Often in times of trouble people are drawn to prayer, as they look for help and hope beyond their current circumstances and situations. We see this clearly in the Bible through the life of the Israelites who seek God in the desert place, and in times of wilderness, only to soon forget him in times of plenty. Their relationship with God ebbs and flows based on their need for him at any given moment. They fail to recognize their continuousneed for God and his presence in their lives.
I have often found myself reading through the stories of the Old Testament wondering how and why the Israelites behave the way they do. Can’t they recall how lavish God has been to them, how he has rescued them countless times, provided for them in miraculous ways, poured out his love for them when they really did not deserve it? And how faithful he continues to be towards them despite this all?
It’s easy for me to judge them as I turn through the pages of Scripture reading their stories, but the honest truth is, it’s just as easy for me to behave exactly like they do. My own commitment to prayer and relationship with God often grows in seasons of distress and wanes in times of peace.
Reflecting on this I find myself asking the question: what sustains a genuine life of prayer and relationship with God?
What motivates us to keep pushing into God’s presence, with a determination to seek him and his Kingdom above all else? What keeps us hungry for him, filled with an earnest desire to know him more? What moves us from duty and religious obligation, where prayer is something that we should do, to prayer being something that we must do out of sheer love for and enjoyment of God?
Really, in the end, the answer is quite simple: it’s God himself.
As we encounter him and his love for us, we are drawn to prayer, compelled by our love for him in response to his love for us.
This starts of course, with knowing God’s love for us, in a deep and personal way. As followers of Jesus it can be so easy for us to have a knowledge of his love that’s merely factual and intellectual. We can have all the right answers as we rattle off the scriptures and the theory that backs them up whilst we remain uncertain of how he really feels about us and views us.
That’s why when Jesus begins teaching his disciples how to pray in Luke 11, he begins with an all too familiar line: “Our Father in Heaven”. For the disciples it would have been completely unnatural for them to approach God in this way, it was so different from what they had known and practiced beforehand. And yet it would prove to be revolutionary in shaping and transforming their prayer lives and relationship with God.
Although we may be more familiar with the terminology “Our Father in Heaven”, the reality of what this truly means can easily forgotten by us. But when we consider the weight of what it means to come to God as our Father in prayer, it has the power to shape and transform our prayer lives too.
Brennan Manning writes: “If you took the love of all the best mothers and fathers who have lived in the course of human history, all their goodness, all their kindness, patience, fidelity, wisdom, tenderness, strength and love and united those qualities into a single person, that person’s love would only be a faint shadow of the furious love and mercy in the heart of God the Father, addressed to you and me.”
Jesus’ invitation to pray to God as our Father is an invitation to come before a God who is not only profoundly good, but who loves us in ways our minds cannot fully fathom or comprehend.
Have we encountered the love of the Father for ourselves? Are we aware that the Father not only loves us, but that he likes us too? Do we know (not just factually but a deep and personal knowing) that it is God’s utmost desire to spend time with us? That he desires to speak with us, and to us, because of his great love for us?
Through Jesus and the cross the truth of God’s love towards us, and his desire for us is on full display. As we consider God’s sacrifice of his one and only son Jesus, we can be certain that in his love he has held nothing back to ensure that our sins are forgiven, and our relationship with him is reconciled and restored.
The cross shows us that God’s love for us is beyond our wildest dreams, and that it cannot be quenched or altered. Jesus is simply and startingly, the full brilliance and radiance of the Father’s love towards us. Through Jesus and his sacrifice, we have full access to the Father’s presence, to know him and his love, and to be known and loved by him.
Hebrews 10v19-22: “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings.”
The revelation of the Father’s love towards us has the power to transform and shape our prayer lives and relationship with him. As we meditate on the extent of his love for us, how can we not be compelled to pray in both times of crisis and times of peace, as we find ourselves captivated by the one who loves us so incredibly?
PRAYER POINTS FOR THE WEEK:
Prayer for our Relationship with God
- We pray that our relationship with God would grow in depth and intimacy during this season, and that this would have a profound impact on our relationship with God and our prayer lives long after this pandemic has ended.
- We pray that we would know God and his love for us in a personal way that moves beyond theory and factual information, to a deep knowing in our hearts, minds and souls.
- We pray that as we spend time reflecting on God’s love, that we would be captivated by the Father’s love for us, his pursual of us, and in awe of his faithfulness towards us.
- We pray that the Holy Spirit would stir up love in our hearts for God as we behold and meditate on the love that he has for us.
- We pray that this would grow a hunger and desire in our lives for God’s presence, to know him more and to seek him first.
- Where we are questioning or doubting God’s love for us and commitment to us during this difficult season, we pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal to us the depths of his love for us and would help us to be secure in his love.
- We pray that where we have come to desire other things more than God, that the Holy Spirit would help us to turn back to God, reorder our loves and seek him wholeheartedly.
- We pray that where we have become bored and apathetic with God and prayer, that the Holy Spirit would breathe his life and power into our times of prayer, bringing a fresh revelation of who God is, and of his great love for us and along with it renewed joy and excitement to be in God’s presence.
- Where God feels far away and distant, and where we have become distracted by the things of the world, we pray that the Holy Spirit would remind us of how near God is to us, that we have full access to him through Jesus, and that he desires to spend time with us and to speak with us.
- We pray that where the sin in our lives has discouraged us from coming to God in prayer and seeking an intimate relationship with him, that the Holy Spirit would remind us of our position before God in Jesus.
- We pray that he would remind us that we do not need to hide from God in guilt and shame, but that we can come directly to him, our loving Father, repent of our sins, and find forgiveness for them daily.
- We thank God that we can be fully known and truly loved by him. That his love towards us is unchanging, faithful and unending.
- We thank God that through Jesus our relationship with him has been reconciled and restored and that we can draw near to him, enjoying a close an intimate relationship with him.
Prayer for God’s Love to Transform our Lives
- We pray that the Holy Spirit would help us to remain in God’s love during this season and that as we do so he would be at work in our hearts, producing his fruit in our lives (John 15).
- We pray that the Holy Spirit would produce love for God and for people in our lives at this time. That as we encounter the love of God for ourselves, that he would empower us to love and serve people in the same way that he has loved and served us.
- We pray that the Holy Spirit would produce his joy in our hearts, even in the midst of trials and pain. That as he reminds us of our ultimate hope in Jesus, we would become a people who carry his joy even in a time of despair. And that in doing so we would point people back to God as we share with them the reason for our hope.
- We pray that the Holy Spirit would produce peace in our lives during this season, as we learn to trust in and depend on God in new ways throughout this pandemic. We pray that our homes would be places of peace as we fix our eyes on Jesus.
- We pray that the Holy Spirit would produce his patience in our lives as things remain uncertain and as our lives begin to feel more and more out of our control. That we would trust God with his timing, surrendering to his will, and yielding our hearts and lives to him so that he can be at work shaping and transforming them.
- We pray that he would help us to be patient with those in our homes as pressures mount and tensions flair, bearing with one another and forgiving one another quickly at this time.
- We pray that the Holy Spirit would produce his kindness and gentleness in our lives as we remember Jesus’ kindness and gentleness towards us. We pray that the Holy Spirit would tame our tongues helping us to speak words of healing, affirmation and encouragement at this time as we build one another up in love.
- We pray that the Holy Spirit would produce his goodness in our lives, refining us at this time, and helping us to grow and become more and more like Jesus in every way.
- We pray that the Holy Spirit would produce his faithfulness in our lives. That even during this pandemic we would remain committed and faithful to our relationship with God, not abandoning our hope in him but clinging to it all the more during times of trouble.
- We pray that the Holy Spirit would produce his self-control in our lives during this time. As the pressure in our lives mount, we pray that God would help us to depend on him and turn to him as our place of comfort, peace and rest instead of depending on coping mechanisms such as binge eating, Netflix and porn etc.
- We thank him that even in the pain and suffering he is at work in our lives, and that there is purpose in this moment.
- We thank God that even when it seems that everything is going wrong, that in fact everything is going right, because he is at work in our lives working all things for the good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8v28).
- We pray that where we are afraid and fearful at this time, that God’s love for us would quieten our fears and bring us great joy and peace (Zephaniah 3:17 and 1 John 4v18).
Prayers of Intercession
- We pray for revival in people’s hearts and lives.
- We pray that as followers of Jesus we would partner with God at this time to see people’s lives changed and transformed by the Gospel as we proclaim Jesus.
- We pray that people who are far from God, who do not know him, would come to know the depth of his love for them at this time. That they would come to know God as their Father in a deep and personal way.
- We pray for people who have walked away from God, abandoning their faith, that they would turn back to God and would begin walking with him again.
- We pray for people whose lives are in turmoil that they would be drawn to God in this moment and would place their hope and trust in him and begin to live lives of dependence on him.
- We pray for the poor and for people whose livelihoods have been affected by the virus and the declining global economy. We turn to God for his help as our provider, and we ask him to regenerate the economy through the innovation and creativity of both employers and employees.
- We pray that people would be generous during this time, selflessly loving and helping others in their time of need.
- We pray for the world leaders, business leaders and church leaders, that God would give them wisdom, ideas and creativity to help the world navigate this virus successfully at this time, and that in doing so we would see God glorified throughout the world.
- We pray for those who are sick, that God would heal them and help them to recover from the virus quickly.
- We pray for our medical workers who are working tirelessly at this time to love and serve those who are sick. We pray that God would be with them, protect them and strengthen them as they go about their work.
- We pray that the spread of the virus would slow down, and that we would see this pandemic come to an end.
- We praise God and thank him for his love, faithfulness and commitment to us. That we can rest in him in a time of chaos and uncertainty being sure of the fact that he is our helper, our provider, our protector, our joy, our comfort and our peace at this time.