Prayer in the Mission of God

Prayer in the Mission of God While We Wait

This Week: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2

Date: October 2, 2016

Series: While We Wait

This Week’s Resources:


This Week’s Lighthouse Lesson

A Note About Politics and Lighthouses

Remember to keep politics COMPLETELY out of your Lighthouse discussions during this election cycle. Despite the fact that there may seem to be a predominant political persuasion in our church and in your group, we exist to minister to everyone who wants to know Jesus. Every election cycle we have new Christians, seekers, and even long-time Christians who are deeply offended when comments, jokes, and even prayer requests send the message that people who vote their way are not welcome here.

If someone in your group starts to take things in a political direction (be it with humor, a rant, or even a “prayer request” for a specific outcome) gently remind them that the body of Christ (and First Family Church) is made up of followers of Jesus–some of whom are Republican, Independents, Democrats, Tea Party etc.

Overview of this Lesson

This week is the start of GO Month at First Family. In our Lighthouses, we will devote specific time each week to praying for one of our partner families. This week our prayer focus will be the Matthews Family in Australia.

As a starting point in our lesson, we will look at the part Intercessory Prayer plays in our church’s mobilization efforts. Specifically, this week we will define what Intercessory Prayer is and how to know if you are called by God to be an Intercessory Prayer warrior.

Keep in mind that our over-arching goal is to answer this question: what would it look like for 800 people to be mobilized for God’s mission? Each of us play a different role–some of us will Go, some of us can Give, some of us can serve as Hosts and Welcoming ambassadors, some of us can serve as Mobilizers and Leaders, and some of us can serve as Intercessory Prayer Warriors. Each plays a crucial part in our church-wide effort to mobilize 800 people.

As you will note in our lesson plan this week, a larger portion of our time is committed to intentional, focused prayer on behalf one of our GO families.

As a side note, our church currently supports about a dozen different missionary families, but due to security and safety concerns, we can only publicly pray for and specifically mention about half of them. This is one of the great conundrums of a missions ministry in a local church today. Given the broad coverage of digital communications (email, web, social media, etc.) we simply cannot mention missionaries (even first names that can be connected as a couple) who serve in openly hostile environments. The Lord knows who these families are, and I would encourage you to lift them before Him in your prayers. If you are a Lighthouse that specifically supports and prayers for a hidden missionary, please feel free to direct time in your group for the partner family you have committed to support. Just remember to not include their names in any electronic communication.

How Intercessory Prayer Saved A Memphis Church

Dr. Gregory Frizzell is convinced that faithful intercession saved the church he was pastoring in 1984. Surrounded by high crime, gang activity, and rapid community decline, the church was deeply divided and embroiled in a catastrophic legal battle. Fees totaled more than two million dollars. As if that were not enough, the church was plagued with a huge public moral scandal, of such severity that they were in the news every day for five years. As a twenty-six-year-old, fresh out of seminary, Frizzell knew that neither he nor his church had any chance of survival (much less growth) unless God powerfully intervened.

For years he and his staff had done everything humanly possible, yet nothing changed. The first turning point came when God led them to organize the church’s intercessors and begin a serious time of calling out to God. Eighty people committed to at least thirty minutes a day in personal prayer. They all prayed the same specific points of focus: conversion of those without Christ, unity in the church, financial miracles, and for the church to be cleared of all false charges. The prayer warriors met as a whole once a month for a three-hour prayer rally.

The second turning point came when the church began powerful all-church prayer meetings. The Wednesday night church service, which previously had been mostly Bible study, was converted into a prayer meeting with a strong kingdom focus. They petitioned God for conversion of the lost and revival in the church.

The final turning point came when the church established a prayer group that focused on evangelism and revival. The group consisted of ten people who met once a week to intercede for two or more hours. They adhered to the following schedule:

  • Thirty minutes—time alone with Scriptures designed to cleanse the heart and make certain no unconfessed sin or hindrances were in their lives before they started praying.
  • Twenty minutes—group worship and exalting the Lord.
  • Seventy minutes—focused intercession upon the salvation of sixty unconverted people, deep unity and revival in the church, and God’s sending laborers to grow the church.

Four months after the weekly prayer revival group was formed, forty-five of the sixty unconverted people had been saved. Several of these were hard cases in which people had been praying for them for years. Explosive growth occurred in the church, with new people continually visiting and becoming members. A miraculous unity filled the church, drawing the congregation and leadership together in increasing harmony. The church’s attorneys, who were not members of any church or committed to the Christian faith, forgave the church a million-dollar debt. Ultimately, the church was completely cleared of all accusations. Pastor Frizzell believes that his impossible situation proves there is glorious hope for any church that commits itself to an organized and focused network of intercessors dedicated to serious prayer.

Memory Verse for This Week

“Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.”– 2 Thessalonians 3:1–2

Core Practice

Prayer (Psalm 66:16-20): I pray to God to know Him, to lay my request before Him and to find direction for my daily life.

This Week’s Take Home Truth

“Our strongest position as allies to our partners is on our knees before God’s throne, praying both for gospel effectiveness and against God’s enemies.”


Introduction

1.   Would you rather…

  • Go way back in time and meet your ancestors (pre-1800’s) or go way into the future and meet your great-grandchildren (post 2200)?
  • Have no Internet or no mobile phone?
  • Have a five-star restaurant personal chef who can prepare any meal at any time of day or a chauffeur that can drive you to and from anywhere you want in any vehicle of your choice?

Good question to have everyone answer. During the first few weeks of the new Lighthouse year, we are getting to know each other and learn new things about each other. Simple questions like this help.

Discussion tip – Go around the circle and have everyone answer, or open it up to the group and ask someone who doesn’t talk much to answer. Remember, giving the group time limits helps keep one person from dominating the discussion.

2. Can you share a time when you know the prayers of another person greatly impacted your life?

3. Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?

Make sure you ask this question this week. It gives people the opportunity to discuss questions or issues that come up beyond the written questions. People’s responses can often lead into one of the questions in the “Digging Deeper” section. Also, some weeks this question will result in a lot of discussion, other weeks, not so much.

Read the Text (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2)

This last major section of the epistle called on its readers to live in the light of the truth previously revealed and by the grace of God just invoked. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17.

2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 (ESV)

1 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, 2 and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.

Digging Deeper

In this section, feel free to develop your own questions to help guide your group’s discussion. Below are some suggestions. Remember, if you are hearing from everyone in your group, chances are you won’t have to time to discuss every question. You may start with one that catches your attention so you don’t run out of time. For example, it’s not odd to start with Question #6, then go to Question #5 and if you have time come back to Question #4.

4. In 2 Thessalonians 3:1, Paul is asking the Thessalonians believers to “pray for us.” This is a request for intercessory prayer. How would you define or describe intercessory prayer?

When Moses called out to God on behalf of his people, God answered by humbling Pharaoh, a world leader. After Daniel interceded for his nation, Israel was released from captivity. When Nehemiah prayed for the city, the broken walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt. Esther called a whole nation to a solemn assembly to fast and pray, and once again God’s people were saved.

All intercession is prayer, but not all prayer is intercession. Prayer is talking with God. Intercession is petitioning God for the needs of another. As we study the Bible, we see examples of men and women who interceded for whole cities and nations, and because of their prayers, history was changed. As Christians have observed the passionate, persistent, and often desperate prayers required to bring change—both in Scripture and in their own lives—the word intercession has come to be associated with such characteristics as boldness, fervency, and persistence. Some churches call their intercessors prayer warriors.

Author and national prayer leader Dr. Terry Teykl says, “True intercession is not just something you engage in one hour a week; it’s a way of life. It is motivated by a heart that can look past unlovable exteriors to see people as God intended them to be, and then pray that picture into existence when everyone else has given up.” Many people believe that intercession is a gift.

Biblical intercession has two purposes: petitioning God for divine intervention, and prevailing before God to deliver humanity from sin and destruction. Intercession involves:

  • Reminding God of His promises (Isaiah 62:6–7);
  • Taking up a case before God on behalf of others (Isaiah 59:15–16);
  • Building up a hedge of protection and keeping the Enemy out (Luke 22:31–32, John 17:15);
  • Crying out for mercy, averting God’s judgment (Ezekiel 22:30–31).

Most Christians incorporate some level of intercession into their personal prayer lives, but a small percentage feel called to spend considerably more time praying for others and with unusual fervency and persistency.

5. How do you know if you are called to a life as an intercessory prayer warrior?

Just as God gifts some to teach, some to serve, and some with an ability to lead worship, so he calls some specifically as intercessory prayer warriors.

All Christians are called to pray and expected to pray, but God uniquely gifts some with a special calling to intercede on behalf of the church, its leaders, its missionaries, and the gospel. Here are some qualifiers to look for to determine if you may be specially called by God to be an intercessory prayer warrior:

  • a genuine desire to serve the Lord through the prayer ministry
  • a committed member in the church
  • a willingness to attend regular prayer gatherings
  • a commitment to pray one hour a week for the needs of those involved in the gospel ministry
  • a commitment to confidentiality

If you sense a desire and passion to become more involved in intercessory prayer at First Family, consider joining our Prayer Team that meets every Wednesday evening from 5:30-7:30 pm in Room 204.

6. What would you think if Pastor Todd or Pastor Carlos refused to preach on Sunday mornings unless at least a dozen people were interceding in prayer for the services?

This seems like an odd question, but it really does get to the importance of prayer in the ministry of a church. Daniel Henderson, a gentleman the pastoral staff has met during Moody Pastor’s Conference and come to know through his prayer ministry and books, held fast to this rule when he pastored large churches in Minneapolis and California. Each week, his preaching was conditioned upon there being a substantial number of people in the church’s prayer room praying for the services and for him as the messenger of the gospel. If the room was not full, Henderson would announce the need for intercessors in the prayer room and not proceed with his sermon until the room was full. Because everyone knew the pastor’s commitment to prayer, usually many people volunteered quickly.

This Week’s Prayer Focus: The Matthews Family

During GO Month, we are encouraging each Lighthouse to spend focused time in prayer for one of our GO Partners. This week our focus is on the Matthews Family, missionaries in Australia. Included with your notes this week is a little information about the Matthews and their ministry along with their most recent prayer letter, which highlights the team from First Family Church’s recent trip to Australia. They have also provided a video highlight of their ministry in Australia. You can view this video here: https://youtu.be/JW7BU3ssspg.

Plan on devoting at least 15 minutes of your group meeting praying for the Matthews Family. As leader, you can commit more time if you would like. If you have a larger group, I would recommend breaking up into groups of 3-4. Use the prayer guide below to help focus your prayer time.

Prayer Guide for The Matthews Family

Family, Physical, and Emotional Needs

Spend time praying specifically for Russ & Cathy Matthews and for their children Becca, Hope, Joshua, and Caroline.

  • Pray for good health.
  • Pray for continued spiritual growth and vitality.
  • Pray for safety, stamina and a sense of priority.
  • Pray against discouragement, loneliness and depression.
  • Pray for strong, healthy family relationships.
  • Pray for godly friendships for fellowship and encouragement.

Ministry Effectiveness

Pray that the Matthews family will be an excellent model for local Christians and for unsaved neighbors and acquaintances within their community.

  • Pray that the Matthews will have their eyes open to the many opportunities to share the gospel.
  • Pray for open doors and opportunities to teach, preach, counsel, and pray for Australians.
  • Pray for the Holy Spirit’s empowering and sustaining of their ministry.
  • Pray that God will continue to provide the necessary funds to sustain their life in Australia and their ministry endeavors.

Concluding Thoughts

These questions are given to prompt both reflection and learning on a personal level, and should likely be completed individually and apart from your regular group time.

7. Looking back at this week’s teaching and study, what’s the most important thing to remember?

8. Is there one person in all of the world the Lord has impressed upon you to pray for this week? Take a 3×5 card and write that person’s name at the top. As the Lord leads you to prayer thoughts, verses, or any other prompt, write those on the card. As you pray this week, keep this card with you and continually pray for the things the Lord is leading you to pray for this person.

By |2016-10-13T09:26:40-05:00September 29th, 2016|Weekly Resources|0 Comments

About the Author: