Terry began by recommending Lou Fellingham’s new CD, and Lex Loizides‘ new resource on making and using your own personal tract. We had sung one song form that CD which although I had enjoyed hearing it, had never really hit me before today. “Christ in me! My hope and my glory!”
First we saw the call to be strengthened with the might of God. Then we saw the need to be protected by the armor. Now we get to “finally, praying.” It is not part of the armor, but each part should be put on with prayer. We pray at all times. It is a present continuous. Prayer was intimately connected to warfare. Eg When Joshua was fighting, Moses went into the mountain to hold the staff of God and pray. The battle is won in prayer. Terry spoke about his first pastor. Every Saturday night was the beginning of the Sabbath. He gathered the church on Saturday nights. On Sundays he would raise his hands when he made an appeal, as though he had a staff. He taught his people about prayer. Terry never forgot that emphasis. When they said of Elijah and Elisha, “the chariots and horseman” it was like saying, your prayers are better to us than an army to defend us. The Old Testament shows us that again and again people got through to God on behalf of the nation.
Jesus modeled prayer, insisted on it. When the early church burst on the scene, they devoted themselves to the apostles doctrine, and to prayer. It was at the center of their life together. It is a present continuous. “Praying” here stands under everything else that has gone before.
1. Constant and diverse prayer.
Praying Alone. NIV says all occasions, with all kinds of prayer. There is a whole rainbow of ways we should pray. Regular, sustained, talking to the father. We can talk to our heavenly father. When Ananias was told to go and see Paul he was told not to be afraid “Behold, he prays” We could translate that “check it out!” Prayer is the privilege of sons, the proof of sonship. McChene says, “what a man is on his knees before God, that he is, nothing more.” He died when he was 29, but had wide impact while he lived. Carson says much prayer is not done because we don’t plan to pray. If we see the priority of it, we need to work at it. Got to make choices. If you are going to be up early to pray, you have to begin by going to bed early. Fraser was a great missionary pioneer saw prayer “like a business man sees a line that really sells, I will give my best energies to it” Watch and pray. Develop good habits, make good choices.
Nehemiah prayer. Lord help me now. To be in touch with God, be aware of him. Calling on him in ordinary life. Arrow prayer.
Focused prayer Extended specific times of prayer. Jesus prayed throughout the night sometimes, or get up a great while before dawn. He fasted for 40 days. Sometimes we need to really go for this. There is something specific that need to be grasped. Fasting is not a hunger strike, it is coming to him with real intention. Lord I am after you. I want to get to know you.
We are told to pray with out ceasing, but we need to be careful with this one, as we can feel that this is all we need to do. If we are not careful we will forget actual praying. We need seasons when we shut the door and are with our father in secret. It is WRESTLING with God. It is like a battle of wills. Make some decisions, build some strategies to diary in prayer.
Praying as a church Eg when they cried in Acts “o despotis” He is the despot of the universe. We must gather to cry out to God together. Pastors must lead people into believing prayer. When Peter was taken into prison, they gather to cry out to God. The prayers were answered and Peter was released by angels. A believing praying church is powerful.
Praying in twos and threes. This is one of Terry’s favorite ways of praying. In a prayer meeting we have to wait our turn, although we should get into one anthers prayer. But when two or three gather together there is a power.
We are a grace people. We don’t pray to impress, or to get a browny point. We are trying to accomplish something. We are already righteous as a gift. It is all free. We want to pray and get ahold of this wonderful weapon.
2. Empowered Prayer
It is the Spirit who makes it real. Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness peace and joy in the Spirit. Wallis said “any claim to a baptism in the Spirit which leaves our prayer life untouched is at best a superficial thing” Prayer is catching up another energy. Not praying alone. Not merely going through the prayer wheel. It is praying in the spirit. The Bible says we need to be taught to pray. God seems distant sometimes. How do you measure the results? Prayer is mystical. Is God listening? How do I know if it’s Gods will. Sometimes when we pray we then say “if it be your will” and it can seem pointless. We can feel like giving up. The Bible says, we don’t know how to pray as we should. Romans 8:23. The whole creation is groaning. Creation’s future is wrapped up in the full manifestation of the children of God. Meanwhile we are waiting. We are in the now but not yet. Living in the overlap of the ages. New world has started in us. v 26 the Spirit helps our weaknesses. He intercedes for us. Fellowship with the Spirit helps us to pray. We are drawn out of our inability into his ability. Puritans said “pray yourself into prayer.” Heaven is touching earth in our spirit.
3. Praying WITH the Spirit. Corinthians Paul says he will pray with his mind, and with his spirit. Here, Terry says, Paul is speaking about praying in tongues. Not with the understanding.There are times we slip into tongues. Terry finds he goes in and out of tongues. Its an awareness, I don’t know how to pray. It is prayer for dummies like you and me. It is for us to help us. Give him time. Let him teach you to pray.
4. Focused prayers Paul asks for prayer on his behalf. Paul and the churches were in a prayer relationship. Fellowship means partnership. We are in this together. He is not independent. He is not rootless. He is not para-church. He is rooted in the local church. The church was helping him with apostolic breakthrough. He says “through your prayers and the supply of the Spirit, I shall be vindicated” He asks that they pray for him to ask for him to speak as he should be. Paul wants the churches to be very involved with his apostolic work. Churches are caught up in what Paul is doing. It’s not about being on a list, but about being caught up on apostolic advance. Paul said, I have a crazy message to proclaim. The world says it is foolishness. He needed prayer to proclaim a mystery. We have a message that is incomprehensible unless God comes. Christ is in you! It is a great mystery. It is mindblowingly different to any other religion. Paul says I need your backing. Help us to get fully identified. Not just not the list.
Are we a missional network? Well network is not a family word. We don’t network with our children! An apostolic sphere is quite different. It has to do with relationships like we just read. You are on my heart. We are in partnership. We are engaged together. The world family then drifts into our vocabulary. First gave themselves to the Lord and to us. There is something very relational. It reflects into Trinitarian frameworks. It is about extending God’s family across the earth. It’s saying I feel under God, I give myself. It is like what we want from people in our churches when they become members. We want churches that say “I am with you on this mission”
We need to believe for fresh apostolic spheres. For a long time it has been under one umbrella here at Newfrontiers, but great new spheres are emerging. There are people who are in the ranks who have said to emerging apostles, we are yours. We are with you. We are caught up. We need real ownership, relationship. It must not be nebulous. We are extending the family. We must not just feel caught up in it here, once a year, but as a church locally you must engage. We are going into Paris, Berlin, Istanbul, Dublin, Berlin and nations beyond. We are doing it through different teams that have ownership.
Let our songs be full of truth. Let us be caught up in this wonderful message. Lets build a framework of truth so you think biblically. Put the armor on. pray at all times. Ponder. what is my prayer life like? Not to put condemnation on us. But lets not use cheap grace. We don’t need prayer to be righteous. But to accomplish things for God must pray. And lets join hands to do this advancing apostolic work together. It’s a wonderful adventure. The drumbeat of God is sounding.