One of the privileges and responsibilities we have as Christians is to intercede on behalf of our world and the people in it. Problems like the ones I spoke about in yesterday's post require God to work in people's lives in powerful ways. The present crisis is not just a matter of economic inequality or social alienation, it is evidence of a deep distortion of mind and heart that only God can put right by the life-changing touch of his grace. It is one thing to analyse and diagnose the situation but its another to pray that God would work as only he can do. But pray we must for this is one of the means of grace that he has given us. He wants us to seek his blessing and power. He delights in our petitions. He wants us to call upon his name because it is good for us to feel our complete dependency on him and it glorifies his holy and worthy name when we come in humility to him who is the source of all blessing. When Jesus was here on earth he clearly communicated to his disciples the vital lesson that they should always pray and not give up (Luke 18:1).
Over the years one book that I have found very helpful when it comes to intercession is "Operation World" by Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk. It is a goldmine of information about the world that we are to reach with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The folks at Operation World also have a website that keeps those committed to prayer updated on things that have happened since the appearance of the last edition of the book. Particularly useful is the "Pray Today" link that enumerates specific things to pray for each day of the year.
As we come to the end of 2005 and look to 2006 wouldn't it be great if Christians everywhere would commit themselves afresh to pray for the mercies of God. Who knows what the Lord might do! Let us never forget that he is the God of the impossible who is able to call into being things that were not (Romans 4:17).
In January 1748, Jonathan Edwards published his famous "A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God's People in Extraordinary Prayer, For the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ's Kingdom on Earth". He found in Zechariah 8:20-22 reasons to fervently pray that God would fulfill the promises of his word. Those verses read: This is what the Lord Almighty says: "Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, 'Let us go at once to entreat the Lord and seek the Lord Almighty. I myself am going.' And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat him."
These and many other verses in the Bible should encourage us to pray that God would do great things, miraculous things in the days in which we live, things that will confound his enemies and comfort his people.