Psalm 141:5: Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; it is oil upon the head; Do not let my head refuse it, For still my prayer is against their wicked deeds.
Paul asked for prayer from a church so that he will be delivered from wicked and unreasonable men (2Thessalonians 3:1-5). In the focus verse, the psalmist takes his destiny into his own hands. He knows that if he did not pray against the works of the evil men, they will run him down, run him over, and mess him up. He refused to let that happen, to let down his guard, to live in a fool’s paradise, he refused to be lazy in prayer.
Paul said: we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against spiritual wickedness in high place, against the rulers of the darkness of this world (Ephesians 6:10-18). We are constantly in run-ins with all these fallen angels, who are all in the service of the devil. We should realise that there is the dark side to this world, set against you, not to make things easy for you. But you have a tool you can use to tilt the balance of power in your favour, and that is prayer.
Recognising and utilising the power of prayer is one of the first laws of a successful life, because prayer is the means to establish control in the realm of the spirit, because what is seen is derived from the unseen (Hebrews 11:3). What is seen is derived from the unseen and it is in prayer we engage with unseen forces. We cannot see them but we know they are there because the bible says so.
Paul said: the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (not physical but spiritual) but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds (2Corinthians 10:3-5). There are strongholds to be pulled down. Each place has its challenges. The tragedy is when you do not recognise that for a different place you need a different prayer game plan to deal with the challenge. As we move on in life, even if we continue to stay in a physical location, we are still moving from one spiritual location to the other. That is the call to spiritual sensitivity in the place of prayer. Thus Jesus said: watch and prayer (Matthew 26:41).
For Paul who goes from place to place, each place has different spiritual challenge. What may be relevant in a place may not be so in another place as you make progress in the spiritual realm. But God prepares us in prayer.
It was in a place of prayer that Paul and Barnabas were prepared and sent forth into the gentile world as pioneers with the message of power and the gospel (Acts 13:1-3), opening the door of faith to the gentiles (Acts 14:27).
There must not be a work of God that is not birthed in prayer. When Jesus was in ministry his life was marked by prayer. He immersed himself in it.
When His disciples were unable to deliver a child brought by his father from the oppression of the devil, they asked Jesus why they could not cast it out. Jesus said that it was because they did not pray enough, but earlier he had said that they faith was faulty.
There was therefore an established relationship between faith and prayer. Prayer enhances faith and faith is the basis of prayer. And what did the bible says we use to overcome the world? Our faith (1John 4:4).
Therefore it is clear that an overcoming life in close relationship with prayer, with Jesus saying: men ought always to pray and not to faint (Luke 18:1).
Prayer was core to the life of Jesus. But it was not the dry lifeless practice of the Pharisees. Jesus came with a different concept of prayer that presupposes that you can have intimacy with God, and that prayer can be a window into that.
He also implied that prayer had effect, as against the mere religious observance modelled of the Pharisees. He gave extensive lectures on prayer backed with succinct parables. It was very important for him to restructure the apostles in the proper practice of prayer, so that when he leaves, they will move on with the mandate to build the church with the overcoming spirit.
Therefore when the church was formed in the book of Acts, prayer was a basic part of it. The disciples church joined the church were trained in the practice. It was something they did corporately. When they prayed, it was with expectation, with faith, with the sense of that the operation of the Holy Spirit is associated with their praying.
When the apostles were getting distracted by issues regarding the distribution of food, they repented and redefined their purpose as being about prayer and the ministry of the word, in that order (Acts 6:4).
In the letter of the apostles, we see the importance of prayer. Paul documented what his prayers for some of the churches are, he also incorporate prayer in his letters. Those were windows to what he thought were important for the churches.
He made it a practice to ask for prayer for himself, meaning that though an apostle, he was not without challenges, for which he needed the prayer support of the churches. Being an Apostle did not exempt him from going through stuffs. He told the church in Philippi that he knows that through their prayers he will be delivered from incarceration (Philippians 1:19).
Jesus made it clear that prayer is not what you do for the approval of men (Matthew 6:5-15), it is not the mere mouthing of words, it is relationship with God; it is serious spiritual engagement. It is communication with
God who made the ear, and obviously can hear (Psalm 94:9), a God who wants nothing more that to be in full fellowship with man, after thousands of years of a break.
Through Jesus, prayer now means connection with God and not just expression of the mind to God, which makes it a vital part of our lives, not something we do but something we are, which Paul captured by saying: pray without ceasing (1Thessalonians 5:17).
Peter said that we should gird our loins (always be in full alertness and readiness) for serious engagement in prayer (1Peter 4:7). James wrote that the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous makes tremendous power available (James 5:16). Though we do not see the realm of the spirit, it is clear that when we pray we are putting on our spiritual gear and making things happen there.
The most important work we can do is the work of prayer. It is the work in secret that God will reward publicly according to the words of Jesus, and because of that, he wants to prime us to put premium on prayer. Are you submitting to his priming?
- Church Leadership (calvarychapelns.wordpress.com)
- – Pray for Your Pastor – (hiseternalword.wordpress.com)
- Help Me Do Better (thispastorsopinion.wordpress.com)
- Encouraging Your Child (ithink2day.wordpress.com)
- Reaching Out (lehdsn.wordpress.com)
- Prevailing Prayer (leadmeintheeverlastingway.com)
- – The Sovereignty of Prayer – (hiseternalword.wordpress.com)