The Toronto church has just had a blessed week of prayer despite some difficulties. The prayer sessions had to be moved from the church to online-only using Zoom because some people tested positive for Covid. There was a good turnout each night. Devotional messages were brought by Dr. Larry Saunders and the Revs. Reggie Cranston and Ian Goligher.
Frequently we heard the request, “Lord, teach us how to pray.” The “Lord’s Prayer” is a pattern prayer that we do well to study. Someone mentioned how helpful A – C – T – S was in praying in the correct order.
ADORATION. Jesus taught us to, first of all, acknowledge the greatness of God, addressing the Father through Jesus Christ the Son and by the intercession of the Holy Spirit. Many Christians rush into prayer with a “wish list” of petitions neglecting any thought of God who is the Author of prayer.
CONFESSION. We need to get on praying ground by confessing our weakness and sin to God, “Forgive us our debts.” And we need to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He will teach us how to pray and what to pray for according to His will.
THANKSGIVING. It is always a good practice to thank the Lord for His goodness and answers to previous prayers before burdening Him with our latest petitions. It is amazing how forgetful we can be when our hearts should be filled with grateful thanksgiving for His tender mercies.
SUPPLICATION. Now is the time to bring our petitions to the Lord. Pray for ourselves, our families, friends, the sick, the suffering, and the sorrowing.
THE PRAYER MEETING
The church weekly prayer meeting is one of the most important of all congregational gatherings. Also, it should be one of the most blessed experiences for the believer, but sadly not everyone gets the best out of it.
Prayer is a mixture of the divine and human. The indwelling Spirit of God forms true prayer in the believer’s heart. The uttered prayer is borne to heaven where our great High Priest, Jesus Christ, “ever liveth to make intercession” for us”[Hebrews 7:25]. There is never anything wrong with the divine side of prayer. When the prayer meeting fails, you can be sure the human side is at fault. Recognizing the human problems and a desire to avoid them will remove much deadwood that prevents the prayer meeting from being the satisfying spiritual experience it ought to be.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND AT PRAYER
When we come to the prayer meeting, remember that we are before the “King of kings.” Our focus in prayer should be on Him and our collective need as a congregation.
Come with a desire to pray. Do not be content to attend passively but actively participate in the ministry of prayer.
Do not allow gaps in the prayer sessions. The Lord should not have to wait until we decide to pray.
Do not pray so long that others lose the chance to present their petitions.
Be relevant. The church prayer meeting is held mainly to focus on congregational needs. Direct your prayers to the area of church work that you are primarily interested in, e.g. the Sunday school etc.
Do pray. It is a meeting for prayer. When not praying audibly, pray silently. Don’t waste the silent moments but use them prayerfully.
If these and other practical lessons are remembered and implemented, there is no reason why every believer should not return home singing, “Oh, the pure delight of a single hour that before Thy throne I spend. As I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God, I commune as friend with friend.”
GOD ALWAYS ANSWERS PRAYER
He may answer directly as He did with Nehemiah. In a tricky and dangerous situation before Artaxerxes, Nehemiah sent a prayer rocket to heaven and got an immediate answer [Nehemiah 2:4ff].
God may answer with a delay, as in the case of David. The Psalmist said, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry” [Psalm 40:1].
Then God may give a different answer as with Paul, who prayed three times to be rid of a “thorn in the flesh” [2 Corinthians 12:8]. Instead of healing him, God gave Paul “sufficient” grace.
Sometimes God answers with outright denial. Elijah prayed for his life to end [1 Kings19:4]. God refused his request, for He had something far better for Him. Remember, God always answers our prayers, but not necessarily in the way we expect.