Happy New Year 2020! We’re thankful for what God accomplished in 2019. We look forward to what He’s going to do in our lives and church in 2020. This Sunday is the first Sunday of 2020 and I’ve entitled our message “Prayer Week 2020.” One of the best ways I can think of to start the New Year is to start it with a week of prayer. Prayer for ourselves, our families, our church and our nation. New Year’s resolutions are fine, but without prayer, most will not be kept.
I believe that God desires to use our church to touch many lives through the power of prayer in this New Year of 2020. God wants us to have clear vision, 2020 vision, concerning what He wants to do through us as we pray. In order to make an impact with prayer, we’ve got to grow in our prayer lives.
Acts 4:31 (ESV) And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
When the early church in the book of Acts gathered together to pray, things happened. The very place they were in was shaken, they were filled with the Spirit and were bold witnesses to the unbelievers around them. Not sure we want an earthquake in this place, but were certainly desire to be Spirit-filled bold witnesses.
Yet, prayer is difficult for many believers. We have good intentions, but then things get busy, we get distracted and we don’t end up praying as we intended. Why is prayer so difficult? It’s difficult because prayer involves spiritual warfare with an enemy.
1 Peter 5:8 (ESV) Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Does the devil want you to pray? Absolutely not. Being watchful is part of prayer. When we are praying, we are alert to the devil’s tactics. When the devil distracts us from prayer, we become weak and susceptible to being devoured. Prayer connects us with God, our vertical relationship. We grow in our relationship with God and receive God’s power through prayer. Prayer is also essential in witnessing, our horizontal relationships with people where we tell them about Jesus. So, if the devil can interrupt our prayers, he can disrupt our relationships with God and people. How can we grow in our prayer lives?
Luke 11:1 (ESV) Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
Basically, the disciples spoke/prayed to Jesus and asked Him to teach them to pray. And Jesus answered their request by teaching them about prayer. This morning, God wants to teach us about prayer, He wants to encourage us, motivate us, show us how and increase our faith in the power of prayer.
This year, 2020, we’re going to do something a bit different at the beginning of this year. This first full week in January beginning today, we’re going to designate our Prayer Week, 2020. In our message this morning, I’m going to give you a topic to pray about for each day of the week. My prayer is that as we start this year off with some concentrated prayer, God will help us to continue throughout the year. Growing as prayer warriors for God’s kingdom. In your bulletins is my message outline, along with a summary of each day of the week’s prayer topic. So, let’s get started with …
Psalm 5:3 (ESV) O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
The psalmist had set aside a time in the morning to pray to the Lord. Although we no longer offer animal sacrifices to God, we are to offer up ourselves as living sacrifices in our prayer time. Notice also, that the psalmist says that he will watch. To watch is to wait for the Lord to speak. Prayer involves both speaking to God and listening for Him to speak back. Although one can pray at any time, the morning is a good time for many people as you can spend quiet time with God before the busyness of the day arrives. How often should one set aside time to pray to the Lord? The Lord’s prayer indicates that we should spend at least daily time with the Lord in prayer. This time should consist of both reading God’s Word and prayer. God speaks clearly through His Word as we read and ask Him to reveal Himself to us. Is meeting with the Lord once a day, all that God requires?
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV) pray without ceasing,
Besides spending time apart from others in a quite place with God, this verse commands us to pray continually. As we all have work to do and families to take care of, God isn’t requiring us to lock ourselves in a room and pray all our waking hours. This verse challenges us to stay in communication with God, even as we go about our daily activities. We talk to Him as we work in the workplace or in our homes. We talk to Him as we drive places, even as we are in conversations with others. We need God to strengthen us to regularly pray.
In today’s world, you put things on your calendar that you prioritize. A daily prayer time with God should be on your calendar. I recommend at least 15 minutes a day and many of you could work up to 30 – 60 minutes a day of time with God.vAs you pray and ask God to strengthen you to regularly pray, He will answer that prayer and bring blessing into your life in a new way.vAs you regularly pray, God will help you grow in praying continually.
James 1:6-7 (ESV) But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
Faith is an essential part of prayer. We must believe that God hears our prayers and that He will answer them. If we doubt that God will answer our prayer, these verses tell us that we won’t receive anything from God. So, how can our trust in God answering prayer grow? First, through reading God’s Word and seeing how He has answered prayers in the past. Secondly, by asking specific smaller prayers and seeing God answer those prayers so you can pray bigger prayers.
Philippians 4:6 (ESV) do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
If you’re praying and still worrying, you’re not in faith. When we pray according to God’s will, God will give you the faith to believe and give thanks for the answer before it comes. Begin to thank God for the answers to your prayers before they come and see how your faith grows.
If God is directing you to pray for a certain person or situation, God is going to answer that prayer. It might not be in the way that you would expect, but He will answer in the best way. May God help us to trust Him to answer.
John 15:7 (ESV) If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
The words of our prayers do not have power in and of themselves. You don’t have to pray with just the right words in order for God to answer. If you heart is full of God’s Word, then the things you desire will be God’s will. When you ask for them, God’s power will bring them to pass. The key in powerful prayer is to have your heart right with God and He will bring the answer as you pray. Jesus said in …
Luke 5:35 (ESV) The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.”
Jesus expected His followers to fast when He ascended into heaven and we see the early church combining fasting with prayer. Fasting is simply abstaining from something, usually food, for a period of time. Fasting helps attune your heart to speaking to and hearing from God.
I’d encourage you to ask God to help you fast sometime in this coming week. You want to time your fast so that you can pray when you are fasting. It could be simply skipping meal and using the time to pray. God will draw near to you as you draw near to Him through prayer and fasting.
Acts 1:8 (ESV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He instructed His followers to pray for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This Spirit baptism would give them the power to be effective witnesses for Jesus and enable them with spiritual gifts. Later in Acts, God’s Word tells us that Spirit baptism was not just for the early church but for every believer down through history. When you are Spirit baptized you receive the ability to pray in the Spirit, which is to pray in an unknown tongue. This allows you to pray according to God’s will in any situation.
Ephesians 6:18 (ESV) praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
Here is a clear instruction to pray in the Spirit in every situation. The Holy Spirit can energize and guide you in your prayers.
If you have never been Spirit baptized, I’d encourage you to ask God for this blessing this week. We have just gotten in a new shipment of the excellent book on Spirit Baptism called Power for Life. A number in our church family have been Spirit baptized by praying after reading the book. If you have been Spirit baptized, use your gift of praying in tongues regularly in your prayer times. Seek God to be used in other spiritual gifts.
James 4:2b (ESV) You do not have, because you do not ask.
This verse teaches us that prayer is not optional. God responds to our prayers and if we don’t pray, He won’t bring those blessings into our lives. Certainly, the Bible also teaches that we can and should ask for prayer from others, especially when our prayers have not yet been answered or it is a difficult situation. Yet, we should not solely rely on other’s prayers for us. We must join our prayers with others to see God’s answer come.
Colossians 4:2 (ESV) Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Here is another instruction for each one of us to pray on our own, with thanksgiving. When we learn to pray by ourselves, the power when we join with others in prayer is even greater.
One of the ways that we can pray by ourselves and join with others at the same time is with our Life Church Prayer Guide. Updates in this Prayer Guide are texted out on a weekly or biweekly basis. We’d encourage every member and regular attender to sign up for our Prayer Team by texting the word “pray” to 636-442-0210, which is also listed in our bulletin. Besides general topics of prayer for our church, the Prayer Guide includes prayers for healing, new attenders, people newly saved and praise reports. Sign up today.
Acts 4:29-30 (ESV) And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
This was a prayer the early church prayed that God would give them divine appointments as they witnessed to people. Not only would they speak God’s Word to people, but they prayed that God would heal people and perform miracles. A divine appointment is simply God opening up an opportunity for you to personally pray for someone in their presence. God loves to answer prayers like these when His children step out in faith.
1 Timothy 2:1 (ESV) First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,
God opens up divine appointments when we pray for them and for people we believe God wants us to reach out to. May be friends, relatives, co-workers or neighbors. Let’s watch a short video about how a doctor stepped out in faith to pray for a patient. It always takes courage to pray for people, but God will give you boldness when you ask.
In 2020, as past years, we are encouraging each one of us to commit to our 2020 Plus One Challenge. The Plus One Challenge is simply making a commitment to pray and work toward adding one person to our church family in the New Year. Each year, we have a new signup, a new commitment. So, even if you made a commitment in the past year, you should make a renewed commitment for 2020. You are not promising to add a person, you are promising to pray and work to that end as the Lord enables you. To sign up for the 2020 Plus One Challenge, you can check a box on your Connect Card or text the word “plus” to the number in your bulletin 636-442-0210.
James 4:8a (ESV) Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Prayer is not just about having our requests answered, although that is important. Prayer is first and foremost about building our relationship with God. You build your relationship with another person by talking to them and listening to them. In the same way, prayer is a conversation with God through which you can strengthen your relationship. Prayer can also build your relationships with other believers.
Matthew 18:19-20 (ESV) Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
When believers pray together in a place, Jesus is there in a special way and their prayers are more powerful. When people pray together, they also build their relationships with one another. Together they are seeking God to move and He strengthens their relationship.
This year for Prayer Week 2020, we’re going to do something special. We’re going to open up the church for prayer from 7 – 8 pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. That’s every night except Wednesday night. I will be here every one of those nights praying. We will have Prayer Guides available to help in your prayers. I’d like to encourage every member and regular attender to consider coming at least one of the nights this week for prayer. I believe that as we begin the year by making prayer a priority, we will see a fresh blessing of God on our families and church.
So, for a New Year’s resolution, let’s resolve to make prayer a priority in this first week of the year and throughout the year. Each day of this week, focus on the prayer topic and Scriptures for that day. Find a time that works for you, not just for this first week, but for every week. Check your calendar to see if you can find a night this week to come and pray at the church. I know that God will bless everyone who puts Him first in prayer in 2020.