Why Prayer Is Necessary: #2 – For Spiritual Growth 

Prayer helps in these four areas of spiritual growth:

1. Growth in understanding God’s ways.   In James 1:5 it says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally…”  It seems from this verse (and the previous verses), that wisdom, which is really an understanding of God’s ways, is gained through prayer as well as through experience; for as we encounter various trials (verse 2), we pray and ask God for an understanding of what to do (verse 5).  Therefore, both experience and prayer are needed. 

Experience (including all the trials we go through) keeps us in touch with reality, and prayer keeps us in touch with God, who in turn helps us understand all that we experience—which is wisdom. 

Experience allows us to grow in endurance as we encounter various trials, and prayer keeps us trusting and in touch with God—who is really the source of all our help.  As we encounter various trials through our experience, they will serve to move us toward prayer.  But unless we pray, all the experience and all the trials will do us no good; that is, they will not produce in us true wisdom.  The old person, who says, “I am wise because of my many years of experience,” is nothing but an old fool if he has rejected God.  True wisdom, no matter how much experience one has, comes only to those who pray and ask for it.    

2. Growth in understanding God’s Word.  In Psalms 119:18 we read, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.”  Here the Psalmist prays to God that He would open his eyes and cause him to understand wonderful things from His Word.  As we may observe in this verse, there is nothing said about any personal effort of study to gain understanding.  The Psalmist expects all his understanding of the Word to come directly from God through prayer.

Now we know that the Bible tells us to study and meditate on the scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15, Ps. 1); therefore, our effort should not be disregarded.  All our effort in study, however, will prove vain and worthless without prayer.   But by prayer all that we have studied and pondered will make sense.

3.  Growth in developing a hatred for sin and a love for righteousness.  This time we will turn to Psalms 51.  Here we see that David was intensely grieved over his sin. In verse four he prays, “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight…”  Then in verse 10, he prays, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

As we see in this chapter, David believed in prayer; he counted on God in prayer to clean up his heart and restore his relationship with Him. 

We can count on God in prayer just as David did.  And the more we pray for purity in our life, the more God will give it to us, and thus the more we will grow to hate sin and love righteousness.           

4.  Growth in becoming more like God’s Son. In Romans 8:29 it says, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.”  At first glance we may think that we don’t need do anything to bring about our transformation, that since it is already predestined to happen, God will make it happen without our effort.  Well, ultimately, I suppose that is true. But, along the way, God chooses to involve us in the process.

No, we cannot idly stand by and think that God will handle it all.  Transformation comes with the hard work of renewing our mind (Rom. 12:2)—which includes Bible study, meditation, and prayer.         

And the more we give ourselves to the work of study and prayer, the more we will behold Him as He really is.  Hence, in our beholding Him we are being transformed from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18).

Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament Tabernacle

Prayer A to Z

The Old Testament Tabernacle, with its various articles and the offering up of animal sacrifices, were insufficient in their attempt to commune with God and forgive sins. But these things now speak of Christ and helps us to commune with Him.

In my last post on this subject we journeyed through the tabernacle and discussed the symbolic meaning of the gate, the bronze altar, and the laver. Now, in this post, we will go in our mind into the sanctuary—the Holy Place.  To the left of us we see a shining golden lampstand with seven golden lamps, burning brightly and giving light to the whole room.  To the right we see a dazzling golden table with twelve small loaves of bread on top.  Directly ahead of us, in front of a beautiful veil is a small smoldering golden altar—about 3 ½ feet high and 20 inches square.

As we look…

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When thinking is necessary

Just a few minutes ago I wrote a blog entitled No thoughts. But on my way home from Perkins, where I was having breakfast, I drove through a yellow arrow. I was supposed to yield to the cars coming from the other direction, but I wasn’t thinking. I was still in my no thoughts mode.

So, even though I was content on having a no thoughts day, I am now resolved in my mind that there are times when thinking is necessary. I must be prepared to think when I am driving—so I will abide by the traffic rules and be safe. Oh, and now, on my way home I will do some grocery shopping, so I will also have to think on what I need to buy. And then later I will do some reading, so I will have to think on my reading. And everything I do in a day will involve thinking.

On a related subject, I remember when I was composing my book Prayer A to Z, that I was a little down on myself because I didn’t have many, if any, original thoughts on prayer. My ideas mainly came from the bible and from other authors. And I relayed my frustrations to this visiting pastor—who was a retired professor. And to my surprise, he told me that no one really has any original thoughts. He said that we either get our ideas from others or from God. Ultimately, I suppose every idea we have is from God. Even the evil twisted ideas were originally from God, but twisted and turned around.

In my previous post when I said I had no thoughts, I know that is impossible, but what I meant was that I was in a mode where I didn’t want to make any or few decisions. I was trying to rest my mind. But we can’t continue to do that or we will get in trouble. Satan or the flesh will take advantage of us and feed our mind with evil ideas to think on. So, I think it is best to, every once in a while, pull out a Scripture verse card, or maybe you have a few verses memorized and you can pull them out from the back of your mind.

And another thing we can do when we are in that no thought mode is to thank our Lord and praise Him, and then let the Holy Spirit move you into some praise-filled prayer.

Why Prayer is Necessary: #1 – To Obtain Personal Salvation

Is prayer really necessary? Some people say that prayer is just a type of meditation to make us feel better and to lull us into a false sense of security.  Others say that since God is loving and good, He will give us all the things we need and will accomplish His good will whether we pray or not.  I suppose most of us who are Christians say, “Yes I believe that prayer is absolutely necessary.” But, by our lack of prayer, don’t we demonstrate that we believe it is not necessary?  If we Christians really believed that prayer was necessary there would be prayer groups popping up all over.  If we really believed that prayer was necessary people would be eager to go to church; our churches would be packed full, not only on Sunday morning but also at the Wednesday night prayer meeting!

Prayer is indeed necessary, and in the next nine blogs I will give you nine reasons why. Here is the first one.

1.  Prayer Is Necessary to Obtain Personal Salvation

The Bible says, “Whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). We know that prayer does not save; God saves.  But we see from this verse that God has made prayer the avenue through which salvation is granted.  He decided that we must call upon Him before He will save us.

Paul tells us in Romans 10:10 that man believes with the heart, but then with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  So believing with the heart is only part of faith—or, I would say, it is only the first step in receiving the gift of true faith from God.  To have complete faith, a saving faith, we must believe with the heart and also confess with the mouth.  This confession of the mouth, which is prayer, is what activates faith—or brings to life the faith of God He gives us in His Son (Heb. 12:2).  Without this confession of prayer our faith would be dead and worthless.  But with prayer our faith becomes alive, which results in our salvation.  Therefore, prayer is essential for salvation.      

What a great privilege God has given us.  He has given us the privilege of having a part in our own salvation.  That part comes with the decision we must make as to whether we will receive His Son Jesus Christ through prayer or not.  If we should choose not to receive Him that is our God given choice, and He will not force us to receive Him.  But if we choose to receive Him we can do it through prayer. 

Your prayer should sound something like this: 

Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner.  I believe that you died and paid the penalty for my sins.  Right now I repent of my sins and I invite you to come into my life.  Please come into my life and give me a new life.  Lord, help me to get to know you and to trust you.  Amen.

Believing prayer then is absolutely necessary.  It is what we must engage in to bring us from spiritual death to life in Christ.   

Seeking and Finding — Matthew 7:7-8

Matthew 7:7-8

“Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. 8 “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.

Here is an absolute promise made by the Son of God. It tells us very directly and strongly that God wants to and will answer our prayers. But there is a right way to ask and a wrong way.

How Not to Ask

1. I think, generally speaking, we should not ask Him to remove our problems from us or take us out of a bad situation. It is always better to ask Him to help us deal with our problems where we are.

2. Never use these verses as a psychological treatment or a way to comfort ourselves. The Lord has given us an absolute promise. If we ask correctly, He will answer us—give us what we need.

3. We must not take verses 7 and 8 out of context. They have a connection to verses 9-11. Verses 7 through 11 all go together.

What to Ask for and How to Ask

1. we should always try to ask for what we think is His will in any given situation. Ask for His wisdom.

2. Ask with persistence. The words ask, seek, and knock indicate persistence and importunity. And if we are truly praying with persistence this attitude will also be a part of our life—we will be persistent and diligent in our work and in our holiness.

3. Ask realizing that God is our Father and that He wants to give us only what is good (verses 9-11).

4. Ask for the Holy Spirit. In the parallel passage in Luke 11:9-13, Luke adds the Holy Spirit (in verse 13). So, whatever we are asking for we ought to include the Holy Spirit. He is the ultimate good thing that the Father offers us. And the Father will never deny us the Holy Spirt.

Meditation on the Various Articles of the Tabernacle Helps Us See Jesus

Prayer A to Z

 

Long ago, in Old Testament times, people attempted to commune with God in various ways, even by offering up animal sacrifices.  That system proved to be quite insufficient.  For it never did take away sins (Heb. 10:4).  Though it was insufficient, it did, however, and it does now, speak of Christ.

The tabernacle. Every detail of the tabernacle, with all its parts and in all the furniture, reminds us of who He is and what He did for us.  It also speaks to us of His living temple, the church—the habitation of God.

The tabernacle shows to us, as it did to them, a “new and living way” by which to commune with God.  It is the way of the living Christ, “which He consecrated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh” (Heb. 10:20).

Furthermore, the tabernacle gives us a pattern (as a map) of how we…

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Intercessors – The Workers of The Prayer Ministry

Intercessors are the workers of the prayer ministry.  We can have great leaders and organizers, great groups, and wonderful prayer conferences, but without intercessors there would be no prayer ministry.  Intercession is what makes the prayer ministry happen.

Recruiting Intercessors

There are always some faithful souls who are eager to pray that will volunteer to sign up as intercessors.  Most of us, however, are just too independent and too occupied with our own affairs.  Therefore, we need to be reminded to pray, and recruited to intercede for others.

You who are leaders in the prayer ministry are the recruiters.  You need to stand in the gap for the prayer ministry that God has called you to (Ezek. 22:30).  Here are some ideas on who you should recruit as intercessors.

Recruit those who are attracted to your ministry.  Your ministry will be of a certain type; likewise, your personality and your way of doing things will be unique.  If someone comes along and likes what they see, and senses that they are being called by God to join you, that is the person you want on your team.   

Recruit your friends.  Recruit those who are on all different levels of friendship to intercede for you and your ministry. They will be as circles around you.  You may have two or three close friends to pray for you; they will be as tight circles around you.  You will usually have ten to twenty casual friends; they should be as a larger prayer circle around you.  Then there will always be a greater number, sometimes hundreds, who are your acquaintances; they should also pray for you, guarding your parameter. 

Therefore, we should think of our friends as those who pray for us.  And if they are truly our friends then they will prayer for us.  But we should also recruit friends for our friends.  This is part of the hard work of the prayer ministry. 

Recruit those who seem to be more gifted as intercessors.  I don’t know if I believe that God has given a spiritual gift of intercession to some people more than others. But we do know that there are some Christians who enjoy prayer more than others, and pray more.

Peter Wagner is one who believes that God has gifted some with a spiritual gift of intercession.  He has said in his book, Prayer Shield that 5% of the average congregation has the gift of intercession.  He states that those who have this gift “pray longer,” “pray with more intensity,” “enjoy prayer more and receive more personal satisfaction from their prayer times,” and, “are acutely aware of hearing quite clearly from God.”9

As I said, I am not ready to say that these people have a special spiritual gift; but I do accept what Peter Wagner has observed.  Anyway, these are the type of Christians that you need on your prayer team.  These are the people that we need to seek out and recruit—for ourselves and for others.  Many of these great prayer warriors I have a feeling are not signed up to pray for as many people as they would like to pray for.  I think many of them would be tickled if someone asked them to be an intercessor for them—because, after all, that is what they feel they are called to do!

Okay, now that you have an idea who to recruit, the question now is how to recruit?  Basically, I would say, you will look for those who show an interest in prayer.  Recruiting is just keeping your eyes open to see and find those whom God has prepared and given a heart for prayer.  But since each type of ministry is different we must apply different methods of recruiting for each of them.

If you are part of a state, national or worldwide prayer ministry you may want to start by seeing who has subscribed to your prayer magazine, or who has purchased any of your prayer materials.  Those will be some of the ones who are more interested in prayer.  From that interested list you can send a letter asking them to sign up as an intercessor.

If you are part of a small group ministry or a church ministry you may want to call those whom you think are interested in prayer or approach them in person.

In whatever way you approach your interested people, make sure you communicate to them exactly what they will be required to do.  For instance, tell them how often you will be sending them prayer requests, and tell them how much you expect them to pray.  I think the more you make things clear to them the more they will be motivated to intercede.

Why all people need intercessors, and why some need them more than others 

All of us who are human need someone to intercede for us because we all have needs and problems and we are all subject to temptation.  If each of us had friends around us, interceding for us, we would all be better off—we would all have a better chance at overcoming temptation, and being protected.

Pastors and evangelists, I think need prayer more than others; therefore they need more intercessors interceding for them.  Here are…

Three Reasons Why Pastors and Evangelists Need More Prayer

1.  They receive a stricter judgment (James 3:1).  Since God holds teachers and leaders more accountable, they need more prayer protection and prayer power.

2.  Satan will be after them more.  Pastors and evangelists preach and teach the Word more and proclaim the gospel more than others.  Therefore, Satan hates them more and will temp them more than others.

3.  Pastors and evangelists have more influence on others.  They need prayer more than others because they have more responsibilities and they influence more people.  If Satan overtakes a pastor, for example, the whole congregation is affected.  Therefore, when we pray for a pastor we are in effect praying for the whole church.

I don’t think there has ever been a great preacher or evangelist that did not have faithful prayer warriors interceding for them. Peter Wagner in his Prayer Shield tells of two great evangelists, Charles Finney and Billy Graham, who each had their faithful intercessors praying for them.  Finney had one known as “Father Nash” who frequently traveled with him; and Billy Graham had Pearl Goode, which Graham himself has attributed much of his evangelism power to.10

It is a shame that more pastors don’t try to recruit more intercessors for themselves.  As we have seen, they certainly have a need to.  Nonetheless, we should make it our aim and duty to intercede for them, and to recruit others to do the same.

Encouraging intercessors.  Intercession is hard work.  And sometimes, especially if answers don’t come quickly, the work is discouraging.  If you are a leader in a prayer ministry you need to take time to encourage your intercessors. I suggest that you communicate regularly to let your prayer partners know that you appreciate their service to you. 


9 Peter Wagner, Prayer Shield, p. 49.

10 Ibid. p. 103

The State, National, and World-Wide Prayer Ministry

Prayer A to Z

These are large and far-reaching ministries, but I think they are just as important as the others.  God wants us to prayer for all people, far as well as near.  This is how these prayer ministries may be designed.

They may operate through the following avenues:

Magazines and newspapers. There are a few good Christian magazines and newspapers out there that focus on prayer. I get Herald of His Coming, which is jam packed with articles on prayer and it also provides the reader with about eight or ten News Briefs with prayer requests from various countries. I think newspapers and magazines like this one is an excellent way to recruit prayer ministry members, provide the reader with world-wide prayer requests, and to keep him or her motivated to pray.

A prayer letter. A letter may be mailed to all magazines and newspapers subscribers. Its purpose will be to invite…

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The Community and Citywide Prayer Ministry

Prayer A to Z

These ministries are very important.  The goal for each of them is to get Christian people praying together for their city or community, so that, according to 1Timothy 2:2, they may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  Here are a few ideas of what I think this ministry should look like:

1.  There should be a clear focus of ministry.  That focus must be on interceding for the needs of the city or community.  Those needs will be at least three-fold:

(1) For its leaders. Prayer must be made for all the city or community leaders, that they be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth; but also, that God would work through them, so that whether they are believers or not, they would rule and make decisions with God’s wisdom.

(2) For churches. Prayer should be made for all Christian churches…

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No Worries — Trust Him

This will sound like a broken record, but I am still on this journey to get rid of worry—worry…worry…worry…

Recently, I have been having auto troubles—hearing loud grinding noises from the starter. Yesterday morning I was reading from Psalm 37. The words trust, rest in, and wait on the Lord were the most predominant and helpful. I said “yes” to the Lord in regard to those things. I will trust Him and wait patiently.

Well yesterday afternoon, just before I was ready to leave my work place, I wondered how many starts I had left in my truck. Just before I would turn the key, I prayed and gave my situation to the Lord. I turn the key. It made a little noise and then nothing. It was gone. I called a tow truck and waited.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t too worried because I had given it to Him. Yes, I knew I would be tested, but I also knew that He would be with me—as He always is. I don’t know why I worry.

Today my auto shop guy gave me a new starter. All is well until the next test. I will try to remember those words: trust, rest in, and wait on Him. I think it is just a matter of my will saying “I will trust Him… I will rest in Him.” And in every test, it is another opportunity to trust Him.