Volume. XXIX, No. 42
Sunday, 19 April 2015


From the Pastors Heart: Some Specifics of Prayer


 

Last week I recommended you a book for reading.  It is Bryan Chapell’s book, Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus' Name (Baker Publishing Group, 2005).  It is not a theoretical book but practical.  Its pages are not filled with biblical references but careful explanations and expositions of Bible verses with real life stories.  I’ll quote a few portions from the book for your edification.  By the way, what are your thoughts, feelings, or impressions when you hear something about biblical prayers?  Do you think that it is hard to pray?  Or in fact, you hardly pray at all?  Or you know you should pray, but you have not spent enough time to pray and carry a sort of guilty feeling inside of you?  I wonder if I can make you feel more comfortable about a more fervent prayer life and encouraged to pray more by quoting from Charles Spurgeon on prayer.  He said, “I never pray more than five minutes at a time, but I never go five minutes without praying.”  Can we start out our prayer life by spending five minutes at a time, and develop it into a continued habit? 

 

Here are a couple of fascinating stories about George Muller, who ran an orphanage.  Let me begin with his unwavering faith while praying: “On March 9, 1842, the resources of the orphanage run by George Mueller were exhausted. For years Mueller had never asked for money to run the orphanage. He simply prayed for their needs, and God had always supplied. But on this day the money had run out. Mueller’s response was to do what he knew best. He gathered friends early in the morning and prayed again. The daily mail provided no relief. Then, just as all hope seemed lost, a special delivery letter arrived. It was a letter that had initially been delivered to the wrong address. The letter contained a sizable gift mailed from another city. The timely arrival of the misdirected letter meant that the Lord had begun to answer the morning prayer several days earlier. The Lord had interwoven events, thoughts, and timing involving the donor, the postal service, various forms of transportation, bank transfers, and Mueller’s prayers to culminate in the needed donation arriving at the crucial moment. . . . Mueller’s biographer writes that the minister and those who served with him sang without reservation: I believe God answers prayer, Answers always, everywhere; I may cast my anxious care, Burdens I could never bear, On the God who heareth prayer. Never need my soul despair Since He bids me boldly dare To the secret place repair, There to prove He answers prayer” (pp. 105-6). 

 

George Muller’s prayers were always specific with specific expectations.  “Mueller’s biographer says the minister wrote down prayer requests because he believed a permanent record of specific prayers and answers helps accumulate ‘evidence in our own experience that God is to us personally a prayer-hearing God.’  In his lifetime Mueller recorded fifty thousand answers to specific prayers. He said that approximately ten thousand of the answers came on the day the prayers were offered. His biographer writes, ‘On [one] occasion eight specific requests are put on record, together with the solemn conviction that, having asked in conformity with the word and will of God, and in the name of Jesus, he [Mueller] has confidence in Him, that He heareth and that He has the petitions thus asked of Him.’ By asking in Jesus’ name, Mueller intended not only to ensure Christ’s intercession but also to indicate willingness to submit to God’s will. Mueller expected God to answer as heaven knew was best. The record of answers to specific prayers also reminded Mueller that God’s responses could be more glorious and wiser than the requests he had made. On one occasion Mueller wrote, ‘I believe He has heard me. I believe He will make it manifest in His own good time that He has heard me; and I have recorded these my petitions this fourteenth day of January, 1838, that when God has answered them He may get, through this, glory to His name.’  Mueller’s oft-cited expectancy of God’s intervention was not a presumptive confidence in God’s doing all that the one praying asked.  Mueller used Jesus’ name with the expectation that God would answer in the way that most glorified the Savior. Maintaining such expectation must have been difficult after some of Mueller’s prayers.  During the same time that God was repeatedly rescuing children through the orphanage, Mueller’s own child was stillborn, and his wife became grievously ill.  Through the course of his life, Mueller buried two stillborn children, a one-year-old son, an adult daughter, and two wives.  Why would God allow such vastly different responses to prayer?  Until we are with him, we will not know. But now we can know his divine character, and we can trust the One who provided Jesus for us to listen to us and to do the best for our eternity and his glory” (pp. 107-108) .

 

Chapell offers us an excellent illustration about the reason to persist in our prayers, because our prayers of faith will not be in vain.  “Prayer is our most potent weapon for breaking down distant strongholds that oppose the advance of the kingdom of God.  For this reason it’s been said that prayer is not a seeking after a greater work of God; prayer is a greater work of God.  Christian author and leader Os Guinness writes of the artillery work of prayer across generations.  He tells of a young mother in 1815 who contemplated taking her life after her husband had perished in a foolish duel.  Standing above a river in Scotland, the distraught mother felt the beckoning peace of the dark waters.  Then the movement of a plowman working a nearby field caught her eye.  The furrows patterned by the skilled farmer were as artfully etched against the rural landscape as a beautiful painting.  Suddenly the world that had become so senseless seemed to have a hint of order, a reason to move on.  The young mother reconsidered the needs of her children, the beauty of their love, and the necessity of her life.  She moved away from the water.  Months later this same woman came to faith in Jesus Christ.  Through a little glimpse of order in this world provided by a plowman, life itself gained purpose. The woman began to plow the fields of the kingdom of God with prayer.  She specifically prayed for faith in a dozen generations of her descendants. Os Guinness is one of them” (p. 114).  OS Guinness is a fascinating author who wrote many books including On God in the Dark, which I read many years ago.  Our prayers will bear fruits in a few generations down the road!

 

Chapell lists ten reasons that hinder our prayers: (1) Personal disobedience: “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination” (Prov. 28:9).  (2) Unconfessed sin: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me (Ps. 66:18). (3) Unforgiving attitudes: “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11: 25). (4) Uncaring actions: “Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard” (Prov. 21:13).  (5) Selfishness: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3). (6) Self-promotion: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matt. 6:5-6).  (7) Family discord: “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).  (8) Failure to pray: “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2).  (9) Doubt: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:5-7).  (10) Community/national disobedience: “They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers. 11 Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.” (Jer. 11:10-11).

 

Lovingly,

Your Pastor


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster - Leader: Today: Bro William Song. Next Lord’s Day: Bro Daniel Volvricht.

*Daily Manna for Apr - Jun QTR available on the foyer table. Please help yourself to a copy. Donation: $1 per copy.

*Please note: Fellowship lunch next Lord’s Day is catered. Adult: $7. Unemployed/Pensioner/Student $5. Child under 5 years old: FREE.

*Mother’s Day Lunch will be held on Sat, 9 May, 11:30 am at Citi Zen Restaurant. Please see Sis Sally Law for details.

*All worshippers are encouraged to join a Neighbourhood Bible Study group - BSAG, Joy or Maranatha.

*Farewell to Bro Tze Yen & Sis Shiau Chin (Ashley) Chang & family as they migrate to the United States.

Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies:  Please refer to hard copy of Lively Hope.

2. Church activities,  in the past week.

3. Visitors & new worshippers.

4. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

5. Healing for Sis Iris Surman’s brother.

6. ECM last Lord’s Day: smooth meeting & unanimous decision made.

Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Please refer to hard copy of Lively Hope.

2. Special Prayer: Rev Edward Paauwe; Mrs Janet Jara (Chile); Bro Tien Lee’s father (Penang); Bro XiHeng Wu (Jinan, China); Sis Yashu Qin’s father (Wuhan) & Sis Nita Chong.

3. God’s healing: Sis Wol Hee Kim & DaHee (S Korea). 

4. iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne.

5. Cambodia Missions - Rev Moses Hahn & Ministry; Preacher Zhang & Ministry (Sihanoukville).

6. IBPFM: Board members & missionaries.

7. New Life BPC (London) - Encouragement for congregation. God’s guidance & provision of a pastor.

8. Providence B-P Church, Mawson Lakes - Ps David & Sis Susan Weng, & congregation.

9. Youth & Assistant Pastor for Hope B-P Church.

10. Journey mercies:  Please refer to hard copy of Lively Hope.

11. Health in pregnancy: Sisters Josephine Wong &  Emily Zheng.

12. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

13. Jobs: Those seeking for jobs in Adelaide.

14. Persecuted believers in Islamic & communist countries. This week: Bangladesh, Libya & The Sudan.

15. Mission trip to Japan: Sis Jillian Chia.

16. God’s guidance: Sale of The Stone Mansion & future purchase of property for church.

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063