When the lions roar
From the 26th of this month to the 30th, we’ll be having a program dubbed, “When the lions roar.” It will be a week of intense fasting and prayer unto the Lord. The theme for the program will be, “When the church earnestly prays,” taken from Acts 12:5. Apostle M. S. Appiah and Apostle Dr. Christian Tsekpoe are among our speakers for the program. In view of this, I want to talk to you this morning generally on prayer. My objective is to spark or increase the desire for prayer in us as individuals and also as a group. So, I have five points to raise so far as prayer is concerned.
Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (ESV) The NLT puts it this way: “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”
My interest this morning is in the last phrase, “Be constant in prayer,” or “Keep on praying.” The Lord wants us to pray at all times. He wants us to be doing it over and over again. The Holy Ghost through the apostle Paul encourages the church to make prayer a behavior or lifestyle so somewhere in the scriptures the apostle Paul writes to his readers to pray without ceasing. He makes the statement in another way in Romans 12:12 when he tells them to keep on praying. It means pray today; pray tomorrow; pray the next day until you are called home or Jesus comes.
The five points on prayer
1. Prayer is our heritage
The Church of Pentecost has been a praying church and we must hold dearly to this. A heritage is an inheritance or a legacy that has been handed over by the previous generation. I remember when I was in school at UCC, one time when we had received freshers there was an inter-churches football gala. I was the president then so I took my captain’s band and number 10 jersey and I remember in our match against AGCM or so they scored us in the first half and then another goal in the second half so we lost 0-2. One of things they said to tease us was, “If it had been prayer you would have finished praying already. Come and play football let’s see!” I pray that we shall do everything to keep this heritage that God through our fathers has given us. Like Naboth, we should be able to stand before the king and declare that, “May the Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” May God forbid that we shall exchange our prayer life for something else. It is something we should hold to religiously. In 1 Kings 21:3, when the king went to Naboth and told him to give him his vineyard in exchange for money or a better one, Naboth told the king that “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” In our church we pray but don’t come to receive prayers. So, prayer is not the preserve of prayer warriors, but every member is a prayer warrior.
2. Prayer is a catalyst for revival
It is by prayer we create the environment for the revival we need and desire. Revival is sent by God but we can create the conditions for it and the means by which we create the environment is prayer. If you consider the lives of people we consider revivalists, there is one thing we find in all of them: They were men and women of prayer. The Wesley brothers, Charles and John, were men of prayer. In more recent times, the McKeowns, Safos, and Walkers were men of prayer—men of great prayer who carried grace and brought revival to the land. If we want to have such impact and also create a greater revival in our time, then we must rise up unto a great dimension of prayer. This year is a year where we are expecting great revival but revival is brought about by prayer. It takes prayer to create the environment for it. So, if we also expect God to move in a mighty way like never before, the key is to rise up in prayer.
A gentleman called Arthur Walls has said, “At the heart of every revival is the spirit of prayer.” If you want your ministry to have the needed impact, the key is prayer.
3. Prayer is a major feature of Pentecostalism
The church itself was outdoored in prayer when the disciples in one accord prayed and waited for the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. When the day arrived, they were all together waiting for the Lord in one place and suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind and it filled the entire house where they were sitting and divided tongues as of fire separated and rested on each of them and they all spoke with tongues as they were given by the Spirit. When you spend time praying, you experience “suddenly.” It comes by prayer. As you wait before God and pray and minister to him, you begin to receive that breakthrough. Thereafter, prayer became that which the church held unto as they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, fellowship, and the breaking of bread. If we are Pentecostals then we must rise up to an even higher dimension of prayer.
4. Prayer is essential to Christian life
Prayer is imperative for our Christians lives especially when you become a Christian leader. It is virtually impossible to become effective disciples of Christ without cultivating and practicing the life of prayer. For the child of God, prayer is not an option. The whole thing is about prayer and centered on it. I have come to realize in my walk with the Lord that there is an alternative to prayer. The only alternative to prayer is prayer. The only substitute for prayer is prayer. That means there is no alternative to prayer. There are no shortcuts in the things of God. You must go through the process. If you must fast, you must fast. If you must pray, you must pray for there is no substitute for prayer. You can be a singing minister or a preacher but the key to your success is prayer. You can be whatever but the key to your success is prayer. Take away prayer from it and you are back to zero.
5. By prayer, we enforce the victory of Christ
The fall of man in the Garden of Eden gave Satan the moral authority to rule over man but by his death and resurrection Jesus has conquered Satan, rendering him powerless so all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. The church must therefore enforce this victory won for it. One of the key ways by which we can enforce this victory is prayer. The Bible says, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” How is the will of God done? Through prayer. By prayer we enforce the will of God.
What then is prayer?
Many definitions have been given but, in my reading and studying of scriptures, I have come to understand that the definition of prayer is contained in two scriptures of the Bible.
Samuel 1:15 says,
But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. (ESV)
Read Lamentations 2:19a says,
“Arise, cry out in the night,
at the beginning of the night watches!
Pour out your heart like water
before the presence of the Lord!” (ESV)
Prayer has to do with pouring out your heart and soul before God. Hannah went before the Lord and did not mind the high priest but poured out her soul before God. The high priest thought she was drunk but she wasn’t. She was pouring out her soul before God. Sometimes you want somebody to listen to you and hear you but there is no one. You call your pastor a thousand times but you don’t get him because he is in a meeting. You call your elder and you can’t get him because he is doing something. But God is available 24/7. When you don’t have anybody to confide in, his arms are wide open for you.
Romans 12:12, 1 Samuel 1:15, Lamentations 2:19a