Prayer has allowed us to bless the nation and intercede on its behalf during the last seven weeks by participating in the Bless the Nation 50 Days of Prayer and the It’s Time National Day of Prayer.
Now, we are called to persist in prayer as a means of pressing deeper into our personal, family, Church, community and national relationships with the Lord by spending more time in His presence, seeking His face and listening for His will both within us and in the world around us.
Praying to the Lord as a means of expressing our gratitude and praise or seeking His direction, help, and guidance should extend throughout our lives thereby making us aware of His presence and our dependence on Him at all times.
For example, I am fortunate to live in rural Karoo where prayer is not restricted to Sunday morning church services, but is extended to many kinds of gatherings; from sports events to business and farmers’ association meetings, and children’s cultural occasions.
A bridge between matter and Spirit
Prayer is our bridge between matter and Spirit. It is the means by which we can walk in the Spirit, no matter what we are doing or where and when we are doing it — we are able to enter into the Lord’s presence in prayer and intercession at all times.
Prayer together with reading God’s Word in faith forms the foundation on which we build and sustain our relationship with our Holy Father. Spending time in prayer and His Word, then acting in His will, is the practical means of worshipping Him in spirit and in truth.
“There is power in prayer,” said Angus Buchan.
“When men work, they work; but when men pray, God works.
“It is much more important to spend time in prayer than in work. I wish I had known that as a new believer almost 40 years ago as it would have solved a lot of my problems.
“The Lord says in Jeremiah 33:3 Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know; that is why we need to spend more time in prayer; to hear from God as to direction, function and for upliftment.”
Uncle Angus has been spending more time in prayer himself.
“Since God gave me that mandate six weeks before the It’s Time National Day of Prayer, I realised that unless God does it the gathering would never work.
“Organisers said it could not happen within the short time-frame, so my only option was to go to God in prayer, because humanly it was impossible.
“I found that the more time I spent in prayer the more peace I had in my heart, while the more time I spent reasoning humanly, the more I experienced panic.”
What do we do next?
Uncle Angus reports that after the It’s Time National Day of Prayer many people came to him with the questions, ‘where to after this and what do we do next’?
“I said: ‘We are going to become a praying nation. We are going to develop a prayer culture and that is what is happening — there are testimonies of people praying in the forecourts of service stations, at police stations, and a CEO on his knees in front of all his senior staff repenting and praying.
“It is important that we implement what we committed ourselves to on April 22 at the It’s Time National Day of Prayer — that is to pray.”
The farmer-evangelist says while it is vital that our prayers start in our personal quite time, it is just as important that we pray together as families, because a family that prays together stays together.
We should follow Jesus’ example of intimacy with His Father through prayer, according to Pastor Louis Els, from Victory Christian Church in Jeffreys Bay.
During the Bless the Nation 50 Days of Prayer he explained that by watching Jesus His disciples realised that it was time with God that released grace, power and anointing.
“Jesus spent time with His Father, because as He spent time with God He did what He always taught the disciples around Him. Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does (John 5:19).”
Entering the Lord’s presence is a privilege
Entering the Lord’s presence in prayer is an immense privilege that was only afforded us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, according to Dave Turner, a lay pastor in Middelburg and Karoo Mighty Men Conference prayer and intercession co-ordinator.
He said when we pray we should be aware of how privileged we are to enter into the Lords presence. We should make use of the favoured opportunity in gratitude, after all even Israel, God’s chosen people, who were delivered from Egypt, could not enter into the Lord’s presence.
“Only their high priest could enter into His presence once a year on the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins.”
And the Lord said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil before the mercy seat, which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat” (Leviticus 16:2)
“However, we have the great privilege of entering into God’s presence at will, because of what happened on the cross and the veil that separated man from God being torn in two at the time of Jesus’ death — the barrier between man and God was removed,” says Turner.
“It is in the awareness of the Lamb of God and how privileged we are that we should pray — in deep gratitude and not take it for granted,” he adds.
Likewise, we should pray with intense desire from the depths of our hearts for whatever we are appealing.
Acknowledging that God is sovereign
Turner says another important aspect of daily prayer is that we humble ourselves before the Lord acknowledging that He is sovereign in our life and is our answer to all things.
Prayer is testimony to the truth of our dependence on the Lord, our reverence for Him, and of our following His only begotten Son’s example.
“The highest conformity to Christ — the most blessed participation in the glory of His heavenly life — is that we take part in His work of intercession,” said Andrew Murray, in his book With Christ in the School of Prayer.
“He and we live forever to pray. In union with Him, praying without ceasing becomes a possibility — a reality, the holiest and most blessed part of our holy and blessed fellowship with God.”
Murray advised us to: “Walk before the Lord in the full consciousness that you have been set apart for the holy ministry of intercession. This is the true blessedness of conformity to the image of God’s Son”.
Answering his rhetorical question “why do we pray?” in his presentation for Day 44 of the ‘Bless the Nation 50 Days of Prayer’ Errol Naidoo, founder and CEO of Family Policy Institute, said the reason we pray is because Jesus commanded us to pray.
“Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the hand of omnipotence. God does nothing but in answer to prayer.”
That the Father may be glorified
And every answer He gives will have as its object “that the Father may be glorified in the Son”, according to Murray.
“When there is no prospect of this objective being obtained, He will not answer the prayer. It follows as a matter of course that with us, as with Jesus, this must be the essential element of our petitions.
“The glory of the Father must be the aim — the very soul and life — of our petitions,” said Murray.
Our Father is glorified when His will is done in His Son’s name, so we must ensure that our prayers are not only in His will, but that His will is done through us as Jesus did and as we can — by faith in Christ following and His example.
Pastor Els said that through prayer: “God is inviting us; He is saying to us, ‘listen, My desire for you is to come and ask in Jesus Name and when you ask in line with My will, with My purpose, it will be done’.
We must pray according to God’s Word and His will instead of interpreting the Word of God in order to fit it to our wants and desires.
We cannot shape the Word of God to suit our life. Instead, we must model our lives on God’s Word and pray according to His Word then we will be transformed into Christ’s image.
Spending time in God’s Word
In order to pray according to God’s Word we must spend time in His Word out of which our prayers should come about and His responses found.
God’s Word and our prayers are directly related.
“Before prayer, God’s Word strengthens you by giving your faith its justification and its petition. After prayer, God’s Word prepares you by revealing what the Father wants you to ask. In prayer, God’s Word brings you the answer, for in it the Spirit allows you to hear the Father’s voice,” explained Murray.
Lastly, when we pray for needs to be met our words take second place to our deeds, for where our words end our deeds must begin in kind to give material life to our prayers.
Prayer teaches us to walk in the Spirit as we are looking beyond our physical existence in faith.
“Having been in the presence of the Father in that place of intimacy we are led by the Holy Spirit to being the answer to our prayers in a practical way,” explains Turner.
“As we pray and receive the heart of God and His perspective, we become aligned with the Father’s will that is translated into us becoming the answer to our prayers practically by doing His will on earth.”
The words of our prayers should lead to the deeds of our faith for without actions our words die before faith is birthed. However, when the words of our prayers are supported by actions in God’s will, then faith grows in relation to His will being done on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus’s words were always sustained by His actions as any number of His healings testifies to. His actions gave life to His words, glorified God and left us with a practical example to follow.