Standing As A Company of Intercessory First-Responders
Prayer As A Culture
The scriptures make a definitive statement regarding the culture of the church when they declare, “For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Is.56:7). In this statement God has by design both worship and intercession in mind in context to the corporate gatherings of His people in His presence.
Paul reflects the values of this statement in Rom.15:16 when he speaks to the church in a city, “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Regional unity in the church exists to serve as a platform for making known the glory of Jesus. Around His heavenly throne right now, there is a corporate worship and prayer meeting whose primary focus is to both sing and declare the un-surpassing beauty of the Godhead (Rev.4-5). We remember Jesus’ words when He taught His disciples to pray, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt.6:10). God leads His people into the depths of enjoyment and agreement with Him by releasing His presence as we worship together. In the place of agreement, we ask Him to release His will; this is called intercession.
Mal.1:11 declares, “For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; In every place incense shall be offered to My name…” (Mal.1:11). The offering of incense was part of Israel’s worship of God and represented the prayers of the saints ascending before Him (Ps.141:2; Rev.5:3-4). Malachi prophesies of a day when the church in every nation would be identified as a praying people.
The apostolic [first century] church was cut from the bedrock of dependency on the Spirt and longing for the nearness of Jesus (Mt.9:15). Consider the following statement which served to define the priorities of early church culture, “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Ac.6:4
The culture of the church is to be a culture of dynamic engagement with the Holy Spirit through the ministries of worship and intercession. As the body of Christ, we have the privilege and responsibility of helping to proclaim and mobilize this glorious aspect of our identity in Jesus.
Prayer In Times Of Crisis
In this age, prayer has two primary focuses biblically. The first is to produce mature love in us as we connect with the deep things of God’s heart. The second is to allow us to functionally stand as a watchmen people on behalf of our generation (Ezek.22:30). Often in the scriptures the call to prayer came in context to great national crisis. This stands true in our day as well. Our nation is facing unprecedented challenges in nearly every sector of society and government, not the least of which is a radical shift from our Judeo-Christian roots and the postmodernization of a church seeking, at many levels, to reinvent itself apart from difficult biblical absolutes.
Even a brief survey of current global events should instantly propel us into the place of radical intercession. The call to prayer summons the people of God into a heart-posture of repentance and seeks to thrust us into the reality of regularly scheduled corporate intercession (Joel 2:15-17).
God first defines crisis as a refusal to respond to His mercy by loving Him and keeping His commands (Lk.19:41-44). Any nation that refuses to do this distances itself from the Lord and will ultimately come underneath His judgment (Jer.18:7-11). Declaring God as a righteous judge is a controversial subject, even within His church. It distorts our view of Him and the message of His Son through the gospels. We have difficulty reconciling two seemingly contradictory aspects to God’s nature. However, we are to understand that telling the truth constitutes clearly declaring both the good and the difficult about God’s dealings with humanity. This is part of what it means to be a faithful witness, as Jesus was and still is (Jn.7:18; Rev.1:5). We are to be faithful with the truth no matter how difficult it is because God desires that all men would have a clear witness of the truth and because He desires to relent from bringing judgment and release blessing in its place (Joel 2:14, Mal 3:1-6).