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What’s One Prayer?

“What good is one prayer?”

We all know the scripture – 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If… My people, who are called by My Name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land…”

We know it so well that it has almost become cliché.

But I cry out, “But it says ‘people’ Lord! ‘People!’ People are more than ‘person’! What good is MY prayer? How in the world can my prayer make a difference?”

And my mind went to Moses’ plea, and Paul’s plea. It went to Daniel’s confession and Nehemiah’s confession, and finally to Isaiah’s confession when he said, “I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips…” All through Israel’s history we see God’s hand of wrath stayed or held back when repentance took place. (See Ezekiel 20 and Amos 7 for instance).

I fully believe that God is offering us, American Christians, an opportunity to repent; an opportunity to postpone the Day of Vengeance. I believe He is calling us to “stand in the gap”. It is time to take off our camouflage and let the world know who we are and what we believe. It’s time to stop being politically correct, and start being faithfully strong – regardless of the cost.

I believe He is saying (to us, in our day, in this very year), “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Will you reply, “Here am I, send me…”

If my “one prayer” of repentance, is added to your “one prayer” of repentance; and your “one prayer” of repentance is added to everyone who reads these words; and their prayers of repentance – then we’ve gone a long way toward turning that “person” into “people.”

This is my prayer…

Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of Your glory!

Oh Father, I am a sinful woman, and I live among a people who are sinful. But You have cleansed that sin, not with a burning coal, but with the blood of Your very own Son.

That Blood was poured out for the sin of the world, but it has been spurned, ridiculed, and rejected by so many, and there will be the Day of Vengeance.

God, we are torn – do we pray for a delay of the wrath, or for the coming of the Bridegroom? We so long to see His Face and triumph of Glory…

But, there are so many lost and hurting, and so we pray, in humility, hear us Father, forgive our sin, and heal our land.

May we seize this opportunity You are holding out to postpone the judgment a season longer, if that be Your Holy Will.

In Jesus’ Name – Amen.

One prayer + one prayer + one prayer + one prayer…

 

 

 

 

The Privilege of Prayer

My Father and my God… what an awesome privilege You’ve given us – to just come right on in to the Throne of Grace – any time we want… And indeed, the more we “want to” the better it is for us – the more we’re filled with Your presence.

We come not only to the Throne of Grace, but of mercy as well, for You give us so much that we could never be worthy of… and You hold back, in Your infinite mercy, the judgment which we so seriously deserve.

I am in awe…

But Father, with this privilege comes an overwhelming responsibility as well. As we come bringing praises, we also come bringing our needs – and the needs of others. I find myself, Lord, saying to anyone with a need (and who doesn’t), “I’ll pray for you” or “I’ll put you on my prayer list…” and then I think, “Lord! I don’t know how to pray for them!!!”

I don’t know what the real needs are. I don’t know what Your will is. I don’t know what to ask for. I just don’t know… Lord! I just… don’t… know…

But yet, I told them I’d pray for them…

And Lord, there’s so many of them! And, so many more in the very same situations, with the same conditions, and the same needs that I don’t know about… who’s praying for them, Lord?

And, what if I forget? Would You withhold healing or comfort because I forgot to pray? I just can’t see You saying, “Oh – too bad… Betty didn’t pray today, so I’m not touching this person today…”

So God, what is it… I just don’t understand…

But Lord, all I know is that I MUST pray. I can no more not pray than I can not breathe. And so, I pray for these Thy children. You Lord, know their needs. You Lord, know their hurts. And You Lord and You alone, know the answers.

My responsibility and my privilege is simply to come to the Throne of Grace, and bring my friends… (and my enemies, as well…)

In the Name of the One who opened this door to the Throne room with His very blood – in Jesus’ Name – Amen.

 

How does intercessory prayer overcome free will?

I spent the morning praying for a friend’s child and their struggles. I prayed that today would be a good day, because I know (from long personal experience) that that is how you survive the struggle. You pray for today and then tomorrow you pray for today as well… and you keep on praying for today until that particular battle becomes a skirmish, and that skirmish becomes something that you talk about in the past tense, while praying for the conflict that the new day brings (because every day brings one of its own, as Matthew 6:34 teaches.)

I prayed this morning for a loved one with a struggle, and for a friend whose husband has cancer – very serious cancer… I prayed for her strength and courage today.

I prayed for some I know who have made poor choices, that are now being covered by lies and deception, and for others who are overwhelmed by their responsibilities, and for those who are just plain afraid.

But, I kept coming back to “how does intercessory prayer overcome free will?” If my friend’s child chooses to turn away; if my own loved one chooses to react; if my friend chooses to give in, or allows fear to take control of her life… how does my intercessory prayer change anything?

How does intercessory prayer make someone tell the truth or give someone a way out, or keep someone from fear?

And the answer is – I don’t really know. All I know for sure is – there have been times in my own life when the only way I made it through was in knowing that someone was praying for me.

So, maybe I should let them know that they are being prayed for… Maybe that’s where intercessory prayer gets its power. Maybe just being reminded that even if you’re powerless; even if you’re the one on “the stretcher” that you still have friends that are willing to carry you to Jesus, tear off the rooftop, and lower you down to Him… Maybe that’s where the power really is.

We just need to allow Him to deal with the sin or the heartache or the pain or the fear. I don’t have to (and in fact, can’t) “fix it.” But He can, if it is His will; if it brings Him glory… I only have to pray.

I still don’t know how intercessory prayer overcomes free will. But then, I don’t have to understand – I only have to pray.

And Father, I do pray, today… and leave it in Your hands. In Jesus’ Name – Amen.

 

But Even if No One Prays

You’ve just read about the power and comfort of intercessory prayer, and how Aaron and Hur “came along side” of Moses to help hold his arms up when he grew tired and weary (Exodus 17:10ff). That kind of praying is very important, however this morning I began thinking about that devotional, and the thought hit me that the Holy Spirit – the Comforter is the word “Parakletos” in Greek, and it literally means “one who comes along side of another.” So… even if there is no one who prays for me, as a Christian, the “Comforter”, the “Paraclete” (as it is translated into English) is already within me, already “along side” of me holding me up during times of struggle!

Yes, it is very comforting to have a warm body there holding us, comforting us and praying with us – but even if there is no one, there is still Someone! There is Someone Who takes your prayers to God, even when you have no words (Romans 8:26-27). And, there is Someone who is sitting on God’s right hand (Hebrews 10:12) Who “lives forever to intercede” for you (Hebrews 7:25).

We should pray for and comfort one another, but when you feel all alone – know this – Someone is with you who promised that He would never leave you nor forsake you… (Hebrews 13:5) and He won’t!

May this comfort and strengthen your heart as it has mine! Amen.

 

 

How Intercessory Prayer Works

 

Paul (in speaking about the Old Testament stories) said, “These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.” (1 Corinthians 10:11 NLT)

 

For how intercessory prayer works, read Exodus 17:10ff. In Exodus 17:10 and following, the Israelites were in a battle with the Amalekites. As long as Moses held his staff in the air, the Israelites were winning, but when he began to tire and drop his arms, they began to lose. Then, Aaron and Hur came alongside of Moses and held his arms up until the battle is won.

Are you tired and weary in a battle you are fighting? Imagine the intercessory prayer of others holding your arms aloft during the struggle. There was a time in my life where I literally remember saying (as I drove down the interstate – I still remember the spot) “The only thing that keeps me going is knowing that Ruby and Georgia are praying for me…”

Nearly every Sunday these two women would come up to me at church and ask how it was going, and say, “I just wanted to know how you were doing… I’m praying for you, you know.” That made all the difference!

Do you need your arms held up today? Or, whose arms can you hold up today?

Paul also said (2 Corinthians 1:4) “He [God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (NLT)

Have you been comforted? Who can you comfort today?

Do you need comfort? Ask someone to come alongside of you and pray for/with you today. DO NOT try to do it alone!

 

Prayer:

Father, I lift up those who are seriously struggling today. I picture many of them in my mind and I see their battle weary faces. May these prayers give them comfort and strength to face the battle this day. God, I have been so comforted and strengthened by the prayers of others, may I never fail to be willing to come alongside others and comfort them with that same comfort. Thank You for sending us the Comforter, Your Holy Spirit, to be with us – in us, and thank You for allowing us to participate in Your work. May everything we do bring You glory – in Jesus’ Name – Amen

Today starts a new section in my book “Put Your Hand to the Plow – and Pray!” These are a collection of prayers and devotionals from the farm. This section is titled “How to Pray”. It is introduced with the following scripture:

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

Enjoy!

Prelude to Prayer…

 

“Lord God Almighty,” not the “oh my god” of the sitcoms; not the god of the late night comics, nor of the movie screen. Neither the god of the philosophers or the debaters – but “The Lord God Almighty” – maker of heaven and earth, the creator Word, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, the very One Who Jesus called “Abba, Father”, and Who knows the number of the hairs on my head… it is to You that I pray…

The Hebrews would not even say Your Name, it is so holy, and I am speechless in acknowledgement of Your majesty. There are no words to express the awesomeness of Your magnificence. With a Word, You spoke the world into existence. At Your breath clay becomes man, and at Your breath, man becomes clay…

David’s cry of “O LORD my Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth” becomes my song as well. “Oh Jehovah, my Adonai,” “Oh Eternal, ‘my God’,” “Oh Unspeakable, my Personal” “Oh Father, my Abba…” “Oh Without, my within,” how excellent is Your name(s) in all the earth…

And… You… want me… to pray… to You…?

ah…. My knees buckle at the very thought…

God, we pray at our “prayer times” and we pray “thought prayers” all the day long. We see a beautiful scene and instinctively pray “Thank You, Lord…” We see a need or hear a plea and send up an immediate prayer for deliverance or aid. And even expect an answer…

Yet as Christians, we almost take for granted that You are there; that You hear our every cry, that you care for every condition of our hearts, our souls and our physical needs. We know that we can come to You at any time, but O Lord, sometimes we fail to grasp the unspeakable, unfathomable, immeasurable, fullness of Your Glory.

But indeed, how can we? For we are just man – and You… are God.

You are the Lord God Almighty. And it is to You, that I pray…

 

 

This is the last devotional in the book section “Why Pray”. I hope you have enjoyed these. Tomorrow will start with a new section.

 

Why Pray

One night as I was praying before I went to sleep I said, “Lord! There are so many and so much to pray for – so many sick; so many hurting… how can I pray for them all? How many would You have me pray for? And I heard, “How many do you want to rejoice with?

There’s a lot to be said about prayer… do our prayers really change God’s mind? Does God keep count of how many are praying? Does He ever say, “Oh gee! If you’d only had one more person praying I would have answered…”

Yes, Moses prayed and God “relented” – but was it Moses’ prayer that did it, or did God simply allow Moses to participate in His will?

I think the major reason for prayer (and this distills a multi-week study on prayer) but the bottom line is – when we pray, we get to praise God for His mighty work. If we don’t pray – we don’t limit God, we just miss out on an opportunity to Glorify Him!

This came painfully home a few weeks ago when a friend asked me to pray for a doctor’s appointment she had. The test results could have been life-changing. And, although I put the day and time on my calendar – and prayed as I wrote it down… I forgot to pray about it that day.

She called me after she left the appointment, praising God for an answer to prayer. It was good news! She said, “I felt your prayers holding me up…” Well… it wasn’t my prayers she was feeling…

However… even though I rejoiced with her, I could not participate fully in the joy, because I had not prayed…

God is sovereign – He does not need us to help Him decide” what to do – but He does allow us to glorify Him when we participate in the process.

So which ones did I pray for last night? As many as I possibly could!

Prayer:

Thank You Father for the privilege of prayer and graciously allowing us to see Your mighty hand at work. You are an Awesome God – You are Almighty and You are Sovereign. As the Psalmist said, “What is man that You are mindful of him? Yet You have made him just a little lower than the angels…” And You have allowed us access to the throne room… O God! We hear You bid us “come”. May we indeed – do that very thing. We pray this in the Name of the One who intercedes for us – even Jesus – Amen.

 

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