UPPER ROOM PRAYER
Do you want to make a fresh commitment to prayer? If so, the New Testament gives us a model for prayer that can stretch your concept of what a praying church can achieve. No prayer meeting has ever had a more dramatic or lasting affect upon the church, like the 10 day gathering in the Upper Room which preceded the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14-2:47). 2000 years later, we have found nothing to improve upon the power of God and nothing more crucial than a praying church.
In the 10 days leading to Pentecost, this year, Christian’s should pray with a sense of expectancy and dependance upon God, while trusting Him to manifest His power in bold new ways through our lives. The five categories of prayer, suggested here, are offered as ways to “jump start” your prayer life as we focus on “10 Days in the Upper Room.”
The goal of this 10 day period of prayer and fasting is to intensify our daily spiritual practices in order to spend more deliberate time seeking and experiencing the presence of God. While we are not advocating meeting for 10 days in a literal, physical “upper room,” we are praying many believers will dedicate their own “upper room,” wherever you can set aside more time for prayer on a daily basis. No matter where your personal “upper room” may be, you can pray for revival and spiritual awakening, assured that many others are praying too. The following five broad categories of prayer can be “spring boards,” suggested to take your Upper Room prayer to a new depth.
1) DO YOU KNOW HOW TO CONFESS?
I’m convinced most of us minimize the depth of our own sin. We are aghast at the failures of others and nonchalant about our own. But any authentic spiritual growth will be built on confessing our sins to God- who alone can discern the margin between our thoughts and our motives.
Repentance is one of the most important themes in the New Testament. For instance, John the Baptist and Jesus both turned to the subject of repentance when they preached their first sermons. It was as if they were “reading from the same script.”
John’s first sermon addressed the need to confess sin. “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,
‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” (Matthew 3:1-2) Later, after His 40 days of fasting in the Judean desert, Jesus returned to the cities with a message people had heard from John only a few months earlier. “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” (Matthew 4:17)
The deepest need of our heart is the need to experience God’s forgiveness. As you pray, confess everything to God. Don’t gloss over, in a cavalier fashion, the attitudes and actions that nailed Christ to the cross. Get real in prayer about your sin. The goal of repentance is forgiveness. Confess your sin, therefore, in complete transparency but cling for life to His promise: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
2) DO YOU KNOW ANYONE WHO NEEDS A BLESSING?
Jesus is an intercessor. He is praying for His church at this very moment. As our High Priest, He comes before God continually on our behalf. “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25) The Apostle Paul acknowledged the same truth about the intercessory ministry of Christ when he reminded the Roman church, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)
Imagine it for a moment. Your sins were dealt with at the cross with one final sacrifice, but your daily life is brought before God in prayer moment by moment by none other than the Lord Jesus Himself! Do you know how many blessings you’ve received as a result of Christ’s intercession for you? All of them!
When you intercede for others, you are entering into a prayer partnership with Christ on another’s behalf. Intercession is praying for the needs of others. Who do you know who needs to know the Lord, or who needs to experience God’s help right now? Prayer can reach them when everything else fails.
Take time to pray for family members, friends, co-workers, classmates, and neighbors and God will both deepen your prayer life and open doors for further ministry. There are few rewards in the Christian life like praying for someone, and watching God answer that prayer. Remember, since Jesus is an intercessor, we are never more like Jesus than when we are selflessly praying for others.
3) DO YOU KNOW THERE IS POWER IN PRAISE?
As Christians we complain about the world too much and praise God too little. Is the world a mess? Yes. Is God still worthy of praise? Is He still seated upon the most exalted throne of authority and power? Is He still strong enough to answer prayer? Yes, even in the midst of the world’s defiance toward God, His church should praise Him.
Why? For one thing, the terrible circumstances of this moment are temporary, but God’s power can change everything and eventually will. When the psalmist was overwhelmed and discouraged by the political corruption and injustice all around him, he concluded he should give God praise. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.” (Psalm 42:5)
When you pray, give God praise and the atmosphere around you will change. Your focus will be more on God and less on your trouble. How is that possible? Again, the psalmist helps us understand. He said about God, “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.” (Psalm 22:3) God manifests Himself in the praises of His people. When you praise Him, you are inviting Him to join you in your worship of Him. Your praise becomes His dwelling place. That makes praise worth it!
4) DO YOU PRAY WELL WITH OTHERS?
Teams matter when you are praying! All of us need to devote time to private prayer, but the New Testament also offers numerous examples of powerful prayer meetings, which resulted in miraculous answers. The Day of Pentecost, and all of it’s history making events, occurred after a 10 day prayer meeting that changed the world. There are numerous other examples in the Book of Acts, including the church praying for Peter’s release from prison (Acts 12:6-17) and the Spirit’s selection of Paul to launch the Gentile mission (Acts 13:1-4). When we gather with other believers God can change our circumstances and possibly even change the world.
During this 10 Day spiritual journey, consider joining with a brother or sister or a small team of praying friends once or twice, or more, during the next 10 days to agree together in prayer.
5) DO YOU BELIEVE REVIVAL IS POSSIBLE?
God CAN do what He has done before, and He CAN send revival to our churches and our cities. Ask God to bring His work to life in your immediate surroundings. Beg Him to lead pastors and leaders to form prayer fellowships with other pastors in the city. Ask for a fresh out[pouring of the Holy Spirit this Sunday at church so Christians are fired up and the lost will come to Christ. Pray your family, your church, and your city will be caught up in a rising tide of repentance and faith leading to a season of God’s Word spreading like wildfire through people’s lives. Pray for a spiritual awakening to bring people to God.
In the next 10 days, God can do more through our united and deliberate prayers than we have ever seen Him do before. Will you join us in the “Upper Room”?