‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14)
The thing that struck me the most about St Nic’s when I first started attending almost 2 years ago, was their heart of prayer. Prayer that supports, prayer that heals, prayer that changes. It changes circumstances, it changes hearts, it changes relationships and it changes lives! All we need to do is call upon the Lord, pray to Him and He will listen to us (Jeremiah 29:12). There are so many promises throughout the Bible of God promising His people (that’s us!) that if we engage in a relationship with Him through prayer, He hears us and responds. Although that response may not always be in the way that we imagine or hope for, we can trust that ‘as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [His] ways higher than your ways and [His] thoughts your thoughts’ (Isaiah 55:9).
Recently I have been wonderfully blessed by two separate events at St. Nic’s: The Australian Prayer Network (APN) Foundational Level prayer course, and the Churches Together united prayer evening. I just wanted to share some of my experiences, some of what I’ve learnt and how I have been encouraged me in my own prayer life in the next two blog posts…
Prayer Changes Things
The APN has several ‘levels’ of different prayer courses and this was the first one which focuses on the beginnings of really learning about how prayer works and how we can put into practice some Biblical truths. I want to focus on HOW prayer works. The main thing that I took away from this session was that prayer only changes things if we do what God tells us to do in response to our prayers to Him. There is no point in us praying and hearing a response from God then completely ignoring what God is telling us to do! Prayer requires action.
Prayer requires action
Prayer is an activity of God and it requires our cooperation: to be ‘totally available and radically obedient’! He wants to work through people – through you and me – to change the world. There’s a thinking that prayer requires God’s cooperation; that when we pray we want God to do exactly what we want and exactly how we want it. But that’s where we’ve got it completely wrong! God is far bigger, far greater than our circumstances, and if we focus on trying to simply find the right words to say, or believing that we have the answers then we’re losing sight of WHY we pray. Prayer is praying into God’s plans and purposes which are already known; ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
You know that feeling of when you’re praying for somebody or something, and you just can’t find the right words to say? That you don’t really know what to pray for? That the circumstance feels too big or too out of your own depth that you are lost for words? I want to encourage you and reassure you that THIS IS OK. It is not our words in our prayers that change the world. We need the power of God to change the circumstances. All we need to do, in every aspect of our lives INCLUDING our prayer lives, is to ‘trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…’ (Proverbs 3:5-6) And prayer is one beautiful way that we can reach out and touch the power of God, and allow it to flow through us in our lives! While I am aware not all of us pray in tongues, I have found this I have found that using this gift can really help me personally when I don’t know what to pray for – but that’s for another day!
Prayer and your passions
One of the big questions that many people have is ‘what do I pray for? There’s so much to pray for: my own family, friends, my community, my nation, the world… Where do I begin?’ Don’t worry. God has it covered. Start by understanding the passions of your heart; those individual talents and passions, remembering that He created you in His image (Genesis 1:27) and that He knit you together in your mother’s womb and that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14). This is where to begin. God wants to use these things that He has given you to make changes in your life and others’.
I spent some time in prayer after this challenge and I wanted to share one of my biggest passions – people. For people who are hurting, people who are in need or who are suffering. And also just to love people, to connect and encourage people as they are, where they are. For those of you who know me, this may not surprise you (ha!) but I’ve been really following God’s passion and trying to take every opportunity that presents itself in action and in prayer whenever I can, on a whole new level. It’s something that comes very naturally to me and I just love meeting and connecting with others wherever I go. But this is what God wants to use! He wants to use what we already love and are already passionate about to increase His kingdom here on earth!!
What you need to pray for every day
So I want to encourage you to seek God’s face and to ask Him what He wants you to pray for. Consider what are your passions? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What encourages you to keep going? These are the things that are God’s call on your life – and what you need to pray for every day.
Lift these things up to the Lord. Place them before Him and then ask Him want He wants you to do – then act on it! Remembering that faith moves the hand of God. Passion moves the hand of God. God searches for our hearts and uses those passions. So keep praying – passionately praying. We can’t NOT pray if we carry God’s heart for something. And we can stand secure in the faith that God will hear us, and He wants to work in us and through us to change the world. All we need to be, is ‘totally available and radically obedient’. That’s my challenge to you today.
Blessings, Zoë x