POWERLESS PRAYER

‘‘Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. James 5:14-15

The clearly expected outcome –the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.’ In verses 17-18, James continues to assert the miraculous power of prayers, offered in faith:

‘Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.’ James 5:17-18

Clearly, James believed that prayers offered in faith would result in the physical, miraculous intervention of God. When we look at the life of Jesus, and the amount of time and energy he devoted to healing the sick, which was an expression of his deep compassion for the suffering, it is easy to see that James was closer to the truth than most Christians are today.

Jesus relied on miracles to confirm his words, moreover, He told us that those that believe in Him will do even greater works than He did. Do we really believe Him?

I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.John 14:12-14

Powerless prayers have been rendered as such by the long, slow erosion of faith among God’s people, and that erosion has been made possible by the embracing of false traditions. For example, the kind of prayers that close with ‘not my will but yours, be done’. This is not stated in faith, in expectation of an outcome, but more as a catch-all – ‘please ignore everything I just asked for, if it doesn’t suit you.’

This is not the model of discipleship we are to follow and teach, where we are completely unaware of the will of God, and our prayers are at best guesswork. Paul urges us to walk ever more closely with God, and increasingly understand his will.

‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ Romans 12:1-2

As we yield to God’s mercy and walk closely with him, our ideas are changed. We jettison old ways of thinking, as healthier, more life-giving inspiration arises in His company, and as our minds are renewed, we become more attuned to Him and to His will. Only then, in our closeness with God, where His good, pleasing and perfect will is known, can we pray effectively.

In the early church, the lived experience of the Christian faith was far greater than it is today. There is much we have lost and must seek to restore. Back to the church as God intended as revealed in the Book of Acts.

Praying effectively: James sums it up well:

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.’ James 1:6-8

 Adapted from the excellent article "The Prayer God Can’t Answer" by Duncan Edward Pile Patheos Nov. 23rd 2021

OUR PRIMARY MISSION – GET INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD

Chan shared that his latest book, Until Unity, was inspired by John 17, where Jesus prays for unity among the Body of Christ. Though he didn’t want to write another book, the bestselling author felt compelled to do so after seeing the severe lack of unity among believers. 

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Francis Chan criticises Western church for lack of unity and obsession with busyness

“When I look at Scripture, I see how much God wants unity. This is why Christ died on the cross; to make the two one. And I see how Ephesians four says that we actually grieve the Spirit of God by our disunity. I really believe this is God’s desire. And I just saw the Church getting worse and worse, and I would see the way people would bash each other. We’re getting further and further away from what God wants.”

The Crazy Love author emphasized the power of silence, citing Exodus 14:14, which reads “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still,” and Proverbs 10:19: “When words are many, transgression is not lacking.” We don’t know how to quietly be in awe of Almighty God together. If we did, we’d find ourselves on our knees, in tears,” he said. 

Unity, Chan stressed, “has to start with Christ; it has to start with, ‘Wow, I was created in the image of the triune God.”

“But how many people wake up in the morning and have this reverent awe?” he lamented. “And because we don’t have that, and we’re not spending time marveling in silence at God and our oneness with Him, we try to jump to, ‘OK, let’s all get along.’ And I’m going, ‘No, we cannot all get along if we’re not in shock that we are one with Him and He’s given us His glory so that we can become perfect.’”

“The reason why we fight and the reason why we’re so sure of our opinions … is we don’t get into the presence of God,” he said. “All of this horizontal stuff is because we really aren’t truly, with all of our hearts, soul and mind loving Him, and entering into His presence.”

The author said he fears that many Christians are becoming the “Second Timothy 3 group that are always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.”

“I don’t want to be one of those that are constantly acquiring information but not knowing it,” he said. “I worry about my friends, everyone else that grew up in the same type of evangelical faith that I did that it’s busy, and we don’t take time to meditate and know these truths. If we did, we wouldn’t be so quick to speak.”

“Get alone with the Lord,” he advised. “Let Him open you up. You may find issues and He may find issues in you that you need to know are wrong. You may have thought you’re just going in for a checkup, and He cuts you open. We’ve got to get back to getting people into the presence of God.”

PRAYER IS THE ONLY ANSWER

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Americans intercede in prayer in the nations capital, Washington DC, September 26th 2020

On Saturday, September 26, Franklin Graham led the Prayer March 2020 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern starting at the Lincoln Memorial. How many people attended the nearly two-mile march in Washington, D.C.? It was estimated at close to 50,000. 

As well, thousands of churches across the United States will pray for repentance and revival on Sunday, September 27 in response to calls by the leaders of more than 50 churches and ministries to observe Repentance Sunday as the country is going through “division, destruction, and degradation.”

“Inspired by Old Testament calls to sacred assemblies, this special day (September 27) marks the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in the historic Church calendar,” said the organizers on the event’s website.

Prayer March 2020 Crowd Size

Rev Franklin Graham has said events this year such as the coronavirus pandemic and injustice has caused the US to reach a boiling point. He said: “I think there’s kind of a boiling point here with many people,” he said. “We have seen injustice on our streets and some of our communities. The frustration that people aren’t heard, that people are marginalized. It seems that all of this is boiling at the same time. “Republicans cannot fix it; Democrats cannot fix it. Only God can.” The US evangelist was speaking in an interview ahead of this past weekend’s national prayer march which took place in Washington DC. Thousands of people walked on the National Mall from Lincoln Memorial to the US Capitol building, pausing to pray at different landmarks.

He said “America is in trouble, but we do have hope and that hope is in almighty God. “We need to pray now more than we’ve ever done in our life. Our communities are hurting, people are divided and there is fear and uncertainty all around.” Rev Graham said it’s hard to say whether there can be a Great Awakening in the nation because many pastors won’t be vocal with the Biblical view on controversial subjects. “Many in the Church today are comfortable and a lot of pastors don’t want to rock the boat,” he said. However, be believes 2020’s events have caused people to think about their spiritual lives. “I sense there is something moving in our country. I don’t believe that our country is going to be spared from God’s judgment. We are not a Christian nation. We are now a secular nation and the secularists are wanting to strip God out of everything,” he said.