Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Passionate Prayer

From the Journey Blog (
Today is the National Day of Prayer. I started the day (as I do each Thursday) by going to the church to pray. I’m convinced that we will not see a great movement of God in our time until Christians pray for God to pour out his Spirit.
As I write this morning, there is a group of women gathering in the church to pray. I thank God for them. Last night at our elders meeting we began (as we always do) by praying for our church and people in our church who have needs. Each week dozens of small groups pray together. A group of people have met for the past five weeks to learn about prayer in a workshop put together by our Journey Prayer Team. Are we a praying church? Yes. Do we need to pray more? Yes. More specifically, passionately, and persistently.
Start today. Just take some time and get alone or get with another Christian to pray. Pray for God to pour out his Spirit to revive his people, awaken unbelievers to faith in him, and change the culture of our region and nation and world.
God wants you to do this. He waits to answer.
It occurred to me several years ago that I tend to pray too little, too small, and too weak.
We pray too little: 
We simply don’t pray enough. William P. Wilson, M.D., 
Professor Emeritus at Duke Medical Center and Director of the Institute of Christian Growth found that “the average churchgoer in the US prays one minute a day. The average pastor prays three minutes a day.” That’s really sad and really telling. Perhaps that’s why sermons are so weak and so few people respond. Perhaps that’s why so many pastors succumb to temptation and become a public scandal, shaming the name of Christ. Perhaps that’s a reason our churches are so empty and powerless. Maybe that’s why it’s hard to tell the difference between Christians and their unbelieving neighbors.
When we don’t pray intentionally and consistently we are, in effect, displaying one or more of the following attitudes: I don’t need God, God doesn’t listen, or God can’t change things. All of these are lies! When I take time to pray, I spend time with the One who loves me and happens to run the entire universe. He has asked me to pray. I need him. By praying, if nothing else, I acknowledge my dependence on him and prove my belief that he hears me. If that were all my prayers accomplished, it would be enough. But of course, that is not all. My prayers move God to action.
We pray too small:
We tend to pray for less significant things. “Let me have a good day.” “Keep my kids safe.” “Let me get a raise.” “Let me have a new car.” “Help me to feel better.” “Let the food we are about to eat go to the nourishment of our bodies.” “Give me a good night’s sleep.” Come on folks! It’s not that these things are not important, but can’t we do better than that?
I have been around many Christians, some of them were people I would call exceptionally godly (of course, these are people who would never call themselves that!). These people tend to pray for BIG things. They ask for God to awaken thousands to the truth of the Gospel and for God to change our culture. They pray for God to use their time, bodies, resources, intellect, etc. for the sake of his glory in this world. They ask for God to raise up godly men and women with passion for his church and his Word. They pray for God to change the hearts of people in government. They pray that their kids will love Christ with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength; bring their friends to Christ; and impact their schools for Christ’s sake. They pray for God to bless them financially so that they can give generously to their church and people in need. They pray for God to stop the advancement of Islam and other false religions through the power of Christ and set ablaze the church against whom “the gates of hell cannot prevail.” They pray that God will let them suffer any negative thing (sickness, sorrow, persecution, poverty) as one joyfully sharing in the sufferings of Christ for their own growth and the sake of his glory. That’s praying BIG. God is big. He likes for us to pray for big things.
We pray too weak:
Our prayers sometimes lack assurance and passion. We can come across like this: “Lord, thank you for this day. If it is according to your will, please be with John Doe while he is feeling bad, and please help our church do what you’ve called us to do. And I pray that I will not face difficulties today.” When we pray weakly, not with conviction expecting results, we waste our time and a great opportunity! We are told to “boldly approach the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16) and to pray expectantly. Jesus made this crystal clear in Luke 11:5-8:
And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.
It is the urgency of the friend wanting the loaves that moves the groggy sleeper to action. Christ (who is not a groggy sleeper, by the way) is telling the story so that we will show urgency in our prayers! He follows his parable with this (Luke 11:9-13):
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. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
We have a Father who wants us to have…not just good gifts…but the Holy Spirit when we ask! An outpouring of God’s Spirit is what we need more than anything. That’s when we will see revival.
Therefore, a strong prayer will be bold and will “remind” God (or, more accurately, remind the one praying) of the promises he has made in his Word to revive his people, that his will will be done and his kingdom will come! It will be desperate. It will be expectant.
I want to pray often. I want to pray big. I want to pray strong.
Chad Sparks

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