#759. IF MY PEOPLE (27/2/23)
This week we begin a 9-week series entitled ’Praying Together’; this series is loosely based upon the book and course, ‘The Prayers of many’ by Mike Betts. During this series, we want to learn about the importance of corporate prayer.
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.’ (2 Chronicles 7:13-16)
SUMMARY: A revolution in praying together leads to spiritual revolution inside and outside of the church.
To watch this devotional please go to:
‘When I shut up…’
This text contains great promise for those who will respond; God promises to ‘heal their land’! Firstly, we see that it is God who disciplines His people when they rebel against Him. The healing needs to begin with God’s people. The church in this nation, in many quarters, is weak and in compromise. The church is being shaped by the world and its values rather than being the salt and light that she is called to be. We are in a spiritual drought. The church is often weak and is failing in her mission. We can have no healing of the land outside of the church without, firstly, a healing of the church!
‘If my people’
This was spoken to Israel after the inauguration of the temple. Today, this speaks to the church. The church are God’s people. We are ‘a royal priesthood’ to praise and pray. Peter writes of us:
‘But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.’ (1 Peter 2:9-10)
God says ‘If…’- there is a choice! If they will humble themselves through prayer. If they will ‘seek my face’. Healing to the church and beyond requires that we respond by praying together. Many fail to prioritise praying together. We have busy lives and we feel that we have more important things to do. Paul Miller in his book, A Praying Church tells this story:
‘An East Indian evangelist described his first experience at an American prayer meeting. He was visiting a megachurch known, even in India, for the pastor’s outstanding preaching. He was thrilled when the pastor invited the three thousand Sunday worshipers to the midweek prayer meeting. The pastor even shared that something was “heavy on his heart” for prayer. The evangelist couldn’t wait. In India, the prayer meeting was the heartbeat of the church, where you stormed the heavens, often far into the night. The designated prayer chapel seated only five hundred, so he arrived early to get a seat. But at the designated 7:00 p.m. start time, he was alone. At 7:15, puzzled and still alone, he wondered if he had the wrong location, so he went outside to check the name. Yes, it was the same chapel the pastor mentioned on Sunday. Finally, at 7:30 a few people straggled in, chatting about sports and weather until the leader arrived at 7:45. The leader shared a short devotional with the seven attendees, prayed briefly, and closed the meeting.
The evangelist was stunned. No worship. No crying out to God for help. No senior pastor. What was heavy on the pastor’s heart? What about prayer for the sick, for the lost?1 No one in this story thought that corporate prayer is important: not the senior pastor (he didn’t show up), the congregation (only seven came), or the prayer leader (he was forty-five minutes late and only had one brief prayer). Prayer was a mere window dressing. If you doubt something, you don’t think it works, so you don’t use it. No one here thought prayer works. Unbelief is as practical as faith.’
‘I will heal their land’
The great promise for the church that prays is healing on the church and our communities. What does this mean? Surely it means things like God restoring the church to strength and making us effective in mission. Surely it means seasons of revival blessing the church and the nation.
RESPONSE - Allow faith to revolutionise how we pray together.
Will we choose to believe God about the promise of praying together? Will we apply faith and take action? Will we devote ourselves to praying together as a priority? Pray together in your family, with friends, attending the prayer meetings that the church organises. Let’s be assured that: A revolution in praying together leads to spiritual revolution inside and outside of the church.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week?
3. STUDY AND PRAY TOGETHER
During this series, we will be using the 'Prayers of Many' course by Mike Betts.
I encourage you to buy a copy of the book from: https://prayersofmany.org/book#buybook
If you need assistance in buying a book please send an email to the church office and we will happily purchase you a copy.
Please download the course handbook from: