Wednesday, 31 July 2013

No Audible Response

”No Audible Response”
John 11:5-6

Fifth in a Series on Prayer—Oswald Chambers
”Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.”
Jesus did not send any response to Mary and Martha about Lazarus’ illness. He might not have known how ill he really was and was just waiting to hear. But Mary and Martha prayed for healing for their brother and there was nothing happening. Lazarus did not get better. He died and it was not until a few days after his burial did Jesus make his way to see the sisters. 
What happens when we pray? Do we expect instant responses from God which bring about immediate actions? Do we expect what we ask will be the best response by God? What if, there is no response heard, experienced or noticed, what then? Do we keep praying the same prayer or do we really ask for God’s will to be done?
Some of our prayers are followed by silence because they are wrong, others because they are bigger than we can understand. Jesus stayed where He was because He loved Martha and Mary. But their prayer was to have Lazarus back and well. Did they get him back? Yes, and more. Could they have even imagined that through their brother being raised from death, God’s glory was revealed, Jesus became known as the healer and this story is still being told even after two thousand years? No! But in the time of the silence when their prayers seemed to be unanswered, God knew what was to happen through Jesus. God revealed Jesus as the Christ to show what would happen later on as well; Jesus would die and rise again.
Waiting for God to respond is an exercise of hope and faith. It is a trust that God will respond at some point and because God also knows our hearts and willingness to grow how God responds is up to us. “God will give us the blessings we want, but if we would go further, His silence is the sign that He is bringing us into an even greater and more marvelous understanding of himself.”  God does respond to prayers- yes, no, soon, not yet but it is up to us to pray earnestly for ourselves and others. We must wait through what is perceived as silence because it is often after the silence that we will learn more of a transformation and change of heart by God. But are we willing to wait?

O Lord, I have no inkling of your ways in external details, but I have the expectance of your wonders soon to be made visible. Lord, I look to you. How completely at rest I am, yet how free from seeing your way. You are God and I trust in you even in the silence. Amen.
Quotes from  Oswald Chambers “If You Will Ask: ch 5 After God’s Silence- What?

Praying is not texting which is short and succinct communication asking for a similar response. Praying is lifting up our concerns to God and letting God respond His way and in His time. Do you recall a time when you have been disappointed that God did not answer your prayer or at least thought He did not answer your prayer? Was the outcome of your prayer petition different than you expected by being even more than you imagined? How would you explain the unheard response of God?

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Intercessory Prayer

 Wednesday, July 10, 2013
By Rev Cathy

”Intercessory Prayer”
Habakkuk 2:1-2
Fourth in a Series on Prayer—Oswald Chambers
“Stand on the watch and wait to see God’s response.”
Oswald Chambers states, “There is a difference in the prayers of the Old and the New Testaments. Habakkuk 3 (OT) shows that prayer is based on the character of God and appeals to God’s great mercies.  The prayers in the OT also have to do with an earthly people in an earthly setting. In the New Testament, prayer is based on a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  “Our Father—“ (Luke 11:2). These prayers also have to do with a heavenly state of mind in a heavenly people while on this earth.
Because of the difference in prayer presented in the Old and New Testament there might be some confusion as to what is involved in these types of prayer especially for today’s faithful people. We have a relationship with God through Jesus and in this hurry up and go society, watching and waiting are difficult for us. We wait for God’s answer to prayer sometimes and when prayers are not answered as we would like them to be or in our time we often turn away from God and Jesus as well as the church. Through faith however,  we need to believe that all prayers are answered but in God’s time because God knows the bigger picture of our lives unfolding in the midst of our current situations.
Intercessory prayer is asking God on behalf of others and yourself to act, respond and do something which will bring about change. Just and pause the reflect about the devastations that occur all around the world many of which cause people to turn away from God and question his existence and love for all his creation. As faithful followers and believers we must ask the question, what are we doing about sharing God’s message of love?  Are we praying for changes or asking God to bring love and hope in new forms and ways? When we pray are we really watching what is happening in our world, praying for change and waiting for God’s response? Or are we merely mouthing words with a little bit of anticipation. What if God is really calling you to bring about the changes- are you willing? If God came to you tonight, would you say, “Here I am? Or Sending someone else, please!”
Quotes from  Oswald Chambers “If You Will Ask: ch 4 The Curriculum of Intercession

Wonder filled God, of mercy and Father of our Saviour Jesus, we praise you and we ask that you would hear our prayers and to wait your response. We are watching your world and we see many changes--some good some not so good. You are aware of all things and know each of us through and through. Enable us to wait upon you for your response as we pray on behalf of the needs of others and on our behalf as well. God help us we pray to know you and to love you. Hear our prayers. Amen.

When you pray do you pray for others? For whom do you pray—those known to you, unknown to you, those whose stories fill news headlines or those quietly and faithfully living their lives. Do you believe that your prayers make a difference in the lives of others?  

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Struggle for Prayer

”The Struggle for Prayer”
Ephesians 6:12-19

Third in the Series on Prayer—Oswald Chambers
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.”
            Do you struggle with praying every day and what to say when you pray? Maybe we need to understand what prayer is. It is the redemption of God, the suffering of Jesus what makes our salvation so easy and prayer so simple. It is the ability of sharing our thoughts and emotions, our concerns for others and for ourselves with God, knowing that He hears and answers. The cost of prayer to us is nothing but to God it is priceless—Jesus died and rose again so that we can be in right relationship with God—if we so choose!
But we struggle with prayer and what to do and say or even with why we do it. We pray because we need to be strengthened in our ministry as we reach out to others in Jesus’ name. We pray because we need to know that we are not alone in whatever it is we face. We pray because we are renewed in the knowledge that what we face Someone else faced it first ad we follow his example to pray..
Paul in writing to the Christians at Ephesus described the need for prayer in one’s life by readying a soldier for battle. Although we do not face battles and wars in this time the illustration Paul describes helps us to ready and renew ourselves as we prepare to do what God wants us to do. And if we struggle in prayer it is because the evil one is gaining ground on us and others who do not draw close to Christ.
 But if we stand ready and equipped to move forward and share our prayers for others and for ourselves we will be able to share with God our whole lives.
Paul describes the Armour of God:
-girded your waist with Truth- active sensible work; -breastplate of Righteousness- being in right relationship with other people and their interests; - shield of Faith- unbreakable confidence in the personality of God; - sword of the Spirit- know God’s words and follow it on daily basis.
If you are struggling and do not know what to do about praying to God… Ready yourselves—ask for God’s help—to have truth, live rightly, have faith and read and learn God’s Word for us now. God will enable you to overcome these struggles and God will call you to a new way of living—first and foremost for Christ Jesus and in the loving way he taught.
            Are you struggling with prayer? Put on the armour of God and ready yourself through faith and talk openly and freely to God. He will answer

Quotes from  Oswald Chambers “If You Will Ask: ch 3 The Struggle for Prayer”

O God to praise you aright is a great desire of mine, created and fostered by your Spirit and grace. Today O God I praise you for all the past  so wayward on my part, so wonderful and gracious and long-suffering and forgiving and tender and inspiring on yours. I humbly pray to you. Amen.

Does the image of the armour of God help or hinder you as you ready yourself and develop a deeper prayer life? Paul’s audience in Ephesus knew that one needed to prepare for battle in order to survive and so they could relate to battleground armour. How do you ready yourself? Some people might light a candle, have a journal and pen ready, put on low volume music, read a scripture passage,  read the headlines of the newspaper and then stop and focus on God and then pray whatever comes to heart and mind.
What do you do to ready yourself to come before God in prayer?