And He said to them, "It is written,'My house shall be called a house of prayer,’…”
Matthew 21:13 NKJV

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Memorial before God

Pastor Gary Stebbins
Church on the Rock - Melbourne

In Acts 10 we find the incredible story of a Roman Centurion named Cornelius. The writer of Acts gives us some insight into the heart of this man. It says that he was “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually” (Acts 10:2, NASB). Cornelius receives an angelic visitation and the angel speaks to him and says, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God” (Acts 10:4, NASB).

As I was reading this story I was reminded of the angelic visitation that Zacharias had when he was performing his priestly service in the temple. First, it is interesting that while Zacharias was in the temple ministering to God that, “the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside” (Luke 1:10, NASB). Second, the angel speaks to Zacharias and says, “Do not be afraid Zacharias, for your petition has been heard” (Luke 1:13, NASB).

With both Cornelius and Zacharias, the angels said that God had heard their prayers and was responding to them. Our prayers are important to God and He is listening to them. It does not say how long Cornelius or Zacharias prayed before God answered their prayers, but what is important is that He did hear and He did answer their prayers.

When Peter was imprisoned by Herod in Acts 12, he also had an angelic visitation. An angel appeared in his prison cell, freed him of his chains, and led him out of the prison. Immediately after being released from prison Peter, “went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying” (Acts 12:12, NASB). Again we see God responding to the prayers of His people.

James makes a very encouraging statement, he says, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16). In another translation it says, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16, NLT).

Wow! Our prayers are important, God is listening, and He does respond to them.

Have you been praying? What stories can you tell, like the story of Cornelius, Zacharias, or Peter, where God heard and answered your prayers?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Imitators of Christ

Rachel Hauck
Church on the Rock - Melbourne

Why pray? I mean, isn’t God sovereign? What can our weak words do? How can we effect the mind and plans of the living God?

That is small thinking. Even wrong thinking. Prayer is the one thing Jesus demonstrated over and over. Prayer is how we get to know the love and heart of the Father. Perhaps, His sovereign will is that we pray, partnering with Him for His kingdom to come onearth as it is in heaven. The outcome of our life and political, economical and social situations may very well be determined by the prayers of the Elect. You and me.

Jesus said, “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” He said to the people, “It is written, ‘AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’ but you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”

House of Prayer. Jesus wants us, His dwelling place, to be a house of prayer. Individually and corporately. Even now, Jesus the God-Man is “…able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Heb 7:25 Jesus lives to make intercession for us. If He’s seeking the Father on our behalf, how can we do less?

Psalm 72 talks about the Righteous King during His Millennial reign. Here’s what verse 15 says, “So may he live, and may the gold of Sheba be given to him; 
And let them pray for him continually; 
Let them bless him all day long.” We will be engaged in intercession for and to Jesus in the age to come. How critical it is in this life to learn the attributes, attitudes and construct of prayer. Prayer is hard. No doubt. It’s a discipline.

Shelley Hundley talks about coming to the Lord in those hard, dark times in her book, Cry for Justice. “…only during my life time on the earth do I have the opportunity to impact the heart of God in the midst of darkness, accusation and blindness. I have a chance only today to love Him in the midst of my current hardship, for this is when my heart feels nothing and sees nothing, but still I move in love toward the One I cannot see. And His heart is most undone. I feel nothing but He feels everything.” We want prayer to be easy, to be about “me.” But prayer is about Him. And in His great mercy and kindness, He called us to partner with Him in love and to work to bring His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

Let’s not have a temporal but eternal attitude of prayer. Kind of like saving money. Most of us want money when we retire from our jobs, but find it hard to not spend and save now. But if we would just set aside so much money per paycheck, and leave it alone, no matter what, over time, we will see the fruit of our labor. Same with diet and exercise. Or any life discipline. Guarding our tongue. Controlling our emotions. It’s easy to do when we are feed, rested, satisfied, happy, when life is going our way. Harder when we are famished, tired, weary, feeling beat up by the world.

Prayer connects us with heaven. With the heart of God. Prayer changes us. Let’s not stand before Him one day and give an account for a prayerless life.

Friday, January 6, 2012

What a mighty God we serve!

Bonnie Stebbins
Church on the Rock-Melbourne

“What a mighty God we serve!” Most of us would acknowledge the might of God, but do our prayers reflect this belief? When you approach the throne of God in prayer, what kind of petitions do you bring to Him? Are they stinted petitions, narrow requests, limited desires? God is on the throne. He is the creator, the maker of heaven and earth. All power belongs to Him. His thoughts are above our thoughts. What He imagines is far greater than what our imaginations can conjure up.

So, when you approach the boundless, limitless, endless, all-powerful throne of God in prayer, remember to ask for great, grand, glorious things. For He would do for you “infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.” (Eph 3:20 NLT)

What will you ask God today?