Day 15 (April 19, 2020)
“While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites – men, women and children – gathered around him. They too wept bitterly.” (Ezra 10:1)
As a leader I am moved by this passage for a number of reasons. First, Ezra’s heart to be honest, broken and contrite before the Lord. I love how synonymous praying and confessing comes across in this passage. I can remember at least one or two moments in my life where I wept and prayed before the Lord as a posture of confession. These moments were very raw, pivotal, yet beautiful moments in my life. They helped me move beyond things that were a plague to me, the result was a deep sense of forgiveness and peace.
Secondly, I love this passage because Ezra was moved to pray like this on behalf of his people. The Hebrew word for prayer at times it is used for words like pray, prayed, praying. However, it can also mean intercede. Ezra was not one of the men who had illegitimate relationships with foreign women. Watching his people live in sin, moved him to pray, intercede, confess and weep on behalf of his people. I know, as a pastor, I need to cultivate a heart that cares this deeply for my people. Too often I find myself leaving them up to their devices and slinking back to a helpful quip to let myself off the hook, “I can’t make their choices for them, I wish I could though.” I don’t have tools to force people to make choices, but I do have prayer.
Thirdly, and lastly, I love the corporate picture of people joining with Ezra to pray. They were stirred by the way he led out in prayer. This inspired men, women and children to gather around him. They joined him in weeping. Picture a group of grown men, surrounded by women and children, weeping in prayer before the Lord, could this happen in our day? Tears alone do not equate prayers that God listens to. But if those tears are a sign of a broken and contrite hearts, God is moved by that.
Maybe you need to be broken for something in your own life. Maybe you need to be broken before the Lord in prayer for your people you know are suffering the curse of sin. Or finally, maybe you need to lead out in prayer in such a way that will inspire people around you to pray with you. Whatever the challenge, I pray you embrace it with both arms.
Pastor Luke Haggett, Ottawa
Day 16 (April 20, 2020)
“I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” (Matthew 8:10)
How do we pray with great faith? Jesus was impressed by a Roman soldier’s faith, which no doubt shocked the Jewish crowd. Not only was he praising the faith of this Gentile, this Roman officer – a captain of their oppressors – he was saying his faith was greater than anyone in all of Israel! What was it about this centurion’s faith that was so impressive and moved the heart of God? Let us consider at least three characteristics, he was humble, selfless and convinced.
Prayerfully consider each of these qualities as you read through the account found in Matthew 8:5-13. Below are some questions to help prompt your prayer time. Begin by inviting the Holy Spirit to examine your heart.
We are all prone to pride; to consider ourselves more worthy than we ought. Spend a few moments prayerfully reflecting on that phrase. “I am not worthy to have you come under my roof.” and dialogue with God around these questions: In what areas of my life have I become proud and puffed up? How have I reflected the worthiness of Christ in my thoughts and actions recently?
Again prayerfully reflect on the phrase, “My servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” and dialogue with God on the following questions: What concerns me most today? Am I primarily concerned only for my well-being or also for the well-being of others? How aware am of the needs and sufferings of those around me?
Finally, prayerfully repeat the phrase, “But only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” and consider the questions: In what area of my life am I aching to hear God speak? If God were to speak one word into my life today what do I sense it would be? To what extent does my hope hinge upon God’s word spoken to me?
Joel Martin, Madock ON
Day 17 (April 21, 2020)
Into His Presence Anytime
There were times when I’d remember a few days later that I had promised to pray for someone and their situation. But one day, my husband, who is now in heaven, said, we should pray as soon as we get a request. God’s attentiveness to us is constant. In Psalm 46:1, the sons of Korah state, “God is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in trouble.” The psalm reminds us we can pray anytime. We can enter into His presence anytime. We don’t have to wait in line, because God is omnipresent and omniscient, and ready to listen and help us. What an excellent thought. As we press into the Lord in the days ahead, let us take time to seek His presence, to continually be in tune with Him, where ever we are and whatever our circumstance.
Prayer: Lord humbly, we come before you. We are so grateful that you have given us a direct line to heaven, allowing us to make our requests known to you and place our burdens at the foot of the cross. May we never take this for granted, but be eternally grateful. Amen
Mary Haskett, Ottawa ON
Day 18 (April 22, 2020)
“Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.” (Gen.26:18)
At our church we are expanding our community gardens and decided to dig a couple of shallow wells to water them with. As I think about the prayer ministry of the FMCIC being deepened, I see it as re-digging the wells of revival that our movement has experienced in the past. In those times a spirit of prayer and supplication was upon the church that invited the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that sanctified the believers and swept thousands of the lost into the Kingdom of God. The form of revival may not look like it did in the past (it usually doesn’t), but the results are the same. Just as Isaac re-dug the wells that his father had dug – wells that represented the promised blessing of God (Gal.3:14) that had been stopped up by the enemy – renewing the prayer life of our movement is digging down to those springs of living water again.
Pastor Ken Roth, Ottawa ON
Day 19 (April 23, 2020)
“But he answered them, ‘You give them something to eat.’…Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all.” (Mark 6:35-44)
Entering into prayer, in my mind’s eye I watch the beauty of earnest people helping during the pandemic. I see their compassion. Their attitude to sacrificially love one’s neighbour originated from Jesus Christ.
A couple of years ago, I heard Os Guiness describe our generation’s prevailing value system as “cut flowers”. We enjoy the pillars of Judeo-Christian values, but we have cut off their roots by denying that God is the source. Without the source, the values will weaken and die, like cut flowers do. The people who trust in these values to save them will find them lacking in the end – indeed, the people don’t even think they need saving.
I held this humanistic worldview myself until my late twenties, and it is still the belief system of my dearest friends. As I pray, tears come, and I’m earnest for blind eyes to see. I become aware that God wants to do a renewal in me by stirring two things: my earnest concern for them and my faith in him.
I’m reminded of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand. Before he did the miracle, he changed the posture of the disciples by telling them to feed the crowd. First, he got them thinking about doing it themselves (even if they didn’t have a solution, they had to take some ownership of the problem), then he did the miracle. The disciples had five loaves, two fish, and Jesus, to feed the crowd.
Today, the crowds trusting in cut flowers need a miracle of the Holy Spirit. They aren’t asking for the miracle. But as we are renewed, we are asking, with earnest concern and with faith. We Christ-followers in this generation must ask; this will bring glory to our Father (John 15:8).
Sarah Jackson, Ottawa, ON
Day 20 (April 24, 2020)
Every now and then, when I was a pastor, I would get asked a variation of a question that seems applicable these days. In some form or another I would be asked if it was ok to get mad at God or even complain to God if I don’t like what is happening. You can see where that might apply to current circumstances.
The answer, I think, is a qualified yes. Yes, in that I believe prayer needs to be honest. God doesn’t really want to hear our nice sentences and fancy words. He longs for us to open up our hearts and let him into the center of whatever is going on. He came to be part of our very real lives, not just to hear our nice words that may not ring true. So, if we are frustrated or discouraged or scared or angry or anything else we might consider “negative” we still need to let God in on that.
Besides, Scripture is full of all sorts of prayers. Some of which sound pretty angry. And a few of which sound like a complaint. Ever read the Psalms? Those are very real prayers. Occasionally with a request to smite an enemy or two. (P.S. – Don’t haul that one out at small group. That’s just a you and God prayer). So God listens and understands those prayers. He is not surprised or shocked or offended or anything like that. As long as we are willing to listen as well.
And that gets me to the qualified part of the qualified yes. I believe God will listen to any of our prayers. But if the whole goal is to vent or complain, we might not be making the best use of our time with God. However, if we are willing to be honest with God and invite him to work in us, I think God can do some amazing things in us and through us.
“I am angry, hear me roar” is a far different prayer than “Father I am mad at what is happening. Would you help me so that this anger doesn’t take root and turn into something ugly and dark in my life. And if possible, would you help this anger spur me on to God honouring action.” One gives God room to work. The other is just a list. “God I am scared. Here is what I am scared of” is not as helpful as “Father, I am scared right now. Would you calm my fear, reassure me of Your presence and help me bring peace and hope to others who may be scared too?”
So, pray it all to God. Even your fears and doubts and anger that is being raised during these days. But don’t stop there. Invite God into the middle of it to work in you, making you more like Him and equipping you to serve in His name.
Marc McAlister, Director of Leadership Development and Church Health
Day 21 (April 25, 2020)
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, ‘Let us go at once to entreat [pray to] the Lord and seek the Lord Almighty. I myself am going.’ And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat [pray to] him.”
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’” (Zech. 8:20-23)
During these 40 days of prayer and fasting, I have been pressing into God to stir up a spirit of intercession in our churches so that we will become houses of prayer that God inhabits in a noticeable way. Noticeable because the people around us, and even nations, will see that we have a relationship with God and He hears our prayers. Because of this they turn to us more and more and ask for our prayers and God shows up and makes Himself known as He did when Jesus walked the earth. They turn to us as the house of prayer Solomon talked about and learn to fear missing out on His blessing (2 Chron. 6:32,33).
However, building ourselves into a house of prayer is hard work and sometimes we may get tired or discouraged. In the book of Zechariah, Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the high priest were told to rebuild the temple, with the promise that it would not be by might nor by power but by God’s Spirit. God told them that the foundation that had been laid will also be completed, and not to despise small beginnings (Zech. 4:6-10). What the National Prayer Team and the FMCIC is doing to rebuild itself into a house of prayer, may have small beginnings, but God promises He is doing something big in and through us because of it. So, let’s be strong and courageous and let each church build its part of the building and see what God will do in the days ahead as He does more than we can ask or imagine.
Pastor Ken Roth, National Prayer Team Lead