For exhortation, I spoke from Matthew 6:5-13, focusing mainly on verses 5, 9 and 10. First, I highlighted that when we pray, we must do so with no ulterior motives. We must do so with a pure sincerity and unpretentious simplicity. This, our Father loves, delights in, and He will honor with speedy response because we seek after Him and His heart's desire for our lives and our world.
Secondly, that prayer is first and foremost relationship. It is relationship between the Father and His sons and daughters. Prayer is powerful because it comes from the place of mutual affection and unhindered access. God is our Daddy. He is near us and as sons and daughters, we access His presence on the basis of this mutual filial love.
Here, we can dwell in affectionate surrender and simplicity. "Our Father who art in heaven!" Yes, we may say as much and be content. He is our Daddy! What comfort! What confidence this inspires in our hearts! What joy it elicits to have God for our Daddy! What honor, what power, what authority!
Thirdly, that prayer comes from the place of worship. "Hallowed be thy Name!" In prayer we set apart the Name of Christ. We prostrate before Him. We admire Him and delight ourselves in His goodness and power!
Yes, God is near us through relationship. He is our Daddy. But He is unlike us in His essence. He is God and we worship Him as such. When we come into His presence, our foremost priority is God Himself. His worthiness. His majesty. His holiness. His awesomeness. "Hallowed be thy Name!" His is the Name above all Names. He is LORD of Lords and the KING of Kings!
Fourthly, that in God's presence our first petition is for God's own Kingdom to come. Prayer is transforming in that the closer we get to God, the deeper our understanding of His will and passion. That will and passion is for His own Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. Our human needs and demands pale as we grasp the urgency with which we must seek the advent of His Kingdom.
Here, we see clearly the needs of our world. The needs of our cities. The needs of our communities. We see this needs not from the human point of view. We see them from God's own point of view. Through nearness to God, our vision is transformed such that we do not see as other humans see and earthlings see. We see as God sees. We yearn as God yearns. We pursue as God pursues.
Here we petition for God's Kingdom to invade and to transform the human affairs. Evangelism is here shown as priority. Systemic evil and corruption in human governments is here confronted through prayer. "Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven" is a revolutionary prayer. It is praying for the overthrow of all evil and of what is merely human.
In conclusion I shared about an experience I had in Malaysia slightly over a year ago while doing my doctoral research. With my cohort colleagues, and my Thesis advisor Dr. Wilbur Stone of Bethel Seminary, we visited nine different thriving churches in and around Kuala Lumpur to learn about the secret for their amazing growth and transformational impact on their communities.
I was blown away by the leaders' affection for each other in spite of their different denominational affiliations. But most importantly, I was blown away by the simple response that each of the congregations gave. They prayed corporately and persistently for God's Kingdom to come. That was the most revolutionary secret.
So here we were in Muhanga, Rwanda. Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Baptists, Independent Churches, Anglicans,... all stripes and strands of pastors gathered together in deep affection for God, for each other and to petition for the transformation of Muhanga and of Rwanda at large. Can heaven deny the petition of such a united front?
No! No! Heaven will not deny. God is doing it again in our time and our generation!
P.S. As you read this blog, pray with us for financial provisions to successfully complete this mission. We still have a $10,000 need to meet the mission expenses here in Muhanga by the end of this week. If you would like to give toward the work, follow the donate link on the side panel of this blog. Your donation is tax deductible. God is able! Just yesterday our need was $13,000. Now it is only $10,000. Pray!