May is a month of Prayer.
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Focus on Prayer: Prayers that move the heavens


First and foremost, there is no secret ritual “prayer” that will magically make something happen. Not the Lord’s Prayer, the Nicene Creed, the Praise-Repent-Ask-Yield template, the Rosary or any other rote recitation will magically produce the requested result. 

Prayer is communication from a human spirit to the Spirit of God; it is a fundamental and critical means for the human spirit to accept, understand and develop a mature relationship with God. That relationship will prosper according to YOU and your commitment to it.  If you make the relationship a high priority in your life, setting aside time for prayer and putting prayer before recreation, sleep and even food, the relationship will grow with intensity. If you go to church three Sundays each month and spend 90 seconds in prayer four times a week, the relationship will not prosper.  James 4:8 says “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”  The initiative is on us.

Think of a person that you were infatuated with, your spouse or a high school sweetheart.  How much of your time was spent thinking about that person, devising ways to talk to them, spend time with them, drive past their work or home, and conspire with other people to be at the same event?  If that infatuation was relatively recent, it might have involved technology.  How many text messages did you send?  How often did you check their Facebook page?  You gladly gave up your time, interests, sleep, money and did whatever necessary to be with that person.  The goal was to have authentic communication with that person.  How would the object of your affection have responded if every time you spoke, you spoke lines from your favorite movie, repeated the same phrases over and over, or asked questions that had already been answered? The relationship would never have come to fruition or maturity without genuine heartfelt communication and time spent together. It is the same with God. We must pursue the relationship through sincere communication and time spent in prayer, commitment born of a desire to know Him.  This is the foundation for effective prayers that are powerful and effective according to James 5:16.

Let’s consider a few people in the Bible whose prayers were effective starting with Daniel.  Daniel lived in the ultimate hostile workplace: harassment and perform-or-you-die were standard operating procedures.  He was basically a castrated slave procured to serve an ego-maniacal king. In all this, he did not forget who he was nor did he blame God for his unfortunate circumstances.  He did the opposite, doubling down on his commitment to hold firm to his faith in God, even to obedience in the seemingly insignificant and trite commands of a God who allowed the situation.  How many of us would have just tried to get along, not rock the boat, and eat the food the king provided as the other Israelite captives did?  Would we have said “It is God who allowed this to happen, it’s His fault I am here and have to eat this food” or would we humbly request the master in charge allow us to keep our faith?  This seems a very small matter to us today, but we can see how being faithful in the small things, as Luke 16:10 states, is an indicator of faithfulness in the big things.  This small display of devotion to God’s law resulted in blessing, promotion in position and status with God.  And we see this same adamant determination in Daniel’s prayer life.

Multiple times in the book of Daniel were are given accounts of Daniel praying earnestly, for specific results, and each time he is given an incredible and speedy response, once before he is even finished praying. And at each critical prayer, we see some commonalities. 

• First, Daniel’s prayers were a consistent and regular part of his life: “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” Daniel 6:10, emphasis added. He didn’t wait until he got in trouble to start a prayer life or establish a relationship with God. This man's prayer life is what makes him noteworthy 3,000 years after his death.

• Daniel’s relationship with God is evident to all.  Repeatedly, his faith commitment is publicly apparent and Daniel is recognized as a servant or vessel of God as God answers each of Daniel’s petitions.

o   Daniel 2:47: The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.”

o   Daniel 4:8: Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)

o   Daniel 5:11:  There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him.

o   Daniel 6:5: Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”

o   Daniel 6:16: The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

 • Daniel exhibited the humility God demands.  He did not allow his status in Babylon, position with the King, or previous success with God to alter his perspective.  His pride did not keep him from humbling himself through fasting and abstaining from physical pleasures, kneeling and prostrating himself before God, and outwardly displaying his grief and humility. 

o   Daniel 4:37: Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

o   Daniel 9:3: So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

o   Daniel 10:12: Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.

• Daniel has the heart of a true intercessor, the priestly role we are all called to fulfill. He doesn’t just pray for his own deliverance or that of his friends, he takes ownership of the debt of their nation’s sins—past and present, he acknowledges the punishment of God is just, and he pleads for mercy and intervention because of God’s own righteousness.  Intercessors stand in the gap for others.

o   Daniel 2:18:  He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.

o   Daniel 9:5: we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws.

o   Daniel 9:8:  We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you.

o   Daniel 9:16: Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.

o   Daniel 9:19: Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

• The final attribute of Daniel’s prayers are his words.  He spoke his prayers out loud, where both heaven and earth could hear them.  The angel tells him that his words were heard in the spirit world immediately, and immediately the spirit world went into action on his behalf. 

o   Daniel 9:20-23: While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill—while I was still in prayer . . . . As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision:

o   Daniel 10:12: Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.

This is the foundation for prayers that are powerful, effective and immediately affect the spiritual realms on our behalf is this: a lifestyle of prayer, evident faith and service to God, humility in word and demeanor before God, the heart of an intercessor, and spoken words.

The last attribute, spoken words, is worth deeper exploration next month.

Want to amp up your prayer power?  Consider joining a prayer group or getting a prayer partner, pray in the Spirit, and plan enough time to quietly "wait on the Lord" after you pray.  You will be amazed at the difference it makes!  Prayer groups are listed on the website and new prayer events are being added as we become aware of them. Contact to find a group near you or submit information on a prayer group.
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Don't Forget . . .

With all the troubling events taking place, remember Christians that being persecuted around the world and our country's leaders in your prayers. 
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