Importance of Prayer in Breakthrough - It's Power

Prayer is powerful. However we know that it is only powerful, not simply because we pray, but because of whom we pray too.

This week we are looking at Hezekiah’s prayer as recorded in 2 Kings 19.

Hezekiah was a king and he was a dedicated man of prayer. In his time as King Judah faced impending invasion by the Assyrians who had invaded the land and besieged Jerusalem.

The general of the Assyrian army sent a letter full of threats to Hezekiah. So the King Hezekiah took that letter and read it, then went to the temple of God, laid it before Him and prayed, oh, how he prayed.

Here’s how Hezekiah prayed taken from ‘The Message’

“God, God of Israel, seated in majesty on the cherubim-throne.

You are the one and only God, sovereign over all kingdoms on earth, Maker of heaven, maker of earth. Open your ears, God, and listen, open your eyes and look. Look at this letter Sennacherib has sent, a brazen insult to the living God!

The facts are true, O God: The kings of Assyria

have laid waste countries and kingdoms. Huge bonfires they made of their gods, their no-gods hand-made from wood and stone. But now O God, our God, save us from raw Assyrian power;

Make all the kingdoms on earth know that you are God, the one and only God.”

There is a lot we can learn about this prayer and as Pastor Stephen encouraged us last Sunday, use Scripture to pray today.

We see here that the king’s first response was prayer and it was bold and public.

When crisis hits you, what is your first response?

Hezekiah’s prayer came from a desperate place, but he prayed to a sovereign God. In stating who God is, Hezekiah could also receive assurance of God and His immense Power.

When we are afraid, overwhelmed, desperate we can pray to our powerful God.

Hezekiah laid it all out before God. He told God all about it and the challenges He was facing. He was also indignant that the enemy dared to be so brazen as to try to insult God.

Have you heard people insult God through misinformation, lack of understanding and grief? You may even have been desperate enough to vent your anger towards God in this way.

We need to remind ourselves (and others) that God is bigger than that, He can cope with insults. He even allowed His Son Jesus to endure this.

God is almighty, He is Lord, He reigns, He is alive and powerful. He is all knowing, His is wisdom, He is listening.

Be encouraged today. Pray to our powerful God and watch and wait expectantly just as Hezekiah. For the times you are unsure just how to pray, just start with telling God all about it. Seek Him and His will and see Him work in mighty ways, because we as His children prayed to God our Heavenly Father.

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Importance of Prayer - It's Principles

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:13-16

How comforting are these words from Scripture!

In just these few verses we can see that God is very aware of everything! What’s more is that Jesus understands us and empathises with us and that it is through His actions we have access to approach God.

So what is prayer? If we search through the Bible we can see that prayer is defined as ‘human speech addressed to God’. When we pray, we ask something of God, we talk with and hold a conversation with God. When we study the Word of God, His Bible, God speaks to us, but when we pray, we speak to God.

About Prayer. To gain a better understanding of prayer, we can look at to whom we pray to, God. Here are just some of His attributes that relate to prayer:

· God seeks a relationship with us, so He made a way for us to do just that. Even more than that God actually wants to hear our prayers.

· God, being all knowing, means He has the best answers for us. Answers that are for our best and from His wise perspective of seeing everything in the ‘big picture’.

· God is listening—He is not a distant God, He is Immanuel, meaning God is with us.

· God is faithful and trust worthy—we can believe His promises in His Word, and we have Jesus as our evidence of this.

Prayer is an act, not merely an attitude. It requires of us to come before our God and interact, just like a child/father relationship. After all, we are called His children. Imagine yourself sitting on His lap, with His loving arms around you, whilst you chat with Him.

Reasons for prayer.

· Firstly Jesus prayed and He is our example.

· We are also commanded to pray 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

· It is through prayer that God bestows upon us His gifts and blessings.

· An important part of prayer is to say thank you, to give Him praise for who He is and to say thank you for what He has, is and will do.

· Prayer also allows us to say sorry. We need to repent and seek forgiveness—how else can we do that if we don’t pray?

Here’s a ‘handy’ hint for aspects of prayer:

Adoration: 1 Chronicles 29:11-13

Confession: Proverbs 28:13

Thanksgiving: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Intercession: Colossians 4:12

Petition: 1 John 5:14-15

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Importance of Prayer in Breakthrough - It's People

Ever heard some news, and your immediate response is one that you regretted later? Of course, haven’t we all?! There is an account in the New Testament where a person reacted with such surprise she literally forget what she went to do, that is open the door!

Her name is Rhoda and Peter came and knocked and Rhoda was so surprised to see him she just left the door closed and ran to tell everyone!

What was so surprising about seeing Peter? He was supposed to be in chains in a prison cell. What is even more remarkable about this, is the fact that Rhoda was in a ‘prayer meeting’ praying for Peter!

The account is in Acts 12 and is nothing short of God working in another miraculous way. Peter was not only in prison, but he was chained in between not one, but two, prison guards. Yet not an issue for God. He sent an angel to Peter whilst all were sleeping. The angel woke Peter and said to get up—with that, the chains fell off and Peter simply walked free!

If that isn’t enough of a miracle for you; remember that all this is happening whilst faithful people were praying for Peter and his unjust situation. You see Peter hadn’t done anything wrong, he was simply a threat because of his faith and his public ministry.

What can we learn from this about prayer?

Prayer is for people—it is designed for people to seek God, to communicate with Him, to pour out their souls, to ask Him—to meet needs-to receive help and guidance.

Prayer is by people—Rhoda and her group were praying together—check out Matthew 18:20’s promise of God’s presence. In James we read ’we have not because we ask not’. This doesn’t mean we get everything we ask for, but the act of prayer, and seeking God and talking it through with Him, we gain an understanding of how to ask for what He wants.

Prayer is also about other people—Rhoda and her group were praying for Peter. God heard and answered in a way only He could. He sent an angel and miraculously freed Peter from his chains. How many people do you know and love that are chained in a different way? Maybe they are chained to their grief, their pain, their anxiety, their sin filled life. They need a breakthrough for their ‘chains’ to freedom in Jesus. This is why we pray.

People are blessed—When we pray we are not simply speaking empty words, we are talking with the creator of the world, our Lord. Jesus intercedes for us, even when we don’t have the right words to express our needs and thoughts. More importantly our God is listening. He longs to hear from His people, not just a few, all of us. He has told us to ask Him, His Word encourages us to come to Him. Why? Mainly because He loves us so much; but also for His glory. You see when we pray and God in His infinite wisdom answers, we can see God at work, and we can attest to Him and His blessings.

This is why an important part of prayer is to pray together.

As a church community we have the opportunity to pray too. We not only can pray individually, but as a team and as a church.

MCC has a prayer team—we pray for the requests that come in. Requests can come in via Care Cards/Email/Phone/Website/App/Pastoral Care. The requests are passed on to our prayer team who diligently, faithfully and confidentially pray. Please let the church office know if you would like to be part of the team or have a prayer request.

MCC also meets and prays every 3rd Wednesday in the church building or via zoom. What are you waiting for?

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The Importance of Prayer in Breakthrough - It's Purpose

John 9: 3 ‘Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.’

2022 is our Year of Breakthrough—it is clear from our message last week, that prayer is an integral part of our Christian walk, in light of seeking breakthrough.

But what is the purpose of prayer—is it really still relevant in a modern world?

Our verse from John 9 gives us a clue as to the purpose of prayer, as do many parts of the Bible.

When we read Psalms in particular, we can also learn some of the purposes of prayer.

Psalm 86 begins with David asking the Lord to hear him because he is in need. But David doesn’t stop there, he quickly follows it up with the qualities of God and how thankful he is to God for His goodness and mercy.

Psalm 17 is another prayer where David bears his heart to God, honestly and completely. David can do this because of the confidence He has in God in His righteousness and salvation.

Be encouraged to delve into these verses further. As you reflect, you might like to the think about how these verses highlight the following aspects of the purpose of prayer….

· See how David opened His heart to God, by quieting his mind David could experience open and honest communication with God. Prayer is a two way conversation.

· This open and honest communication allows David to recognise his shortcomings and needs and the way in which God in His abundance could meet those needs. Prayer allowed David to focus on God.

· David was also very quick to express his thanks to God. He recognised that he was not on his own but rather dependant on a faithful God.

· David also sought forgiveness, he bared his wrongdoings before a loving God and sought God’s mercy and forgiveness.

· Back to the beginning in John 9, we see that Jesus was being asked about why someone was blind and who was at fault? Jesus’ answer was a surprising one. He turned their attention to the facts of what God can do. Here is how The Message puts it…. 3-5 Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.” So we can see here a key purpose of prayer is to look to God to see who He is, what He has done, what He can do and what He has promised to will come to pass.

To answer our other question, ‘is prayer still relevant in a modern world’…. Let me ask you this….Do people still have needs? Do people still make mistakes and suffer guilt? Do people still need Jesus as their Saviour? Does God still exist?

For me the answer is yes, yes, yes and yes! God has given us this amazing avenue that gives us direct access to Him—the Creator of the Universe—our Saviour and Heavenly Father who listens to each and every one of us. How could we not pray!?

What do you say?

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The Importance of Prayer in Breakthrough - It's Priority

“Priority of prayer”

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. Timothy 1:1-2 NIV

We all have an opinion about most things, right? We are often very quick to identify what is wrong with xyz situation or circumstances or what we don’t have but think we need etc etc.

How often do we turn those opinions and observations into prayer?

Our verse today urges us, FIRST OF ALL…to pray!

As we launch this prayer series we are seeking to explore together the importance of prayer for breakthrough. In the Scripture here God is telling us to really make praying a priority. So how do we do that?

It will depend on the format of our day and our personality somewhat as we are all so different—we will have different ways. Some are definitely morning people, some are night owls, but let us think of it as God being the first person we talk to about any situation. When you have those moments…’I must tell so and so’. Sure tell that person, but first tell God. Have a conversation with Him. Ask Him for a Scripture or a word that directs your thinking. Maybe use a Psalm to praise and say thank you for the good news or to remind you of God’s faithfulness, goodness and love when it is not a good situation or a hard decision.

Particularly in light of breakthrough—these are usually the big issues aren’t they. They can be small ones too—there are no rules. But often we do tend to need breakthrough for circumstances that are just beyond us. Where we need for a miracle. Even in this description it shows us we need for God to do only what He can. So we need to ask, and we need to ask Him first.

Our verse also tells us not to limit our prayers to our own issues and concerns. But to include others, especially our leaders and those in authority. We need to pray for breakthrough for our community, our country, and our world. Which of course means those who are charged with authority over others. The governments, rulers, kings and queens, the oppositions, those that help hold leaders accountable. There are a lot of people, so let’s get started.

We can’t change the world by complaining about it, but we can seek God to ask Him what He wants for the world and pray, pray, pray. And watch and wait, looking expectantly to how God will move and be ready to give thanks and praise for when He does.

Scripture repeatedly tells us to devote ourselves to prayer (Col. 4:2). Devotion requires that we not only set aside uninterrupted time for prayer, but that we also think seriously about what we’re asking. We must give God the time and attention He deserves in order to have a growing relationship with Him. Because when we put Him first, everything else falls into its proper place.

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VISION SUNDAY DEVOTIONAL

“Anything is possible if you have faith.”

Mark 9:23 NLT

One might read this and think, wow! All my problems are fixed. Well, yes and no.

Last week we looked at needing to read the Bible, God’s Word. One of the key things we need to know about doing this is, not to take things out of context. In other words, don’t get the wrong meaning of verses, by just pulling them out because they sound good and convenient.

God’s wisdom is far beyond ours and so He gave us all the Bible to help us gain insight of Him and His purposes. His main purpose is to have a living, working, and genuine relationship with us. To do this, we needed Jesus. Jesus is our way, our truth and our life, leading us back to God.

So when we read sections of God’s Word such as our verse this week; we need to keep in mind, it is about God and our relationship. Not our wants.

This verse is the response from Jesus who is being asked by a desperate father to heal his child. The verses around it read…’Oh, have mercy on us and do something if you can.” 23 “If I can?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if you have faith.” 24 The father instantly replied, “I do have faith; oh, help me to have more!”

This gives us a clearer picture; Jesus was showing us that whilst anything can be possible if we have faith, it is more about the whom we have faith in, rather than the request in the first place.

On this occasion, the son was healed and Jesus cast out the demons that had taken over his body. But the result wasn’t only healing, it was about a God loving man, yearning and seeking to have more faith in God. That is relationship.

This Vision Sunday as we explore the theme for the year, may we always remember the fact that God desires for us to have a heartfelt relationship with Him.

Ephesians 1:4-6

Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault—we who stand before him covered with his love. 5 His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And he did this because he wanted to! Now all praise to God for his wonderful kindness to us and his favour that he has poured out upon us because we belong to his dearly loved Son”

May we each rise to the challenge that our Lord calls us to. It might look a little different for us as individuals; but for as a church family—let us unite in the direction we are being called to and work towards increasing our knowledge and understanding of our Lord along the way. When we need help we know we can still ask, God encourages us to ask—especially if it seems beyond human capacity.

Remember Jesus’ words are not a promise that we can do whatever we want; rather, He makes it clear that the believing one has power only due to whom he believes in; namely, Jesus, the Son of God. The power is God’s, accessed through faith and prayer according to His will. It is because of God that the believing one can accomplish much. As we live for Jesus, let us focus on the object of our belief.

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2022 Our need for The Book - Take 2

We had a little sneak peak on this a couple of Sundays back. So this week, we will look at one aspect in particular. The source of the book.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 1 Tim 3:16-17 NIV

So the author of the Bible is God. How do we know this and how do we know the Bible is true?

In short, each person needs to answer that question for themselves, with help of Holy Spirit.

‘For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake’. 1 Thes 1:5 NIV

You know the saying that there is nothing new under the sun?….(also from the Bible Ecc 1:9).

Psalm 24:8 NIV encourages us to taste and see that ‘the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!’

The Bible written all those years ago came up with the idea of ‘try before you buy’… Here we are being encouraged, to try it; taste it; check it out. It is then we learn for ourselves, in our own experiences, in our own heart and mind, the truth that God is who He says He is, He is good!

Once we have accepted God to be who He says He is we can know that He can be trusted because God is rightly described as Omniscient.

‘Omni’ meaning ‘all’ scient meaning ’knowledge;

Omniscient is all knowing. God knows the beginning from the end. He tells of things yet to happen, thousands of years before they do. God’s omniscience is based on His authority for He is the ultimate standard of what is true and false. Not only does God know what is true, but He is the very nature of truth.

God’s truth and knowledge gives us as His people such comfort and blessing. He knows the hairs on our head. He knows when we are joyful, and when we hurt. He is attentive to our needs, all because of His love. When God says He loves us, He can be trusted because we see it with creation, we see it in the person of His son Jesus and we experience it with help from Holy Spirit.

God’s Word, His Bible is such an enigma, yet can begin to be defined when we seek to know and understand. How are you going with your regular reading and checking out of what God has to say each day through Scripture?

As the Bible is like God and beyond our human capacity to grasp, we need to ask Holy Spirit to help us. After all that is why God sends Him to us, Holy Spirit is our God Helper. All we need to do is actively pursue God through His Holy writings and allow His Words to be etched on our heart.

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Our need for BALANCE

Proverbs 11:1

‘A false balance is abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight.’

In Biblical times, a lot of trade was done by scales; just like our fruit or vegetables are still sold by the kilo today. If you were to go to your favourite grocer and wanted to buy some fresh bananas—and when the cashier weighed them to calculate the cost, they left their hand on the scales—would you be happy? Or would you, like most of us, be annoyed. It is fine to pay for what we get, but no one wants to be cheated!

So too it is with God. We know God is righteous, fair and just. For Him to see people ‘tipping the scales’ is something that He find’s disgraceful.

People by nature, are often trying to ‘tip the scales’ in their favour. Most of us are always keen to get something for nothing. But in God’s economy, this is just not ok.

Here is where we as Christ followers are being called to ‘balance’. In other words, we are to be careful to do what is right and just, as Jesus does.

Balance in our daily lives can be in various ways and affect different areas of our life. However this week we are being encouraged to do some soul searching and seek the Lord for any areas we are not acting justly, and ensure we have a good balance in our life.

Here are just a few examples.

· Ensuring those we employ are paid what they are due

· Giving 100% to our role, whatever the task

· Prioritising our time—do we work/play/rest in a balanced way?

· Who/what do we spend our money on?

· Is there something we are totally focussed on to the point of obsession?

· Do we give time to others, or just do for ourselves?

· Do we seek to be honest and diligent, or do we do the least amount we can get away with?

· Are we seeking to serve, care, pray for others or are we just about us and our problems?

· Do we worship/connect in with the Lord as often as we could?

It is easy to fall into the trap of not having a balanced life. 1 Peter 5: 8-9 Amp says

‘Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone.]’

We are all in this together so let us, as Scripture warns, be alert and cautious to be well balanced. And let us help each other to do likewise.

Prayer:

Dear Lord, help me to attain that balance in all areas of my life. Examine my heart, and show me those places where I may be out of balance. Help me to focus on the things that are most important, and keep me from being distracted by the things that would steal my time and attention. Protect me from those things that try to keep me from reaching my goals and achieving the dreams that you have put in my heart. Amen.

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2022 Our need for the BOOK

“Our need for the Book”.

In this short series, we are looking at what we as Christians need to be faithful followers of Jesus. This week we highlight the need for reading God’s Word, the Bible.

As 2 Tim 3: 16-17 tells us…. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

To be equipped to live like Jesus and follow God’s teaching, we need to know what Scripture says. The word Scripture means Holy writings, and the verse here clearly defines ALL Scripture—meaning Old and New Testament. So it is clear that the Bible is God’s words to us. He breathed the words, so the ultimate source is divine, not human, even though God used people to record. Scripture is from God, formed out of His Spirit, and in Psalm 19 and 119 we see that it is perfect.

Reading Scripture is useful—in other words, reading it is for our benefit and to our advantage. Scripture is wise, helpful, educational, empowering, and also convicting. It helps us get right with God. So how do we, as Psalm 119 tells us, hide God’s word in our heart, and meditate on it? The best way is to read, study and devour it and do this every day. Remembering key verses is a great way to put into action what we learn. As circumstances come up and decisions need to be made, we don’t always have time to wait, we need to speak, act, do, on the spot. Memorising Scripture is beneficial for us; this is us doing our part so that Holy Spirit can help us recall what Scripture says and guide our words and actions.

So how to memorise Scripture? Basically the answer is repetition, repetition, repetition! Here are a few tips:

· Work at one verse at a time, rather than multiple verses. Read the verse aloud 20 times—read aloud, then speak the verse from memory—do this 10 times. Next, try to quote the verse without mistakes 5 times in a row. Once you can do this, move to the next verse.

· Perhaps use pictures or props to help.

· Maybe writing it out, or if you are more musically orientated, say it to a beat.

Find what works for you, and ask God to help you. You will be surprised at the results if your heart is really in it.

Our challenge for this week: to be thoroughly equipped for every good work!

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