I am increasingly being challenged by God about the importance of prayer. This is something that has been going on for many years, not just a recent thing. When I was preparing to lead a church for the first time, around 25 years ago, I was challenged that my personal prayer life. I realised it was not strong enough to sustain a church. I spent months reading about prayer and seeking to rebuild my prayer life.
The last few years has found God speaking to me again about the importance of prayer, that I should pray more but also about what and how I pray. In a recent sermon, Here is your God, I spoke about God challenging me to look to God more and my problems less. (You can listen to the sermon here http://www.hopechurch.co.uk/sermons-3/?sermon_id=175.)
I have also been drawn to the prayer of the early Christians recorded in Acts 4, which models something similar.
The believers pray
23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. ‘Sovereign Lord,’ they said, ‘you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 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?
26 The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord
and against his anointed one.”
27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’
31 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.
I am reminded of the importance of filling my mind with the greatness of God, “Sovereign Lord”, before “considering their threats”. Reminding ourselves of all that God has done, and how relatively insignificant the nations are, how men may plot but God is in control. Catching sight of God changes the content of my prayers.
We too face many threats, this passage encourages us to pray, filling our minds with who God is and what he has done and then bringing those threats to our all-powerful God. The passage also points to our need to be doing this both as individuals and as a church.
Over the Summer can I therefore encourage you to pray, to give some attention to your personal prayer life! We will be republishing a series of blogs on prayer to encourage you in this. In the Autumn we will be announcing new opportunities for us to gather together as a body to pray, I do hope you will make every effort to join us in this.
Blogs on Prayer (click to read):
Written by Tony Thompson