Daniel Fast Day 18

Sober Prayers - Part 2

There is a beautiful song we sing in church; I absolutely love it! It was written by Hunter, one of our worship leaders. “Drink from the well, drink from the well, by Your living waters my soul is well…” We are invited to drink from the spiritual well, Christ Jesus. He invites us to come and drink. John 7:37-38(NLT) “On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!  Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”

We know from these verses that Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit. If you are thirsty, you are invited to come; if you believe in Jesus, you may drink. Once you drink from the water He gives, rivers of living water will flow from your heart. You can have streams of living water flowing out of you or a little tributary; it all depends on how much you are willing to yield to the Holy Spirit. When our lives overflow with God’s Spirit, prayer is not a grind but a joy. People who are filled with the Holy Spirit make no room for the flesh, but they press into God’s purpose for their lives. They pray passionately for others and move beyond a selfish prayer life to an unselfish one. Colossians 4:2-4(NLT) “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains.  Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.”

Many years ago, in our church in South Africa, my spiritual father Pappa Karel Sanders wanted our church to understand the importance of living selflessly. When we came to church one Sunday morning, he had made a huge letter “O” and placed it on the platform. The next week, he put up a huge “T”. The next week an “H”, and the next an “E”. I’m sure you know the last two letters “R” and “S”. Can you picture it? In front of the congregation we had this huge “OTHERS” sign reminding us that we are not living only for ourselves, but also for others because people matter to God. Paul asked the Colossians to pray and to intercede on his behalf for open doors to preach Christ. It takes a mature approach to be in intercession for someone else. Intercession means to stand in for or on behalf of someone else. It is praying and petitioning the Father for His favor, not for ourselves but for others. That is why I call it a mature kind of praying; it’s not for the selfish or the faint of heart. It’s fighting a spiritual battle on behalf of another.

In Ezekiel 22, God speaks about the spiritual state of Jerusalem and Israel. The people are wicked and the leaders are corrupt. Even the so-called prophets are not giving clear direction to Israel and are corrupt to the core. They take bribes, they prophesy lies, nothing is holy and God’s name is profaned throughout the land. Then God says Israel is about to be put in the furnace. They are going to be scattered and dispersed throughout the land. It is in this context we read this verse in Ezekiel 22:30(NLT) “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.”

God was looking for an intercessor, someone who would rebuild the spiritual wall of righteousness and stand in the gap. Someone who would take it as their responsibility to bring the nation before God in heartfelt, passion filled, kingdom expanding prayer. Here is the sad part; He could not find one. As the saying goes: “those who pay no attention to history are destined to repeat it”. Not learning the lessons from history is a foolish thing, and yet Israel never did. We shake our heads and say how foolish could they be, yet we do the same thing. Let’s be honest, we are living in a time where technology and knowledge are so rapidly advancing, it makes your head spin. We have more knowledge than any other generation before us. We are able to do things today that less than a hundred years ago were deemed as impossible.

Yet, despite all of our advancement and so-called enlightenment, we struggle to get along. The ravages of poverty are still killing children all over the world. Despots and dictators are ruling countries with brutality and force. Diseases such as AIDS, Cholera, and Malaria are killing millions of people. Many parts of our world are war-torn, and the atrocities that are committed within some of those countries are unthinkable. We have become a society with no moral compass, with relative truth, and survival of the fittest mentalities. We have more things, but less peace. We strive for a new way of life but continue to fall woefully short. We exalt the profane and vain, and the grandiose self-praise that we practice will make the “Caesars” blush. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. We use and abuse and abort all in the name of choice and convenience. We call evil good and good evil. In the midst of this sea of turmoil is the church, God’s people, the redeemed, who have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light.

What are we to make of this? Listening to some people, we have to hold down the fort and hope for the best. According to others, we have to exercise our civil rights and bring about societal change through political means. Some even say that we have to isolate and then insulate ourselves, cut ourselves off from all worldly influences and become spectators to a world that is hell bent on its own destruction. How should we respond? Run and hide and pray that Jesus comes soon? Pray to be raptured away, the sooner the better? Everywhere you turn the church is being pushed to the back of the line, seen as being irrelevant and intolerant. The church is free to say what it wants to say as long as it stays within the lines, and if it dares to color outside of those proverbial societal lines, it gets labeled as bigots and haters. It is true that in some ways the church has failed and missed great opportunities to bring about positive change and build bridges into people’s hearts instead of handing them the bricks and mortar to erect walls. But despite all of that, I still believe that the church is God’s way of bringing about His Kingdom. Despite all the dissension in its own ranks, I still believe that we are His bride, His ambassadors! I believe that God answers prayer and especially the prayer of Jesus. Jesus prayed for us. He prayed that we would be one, as the Father and He are one. That would constitute a miracle, and I am all for that. Jesus obviously did not pray that we become robotic and look the same or dress the same. Becoming one does not mean becoming boring; the last time I checked, boring is not a spiritual gift. But we can become one in purpose… God’s purpose! We can pick up our cross (not very popular language in our day), and we can follow Jesus.

I’m rooting for that! Let’s get to God’s intent for us; His plan, not ours. Let’s cut out the veneer and scrape off our over-polished so-called professionalism and let’s risk ourselves and give ourselves for the benefit of others. Let’s lose ourselves in Him, so we can find out what life truly is. Let’s become an army on our knees; let’s pray like Jesus, act like Jesus, serve like Jesus, give like Jesus, and love like Jesus. Will the church, in the midst of the darkness, be a light and a lamp that lights the way out of the darkness? Or will we be a blinding high beam that causes people to stumble and fall?

If we are going to pray like Jesus prayed, we have to move beyond the intimidation. Some of us lose heart when we see what is happening in our world. We become intimidated and we feel that nothing is going to change and nobody is going to listen. We have to be able to move beyond that and say we will become that person to stand in the gap. We will rebuild the wall of righteousness! Look no further God, here am I, send me to my knees! 1 Timothy 2:1-4(NIV) “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

The Church must move from intimidation to intercession! Obviously, according to God, change does not start with those “bad sinners” who don’t know Him, change starts with us. We are His people, right? We are called by His Name; we are Christians, Christ followers. We are supposed to do the humbling, and the praying, and the seeking. It is obvious that the church is very much in need of a truth awakening as well as a grace awakening. Peter writes that judgment is to begin at God’s house. Be careful to pray for God to judge the world. God, unlike Eli, is not a Father who will allow His children to go without discipline. Change starts with us! We, the church, must turn from our wicked ways. We must receive God’s forgiveness. Then comes the healing for our land. When we are faced with intimidation, we move to intercession, then we begin to pray with urgency that is not man made or selfish driven. We begin to pray with the fervency of the Holy Spirit; we ask God to pray through us. We do not allow the spirit of this world to intimidate us, even though we see the manifestation of it on a daily basis! We pray big prayers! Sin killing, God loving and people changing kind of prayers! There is a great quote by one of the greatest missionaries of the 19th Century, Hudson Taylor, “When we work, we work, when we pray, God works.” When we find ourselves intimidated by what is happening around us, we don’t get alarmed, don’t act surprised, and we do not grow silent.

If we are clothed by God’s love, we will carry God’s passion in our hearts. God loves people, all people! Even the people who hate Him, mock Him, curse Him, and profane His Name. We pray because we love; we intercede because we will not be silent until we see God’s kingdom come! Isaiah talks about his love for Zion, his love for God’s people and he was determined not to be silent, but to continue to pray for her until her righteousness comes through and she is saved. Isaiah 62:1(NLT) “Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.”

Even the disciples understood that they couldn’t allow the enemy to silence their voice. In Acts 4, they were threatened not to speak in the Name of Jesus. Acts 4:18(NLT) “So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.”  So what did they do, they prayed. Acts 4:24a(NLT) “When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God.” They prayed, they interceded, and asked God to give them that voice. They did not ignore the threats that were made, they asked God to consider the threats. They were saying, “God in the measure that we were threatened, give us boldness to match their threats”. Meaning, the greater the threat, the greater the measure of His grace to speak. You see, if you refuse to stay silent, God will be the One to empower you and fill you. Intercession requires a mature mindset because it is focused on God’s will for others. Intercessors pray for others more than for themselves.

May we live with an awareness of God’s presence, and devote ourselves to pray sober prayers with an alert mind. May we overflow with gratitude as we fight on our knees for the benefit of others. Let’s be on guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong, and do everything with love.

Ephesians 6:18-20(CEV) “Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people. Pray that I will be given the message to speak and that I may fearlessly explain the mystery about the good news. I was sent to do this work, and that’s the reason I am in jail. So pray that I will be brave and will speak as I should.”

Prayer and Reflection:
  • The Holy Spirit does not fill us just so we can have a good time and pray ourselves happy. He fills us so that rivers of living water can flow out of us to others. Will you yield more deeply to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to pray through you?
  • What does your prayer life say about your obedience to pray for others? Will you stand in the gap for others?
  • Make a list of people the Lord places on your heart to pray for. Commit to pray for them whenever the Holy Spirit prompts you; start now!

Father, thank You that I can intercede on behalf of others, show me who I need to pray for today.

(Ex. Pray the following prayers and put the names of people you are praying for)

First prayer is for someone who is struggling in their walk with the Lord. Replace the name:

“Lord, remind me that You are working even when I can’t see it. Remind me that You have a plan long before I ever thought of praying. I pray for Jim and know he is never out of Your hand and he is never out of Your care. I will not be moved by what I see or hear or feel. I know Your plan is better, bigger, and wiser than mine, so I stand in the gap for Jim and trust Your plan for him. I pray that from Your unlimited resources, You would empower Jim with inner strength through the Holy Spirit. I pray that he would not be shaken by any circumstance or anxiety but that his roots will grow deeper into Your love for him. May Jim experience in a very personal way, that You love him. May the knowledge of Your love for him be greater than his fears and even his failures. Father, thank You that You do far more than I could ever ask for, think about or even pray for, so I trust in Your faithfulness and perfect plan for Jim. I trust him into Your loving and powerful care. In Jesus Name, Amen”

Second prayer is for someone you know who is discouraged and is going through a difficult time. Replace the name.
“Lord, consider what Rosa is going through and the difficulty that she is under. Consider the pressure that she might be feeling right now, consider the attacks that she is facing. Give Rosa spiritual courage and enable her to withstand the attacks of the enemy. Help her faith to be guarded and her heart to remain steadfast on You. Remind Rosa that You have the answer, but above all that she belongs to You! Lord, You are the source of all true hope! King Jesus, I pray that You would fill Rosa with complete joy and peace as she learns to trust You in this difficult process. Let that trust be evident in her life as she overflows with Your confident hope, through what only You can do in her, Holy Spirit! I pray this in Jesus Name, Amen.”

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