Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

An Invitation to Pray
Pastor Steve Schell
In this fallen world the will of God must be brought in by force, and only the disciples of Jesus Christ have the spiritual authority to do so. God has placed on our shoulders great privilege and great responsibility. To us He has given His personal assurance of answered prayer (Mt 7:7; Mk 11:23, 24; Jn 15:16; 16:23, 24; 1Jn 5:14, 15). Only to us has He made an absolute commitment to answer prayer, except of course that He has promised to save every person who calls on His name (Joel 2:32; Ac 2:21; Ro 10:12, 13). So prayer must become a disciplined part of each of our lives. If it is not, we limit the hand of God. I know that’s an uncomfortable truth, and if handled immaturely could be a source of condemnation. But there’s no getting around the fact that we have been given enormous privilege in prayer and if we neglect it, we and others will suffer the consequences. Sure, God will have others pick up our assignment wherever possible. But it’s a sad form of comfort to hope that someone else is doing my praying for me. Now, I suppose no disciple ever feels they pray enough, regardless of how much they do so we could all be frustrated with ourselves till we see Jesus. Yet, I think there’s a way to keep growing without being condemned by our shortcomings. St. Paul models this for us in Philippians 3:12-14 where he tells us that though he too falls short of the ultimate standard set for him, he regularly “forgets what lies behind” (his failures) and reaches “forward to what lies ahead.” That’s what God is calling us to do today: refuse condemnation, but embrace His challenge to take another step forward in our prayer life.

A. Paul’s antidote to condemnation (Php 3:9-14)
We pray with Paul that:
1. We may be “found in Him”
• Having a righteousness we didn’t earn but was given us by faith in Christ
2. We may “know Him”
• Live in moment by moment intimacy
3. We may “know the power of His resurrection”
• Fully release and depend on the Holy Spirit who dwells in us
4. We may “know the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death”
• Take up our cross daily to follow Him (Lk 9:23)
5 .We may “attain to the resurrection from the dead”
• Allow the Holy Spirit to completely transform us as though we had already been raptured
• “Out-resurrection”: rapture?

B. An invitation
We are inviting the whole church to a day of prayer and fasting this coming Friday, March 7th. We’ll gather as a church to pray on Friday evening from 7:00 to 9:15pm. Please come if you can, and if you can’t make it that day, please use the insert in today’s bulletin at home or wherever you will be.

C. Why are we praying now?
During the next three months our church will seek for God’s guidance to plan for the next year ahead (staffing, budgeting, ministries)
1. Proverbs 3:5, 6
• “Acknowledge Him”: Referring all thy ways to His will, trusting in His power, wisdom, providence, goodness, righteousness and feeling that without Him you can do nothing (Jamieson, Fausset, Brown, Vol. II, p. 419)
• The world’s process: Where do you want to be five years from now? You’ve got to believe in yourself!
• God’s approach is the polar opposite of this. We listen humbly for His directions and depend on Him daily.

D. Why fast?
Fasting is one way of humbling ourselves before God. It is a way of denouncing our own source of strength, and it also helps our minds focus on God while we’re praying.

E. How should I fast?
Please fast anyway you wish or not at all, particularly if you have a physical condition in which fasting might harm you. Here are 3 possible forms of fasting:
1. Eat no food all day, only drink water.
2. Eat only simple food such as bread, fruit or vegetables.
3. Skip one meal and use the meal time for prayer.
F. What will we pray for?
Our prayer council has asked the Lord to show us what He wants us to pray for at this meeting. Here is what we heard:
1. Laborers (Mt 9:36-38)
2. Financial Provision (2Co 9:6-12)
3. Vision (Hab 2:2)
4. Revival (souls saved, healed, delivered; lives transformed) (“an open door” Col 4:3; Rev 3:8)

Our prayer council members will lead in prayer for the ministry leaders of the different departments of our church. These leaders will be scattered throughout the auditorium and we will lay hands on them and pray.

G. Definition: “Intercession”
1. “To pass between two parties with a view to reconcile differences, meditate”
2. “Prayer, petition or entreaty in behalf of another or others” (Webster)
3. Me, my family, my friends, my workplace, my neighbors, my city, my state, my nation, my world
4. Jesus is our model intercessor (Heb 7:25)

H. What will happen if we pray?
1. God will answer in His way and in His time.
2. We will grow in faith as we see Him answer our prayers in a mighty way.
3. We will learn to patiently persevere in prayer giving God time to answer our prayers.
4. We will see answers that are different from what we expected, and better.
5. We will “stumble into the right answers” (solutions will arise to problems that have eluded us; the right people will show up out of nowhere; someone we’ve waited for finally steps up to serve).
6. We will see disciples “blossom” right where they are (a meadow of wildflowers;” leaven in the bread dough; Mt 13:33).
7. We will see some disciples equipped and sent out (Ac 13:2).

I. Elijah on Mt. Carmel (1Ki 18:41-46)
James tells us we can pray just as powerfully (Jas 5:16-18).
1. He prophetically heard the will of God (v 41)
2. He boldly confessed what he heard (v 41)
3. He did not assume the will of God would happen automatically; he knew he would have to intercede to release it (v 42)
4. He didn’t grow discouraged when nothing happened (v 43)
5. He expected a great answer (v 44)
6. Seeing God’s answer strengthened him supernaturally (v 46)

J. Questions
1. Tell us how God answered one of your prayers? How long did you have to pray before you saw the answer?
2. Is there someone or a situation for whom God has called you to intercede?

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