Koinonia
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Koinonia

Don’t Downplay Prayer and Public Worship

Our Creator longs to connect with us in private and public squares

Photo by Jesus Loves Austin on Unsplash

Why Pray?

To understand God’s heart, we must spend time with Him, as children talk to their father.

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16, ESVUK)

Jesus calls us His friends and talking to God through prayer develops a deeper relationship with Him (John 15:15). But prayer does so much more.

  • Prayer brings our needs to God (Genesis 24: 12–14), acknowledges His goodness and greatness, and moves us to confess sins and seek forgiveness
  • Prayer models humility as we thank God for all His provision
  • Prayer helps us remember the needs of others, and that we need someone greater than us
  • Prayer unites the Body of Christ
  • Prayer reframes our perspectives (1 Kings 19: 13b-15)
  • Prayer helps families deal with challenges and problems
  • Faith and perseverance are strengthened through persistent prayer
  • Prayer builds focus (Mark 3: 13,14)
  • As in the case of Job, prayer enables honest communication with God
  • Prayer enables God to talk to us, show us His heart and act for us
  • Prayer enables us to move forward, as when God stopped Moses pleading to be allowed to enter the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 3:26)

See how Jesus gained divine focus after prayer:

‘’And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.’’ (Mark 3: 13–14, ESVUK)

And how Jacob held on tenaciously for his blessing:

‘’Then he (Jacob) said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (Genesis 32: 26–28, ESVUK)

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah played a major role in the elimination of the Baal priestly cult from the country. When the angry Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him, Elijah fled and soon fell into self-pity but the LORD lovingly corrected and restored him:

‘’Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19: 15–18, ESVUK)

Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another… (Hebrews 10: 24–25, ESVUK)

Public prayer and worship

  • Helps Christians to achieve a deeper understanding of the Bible, the life of Jesus and Christian teachings
  • Encourages people through prayer support from the church or fellowship
  • Provides spiritual covering for the nation, government, and national institutions (2 Chronicles 20: 5–12, 1 Timothy 2:1– 4)
  • Gives clarity and guidance for the future
  • Stays God’s wrath and judgment from the nation (Jonah 3: 4–10)

Prayer is not

  • Long recitations, begging, pleading or convincing God
  • Moving God to our point of view
  • Expecting God to carry out our decisions
  • Activities limited to prescribed events or random parts of our lives.
  • Giving God instructions to follow
  • Overcoming God’s reluctance but laying hold of God’s willingness (paraphrase of a quote by Martin Luther)

How Should We Pray?

Pray in faith and assurance when the outcome is known or expected.

In 1 Kings 17–18, Israel was under great idolatry, and the prophet Elijah told King Ahab that no rain or dew would fall in Israel in the next few years, except at Elijah’s instruction. The rain did not fall in Israel for 42 months!

‘’Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.’’ (James 5:17, ESVUK)

‘’After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, ‘Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.’ ‘’ (1 Kings 18:1, ESVUK)

God revealed what he was going to do, so Elijah prayed with great confidence that what he prayed would happen

Pray with submission when the outcomes are hidden or unknown

In Mark 1: 40, a man with leprosy came to Jesus and begged him on his knees, “If you will, you can make me clean.” (Mark 1:40, ESVUK)

The man knew that Jesus could heal him, but did not know if it was Christ’s purpose to make him clean. He asked Jesus with submission, and this honored our LORD, who then reached out His hand, touched the leprous man, and healed him (Mark 1:41).

Perseverance in prayer

God wants us to be persistent prayers, and does not want us to be discouraged if we initially do not get any answers at all (Luke 18: 3–8).

‘’And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.’’ (Luke 11: 9–10, ESVUK)

Several stories show us excellent examples of perseverance, childlike faith, boldness and submission that moved God to act with great power and strength to bless and protect His children.

The prayer of King Jehoshaphat

‘’And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgement, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you — for your name is in this house — and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’

And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy — behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. O our God, will you not execute judgement on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20: 5–12, ESVUK)

King Jehoshaphat knew his God intimately, so he dared to make such a bold and passionate plea. Yet the last line ‘’We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.’’, also showed his submission to God, whatever the outcome.

God heard his prayer and majestically routed the invaders — without the army of Judah even having to fight!

The story of George Müller

Every story I have read of the great British evangelist and educator has made me wonder If he was even real! Consider these facts from his life.

• Müller cared for 10,024 orphans in the UK during his lifetime

• He established 117 schools offering Christian education to more than 120,000 people

• He trusted God completely for all his needs and sought no donations. Yet, he never went into debt and often had surplus funds.

• Müller said: ‘’The Lord not only gives as much as is absolutely necessary for his work, but he gives abundantly. This blessing filled me with inexplicable delight. He had given me the full answer to my thousands of prayers during the [past] 1,195 days.’’

God was moved by his childlike faith and He delighted to answer Müller’s petitions.

Prayers that saved a nation

Never underestimate the power of one sincere praying person.

When the US Constitution was being prepared, founding father Benjamin Franklin proposed that each session be opened with prayer. He said:

“I have lived a long time, and the longer I live the more convincing proof I see of this truth — that God governs the affairs of men.”

During the US Civil War, a friend of President Abraham Lincoln visited the White House and this was his recollection.

“One night I was restless and could not sleep…. From the private room where the President slept, I heard low tones. Instinctively I wandered in, and there I saw a sight that I have never forgotten. It was the President, kneeling before an open Bible. His back was toward me. I shall never forget his prayer: ‘Oh, Thou God that heard Solomon in the night when he prayed and cried for wisdom, hear me…. I cannot guide the affairs of this nation without Thy help. Hear me and save this nation.’”

Is it any wonder why Lincoln is still considered among the greatest US Presidents, even today? The example of his saintly mother inspired him to seek the LORD through the hardest national crisis that faced a young nation. God heard Lincoln’s prayer and gave him the wisdom and guidance to save the country.

The 1972 ACS Clock Tower Revival in Singapore

God is overjoyed when youth pray for their schools and/or nation.

I studied at Anglo-Chinese School (ACS), a Methodist high school at Barker Road in Singapore. In the 1970s, many students gathered at the school Clock Tower to pray for revival in the school and nation.

In 1972, the Holy Spirit moved upon the school in a dramatic way.

Students at St Andrew’s School, an Anglican high school in Singapore, and another school, Swiss Cottage Secondary School, experienced similar revivals that year.

The experience was described as “a move of God”, “outpouring of the Holy Spirit”, “baptism of the Holy Spirit”, and “speaking in tongues”, which later led to the explosion of the Charismatic movement in Singapore.

In conclusion

Let the Anglican Eucharistic Prayer A from Order One in Common Worship goad us towards a deeper prayer life:

‘’It is indeed right, it is our duty and our joy, at all times and in all places, to give you thanks and praise, holy Father, heavenly King, almighty and eternal God, through Jesus Christ your son our LORD….

‘’Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven, we proclaim your great and glorious name, forever praising you and saying,

‘’Holy, holy, holy LORD, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory, Hosanna in the highest.’’

Encouraging, empowering, and entertaining. In Christ.

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Stories by Christian writers to encourage, entertain, and empower you in your faith, food, fitness, family, friendship, and fun.

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Arulnathan John

Arulnathan John

Loves storytelling in all its forms, from books to movies to videos and all else. Life is a story and I want to fill each chapter with life or lives well lived

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