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Let’s talk about prayer

Lets talk about prayerI sat beside the goldfish tank in our London flat and prayed. The goldfish had just died and I thought this was a good opportunity to practise raising the dead. A few hours later the still dead fish was flushed away. Prayer works, but you don’t always get what you want. Over the last few months I have been thinking about prayer at All Saints. In fact, the way All Saints prayed was one of the things that was attractive to us about coming to Weston. God’s on the move and prayer is one of the ways we join in.

One night at a youth group I was leading, one of the girls was in lots of pain, she could not stop crying. She had a long term hip condition and was unable to do the thing she loved - riding horses. The pain got worse and she started to cry out loudly. I asked if we could pray. She said yes, so I got her friend who had only just started attending the youth group to join me, she had only been a Christian for a couple of weeks. I asked the new girl to lay hands on her friend and pray for healing. Within a few minutes, the pain had gone and she was completely healed. She went back to the doctors and went back to horse riding. Prayer works, and sometimes we get we want.

I would like to set a direction for us so that together we can grow in prayer. As we do that here are four things to ponder and then seven alternative perspectives - I call them kingdom flips.

  1. Culture has shifted (remember the bridge?). But the way we pray has largely stayed the same. We would be wise to make prayer a core part of discipleship as we are seeking to do with the church vision - a church on the way.
  2. Prayer is both personal, “when you pray go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is unseen” and also corporate. See Matthew 6.
  3. There is a battle on and we need to have a strategic response. Nehemiah 4 describes this beautifully and also highlights the need for quick and corporate responses when the fighting becomes heavy.
  4. Colossians 4:2 says, “devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful”. Devote is a word we can use lightly, but it means to give over totally to the Lord - how are we doing with that?

A kingdom flip is to turn something over and see it from the perspective of the kingdom of God. Here are my seven flips.

  1. From 'pleading' to 'positioning'. We are sons and daughters of the living God. Jesus is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us (Rom 8:34). We can approach with confidence knowing where we stand. Prayer is never about a blind request but should be an encounter with the living God.
  2. From 'earth' to 'from heaven'. The Lord’s Prayer says, “your kingdom come on earth and it is in heaven”. We pray as citizens of heaven sending the blessings of heaven on the earth rather than calling them down.
  3. From 'me' to 'our'. The Lord’s Prayer begins, “Our Father”. We don’t pray alone but are part of the body of Christ. When we are struggling to pray, others are praying for us. But more than that, we get to pray with Jesus as we say, “Our Father”.
  4. From 'All Saints' to 'All the Saints'. In John 17 Jesus prays for us that we would be united. There is one church in Bath, in the UK and in the world. We are part of it.
  5. From 'an hour' to 'without ceasing'. I love the prayer that happens at All Saints. In fact, I would go as far as to say that prayer is one of the keys things that sustains this place. But if our prayer is measured by a prayer meeting on a Tuesday then we have missed the point. We have been called to pray at all times, without ceasing - 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
  6. From 'experts' to 'everyone'. Prayer is the call on everyone. Yes, we will have people who lead and dig deep, but we must enable and equip people to pray. There will still be a need for a smaller army of prayers who are on the counter-offensive and taking ground for the Kingdom of God.
  7. From 'cautious' to 'courageous'. Sometimes our prays are too small. God does not answer them, because we can sort it ourselves. Let's pray courageous prayers.

I hope these flips are helpful as you think about prayer. I encourage you to pray daily, and join in with the opportunities to pray with others at All Saints and across the city. If we do nothing else let’s pray out of an overflow of a continuous encounter with the living God.

My talk under the same theme can be found by clicking on the title below:
A plan for prayer with testimonies

kingdom flips