Section 6: Overcoming the Hurdles
Lesson Twenty-Nine: Maybe it’s too late to pray
Some Christians are hindered in their praying because they feel that it’s simply too late to pray. My nation is so wicked, they reason, that God surely has given up on us. In fact, some prophetic type individuals have declared that God is judging the United States for her sin. Some go so far as to say that it is too late for America, teaching that we are under the irreversible judgment of God. So, if that’s the case, why pray?
It is true that America is wicked. It is also true that God is judging sin as He always has! America deserves God’s judgment—and not His mercy. God owes America nothing. Yes, sin is abounding. However, Scripture tells us that where sin abounds, grace much more abounds (Rom. 5:20; James 2:13). That means that we are in a perfect position to experience revival grace!
A startling declaration is found in Jeremiah 14:11–12.
There we read:
Then the LORD said to me, “Do not pray for the well-being of this people. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they
offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.”
Jeremiah tells us that there is a deadline that we can pass when prayer is no longer the solution. But is it too late to pray for America? We believe there is abundant evidence to the contrary.
In record numbers today, American Christians are reconsidering their commitment to prayer. Millions of people who have been converted to Christ are being converted to prayer. Dozens of national fasting and prayer initiatives are underway. Perhaps there is more prayer for revival and spiritual awakening ascending into heaven each day from America, for America, than ever before in history!
Clearly God is stirring up intercessory prayer to historic levels! If it ever becomes too late to pray for America, God will do what He did in Jeremiah 14. He will tell us not to pray!
Question: What are you praying for your nation?
BY FAILING TO PLAN, WE ARE PLANNING TO FAIL
In Luke 14:28–30, Jesus provides us with a word of warning
when He says:
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.”
As children, we were taught that “anything worth doing is worth doing well.” This is true of prayer as well. Not only should we select a good time for prayer, but we should also have an effective and appropriate plan for prayer.
Appropriate? Yes, appropriate. There is no plan for prayer that is “one size fits all.” Each of us would do well to find our own “prayer rhythm.” The best plan for you, for example, will take into consideration your personality, your spiritual gifts, your age and family responsibilities, your circumstances and the prayer assignments God has for you.
Effective prayer is earnest intentional prayer—prayer with a purpose. For what do you pray? Let’s look at some things that may fit into your prayer plan.
PRAY FOR YOURSELF
Typically, prayer is thought of as a selfless activity, an investment we make on behalf of others. Yet we often place ourselves at the top of our prayer lists.
In reading Matthew 26:39, we discover that it was Jesus’ custom to pray for Himself. If Jesus, the perfect Son of God, prayed for Himself, how much more must we pray for ourselves? Jesus also taught His disciples to pray for themselves when He said, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation” (Luke 22:40).
F O R W H AT S H O U L D W E P R AY ?
- Read Matthew 6:12; Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9. Pray for the forgiveness of your sins.
- Read Matthew 6:11. Pray for your daily bread, provision for your own needs.
- Read Ephesians 5:18. Pray for the infilling of the Holy Spirit in your life.
- Read 1 Chronicles 4:10. Ask God to “bless you indeed” and to “enlarge your
- Read Matthew 6:13; Luke 22:40. Ask God to place a restraining order against
the devil on your behalf. Pray that you won’t give in to temptation.
- Read Luke 4:18–19. Pray for God’s anointing to rest upon your life.
- Read Psalm 85:6–7. Ask God to transform your life.
- Read John 4:34. Pray for God’s guidance in your life.
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:12–30. Ask God to use you.
- Read Matthew 28:18–20. Invite God to send you to witness to others.
- Read James 5:13–14. When you are sick or troubled, ask God for healing and
- Read Ephesians 6:19. Ask God to make you a bold witness for Christ.
- Read 1 Peter 1:16. Pray that you may be holy.
PRAY FOR YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Jesus prayed for the children. In Matthew 19:13 we read, “Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them.”
Jesus prayed for His dear friend Lazarus who had died.
(Read John 11:41–42.)
He prayed for His disciples. (Read John 17:9.)
In Luke 22:31–32 we read, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Jesus even prayed for us. John records Jesus’ prayer: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message” (John 17:20).
Jesus continues to pray for us! “Therefore he [Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Heb. 7:25).
Amazing, isn’t it? Jesus, our Attorney, pleads our cases in heaven’s Court “twenty-four/seven.”
The apostle Paul asks, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Rom. 8:33–34).
Assignment: Look at these verses and list some people for whom the apostle Paul prayed in the New Testament:
Romans 10:1; Philemon 3–6; 1 Thessalonians 1:2
What did Paul ask in turn from the Thessalonian church?
Sometimes we fail to pray for our friends for lack of time. We aren’t necessarily required to spend a great deal of time. It is effective to even “mention” each other in prayer. Paul told the Thessalonian Christians, “We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers” (1 Thess. 1:2).
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