Prayer Teaching Series: In My Name
Why do we need to pray if God knows what we are going to say already? How can one prayer make any difference? Does prayer really change what happens? God loves me and understands me, so how will praying make our relationship any better?
Prayer is vital and God invites us to talk to him through prayer. Through this Series, In My Name, I will be sharing my thoughts and biblical teaching on these questions and more.
When we watch the news how often do we comment that there seems to be more and more trouble in the world? That things are not as good or as easy as they used to be? It is important that we pray about events taking place across the world. In scripture we have our guide, indeed our instructions on how to pray and what we should be speaking with God about.
As we follow news items and developments, it is up to us to "pray without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstances", 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
In Ephesians 6:18 we are reminded to "pray at all times" and "keep alert". With these verses in mind, we need to be aware of what is happening in the world as well as near to home. Circumstances can be changed and seemingly impossible situations improved through prayer.
God can and does bring about relief and reduce suffering when prayers are offered from those prepared to wholeheartedly appeal to Him.
Israel And Her Restoration
Israel and the Middle East is rarely out of the news. The events that take place there have far reaching implications. Israel is often the subject of biased reporting and facts given in such a way as to present an inaccurate picture by the western media. Couple this with lies and bold distortions from those groups who seek Israel's downfall.
It is a nation that has been restored back into its former land by events that our grandparents and great grandparents would have considered almost impossible. The restoration and recognition of the state of Israel is a work of God and the fulfilment of biblical prophesy, c.f. Ezekiel 36:24. We are watching the remaining fulfilment of that prophesy taking place.
The scattered Jewish people will be gathered and THEN they will turn to see Jesus as their Messiah, Ezekiel 36:24-25 and Amos 9:14-15. In Jeremiah 29:14, God's loving call and restoration is clear. He will bring His people back to His land and "sprinkle clean water" on them giving them a "new heart of flesh", Ezekiel 36:24-25.
In Psalm 122:6 it says very clearly "pray for the peace of Jerusalem". Our Lord Jesus wept over Jerusalem, Luke 19:41. But, why are we instructed to pray for this place?
The events that take place in Jerusalem have an effect well beyond the borders of that nation. Israel is surrounded by her enemies - enemies of God who denounce the sovereignty of God and openly seek to destroy Israel. But in the face of wide condemnation and against all odds, Israel is surviving and thriving. In modern Israel the ancient language of Hebrew has been revived and the land is once again productive.
The agriculture produces fruit that is exported all over the world. The ground breaking science and technology that comes out of Israel is leading the world in many fields of expertise. All these signs are the unfolding of things prophesied, Isaiah 35:1.
We Are Family
The security of the city of Jerusalem is our security. As Christians, we have been grafted into the Olive Tree, Romans 11:24, and share the same root as the Jewish nation. We are family! Therefore the future of Jerusalem and all Israel and her people is part of our future too. God has a plan for Israel. We cannot be bystanders.
According to the prophet Obadiah we cannot get away with just ignoring what happens to Israel or distancing ourselves from her. We will be judged on how we treat this nation, Obadiah 15. Verses 11 and 12 of Obadiah are a clear warning to us that to stand on the sidelines while her enemies attack her is to condone the attacks. The sternest remark in verse 15 tells us that as we do unto Israel, it shall be done to us. The choice is ours.
Do you wonder why so many nations are intent upon Israel's destruction? Why are so many leaders of the neighbouring nations bold enough to declare that they want her destroyed? What is so special about this narrow piece of land that makes it so hotly contested? Might it be that satan is also aware of God's purposes and the significance of the restoration of Israel in these end times?
These end times will bring about satan's demise and he is going all out to prevent that from happening, using whoever he can to execute his opposition to God's plans.
God Will Demonstrate His Power
Israel is surrounded by hostile nations. The land has been divided and re-divided over many years. In Joel 3:2 God declares that He will judge those nations who have bad intentions for the land and carve it into divisions. Israel is not always innocent of wrong doing. At this point in time she is a largely secular nation that has turned away from God. But God not forgotten his people and intends to restore them in this land.
We are invited to be part of the plan and active in our participation, at the least praying for this land and its people.
Ever since the modern state of Israel was formed, her enemies have been unified in seeking her destruction. The Bible speaks of many battles which have taken place and there are many ahead. Ezekiel 38 and 39 describes a battle yet to come which will see a cohort of nations attack Israel. God will demonstrate His power, Ezekiel 38:23 and Ezekiel 39:28, and crush those enemies in His time.
We Are Called To Pray
We are privileged to be part of God's plan and how it will be realised. Our Father urges us to be active and pray, Isaiah 40:1-2. He seeks out people who are willing to "stand in the gap" and pray, Isaiah 62:6-7.
We need to stir ourselves as in Isaiah 64:7 and be watchmen that "never hold their peace" or "give Him no rest", Lamentations 2:18-19. What blessing awaits us, Genesis 12:3, and what an honour to serve Him in this way.
In praying for the peace of Jerusalem we are fulfilling many commands in scripture that urge us to pray for God's will to be done. Praying in line with His will in Zechariah 12:10, we can pray for this "Spirit of grace and supplication" to change lives of all peoples and bring salvation to all peoples, Isaiah 30:19, Romans 10:1.
When we pray for one another we follow the example of Jesus in John 17 as He prayed for His disciples and for all believers. As we pray for Israel, we are praying in preparation for the Lord's return. He will return in the way He left as mentioned in Acts 1:11. We are tasked with praying for physical restoration through God's regathering of the Jewish people, Psalm 147:2.
In fact the whole of Psalm 147 is a prayer of praise. In Matthew 24:22 it clearly states that we are to pray for the days ahead and that the prayers will be effective.
We know that God's timing is perfect. We read in Ecclesiastes 3 how precisely He has ordained every event. He seeks us to pray for the fulfilment of the the destiny of Jerusalem as expressed in Psalm 48 and Isaiah 2: 2-3.
God takes delight in Jerusalem, Isaiah 62:1-3. The whole of Isaiah 62 expresses God's purposes for Jerusalem.
God has put His name upon the city of Jerusalem in a beautiful way. There are 3 valleys that run through Jerusalem. The Kidron Valley runs around the eastern side of the city. The Hinnom runs north-west from the southern end of the city and the Tyropoeon runs through the centre.
The valleys join up at the southern tip of the city making the shape of the Hebrew letter Shin which represents God's name, El Shaddai. He says in 1 Kings 8:27-30 that His name shall be on this place and indeed as God who formed the earth and the rivers, He has placed His name upon this city.
We, who love our Heavenly Father and seek to please Him and express our love for Him are called to pray and be in a relationship with Him.
Part of His plan and part of our relationship with Him is to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and be preparing for the return of Jesus our Lord. Is there anything more exciting than living in anticipation of that day?