THE RESTORATION OF PRAYER
A heart-broken little girl began to kneel and pour out her heart to God at the altar at her local church. She did not know what to say. As she wept speechless, she began to remember what her Father had told her, "God knows your needs even before you pray, and he can answer when you don’t even know for what to ask." So she began to say her alphabet. A concerned adult from that church knelt beside her and heard her sobbing and saying her ABC’s and inquired what exactly she was trying to do. The little girl told this caring adult, "I’m praying to God from my heart." But the adult answered, "It sounds to me more like you are saying the alphabet!" "Yes," she said, "But God knows more about what I need than I do, and he can take all these letters and arrange them in just the right way to hear and answer my prayers!"
This little girl understood the kind of prayers that God will hear, accept and possibly answer. They that do not often contain eloquent words but are accompanied by heartfelt agony and urgency. I am afraid when it comes to prayer at times children seems to display more understanding than the adults. Once a man asked an evangelist “how can we have revival?” The evangelist answered by asking “Do you have a place where you can pray?” Yes the man replied. Tell you what to do, go to that place and take a piece of chalk along. Kneel down there, and with the chalk draw a complete circle around you and pray for God to send revival on everything inside that circle. Stay there until He answers, and you will have your revival.
For the past week we have been talking about and asking God to send us revival in our Church. What revives a dead or nearly dying church? It is not more programs, events, cookouts and not even hearing inspiring sermons, attending spiritual conferences and retreats. It takes personal revival in the lives of the individual members of a church. That revival can only come by a heartfelt, and earnest prayers. Last week I said in my sermon that “Repentance leads to restoration.”
We have repented and sought God’s forgiveness. Now I believe that God wants to restore four things back to us. In the next few weeks we will be looking at four areas of restoration: The restoration of prayer, the restoration of the Word, the restoration of worship and the restoration of discipleship. Today we will look at, “THE RESTORATION OF PRAYER. I will talk about, the necessity of prayer, prayer as a relationship with God and God’s promises concerning prayer.
I.THE NECESSITY OF PRAYER.
Have you wondered, is prayer really necessary? If so why? Isn’t God sovereign? Doesn’t that mean He accomplishes what He wants, when He wants? If so why pray? Dutch sheets in his book Intercessory prayer answers this question and many other questions on the subject of prayer. I want to look at what the Bible has to say why prayer is absolutely necessary in the life of an individual believer and the life of a Church.
Prayer, just like breathing is absolutely necessary for Christians, the moment we stop praying from that moment we will slowly but surely die spiritually. We are living in a high pressured society which has a claim on our time. Trying to juggle through our busy schedules the first thing we neglect is to carve some time to pray during the day or night. Wilma and I have to be intentional to protect those private and corporate times of prayer. Over the years we realized that we desperately need God in our lives and Prayer is the link that connects us with God.
Throughout the scriptures we see God and humans, for better or worse working together. After the fall, Adam and Eve had a son and named him Seth. Seth also had a son and he named him Enosh. “At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.” Gen 4:26. That was the beginnings of prayer. When the wickedness of men was increasing on the earth, God regretted that he had made them. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” Genesis 6:8. God used Noah to build the Ark.
After the flood, the whole earth was steeped in idolatry, from among the Idol worshipers, God called Abraham out of his, family, and country and made a nation out of Him. Genesis 12. The rest is the History.
Israelites were slaves for 400 years in Egypt. They were in bondage and mistreated so badly. Out of their anguish the cried out to God, (another word for prayer). “The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.” Genesis 2:23-25.
There is another scripture in where we actually see God searching for people who could pray so that he would not destroy a nation. Even common people oppress the poor, rob the needy, and deprive foreigners of justice. “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.” Ezekiel 22:30-31. These are just a few scriptures where we see people needing God and God needing people. In reality, we need God more than God needing us. However several scriptures indicate that God acted when His people prayed. God was silent when His people did not pray.
These scriptures do send us a message that prayer is absolutely necessary. I believe our prayers can bring revival. They have the power to heal, restore families and marriages. They can change lives, they can bring sinners to Christ. They can break addictions. They can even change nations. E.M Bounds once said, “God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil… The prayers of God’s saints are the capital stock of heaven by which God carries on His great work upon earth. God conditions the very life and prosperity of His cause on prayer.”
I agree with this statement. Let me explain why. When we see all around us chaos, danger, violence, murders, and unrest, partly the reason is that there are no more capital stocks of prayer in heaven by which God carries on His great work upon earth. There has been a worldwide prayer movement which began in the seventies continued until the nineties. There were qualitative and quantitative prayer initiatives.
Pastors gave high priority for prayer, children were praying fervently and effectively, there were many prayer ministries, theological seminaries were offering courses on prayer even secular magazines have been featuring cover stories about prayer. In the 90s there has been an intensified focus on praying for the Muslim world. A 40 Day prayer guide was printed and translated into many languages. I was involved in praying and raising prayer for Muslims, back in India. For a while we have let the prayer guard down, and there was the 9/11 attack and the world has never been safe since that time. This tells me that the intercession of God’s people will indeed change lives and push back evil. God can use our prayers to accomplish his purposes. A 30 day prayer focus for the Muslim world is planned for 6th June-July5th. Let’s join others and intercede for the Muslim world, they desperately need the savior.
II PRAYER AS THE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
Prayer not only connects us with God it also opens up an intimate relationship between God and all those who call on His name. Prayer is based on God’s love for believers. Through his grace, he gives them things which they do not deserve, while through his mercy he shields them from those things which they do deserve, like any loving father would do to their children. We as God’s children can turn to our father in prayer at any time and from anywhere. Isaiah 64:8-9, “Yet you Lord are our father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are the work of your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord; do not remember our sins forever.” Psalm 103:13-14, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”
Under the new covenant, that relationship has not changed, it only strengthened. Jesus approached God as his father, so we too can call God our father. Our Lord taught us to address God “Our Father” when we pray. Mt 6:9-10“Our Father in heaven hallowed by your name, your kingdom come your will be done, one earth as it is in heaven...” Lk 11:9-13, so I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” What happens when we pray?
III. PROMISES OF GOD CONCERNING PRAYER:
Just like a father would hear his children, God promises to hear and respond to the prayers of his people, when they pray in the name of his Son and according to his will. In fact God invites his people to make requests of him in prayer. Mt 21:22, “If you believe you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” God not only asks us to ask him but he also promises to answer prayers that are offered in the name of Jesus Christ. Jn 14:13-14, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me anything in my name, and I will do it.”
God promises to respond to our prayers in times of need. Ps 91:14-16 “Because he loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” God promises to hear the prayers of the oppressed Ps 10:17. God promises to hear the prayers of the truly repentant 2Ch 7:14 and finally God promises to hear the prayers of his obedient children 1Jn 3:22.
So far we have looked at three major components of prayer. Prayer is absolutely necessary for a believer, without which he or she will surely spiritually die. Prayer opens up a beautiful relationship with God as that of a father and son or daughter relationship. God promised to hear and answer us when we sincerely, and earnestly pray to him in His Son’s name. Dear friend how has your prayer life been off late? Do you pray at all? My prayer for all of us is that God will restore prayer in our church. Let’s ask the Lord to teach us how to pray. So that we may grow in our prayer life and learn to pray the prayers that are closer to His heart. Amen