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Using Tragedy to Pray

Seems as if everyday we find news coming out of evil abounding.  People murdering people.  People lying.  People giving themselves to sexual immorality and to drugs.  We see the work of the devil all around us.  We see politicians lying, sports stars living in wickedness, and yes, sadly, the church has its own people falling into sin.  We need only to look in the mirror to know that sin abounds (Romans 3:23).

I believe that before we take to social media to talk about the sin around us and in us, we need to go to our knees to pray.  I believe the Lord can use tragedy to help us pray with His heart for this lost world.  The Lord is no doubt the Savior of the lost (Luke 19:10) and He draws sinners to Himself by His grace (John 6:44) but He also uses the means of grace to bring the lost to Himself.  This is true for Arminians as it is for our Calvinist brethren.  The Lord uses the means of preaching (1 Corinthians 1:21) and the means of prayer to bring sinners to salvation (Romans 10:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-2).  The God of glory allows us (fallen human beings) to join with Him in prayer to labor for souls (1 Corinthians 3:9).

When we see wickedness around us, let us pray.  When we see people living in sin around us, let us pray.  When we hear of Muslims committing works of evil, let us pray.  When we hear of cults, let us pray.  When we hear of Christians falling into sin, let us pray.  When we hear of loved ones who are living in sin, let us pray.  When we hear the news of evil, let us pray.

Let us pray for the souls to be saved.  Let us pray for God to send forth workers to work His harvest fields (Matthew 9:37-38).  Let us pray for the Word to go forth and bear fruit to the glory of God (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2). Let us pray for cities and nations to experience revival (Acts 2:17-18).  Let us pray for the Lord to bring sinners to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  Let us pray for holiness in the Church (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Let us pray for the glory of God to fill His Church (Ephesians 3:20-21).

We live in this world as ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).  We can speak to people for God but we also can speak to God for people.  God doesn’t hear the cries of wicked sinners who have not repented of their sins (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:2; John 9:31) but He does hear those of His children (Psalm 34:15).  As His children, we have the right (John 1:12-13) to come into His holy presence through His Son (John 14:12-14; Hebrews 4:14-16).  We have a faithful high priest before the Father and we can approach the throne of God through faith in the Lord Jesus who died for our sins and now sits at the right hand of God praying for us (Hebrews 7:25).  Through the name of Jesus, we have the right to pray and the Lord hears our cries.  The Bible says that He acknowledges the humble (Psalm 147:11).

As we pray, let us praise with the Psalmist and rejoice that God hears our prayers (Psalm 66:20).  Let us pray,

“Come and hear, all who fear God, and I will tell of what He has done for my soul.  I cried to Him with my mouth, and He was extolled with my tongue.”  – Psalm 66:16-17 (NASB)

We have the joy of praying for the nations, for the lost, for the Church, for God to be glorified.  Let us not waste this time by wasting our energy on social media ranting about evil but let us pray in the name of Jesus knowing that our Father hears our prayers and He will be glorified through our cries.

Cultivating a Deeper Intercessory Prayer Life

We all know the call to pray.  We have read many times the words of Jesus in Luke 18:1, that we ought always to pray and not lose heart.  We know passages such as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and that we are to pray without ceasing.  Adam Clarke wrote about 1 Thessalonians 5:17:

You are dependent on God for every good; without Him you can do nothing.  Feel that dependence at all times, and you will always be in the spirit of prayer; and those who feel this spirit will, as frequently as possible, be found in the exercise of prayer.

In 1 Timothy 2:1 we read the call to intercessory prayer.  Here we read:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.

Going back to Adam Clarke for a moment.  Clarke broke down the passage as this:

  • Supplications – Prayers for averting evils of every kind.
  • Prayers – Prayers for obtaining the good things, spiritual and temporal, which ourselves need.
  • Intercessions – Prayers on behalf of others.
  • Giving of Thanks – Praises to God, as the Parent of all good, for all the blessings which we and others have received.

Clarke summarized that it was possible that the Apostle has the Christian churches in mind as he wrote 1 Timothy 2:1 as a guide for their time of praying together.  Clarke admits he does not know.

Either way, we know that 1 Timothy 2:1 clearly calls us to prayer.  Intercessory prayer is vital to the saving of souls.  In 1 Timothy 2:4 Paul tells us that it is God’s desire for all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  The fact that Jesus now sits at the right hand of God and He gave His life to redeem fallen sinners is fact enough that God desires to save the lost (Luke 19:10).  God did not send His Son to condemn the world but to save the world (John 3:17).  Now that Jesus has accomplished this work, He now sits at the right hand of God on high until His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25).  This focus for the disciple upon the Lord Jesus drives us to prayer.

Prayer for the disciple of Jesus is not the mere saying of words.  Prayer is a living relationship with a living God.  We have a God who hears us when we call and He answers us (Psalm 65:2; 66:19; 102:17; 145:18-19; Isaiah 65:24; 1 John 5:14).  Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-11:

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Oh the joy that comes from praying when we know that we have a Father who hears us when we call.  God is not looking for us to just mumble words in His holy presence.  God wants us to call to Him as a Father (Jeremiah 29:12).  He longs to hear us and answer us when we call to Him (Daniel 9:17-19).

The way then to cultivate a deeper intercessory prayer life is not by, in the flesh, carving out more time to pray when you don’t really have a heart for your Father.  Prayer will not go far that is motivated by the flesh.  Prayer must be a Spirit-led exercise where you are seeking your Father not for things or not to earn righteousness but to simply call to Him because He said He would hear and answer.  When we see that our whole reason for being able to pray in the first place is not because of us but because of the work of Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16), this too should lead us to a deeper desire to pray.

When it comes to intercessory prayer, there is no doubt that God wants us to pray not just for ourselves (Matthew 6:11) but for others.  I suspect that all of us have been guilty of praying too much for ourselves.  I know I do.  Yet the will of the Lord is to save sinners and He wants us to pray for all people.  This is clear here in 1 Timothy 2:1.  Based on 1 Timothy 2:4 we know that God wants us to pray specifically for them to be saved.  God works through our prayers to bring about this salvation.

Ironically, Calvinists have often accused Arminians of praying like Calvinists when it comes to intercessory prayer.  A.W. Tozer use to say, “I preach like an Arminian but pray like a Calvinist.”  However, what are we praying for when we pray for the lost to be saved?  What we are not praying is that God would somehow elect them or that He would override their will and drag them to salvation (in the words of R.C. Sproul about John 6:44).  We are praying many things when we seek God for another to be saved.  We are praying for the conviction of the Spirit (John 16:8-11) thorough the preaching of the Word (Romans 10:17).  We are praying for the defeat of the enemy (2 Corinthians 4:4) and for the Lord to tear down the wicked strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).  No doubt we are praying for John 6:37 to come to pass.  Arminianism confirms that wicked sinners need the work of the Spirit to come to the Savior.  We are not arguing here that man is free in his will to come to Christ on his own power.  No doubt John 1:12-13 makes it clear that mankind must come on his own but he also needs the aid of the Spirit.  This is because of the radical nature of sin (Romans 3:10-18, 23).

The reality is that neither Arminians nor Calvinists can truly understand what we are praying for when we pray for sinners to be saved.  We only know that God is the one who saves the lost and we Arminians affirm 1 Timothy 2:4 along with verse 1 meaning that we pray God saves all sinners.

On a final point here.  What does this look like?  Last night I was burdened to pray for radical Muslims to be saved.  I prayed earnestly for God to save these terrorists.  While this wicked men are doing much evil in the name of their false religion, I was praying for them to be saved, for them to hear the gospel.  I don’t believe God delights in the death of these wicked sinners (Ezekiel 18:23).  I believe His will is that they repent and live (Ezekiel 18:32).  God can save these sinners.  He saved the terrorist Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9.  He can do the same for these wicked sinners.  I prayed 1 Timothy 2:4 over these terrorists and called out to the Father by their names.  I prayed for the many Muslim terrorists groups we hear of now to be saved by His grace.  I prayed for Satan to be exposed to them for who he is.

I would love to tell you that I am perfect at intercessory prayer but I am guilty of spending way too much time praying for myself.  I pray the Holy Spirit will help all of us, His saints, to be true intercessors as He is (Romans 8:26-27).

My Heart Breaks for the Lost

This week my wife and her mother took our boys down to the beach outside of Charleston, SC.  Being an avid history fan, I drove down in my own car with my mountain bike and decided to spend some time wandering the old city.  History has largely been buried by commercialism but there is still much rich history in Charleston.  From the American Revolution down to the Civil War to World War II, history abounds in that city.

Yet I had been praying for the Lord to burden my soul for the lost.  I do enjoy giving out gospel tracts and I enjoy praying for the lost to be saved (Romans 10:1) and I enjoy supporting those who are on the front lines of the battle with the enemy seeking to evangelize the nations, but I want to be broken over the lost.  I don’t want to just pass the lost and not consider their eternal fate whether it is the rich business man or the average worker, all people that we see today and meet today will stand before the throne of God and give an account for their lives.  Most will hear the dreadful words of Matthew 25:41.  So many are lost in their sins and love their sins.  Our culture is breeding a society that loves sin and wants nothing to do with the conviction of God.  But the Spirit of God still is moving and He still is able to convict sinners and draw them to the Savior (John 16:8-11).  I want to see Him at work, to see sinners repent and turn from their wickedness.

As I was praying for this, when I arrived in Charleston, my heart broke as I saw a city where Christianity is all over the place.  It is obvious that Charleston, SC once had a strong Christian heritage.  Churches are all over the place.  The city skyline is full of steeples.  In fact, Charleston is nicknamed by historians as “the city of churches.”  Like Washington DC will not allow buildings to be higher than the Washington Monument, so no building in the city of Charleston is to be taller than the highest church steeple.  In this way, the church steeples remain the pinnacle of the city.  Written on many of the old buildings are carved sayings such as “To the Glory of God.”  I visited The Citadel and here they have a large chapel that has on the front of it the words of Ecclesiastes 12:1 (KJV).  Many of the buildings I visited had Scriptures on the cornerstones from an era where God was acknowledged though many perhaps did not know Him in truth.

Yet now Charleston is like any other American city.  It is full of idolatry, money, the love of things, no fear of God, and much sin.  I saw homosexuals walking around the city without any thought of their sins.  I saw women walking around without much clothes on even in the city streets.  Alcohol abounded.  I saw churches that now appear to be more museums than actual places for the disciples to come and worship God together.  I never saw any other people out on the streets passing out tracts or preaching but I believe there are some as a man told me that he had seen some men passing out gospel tracts the day before I arrived.  I visited an old park and sat and prayed over the wicked city.  I spoke to a few men about eternity.  I passed out a few gospel tracts.  I prayed for the park to be full of gospel preachers who would preach the truth of God to the lost souls that come there to sit and mostly eat lunch.  While there my heart broke as I watched a group come together to protest outside of a Moe’s because they believed that eating animals should be banned.  I listened to their non-sense and longed for them to know the Savior.  They will fight for an animal’s rights better than many churches will fight for the lost.

Charleston is typical of many cities that I have visited before.  New York City.  Boston.  Washington DC.  Chicago.  Atlanta.  Miami.  Tampa.  Charlotte.  All these cities abound with wickedness.  Yet Charleston is unique in that it is the city of churches and there is a strong Christian history here.  Yet the city, like those above, is full of Satan.  The Church must realize that we are at war for souls (Ephesians 6:12).  The gospel must be preached (Matthew 28:19).  The gospel will break the chains of sin (Psalm 107:14).  The gospel alone can save sinners who cry out to Jesus (Acts 2:21; 17:30-31; Romans 10:14-17).  The gospel can turn these wicked sinners around (John 3:3-5) and make them new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  The gospel can turn a wicked city such as Charleston, SC into a city full of the glory of God.  I long to see the Lord save sinners for His glory and honor (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).

I urge you who perhaps read this to pray for the lost to be saved (Matthew 9:38).  Pray for the Word of God to go forth and bring forth conviction.  Pray for the Church of Christ to be stirred to prayer and to evangelism.

John 4:34-38.

What Is Intercessory Prayer?

Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.
– Daniel 9:3

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.
– 1 Timothy 2:1

The Greek word used in 1 Timothy 2:1 for intercessions is the word Enteusxis which is translated, “to chance upon, entreat, petition, entreaty, intercession.  The word originally meant to encounter, meet, or approach.  The Greek eventually evolved to be a legal term where a person approached a king, emperor, or a dignitary.  In the case of 1 Timothy 2:1, we as believers have the right through Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16) to approach the throne of Almighty God and beseech Him.  In this case, for the salvation of all people.

The Fire Bible offers Old Testament examples of intercessors.  Kings (1 Chronicles 21:17; 2 Chronicles 6:14-42), prophets (1 Kings 18:41-45; Daniel 9), and priests (Ezra 9:5-15; Joel 1:13; 2:17-18) led the way in intercessory prayer.  Other examples from the OT would be Abraham’s prayers for Ishmael (Genesis 17:18) and for Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:23-32).  David’s intercession for his baby boy (2 Samuel 12:16; 1 Chronicles 29:19) and Job’s prayers for his children (Job 1:5).  Moses is another example of intercessory prayer as he “stands in the gap” for Israel (Numbers 14:1-20; see also Exodus 32:11-14; Numbers 11:2; 12:13; 21:7; 27:5).  Elijah (1 Kings 18:21-46; James 5:16-18) and Daniel (Daniel 9) and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:3-11) all stood in the gap for others as well.

In the Gospels we have parents interceding for their sick children to be healed (Mark 5:22-43; John 4:47-53), a man pleading with Jesus to heal his servant (Matthew 8:6-13) and the mother of James and John interceded regarding her sons (Matthew 20:20-21).

In Acts we have the Church interceding for Peter to be released from prison (Acts 12:5, 12).  The saints of God prayed for Barnabas and Saul (Acts 13:3).  James the Apostle told the disciples to pray for the sick (James 5:14) and for all Christians to pray for each other (James 5:16; cf. Hebrews 13:18-19).  Paul the Apostle urges prayer for all (1 Timothy 2:1).

Paul also gives us an example of intercessory from his own letters as he prayed for others (Romans 1:9-10; 2 Corinthians 13:7; Philippians 1:4-11; Colossians 1:3, 9-12; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12; 2 Timothy 1:3; Philemon 1:4-6).  He wrote his prayers out in Ephesians 1:15-19; 3:14-19; 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13).  Paul also asked for intercession for himself from churches in Romans 15:30-32; 2 Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 6:18-20; Philippians 1:19; Colossians 4:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2).

Our Lord Jesus (John 17; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1) and the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26-27) are also interceding for us.  If intercession is that vital to the ministry of the holy Trinity, how much more should we be seeking God for others?

Intercessory prayer is coming before the Father on behalf of others.  Just as Jesus prayed for those at the cross who were crucifying Him (Luke 23:34), so we too are to pray for others no matter what (Matthew 5:44).  We are all called to a life of intercessory prayer.  I am convinced from 1 Timothy 2:1 that ALL disciples of Jesus are to be involved in this type of praying, to be standing in the gap just as Abraham did for the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, so the child of God approaches the throne of God for others.  We pray for the lost to be saved, for the gospel to go forth in power, for the sick to be healed for the glory of God.  We can pray for marriages, for children, for nations, for cities, against the wicked forces in high places (Ephesians 6:10-12, 18).  We should intercede for revival.  While the ministry of teaching is open to few (James 3:1), the ministry of prayer, the highest ministry of all, is open to all and all are called to pray (Colossians 4:2).

How often do you cry out to God for others?  Do YOU dominate your praying with prayers only for your needs, for your family, etc.?  Or do you find yourself wrestling with God for others?  This is the heart of the intercessor, to pray for others.  Intercessory prayer focuses on the glory of God in the lives of others.  Intercessory prayer spends very little time on us and all the time on the power and majesty of God in the lives of others.

Oh God gives us intercessors!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/22/2013 at 10:30 AM

God Is Moving In China

Praying Saints!

Praying Saints!

Here is a picture of the saints of God in China crying out in prayer!  This picture blessed my heart.  This saints of God are crying out and the Lord God is moving mightily in China.  Millions upon millions of souls are hearing the gospel and being saved.

Pray for China.  Pray the house churches in China to continue to see the power of God falling upon them.  Our God reigns!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/14/2013 at 11:03 PM

How To Pray Specifically For the Lost

We know that God commands us to pray and we also know that we are to pray for the lost to come into the kingdom.  So how are we to pray specifically and according to Scripture for the lost?

1.  Pray for people to be saved by name (Romans 10:1).

2.  Pray for God to glorify His Son and draw sinners to Himself (John 6:44; 12:32).

3.  Pray for the gospel to go forth and bear fruit (John 15:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:1).

4.  Pray for God to raise up workers for the harvest of souls (Matthew 9:37-38; Luke 10:2).

5.  Pray for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to be a witness (Acts 1:8).

6.  Pray for the nations to hear the gospel and repent (Psalm 2:8; Revelation 5:9-10).

7.  Rejoice in the Lord that His desire is to save lost sinners (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 2:1-6; 2 Peter 3:9).

“In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart. ” – John Bunyan

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/25/2012 at 1:51 PM

Operation World: A Great Prayer Resource

Sadly, far too many of us spend our time praying only for ourselves.  We fail to have the heart of God in prayer which is for the world to come and worship Him and adore Him.  In Isaiah 45:22 God says to the nations for them to turn to Him and be saved because He alone is God.  There is no other salvation.

With this in mind, we should be praying for God’s salvation through Jesus Christ to go to the ends of the earth just as He commanded (Mark 16:15-16).  Jesus promised His disciples the power of the Holy Spirit to evangelize the nations (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8) and He still is filling His children with His Spirit for that purpose (Acts 2:1-4, 38-39): that the nations may repent (Acts 17:30-31).  Our prayers should be for the glory of God revealed in Jesus (John 14:12-14).  Our prayers should focus on the exaltation of our God (Matthew 6:9).  Our prayers should be for His gospel to go forth into all nations.

Operation World is one of the best tools for praying for the nations.  I will admit that it is very easy to get caught up reading all the statistics about the various nations from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.  The statistics report how many missionaries are in the nation and how many are from that nation to other nations, how large various denominations are, the percentage of religions in the nation, and it focuses on prayer issues such as war, poverty, cults, religions, etc.  Today, March 7, the prayer focus is Belgium.  The statistics tell us that Belgium is 62% Christian in religion but 32% claim atheism or agnosticism.  Belgium needs the gospel.  It once was a strong missionary nation.  Today it reflects the post-Christian culture that is Europe full of sin and unbelief.  Public faith has been, for the most part, banished from public view.  The government is completely secular with no affirmation in religion and even antagonism toward religious faiths.  We can praise God that He is moving among the young people with house churches and a strong prayer movement that is bringing together young people to pray.  Many young people are seeing the barrenness of riches and atheism.  They are longing for a touch from God.  Sadly, orthodox disciples only amount to just over 1% of the religious population out of 10.7 million people.  There are no known missionaries from Belgium.

The value of this book is that it not only gives you a wealth of information about the nation but it allows you to pray with a focus.  Rather than just praying, “Oh God pour out Your Spirit on Belgium,” it allows you to pray specifically for the nation with statistics coming from missionary agencies here in the United States.  We can rejoice that God is moving all over the world in missions.  The USA continues to send out the most missionaries with just under 100,000 people now serving in the world in missions.  God is moving in many other nations as well such as Korea and in Great Britain.  The Lord is moving in places such as Mexico to send Spanish-speaking missionaries into Central and South America with the gospel.  The Lord is moving in Africa as African disciples are moving across the great continent with the gospel of Jesus Christ even as the Ethiopian eunuch did in Acts 8:39 after being baptized into Christ.

Prayer should not be focused just on our needs and our desires.  How often do we pray for the nations?  How often do you hear things on the news and begin to seek God about those needs?  Do you pray for our leaders such as President Obama to not only lead through the wisdom of God but that he would be saved by grace?  Do you pray for the world problems in the Middle East and in Europe?  Do you pray that the Lord would use the financial crisis in Greece and Italy to draw souls away from the gods of this world and unto Himself?  We should pray as world Christians!  This would be the heart of God as we see in Matthew 9:37-38; Romans 10:1; or 1 Timothy 2:1-7.

Our prayers rise before the throne of Almighty God like sweet-smelling incense (Revelation 5:8).  How sweet are your prayers?  How often do you remember to pray for the nations?  Psalm 126:5-6 says,

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!  He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

I pray that God will give you a burden to pray for the lost.  Our world needs the gospel.

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