Welcome to the February 2017 Prayer Vigil!
As we embark on this prayer time together as a church this weekend, the United States has just gone through the inauguration of its 45th president in whom many people in the nation are putting their hope for changes which will “make America great again”. They are looking forward to a revival of national pride, power and prosperity by putting “America first” in everything. However, for those who belong to Jesus Christ, citizens of God’s kingdom, a revival should be one with eternal significance by putting God first in all things, acknowledging that he is sovereign and in control of all creation, including this world and its nations.
As believers, our desire is for spiritual revival – in our own lives, in the church and in the world. For us it is not to device some new plan or a “new deal” but turning from a worldly perspective and to focus on Jesus Christ as the head of the church and recognize that he alone is the one who builds the church and there is no other – “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain...” (Ps. 127:1), “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Eph. 1:22).
A revival has to start first in the heart of each individual. We do not start with more activities and service for God but a desire in our hearts to seek and know him first. It is God’s desire that we find satisfaction and fulfillment in him alone, not in the activities and service that we think we are doing for him nor are we to put our hope in human ingenuity. Wasn’t that how it was in the Garden of Eden before sin ruined the relationship between God and man and isn’t that what Jesus tells us in the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38 – 42)? God did not create us because he needed us, He created us for his pleasure (Rev. 4:11, Ps. 149:4a), but we need God for the true purpose of our lives – to know him, love him and walk with him in obedience. But so often instead of seeking God we only seek ways and means which we think will solve our problems or give ourselves satisfaction.
God is great and wonderful and we are correct when we think of him at the same time as unfathomable and incomprehensible. His being, abilities and wisdom are too vast for any of us to grasp. When Moses asked at the burning bush “Suppose I go to the Israelites…and they ask me, ‘what is his (i.e. God’s) name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Ex. 3:13, 14). Subsequently God’s personal name became Jehovah to the Israelites. It has the same Hebrew roots and has the same meaning as I AM. This great and wonderful name reveals to us a God who is ever present and who is not constrained by time and space. It also reveals to us his abundant grace as he has shown on many occasions through history that he could be whatever his people needed – “Jehovah-Jireh” which means “I am the one who provides” (Gen. 22: 12 – 14), “Jehovah-Rapha” which means “I am the one who heals” (Ex. 15: 22 – 26), “Jehovah-Nissi” which means “I am your banner” (Ex. 17: 15), “Jehovah-Shalom” which means “I am your peace” (Judges 6: 23, 24). This remarkable revelation continues in the New Testament with his son, Jesus Christ, who told the Jews “…before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8: 58) and throughout the book of John we see that Jesus is no less than the great I AM or Jehovah himself in the flesh. All we will need to know about God has been revealed to us through Jesus (John 14:9, Col. 1:15, 2 Cor. 4:6) and he will be for us whatever our needs require when we present them to him by faith. Let us confidently ask in his name whatever is needed for his church and his kingdom (John 14: 13, 14).
• Father have mercy on us and help us in our struggle with our sins; help us to recognize and rid ourselves of those sins, especially sins which affect the whole body of Christ and which makes our Christian work difficult and ineffective. Protect us from our Enemy’s condemnation and lies, and release us from all that entangles us and which keep us from persevering in the race (Acts 20: 24, Gal. 5: 7, Heb. 12: 1).
• Protect us and deliver us from the evil one. May we be as shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves (Matt. 10: 16) when we deal with him and his schemes. Show us how to test every spirit and help us recognize the enemy’s schemes so he will not outwit us.
• Show us the ways we have grieved, quenched or resisted your Holy Spirit. Help us to live by your Spirit and allow him to reign in us so that we experience your freedom.
• We desire the spiritual gifts that you have given for our common good. Help us to understand the various gifts and how they work and help us to use what we have received to serve others with love and passion.
• Help us to be pure and obedient to you so our love for each other is sincere and we have a spirit of unity, such that we glorify you with one heart and voice.
• May our offerings be generous, not made with a sense of reluctance or compulsion, but from an awareness of your abundant grace so that we have the finances to carry out the good works that you have prepared for us to do. May our generosity bring you praise.
• Teach us that sharing with others is a pleasing sacrifice to you. Help us to reach out and not become self-centered. Enable us to extend mercy to people in every kind of need.
• Encourage our pastoral staff when they face difficulties and help them to remain faithful to the things you have entrusted to them.
• Teach us to respect and honor our church leaders. May they give wholehearted attention to prayer and ministry of the word. Keep them devoted to their families and above reproach. May they be gentle, honest and wise as they carry out their responsibilities.
• May each speaker and teacher handle correctly your word of truth with wisdom. May they speak with power and faith that is based on a close relationship with you.
• Let the youth workers set examples in speech, life, love, faith and purity for the youths they minister to. Give them wisdom and discernment to deal with the youths who are troubled so that the young people may learn your principles for life.
• Thank you for our ministry leaders and workers. May they have hearts devoted to service. Bless them for their obedience and generosity and may you receive praise as a result. Reward them for serving humbly and wholeheartedly rather than drawing attention to themselves.
• Increase our number through new converts. Let the gospel be presented to the lost with the power of your Holy Spirit and deep conviction, not just through the sermons but also through our lives. Let us boldly take hold of every opportunity to tell people about Christ.
• Bring revival to the heart of each one of us at IBC that we may always fear you and follow your precepts. Open our minds to your Word and set our hearts ablaze within us. Transform us into righteous men and women whose prayers are powerful and effective and IBC will truly be a house of prayer.
[This prayer guide was prepared by Charles Ip]