Prayer2Care

This week’s blog is from the notes of a prayer service we held at our church during a day in which we focused the full day on prayer. It was not a sermon; rather it was a series of thoughts, readings, songs, and especially time for prayer. I am leaving my notes mostly intact, with the removing of the times during the service we sang. The areas separated by < > are congregational moments.

Our world has problems. Our nation has problems. Our state has problems. Our town has problems. Our church has problems. You have problems. I have problems.

But a solution exists. And that solution is Jesus.

Today, as a church, we will focus on prayer. Some have already taken a time of prayer early this day. Some will be praying throughout the afternoon and evening and into the night. The goal was to make this day – July 14th, a day for our church to pray. 24 hours, 30 minutes at a time.

Today was chosen as the day because the date (7/14) corresponds with a great verse about prayer – 2 Chronicles 7.14. The verse is God speaking to Solomon, and in it God says:

“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 and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

As such, the service today is about prayer. We will spend this time together praying. We will also sing songs that acknowledge the importance of prayer and, more importantly, who God is. You may say that you do not have the discipline to pray for the better part of an hour or more. That’s ok. I don’t either. But a statement I read this week gets to the heart of that issue:

“We don’t need self-discipline to pray continuously; we just need to be poor in spirit.” – Paul Miller, A Praying Life

Today might be uncomfortable in some ways, but if we cannot find comfort and peace in talking to God, then I do not believe we can ever find comfort. To do that, we will read some Scripture, have time for prayer, and sing some songs. But first, I want to teach you a technique I recently learned about helping to focus our attention as we begin to pray.

The idea is to “breathe Jesus.” This idea was introduced to me in the book I just referenced above (A Praying Life). All we need to do is mentally say “Je” as we breathe in and “sus” as we breathe out. This can be done as slowly or as quickly (short of hyperventilating) as you wish. Do it for a few seconds, then a minute, and over time, work your way up to 10 minutes. It is very peaceful and helps clear your mind, and prepares you to pray more effectively.

< Breathe Jesus – 1 minute >

As we quiet our lives for a few moments this morning, let us reflect on our need for God to become quiet and allow Him to enter us.

 READ Psalm 63.1-4

To truly be a sanctuary, we need to be still. We need to know God.

Let’s take this time to be still and not only know that God is God, but to know Him.

READ Psalm 46.10

< Pray in silence >

Are you longing for God? Do you want to? The quote I mentioned earlier talked about our need to be poor in spirit in order to truly acknowledge our need for God. Too often our self-sustaining attitude (that is, our pride) gets in the way. Let’s cry out to Him that He might heal us and heal our land.

READ Psalm 42.1-5

The reality is that we often think we are doing ok and are in control, but Jesus reminds us that we are nothing and can do nothing apart from Him.

READ John 15.5-7

As I read earlier, 2 Chronicles 7.14 talks about our need to humble ourselves. That is what Jesus is saying in the verses I just read. It takes humility to ask for forgiveness. We often think we are right in so many situations, but we often justify ourselves which separate us from God.

When we pray for forgiveness, we are seeking the mercy of God. Mercy is one of the great characteristics of God as shown throughout the Bible. King David knew of God’s mercy and cried out earnestly for forgiveness.

READ Psalm 51.1-4; 9-10

So, with the example of David’s humility fresh in our minds, let us take a moment to humble ourselves before the King and ask forgiveness of our pride.

< Pray in silence >

As we progress through the service, perhaps you do not know what to pray. Perhaps you do not know how to pray. Perhaps you hear some people pray and say, “I wish I could pray like that.” Well, let me simply say that God doesn’t care how we pray. It isn’t about of how, it is a matter of simply doing it. In Luke 18, Jesus talks of two men who are praying – one is praying mightily and is visibly noticed. The other is praying a simple prayer, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18.13). Jesus said it was the second man who was justified before God…because of his humility.

And when we do not know what to pray, we can be thankful that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.

READ Romans 8.26-27

So, if you do not know that to pray, simply take a few moments to call out to the Spirit of God. “Come, Spirit. Come. Hear my heart and make it known to God.”

< Pray in silence >

< Breathe Jesus >

In 2 Chronicles 7.14, God said, “If my people who are called by my name…” Today those people are followers of Christ.

Then God said, “…will humble themselves and pray and seek my face…” We have humbled ourselves. We have sought God.

Then God said, “…and turn from their wicked ways…” We have asked for forgiveness. Now the choice is up to us to turn away from our sins.

Then God said, “I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

We have now prepared our hearts and our minds to center our prayers toward God. We have removed the distractions in our lives as best we can for a short period of time. Now, we focus our prayers beyond ourselves. We have asked for personal healing, now we can seek healing at a greater level.

We now take time to pray for the personal needs of those on our prayer list or in our minds. Whether the needs are physical, emotional, spiritual, or unknown, we take time to pray for those on our hearts this morning.

< Pray in silence >

Now, we will take time to pray for this church. That we might be healed. That relationships will be restored. That fellowship will be sweet and worship will be passionate. We pray that we will follow Jesus and help others to do the same, and that God will find our service glorifying to Him.

< Pray in silence >

We pray for the other churches in Fairfax and throughout Northwest Missouri. We pray that God will move among His people throughout this town and through this region.

< Pray in silence >

We pray for our government leaders in this state and country. We pray that the churches in the capitol cities of each state will have the impact that only the Kingdom of God can have. We pray that people will see churches come alive and show others that Jesus is the answer, not the politicians or government programs.

< Pray in silence >

We pray for our world. We know that peace will not come to the world through policies and treaties. But we know that the people of the world can experience true peace – a peace that passes all understanding, a peace that comes from knowing Jesus.

< Pray in silence >

We now prepare to close this service with one final prayer and one final song. But before we do, we are going to transition to a time of offering. We have offered ourselves. We have asked God for mercy, for healing, for Himself. And now we have a chance to offer something back to Him.

< Ask ushers to come forward. AB will pray for the offering. >

We offer one final prayer now. We will recite the prayer the Lord taught to His disciples. We will recite it, but in a slightly different form and pause for reflection after every line. Why pause? Because in the verses which precede the prayer, Jesus tells His disciples that God doesn’t hear prayers which are mindless.

< Pray with Congregation >

Father, in heaven –

Your name is holy.

Let Your kingdom reign.

Let Your will be done in my life.

Let Your will be done in the life of this church.

Let Your will be done on this earth.

Let Your will be known here just as it is in heaven.

Give us the meals we need for nourishment today.

Forgive us God for our sinfulness.

Remind us of our need to forgive those who sin against us. Then let us be willing to forgive!

Father, deliver us from our selfish desires.

Father, deliver us from Satan.

All glory belongs to You and Your Kingdom.

All power is Yours from the beginning and forevermore.

Amen.

< End Prayer >

And we close with a song that embraces the true greatness of God, which is just one of the reasons we pray.

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