We have all been there, things are going great and then bam! Everything is going down the tubes and we don't know what to do to stop it! Finally, as a last resort we turn to prayer.
Most people have a decent understand of this one type of prayer. Put simply it's the one where we tell God our problems and ask Him to help us. I'm sure you know the one I'm talking about! Not many, however, truly understand the other powerful dimensions of this ancient spiritual practice. And why should we? In a culture that moves at a feverish pace and has little time for face-to-face conversations with friends or family, it's no wonder the idea of conversation --with what to some may seem like the air--is so foreign and mysterious--even, dare I say it, for those inside the church.
An important dimension of prayer we focus on at the Nevada House of Prayer is that of Corporate Intercession. The Apostle Paul wrote many prayers that give us guidance on, not only what to pray, but also how to pray. In his letter to the Colossians, we find one such teaching.
"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God..." Col. 1:9-10
Prayer is Corporate
We see three distinct elements to Paul’s prayer. Prayer is corporate. Paul says, "since we heard about you."(emphasis added) Although Paul was in prison in Rome he had regular times of prayer with companions and ministry team member like Timothy and others who came to visit him. Corporate prayer is vital to the power and effectiveness of any ministry. As any seasoned leaders will tell you, navigating the sometimes challenging waters of this type of group dynamic is definitely, an undertaking, not for the faint of heart. But, this rich and wonderful expression of prayer affords us the opportunity to come together and share in our differences.
Prayer is Continual
There are other places in scripture where we are encouraged to prayer without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) Yet, our busy lives make it increasingly difficult to carve out time to pray. This is unfortunate because if you have been a Christian for any length of time; you can attest to the power of prayer to change circumstances. Here in Colossians, we see Paul's emphasis on this principle of continual prayer. He says, "…we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives... " Beloved, persistence is the best use of our most powerful spiritual weapon. If you want to take a step in the right direction just look for more opportunities to pray (Ephesians 6:18). There is something of incredible value added to our lives when we learn to pray continually.
Prayer is Concerned
Now, this is where the group I mentioned earlier has it, at least, partly right. Yes, often we pray when we are concerned about something in our lives. The difference between that and intercession, however, is that intercession turns our concern in an outward direction. Selfish prayer makes us self-focused. There is a great need, in the body of Christ, for unselfish prayer --prayer on behalf of others, prayer as ministry, prayer for our nation and its govornment and leaders and the list goes on. Our concern should match Paul's where he goes on to express concern that they live a live worthy, that they bear fruit in every good work and that they grow in the knowledge of God (verse 10) Prayer that is full of concern for the well-being of others takes the focus off ourselves and agrees with what God already wants to do in someone elses life.
The truth is, a church fully awakened to the reality of true intercession is the only thing that will cut short the enemies plans and release the Glory of the soon-coming Kingdom. Prayer releases the Kingdom of Heaven inside you to have effect in the world around you.