to reject the promises that God gives to people who do pray. If Jesus said “Ask & ye shall receive” – it is obvious we shall NOT receive if we do not ask!
How can we take spoils without winning wars? How can we win spiritual wars without using our spiritual weapons, like prayer?
- They forfeited fellowship with God!
“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” — James 4:8.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” — Hebrews 4:16.
There in the Garden, at the most crucial moment, they forfeited fellowship with God.
When we love someone we want to be with them. Those who love God seek His company. Though they were only a stone’s throw away from the Master, they were asleep.
- Their spiritual growth was retarded!
“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” — 1 Peter 4:7.
We often recognize that we don’t seem to be growing as we should!”
But are we praying as we should?
We are fed spiritually by the Word – but our inner man is EXERCISED by prayer.
I dare not think what would have happened had Jesus not prayed that day!
But I do know what happened when Peter failed to pray – the test came, and he didn’t have the strength to resist it!
And this great man of God looked like a frightened youth in the glow of the courtyard fire – when confronted with a young woman!
We may be optimists, but to face this pagan society we are going to need more than a bright outlook.
“Men ought always to pray and not to faint.” – Fainting, failing, is the outcome of prayerlessness.
Our failures are all prayer failures!
The withering away of joy in my heart comes from prayerlessness. Our indecision, lack of wisdom, lack of guidance, all result from our lack of prayer!
That’s why the devil wants us to do anything, and everything, except PRAY!
- They could have given an advantage to God’s enemy!
When we do not pray, we help the enemy.
Judas was leading the soldiers.
Jesus had told them: “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” — John 14:30.
This was the greatest battle of all time.
They could have helped, but failed – and in His moment of need – crushed with the weight of a world’s sin – God had to send an angel to strengthen Him!
We need to learn that if we do not pray we could give an advantage to God’s enemies.
Ahab was an enemy of God. But one man stood up against him! He was a man just like us, but HE PRAYED! And the nation was revived.
“Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” — James 5:17-18.