Here are my full notes, that I didn’t get to fully use yesterday!
Last week David taught us wonderfully on comfort in affliction from 2 Cor 1.
Paul was vocalising some of the pressure he was under in his apostolic ministry – affliction and suffering and recognising God’s comfort trumps them.
Paul was feeling utterly burdened and even despairing of life, while remaining confident of God’s help and power.
Similar issues that many of us face or feel in daily life.
Paul enlists the help of the whole church to pray – kicking myself for mucking up the rota – was meant to preach this the week before our Enough gathering to stir faith for it!
Corporate prayer works best in the context of drama and crisis – when we are gathered together to call on God for breakthrough. If you were to go through the prayer meetings in the book of Acts, they are all in the context of crisis and drama. Acts 4 for instance they had been forbidden to preach and heal the sick, so they gather to pray. They declare God’s sovereignty, remind God of His promises and ask for power. Then boom shake the room, they are all filled again and off they go to preach and heal the sick.
In the midst of crisis and drama there are no worries about whether the prayer meeting will be a good one and worth going to!
Have you read the news? the world’s in meltdown!
Back in 2007 Ginny Burgin prophecied a shaking, just before the credit crunch and the last section is just as prescient now
I just feel God saying, in yet a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth, and that which cannot be shaken, will remain. I have not spoken these things to you because you do not hear, I have spoken these things to you to underline my promises to you at this time. I’ve spoken these things to you that you may write them on the depths of your heart. I’ve spoken these things to you so that you may know, that that which cannot be shaken, will be that which remain. For a shaking is coming in this nation says the Lord, for it is time for this nation to seek the Lord. And I tell you that that which has been unprecedented is the beginning of many unprecedented things which will happen in this nation. For I tell you, great challenges will come, challenges that challenge every part of where a man puts his security. For even as shoppers go out in their materialism they will be faced with eternity. Even as many celebrate international sporting events, they will be faced with eternity. For I tell you it is a time now for this nation to begin to seek the Lord. And I tell you unprecedented things will happen in government, unprecedented things will happen in the heavens over this nation, for I tell you I am about to move in this nation in a way that has not yet been seen in your day.
It’s time to pray! We’ve just had our Enough night, where we have declared God you are ENOUGH and God we have had ENOUGH of what is happening. Stretch out your hand and use us!
Prayer changes things!
Fall of the Berlin wall came out of a prayer meeting in East Berlin at the St Nicholas Church.
J.O.Fraser – missionary to the Lisu tribes in China in the early 1900s. He had 8 utterly fruitless years (what we do?) before he concluded he must pray. And pray a lot. Got to the point of what he called the prayer of faith – knowing God had answered and then he saw 60,000 baptised. Later he wasn’t able to visit converts in mountain villages because of snow – so he used the time he would have visited them to pray for them. Then he found they had grown far more than those in the valley villages he had been with!
Prayer changes things!
Let’s take a look at 2 Cor 1:11
“You must also help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”
Let’s take it section by section…
“You also must help us by prayer”
Need to pay attention to the “musts” of Scripture
They show us our need of Christ
Gen 4:7 God speaks to Cain “Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you MUST rule over it”. Sin is powerful, addictive. Cain must rule over sin, but he couldn’t and ended up murdering his brother.
Sin means we have forgotten God’s goodness and are far from him.
A second must Ezekiel 23:25 “Therefore thus says the Lord God: Because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back you yourself must bear the consequences of your lewdness and whoring”
Jesus then shows us our utter need of Him in Matthew 5:48 “You must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”
To have eternal life we need to be perfect like God and that is impossible.
So the next set of musts shows us the good news.
John 3:14 Jesus said the Son of man – him, “must be lifted up” – He had to be lifted up on the cross to die for us in our place, to take the punishment we were due for our sin. And then after dying to be lifted up again – risen from the dead and back to the place of honour in heaven at the Father’s right hand.
Acts 4:12 “There is salvation in no one else, there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Jesus is the only way to be rescued from the eternal consequences of our wrong doing and a joy filled relationship with God.
John 3:7 “You must be born again.”
You must be born again – you may have no idea what that means! To be born again is to receive the second go of life that Jesus offers us when we respond to him. The slate is wiped clean and it’s a brand new start at life. This time with the power of the Holy Spirit to help you.
Romans 10 tells us if we believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord then we will be saved. What that means is that you need to come to a place where you believe the good news about Jesus is true – that He died for you to defeat sin and death in your life and He proved it be rising from the dead. Believe that and then make him Lord – put him as boss in your life and then you will be born again.
Then a final sets of musts for the Christian life
Romans 6:11 “You must consider yourself dead to sin and alive to Christ”
1 John 4:21 You must love your brothers
And the one in 2 Cor 1:11 – you must help us by your prayers.
The musts are important!
Paul has let them know the crisis and drama he is facing and his need of them standing corporately with him in prayer for breakthrough
Some scriptures show us an individual praying that changes everything – like Hannah in the Old Testament. More others show us the power of corporate prayer. People gathered together. The many gathered to call on God.
We have an enemy and the only thing that defeats him is prayer
We have breakthroughs yet to happen individually and corporately and the only thing that will bring them is prayer.
D.A. Carson said the easiest thing about prayer is giving up!
We need to learn to pray persistently. Jesus told a story of a widow pestering a judge – the point is perseverance. Not giving up. Not strained effort but with redemptive ease!
You must help us by your prayers – there is all sorts of drama and crisis in the world. Prayer changes things, prayer changes nations, prayer changes you.
So that the many will give thanks
Prayer leads to thanksgiving – in two ways.
Firstly Thanksgiving is a vital part of prayer. Elsewhere Paul exhorts us to make sure thankgiving part of our prayers. In the dictionary of biblical theology Paul is dsecribed as the most thankful writer in all of antiquity! Thanking God is so important. It stirs our faith in his sovereignty to remind ourselves of what He has already done. It helps us with the ENOUGH side of prayer
God you are ENOUGH
God we have had ENOUGH of this, this and this.
Thank you for moving in power.
We need all 3, a recognition that God is sovereign and will answer our prayers, asking him then thanking him or we are just vocalising worry.
Secondly People will give thanks because their lives have been changed for the better by your prayers.
My favourite George Meuller story is this. He was a man in Bristol who built orphanages and cared for the poor using prayer and trust in Go drather than asking for money!
“The children are dressed and ready for school. But there is no food for them to eat,” the housemother of the orphanage informed George Mueller. George asked her to take the 300 children into the dining room and have them sit at the tables. He thanked God for the food and waited. George knew God would provide food for the children as he always did. Within minutes, a baker knocked on the door. “Mr. Mueller,” he said, “last night I could not sleep. Somehow I knew that you would need bread this morning. I got up and baked three batches for you. I will bring it in.”
Soon, there was another knock at the door. It was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. The milk would spoil by the time the wheel was fixed. He asked George if he could use some free milk. George smiled as the milkman brought in ten large cans of milk. It was just enough for the 300 thirsty children.
For the blessings granted through the prayers of many
God loves to pour out blessing – we are blessed!
And He loves to enlist our help in pouring out blessing on others through prayer.
There are people that won’t be blessed because we don’t pray. Uncomfortable truth of this text.
Don Carson again “Paul counted on the prayers of the churches to give for him what otherwise might not have been given”
People that will get a text message that brightens their day because you prayed for them and let them know
People that will have their eternal destiny changed because we prayed
People that will be healed because we step up, have some courage and pray for them
Giftings and ministries that grow because we prayed
Churches that get planted because we prayed
Churches that get reinvigorated because we prayed
Evil regimes that get changed because we prayed
Wars that end because we prayed
Nations that get turned around because we prayed
Revival that comes because we prayed.
Pray individually, pray corporately.
But as Paul says “you must help us by prayer”
We pray, they give thanks for being blessed, because the blessing was poured out through the prayers of many.