Sovereignty, Kairos and Prayer

ester (1)

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

 This verse speaks into the reality of God’s sovereignty and the way He has chosen to work within this world. The Jewish nation faced annihilation at the hands of Haman. Esther is asked to go before the king and risk her life for her people for it was forbidden for anyone, including a queen, to approach the king without his invitation. As Esther acknowledges this reality her uncle Mordecai reminds her of God’s sovereignty.

God is in covenant with his people Israel. He has shown himself repeatedly faithful to his covenant promises. So when faced with extermination Mordecai, in faith, knows that deliverance will come. God is sovereign, if he has promised that Israel would be saved then Israel will be saved. But Mordecai doesn’t know how the Lord is going to do it. He knows that the Lord works through people. He brought the people out of Egypt using Moses. He conquered the Promised Land through Joshua. God does not work independently of humanity, but in cooperation with them. So some human agent is needed to stand up and be used by the Lord to bring salvation to the Jews. Esther has a choice. She could risk her life and step out in faith or she could remain silent. We do not know if there were others who could have acted, who God could have been prompting to act, but who remained silent. It is the Book of Ester in the Bible not the Book of Miriam.

God’s overall sovereignty is never in question but the means by which that sovereign plan will be achieved does depend upon how we respond to His call and prompts… “For such a time as this…”

Esther steps into God’s kairos time when she presents herself before the king unannounced. She steps into a kairos moment, an extraordinary time, a significant time, a time, which David Henderson describes as…

Moments of unaccounted generosity which we are called simple to receive with gratitude. At the same time, they require recognition (God is present and moving in our midst now), decision (I will say yes to his invitation in this moment), and action (I will do whatever he requires of me).”

As we spend time in prayer, we grow in intimacy with our heavenly Father, we in turn understand him better, how he is working, speaking and moving. We become more aware of these kairos moments that are taking place and just as Esther we can take the step of obedience clothed in faith and respond to the Lord’s direction. As we act, speak and pray into these kairos moments the Lord is able to move in power.

As John Calvin said…

“Nothing is promised to be expected from the Lord, which we are not also bidden to ask of him in prayers.”

It is time to join in with the work of the Lord, for such a time as this…

The Priority of a Prayer Filled Life

tumblr_lni6hp57t31qzp1hc

The disciples had the amazing privilege of getting to know Jesus really well. They did life together, they eat together, journeyed the dusty roads of Israel together. They were the ones who got to listen when Jesus talked to the crowds about the Father, they were on the front row when Jesus spoke about the kingdom and they even had the opportunity to receive private tutorials. They even got to witness all of the miracles, healings and deliverances which Jesus did.

In the context of all of this they come to Jesus with a request: “Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1). They did not ask to have a lesson on how to heal people, or even how to construct and use parables as an effective teaching aid. They simply wanted to know how to pray.

The disciples had lived with Jesus and seen his life and lifestyle in a close intimate manner. They were the people who knew Jesus the best (though they did not really understand him) and they knew that prayer was something that made Jesus different. Prayer was a vital part of Jesus’ life. It was a priority for him. The disciples could see that and so they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray.

Jesus does just that, He begins with the Lord’s prayer, but does not stop there. He talks about boldness in prayer using the picture of a friend arriving unexpectedly at midnight. He reminds them of the need for persistence in prayer, Ask, Seek and knock and he spoke of the Fathers willingness to answer the requests given with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus made prayer a priority in his life and he taught his disciples to do exactly the same. If you glance through the book of Acts, you can see one of the top priorities of the believers was prayer.

It must have been so wonderful to have that closeness with Jesus that the disciples had. But prayer makes that relationship possible for us today. As we make prayer a priority in our lives, an integral part of our daily routine we are drawn into a deeper and closer relationship with him, just like the disciples had. “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8).

It’s one of the greatest privileges we have in prayer, growing in relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

But unless we take the time to schedule it, it won’t happen. We make the time for the things we think are important. But how often do we schedule time to be with God in prayer. The busier life gets, the more important that scheduled time becomes. Have you scheduled a time of prayer today?

Building Prayer

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19–20

Praying together in corporate prayer should be an important part of our prayer lives. As God’s Word shows, when we pray in agreement our prayers become powerful.

But how do we pray in agreement? Is it simply saying, “Yes, I agree!” when someone else prays? To some extent, it is as simple as that, as we join together in prayer simply saying I agree is the easiest way of agreeing. But joining together in a prayer of agreement can be far richer.

Often when we pray someone begins with one issue and then the next person prays for something else and so the prayer time continues. We join together in agreement for one another but at the end of the prayer time everyone has really just been praying their own prayers. Now, if we imagine that each prayer offered is like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, then at the end of the prayer time there would just be a bunch of random pieces on the table.

A better way forward is to let our prayers build on each other’s prayers. One person starts and the next person picks up the theme and continues the prayer. To use the jigsaw illustration, the first person puts their puzzle piece down and then the next person puts a connecting piece down. To do that well it requires everyone paying attention to what is being prayed and everyone needs to be listening to the Holy Spirit, who guides and directs where the next prayer piece needs to go. So at the end of the prayer time there is a picture, which has formed.

For example, if one person begins to pray for the leaders in the church the next person could pray specifically for the elders and then some one else could pray for a particular issue the elders may be dealing with and someone else may then pray for a family who is affected by the issue the elders are working on and so the prayer continues to build. If one theme comes to an end then someone can pick up another theme and pray. For example, they could pray for the work of the deacons.

Praying in agreement by building on each other’s prayers is a powerful way of effectively covering issues with prayer. It allows the different gifts of individuals to be used together, it enhances fellowship as the Holy Spirit directs, and brings the jigsaw puzzle picture together.

Prayer Makes a Difference

prayer2

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.    John 14:13–14

Throughout the Scriptures we find passages, which confirm that prayer makes a difference. When Joshua and the Israelites were fighting the Amalekites (Exodus 17) it was the prayers of Moses, on top of the hill, which made the difference in the battle. When Elijah was on the top of mount Carmel it was prayer that caused the end of the drought. Seven times Elijah bent down to the ground in prayer before the rain came (1 Kings 18:41-45). “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective,” writes James (James 5:16).

Pray was a strategic tool for building the early church. In Acts 1:14, we see that the disciples “all joined together constantly in prayer.” Prayer was effective in initiating the release of Peter from prison through the intervention of an angel (Acts 12:1-19). Paul instructed the believers in Colossi to “devote themselves to prayer” (Colossians 4:2). He also included prayer as a vital piece of the armour of God instructing the Ephesians to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18).

Pray is able to transform our society bringing peace, godliness and holiness and drawing people into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ…

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.(1 Timothy 2:1–4 )

Today, prayer is the post powerful tool that we have been given to see the church built and our world changed and yet so often it is the tool, which is least used or turned to as a last resort. Imagine the change that could take place if we took the work of prayer seriously…