The Power Of Prayer Part 1: Praise
On Sunday 1st October at our morning service, we started our series The Power Of Prayer with the topic 'Praise'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to this, click here.
We are beginning our new series about The Power of Prayer.
It is going to be loosely based on the pattern prayer that Jesus gave us; also known as the Lord’s Prayer which begins with the Words “Father, may your name be honoured for its holiness;”
Jesus starts the prayer with a reminder of the relationship between us, his name and his honour. God is a father with all that the word implies; creator, provider, protector, teacher. It talks about his name; God has so many names reflecting different aspects of his nature; including provider and healer. The start of this prayer helps to lift our eyes to Him. This immediately lifts our prayers beyond our troubles.
Today I am going to be focussing on praise and thanks, this is so important as we pray and there is so much power in it.
We need to grow in an attitude of gratitude. It is so easy to be negative. I am in my nature very critical and it is something I have to fight. It is also so easy to look at the world around us, throw up our hands and despair. Can any of you relate to this? I think that it is so tempting to look at and dwell on the negatives in every situation but it is not helpful. If we are not careful it will bring us down. It is demoralising. It does no good and it can take the power and hope out of our prayers. When things are going wrong it is often difficult to be positive. BUT WE NEED TO REFUEL THE FIRE OF FAITH.
I am going to share with you one of my favourite stories from the Bible. It is from the Old Testament part of the Bible in the section that deals with the history of the nation of Judah and you can read it by clicking here.
The King hears that 3 nations are surrounding them. They are doomed.
Jehoshaphat is ALARMED. An understatement I would think. Imagine how you would be feeling, but he doesn’t face this alone he calls the people together to fast, and they respond. The Lord’s Prayer begins with the words “OUR father”. This reminds us that we don’t just have a relationship with God, but with each other. The people respond to the king and come together.
This must have been so encouraging for him.
And then he prays.
The Kings prayer in verses 6-12 is really powerful.
Jehoshaphat’s prayer REFUELS THE FIRE OF FAITH
I never fail to be lifted and inspired by it. The focus is on God and who he is,
‘Lord, the God who is in heaven. The ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations. He is powerful and mighty. And no one can withstand Him.
This prayer doesn’t start with the problem but with a vision of who God is.
It raises our eyes, our hearts and our faith. With such a big and powerful God there is nothing too large to ask for. The prayer then goes on to remind everyone of what God has done in the past. And reminds them of what God has promised to do and will do. Can you imagine the change in the atmosphere? They begin as terrified people who dropped everything to come together to God their only hope for survival. And now this rousing prayer is galvanises faith. I particularly love the last two lines of the prayer
For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.
We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.’
If these lines had come at the beginning of the prayer it would be faith draining, but at the end it raises faith in their only hope; God.
Faith is fired up the Spirit falls. God speaks through his prophet and assures them that this is His problem and He will deal with it. God encourages them to face tomorrow and stand firm. Despite their danger but because of their faith they praised God. The story climaxes in verse 22 with the words “as they began to sing and praise the Lord set ambushes…” The enemy was defeated. This demonstrates the power of praise rooted n faith.
This story gives us a great pattern to follow in prayer.
Jehoshaphat REFOCUSES their minds away from the problem to the God who is Lord of all.
He REMEMBERS the past when God has helped.
He REMINDS them of God’s promises to them.
He also RECOGNISES their inability to sort things in their own strength.
REFLECT; He then listens to the Spirit of God and they believe and obey.
And they REJOICE and praise God.
If we followed this pattern ourselves it may help to lift our faith levels and lead us to a more powerful prayer life.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your Life Group)
1. What is it that first strikes you about this story? Why do you think that is?
2. Jehoshaphat called the people together to pray. When you are in a desperate situation do you call together your friends and get them to pray for you? If not what stops you? Do you think that it might help to be able to do that? Could you put together a list of people that you could ask to support you in prayer?
3. Have you ever sung praise to God in desperate circumstances? Did it help?
4. Paraphrase the words of Jehoshaphat’s prayer (verses 6-12) to apply to your situation
5. The pattern of this prayer is REFOCUS, REMEMBER, REMIND, RECOGNISE, REFLECT,
And REJOICE. If asked how would you describe the way that you normally pray. What is your pattern?
6. Are there any changes that you would like to make in the way that you pray? What would be an achievable goal to set for yourself?