The power of intercession

Offering intercessory prayer means nothing other than Christians bringing one another into the presence of God, seeing each other under the cross of Jesus as poor human beings and sinners in need of grace. Then, everything about other people that repels me falls away. Then I see them in all their need, hardship, and distress. Their need and their sin become so heavy and oppressive to me that I feel as if they were my own, and I can do nothing else but bid: Lord, you yourself, you alone, deal with them according to your firmness and your goodness. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Prayers of the Day

Prayer for Mission

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

A Psalm 

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Ps. 103:1-5)

This is my specific prayer when I come to Psalm 103:

He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel

I don’t want to sit back seeing what God did. I want to see what God IS doing. I want to know his ways, not just his actions.

What God IS doing is calling his Church to prayer. The question is this: will we respond? 

These past few weeks we have prayed for a missionary friend, a pastor friend, some teens in our church and attached to our church… and now another minister in our District who was in a serious motorcycle accident last night.

There is also the deeply urgent prayers needed for Nigeria. You’ve probably heard about the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. 300 girls stolen out of a town in Nigeria and promised to be sold by Boko Haram. Now, more bombings in towns and almost 150 dead in just the past two days.

These are days for prayer. The Lord IS calling his Church back to prayer. May we heed that call.

The concert of prayer

I don’t know how to pray. I don’t know a thing about prayer.

Not really.

I read about prayer. I read Scripture. I read from people of prayer, from people who have gloriously walked with God, and yet… I don’t know how to prayer.

These past few weeks have stretched me in interecessory prayer like I have yet to be stretched. We have called out on God together for a missionary friend who was in a coma and is now on the clear road to recovery. That has led to intercession for unreached people groups and missionaries in those hard areas. It has led to prayer for other workers to join in those hard harvest areas.

But I don’t know how to pray.

That battle seems to be on the road to victory, and then a good friend who I went to college with and pastors a church in the same metro area is now in the hospital battling for HIS life.

We have battled in prayer in our church this week for two teen suicides (one an attempt, one who eventually died as a result). We’ve battled for a mother whose wayward son has been in a horrific car accident and he needs the Lord and healing.

We have battled in prayer for those battling depression.

The attacks of the enemy are severe.

I think I am more aware because as I have prayed I have become more alert. But as I’ve become more alert I’ve come to this frightening conclusion: I don’t know how to prayNot like this.

The other night the Spirit had me stay up in prayer saying to me, “If you’re going to the be the ‘spiritual father’ I have asked you to be, and you’ve said you want this, then you need to realize that just as a father you would spend the night up for your own sons, I am asking you to do the same for these kids.”

I don’t know how to pray.

But WHEN we pray… something powerful is so incredibly possible. In a CONCERT of prayer, where a bunch of people who don’t feel adequate to pray will just PRAY… something magnificent is possible.

The prayers of the saints are lifted to God and he can respond. Rev. 8:1-5 is a powerful picture of what will happen if we will JUST PRAY.

In my inadequacy, I can still offer up my prayers. We all can offer up our prayers in whatever form we can get them out!

And when we do… God hears. He may actually quiet heaven for us as we pray.

So… we pray. We pray for Pastor John Goodman. We pray for Missionary Steve Sullivan. We pray for our teens. We pray for those battling depression. We pray… even if we don’t know “how” to pray… we lift up what we have as the best of what we can do… and the aroma has that opportunity to reach the presence of God.

Pray.

Living Dead

There is an organization in missions called “Live Dead.”

There is a new generation being called to go the hardest places of the world to proclaim and live out the gospel of Jesus Christ. The challenge is great because for too many years we have called these “closed” countries “hard” to the gospel. They are hard to the gospel because no one has gone into those areas to live out the gospel. When you have a nation flooded with missionaries and new national churches and people being saved, we can call it “revival.” Sometimes we should just call it “numbers.”

The most difficult thing in this challenge is not about the people going. It is about those who stay. It is about me. I don’t go. I am not “less” of a Christian, and there isn’t anyone in “Live Dead” that would say that about Christians in the developed world. It is not a status of being “super Christian.”

But the huge question for me is how to challenge myself and my congregation to think more about “living dead” right here. In the land of plenty we have a great challenge. We don’t “need” God like we think we do… and it’s difficult. You have to call yourself to more, and ask the Spirit to call you to more.

For the next 18 days there is a prayer challenge. I can “live dead” in prayer. I can ask for the Spirit to move in the hardest places in the Arab world. For the next 18 days I can be praying for 18 countries with the realization that prayer can get me anywhere in the world without a passport. I don’t need a visa. There isn’t a “closed” country in prayer.

But I must “live dead” to the distractions of my own culture to truly intercede for these great nations.

Let us rise to the challenge wherever we are in the world. Let us pray, really pray, for the “hardest” places left in the world. Let us pray for a fresh wind of the Spirit to move through those lands.

Behind-the-scenes-power

The true power of prayer is always behind the scenes. It is the power that generates the movement of God and we often don’t have any idea of the “true events” of a revival or miracle until later. What we often find out later is God was moving someone to prayer.

Mark Batterson writes in Draw the Circle:

Prayer is the pen that writes history. Don’t worry about headlines; focus on the footnotes. And if you focus on the footnotes, God will write the headlines.

Heaven is full of great surprises. It will be “fun” to recognize the great heroes we all had in the faith. But what will shock us is the attention given to people we just don’t know. People who never made the headlines, never pastored a church (let alone a megachurch), never wrote a great theological treatise… but people who knew how to intercede. People who knew how to get into the presence of God for others.