Purposeful Prayer

It had been an eventful couple of months. Emotions were all over the place. They knew the authorities were closing in, and they did, after a tip-off by one of their own. This led to the greatest miscarriages of justice the world would ever know — the horrible crucifixion of an innocent man — Jesus of Nazareth.

But that was not the end of the story. Their grief was short-lived, as their teacher and Lord rose from the dead three days later. He was back! They saw him, touched him; knew it was him because of the scars in his hands and side. All was wonderful again, as he spent the next forty days making clear to them what had happened and why. It was all fulfillment of Scripture — God’s plan — to bring salvation to the nations.

Then, just as they got used to the idea of his resurrection, he left them again, though not in death but by rising, right before their eyes, into the heavens.

Now where do they go? What do they do?

They went back to the place where it all happened — Jerusalem — back to the room where they’d been staying and prayed.

18618767_10212499941674957_1478444022_oThey didn’t just pray for an hour or so; no, Luke tells us that they prayed constantly.

Two things happened while they were praying. They were led to replace Judas as one of the apostles; choosing Matthias in his stead, making their number complete once again. Then the Holy Spirit arrived on the scene — in a big way, making way for the most amazing multi-lingual event in history.

The Church was born.

Did the disciples cause the birth of the Church with their prayers? No, God caused it, but used both them and their prayers.

When God wants to do something, he gets his people praying.

That reality hit me like a ton of bricks a few weeks ago. I knew God moved through the prayers of his people. I’d seen it, but I had never put together the order of the process. God has a plan, but waits for us to join him in prayer, before he starts to accomplish it. Prayer gets us ready to participate in his work in the lives of others.

That’s when I realized something. I could give a recent testimony to this truth.

At the urging of the local church, I’d been encouraged to spend a month in concentrated prayer for someone to know Jesus. Due to other circumstances in their life, a person I loved came immediately to mind. I prayed both for him and his wife — constantly — for a month.

Then God moved! I didn’t start it, he did; all I had to do was join him in what he obviously wanted to do in their life. Not only did I receive joyous confirmation that their lives were fully united with Christ, but I was able to speak into their lives, answer questions, give encouragement and rejoice with them in what God was doing.

I had been praying for this couple for over thirty years. Why now? Why not earlier? Because it was not “the fullness of time” for them. Where those earlier prayers wasted? The earlier efforts to speak truth into their lives? Of course not. Those were the seeds God would use, when combined with those of others and current circumstances to bring fruit for the Kingdom.

So, I’m learning something new about God, which always gets me excited. I pray daily as always, knowing God hears and uses those prayers, but I am now keenly aware of when he calls me to “pray constantly” for a person or situation. That’s when I pray with a new expectation of what he’s going to do.

Has God burdened your heart to pray? Don’t delay. Pray and watch with expectation of His readiness to do something. He wants you to be there when it happens!

Grace and Peace


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