Pray for God's Help 5

2 Thessalonians 3:1-2

In a recent council meeting we were discussing plans to make changes in the church. The issues had been discussed with the congregation and apparently received some resistance. The comment was made, “I hate all the arguing.”

In my years in ministry I have seen all too often the work of the Lord going undone or unfinished because someone – and usually only one or two – has raised an objection. With a single complaint or a single obstacle the ministry grinds to a halt and we do not live out the kingdom of God.

In this letter to the believers in Thessalonica we see a request for prayer. What two things are requested? Why are these prayers needed?

A call to prayer has been issued. We can assume that the prayer request is for Paul, Silas and Timothy (see 2 Thessalonians 1:1), but it may include other faithful people trying to do the Lord’s work. The author has asked that prayers be offered, not so that wealth and power and prestige can be obtained, but so the message of Jesus Christ might spread. The gospel news of Christ’s salvation should be shared rapidly and be honored by those who hear.

But the prayer request is also for those doing the work. They need protection from evil people, people who may be thinking more about themselves than they are about the good work of God. Those persons who are detractors and who serve as distractions and hurdles to the work do not have the faith.

We can encounter this same situation as the church attempts to move forward. We need the same prayers being offered.

As we examine our ministry and the plans to do more work in the kingdom of God we are likely to face many obstacles. Some will be financial barriers. Some will be logistical barriers. But many barriers will be nothing more than a person’s attitude and voice, and many of these obstacles will be inside the walls of the church.

The faithful servant must pray that God will bless the work being done. The faithful servant must pray that God will be honored by the ministry. And then we must pray that the problems will be removed, taken care of by our Lord.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What obstacles can God help you overcome?

Pray for God's Help 4

James 5:16

When the clergy are ordained in our conference they are to create a banner which reflects their personal creed for ministry. A few years back at annual conference one of the candidates had as his banner the statement – “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.”

It was a declaration of complete faith in what God has said, the laws and instruction He has offered to His children through the Bible. I was not as impressed with the look of the banner as I was with the confidence of the sentiment. As believers we need to have complete faith in our God.

This passage from James is the conclusion of a brief comment on prayer. In the previous verses the author has presented the various situations we might encounter in life – sickness, happiness, sin – and come to one instruction to deal with each. Pray.

What is his final instruction? What is his endorsement of prayer?

Too often in life we see prayer as a last resort to our situations. I am reminded of the George Bailey character in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He prays with the words, “I’m at the end of my rope.” Prayer was his last ditch effort to resolve his problems.

We as believers should pick up prayer at the beginning of all our efforts. We should pray to God for guidance. We should pray to God for the strength and blessings to accomplish service for the kingdom. But most importantly, we should pray with an attitude of complete confidence.

Prayer should not always be the desperate act of a hopeless person. It should be the confident act of a determined person. We need to approach our ministry, our service, our outreach, our plans with complete assurance that God will bless us indeed in what we will attempt. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Pray with that in mind.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What is your attitude in prayer?

Pray for God's Help 3

1 Chronicles 4:10

One of the most important lessons I have learned in the ministry is that if you want something or need something you must ask for it. Planning events and activities, designing worship, hoping to launch a mission trip all require resources and sometimes money. And rather than fret about where it will all come from I have often simply needed to ask this person or that and what was needed was given.

This passage from 1 Chronicles is the famous Prayer of Jabez, the subject of a popular book by Bruce Wilkinson as well as many inspirational plaques. It is a small interruption in a lengthy listing of heritage, the chronicle of family lines. What are the things Jabez prays for? What is the response?

In his book, Wilkinson points out that many people are shocked by the audacity of Jabez. “Bless me indeed,” is his request. Give me more. Expand my territory and, through implication, my responsibility and authority.

But this is not selfishness. I believe whole-heartedly that God wants to bless every one of us. He wants us to have goodness and plenty in our lives. So why don’t we ask for it?

His prayer is also more than a desire to be rich and powerful. He wants responsibility, authority, work to do. He acknowledges that God must be with him to achieve this success and be able to handle the authority and responsibility given him.

We are encouraged by God to ask for what we need. We are encouraged to seek God’s blessings – to ask for them. And we are encouraged to do more for the kingdom of God. We are encouraged to ask God for more territory – more church members, more ministry, more outreach, more opportunities for mercy and service. We just need to remember to include God’s presence and blessings in what we will do.

As we consider what we might do to serve God let us be bold in our requests. Let us ask for the impossible. Let us beg God to give us more ministry and more ability to share the good news. But let us also include God in what we do so that we will have success in the name of our Lord. Then we will trust that God will grant our request.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What ministry do you want?

Pray for God's Help 2

2 Chronicles 7:13-15

As a teacher I expected order and discipline in my classroom. And so, to help our discussions and class time to be productive, I insisted that any student who wanted my attention or who wanted to speak should raise his or her hand first. I often told them that if they did not raise a hand I was not able to hear them.

Solomon is famous for his wisdom, but he is also noted for building the temple in Jerusalem. This was to be the place of worship, the place where the faithful could be in the presence of their God. In today’s passage God is responding to Solomon.

What has been the problem? What must the people do in order for God to hear their prayer? How will God respond?

In the time of Solomon the Israelites have evidently experienced hard times, times when they felt that they had been forgotten by God. But God reminded them that if they turned from sinning and humbly sought Him, He would hear their prayers. They had to behave a certain way to connect with God.

Many churches may feel that they are an oasis of goodness in a desert of sin. They may feel that there is little any of the faithful can do to help save the world. But we must do something to serve God’s kingdom.

If we are planning any type of ministry for ourselves or for our church, we need to recognize that one of the first things we must do is turn to God in prayer. By covering our intentions and activities in prayer we are working to ensure that our efforts will be blessed and filled with the power of God.

But our prayers must be offered in humility. We must seek God. We must confess our sins and find forgiveness in Him first. And then we may ask of God.

Although the tasks before us may seem insurmountable now, we need to remember that God will indeed hear our prayers. His eyes are open to us. His ears listen to us.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What prayer do you have for God?

Pray for God's Help 1

Nehemiah 1:8-11

When we came to our current appointment, land was donated to the church and money was being raised to build a new parsonage. Before the work began on the foundation we gathered on the property and held a special service. In that service we prayed for God’s blessing on the property and the house that would soon be there. It was important to consecrate the land, the work, and the vision with the power of God.

Nehemiah is the man who is known for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and that is what the book bearing his name is all about. And here, at the beginning of this book, is the prayer of Nehemiah.

What does Nehemiah ask God to remember? What has God promised? What does Nehemiah remind God about? What does Nehemiah ask for?

Before he began his work Nehemiah turned to God in prayer. Before he laid the foundation of the wall he laid the foundation of the work, and that foundation was in the strength of God, the ability and success that only comes from God. If we are to face the challenges of ministry, if we will try new things or breathe life into existing things, we should first realize that we need God to be present with us. We must first turn to God and seek His blessings and strength in what we plan to do.

Our prayers are opportunities to be in communion with our Lord, but they are also opportunities to find strength and success. Our prayers can include requests for direction from God, instruction and guidance for where we should be in ministry, but we can also pray for God’s blessings on what we will do. Nehemiah was up front about his request – “Give your servant success.”

We need to be bold in our conversations with God. If you will be in ministry for God then both you and God will want to see success, so let us be willing to ask for it. Be direct, and seek God’s blessings on what you will do.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What success are you seeking?