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Prayer

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“Work to see that the city where I sent you as exiles enjoys peace and prosperity. Pray to the LORD for it. For as it prospers you will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7, New English Translation).

Most of us choose where we want to live. Oh, there may be some limitations if our desires exceed our budget, but we usually spend time considering many factors before making a move. We want a nice neighborhood, a good school district, and convenient shopping. We value safety and well-maintained streets. As real estate people like to say, “It’s location, location, location.”

I’d like to think it’s not only how our city can benefit us, but also how as a Christian we can benefit our city. Perhaps the most important thing we can do is pray. In reading a recent report from my city council member, I noticed revenue loss because a manufacturer closed operations. Should I make the economic well being of my community a matter of prayer? Definitely.

The words of Jeremiah in the above scripture were directed to the Israelites, who had been uprooted from their homeland and taken into Babylonian captivity. Under such circumstances, it would be so easy to complain or even grow bitter about the upheaval in their lives. But that was not what God desired from them. They were instructed to pray for the peace and prosperity of their new home. If their city prospered, they would also. That same advice is good for us today.

It’s important for us to be law-abiding citizens, but it is also important as believers to intercede for our city and cover it with prayer. The New Testament encourages us to pray for our land and especially for those in positions of leadership. I Timothy 2:1-2 says by doing so we will live quiet, peaceful lives.

“First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (NET).

Here are just a few possible prayer points:

  • The protection and well being of those who live and work in our city
  • That churches and pastors will boldly declare God’s truth
  • The administrators, teachers, support staff, and students of our schools
  • For city officials (mayor, councilmen, boards, etc.) to serve wisely and with integrity
  • Protection of our police, fire, and other emergency personnel
  • Local businesses to prosper
  • Any problem areas such as crime, unemployment, etc.
  • My own neighborhood

As our cities prosper, so will our states/provinces, and our nation. It becomes an ever-expanding circle. Let’s become an intercessor for our city. Our prayers do make a difference.

Prayer: Lord, place a burden on my heart for my city, its leaders, and its citizens. I pray for the protection, well being and blessing of each one. Give us leaders who will honor You and serve our city with integrity. Thank You for showing me the need of being an intercessor and standing in the gap with prayer.

 

“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, LORD Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” 1 Samuel 1:10-11, NIV.  

Desperation and Faith

Like Hannah’s moving prayer, my life began with desperation and faith.

My mother received news from the doctor that her body had a condition that would prevent her from conceiving another child. Her heart was shattered into innumerable pieces as her dream of having another baby crumbled into the abyss of hopelessness.

Something began to shift in my mom’s heart—she began to speak faith. The word of God is replete with abounding promises and miracles, so she decided to declare certain scriptures in prayer. She reminded God of His promises to women of faith, such as Sarah and Hannah.

Envisioning Faith

She would envision being pregnant by putting a pillow underneath her blouse while looking at herself in the mirror, pretending to be healed and with a child forming in her womb. This may sound silly to someone who has never walked the road of infertility—but to someone who is desperate for a child—this was an act of sheer faith.

For eight long years she invested a wealth of prayers and tears into the ether of the supernatural realm, not knowing the outcome, but pressing onto her promise. And, for eight long years she fought a war between doubt and faith and battled between hope and hopelessness.

Broken, my mom walked into church yet again, with a silent cry of her heart beating for a child. The evangelist, without knowing her situation, walked up to my mom during service. He placed his hand on her forehead and said, “There is new blood flowing through your veins, be healed in Jesus name.”

Fulfilled Faith

That night my mother was healed completely.

Nine months later, I was born.

My mother learned that God may send barrenness our way to cause us to trust completely in Him.

There might be an impossible situation that you are facing right now and you have been weeping bitterly before God. You’re heart may feel like it’s in a million pieces, but remember this:

Miracles operate in the realm of impossibility.

There is hope.

Prayer: Lord, I have an impossible need in my life right now and I have pleaded for your provision but I am still waiting on You to answer my prayers. My heart grieves as I wait on You and I do not understand what is taking so long. Help me to trust You, regardless of how You decide to answer my prayers. I know that You can do anything and I choose to believe in the impossible.

“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1, New King James Version).

How long does it take before God answers a prayer? Is there a point when we just give up asking? Even if we find prayer—and how to receive an answer—so unclear at times, the Bible assures us persistence will pay off. The Lord gave two parables illustrating this.

Luke 18 tells the story of a widow seeking justice in her situation. The judge seems a harsh man with little regard for God or man. Yet, because of the widow’s constant pleading, he took action in her behalf. It was the only way to get her to go away. The parable goes on to say that God will respond to His chosen ones more speedily than this judge.

The second parable on persistence is found in Luke 11. A man has a traveler come to his house at midnight, and he has no food to feed his guest. He goes to a friend and asks for three loaves of bread. Even though they are friends, the man is unwilling to rise from his bed to help him. Yet because of his persistent knocking, the man finally gets up and gives him bread.

We sometimes feel God isn’t listening or just won’t answer. It seems like we have been praying for a very long time to no avail. Let’s consider two things: God’s will and His timing.

God’s Will

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (I John 5:14-15, NKJV).

James 4:3 tells us that sometimes we are asking with the wrong motives. Our hearts must be free of anger, bitterness, or revenge. Ask God to reveal if your request is from pure motives and in alignment with His Word. We must be willing to submit to His will. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us His thoughts and His ways are higher than ours.

God’s Timing

We may not understand why God delays in answering our prayers, but we must trust His plan is ultimately best for us. Claim the words of Habakkuk 2:3 as assurance God will bring it to pass at the right time.

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (NKJV)

We don’t know what God is doing behind the scenes, but we should “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17).

Be patient in your persistence.

Prayer: Give me wisdom, Lord, to determine Your will in my life. As I put my petition before You, keep my motives pure. Help me to wait with patience for Your perfect timing in my situation. Even though I may not understand Your purpose in what is happening, I can trust that it is ultimately for my good.