Today we start our new preaching and study series on the subject of prayer. It is fair to say that prayer is often a challenge for us all. I have been involved with the mission organization SIM for the past 20 years. Its motto is ‘By Prayer’. They realize that it is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to make advances for the Kingdom in difficult parts of the world without prayer. They take seriously the scripture, ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain’. Communication with the Lord is therefore critical in all that we seek to do for His Kingdom! Sadly, SIM is struggling to maintain their prayer group network. Those who attend are now dying out and the power of the prayer group is being lost! Why is this? Are we too busy to pray?
In this very first sermon on prayer I desire to encourage you to have a framework or structure for your personal and corporate prayer times. I desire to see our church become a powerhouse of prayer. For this to happen we need some encouragement from the Scriptures. I have chosen Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians to help us develop a framework for prayer. There are a few structures that we can adopt and use. One that I teach in the baptism class is known by the acronym ACTS meaning Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (praying for others). This has helped me over many years in my Christian journey.
Paul’s suggested framework in 2 Thessalonians 1: 1-12 is worthy of our consideration. His framework really is based on being heavenly minded as he prays. He thanks and praises God for his church family as they begin to mature in their walk with God. He notes the signs of grace in their lives and he identifies this growth in their faith (greater dependence on God), love (for one another) and perseverance (under persecution). He also develops his framework to include a prayer of hope. He prays that his church family will understand and grasp the assurance of their vindication before God when Jesus returns on that great Day. They will share in the glory of Jesus’ return. Finally, Paul prays a most wonderful prayer – that his church family will be worthy of their calling as Christians.
As I have worked through this most wonderful prayer my heart has been greatly challenged and rebuked if I am to be honest with you. Do I pray for you like this? Are my prayers ‘heavenly minded’ when I pray for my church family? Or, am I simply praying prayers that reflect the temporal to please my church family? Yes I need a wakeup call when it comes to prayer and perhaps we all do!