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The Spirit of Prayer: Answered Prayer Series

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Today’s answered prayer series comes from the late Ravi Zacharias’s book “The Logic of God.” While it isn’t a story of a specifically answered prayer, Ravi does address questions that many of us struggle with when we feel like our prayers are not being answered.

“I marvel at the impact of praying with a hurting person. I have prayed many times with someone who has claimed to be a skeptic and is living in a manner that supports that claim, only to finish my prayer and open my eyes to see tears in his eyes. Although prayer remains a mystery to all of us but especially to one who lives apart from God, I have observed again and again that even the hardened heart retains a longing for the possibility of communicating with God.

It is not my intention to deny the great disappointments of unanswered prayer, but let us look at what God intends prayer to be. The most definitive passage is what is often called the Lord’s Prayer, or, as some scholars like to call it, the Disciples’ Prayer. The highly significant first words carry the weight of all of prayer: ‘Our Father who art in heaven.’ ‘Our Father’ we recognize, at least implicitly, two truths: the nearness of God as heavenly Father, and the sovereignty of God as the One who controls everything. As soon as you cry out in prayer, “Heavenly Father” you are recognizing His presence in your life.

After the Lord’s Prayer and as His conclusion to it, Jesus told us that God would give the Holy Spirit, His indwelling presence, to those who ask for it (Luke 11:13). It is not spoken in the form of a question — it ends with an exclamation point! God will give the gift of the indwelling presence of the holy God to any who ask for it —this is an absolute certainty! You can count on it!

Sadly, we hear so little of this today. We have turned prayer into a means to our ends and seldom wait on God’s response long enough to think about what He wants for us in that very moment. By refusing the evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to one particular gift, we have robbed people of the Holy Presence that prompts us in prayer, prays for us when we don’t have the words to pray for ourselves, and comforts us in our times of need.

The paramount need today is the indwelling presence of God. In this incredible twist, the indwelling presence of God, the Holy Spirit, makes God both the Enabler of our prayers and the Provider of answers to those prayers. More than anything else, this is what prayer is about.”

Sources:
Zacharias, Ravi. “The Logic of God.” Ravi Zacharias 2019

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FIRST OF ALL

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Here, in the second chapter of First Timothy, the Apostle Paul is instructing Timothy and the body of Christ on practical matters. 

The apostle begins with the phrase “first of all.” In other words, he is saying, “Let me begin with…” or, “First, let me emphasize…” This is the only time the phrase “first of all” appears in the Bible. Paul uses this phrase to make us recognize the importance of what he is about to say. 

 He then continues by saying that, “supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men.” I would like to emphasize, first of all, that the prayer life of the believer should always include prayer for others, for all people. We are not to just pray for some people, not just the people you like or the people you feel especially need God’s help. Paul says all men. He then proceeded to explain why we are to pray for all men. As he shares in verses 4-5, Jesus Christ would have all men be saved. He died for all! To put it plainly,

 

Pray for all because He died for all. 

Jesus became the mediator for all the world! While it is true that not all accept Him, not all choose His sacrifice, not all make Him their Lord and Master; we still must pray for all because He died for all. 

In this portion of Scripture, the Apostle Paul calls to our attention a specific group of people we are to focus our prayers on. This group affects our lives whether we know them personally or not. In verse two, Paul says specifically, “For kings, and for all that are in authority.” What would the world look like if we, first of all, were to pray for all men, especially for those in authority? What would the world look like if the body of Christ truly interceded day after day for our leaders? 

It is easy for us to pray for someone who fights for righteousness and biblical values in our laws. But it is just as important for us to pray for those leaders void of God who have no knowledge of the truth of Jesus Christ. These leaders do not have the Holy Spirit guiding them. 

The Bible says in Romans 13:1 that all authority has been given by God. Whoever is currently in authority may not always be the perfect will of the Lord as was the case with King Saul. God wanted to lead Israel, but they wanted a king; so He gave them Saul. He allowed them to have the leader they wanted. And yet ultimately God is the one giving the power. Therefore,

 

We are to pray for ALL in authority even for those with whom we don’t always agree.

At the time of Paul’s writing, who were the kings that were in power? The leader of Rome was the infamous Nero who was one of the most brutal dictators in not only Rome’s history but also world history. He was responsible for the death of countless Christians. We can only imagine how difficult it was for the early church to pray for such a person. As the Christians in the early church were walking the streets of Rome, they could hear the clash of gladiators battling in the arena or the roar of lions waiting to eat their fellow church members. They could see the sight of believers being burned as torches lighting the city in brutal death. In Israel, there were also leaders like Pilot and Herod. There have always been and will always be evil people who opposed the gospel. But Paul clearly says to pray for even those who do these abominable things. He was asking the early church to do an incredibly radical thing. 

As a matter of fact, the Roman historian Josephus wrote that a war was started between Jews and Romans over this issue. The Romans wanted the Jews to pray for their leaders, and they refused. Blood was spilled over this issue. Paul is saying here in First Timothy that we as Christians should pray for our leaders no matter what their beliefs or opinions are. And the early church did pray. One of the bishops of the church in Smyrna Polycarp who was one of John’s disciples who himself died in the coliseum said, “Pray for all the saints; pray, too, for all kings and powers and rulers, and for your persecutors, and those that hate you, and for your cruel enemies.” He was echoing the words of Jesus, “Love your enemies, pray for them who despitefully use you.” 

We in America don’t face anything even close to what the early church faced. But Paul faithfully reminds the church of that era as well as the church today that we are to pray for those in authority regardless of their views, their opinions, or their political parties. 

In addition to telling the early church who to pray for (all men, kings, and those in authority), Paul also does not neglect to share the why. He gives two reasons for why we should pray for all these men. 

First, he says in verse two, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” How can this be true?! The early church was suffering so greatly, and many were being killed at the hands of Nero. What does Paul mean by talking about a peaceful and quiet life? The early church certainly did not experience tranquility at all. He is saying that this is the goal for us as Christians. Our desire is to be at peace and live quiet, godly lives.

 

We are to pray and pray and pray until we see this type of change even if it is not in our lifetimes.

We do not always see revival right away, but it comes through much prayer. Similarly, we will not see peace and quiet lives immediately, but it will eventually come through prayer. 

The second reason Paul gives as to why we should pray for our leaders is that they may “come to the knowledge of the truth,” that they may recognize that Christ is a mediator between God and man, that they may recognize that the man Jesus Christ took the penalty of sin and paid for it on our behalf. Paul could say this better than anyone else. He had previously been a man with authority coming against the body of Christ. He was once Saul of Tarsus void of truth who persecuted the church, but he was then radically transformed by the truth. 

Paul is definitely not the only one to have experienced this radical change. Nebuchadnezzar was worse than any leader we could ever imagine, yet through the power of God, he humbled himself and found God. Cyrus the Great was another pagan King whose heart was yielded to the Spirit of God and brought peace and restoration to God’s people. 

What would happen to the world if men and women of authority all over the world would turn to Christ through the prayers of the saints?! What would happen if, first of all, we interceded for our Governors, for President Trump, for our delegates, and for state senators as we never have before? If we were to do this faithfully, the changes we would see would be great indeed! There would be a change that would transform the whole world.

Today, in these tempestuous times, I implore you that we would, first of all, pray for our leaders. Let us in the body of Christ stand in the gap for kings and all that govern over us.

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Faith Claims the Victory: Answered Prayer Series

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“A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place the Most High, who is my refuge.” Psalm 91:7-9

These days, more than just about any, Christians find themselves thankful for the hope we have in Christ, redemption, and eternal life. Unlike others, we have hope and a purpose, and because of that our hearts are full of thanksgiving during times of continued uncertainty.

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REFLECTION FOR NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER

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 2 Chr. 7:14, “ If My people, who are called by My Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their 
land.”
 
If you go back to the Scripture records, you will find that the men who lived nearest to God, and had most power with Him, were those who confessed their sins and failures. Daniel, confessed his sins and those of his people. Yet there is nothing recorded against Daniel. He was one of the best men then on the face of the earth, yet was his confession of sin one of the deepest and most humble on record. 
In his words you find seven circumstances that Daniel uses in the confessing of his and the people’s sins; and all to heighten and aggravate them. First, ‘We have sinned;’ secondly, ‘We have committed iniquity;’ thirdly, ‘We have done wickedly;’ fourthly, ‘We have rebelled against You;’ fifthly, ‘We have departed from Your precepts;’ sixthly, ‘We have not hearkened unto Your servants;’ seventhly, ‘Nor our princes, nor all the people of the land.’ These seven aggravations which Daniel reckons up in his confession are worthy our most serious consideration. 
Job was no doubt a holy man, a mighty prince, yet he had to fall in the dust and confess his sins. So you will find it all through the Scriptures. When Isaiah saw the purity and holiness of God, he beheld himself in his true light, and he exclaimed, “Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips!” 
I firmly believe that the Church of God will have to confess her own sins, before there can be any great work among God’s believing people.
I sometimes think it is about time to give up preaching to the ungodly, and preach to those who profess to be Christians. If we had a higher standard of life in the Church of God, there would be thousands more flocking into the Kingdom. So it was in the past; when God’s believing children turned away from their sins and their idols, the fear of God fell upon the people round about. Take up the history of Israel, and you will find that when they put away their strange gods, God visited the nation, and there came a mighty work of grace. 
-Prevailing Prayer
D.L. Moody 
 
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Ravi Zacharias Excerpt- Answered Prayer Series

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Our book excerpt today is not in the usual “Answered Prayers” format. But this lesson taken
from Ravi Zacharias’s book, The Logic of God, teaches us about the correlation between
obedience, faith and prayer. We know that Daniel was a man of great prayer, and as you will see,
his life is a testimony of what prayer can accomplish.

“Think of the prophet Daniel’s three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego facing King
Nebuchadnezzar’s very real threat to toss them into a fiery furnace if they did not bend to his
authority. He was not a charitable man, but they refused to disavow their commitment to God,
boldly declaring: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver
us from it…But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve
your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” God honored their faith and, in His
mercy, delivered them even after they were thrown into the fire. They, in turn, experienced the
triumph of faith when they stood their ground.

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I Will Not Let You Go — Prayers of Note

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“Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, ‘Let me go, for the day breaks.’ But he said, ‘I will not let You go unless you bless me!’” Genesis 32:25-26

 A couple things stand out here. First, the angel is wrestling with Jacob. When we wrestle with God, it is usually during a time of trials. Jacob had just come from fleeing Laban and was under the threat of his brother’s retaliation the next day. It was not an easy time for him. Just as now, under quarantine and in the midst of a global pandemic, we are not living through an easy time.

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Breaches

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A God-fearing Armenian Christian was sending some merchandise to a distant city. There were no railroads in that part of the country, and as it was a valuable lot of goods, the merchant himself accompanied the caravan. 

Such caravans usually camp at night, and this is an opportune time for the highwaymen, who make their living by attacking caravans, to steal unnoticed by the campers. At the chosen time, under cover of the night, the Kurds drew near. All was strangely silent. There seemed to be no guards. But as they pressed closer, imagine their astonishment to find high walls where walls had never stood before. The next night they found the same impassable walls. On the third night they found the same walls, but there were breaches in them through which the robbers entered. 

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The Deaf will Hear-Answered Prayer Series

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We’re living through a difficult time right now but through it all we hope that you are finding the little joys that this time of quarantine and social distancing can offer. We hope you’re able to spend more family time gathered around God’s word, more time able to rest, and most importantly more time in prayer.

Today, if you’re feeling discouraged by what is happening around you we want to encourage you with this account of prayers answered. This excerpt is taken from Lee Strobel’s Case for Miracles.

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John Bunyan on Prayer

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Today’s post is about one of history’s most well known and long renowned authors, John Bunyan.

John was born in 1628 in a small England village to his mother and father, who was a tinker. While his parents were poor, they managed to send John to school where he learned to read and write. John was not the good sort of boy that mother’s try to teach their sons to be, but made a name for himself by cursing, swearing and lying. Yet, already, at a young age he was tormented by thoughts and dreams of hell. John grew up and joined the army for a few years, only to later return and take up his father’s profession of tinkering. He left the army in 1647 and married shortly thereafter. While the couple was quite poor, having almost no furnishings for a house, his wife did have a copy of The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven and The Practice of Piety. John relearned the long forgotten skill of reading, through these books and the help of his new wife.

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Answered Prayers Series: Hudson Taylor 

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J Hudson Taylor was a British Protestant Christian missionary to China and founder of the China Inland Mission (CIM, now OMF International). Taylor spent 51 years in China. The society that he began was responsible for bringing over 800 missionaries to the country who began 125 schools and directly resulted in 18,000 Christian conversions, as well as the establishment of more than 300 stations of work with more than 500 local helpers in eighteen provinces.

His repertoire of achievements and skills are vastly phenomenal and deserve their own article, and has been written in many books but the most impressive, we believe, is his belief and stance in prayer. From humble beginnings and prayer, did his journey start. 

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Thankful For Your Prayers!

Thankful For Your Prayers!

This time of year, the holiday season, and more specifically, Thanksgiving, it’s good for us to consider back over the year all of the wonderful things God has done. It’s important to remember them, to be thankful for them, and to allow them to grow our faith. Because of this, we want to share with you all a wonderful work God has been doing in the schools in Fredericksburg.

 

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Answered Prayer Series Part 1

Answered Prayer Series Part 1

This week we are starting a new series on Answered Prayers. We have focused a lot lately on what to pray for and the importance of prayer, but it behooves us to meditate on prayers that we are blessed enough to see the fruits of. Reading of God’s providence can often be a source of encouragement and faith strengthening.

 

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For Your Name, Lord!

For Your Name, Lord!

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth. Why should the Gentiles say, "So where [is] their God?" But our God [is] in heaven; He does whatever He pleases. Their idols [are] silver and gold, The work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; Noses they have, but they do not smell; They have hands, but they do not handle; Feet they have, but they do not walk; Nor do they mutter through their throat. - Psalm 115:1-7

 

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. Ripe for a Revival: Conditions before the Greats

. Ripe for a Revival: Conditions before the Greats

  From the Answered Prayers Series

Dire seems our condition. Our society trudges on in stubbornness and fierceness, yet fearfully disoriented. Our education has gone awry and somehow in the pursuit of higher education, it appears the generation here, coming, and on its way out, has suffered in a lack of it. Morals are disintegrating before our eyes like the faint wisp of a dandelion seed, desperately we grab for it and urge others to do the same but to no avail. There appears to be some sort of value to life, due to laws set forth; yet the laws set forth add to the degradation by advocating the extermination of the more precious forms of life, the unborn. Adding on to the increase of suicide and depression.

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The Lord Stirs the Heart

The Lord Stirs the Heart

In the historical books of the Bible, we learn that God is intimately involved in history and the destiny of nations. We discover an inspired historical record that encourages us to believe that God can and will answer our prayers for America. In the Book of Ezra, for example, we read that God inspired King Cyrus of Persia to urge the Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple that the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed some seventy years earlier.


“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:1-3)

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Becoming a House of Prayer

Becoming a House of Prayer

When Jesus entered the temple everything changed! He drove out all that was keeping His house from being a house of prayer. After He finished, the blind and lame came and were healed! 

When His house is filled with His Presence there is life, light, power, and healing flowing! 

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Overcoming the Powers of Darkness

“We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” - Eph. 6:12

 
Many Christians can quote this verse from Ephesians from memory, but as God’s people do we fully understand it’s meaning in the depths of our hearts? 


These principalities and powers of darkness are real, and they are ruled by Satan himself. Satan and his army are working continually to destroy you — to destroy God’s people and to hinder the kingdom of God from advancing on earth. They seek to kill, steal, and destroy! 

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Trusting in the Lord

Those who trust in the Lord cannot be moved! 

 

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Continuing Steadfastly

Many Christians across America spent weeks and months praying for the midterm elections; many spent time praying that the righteous would be exalted and that those who are ungodly would be removed from positions of authority. The midterm election results were not what many had hoped for, and it may seem that our prayers were not heard or answered. 

Because we don’t see all that God sees, we often don’t understand His ways or His decisions. We might not understand why He didn’t answer our prayers according to how we wanted or expected. We may get discouraged and think we have lost ground. 

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A CALL TO PRAYER IN 1976

The following was written by Bonnie Barrows in 1976. This powerful message fell on deaf ears more than 30 years, but may the call at the end of the article move our hearts today

The greatest threat to spiritual awakening in America is Christian withdrawal.

Though 2 Chronicles 7:14 promises “healing to the land”, many of God’s people wag their heads in unbelief, questioning whether the land can be healed, or even should be. Twentieth-century prophets of gloom predict that America is beyond hope, beyond faith, beyond mercy. 

This negativism has caused many to turn their backs to the spiritual, social and moral issues facing our nation...to walk away from involvement with a “what can I do about it” attitude.

"After all, isn’t this the way it will be in the last days? Isn’t this just a sign of the times? Let’s eat, drink, and be merry...the Lord is coming soon!” 
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