Prayer – The Why

Ladies Fellowship Group Study: November 5

Why do we pray?

A year ago last summer the Lord began speaking to my heart about walking through the church and praying – over the property itself, the classrooms, the seats, equipment, staff and volunteers, and especially over all those who would choose to attend service on that day.

I try to do this quietly on the Sunday mornings I am there and can.  In the beginning I did not consider myself a “prayer warrior”.  I saw intercession as a gift that I was not claiming to have.  I had other gifts!  But hey – no one else appeared to be doing it and so I considered myself a “rock crying out”.

What happened over the weeks and months to come changed my heart and my view about prayer to the core.  Wanting to follow the Lord’s leadership, as I walked, I began asking Him “what should I pray?”, and would get very excited whenever He showed me something new.  More often now I hear the words I speak in prayer being echoed within the sermon.  It’s an incredible feeling to know the same Spirit working within me is also working within our pastors – both confirmation and affirmation!

It has also been teaching me much about the power of spoken prayer – praying out loud, and how much God truly loves us even in our weakness, how He is delighted by the “yes” in our spirits, and what contending for someone’s greatness in the Lord looks like.  Most of all it has taught me that the Holy Spirit works intercession within all of us who are hungry and continually seek after God.  Anybody can be a prayer warrior!

I say all of that to say this, there is no one more intimately acquainted with all your ways than God Himself. As we’ve already discussed, prayer is nothing less than having conversation with Him. There are three main drivers to prayer:

To love and worship God!  (Mark 12:30) To converse with Him, to get to know Him, and pour out our hearts.

Three illustrations:

  • River of Blessing

If there was a physical flowing river, known and proven to have healing powers whenever you touched it, who among us wouldn’t clamber to get in?

TRUTH: There is a very real river of blessing in the spirit realm.  It is the river of communication with God through prayer and scripture.  Anyone who aligns themselves with His love and truth through relationship with Him is touched by its healing waters!

Why then do we so often stand on the banks and not go in?

  • Understanding how intimately God knows us and is aware of our needs, think about this – Francis Chan tells the story of a conversation he once had with a young lady about prayer.  Her response to his emphasis on prayer was “yeah, I should pray more”.  Noting that her response was a common one, he asked the following of the congregation he is speaking to (and I paraphrase):

What if I were to stand before you today and announce that I was a billionaire looking to bless people, and would hang out after church and write $100K checks to anyone who would come to me and ask?  How many of you would put plans on hold to make sure you were one of those standing in line?

Prayer is like the air we breathe, as Christians we not only cannot thrive without it, we die without it!  We call Him our Lord.  Is He really?  Do we really take the time to acknowledge that He is God and we are not?  Do we really believe that He is the source of life?  How do we show that?  How is it expressed in our daily walk with Him?

To contend for one another’s greatness in God – and not just short term!

“For this reason [seeing the greatness of this plan by which you are built together in Christ], I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” Ephesians 3:14 AMPC

“Worship and intercession must go together, the one is impossible without the other…  Intercession without worship produces hardness towards God… Identification is key to intercession.  Identify with God on their behalf.” – Oswald Chambers

We must learn not to become a stumbling block to God’s best in someone else’s life.  We can become a stumbling block in one of two ways:

  • By taking what the Lord reveals to us about a person – their point of weakness and using it as a means to criticize.  The Lord does not reveal this to us for us to criticize our brothers or sisters, but to pray on their behalf. We need to take care not to play the hypocrite by spending all of our time trying to get others right before we worship God ourselves. When God gives us discernment about another, it is His call to intercession, never to fault finding.
  • By demanding that the Lord heed to our request for this person rather than bowing down to His leadership and His best for them – whatever that may be.

“The danger then is to begin to intercede in sympathy with those whom God was gradually lifting to a totally different sphere in answer to our prayers.  Whenever we step back from identification with God’s interest into others into sympathy with them, the vital connection with God has gone, we have put our sympathy, our consideration for them in the way, and this is a deliberate rebuke to God… Vicarious intercession means that we deliberately substitute God’s interests in others for our natural sympathy with them.” – Oswald Chambers

Think about Peter in both examples…

Luke 22: 31-34 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” 34 And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.”  NASB (emphasis mine)

The lord knew Peter was about to fail, and was praying for him, not criticizing him.

Matthew 16:21-23: “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. 22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” 23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”  NASB (emphasis mine)

Peter saw the temporary as more important in Jesus life than the eternal.  Can you imagine what would have happened to us today or throughout the ages if God had answered Peter’s prayer to forbid Jesus’ death on the cross?

Think about a person who is physically ill.  Each of us have what is known as a “sphere of concern”.  When we are physically ill, our sphere is narrowed to just us and to our own pain or circumstance.  The more we begin to heal, the more our sphere begins to broaden, and we can once again see and care for others.

As you worship, you will gradually see a move into a deeper desire to intercede on behalf of another or others, and you will notice that your spiritual “sphere of concern” begins to expand away from just praying for yourself alone. You gain the ability to see beyond the narrow scope of time and begin to peer into eternity.

To learn how to wield our sword (read Ephesians 6:17; 2 Timothy 2:15)

Praying the word over our hearts.  I truly believe our hearts follow our words.  Do we believe the word of God?  Do we come to Him as one who walks out what they say they believe?  Speaking the word over your heart on a daily basis is crucial to living in the power of His word and not allowing Satan to defeat us!

Binding & loosing

Matthew 18:18 “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” NASB

This is powerful! Prayer and communication with the Holy Spirit will teach us what to bind and what to loose!

  • My sheep hear my voice… (John 10:27)

Knowing scripture well enough to discern God’s voice, so that when Satan begins to whisper, we know immediately it is a lie and not truth.  Also so that we can be prepared to help guide others in their journey.

2 Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” NASB

Ephesians 6:17 “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” KJV

Personal Study

Before you begin,

  • Take a moment to thank the Holy Spirit for the breath in you. 
    • Take your time reading through each scripture, don’t rush – and read them over again if you need or want to absorb what they are saying.
    • Ask the Holy Spirit to illumine words and phrases as you read, that they may resonate within you.
    • As you come across these phrases, ask Him what He would like to teach you about them.  Be sensitive to His impulse, ask Him to open your ears that you may hear what He is saying, and show you the things He wants to reveal to your spirit.
    • Journal what you believe He spoke to you about the scriptures – even if it feels like not much.  Then ask the Holy Spirit to continue speaking truth to you in the days to come about what He has revealed.
    • Expect much.

John 7:38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ ” NASB

Jeremiah 2:13 – “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water.” NASB

Revelation 22:1 “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb” NASB

2 Chronicles 16:9a “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” NASB

John 4:23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers”

Psalms 4:3But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself; The Lord hears when I call to Him.” NASB

Psalms 5:12 “For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord, You surround him with favor as with a shield.” NASB

Psalms 25:14 “The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant” NASB

Psalms 27:14 “Here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Don’t give up; don’t be impatient; be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope. Yes, keep on waiting—for he will never disappoint you!” TPT

Psalms 34:5-7 “5 Gaze upon him, join your life with his, and joy will come. Your faces will glisten with glory. You’ll never wear that shame-face again. 6 When I had nothing, desperate and defeated, I cried out to the Lord and he heard me, bringing his miracle-deliverance when I needed it most. 7 The angel of the Lord stooped down to listen as I prayed, encircling me, empowering me, and showing me how to escape.” TPT

Psalms 63:7 (one of my personal favorites) “For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.” NASB

Additional scriptures for fun:

Psalms 16:7-8; 18:19; 18:28; 24:1-6; 25:1-6; 32:8; 40 (whole chapter); 73:25-26; and Matthew 11:28

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