Jesus said to his disciples, Sit here while I go over there and pray.
Now, why did he do that? Why did Jesus pray? In fact he prayed a lot, often going up a mountain to find a place of solitude. He spent 40 days praying and fasting in the desert.
Why do you pray? What do you pray for? We have a time of open prayer here every Sunday. Why? What is all this talk about prayer.
Does prayer matter? Does prayer change anything? There are some people who make a plan for their life and on finding that they need certain things to fulfil their plan go to God and ask him to supply what it missing. They pray for a good grade in their exam, a good job, a good wife, a good husband, good children. Is this what prayer is all about, getting God to give us what we want at the quality we demand? Does this approach work?
Prayer is not to be put in a special box, it is to be as much a part of your daily life as breathing. Jesus did not give special lectures on prayer because for him it was just part of what happened all day. All his teaching on prayer mixes it up with other topics such as hypocrisy, materialism, forgiveness, trust, persistence and application.
The Pharisees could pray and the next moment plot the death of the messiah. Jesus calls us instead to a vibrant living relationship with God.
600 years ago, a man by the name of John Hus worked among the people of Moravia (between Poland and Slovakia), teaching the Bible. The Roman Catholic Church had Hus burned at the stake because he refused to stop teaching the Bible.
Before he died, Hus said his teaching and praying was a “hidden seed” that one day would spring up into revival.
200 years later, John Amos Comenius led the Moravian Christians out of their native land (where they were being persecuted) to a safe haven.
Before he died, Comenius predicted that the “hidden seed” that John Hus had prophesied about would sprout into revival in 100 years.
Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf was born into a wealthy aristocratic family in Dresden, Germany, almost 100 years later.
When Zinzendorf was 27 years old, he took into his home a single Moravian refugee. Before long, Zinzendorf had 300 Moravian refugees living on his estate and he became their spiritual leader. They lived in a village called Hernnhut.
Zinzendorf came across John Amos Comenius’ prophecy that in 100 years Hus’ “hidden seed” would sprout forth in revival. When Zinzendorf looked at the date, he realized that Comenius had made this prediction exactly 100 years before that week.
Zinzendorf called the 300 Moravians together that very night, 12 August, 1727, and they held an all-night prayer meeting. The next day was ‘The Moravian Pentecost’ as the Holy Spirit came down in a powerful way. They decided to start a week-long prayer vigil and they prayed in groups of three for one-hour increments. At any given hour, three people were praying together. They filled all 168 one-hour slots with three people. And from that moment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 3 people were always praying in that place for 110 years.
Supernatural power was unleashed. The Moravians’ hearts began to burn with the things that are on the heart of God. This small group of 300 Moravians over one 15-year period sent out 70 missionaries, who went and lived among unreached people, learned their language and culture, and then told them about Jesus Christ.
One Moravian missionary team was on a ship headed for the American colonies in Georgia in 1736. The ship was caught in a horrible storm and everyone on board (including the captain) thought that they were going to die, but the Moravians gathered into a circle and sang hymns.
An Anglican clergyman on the ship realised that night that he did not know if he was going to heaven when he died. He was astounded at the faith of these Moravians. They told him about being born again through faith and belief in Jesus Christ and a couple of months later this clergyman had an experience of being born again. The clergyman’s name was John Wesley.
Prayer so changed these people that some of them became slaves in order to preach to other slaves. Why did they pray, and why was their prayer so effective?
What does this teach us about prayer?
Dutch Sheets is a pastor. One day he was asked to visit a hospital to pray for a young lady who was ill. He did, but was shocked to discover that she was in a coma on life support with an infection of the brain. He prayed. He trusted God for a rapid and dramatic healing that would testify to God’s greatness. Just like it was when Jesus prayed. What he got was something else entirely.
Dutch invested three or four hours a week for a year. He endured humiliation and insults from the staff of the nursing home. He cried more tears than he knew he could. He was bolder than he knew how. He was intimidated. He never expected it to take so long, and he didn’t expect to learn so much.
After a year she was so ill the doctors gave up. And then she woke up and recovered.
Is prayer necessary? Yes, our prayers can bring revival. Our prayers can bring healing.
God shapes the world by prayer. The more we pray, the better the world will be. The more we pray, the stronger the power to fight evil forces. God uses our prayers to carry out his work on earth. This is why we pray.
Genesis chapter one says that God made man to rule over his creation. It says we are to be the stewards of God’s creation, or the managers. We are the links between God and his creation. We do not own the earth. We have responsibility for governing it.
As far as creation is concerned, when creation sees us it should see God. God made us in his image. But we, that is Adam, handed over this role to Satan, who is now ruler over the earth. In Luke 4:6 (NIV) Satan is tempting Jesus and says, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendour; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.’
God continues to work on earth through us despite this. He always will. He has limited himself to working through us. And so Jesus prayed. And so he taught us to pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth. He taught us to pray for our daily bread. We are instructed to pray for the spread of the Good News. If we don’t pray for these things, they won’t happen. Won’t you pray for God’s kingdom to come?
God needs us to pray. So when we come to the time of open prayer, all of you should be keen to open your mouths and cry out to God. I urge you to pray in any language you like, but don’t stay silent. Don’t think your prayer doesn’t count. God needs your prayer. His church needs your prayer. You need your prayer.
If we come to our time of open prayer and no one prays, nothing will happen. If we come to our time of open prayer and we all pray, who knows what wonderful and amazing things God will be able to do in this fellowship, in the lives of the people in this congregation, in the lives of our friends and family, in our nations.
We may need to pray for a year before anything happens. We may pray for 100 years and see one amazing miracle after another. The message is – pray. At all times, pray in the spirit. Today I want to hear some of you who never prayed before. It is you who needs to pray, not someone else.