THE PRAYER AT PENTECOST
If we turn again to the Church at Pentecost, and to the Apostles’ attitude to prayer, we shall see how to them prayer was a work.
There came trouble to that Spirit-filled Church, and in the midst of it the Apostle said: “we will give ourselves to” putting this matter straight? No. But “we will give ourselves to PRAYER, and to the ministry of the Word”.
The early Church knew how to pray. They knew how to open the prison doors for Peter. They did not go with a petition to Herod, but betook themselves to “instant and earnest prayer”.
That was praying that “worked” just as effectively as with Elijah and Moses. Here are the Apostles – men baptised with the Holy Ghost – saying, “we will give ourselves to prayer”. Is this the order of “work” in our lives?
We are responsible for the things over which we have not prayed. We think too often that “prayer” means half-an-hour in the morning, special risings, hours, places – even prayer-meetings where half the people go to get right with God, or go mainly for their own personal needs.
Would Elijah have had that mighty, effective prayer, if he had all the time to be going to as “prayer” simply for his own personal growth? No wonder we do not understand that prayer is a work, and that every prayer should accomplish something.
We have seen the work of prayer by Elijah for a whole country, and the work of prayer in Moses for the chosen nation; now let us take the example of Paul in his work of prayer for the Churches, and individual believers.
First, see how Paul himself craved the prayers of the saints he addressed, although he was a man baptised with the Holy Ghost. He knew God, and yet almost with tears he pleads that God’s children should join him in his intercessory life, and share with him in his service and conflict.
Have we not left the pulpit unprotected by prayer? How much do you pray for your minister?
How much have you prayed for the man in the pulpit, side-tracked by the doctrines of demons of to-day?
We are responsible even for the things we grieve over in the Church, because we have not watched unto prayer.
It has not dawned upon many of us that we must pray for all saints, and all God’s people; and that specially every man in an exposed position should be the subject of our persistent prayer.
Pt. 3 A REVIVAL OF PRAYER NEEDED by Jessie Penn-Lewis
“The prayers of the saints . . fire . . cast into the earth”(Rev.8v3-5)
“Ye have not, because ye ask not . .”( James 4 v2)
THE LIFTED HANDS OF MOSES
But in the same chapter we have another aspect of prayer altogether. Amalek came against Israel in an attack. Moses did not “cry” to the Lord then, for he knew what to do.
Taking the rod of God he would stand on the top of the hill, and lift up his hands (v 9-I5), whilst Joshua went to the valley to fight the foe. When Moses’ hands went down, Amalek prevailed, and when he kept them up Israel prevailed. What was Moses doing? Surely lifting his hands against the unseen foe at the back of Amalek attacking the people of God.
To understand this you must remember that the Bible says clearly that God dealt with all these nations in such judgment, because He had a war with the gods they worshiped.
All through the Scriptures we are shown that idolatry is demon worship (see especially I Cor. 10 v 19-20) . At the back of the gods of the Canaanites lay the satanic forces, as to-day in every land where idols are worshipped.
When the idolatrous heathen attacked Israel, Moses did not “cry” unto the Lord, but stood on the hillside, and lifted the rod representing the power of God against the supernatural powers behind Amalek (see Eph. 6 v 10).
Here then are two aspects of prayer illustrated in these incidents – the aspect of supplication, in Moses going to God, and pleading for the people, “Lord, give them water!” and the other of standing with God against the foe, when he took the attitude of uplifted hands.
In the former God shows him what to do to get water, but there is a change of attitude altogether when conflict comes. Then he sought the hillside, and lifted his hands.
We might say: “Moses, why don’t you go and fight in the valley?” But he would reply: “I am fighting – Joshua is dealing with flesh and blood down there, but I am dealing with something else up here.
I have the rod of God in my hand. And in that position of unbroken resistance, Moses had to remain until victory was complete. It was not such easy work as his work of supplications for it meant prolonged suffering until the victory was gained.
At the end of the chapter the key to Moses’ action is given in the words, “The Lord is my banner!” In lifting his hands with the rod of God, Moses was lifting a banner against the unseen foes.
It is a striking picture of the two aspects of the work of prayer.
In Elijah you see the binding and loosing power of his prayer for a whole land, and in Moses you see the “binding” of the enemy’s power, and the loosing of water for the needs of the Lord’s people.
Pt. 2 A REVIVAL OF PRAYER NEEDED (Binding and Loosing)
Pt. 2 A REVIVAL OF PRAYER NEEDED by Jessie Penn-Lewis
BINDING AND LOOSING PRAYER
There are two aspects of prayer mentioned by James in connection with Elijah, to which Christ made reference when He was on earth, i.e. the binding and loosing of things on earth by prayer (Matt. 18 vI8).
Elijah closed the heavens, and he opened the heavens. Speaking of this power of prayer, the Lord Jesus said, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”. The context clearly shows this to be the binding and loosing of prayer, for the Lord went on to say, “If two of you agree . . . it shall be done”.
We have come to the point now in service, where as workers for God we must get to a place of knowing God, and knowing this kind of prayer. We have not yet reached the prayer-point that will meet today’s need.
“He prayed that the heavens should not give rain, and it rained not for three years.” Then, simply it is said, “And he prayed again, and THE HEAVENS GAVE RAIN. This is all that James says about such a tremendous thing. He does not say, “What a wonderful Elijah!”
There is no excess of language in the Bible, but sober statements, with no exaggeration, but a calm, majestic omnipotence. When God does vast things, He does them quietly, just as He did in answer to the one who “prayed, and the heavens were opened, and gave forth rain”.
From this brief glimpse of Elijah, let us look at another picture of this work of prayer, or rather, the prayer that “works”. Let us glance at Moses, and his “binding and loosing” work in Exodus 16.
Israel was in desperate need of water, and in that need they began to reproach Moses, saying, “Moses brought us out of Egypt, now let him give us water”. Moses just went to God. “He cried to the Lord” for the needs of the people, and then the Lord told him what to do.
He was to go to a certain rock, and then “I will stand before thee there. . . thou shalt smite the rock and there shall come water out of it” (v 6). Moses did it, and there was water. In this aspect of prayer to meet the people’s need, note especially Moses’ cry, and God’s response.
The House of Prayer
“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (v. 7).
– Isaiah 56:6–8
As Christians consider what the Bible has to say about worship, it is crucial that we consider what all of Scripture says about how we are to come before God when we offer up our sacrifices of praise.
This means that we must look at the Old Testament no less than we consider what the New Testament teaches. In so doing, we have to keep in mind that not everything done in worship under the old covenant carries over into the new covenant.
For example, we do not offer up animal sacrifices anymore because Hebrews 9–10 tells us that Jesus is the final sacrifice for sin.
Nevertheless, there are principles we can discern from the Old Testament Scriptures that can guide our worship practices.