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I received permission from Jon Graf to post the daily Connection! prayer devotions on Pray.Network.  These devotions are available as a free e-mail subscription from the Harvest Prayer Ministries website at http://connection.harvestprayer.com/.

I have found these devotionals to be not only inspirational but also great equipping for my own prayer life.  There aren't many devotionals that are actually about prayer - most have a quick prayer at the end and that's about it.  But this one has prayer as its focus.  I thought others on the Network might be interested in it.  I will attempt to post each one daily - although I'll inevitably miss here and there. 

I have previously written a Spotlight blog post on the Connection! devotional; if you're interested, check it out here: http://www.pray.network/profiles/blogs/praynetwork-spotlight-connec....

I hope you enjoy and benefit from this devotional as much as I have.

--Andrew

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Dec. 15: God’s Presence in the Midst of Temptation

“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 12:10).

Alan Redpath gives a concise paraphrase of the meaning of the phrase “lead us not into temptation.” He writes, “It is the one negative petition in the family prayer; it is the one thing we dread more than anything else. I could paraphrase it this way as I often do as I seek the Lord myself: ‘Lord, I am weak, and I would avoid every temptation of the devil if I could. I do not ask to be exempt from trial, because that would not be good for me, but Lord, if today there is to be put in my path an inducement to sin, Lord Jesus, then lead me through. Take my hand, and keep me near to You, Lord Jesus. I don’t ask to be free from the furnace of testing, but, O God, I desperately need Your presence through the fire.’”

Temptation will always confront us, and we must understand two truths about it if we are to experience victory. First, temptation is not sin, but it is an inducement to sin. How we respond is important. We can yield to the inducement, or we can yield to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Second, it is important to understand the source of temptation and the means by which it attempts to induce us. God does not tempt His children to sin. Satan is the tempter, the source of evil. Satan uses the world and the flesh to tempt the follower of Jesus. We must never forget, however, that Satan is a defeated foe.

Almighty God, You have defeated the enemy once and for all on the cross! Please don’t let me forget that You have given me everything I need to resist the temptation of the evil one, and that You are my strength in the midst of weakness! May Your presence be near as I stand firmly clothed in Your spiritual armor, ready to do battle against the schemes of the one who would do me harm every day of my life apart from Your grace, mercy and unconditional love!

Prayer Points

As you praise God today, focus on his great mercy (Ps. 108:4). Thank him for taking delight in surrounding you with his mercy (Mic. 7:18). Confess that in the busyness of life you sometimes forget his mercy to you. Commit yourself to extending that same kind of loving mercy to others who are in need. Ask God to grant you his peace and fellowship as you live for him this day.

Pray that your church will also extend God’s mercy to the needy and impoverished members of your community. Ask that God will open eyes to see opportunities for service.

–Adapted from The Prayer Factor by Sammy Tippit. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

Dec. 16: Food for Our Souls

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him” (Psalm 62:5).

Through abiding with God we are being re-created. When quiet before Him, His Word reaches transforming fingers into our hearts, this inner chamber from which we live. From which thoughts and feelings emerge. He brings order into this vast restless heartland which no psychologist can reach. We find soul food by abiding in the true Vine (Jn. 15:1-17). Willing to follow in spite of distracting thoughts and feelings.

It is a journey with no perfect roadmap. It is simply a commitment to becoming more cultured by our Father on the way home. When we first fall in love with Him, we journey with Him to a lakeside bench anticipating the sunrise. Abiding begins. We speak tenderly to each other. Listening attentively. Reading carefully all verbal and non-verbal cues. Even enjoying the silence. Our communication extends to all levels and involves our entire being. We read each other, not for information alone. But, attentively for relationship. Heart waiting, like a moist field receiving life-giving seed. In love, we receive and then slowly meditate upon the Word He gives. Then we respond to Him wholeheartedly, right-mindedly, entire soul and strength. Awaiting insight, love, formation and direction. Letting the relationship unfold through times of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and intercession. Before long, as we all know, the journey gets complicated because life intrudes.

Abba, how I long to know Your Presence in every moment, and to sense Your nearness even in the busiest seasons of my life. Yet, I allow the pressures, the concerns and the urgency of the day to consume my mind and heart. Teach me to rest in You as You transform me from the inside out. Help me to pause long enough to listen to You in the silence and to see You in the beauty of Your creation. Show me how to respond to Your voice as You tenderly speak my name and visit me in the stillness…simply to tell me how much You love me. Let me rest in the shadow of Your wings so that all of my activity is done from a fully submitted heart.

Prayer Points

Praise God, who is the creator of both rich and poor. Thank him for giving you the ability to produce wealth (Deut. 8:18). Confess any time you have put your trust in your earthly possessions rather than in the spiritual riches of God (8:13-14). Commit yourself to living contentedly with all that God has provided. Ask him to give you a generous heart toward those who have less.

Pray that God will meet physical and financial needs among your family members and friends. Pray for opportunities to give what you can to meet their need.

Prayer Pointer

“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.” —Robert Murray McCheyne

–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 40, Abiding Prayer by Tony Twist). This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

Dec. 17: God Initiates, We Collaborate

After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” . . . Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked. “There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.” The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”. . . The sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on. —1 Kings 18:1, 42–45

In the first year of his [Darius] reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. —Daniel 9:2–3

Intercession, like all true prayer, starts with God. God tells us what He wants us to ask so that we can ask what He wants, and then He in turn answers our prayer and accomplishes what He wills. His part in this scenario is to reveal to us what to pray about. Our part is to listen and to pray about those things that He reveals. When it comes to prayer God initiates, we collaborate.

When Israel repented, following the drought they had brought on themselves through their worship of Baal, God promised to send them rain. He said to Elijah, “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” On hearing that, Elijah did not presume that the rain would come whether or not he prayed. He presumed the very opposite, that he needed to pray in order to bring to pass what God was committed to do. So “Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.” The face-between-his-knees position was a posture associated with intense prayer. Elijah prayed intensely, not just once but seven times, before God’s answer came. Elijah listened and then prayed for the promised rain. God heard and sent the rain He had promised.

Daniel also listened and prayed. He listened to the scriptures: “I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures . . . that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.” When Daniel discovered that the seventy years were nearly up, he didn’t just twiddle his thumbs and watch for the end of the captivity. Instead, we read that he “turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel didn’t doubt that God would keep His promise to restore Jerusalem. He also didn’t doubt that prayer was a necessary part of bringing it to pass.

Father, Your heart is what I am after! Your Word reveals Your promises and Your desires, yet I am consistently pulled towards only praying my own list of wants and needs. Help me to have the faith of Elijah and Daniel so that I might be purposeful about interceding on a strategic level. Make me willing to humble myself to commit to fasting and crying out for Your will to be accomplished! Show me how to be so focused on Your Word that I will fervently plead for Your kingdom to come and Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven!

Prayer Points

Praise the God of truth, whose words are trustworthy (2 Sam. 7:28). Thank Jesus for being the only way, truth, and life (Jn. 14:6). Confess the times you’ve chosen to believe the lies of Satan rather than the true promises of God. Commit yourself, as a member of Christ’s body, to speaking truthfully in all your relationships (Eph. 4:25). Ask God to buckle the belt of truth around your waist.

The devil is “a liar and the father of lies” (Jn. 8:44). Ask that Satan’s empty schemes will be exposed and that unsaved people will believe in Jesus.

–Adapted from Praying God’s Heart (Prayers that Make a Difference) by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

Dec. 18: Look Up and See

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).

It is very easy in the midst of the difficulties and trials of everyday life, to lose our vision. Sometimes we slip into survival mode: “I just want to make it through today without messing up too much.” Other times, we begin to develop a maintenance philosophy for the Church and our part in it. If we can just maintain where we’ve been, we’ll be successful.

The pressures of everyday living seem to make fresh vision for the future a commodity we can’t afford. We ask, “How can we possibly begin to dream of more, when we aren’t doing very well with what we currently have?” And so we drift back into the weariness of plodding forward in our Christian lives, with our eyes firmly fixed on the ground in front of us so we don’t stumble.

The prophet Habakkuk virtually grabs our heads and jerks us upward. “Look, can’t you see?” he asks. “There is something on the horizon that is so huge that you won’t be able to miss it,” is the real message of Habakkuk. The prophetic Word from God is that there is coming a day when the knowledge of the glory (Presence) of God will be experienced on planet Earth. That shakes us to our core. Things will not always be as they have been. It is time for a fresh vision among the people of God! It is time to pray for the fulfillment of His Word. It IS going to happen!

Lord, thank You for giving me this fresh vision from Habakkuk. I long for the day when the earth will know Your Presence by experience. Help me to live for that! Pour out Your Spirit upon me so that I may pray and live in a way that hastens that day. Forgive me Lord, for sometimes living a mediocre life that fails to take into account what You are longing to do in and around me. Help me to see with the eyes of my heart what is on Your heart to do in and through me so that You receive honor and glory!

Prayer Points

Praise your God, whose right hand is filled with righteousness (Ps. 48:10). Thank him for being righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made (Ps. 145:17). Confess your own sinfulness, especially times in the last day when you have acted in an unrighteous way toward others. Commit yourself to being “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:11). Ask God to keep you in close communion with him throughout this day.

Ask God to enable believing teens among your family and friends to “say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives” (Titus 2:12).

–Adapted from Revolution on Our Knees: 30 Days of Prayer for Neighbors and Nations by David and Kim Butts. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

Dec. 19: God-Centered Great Commission Praying

The Bible provides instruction on prayer’s priority and foundational role in the body of Christ. Moses, Nehemiah, David, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and many of the Minor Prophets all demonstrate their belief in prayer’s priority in personal and corporate life (see Ex. 33:1ff; Neh. 1:1-11; 2 Sam. 24:25; Isaiah 1, 6:1-9; Ezk. 37:1-11; Daniel 9). Paul urged Timothy to make Great Commission-centered prayer for all men first place in His ministry and in the church (see 1 Tim. 2:1-8). Jesus expects prayer to be foundational and teaches/models prayer’s priority to His followers (see Mt. 6:5-13, Jn. 17:1-24 and Lk. 11:1-6). Luke’s summary statement in Acts 2:42 shows the early church modeled and maintained the priority of prayer. Theirs was a lifestyle of prayer that seemed to permeate everything they did (e.g., 1:14, 6:1-6). This created a ripe environment, a “tropical climate” or “atmosphere” for fruitful, God-centered prayer.

The Bible ensures a proper missional and kingdom focus in prayer. In Acts, the early Church demonstrates a life of prayer-permeated witness where prayer was not only a core belief, but was also vital component or “prime-necessity” for the evangelistic mission (see Acts 1:14, 2:42, 4:23-33, 13:1-3). The temptation in church prayer is to turn inward and focus on selfish temporal desires and agendas. The Bible constantly points churches toward a prayer life that is kingdom-focused and missional at its core (see Mt. 6:9-10; John 17).

Lord God, for two thousand years, Your people have been chipping away at the task of world evangelization in order to fulfill Your command! Prayer is the foundation for reaching into the dark and grasping the hands of those whose eyes have been blinded by the enemy of our souls. Help me to clearly see my unsaved neighbors and the unreached all over the world as people You love. Give me a heart to love them as You do, and to desire to see them live eternally in heaven. Allow compassion to well up inside of me as You create that “ripe environment” for “fruitful, God-centered prayer” within me!

Prayer Points

Praise God who has invited you into his circle of fellowship through Jesus Christ. Thank him for his invitation to love him with your whole being (Mk.12:33). Confess to God that sometimes you don’t love and honor him as you should. Commit yourself to Deut. 10:12: “To fear the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, to love him, and to serve [him] with all your heart and with all your soul.” Ask God to enable you to fulfill that commitment today.

Pray that the knowledge of Christ will spread throughout the whole world, even as a tiny seed grows into a large and vigorous plant (Mk. 4:31). Pray for faithful preachers of the gospel (Mt. 24:14).

–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 41, The Bible and Church Prayer by J. Chris Schofield). This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

Dec. 20: Yielded to the Leadership of the Holy Spirit

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here” (2 Corinthians 5:17)!

The system of the world is contrary to the principles and character of God. Because the believer lives within that system, Satan continuously tries to seduce him with the lusts of the world system.

The fleshly part of man has been affected by the Fall. The “old man” lives by this principle. It is the principle of living by one’s outward \desires and drives rather than by inward obedience to God. The Christian must yield himself to God in prayer, choosing not to be conformed to this world but to crucify the flesh and its lusts. One must make these daily choices in the secret chamber of prayer. When one wholly yields himself to God, he will then be able to walk and live under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit, I yield myself to Your power and authority as I cast off the seductive temptations of the enemy of my soul!  I choose to crucify my flesh in order to choose the secret chamber of prayer. I exchange the lies of the devil for the truth of Your Living Word. I claim the power of Your promises over the twisted distortions of the evil one.  Help me to walk in step with You as I put on the character of Christ and live out the commands of the Father all the days of my life!

Prayer Points

Praise God for the humility which Christ displayed in coming to earth and going to the cross for you (Phil. 2:8). Thank Jesus for modeling true humility as he washed his disciples’ feet (Jn. 13:5). Confess the pride which keeps you from wholeheartedly submitting to Jesus’ lordship. Commit yourself to drawing near to your Lord at the foot of the cross. Ask him to give you a servant’s heart.

Ask God to search your heart concerning unsaved persons you know. Pray that any attitude of superiority will be rooted out of your life so that you can humbly and genuinely present the claims of Christ.

Prayer Pointer

“Any church without a well-organized and systematic prayer program is simply operating a religious treadmill.” —John Billheimer

–Adapted from The Prayer Factor by Sammy Tippit. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

Dec. 21: Sharing Life with God

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20).

Thanks be that the Ancient of Days wants to share all of our journey (Mt. 28:20). However, He will not come uninvited. So, we just say “yes.” Inviting Him to form the relationships that form us and those we love. Turning to Him when sleep eludes us in the night. Driving to work with Him instead of some deeply diverted disc jockey. Observing His reaction as He watches television with us and goes along to the movies we consume. Fasting, for His sake, from ball games, shopping, food, friends, vacations, or anything else that intrudes between us. Faithfully keeping the morning, afternoon, evening and/or late night appointments with Him. Having and helping His children. Taking care of His little ones. The more we obediently share life with Him, the better we become. The better we become, the more we want to share with Him.

As our relationship with Him develops, its health is seen in our deepening love for Him and others (Mt. 22:34-40). Going through life’s tasks in His powerful and sustaining Presence, mindful of our heritage and destiny, life becomes a “process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.” We do this by journeying alongside and toward the Ancient of Days. The One who brought Adam into existence. Who led Abraham out of Ur in search of a place to really live. Who spoke to Moses face to face. Who sent His Son to reveal Himself (Jn. 14:8,9). Who gives His Spirit to make us whole. Who alone is our eternal abiding place (Jn. 14:1-4).

And, in the autumn of life, we are committed to a continued journey with Him. Still speaking tenderly to one another after all the years. Hearing deeply beneath the few words being spoken. Knowing verbals and non-verbals without even looking at each other. Libraries of love back and forth, especially in the silence. Looking back on the fruit of a life of love together. While looking forward to the time when we stand before His throne with family from every nation, tribe, people and language (Rev. 7:9-12).

Father, I can’t even begin to comprehend the depth of Your love for me! I want to walk alongside of You in this journey of life, as You conform me moment by moment into the image of Jesus Christ for the sake of others. You have made Your home with me and given me Your Spirit to make me whole. May I sense Your Presence in every stage of life and in the midst of every situation. You are my eternal abiding place and I will dedicate my life to seeking Your face and listening to Your voice. I will be obedient to Your Word, loving people and making disciples for the glory of Your Name.

Prayer Points

Praise the God of faith, hope, and love (1 Cor. 13:13). Thank him for the “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet.1:3). Confess those times when you have given in to discouragement rather than hoping in God. Commit yourself to taking hold of the hope which God freely offers to you (Heb. 6:18). Ask that you will have opportunity to share your hope with another person today.

Ask God to help you live in such a way that your unsaved friends will ask “you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Pet. 3:15). Then be ready with your answer!

–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 40, Abiding Prayer by Tony Twist). This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

Dec. 22: Listening Before Praying

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better” (Ephesians 1:17).

Elijah and Daniel both listened to God first and then prayed. They based their prayers on what they had “heard.” Elijah heard God speak directly. Daniel heard God speak through the scripture. They took God’s revelation seriously. They took their prayer responsibility seriously. They understood the listening side of prayer.

Listening prayer is simply this: First, we listen, and then we pray. There are several different ways that we can listen. First, we can “hear” directly from God. When God the Father speaks, it is always through His Son and His Spirit. Of believers Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice . . .” (John 10:27, NASB). Hearing Jesus’ voice is direct hearing. Paul calls the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of . . . revelation” (Ephesians 1:17). This Spirit of revelation dwells within us and is able to reveal what God wants to say directly to our hearts and minds. What we “hear” from God shapes our prayers, so that we know what to pray.

By listening we may even learn when not to pray for something. At a time when the spirit of unrighteousness reigned in Israel, God said to Jeremiah, “Do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them: do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you” (Jeremiah 7:16).

The link between our prayers and God’s actions is so tight that God doesn’t want us praying for things that He definitely doesn’t want to do. Though He probably won’t speak to you as decisively as He did to Jeremiah, He may at times put a check in your spirit when you start praying for someone or something. When that happens, it may be time to change your prayers.

Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation, speak to my heart as I listen for Your voice through Your word, in my circumstances, through others, or in whatever way You choose! May Your words shape my prayers and guide my life into the midst of Your divine activity! Help me to be attentive to Your voice, never doubting Your ability to share Your heart with my own.

Prayer Points

Praise your God, who alone is holy (Rev. 15:4). Thank him for the glorious promise that one day all nations will come and worship him. Confess sins which keep you from drawing close to God. Commit yourself daily to exalting and worshiping your holy God. Ask God to help you keep his command to “be holy, because I am holy” (Lev. 11:45).

In all your family relationships, pray that the truth of Heb. 12:14 will be central: “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy.”

Prayer Pointer

“If family worship is neglected, other attempts at prayer are like sprinkling the foliage of a plant while leaving the roots dry.” —Anonymous

–Adapted from Praying God’s Heart (Prayers that Make a Difference) by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

Dec. 23: Remember, Turn, Bow Down

 “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:27-28).

It’s pretty frustrating to watch the news and see how the nations regularly ignore the Lord. Virtually all governments operate as though there is no God in heaven Who is Maker of all things and Ruler of the nations. Because of this rebellious attitude, mankind finds itself increasingly mired in unsolvable situations that threaten all of human existence.

It would be easy to lose hope if we did not have God’s eternal Word as a sure promise. There is coming a day when the nations will: 1) remember, 2) turn, 3) bow down. The task of those who love God and already bow before Him in worship, is to continue to live in ways that honor the Lord and point people to Him.

The Psalmist says that “the ends of the earth will remember.” It’s a fascinating use of words. There is deep within all humankind a spiritual memory of our Creator. It may have been repressed, argued against, or legislated out of experience; however, the task of God’s people is to continually call the nations to remember Him, turn to Him and bow down in worship before Him.

God is waiting for the nations to remember, turn and worship. Our confidence in the midst of the trials of this world, is that there will come a day when the Lord will rule the nations.

Father, the nations are in an uproar because they have turned their backs on You. Forgive us for looking to men for answers when the only answer is in You. Lord, I’m eager for the day when all the ends of the earth will remember and turn to You. What a time of magnificent worship that will be! I pray for the leaders of nations today, that they will remember You and turn. I pray that the Church would persevere in its task of declaring Your Name to all the families of the nations.

Prayer Points

Praise “the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (Jas. 1:17). Thank God for remaining the same throughout all eternity (Ps. 102:27). Confess that sometimes you are not as consistent as you would like to be in your walk with God. Commit yourself to remaining true to that which does not change, the eternal God (2 Cor. 4:18). Ask God to glorify himself in your life.

Pray that the stewardship of resources in your congregation will please God. Ask that members will be willing to give generously of their time and talents as well as their finances. Pray that they will experience joy in giving.

–Adapted from Revolution on Our Knees: 30 Days of Prayer for Neighbors and Nations by David and Kim Butts. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

Dec. 24: “Our Father”

“When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. ‘Sovereign Lord,’ they said, ‘you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them’” (Acts 4:24).

As with prayer beliefs, the Bible sets appropriate standards, paradigms or examples relating to local church prayer practices. It presents the need for both personal and corporate prayer practices within the local church. People of prayer will produce congregations that pray. Praying people who practice a lifestyle of prayer will lead the church toward unceasing “one-accord” prayer (see Acts 4:24).

Personal and corporate prayer practices permeate the Old Testament. Jesus prayed alone, with and for His followers. The early Church, as seen in Acts and in the epistles, practiced individual and corporate prayer (see Acts 1:14; 2:42). Prayer community and culture should always be the goal (i.e., house of prayer motif, Mk. 11:17). Grenz correctly comments, “Prayer that occurs in solitude reaches outward to the communal prayer that we share together. At the same time, our participation together in communal prayer lays the foundation for the praying that we do alone. . . . even in the solitude of our private ‘prayer chamber’ we continue to say ‘Our Father.’”

Our Father, Your word offers powerful examples of men and women who individually and corporately teach Your Church to seek Your face! I recognize that corporate prayer is often neglected in the Church today, even though the Christian life is a journey that happens in community with others. May I be a useful vessel to encourage other believers to pray with one another so that we will continually “lift our voices together in prayer”?  Teach us to willingly share our hearts with You and to focus on the concerns of Your heart for Your kingdom.

Prayer Points

Focus on Jn. 15:1-17 for the next few days. Praise your Father, who is the gardener of your soul. Thank Jesus for being the true vine which nourishes and gives life to the branches. Confess moments when you’ve tried to sever your relationship to Jesus in some way. Commit yourself to welcoming God’s pruning in your life despite the pain it might bring. Ask God to make you more fruitful as you live for him.

Ask that your fruit-bearing will be attractive to unsaved people you know. Pray that they will “taste [of that fruit] and see that the LORD is good” (Ps. 34:8).

Prayer Pointer

“God rules the world through the prayers of his people.” —Anonymous

–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 41, The Bible and Church Prayer by J. Chris Schofield). This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

Dec. 25: Even Jesus Had to Ask

“I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession” (Psalm 2:7-8).

This amazing passage of Scripture allows us to listen in on a conversation between God the Father and Jesus the Son. In a sense, the Father is saying, “Son, you will soon take on human flesh and live on planet Earth. Because of that, your inheritance will be the whole planet; every nation will be yours. But Son, because you will be fully human, you will have the same constraints that they have. This means that in order for you to receive from Me, you must ask. Even you, Son, must pray.”

When the Jerusalem church was ordered by the authorities to stop preaching in the name of Jesus (Acts 4), they began to pray Psalm 2 back to God in response. They understood that for Jesus to receive His inheritance of all nations, they had to continue preaching the gospel, in spite of the orders given by the rulers. God’s Word formed the basis of their prayer, and gave boldness to their preaching.

Today, Jesus has not yet fully received His inheritance. The nations must still hear. The ends of the earth have yet to be fully reached. It is time for us to join with Jesus, fervently asking for Him to receive all that the Father desires to give Him – the nations of the Earth!

Faithful Father, I thank You for the promise You have given to Jesus. I thrill at the thought that one day, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Yet my responsibility is for today…that the ends of the earth, every nation, would come to hear the good news of Jesus. So today, as part of the Body of Christ, I come before You on behalf of the head of our Body and ask, “Father, please give Jesus His inheritance! May all nations come to know Him and adore Him.” Please show me the part You have for me to play so that Jesus will receive all that You desire to give Him.

Prayer Points

Praise Jesus, the true vine, for the privilege of being one of his branches. Thank him for the promise of union with himself (Jn. 15:4). Confess the times when you have proudly thought of yourself as the vine rather than as a branch. Commit yourself to remaining in the true vine. Ask God to keep you firmly attached to the vine so that you can bear much fruit.

Ask God to bless the fellowship of local church bodies where members are challenged to “remain in Christ.” Pray for unity among such Christians in neighborhoods and communities around the world.

–Adapted from Revolution on Our Knees: 30 Days of Prayer for Neighbors and Nations by David and Kim Butts. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

Dec. 26: Strategic Praying

The Bible teaches and models strategic prayer practices. Old Testament characters prayed strategic prayers. Moses prayed (with Aaron and Hur’s assistance) strategically for Joshua’s defeat of Amelek in Rephidim (Ex.17:8-13). Ezra (Ezra 9), David (Psalms 40, 51) and Isaiah (Isa. 6:1-11) also prayed strategic prayers at pivotal moments when God’s mission through their lives was being hindered, halted or slowed. These prayers were therefore very specific and focused on current situations or scenarios and were need-based toward the fulfillment of Divine purposes and plans.

The New Testament is also replete with examples of strategic prayer patterns. Jesus prayed strategically outside the tomb of Lazarus and while on the cross (see Jn. 11:41-42; Lk. 23:34).12 Jesus also prayed for the completion of His mission in John 17. This prayer serves as a model for strategic prayer toward the mission of the Church as He prayed for His followers to be kept in His name, from the evil one, sanctified in the truth, unified in mission and present with Him in His mission and future glory (see Jn. 17:11-24).

Paul prays strategic prayers for the rapid advance of the gospel and for open doors and protection to share effectively with the lost (see Col. 4:2-6; 2 Thess. 3:2). The early church models strategic prayer for the advancement of the mission through persecution and in missionary endeavors (Acts 4:23-33).

These examples demonstrate the need for churches to practice strategic prayer patterns where specific need-based prayers are prayed as they relate to the fulfillment of God’s purposes in and through the church.

Father, You are a God of order and of purpose. You desire Your people to seek after Your mission and the fulfillment of Your kingdom plans and yet we are focused upon our own needs and concerns. Keep us from the evil one by the power of Your Name. Sanctify Your Body in the truth. May we be united together with one mind and heart so that You alone receive glory!

Prayer Points

Praise God as the one who makes it possible for you to bear much fruit (Jn. 15:5). Thank him for the promise of a great spiritual harvest in your life. Confess sins which stunt the development of spiritual fruit in your life. Commit yourself to daily devotional habits which will stimulate the growth of such fruit. Ask God to help you produce the kind of harvest which will give him the glory and praise.

Ask God to pour out his blessing on his church throughout the world. Pray for fruitfulness among those who remain faithful to God and are firmly united to Jesus, the true vine.

–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 41, The Bible and Church Prayer by J. Chris Schofield). This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend.

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