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Church Talk: Ignite your prayer life

Friday 1 March 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Church Talk, Features


Church Talk: Ignite your prayer life
Prayer can ignite change in us. If we have negative attitudes or prejudice towards others, God can change us into salt and light wherever we are. Picture: Christian Leader/24022915

Greetings to all you lovely people: To those who are prayer lovers and prayer warriors. I thought to bring our message this morning in support and recognition of the Women’s International Prayer Day coming shortly. I thought how fitting this message is for all of us to ignite our prayer life.

Friends! Believe me prayer is power! Prayer ignites our spiritual life. When our prayers ignite a flame, they can impact our lives, our families, and all those around us. Here are four ways that prayer can ignite our lives.

Prayer ignites change

The Apostle Paul states “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are to walk in newness of life, but our sinful nature often pops up. We need our heavenly Father to help us in our spiritual walk and our battle against the devil. Thus, communion with God is highly essential for spiritual health so that He can change us to become more loving, more compassionate, and more mission focused to reach out to others.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used the examples of salt and light to explain to His disciples and all listeners how His followers ignite change around them (Matthew 5): “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot” (verse 13).

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (verses 14-16).

Today, Jesus is asking us to be salt as well as light. His vision is that we ignite change by bringing light into darkness and salt to bring a taste of God into the world. He is asking that we would be known by the light we bring and shine into our communities by how we live, as salt in our circles of influence.

Prayer can ignite change in us. If we have negative attitudes or prejudice towards others, God can change us into salt and light wherever we are. David prayed, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). David continued by asking God to grant him “a willing spirit” (verse 12).

Prayer ignites hope

This familiar verse is often quoted to ignite hope.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

Prophet Jeremiah’s message was one of comfort and reassurance to his people in extreme adversity and despair. His nation had just suffered a brutal invasion and the people were displaced. This picture is no different from our world today. We think of the Ukraine war that caused many to flee their homes. The wars in Afghanistan and Syria, and civil wars in a few African countries, resulting in thousands of refugees flooding across Europe and North America. Other factors contributing to adversity and despair in our time are the problems with energy supply, inflation, and socio-political divisions. Natural disasters, violent crimes, extreme poverty, and unemployment are on the rise.

People are looking for hope, even a sliver of hope to grasp. It seems to many that there is no hope. This is the time to pray for these people. Jeremiah’s message affirms that God cares for people and families as they grapple with these problems. Such promises from the Bible provide people in adversity with hope. God offers hope to all. He reminds us that we are loved and cherished by Him. He does not forsake us. He promises a better future.

When Peter was imprisoned for preaching the gospel, the church was in despair. There seemed no hope to get him out of jail. The members came together to pray fervently. God heard their prayers and sent an angel to lead Peter out of prison. The church’s fervent prayers ignited hope in the miraculous release of Peter from prison (Acts 12:1-17).

So, praying for people in crisis who desperately need hope, provides them with comfort and assurance. In times of strife or difficulty, reach out to pray for and with them. Many never turn down such prayers of comfort. Introduce them to a God who cares. Encourage them to pray to Him who is always there to listen.

Prayer ignites unity

2 Chronicles 30:1-13 describes the celebration of Passover when King Hezekiah called all Israel “to the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem” (vs 1). The kingdom of Judah was in crisis; all their neighboring kingdoms had been taken into captivity by the Assyrians. King Hezekiah needed to bring his factional kingdoms together in unity. Verse 12 mentions, “Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the Lord.”

This gathering brought a huge crowd of people to Jerusalem for seven days. The impact on them brought about a united front as “they removed the altars in Jerusalem and cleared away the incense altars and threw them into the Kidron Valley” (vs 14). Hezekiah invited all his people not just to attend the Passover festival, but to reunite as a people who would focus on a joint mission to prepare for the future in uncertain times when the Assyrians would attack Jerusalem.

Jesus Himself prayed for unity for His followers – His disciples and you and me.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20-23).

Therefore, as followers of Christ we need to pray for unity so that the grace, compassion, and love of God will bind us together to reach out to share the gospel. I believe that unity is the key to reaching the world for Christ. We may have differences, but when others see that we are one in Christ, and that we love one another, it has a bigger impact in our evangelism. Praying for unity is therefore vital.

Prayer ignites forgiveness

Have you been hurt by someone so deeply that you have become resentful, bitter, and broken? Is it possible to forgive a friend who spread lies about you? Forgive an abusive father? Or even forgive a burglar who murdered your parents? As sinful beings, it is impossible to forgive. Forgiveness is easier said than done.

However, the Bible identifies people who forgave one another which has been an inspiration for us. Joseph forgave his brother for selling him into slavery (Genesis 50:20). Stephen forgave those who stoned him for preaching the word. As he was dying, he prayed, “‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59-60). Jesus forgave His persecutors while hanging on the cross. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Jesus said it very plainly, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).

Forgiving others is a necessary part of what it means to be a Christian. However, forgiveness is very hard. It is natural to want someone else to pay for the pain they have caused you. We are reminded that, “We should not think that unless those who have injured us confess the wrong, we are justified in withholding from them our forgiveness. It is their part, no doubt, to humble their hearts by repentance and confession; but we are to have a spirit of compassion toward those who have trespassed against us, whether or not they confess their faults.”(Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing)

Yes, prayer ignites forgiveness for we will receive power from our heavenly Father to have a change of heart to “let go” our hurts and forgive. Pray for power to forgive, but also pray for the person who hurt you. Matthew 5:44, Jesus commands us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Ask God to reveal His love to your offender in your heart and for Him to dissolve the bitter, negative feelings.

Indeed, prayer has power! Constant prayers can ignite change, hope, unity, and forgiveness in our lives and in our church. Let’s not neglect this daily communication with our heavenly Father, for prayer is the master key to a continued pursuit of holiness of life in Christ Jesus.

Do you desire to let God ignite change in you? Will you pray today for hope, unity, and forgiveness in your life? Are you willing to commit or recommit to a daily connection with God?

Written by By Linda Mei Lin Koh

Adopted and acknowledge by Pr Sarah Aratai

Adventist Women’s Ministry