Matthew Scott — Prayer as Intervention — Sunday, April 3rd
After you’ve listened to the podcast, read below for a study to take you deeper.
No one doubts we are called to pray for God’s intervention in the world – “Your kingdom come! Your will be done on earth, just as in heaven!”. But there are reasons why, particularly in the West, we do not take this call seriously. In this session we’ll do some ground clearing, looking to uncover some of the assumptions that hold us back.
First, consider your prayer life as it currently is.
- How often do you ask God to act? What kinds of intervention do you ask for? What do you never ask for?
- What do you imagine God doing when He hears your requests?
The first assumption many of us have is that God doesn’t need us to pray. He has other, more mighty, praying people to call on; and surely He will if I don’t pray. In any event, if He is Sovereign, He’ll get His will done regardless, right?
3. What are the consequences for the world if you don’t ask God to intervene?
4. Do you believe your prayers strengthen God’s power to act in the world? Why – or why not?
The topic of God’s sovereignty is a bit big to follow here; but it may make best sense to think of God as Sovereign not in causing what happens but in redeeming it. And for that work of redemption – of turning evil into good, and good into best – He needs us to pray; for He has created a world in which the choices of people, and of transpersonal spirits, really affect what happens on earth. By calling for God’s intervention we open the door to His Spirit, strengthening His power to bring about God’s will and His kingdom on earth.
5. What situation – local or national or international – weighs on your heart as one where God’s will is clearly not being done?
We’ll pray soon (together, if you’re with others) for the situations you’ve identified. But first, consider one other assumption that keeps us from confidently entering the work of prayer. It’s that we don’t really know what God wants to do, such that we can ask confidently for it.
6. What are some things you are sure God wants to do? How do you know?
Read Romans 8:26–28. There we find Paul agreeing that we don’t know how to pray as (in fact) we must, but that it doesn’t matter.
7. Why doesn’t it matter? How does the Spirit help us?
Some take the non-linguistic “groaning” of verse 26 to be a reference to the gift of tongues as practiced in prayer (rather than as a way of conveying a message from God – 1 Corinthians 14:5). Such a gift is a very useful aid to prayer, but it doesn’t make you a superior Christian. Just saying. Meantime, be reassured that your effectiveness in prayer does not depend on getting it exactly right; the Spirit will take care of that.
8. Do you speak in tongues when you pray? How does it help, if so?
9. If not, why not? If you cannot pray in this way, would you like to?
Ask the Lord to equip any who wish it with the ability to pray in tongues; if you’re on your own, ask the Lord directly. Then pray for the situations you identified earlier, using tongues (if those you’re with are happy) as well as ordinary speech.