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ZEAL IN PRAYER
I like to read and one of my favorite types of book is a biography. The story of a person's life, troubles, and tribulations is interesting and how they overcome problems is exciting. Some people lived quiet lives, scarcely known beyond their immediate circle of family and friends. Others made big splashes on the national or even world stage. One common trait of most people who have overcome problems is their zeal.
Zeal is an eagerness, an ardent interest in, or pursuit of what you want. Synonyms for zeal include; fervor, passion, ardor, spirit, and drive. For centuries zeal was a positive trait. When describing notable men and women, people who had accomplished great things, it was common to use the term zeal. Unfortunately, this has changed, today for many the perception of zeal is fanaticism and mania.
To avoid any reproach, Christians have chosen to shy away from the appearance of zeal. Within many Christian circles zeal is not seen as a positive trait. The world says we must not hold our views too dearly, work to hard, nor be too radical. And too often the Church has agreed to abide by this worldly suggestion. We have left zeal behind; it is no longer seen as a key for success or even as a positive trait. Yet, a church without zeal is merely a social club. Ministry without zeal is just an occupation. Life without zeal is empty and fruitless.
With zeal we can have great success. Let me repeat that, with zeal we can have great success. Zeal moves men and mountains. It is the difference between the greeting in Heaven of "Well?" and "Well done!" The Christian centuries are filled with two types of people, those known for their zeal and those unknown. The zealot has written history, filling its pages with exploits. The zealot has changed the course of nations and turned the hearts of men. The zealot has righted wrongs and ended evils.
But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you.
GALATIANS 4:18 (NKJV)
And what about you, could you be called a zealot? In the things you do, are you along for the ride or are you filled with fervor, passion, ardor, spirit, and drive. The life of prayer should be the life of the zealot. The zealot is defined by Spurgeon this way:
"If you never have sleepless hours, if you never have weeping eyes, if your hearts never swell as if they would burst, you need not anticipate that you will be called zealous. You do not know the beginning of true zeal, for the foundation of Christian zeal lies in the heart. The heart must be heavy with grief and yet must beat high with holy ardor. The heart must be vehement in desire, panting continually for God's glory, or else we shall never attain to anything like the zeal which God would have us know."
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Again, how about you, could you be called a zealot? If you have zeal, you are in great company. Christ was consumed with zeal. The Apostles were filled with zeal. The early church had great zeal. Many ministers and missionaries have had great zeal.
Then His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up."
JOHN 2:17 (NKJV)
For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.
1 THESSALONIANS 2:9 (NKJV)
Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
ACTS 20:31 (NKJV)
For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
2 CORINTHIANS 7:11 (NKJV)
Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis.
COLOSSIANS 4:12-13 (NKJV)
The question must be asked one more time, what about you, are you zealous for the things of God, or merely for the things of man? A call to pray is a noble call from God; the dividing line between success and failure is your zeal. Success in prayer is by faith. Zeal seeks out faith. Zeal will settle for nothing less than a powerful, faith filled, prayer life.
The Holy Spirit is the great teacher of Christians. He comes to teach us the keys to living a fruitful Christian life. Foremost in His lessons He teaches us to pray. His teaching always includes zeal. He never asks you to give part of your heart, he never asks you to care only a little for others, and He never asks you to pray with apathy. The Holy Spirit teaches zealots, the question is, will you be a zealot.
The teaching of the Holy Spirit is training for men and women zealous in prayer. His call is for prayer that is free of indifference and lethargy. He calls for prayer that is zealous for answers from God. He is looking for zeal that will move the hand of God. He is seeking prayer that changes situations, events, thoughts, intents, and actions.
The zealot moves men and mountains. The zealot writes history, filling its pages with exploits. The zealot changes the course of nations and turns the hearts of men. The zealot rights wrongs and ends evils. How about you, are you willing to be a zealot? Are you willing to be zealous in prayer?
Let us Pray!
GIVE US A KING
And God said to Noah ... "Make yourself an ark of gopherwood". We read this and jump to, "thus Noah did", but we do not think about how strange this must have seemed to the people of that time. You can just imagine some of the conversations, "Did you hear, some old man is building a big boat or something", "He is going to put the animals in this boat he is building." This was a part of God's master plan for the salvation of mankind and a wonderful picture of salvation through our redeemer, Jesus Christ. However, wonderful as it was, and is, it had to be on everyone's list of strange things.
People do strange things at times. Everyone can relate to the strange things people do, because we have all, been there and done that. An example of doing strange things is a choice the Jews made. They had a good thing going; they were God's chosen people. I think we would all agree that was a good thing. However, they did something strange; the Jews told God they did not want to be a special people any more. They asked to be just like other nations.
But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." So Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.
1 SAMUEL 8:6-7 (NKJV)
Strange as this seems at first it is understandable; they were required to do things God's way because they were His people. They thought if they were like other nations, with a king, they would not have to follow God's requirements. This was kind of like the idea that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. "Gentile people are all rich, live well, and are not under all these rules", was the view from the Jewish side of the fence. The reality was far different, but often people see what they want to see.
The Jewish people pressed Samuel. He explained how difficult it would be to have a king, He told them what a burden having a king was, still the people cried for a king. They were thinking, if we have a king, he will lead us and we will be like other people; life will be better and much easier. Surely it is easier to have a king, than it is to follow all of God's rules. Even though God's leading was much better than anything an earthly king could do, the people chose a king over following God. They chose a king so they could live as they wanted. So God gave them King Saul.
Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.
1 SAMUEL 8:9 (NKJV)
Things do not change; people are people and make strange choices. Often they see things as though they were looking through tinted glasses. They want to do things their way instead of following God's way. Just as the Jews demanded a king, so people make demands today. People think things would be better if they did not have to follow God. They long to be free as they view people of the world. The illusion is not accurate, living in the world does not make us free, but the illusion is so strong many people choose to go that way. Unfortunately, with this illusion, many Christians want to be just like non-Christians.
Christians have great promises from God; He has promised to help, defend, provide, and deliver. He has promised to do more than we can imagine. However, even with all these wonderful promises from God, too often, Christians think it would be easier or better to be just like the world. The illusion of the so called good life, clouds vision and brings the poor choice of seeking the world.
It may be foolishness, but often Christians try to act like the world, talk like the world, and sin like the world. They try to be just like the world and not be different. At the same time, these same Christians recognize that there are benefits with being a Christian, so they still want God to help, defend, provide, deliver, and so forth. They want the good things of the Christian life, but without any of God's rules and regulations, without any burden or demands.
When we choose to walk as the world, following its ways and means, we make the power of God limited or of no effect in our life and church. The demise of Christianity in many areas today is a direct result of the exclusion of God and His power. The Christian church without God and His power is nothing more than a social club.
Some social clubs do very good things; however, the church can and should be so much more. The Church has been called to preach the Gospel. That is to tell the world and demonstrate to the world, the good news of salvation in Christ Jesus. This is good news for all who will hear and the most important thing needed by the world and the number one job of the Church.
Seeking to be like the world restricts what we can do. Why would we want to limit ourselves? Most often the reason is our desire to be like the world? Why do we make these poor choices and hurt ourselves? There are many reasons, but the bottom line is we are still rebelling against God. We try to let the flesh rule, seeking pleasure in the things of the world. We want to run our lives and do things our way. We want to have it all, the illusion and God. We want to have God supply our every wish and need, but under our control, as we direct, and without interference and restriction. We want God to be our slave.
Each of us must examine ourselves and check out our life, works, and words. What do they say about me? Do they declare my continued longing and efforts to live in the world? How much of the world's ways are my ways? Do I daily long for the things of the world or for the Kingdom of God?
if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
2 CHRONICLES 7:14 (NKJV)
If we are going to be effective in prayer we must pray in faith. To do so we must begin by first and foremost seeking God as King in our life. God answers prayer and this is the best thing that could happen to us. However, we must come to Him on His terms. We cannot effectively pray if we are seeking the world and its ways at the same time claiming to be seeking His ways, His blessings, and His answers. Placing God as King over our life opens doors for answers to prayer. When He is King, then our life, work, and prayers should be and will be, our top priority.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
MATTHEW 6:33 (NKJV)
Faith filled prayers begin with faithfulness to God and seeking Him and the advance of His kingdom. He has called us to have a part in what He is doing; He has called us to pray and has promised to answer our prayers. To be effective in prayer we must seek to make God, and God alone, King over our life. Those with eyes to see and ears to hear; know they can only have one King. He is the true King, He is God. The wise man seeks to follow Him and Him alone. "We Will Have No King, but God."
Let us Pray!
People who are serious about prayer are looking for answers to their prayers. They want an abundance of answers, timely answers, and powerful answers to prayer. In the Bible, James explains what we want; prayers that avail much (James 5:16). The question is how can we make progress toward this goal? To make progress in prayer, it must be by faith. Faith believes the promises of God. Unfortunately, most people waver on this. They doubt God and so they are tossed about and fail to have the success in prayer they desire.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
JAMES 1:6 (NKJV)
Prayer is the mightiest force on earth; it moves mountains and changes the path of nations. Powerful prayer begins with God; there is no other source of this power. God's promises concerning prayer, describe an unlimited power supply available to all who will pray, that is to all who will pray following God's directions and commands.
The power of prayer is great. We are at a junction of time where we need answers to prayer; we must have answers to prayer. However, we see few answers. God is not the problem with our lack of powerful prayer and answers. He is every day the same, the power that created the universe is still His and at His command. The problem is with us. There are many areas where we fail to meet our part in prayer.
As mentioned before, too often we have wavered at the promises of God through unbelief. We do not stand firm in our belief that God can do what He says He can do. We let our views and ideas, and the views and ideas of the world, dictate what we believe. Too often we are like the people who lived in the area around Jesus' home. Unbelief kept them from seeing great miracles.
Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
MATTHEW 13:58 (NKJV)
The same is true today; we do not see the mighty works of God because too often there is unbelief in our prayers. By way of contrast look at the example of Abraham, he was a man just like us, but he did not waver at the promises of God through unbelief. He was fully convinced that what God promised, God was able to do.
He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness".
ROMANS 4:20-22 (NKJV)
So what are we to do? The answer is, follow the example of Abraham. Notice what he did to strengthen his faith, he gave glory to God. We can do the same thing, as Abraham. We can and must strengthen our faith, and we do this by giving glory to God, and by being fully convinced of his promise keeping nature.
Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. To strengthen our faith we need to immerse ourselves in the Word of God. This is not just reading, but total engagement in the Word. We need to focus on the scriptures about faith and the promises of God. What has God said He will do? What is His record of doing what He has said? Too many people are satisfied with reading the promises once and passing on, but this does not strengthen their faith. Immersion is the key to success here. Read the Bible, listen to scriptures and faith filled teaching, memorize key verses on faith, study passages on faith, and meditate on the Word of God and especially on His promises.
Excerpted from Prayer: A Force that Causes Change by David Williamson. Copyright © 2009 David A. Williamson. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Introduction – Why Prayer?.................... vii
Unit One God Our Sure Foundation.................... 1
Article 1 Zeal in Prayer.................... 7
Article 2 Give Us a King.................... 11
Article 3 Waver Not.................... 17
Article 4 Refreshing Promises.................... 23
Article 5 The Millionaire.................... 27
Article 6 What Do You Think?.................... 31
Article 7 Believe.................... 35
Article 8 God is Able to Perform.................... 41
Unit Two Building A Depth Of Faith.................... 47
Article 9 Style and Substance.................... 49
Article 10 Depth.................... 53
Article 11 Forgiveness.................... 59
Article 12 Do Not Doubt.................... 63
Article 13 Doors and Windows.................... 69
Article 14 The Water Trough.................... 73
Article 15 Will.................... 79
Article 16 Endurance.................... 83
Unit Three Making A Faithful Stand.................... 89
Article 17 First.................... 93
Article 18 Success in Prayer.................... 99
Article 19 God Answers Prayer.................... 103
Article 20 Practice.................... 111
Article 21 Delay.................... 117
Article 22 Finishing Prayer.................... 123
Article 23 Dogged.................... 127
Article 24 Darkness.................... 135
Unit Four The Impossible Made Possible.................... 143
Article 25 A Request.................... 147
Article 26 Praying Bible Verses.................... 151
Article 27 Long Term Prayer.................... 157
Article 28 Big Claims and Promises.................... 163
Article 29 Impossible.................... 167
Article 30 Answers to the Seemingly Impossible.................... 173
Article 31 The Normal Christian Life.................... 179
Article 32 Missed Opportunity.................... 185
Prayer For Salvation.................... 191
Voice Of Thanksgiving.................... 193