The "how" and the "what" of prayer

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (Ro 8:26)

I was very blessed to be in a great prayer meeting last night. It was full of life and faith and the dynamic presence of the Holy Spirit. We felt the presence of God, heard him speak to us through the prophetic word, and spoke out words into the heavens that will make a difference on the earth. I love meetings like that!

I hope it's not too controversial, though, to say that over the years I have been in many prayer meetings that I have not loved. Ones that have done more to stir a yawn than a prayer of faith!

I was thinking about this a couple of days ago, and it occurred to me: We need instruction to guide us how to pray; we need the Spirit to guide us what to pray. This is how is laid out in the Scriptures. When the disciples wanted to know how they should pray, they went to Jesus for instruction. When it comes to what we should pray for, Paul tells us that we need the Holy Spirit's help.

I believe the reason why many prayer meetings fall short of the mark is that they try to do things the other way round! The only instruction that comes is a list of what should be prayed for (sometimes this takes the majority of the meeting!) Very little guidance is given on how prayers will be ordered or made most effective; that is left to the Spirit.

I know that some direction on what to pray for is required. I'm not disputing that. But I don't want to go to a meeting just so I can say I've ticked all the boxes in the to-pray-for list. That has more to do with religion than faith. I'd rather leave a meeting with most of my boxes unticked, but knowing that that there had been a genuine encounter with the presence of God, and those things that did get prayed for made an impact in the heavens that will change the earth.


Preaching Audio: Ruth - Part 1

The first part of my preaching series on Ruth is now available on the Living Rock Church podbean site. Download the audio, subscribe to the podcast or listen to it through the embedded player below. I hope it's a blessing to you.

Text: Ruth 1
Synopsis: Elimelech's departure from Bethlehem to Moab is indicative of a departure from faith to compromise. God's will is to keep us in the place of his righteous order in our lives because the time of harvest is at hand.

I have also taught this material as part of a Living Rock Church "EQUIP" course:

Download the teaching notes.


Preaching Audio: Ruth - Part 5

Living Rock Church, Coventry, have just set up a podbean site to host and stream audio from the preached word. I'm very honoured that the first message to be posted up there is one of mine. It's the final part of a five-part series I did on the book of Ruth. I'll post links to the first four as they become available.

Many thanks to Dave Palmer for all his hard work in getting this all set up.

Ruth - Part 5

Text: Ruth 4
Synopsis: Ruth's redemption by Boaz is a parallel to our own redemption by Christ. The purpose of our redemption is to bring forth the king.