Monday, October 22, 2012

A Call to Prayer

I called our church a few weeks ago to a month of prayer and fasting as we approach the upcoming election in November.

As it is the business of tailors to make clothes and of cobblers to mend shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray.  – Martin Luther

God shapes the world by prayer.  Prayers are deathless.  They outlive the lives of those who utter them.  – E. M. Bounds

Prayers move the heart of God – not in violation of his sovereignty, but actually as an act of his sovereignty.  Think of the mom who prays for her wayward child for a decade or two without seeing any evidence of change.  That was my mom.  Even when it seems as if nothing is happening, God is at work.  – Britt Merrick

Prayer as encounter and communion . . .

Prayer is an exercise by which we verbally request that God manifest his divine glory in our lives and in our work.  The prayer of encounter and communion assumes that it is possible to meet Christ, to listen through and speak through spheres of time and to know the same risen Lord who met with and taught twelve disciples in Palestine.  Obviously such an encounter is experienced by faith.  Intercessory prayer is prayer that arises out of our encounter and personal communion with Christ. 


The place of silence in prayer . . .

Our Christian heritage would remind us again and again that prayer and discernment require silence, that we must slow down and find the space and time to set aside the noise of the world and of our own hearts.  This is not something that comes easily for us.  The effort is imperative; we seek silence because we long to hear God and God alone.  The discipline of silence is a learned art, one that requires persistence and patience.  The problem is not that God cannot speak loudly; the issue at hand is our capacity to hear.  There is too much noise in our lives, too much emotional clutter and intellectual busyness.  All too frequently we are simply too busy to slow down and listen – G. Smith

In doing God’s work there is no substitute for praying.  The men of prayer cannot be displaced with other kinds of men.  Men of financial skill, men of education, men of worldly influence -- none of these can possibly be put in substitution for the men of prayer.  The life, the vigour, the motive power of Gods work is formed by praying men.  The men to whom Jesus Christ committed the fortunes and destiny of His Church were men of prayer.  To no other kind of men has God ever committed Himself in this world.   – E. M. Bounds

Are the apostles saying that out of all the ministries they could do, what they cannot let go of is preaching/teaching the Word of God and leading the prayer life of the church?  Is this really what the Bible pictures here – that leaders ought to consider guiding the corporate prayer life of the church just as critical a priority as preaching/teaching the Word of God?  - John Franklin

There is no use of our praying unless we trust.  To pray is to ask, to make known our petition to the Lord.  Then our part is to trust that He has heard our prayer and that He will answer in His own time and way.  We must pray and trust!  - Joseph Evans

Is it astounding that the Spirit of God would have to seek far afield to find some intercessor on behalf of the King so that the many prayers offered by his mother should be answered?  There are those who have been taught to pray in the Spirit, as we read in Romans 8:26-27.  – V. Raymond Edman, Out of My Life

What is fasting? 

A Christian’s voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes.  – Donald Whitney

The voluntary denial of a normal function for the sake of intense spiritual activity.  – Richard Foster

Areas of focused prayer and fasting:
1)      Personal areas, issues, needs.
2)      The state of our nation.
3)      The Spring church.
4)      Concerns for family and friends.

Normal fasts (Mt. 4:2)

Partial fasts (Dn. 1:12)

Absolute fast (Est. 4:16)

Supernatural fast (40 days; Dt. 9:9)

Private fast (Mt. 6:16-18)

Congregational fasts (Joel 2:15-16)

National fasts (2 Chron. 20)

Regular fasts (Old Covenant)

Occasional fasts (Mt. 9:15; Esther, Jehoshaphat)

What does the Bible teach us about fasting?


1)         Fasting is expected (Mt. 6:16-17) and a normal discipline in the life of a disciple of Jesus.


2)         Fasting, like other spiritual habits, should be done unto the Lord and not for show.


3)         Fasting is done for specific purposes . . .


a.       To know God better.

b.       To strengthen our prayers, particular in times of urgency.

Whenever men are to pray to God concerning any great matter, it would be expedient to appoint fasting along with prayer.  – John Calvin

There’s something about fasting that sharpens the edge of our intercessions and gives passion to our supplications.  – Donald Whitney

Fasting does not change God’s hearing as much as it changes our praying.  – Whitney

The man who prays with fasting is giving heaven notice that he is truly in earnest.  He is using a means that God has chosen to make his voice to be heard on high.  – Arthur Wallis

c.          To seek God’s guidance.

d.         To express grief or repentance.

e.          To seek deliverance or protection.

f.          To humble oneself before God.

g.         To express concern and intercede for the work of God.

h.         To overcome temptation and dedicate yourself to God.

i.           To better minister to others.

j.           To ask God to intervene in large, even national, concerns.
Resources:  Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney

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