This morning Rob got up at 5am, an hour earlier than usual, so that he could go to the hospital to pray. Sara spent half her lunch hour walking to and from an apartment, so she could meet with friends to pray. Another girl I know changed her day off work so she could spend it in prayer.
Why? Because we believe prayer works. Because we believe prayer is powerful. And because God wants us to pray to Him.
Terry Virgo – a man of prayer
While Terry Virgo was visiting Trinity Central in April he shared some of his and Wendy’s story: how he came to be the father of a movement of churches, and the many amazing adventures God has taken them on in leading people to rediscover New Testament church life founded on the unity of the Word and Spirit. What came across powerfully is that so many of his stories began ‘I prayed…’ or ‘as I was praying…’. Terry’s life has been lived in constant communication with his Father.
This prayer-fuelled life certainly has been an adventure! From seeing a restoration of spiritual gifts in worship, to seeing church after church being planted across the UK; doors opening for churches to be planted in countries closed to the Gospel, and doors opening on buildings that were impossible to buy; bodies healed and relationships restored and Jesus’ name proclaimed – all starting with prayer.
Terry Virgo is certainly a great man of faith, who has been used by God in an extraordinary way. But he is not an extraordinary man. He is a very humble, personable man, a regular man – just like you or me – who has learned to lean into God. At one of the Sunday meetings Terry shared the story of another man who was ‘just like us’, whose prayers changed the trajectory of a nation. Opening up 1 Kings 18, Terry talked about Elijah’s prayer which shut the heavens. The Bible tells us that Elijah prayed – and God caused the rain to stop. Again Elijah prayed, and God sent the rain once more.
It was God who closed the heavens to bring drought to Israel, not Elijah. It was God who gave the rain. God alone has this power over the natural world. However, He did it because of and through Elijah’s prayer. Elijah’s prayer for the drought was not a random thought, but came from his reading of the Hebrew scriptures. He read of God’s promise to the nation Israel of the consequences if they should abandon their covenantal relationship with Him. He read the promise, and when he saw how Ahab and Jezebel had turned the nation away from worship of God, he prayed God’s promise back to him.
Terry showed us how
“again and again God makes us a promise – and then invites us into that promise in prayer.”
It is something of a mystery, why God loves us to pray. He doesn’t need us; we cannot change His mind or force Him to do something He doesn’t want to. And yet somehow when we pray He allows us to partner with Him in bringing about His promises to us. I can’t pretend to fully understand it. But I get a thrill at the prospect!
I believe God has promised that through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Kingdom of God has entered into this world. Which means healing is possible. It means the resources of heaven have been made available to us. It means we can and do expect to see miracles. If we will ask for them – if we will enter into God’s promises through prayer.
This is why we pray
That’s why I spent the day praying for a little girl undergoing surgery, and a mother about to give birth. That’s why I choose to arrive at church at 9:30am instead of 10am, so I can spend 30 minutes in prayer with others for the service. That’s why the monthly prayer meeting is one of my favourite evenings; it’s why I love to meet with my friends not just to drink coffee together but also to pray together! Because it is exciting, it is an adventure, and it joins our hearts to God’s.
Terry encouraged us to prayer – to pray specifically, to pray fervently, to pray intimately. He encouraged us to pray with the Spirit and in the Spirit. If you haven’t had chance yet, I recommend you to listen to his message on prayer (scroll down) if you want to be encouraged that your prayers matter! And then I invite you to come join me in praying for our church, our city and our families.
Come join the adventure!