As 2014 closes and 2015 begins, we may find that coupled with the excitement of a new year there may also be a level of anxiety and uncertainty.
On a personal level there may be ongoing financial pressures,unfixed relationships, grieving for loved ones that have passed away, work dissatisfaction, health issues or loneliness, etc.
On the national level, many are concerned about developing an efficient and just way to approach our refugee situation, many are worried about climate change, the rise of pornography and its detrimental effect on personal relationships, binge drinking and the associated crime, the terrible crime of child abuse and domestic violence, are deeply concerning.
On the world stage, the ongoing fight against extremism in countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Kenya and then the attacks that have occurred in Canada, Pakistan (school) and even Australia (Lindt cafe) is alarming. Then to think of the human rights abuses that are occurring against religious (particularly Christian) and ethnic (e.g.Yazidi) groups, brings us to rightly ask the question, "What can we, as Christians, do in response?"
I believe God wants us to pray, pray as we have perhaps never prayed before. As Christians, we care so much about the injustice and suffering of all people, including all nationalities and religious groups, wherever it occurs.
So let's make 2015 the year of Prayer.
Why? Because our God hears our prayers, answers our prayers and acts according to His will. (1John 5: 14,15). He loves and cares for us, lets talk to Him.
Of course, you can pray any prayer that you want to but I think the very prayer that Jesus taught His own disciples is so instructive and helpful for us at this time as it tells us to seek God's will in everything and to live holy and godly lives.
The Lord's Prayer (Matt 6:9-15)
"Our Father in heaven," God hears our prayers because, Christ, God the Son has died on the cross and risen from the cross, for us, redeeming us from sin. By faith, we believe this and are forgiven. When we pray we, as His children are ushered before the Creator of the universe, whose throne room spans both heaven and earth (Isaiah 66:1). This is our Heavenly Father. He made all things and defeated death, there is no God more powerful to pray to but the God of the bible. God promises to hear the prayers of His children and to answer (1 John 5:14-15).
Fellow believers, we have the very ear of God, should we not pray? Should we not make a concerted effort to come before Him every day? Perhaps we need to get up an hour earlier each day, or change our daily routine in order to spend time in God's presence? Let's do it.
"Hallowed be Your Name." We are to seek the glorifying of God's name and character, that He would continue to be revealed to mankind, his justice and compassion and love and holiness and goodness and wisdom. The fulfillment of the revelation of God's Holy name will come, when Jesus returns as King (Rev 4:11) as certainly as I'm writing this blog and you are reading it. We therefore endeavour to live in a way that proclaims His beauty and holiness, whatever our circumstances, in the strength of the Holy Spirit. Living a holy life starts with our thinking. We must be careful of what our minds dwell on. The bible calls us to think on things that are "right, lovely, admirable..." (Phil 4:8).
" Your Kingdom Come, Your will be Done, On Earth as it is in Heaven." Our desire in all circumstances is to see the will of God achieved in our lives as perfectly as it is achieved in heaven. For His will is perfect and good (Romans 12:1). The main thrust of Gods' will is His righteous judgement and salvation. We wait for the perfect completion of this, when Christ returns but it is our responsibility to work towards these purposes in our own lives and in the world and to pray for the end of suffering and for justice to be done. Do we strive to totally surrender our will to Gods', to release our hopes and dreams into His hands? His will is never easy but in love he chooses the best path for us, one that shows forth His glory. May God help us to show compassion in practical ways to those around us, to give justice and seek justice for others and to share the gospel.
" Give us Today our Daily Bread." Our entire lives depend on Gods will, we don't know what tomorrow will bring. It is actually God who decides whether we live or die. But God wants us to ask Him for help with all our needs, whether they be physical, relational, emotional or spiritual. Why? so we can live to glorify Him. In 2015 lets trust God by letting go of anxiety. He cares for us and loves us (Phil 4:19). What concerns should we take out of the "worry cupboard" and bring before our Heavenly Father today?
"Forgive us our debts as we have also forgiven our debtors," The word debtors really means sins. Jesus teaches and empowers us to forgive others, just as God has forgiven us. R. C Sproul in his book "Effective Prayer; Making prayer all that it is meant to be." p37, states that "It is an insult to God for us to withhold forgiveness and grace from those who ask us, while claiming to be forgiven and saved by grace ourselves." Jesus teaches us to forgive others whether they are sorry or not, and we must, so that our fellowship with God may always be free from the strain of sin that would cause distance between ourselves and our Heavenly Father. Are we ready to allow the motives of our actions, thoughts and words to be scrutinised by God, and to be the one who appologizes, if need be?
"Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one." The bible teaches us that our temptations come in 2 ways. Firstly our own lusts can lead us into sin if we allow them to continue unchecked (James 1:13-15). Secondly, Satan attacks us like a "roaring lion" (1 Peter 5: 8,9). God protects us in that he establishes us and guards us against Satan (2 Thessalonians 3:3), and he never allows a temptation that is too strong for us (1 Cor 10:13). Praise God, we must resist the devil, and be strong in Jesus because Satan was defeated on the cross some 2000 years ago. When we suffer for being Christians we can take heart with our fellow brothers and sisters who suffer, for the suffering will end and God will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us (1 Peter 5:8-11).
When we pray to God He responds not just with the specific answers that we seek but He has ordained that through prayer He will bring about His will in this world. (Ex 32:11-14, James 5:17)
Let us Not give up but bring ourselves, our families, our nation, our world before Him so that His perfect will may overcome the present evil and prevail and many may turn to serve the Living God.
God is listening, let us pray.
Revelation 8:4 " The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand."