PRAYER – THE HEARTBEAT OF A BELIEVER

(The Basics – Part One)

TRUE STORY: Don’t Forget the Postage

Les Nimigan was the director of a modern-day, Canadian-based evangelistic ministry reaching out to people in the transportation industry. Several years ago, when he was traveling in Alberta, Canada, the old car he was driving broke down and was beyond repair, leaving Les in dire need of a car to continue his working trip. There was just one problem: The ministry had no money to pay for the expense. So, Les prayed earnestly that God would provide a car.

Les walked into an auto dealership the next day to see what his options were. Les found out that the owner was a Christian, so Les shared some information about his ministry. When the owner learned of his need for a car, the dealer sold him a Chevrolet Nova at dealer cost of $9,740.42 on the condition that Lee would send him a check for payment when the Lord provided the money. 

So Les took the car and drove to Toronto.

Once back at the ministry headquarters, Les and his staff had a prayer meeting to ask God to send additional funds to pay for their new purchase. The moment they finished praying, the secretary opened the mail and discovered a check from an elderly donor in the amount of $9,741.52 His secretary was dumbfounded that the check was so close to the price of the car, but she wondered why the amount would be off $1.10. Les responded, “Why, of course, that’s the amount to cover the postage to mail our cheque to the car dealer.”

We all love stories like that one … where prayers get immediate answers and good things happen for people

The reason we really love stories such as that one is because we don’t often see answers to our own prayers

Immediate answers

Any answers – expect maybe “no” as an answer

A constant “no”

So, when we hear someone’s success story we rejoice with them as we should…

And pray that we too could experience that type of instant and powerful answers to our prayers

As a believer each of us has the supernatural ability to have a relationship with God

We can hear His voice (John 10) and He certainly knows our voice

We call this prayer – a back and forth conversation during which God speaks to each one of us

Jesus said: “My house (Church) shall be called a house of prayer for all nations…” Mark 11:17

To be a house of prayer each of us need to have a dynamic and powerful prayer life

A good connection and daily relationship with God

We talk a lot about power – wanting to move in the power of God so we can witness to the fact that Jesus is alive

Healing for the sick

Deliverance for those who are demon possessed

Raising the dead

Blind –seeing, deaf hearing, lame walking

But we fail to link these things to our personal prayer lives…

Power is released by prayer – strong relationship with God / prayer – strong release of power

The early church – who did not have all the fancy electronics we have to “do church” learned that power and prayer are connected / directly linked

Peter the apostle of the Lord had been imprisoned by King Herod after the Roman ruler began cracking down on the early Christian church leaders

Herod killed James the apostle and leader of the church in Jerusalem

And now he intended to have Peter put on trial and put to death because Peter was a leader of the Church which Herod saw as a direct threat to his political power

Peter’s outlook looked bleak

The night before the trial was to begin, Peter was tied up in chains and forced to sleep between two jailers

Sentries stood guard outside the entrance to his cell

But, unknown to Herod, the church had more power than he – the Roman Empire leader of that region – had

The church called its members to pray and they prayed diligently and intensely – that Peter would be safe and his life spared

God answered their prayers and an angel comes in the night to Peter and frees him from his prison cell – freeing him to continue his ministry for the Lord for many more years…

Acts 12:1-19

Prayer and power are connected

Miracles, signs and wonders are directly connected to prayer

When you come to worship on Sunday – It seems dull at the best of time

our personal prayer life and relationship with the Lord determines how worship impacts you

The assembly on Sundays seems to lack life

Does your personal prayer time at home have life?

Does it touch the heart of God?

Your Bible reading is going nowhere – the words may as well be written in a foreign language

Do you pray ahead of time asking the Holy Spirit who inspired men to record these words to lead you into the truth contained in the words?

Prayer brings the Bible alive and makes the Word active and sharp

Lost your passion for the Lord – the fire has gone out

Examine your prayer life

Want to see the church grow in numbers

How is your personal prayer life

Disappointed that corporate prayer – the church’s prayer meeting – is so poorly attended

An issue of people’s priorities and timetables

BUT, more an issue of their personal prayer lives…

If not actively praying privately then little desire to pray publicly

Prayer – the Heartbeat of the Church

Foundational to the Christian faith

The centre of our relationship with the Lord

The key to a local church bring alive and dynamic in its corporate life

The key to moving in the power of God

STORY:

Edwin Tull was raised in a non-Pentecostal home that did not believe in the gift of healing and went to a church that did not move in the power of God.

When his mother was bed-ridden with a crippling arthritic condition, the local doctor informed the family that there was nothing else that he could do for her medically

The family felt hopeless, and helpless. But then a neighbour said, “There is a preacher at the church down the street who believes God heals today. They called him. He came.

The hands of Edwin Tull’s mother were drawn and disfigured. She was so crippled with arthritis that she was literally immobilized. The praying preacher was not intimidated by the sight of her crippled condition. He prayed. God came. God answered.

Those present watched deformed hands straightened. They saw a bed-ridden woman who could not walk, rise and dance before the Lord. Then the power of God hit Edwin … the son of the former crippled woman. He fell flat-out on the floor. There, unaided by any human being, he met the God of the New Testament and was saved.

His whole family were swept into the Kingdom that night – everyone repenting and receiving Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Edwin went on the serve the Lord for many decades as a pastor and as a chaplain at Lee University in the USA.

What was the secret to that pastor’s power?

Simple: God shows up in public with those who meet with Him privately.

The secret place of prayer for the pastor who came that night – C.J (Pop) Abbott – was by his bedside.

So frequently did he kneel there, so fervently did he pray there, that two grooves had been worn into the wood floor by the knees of that praying pastor.

I read that story – and thought of the number of people, the number of times I have said or written that “I will be praying for you…” and then never did.

I am not alone – you do the same thing.

“I’ll pray for you” is a phrase packed solid with good intentions. However, sorry to say, prayer requests can go in one ear and out the other.

We all live a frantic, fast-paced lifestyle in our world today.

So, following through on that pledge and promise to pray has become too much like the “to do list” of various things around the house that need my attention and never get it

However, I believe that more than busyness keeps us from praying when we promise to.

People tend to exchange lip service for genuine prayer because we forget the true power that prayer holds.

Prayer becomes a nice thing to do rather than something we feel compelled (driven) to do for a friend or family member

This needs to change…

As disciples – as members of the Church that Jesus is the head of – we need to focus on our prayer times… prayer life

There is no spiritual life without prayer

There is really no power to live life God’s way without prayer

Prayer is truly the heartbeat of the Christian first and then becomes the heartbeat of the Church

IN YOUR LIFE – PRAYER…

PRAYER CHANGES YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES

The most obvious benefit is that prayer can change your situation and circumstances

The Bible makes it clear that when you pray – things change

“Everyone who asks receives (Matthew 7:8)

“You don’t have, because you don’t ask.” (James 4:2)

Scottish pastor and author Oswald Chambers

“We have a God who engineers circumstances”

God is involved and engaged in the world, even when you and I relegate his interventions to being mere “coincidences.”

PRAYER MENDS RELATIONSHIPS

When you pray about hurts and wounds you have received in a relationship – God heals your heart

When you pray about a relationship – you open yourself up to God and allow Him to work in the situation you are praying about

If you don’t pray – He does not release His power and give you His wisdom

He needs to have you invite Him to become involved – PRAYER

Praying about the situation – relationship also…

Breaks down any pride in your life that hinders the healing / reconciliation process

Can soften the hearts of others involved who have allowed the situation to harden their hearts towards you

PRAYER HELPS YOU PHYSICALLY

Prayer can make a tangible difference in your physical health

The Bible offers many examples of God healing people’s physical ailments when people prayed

I was healed physically – which then led to me hearing the Gospel and being healed spiritually

PRAYER HELPS YOU EMOTIONALLY

When you pray God can heal you physically – but don’t forget He can also heal you emotionally

Jesus heals 10 lepers and they go off to show themselves to the priest at the temple…

The priest needed to examine them and declare them “clean” or healed

One comes back to Jesus and thanks Him for what He has done…

Jesus asks about the other 9 and then blesses the one that did return.

He says, “Your faith has made you whole”

Healed socially, emotionally, spiritually, relationally – not just physically

Lepers were outcasts living alone in the caves with no social contact with others whatsoever…

Luke 17:12-19

Through prayer God can heal us of past memories and free us from emotional pain so that they are no longer a dominating force in our lives.

PRAYER CHANGES YOU

As God works at adjusting situations and circumstances because of prayer

He is also changing and adjusting you because of your prayers

God uses your prayers for the situation and the circumstances – to change you on the inside

Your heart

Your feelings

Your thoughts

Your spirit

Your character

The God of the Bible is most interested in how people are being transformed on the inside because those changes are eternal

PRAYER – must be THE HEARTBEAT OF A BELIEVER

Now – don’t make the mistake of thinking that the power is in the prayer itself

The prayers we offer to the Lord are only messages to the One who holds the power

We pray – not powerful prayers – but to a powerful God

He determines how He will answer what we ask of Him

So, as you pray humble and biblically based prayer to our powerful God – remember that He is looking for five prayer attitudes

THE SIX B’S OF PRAYER:

BE AWARE

The first and most important quality of effective prayers is a keen awareness of whom you are praying to.

Trying to pray without acknowledging that He is the God of Creation and controls every aspect of life in the universe

Not just “the man upstairs”

Not your best friend

Not “good old Jesus”

He is God – holy and majestic

He is God – Almighty and powerful

He is God – the One True God

He is God – Giver and Sustainer of life

He is God – the Judge at the Judgement

BE REAL

Be real – be yourself

When you pray, God wants nothing more than for you to be genuine

Be the REAL you –

Use REAL English – talk as you normally do

Pray about REAL life

Express your REAL thoughts and even REAL doubts

BE REPENTANT

Sin in your life can be a serious obstacle to your prayers so always approach your prayer times with a sense of repentance in your heart and mind

Allow God time to speak to you – show you the things in your life that are contrary to His Word and displeasing in His sight (sin)

Be willing to repent, seek forgiveness and abandon sin from that point onwards

BE DETERMINED

You need to be diligent when praying – determined to connect and receive

On occasion – God answers prayer on the first and only request – like when Elijah called out to God and the fire fell on the altar

But more often than not – His timing is longer term than yours or mine

He wants us to learn to be patient and wait on His timing

This is called being tenacious in your prayer life

James 5:16b The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.

BE BOLD

We are told by the writer of the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection we can, as believers, come boldly into the Father’s presence and speak to Him (Hebrews 4:16)

BE EXPECTANT

Trust God to answer your prayers

Yes – No – Wait

But know that He answers all prayers and ignores none of them

Have confidence in God and just know that He will answer every one of them

STORY … Expectant – George Mueller

George Muller, who established a series of orphanages in 19th century England, is perhaps my favourite prayer person of all time.

He started out with a single house to care for a handful of orphans, but by the time he died, George had fed, clothed, and taught over 10,000 orphans.

Although the work and ministry he performed over his lifetime is remarkable, what is truly extraordinary is how George did it.

He let prayer be the center piece of his life’s work. In reading Psalms 81:10 (“Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.”), he believed that this passage meant that God would do as he promised and provide for the needs of the orphans and his family. He seriously expected God to do what God said He would do.

So, instead of doing the expected fundraising gigs in churches and Rotary Clubs and appearing on late-night TV commercials, he simply prayed for God to prompt people to give money to them.

In all his years of caring for thousands of orphans, he never once asked a person for a dime!

And, over the span of decades, God never failed to provide materially for George – not that he never had any hard times, because he had more than his share.

On countless occasions, the orphanage ran completely out of money immediately before a breakfast or dinner.

But, each time, the Lord miraculously intervened before anyone missed a meal.

Muller was a fanatic at writing down his prayers and their answers and said later that some 5,000 of his prayers had been answered on the day he asked for them.

SUMMARY…

Be aware

Be real

Be repentant

Be determined

Be bold

Be expectant

There is a marvellous children’s story – the Dr. Seuss classic, Green Eggs and Ham.

Green Eggs and Ham tells the story of Sam-I-Am, a persistent, weird-looking creature who tries to get his friend to eat green eggs and ham, hounding him wherever he goes.

Convinced that he won’t like the dish, his friend refuses a whopping 70 times until he finally agrees to try them if Sam-I-Am will stop bugging him.

But when the friend finally tastes the first bite, he discovers that he loves them after all.

Prayer is something like green eggs and ham

Talked about but seldom tried

I sometimes feel Sam-I-Am

Trying to convince believers to really give it a try

Misconceptions abound about what it really is and how it all works keep people from trying it and liking it

Mistaken beliefs influence not only people who avoid prayer but also those who pray religiously

Preventing us from enjoying something that is good and healthy for us

Therefore, it is time to take a good hard look at your personal prayer life as a believer of the Lord Jesus and begin to work with it again if you have given up

Or in you have a prayer life but it missing ‘life’

Limping along and barely there

Time to focus and bring improvement to your prayer times

PRAYER – THE HEARTBEAT OF A BELIEVER and then the heartbeat of the Church

Because the Church is God’s House and it is to be house of prayer for all nations