Lord, teach us to PRAY!
Do you ever long for a greater work of the Spirit of God in your own life and in the lives of those around about you? In Luke 11:1 we read that the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Lord, teach us to pray!” These guys clearly had a sense of the importance and the power of prayer. They wanted something more than just the saying of prayers, they wanted to learn more of what it was to really pray!
As Queensland Baptists we, as members and churches, have been called to join in 21 Days of Prayer for Revival. I could not think of a better thing for us to be doing both individually and collectively at this critical time in the life of our nation.
But, as I reflect upon a recent message I gave on prayer, I’m reminded that prayer is part of the way in which God draws us into his own eternal purposes. It is interesting as we read Matthew’s gospel, for example, that long before Jesus gave his disciples the Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all the nations” in Matthew 28, he first taught them to pray the Great Petition in Matthew 6, Lord, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
What does it mean for the kingdom of God to come? It means that the King, the Lord Jesus Christ would be afforded his right to rule over our lives and the lives of others around us.
As we read through the book of Acts, it appears that before just about every major expansion of the gospel, the disciples had been committed to prayer. Before the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and the wonderful birth of the church, Luke reminds us that the disciples had joined together in constant prayer (Acts 1:14). Before Peter was directed to take the gospel into the Gentile world by sharing the gospel with the Roman centurion Cornelius, he was found on the roof of a friend’s house in Joppa where he was praying. Before the Apostle Paul embarked upon his first great missionary journey, the leaders of the church in Antioch had gathered to fast, and clearly by implication, to pray. It was in this time of seeking God, that “The Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’” (Acts 13:2).
The great historian on revivals, J Edwin Orr (a past Professor at the School of World Mission at Fuller) once said, “No great spiritual awakening has begun anywhere in the world apart from united prayer.” Indeed, his brief history of Prayer and Revival http://www.jedwinorr.com/resources/articles/prayandrevival.pdf would seem to bear out the truth of this claim.
To be sure, the Sovereign Lord of all the universe can do whatever he wants regardless of us. Yet, in his infinite wisdom, he has chosen, so often, to work in direct cooperation with the prayers of his people. The Apostle Paul understood this so well when he urged the believers in Colosse to, “Devote [themselves] to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2). He further urged them to pray for him, that God would open a door for their message, so that they would proclaim the message clearly.
As we join in prayer over this season especially, can I urge us to recognise afresh the importance and imperative of prayer as we seek a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit in reviving power, in our own lives, in our churches and within our wider community, city, state and country.
Peter Francis (Principal)