CHRISTMAS . . . A TIME FOR REFLECTION
I admit it! I love Christmas. Oh, I get turned off by all the commercialization and secularization like many of you. But it’s our holiday! By our, I mean the Church. And I’m not letting other people ruin our holiday. It’s when followers of Jesus celebrate the incarnation. It’s that time of awe when we realize that the Creator-God took on human flesh and was born as a helpless babe. It’s the celebration of the event that changed planet earth forever.
I love the way the Church through the years developed Christmas as a season and not just a day. The lighting of advent candles builds a sense of anticipation for the coming of the Christ child. Then the day itself . . . ah, Christmas Day! Feasting, family, worship, singing, and giving of gifts . . . all can be done in a way that points to the great Gift given that Day to mankind.
Don’t take the tree down on the 26th. These days after Christmas can be glorious days of reflection about the meaning of the Incarnation. I encourage you to spend time in prayer, meditating on the wonder of the Incarnation. Make them days of preparation for the New Year ahead—seek God as to His purposes for you in the new year. Consider committing to a deeper level of prayer this coming year. Perhaps we can learn from the 12 Days of Christmas song and continue to make these days a time of giving, if not of gifts, of our time to those who need the blessing of Christ we carry within us.
No Scrooges in my house! Merry Christmas, and may God bless us every one!
9-11 PRAYERS FILLED WITH HOPE
The Statue of Liberty loomed before us as we worshipped the Lord and prayed on board a small ship this past September 11. Prayer leaders from around the nation had gathered to participate in Cry Out America. We were praying around New York harbor on this memorable 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that have so impacted our nation.
As we slowed down nearest the shoreline where the new Freedom Towers are rising from the site of the former World Trade Center, I was asked to lead our group in a season of prayer.
As faith-filled prayers ascended to the Throne of God, I was struck by the lack of fear. Though many warnings had been given about the possibility of terrorist attacks that day, the atmosphere was one of faith, not fear. There was also a determination that on this day the Church would respond with prayers that were about Heaven’s agenda for spiritual awakening in our nation.
The time is over for prayers that are simply about our wants and wishes. It is time for the power of God to be released over this nation that returns the hearts of His people to the Lord!
New York City was just one place where prayer for revival was occurring on September 11. We have since received reports of more than 2,500 different prayer events on that day that focused on spiritual awakening in the United States. That figure doesn’t begin to account for the thousands of individual congregations who that day, remembered Sept.11 by praying for a fresh move of the Spirit of God among the Church. Harvest Prayer Ministries is delighted to be among those who are leading the way in calling the Church to revival praying!
A RIGHT THEOLOGY
For many years I have given myself to teaching and mobilizing prayer. Though it is a great privilege, it is also frustrating at times. For a very long time I felt that if Christians were just more committed, they would pray more. If they loved Jesus more, they would pray more. That led me to hit hard at levels of commitment in my teaching.But the Lord has recently been showing me that it isn’t commitment, it’s theology. Most of the pastors and church leaders that I teach and work with are completely committed. They are sold out for Jesus. They will do anything for Him. The lack of prayer in their lives has much more to do with theology than with lack of commitment.
The American church, in particular, believes poorly concerning prayer. We look at prayer as a way of getting things from God. Or we look at it mainly as something that helps move us spiritually. Sometimes we even look at much prayer as in the realm of specialists, rather than for “regular” Christians.
What will really transform our prayer lives is when we begin to believe what the Bible says about prayer. When we begin to see that prayer is the way God has chosen to accomplish His will on planet earth, we will move it to a more central place in our lives. Right theology on prayer moves it from somewhere on our “to do” list to an integral part of who we are as Christians.
WAITING IS GOOD FOR US
I’m sitting on a plane, hoping they can fix the tire and we can take off only an hour delayed. I do a lot of this . . . sitting and waiting in and around airplanes. It’s good for me. I’m not a patient person by nature. I don’t like delays. I’ve got stuff to do! That’s why this is good for me.
Learning to wait is critical for the life of prayer. Scripture is filled with commands about waiting on God. “LORD, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God” (Psalm 38:14-16). “But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me” (Micah 7:6-8). Why waiting? Because it’s good for us. Lamentations 3:26 reminds us “It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” Waiting takes me off of my schedule and my agenda and . . . if I do it properly puts me on God’s schedule and His agenda.
So now . . . I wait. Rather than fret, I close my eyes and turn my thoughts to the Lord. I ask Him what His agenda is for this day. And . . . I write the blog I needed to write!
8:59 AM Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Dave, your comments on waiting on God are excellent, and have blessed me. I want to pass along to you a poem which the Lord gave me many months ago as I meditated on Romans 8:28. It relates to what you said. Lord bless. God Works Behind the Scenes Romans 8:28 God works behind the scenes His wonders to perform How wondrous are those works We stand in awe of each one of them When things happen we can’t explain Just pause to consider – He is busy at work. Don’t doubt, don’t get up tight Our God is in control Satan would make us always doubt ‘He never believes God’s Word. He knows not the mind of God, And he hates to see His plan succeed. But when we see God’s works in motion Believe He is perfecting His Word. He performs what pleases Himself, And in the process we are blessed. Don’t fret and fume and get upset. God is on His throne in heaven. He also lives within our hearts – And there He ordains His peace. “I know the thoughts I think toward you, Thoughts of peace and not of evil, To give you an expected end.” Those words of God to Jeremiah are true. Behind the scenes we know God is at work To faithfully execute His plan. Time is but the schedule He’s set Which He never fails to bring to pass. Halleluiah! Praise the Lord! From age to age we worship Him ‘Cause He is faithful to keep His Word – And His Word is changeless. “Never be anxious”, says the Lord. “Never worry when you don’t understand. My thoughts are often beyond your grasp ‘Cause I AM God and you are man. “Just stand in awe and praise Me. Bow in reverence before My majesty. Say, with the angels, ‘Halleluiah! You alone are worthy. You alone know best ‘”. Lord of all, I’ve heard Your voice You’ve spoken, oh, so clearly. Let me never, ever, doubt your love. I know what You say is so. All things do work together for good, To those who love You, To those who are called According to Your glorious purposes. Remember…God does work behind the scenes. Remember…He is on the throne. Remember…He is always in control. Remember…all is for our good. Amen and Amen.
CAN PRAYER REALLY SAVE AMERICA?
It’s an important question you know. “Can prayer save America?” It’s much more than a clever theme for a magazine. The answer might well determine the future of our nation.
I’m convinced this first issue of Prayer Connect will impact Christians around the planet to pray more fervently and effectively for the United States. That’s a good thing. It’s always a good thing. Clear, biblically based prayer always releases the power of God into a situation in God’s timing and in God’s way.
But it still doesn’t answer the question. Can prayer save America? Sure, if saving America is what God wants to do. Then prayer will be absolutely essential. Prayers of confession and repentance can bring us to that safe place of humility before God. Intercessory prayers to release salvation, revival, justice, compassion, and mercy will become commonplace and powerful. We can see amazing cultural transformation.
Let’s not however, move into this season of prayer for America with the assumption that God wants to save America. Wouldn’t it be safer (as well as probably more correct theologically) to assume that as a nation we are deserving of judgment? Then our prayers will take on a more desperate attitude. We will find ourselves in tears, pleading for mercy, and hoping for grace. The churches of America should even now be filled with penitent believers, fearing the judgment of God upon a nation that has step by step turned from His ways.