Private and corporate prayer
It is very clear in the gospel that we must know that the power of the conversion of sinners is not in us, but in God. Our sufficiency is not in us but in God and from God. Blessed are the meek for they shall be inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). Blessed are the poor in spirit for to them belong the kingdom of God (Matthew 5:3). Prayer is the channel whereby we access the infinite resources and strength and salvation of God. We come to God and know we are bankrupt spiritually in and of ourselves and we bank on the infinite power of God to make us willing and able to do His will and display the nature of Christ.
Prayer is the power of evangelism. It is the means God has ordained by which God will save the lost and build his church with the ministry of the word. Jesus set for us the example, as did many other saints in the Bible (David, Moses, Paul, Ezra; Daniel) of humility before God. If Jesus Christ needed the early morning hours of the day to commune with God, how much more we who are sinful and so prone to temptation and sin? For us to know the will and mind of God and to know the strength of God as we minister His word we ought to spend a lot of time with him alone. Early will I seek you (Psalm 63:1) the psalmist prayed. Moses prayed: “satisfy us early with your love that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14). An evangelist who neglects his time alone with God where he can commune with the Almighty will soon succumb to sin and temptation and become ineffective in ministry. How can we withstand the fiery darts of the evil one if we are not praying people?
How much time do you spend in the word of God daily in prayer and drawing strength from God? Here is a suggestion: Make an appointment with God every day where you will spend time alone with Him. Put your cellphone away and your tablet and computer and get away from things that will distract you, and get alone with God! Turn off the radio and television and hear from God! Listen to the authoritative, complete and sufficient revelation of God in Holy Scripture. Let your words be few when you pray. God is not impressed with a lot of words. In fact he commanded us not to use vain repetitions like the heathen do when we pray. God knows what we need before we pray (Matthew 6:6-8).
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God”
(Romans 8:26-27 ESV).
We don’t know what to pray as we ought! If we are left to ourselves we will only pray for our own needs and wants. Our prayers will be self-centered and self-serving. Therefore, let the word of God guide you in prayer. Let the agenda of God be your agenda. Let God’s priorities be your priorities! Let the mind of God be your mind. You may ask: How do I pray according to the Spirit and the mind of God? The answer is simple! Let the word of God guide you! In the Bible we find the mind of Christ. Jesus Christ set us the example when he taught us to how pray in Matthew 6:9-11. He showed us the parameters of our prayer-life.
“Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:9-13 ESV)
If we look closely at this prayer we see the following:
God’s glory, the coming of God’s kingdom and the establishment of God’s will in all things on earth as it is in heaven should be our focus in prayer. Our needs, our forgiveness, our protection and our guidance should be of secondary importance. They are not unimportant, but they are of secondary importance. That God’s Name be hallowed and glorified, that God’s kingdom should come in politics, in our schools, in our courts, in our families, in our businesses and everywhere on earth, that God’s moral laws be obeyed and honored, that all may hear the good news of the gospel (Mark 16:15), that disciples be made of all ethnic groups on the face of the earth (Matthew 28:18-20), that laborers be sent out into God’s harvest fields (Matthew 9:35-38) etcetera, should dominate our prayers.
This simple acrostic should also guide you in prayer: ACTS
A – Adoration – Adoring and worshipping and praising God for His greatness and love and grace and justice and all His divine perfections should be present everyday while we pray. We see this principal so many times in the book of Psalms.
C – Confession – Ask God to make you aware of your sins and confess them with contrition towards God. Humble yourself before God and He will lift you up. If we say we have no sin the truth is not in us, but if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (1 John 1:8-9).
T – Thanksgiving – Thank God regularly (1 Thessalonians 5:16) for the forgiveness of sins by the blood of Jesus. Thank Him in all things because that is the will of God. Know that everything we have and are has been given to us by God: Resources, money, opportunities, daily necessities, salvation, the Holy Spirit, difficulties, sufferings etc. Count your blessings one by one. What I sometimes do is to name 10 things to be thankful for in a day.
S – Supplication – Focus on God’s priorities first as said before but then pray also for your own needs and problems and challenges and those in your church, for friends and family who are facing challenges.
Private prayer should include these things but especially in the work of evangelism we should also pray corporately together as a church and with Christian Ministries and Christians who know us well. I have been in many different churches and it has always been a great blessing to spend hours with other believers praying for the particular outreach or ministry or people in my fellowship. To pray corporately with other believers is not only an example in the Bible given to us to follow but commanded in the Bible:
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;”(1 Timothy 2:1-2, 8 ESV)
“And they (the believers) devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42 ESV)
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12 ESV)
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16 ESV)
“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:18-20 ESV)
The great apostle Paul asked that the church pray for him that he might proclaim the mystery of the gospel. He knew that in his own ability, in his own wisdom, in his own strength, it would not have been possible for the kingdom of God to go forward. As I said before, without a vibrant prayer life, privately and corporately, our efforts in evangelism would be futile. Therefore, any person who endeavors to obey the word of God in proclaiming and distributing and sharing the word and gospel of God should be on their knees frequently, in private and with the local church and the ministry you are involved in. God has chosen to work through his church and to divorce your life from the prayer meeting at your church or your mission is to outrightly disobey God. Our evangelism and ministries for the Lord should be bathed in prayer and be bathed in the prayers of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The work of evangelism and preaching the word should never be divorced from private and corporate prayer. No soldier of God can withstand the onslaughts of the evil one without regular times of prayer and having a prayerful disposition! It is sheer lunacy and a sign of a proud heart to attempt to evangelize without living a prayer-life.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)
May God grant us the focus, the desire, and the vision to be people of prayer. God will work as we bow down before Him in repentance and as we seek the coming of His kingdom and the glorification of His Name in all things!