Lessons in Praying

 

In last week’s Pastor’s Message, I shared with everyone the concept of a people of prayer building a temple of prayer. Seeking God in prayer and communicating with Him is an indispensable component of the lives of God’s children. We do not pray just because of the needs of our church construction, or petition ardently due just to the insufficiency of funding, although these matters are certainly of concern to us. More importantly, we learn to worship and glorify our Heavenly Father through prayers, interceding petitions and thanksgiving, and to magnify His Kingdom and convey His will on earth through them. Prayers can also shorten the distance between the Lord and us and make our relationship with Him more intimate. If the whole church prays in harmony and concordance, it is a service that can most glorify God.

 

Just from the history of the Jews in exile and captivity after the fall of their nation, we can see how prayers bring out the wonderful work of God. Especially when men seek Him in earnest, God will perform great works for them. When Ezra was leading the second group of exiled Jews back to Jerusalem, they stopped on the way for 3 days next to the Ahava Canal. Ezra proclaimed a time of fasting and prayers. Before God they joined in humbling themselves and seeking Him. So the Lord kept them safe throughout the journey and free from their enemies’ attacks. He also moved a group of Levites and temple servants to offer themselves willingly for God’s temple, and return with them to Jerusalem. (Ezra 8:15-23)

 

Nehemiah was a man diligent in his prayers. When he reached Jerusalem, he lived there for 3 days without immediately announcing to the people the decree of the king to repair the wall. He only inspected the city walls secretly at night with a few compatriots. He did not disclose to anyone what he wanted in his heart to do for Jerusalem. He just prayed ceaselessly while formulating the plans for the repair of the walls. Consequently when he called upon the people to rise up and build, God moved each family and household to participate together in the repair work. (Nehemiah 2:11-18) The book of Nehemiah starts with a prayer, and ends with a prayer. Many times it recorded the personal prayers of Nehemiah.

 

When Esther found out that the Jews faced the threat of genocide, she asked Mordecai to instruct all of the Jews in the city of Susa to fast and pray for her. She and her palace maids also prayed insistently. Then against the rules, she went to the king to plead for her countrymen. In the end God worked miraculously to change a crisis into a turning point, transforming a huge catastrophe into a major blessing. These came about because people belonging to God were able to pray zealously with one mind when faced with conflict. So God in accordance with His faithfulness bestowed His blessing to people, and granted His surpassing peace and grace.

 

After the fall of Israel and the Jews’ capture, God did not refuse to listen to the people’s prayers in spite of their sins and their continuing state of discipline and punishment. Coincidentally, because Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther all prayed and sought ardently for 3 days, God did accede to the plea of the people to work on their behalf and manifest His glory. Starting from April 1, the church will have a 30-day plan of prayers and interceding petitions. The aim of this “Prayer Month” is to encourage brothers and sisters to methodically and purposefully pray to God together, nurturing our desire to depend on the Lord, and ensuring that the foci of all our petitions and thanksgiving converge each day. Although the church has not arranged for everyone to come back every night to pray together, I hope that brothers and sisters will follow the “Prayer Diary” and allot at least 15 minutes per day to give thanks and pray specifically for these items. If everyone is united in following the plan and pray without interruption, I believe that God will work expansively to accomplish things greater than we can envision and ask for.

 

We are a royal priesthood maintaining a heavenly mission. Our job is to be an interceding supplicant between men and God. Therefore, be faithful!

 

By: Daniel To