Light the Fire!
“Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (emphasis added)
The month of May has been a “month of miracles” not only in regards to incredible restorations and baptisms into Christ, but also in our own hearts as we have watched the power of God transform our fear into faith; our cowardice into courage; and our excuses into expectations of what our God can accomplish through the power of prayer! As a church we have been surrendering our hearts in reliance to God by investing ourselves into a prayer campaign to move His heart and our own as well! We have taken Jesus’ admonishment to his disciples to “watch and pray” for an hour so that we “will not fall into temptation”! (Matthew 26:40-41) By breaking down our prayer campaign into 5-minute segments, we have a creative opportunity to commune with our Lord! Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, I pray our hearts have been “burning within us” as we have talked with the Lord! (Luke 24:32) Let’s review our “hour of prayer” plan:
Loving the Lord with all our hearts – Matthew 22:37
Increasing our faith – Luke 17:5
Great Boldness – Acts 4:29
Harvest is plentiful – Luke 10:2
Testing to build our faith – James 1:2
Thankfulness for all God has done – Colossians 4:2
Humble yourself – Philippians 2:5
Example for the believers – 1 Timothy 4:12
Friends and family – Job 42:10
Imitate the faith of our leaders – Hebrews 13:7
Repentance of sin – Matthew 3:8
Expectation of God’s power – Psalm 5:3
For many, the prospect of praying for an hour daily is daunting, as the challenges of life can be make that kind of discipline an upward call. Our campaign is not a legalistic call to pray for an hour, but rather to challenge ourselves to pray more than we ever have before as we dig deeper in our hearts, whether by an hour or by 20 minutes! However, if we examine our schedules, are we even giving a “tithe” of Bible study, prayer and fellowship with our Lord? 10% of a 24-hour day is 2 hours and 24 minutes. The usual schedule of 8 hours of work/school & 8 hours of sleep (I don’t remember the last time I got this much…) leave only 8 hours for the rest of our lives! If we are truly seeking first God’s kingdom (Matthew 6:33), can we not make some time in our day to honor the Creator of Heaven and Earth? Like all things, it takes discipline. A disciple’s life is a disciplined life. Let’s examine why we need to be disciplined in our prayer life by asking some basic questions:
Why is Prayer Important? All who have walked with Jesus viewed prayer as the main business of their lives. For example, Moses had the tent of meeting (Ex. 33:7); Daniel prayed three times a day (Dan. 6:10); David woke early to be with the Lord (Psalm 63:1); Jesus woke early and prayed (Mark 1:35); Peter and John went to the temple at the time of prayer (Acts 3:1)
Prayer often fails to happen because it is never planned…time never allotted. There was an actual time of prayer in the Jewish culture setting. Have you set a time of prayer for yourself? Recently I was informed of a survey done at a major religious conference on prayer. Interestingly, the survey revealed that the average person prayed on average 5 minutes a day, while the average pastor in attendance prayed on average 7 minutes a day. So how many minutes a day do we spend in faithful prayer to God? Well there is a difference between habitual and disciplined prayer. Babbling many words like the pagans out of a route prayer will not move the heart of God (Matthew 6:7) or help your heart to be molded to God’s will. The challenge is to be disciplined in our prayer life to the point where prayer becomes something we do all the time, in order to prepare our hearts to watch and recognize temptation and the wait in expectation for God’s will to be revealed! Remember, we will never be like Jesus or access the power of God without prayer!
If we can access the power of God through prayer, why is there such a lack of discipline in our prayer life?
a) FAITHLESSNESS: Our discipline lacks because we doubt that anything will actually happen (according to our timing)! Consider John 15:7, “If you remain in me and my words in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you”; Psalm 4:1, “Answer me when I call to you, O my God righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer”; Psalm 17:6 “I call on you God, for you will answer me”. Imagine if we had tangible answers to our prayers within 60 seconds! How much more would we pray?! Remember the promise of Jesus in Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” We must allow the promises of God’s word to build faith in our hearts, instead of giving into fear and impatience!
b) OBLIGATION VS. INVITATION: Our discipline also lacks when prayer becomes more of a chore than a privilege. Prayer becomes an obligation and we lose our joy in communing with the Lord! God wants to us to pray because we love him, not to “check-in” as a duty! Imagine if we did that in a marriage relationship! As a result we can begin to make excuses like: too little time, too many responsibilities, too many kids, too much work, too little desire, too little experience! Let us remember the words of Hebrews 4:16 “Let us approach the throne of grace in confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
c) REBELLION & DISHONESTY: The discipline of prayer is non-existent when we are unwilling to change the sin in our lives. Consider the prayer of Nehemiah 1:5-11, particularly verse 7: “We have acted very wickedly toward you.” Nehemiah was very humble and contrite about his sins and the sins of his people. He acknowledged his sin, confessed it and repented. To be humble in God’s presence is to be honest about where we are and the need for our repentance! We have to be willing to hear and obey God’s word for prayer to work! Otherwise our prayers become more blame-shifting than taking responsibility for our condition. For example: “God help me to win the lottery” instead of asking Him to “Make me a good steward of my resources.” We take the easy way out instead of acknowledging the truth!
d) WRONG MOTIVES: No matter how disciplined to prayer we may be, God will not be mocked if we ask Him to supply our needs with the wrong heart. Consider James 4:3, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Have you ever asked God to help you out of selfish ambition? “Father, I pray that so and so will get baptized so I can date him/her…Father, I pray that my ministry will grow so I will look competent… Father, I pray that that brother/sister will repent so they can stop irritating me…” Ultimately, our prayers must be to glorify God and not ourselves, as we make requests that seek His will!
e) PRIDE: If we are not aware of our dependence on God, we won’t be consistently disciplined in prayer. Very often we believe that we are relying on God, but we are not depending on him. We rely on our chairs to hold us up, but we depend on air for life! We could live without a chair, but we cannot live without oxygen! As Jesus states in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” When we are prideful we don’t believe that prayer is necessary because it takes too much time, and we are too busy…you know what “busy” stands for? Being Under Satan’s Yoke! We are too busy not to pray for God’s guidance! As Psalm 119:147 states, “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.” We need help on a daily basis! As a husband, father of two young children and an overseeing Evangelist, I need as much help as I can get!
As we begin the summer of 2013, let’s continue to move the heart of God through our prayer lives as we grow in our faith and knowledge of the power of God! God wants to do even greater things through you! As Psalm 20:6-8 states, “Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.” (emphasis added)
Do you have faith in the power that only God can provide? Let’s beg our Father to increase our faith through prayer so we can light a fire in our hearts and mouths that will proclaim the truth of God’s word in our city that is plagued by darkness! Allow the following poem by George Liddel to inspire you!
THE POWER OF FAITH
Give me a man of God – one man,
Whose faith is master of his mind,
And I will right all wrongs
And bless the name of all mankind.
Give me a man of God – one man,
Whose tongue is touched with heavens fire,
And I will flame the darkest hearts
With high resolve and clean desire.
Give me a man of God – one man,
One mighty prophet of the Lord,
And I will give you peace on earth,
Bought with a prayer and not a sword.
Give me a man of God – one man,
True to the vision that he sees,
And I will build your broken shrines
And bring the nations to their knees.
– George Liddel
And to God be all the glory!
In His Service,
Andrew Smellie – Missions Evangelist, NYCICC
An Hour of Prayer: Can you take the challenge?
Throughout the Bible, prayer was a source of power, inspiration, comfort and deliverance. Whether it was Joshua before Jericho’s walls, Elisha facing off the prophets of Baal, David after his sin was revealed or Jesus at Gethsemane – we see how prayers moved God. As we begin our campaign, we as disciples of Jesus must re-commit ourselves to having prayers that shake the heavens and the earth!
For the rest of 2013, we will focus on begging God to move in our ministries and our lives. We will prepare our hearts and minds to see the many blessings that God will bestow to us. Indeed, we will be able to offer the same request that Moses, in Exodus 33, asked of God: “Show me your glory!” Then we will be able to light the fire within our hearts and the cities throughout metropolitan New York City and Long Island!
To God Be the Glory! – Andrew & Patrique Smellie
Moses understood that to attempt anything without God’s power is futile. He prayed to God “If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15). As we begin our campaign, it is crucial to call on God’s presence to go with us and to prepare our hearts to be totally unified in our efforts. Read Exodus 33:7-23 to unite our focus, and pray specifically for God to show us His glory by giving us success!
- Pray specifically for the success of each church in our movement
- Pray for each Bible Talk to baptize by the end of the summer
- Set personal goals for May – dreams you want God to make come true
- Choose a “Tent of Meeting” – a place of prayer you will meet God each day this month
- Choose something to give up this month as a small sacrifice for God to aid your focus in prayer (i.e. meat, sweets, television, coffee…etc)
- Follow up with commitments for Sunday’s service and focus on baptizing our friends into Christ!
“Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. Could you not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. — Matthew 26:40
Here’s a creative way of breaking down the hour down into  minute segments. Each has a unique focus.
Matthew 22:37 “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.’” [Pray about your love for God, (praise him)]
Luke 17:5 “The apostles said to the Lord: ‘Increase our faith.’” [Pray for God to give you more faith, especially in the area of forgiving one another.]
Acts 4:29 “Now Lord consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with Great Boldness.” [Pray to repent of fear and speak with great boldness as you get open about where you really are, disciple others, and share your faith.]
Luke 10:2 “He told them: ‘The Harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” [Pray for every disciple in your bible talk to be compassionate and work for the harvest. Pray for the lost by name. Pray for studies, open people from all nations, influential people, and who will get baptized this week.]
James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the Testing of your faith develops perseverance…” [Pray to be spiritual as you face the trials of the day, realizing that it is really your faith that is being tested. (Pray that those who are weak in their faith will not be discouraged)]
Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and Thankful.” [Pray for God to help you become more thankful. (Spend more time thanking him for all he’s done and does)]
Philippians 2:5 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he Humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.” [Pray to have the humility of Jesus, to consider others better than yourself, and therefore, to be a servant. Note: if we are humble, we will ask God daily for wisdom (James 1:5), and ask people daily for lots of advice (Proverbs 12:15)]
1 Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an Example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.” [Pray to be a great example for everyone in your life. Note: you may be the only Bible they will ever read.]
Job 42:10 “After Job had prayed for his Friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.” [Pray specifically for your friends. (family first)]
Hebrews 13:7 “Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and Imitate their faith.” [Pray to imitate the faith of God’s leaders here in New York City and all over the world (pray for them by name)]
Matthew 3:8 “Produce faith in keeping with Repentance.” [Pray specifically about what you need to repent of today to be more like Jesus (Get open and go for it)]
Psalm 5:3 “In the morning, Oh Lord , you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my request before you and wait in Expectation.” [Pray specifically as you lay your requests before God, and watch throughout the day as he amazes you.]
Week One: “On God We Call”
“…far be it from me that I should sin…by failing to pray for you.” (1 Samuel 12:23)
“And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; there will be deliverance as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.” (Joel 2:32)
“Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess.” (Numbers 33:53)
- Campaign Kick-off at Sunday Service
- Pray for all the Sold-Out Movement of churches & cities that need a church
- Pray that God’s Presence distinguishes us as his people as we set out to make a difference! (Exodus 33:16)
- Daily reading: Ephesians chapters 1-6
Sun 5 Belt of Truth (Eph. 4:15, 25)
Mon 6 Breastplate of Righteousness (Eph. 5:8-10)
Tue 7 Feet fitted with the Gospel of Peace (Eph. 3:7)
Wed 8 Shield of Faith (Read Eph. 2:8-10)
Thu 9 Helmet of Salvation (Eph. 1:13-14)
Fri 10 Sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:19-20)
Sat 11 Prayer in the Spirit (Eph. 1:15-19a)
- Claim your “Jericho” (Neighborhood, school, community or workplace)
- Have a prayer walk around your “Jericho” once a day for 6 days, then 7 times on Sat.
- Pray the walls of sin in hearts will collapse and be replaced w/ devotion to God
- Goal: Pray for a record attendance on Mother’s Day!
Week Two: “Courageous Hearts”
“Even a child is known by his actions” (Prov. 20:11)
“Courage comes from acting courageously on a day to day basis.” (Brian Tracey)
“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”
“We must be willing to live our convictions and be willing to be misunderstood. Live in God!” (W.B. Musselman)
- Daily reading: Joshua chapters 1-11
- Choose your tent of meeting for the month
- Write down your personal goals for month
- Commit yourself, as Moses did, to being the Lord’s friend
- Show the world that we are a part of something special. Let’s be men and women of courage this week!
- Study the Bible with someone new this week
- Goal: Pray for a record number of Bible studies for the church!
Week Three: “Give Us Living Water”
“In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:5)
“A man may be convicted yet never converted, but no man is converted unless he has first been convinced.” (D. Thurlow Yaxley)
“Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” (Acts 8:36)
- Daily reading: John chapters 1-7
Sun 19 Worship in spirit and truth (Jn 4:24)
Mon 20 Praise God and ask for great faith (2 Sam 22)
Tue 21 Faithful hearts (Acts 8:26-39)
Wed 22 Visualize the unseen (Heb. 11:1-3, Lk. 3:15-18, Lk. 5:1-11)
Thu 23 Visualize the unseen (Acts 22:3-16, Acts 16: 13-15)
Fri 24 Urgency (Lk. 16:19-31)
Sat 25 Urgency (Acts 16:25-34)
- Daily Mindset: Baptizing friends into Christ!
- Fast from all drinks except H20 (no coffee, no soft drinks, etc.) and when you drink H20, pray for the harvest.
- Goal Review: How are you doing with your personal goals? On pace? Off pace?
Week Four: “Finishing the Race”
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6)
“God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas, but for scars.”
I “can’t” is a quitter;
I “don’t know” is too lazy;
I “wish I could” is a wisher;
I “might” is waking up;
I “will try” is on his feet;
I “can” is on his way;
I “will” is at work;
I “did” is a faithful servant
- Finish bringing in the remaining harvest
- Strengthen the new Christians
- Celebrate the victory God has given
- Keep praying for Miracles!