Lent 2017: Resurrection Prayer Guide

Acts 4:23-31 describes an early church that prayed in unity, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke the Word of God with boldness! That is our prayer for Grace Bible Church. Follow this guide to pray unified prayers for our community and our world. There are 40 days marked in blue for unified prayer and fasting as the church “scattered”. Sundays are marked in red for celebrating and worshipping as the church “gathered”.

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If you would like to extend your prayer time, an additional prayer guide can be downloaded as an app for $1 called “Seek God 2017”. This guide follows a different format.

This year we will celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection on Sunday, April 16th, 2017. In reality, Christians depend on the resurrection everyday of our life, but this is the anniversary day that is widely recognized around the world. We usually welcome more visitors on Easter than on any other Sunday throughout the year. Since it’s a big day, we offer an extra service at sunrise and we offer a video overflow room during the other morning services. We always love to share Jesus with people who don’t know Him, and Easter is our largest opportunity to do that. I’d like our church to be unified in seeking to love our community well. Let’s try these three ways to prepare for Easter at Grace Bible Church.

1) Pray & Fast for 40 Days

Not counting the Sundays, there are 40 days from March 1st to Easter Sunday on April 16th. This 40 day period is sometimes called “Lent” (for the “lengthening” of days in the spring). Let’s spend these 40 days praying for others to see and follow Jesus. We have included Scriptures and suggested prayers in this guide to get you started. Fasting is a great way to focus our prayers. Use the Sundays as days to temporarily break your fast as you feast and gather with God’s people. Many Christians experience an increased sensitivity to God’s goodness through fasting. Fasting is not a form of self-punishment. Fasting is giving something up temporarily to recognize that Jesus is our ultimate joy. If you have never fasted before, we recommend that you start small. Do not give up all food for 40 days. Perhaps you could give up sugar, coffee, or soda. If you are more experienced you might skip one meal per day. The idea is to turn your heart to Jesus in prayer every time you miss whatever it is you are giving up. Many fast from food, but you might give up TV, or Facebook. The point is not to make yourself miserable, the point is to run to Jesus in prayer. Spend 40 days praying for our friends and neighbors to follow Jesus.

2) Cultivate Deeper Relationships

If we love others well, we will care about what they think and how they see the world. If Christ brings us hope, we will want to share that with others. The best way to share with others is to genuinely understand them. It is always encouraging when we value someone’s perspective. Seek to understand the motivations and heart beliefs of others. Ask the Spirit to tell you when to speak and when to listen. Ask good questions and listen well.

3) Invite Others to Church

Invite someone who is not following Jesus to visit church and hear about Him. Offer to meet them and sit with them. Our worship services are designed to remind us that Jesus is better than anything else. The Holy Spirit uses the proclamation of Jesus to change people. In Romans 1:16, Paul says, “…the gospel…is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” The Gospel has the power to push competing loves out of our hearts. Our gatherings are designed to remind disciples of the greatness of Jesus, but also to help people consider Jesus for the first time. Invite someone to church this spring.

In 1 Corinthians 15:7, Paul says,

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” The resurrection of Christ is our guarantee of hope in a world of grief and pain. Our faith is not just a weekend hobby, but it is our reason for getting up every day. Grace changes everything! Let’s spend the next 40 days praying that Jesus will be more evident in our lives as well as in the lives of those around us.

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Prayer Tip: Pray for the Fear of God

Psalm 130:3-4 If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand.  But there is forgiveness with You that You may be feared.   (Note: The fear of God results from forgiveness and it draws us to Him.)

The reason people do not follow Jesus is that they lack a fear of God.

Psalm 36:1-2 An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked, there is no fear of God before their eyes; for in their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin.

The fear of God has GREAT benefits:  Eg.  clear instruction, Intimacy with God  Ps. 25:12-14; great goodness  Ps. 31:19; keep us from sin Ex. 20:20; experience His great mercy  Luke 1:50; and much more.

In light of this I pray for the fear of God – for myself and for my loved ones.  When I pray for rulers and all men I pray the fear of God comes on them so that they might hear and understand the gospel and make an informed decision regarding their own eternal destiny.

I think of the fear of God primarily as reverence and awe resulting for believers in humble contrition before His holiness and majesty and power and for those who persist in unbelief, terror and trembling and paralyzing fear.  (All will fear God when they see God.)

O God, teach us the fear of God.  Amen.

Prayer Tip: Am I Praying in the Spirit?

Ephesians 6:18 …praying at all times in the Spirit…

The things we most ‘naturally’ pray come out of our human nature.  As a child of God, I am given a new nature; it’s the ‘Jesus in me’ nature.  (2 Cor. 5:17)  But I find it takes practice and intentionality to pray as that new person.

“There is a good deal in our natural human nature that will not understand the life of the Son of God, that will say to Him, as His own mother did, ‘Now is Your time to work a miracle.’  The natural in us will always want the Son of God to work in our way. … A sword had to go through the heart of Mary because of the Son of God (Luke 2:35) and because of the Son of God in us, a sword must go through our natural life as well.”          Oswald Chambers

How do I know if I’m praying in the Spirit?  I ask myself these questions.

Am I really open and desirous of His will to be done?

Am I vulnerable and inviting Him to change me through my prayer?

Will I praise Him and give Him thanks no matter the outcome?  Am I truly delighting in Him?

 Then I view very critically what I want to pray in the light of scripture, specifically knowing ‘the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another so that you may not do the things that you please.”  Gal. 5:17

I’m asking the Lord to help us pray at all times in the Spirit.

Prayer Tip: Prayer IS the Greater Work

REMINDER: We’ll be doing some Greater Work Saturday during 1/2 Day of Prayer at the Plaza. Come and join us if you can.

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Most of my life I’ve sort of tacked on prayer as a very important first-order-of-the-day additional duty, or as the occasion to call on God for help to do the work, or to grow in the most important but still one of the many relationships I have,  or even as a hiding place from overwhelming circumstances and challenges where I could do nothing else but pray.

Prayer does not fit us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work. —Oswald Chambers

I need help in seeing and practicing prayer as the greater work God has called and privileged me to do, not to mention that prayer is the way real and lasting things get done.

“Time spent in prayer will yield more than that given to work. Prayer alone gives work its worth and its success. Prayer opens the way for God Himself to do His work in us and through us. Let our chief work as God’s messengers be intercession; in it we secure the presence and power of God to go with us.” Andrew Murray

Do you believe that?  Let’s agree to commit ourselves increasingly to time invested in prayer.

Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”  John 6:29

Prayer Tip: Power of Prayer

“The prayer of the feeblest saint on earth who lives in the Spirit and keeps right with God is a terror to Satan.  The very powers of darkness are paralyzed by prayer.  No wonder Satan tries to keep our minds fussy in active work till we cannot think in prayer.  It is a vital necessity for Christians to think along the lines on which they pray.”    Oswald Chambers

Jesus said, “… with God all things are possible.”  Matt. 19:26

Satan is the strong man who holds people captive to do what he wants.  Your prayers can set people free, particularly when two of you agree together in prayer.  I believe this is particularly powerful for a husband and wife – two becoming one in prayer – on behalf of their family.

Matt. 18:18-19  Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

What are you believing God for?  Is there someone who is in agreement with you?