Ever been working on something that was proving difficult only to be joined by a friend whose extra hands made a real difference? Last weekend I helped a friend clear several trees that were brought down by winter winds. One man could have done the work but 4 of us accomplished it in a much shorter time and with the bonus of good company. The wisdom of the Word says “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, NIV)
Tonight, on this National Day of Prayer, several local congregations will gather to work together in a holy effort of prayer. (Faith Discovery Church, 7 pm, 5/3) I am anticipating the opportunity to stand in the Presence of God with others for this spiritual work. We err if we think that prayer is just sentimental musing, repeating inspiring words. Prayer is one way that we work with God to bring His will and rule to this world. In prayer we wrestle with spiritual forces in the power of the Spirit. Our minds and wills are brought into alignment with the will of God when we engage in praise and petition.
The story of the first generation of Christians is marked by prayer. Jesus directed them to stay in Jerusalem and wait to be empowered. The Spirit came on them and in a single generation they changed the known world with the Gospel of Christ. Prayer was their breath, their food, their weapon, their comfort.
Luke records this about one incident. “On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “ ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. … Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4:23-32, NIV)
In a conversation with a good friend yesterday, we spoke of the spiritual need of our nation. Is sin a new thing? Of course not! All of the spiritual sickness we so lament are common to the human experience. The cure remains the same as it has been for 2 millennia – the powerful presentation of the Gospel of Christ, empowered by the Spirit, that transforms lives. When people give themselves to Jesus, sin’s grip is broken and the beauty of holiness emerges. But, sin and Satan do not let their prey go without a fight. So, today across America, people will gather to pray.
My hope is that our prayers will be filled with faith, that we will engage with the Spirit in holy work, partnering with others who love the conquering Christ. May we pray for something more than prosperity, more than our personal blessings. God call us to the true prayer for the revelation of the love of Christ, so that lives are forever changed by an encounter with the Holy One. And may we fearless seek God’s kingdom to come, bringing eternal life, the defeat of materialism, lust, greed, racial hate. Can I get an “amen”?
Here is a word from the Word. “Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Don’t forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ.” (Colossians 4:2-3, The Message)
God, call us to work with You in the holy work of prayer that powerfully seeks Your kingdom come.
From the National Day of Prayer website (a suggested guide to prayer today)
HOW TO PRAY FOR THE SEVEN CENTERS OF INFLUENCE IN AMERICA
Federal: Executive, legislative, judicial
State: Executive, legislative, judicial
Local: Executive, judicial, police and first responders
Courage and dependence on God
Leaders of integrity
Creators of economic blessing
Givers of resources to the community
Gospel-centered in message
Disciple-makers in mission
Spirit-empowered to unity
Return to the biblical model
Reconciliation in broken relationships
Restoration to love and unity