Happy New Year! Today, we begin the new year of 2023. A year that will be full of challenges and opportunities for God to work miracles. Today we begin a new message series called “You Have to Fight.” This will be an intermittent series which will have messages as the Lord leads. This series will be about the different levels of warfare that God calls us to as His warriors.
Let me begin by telling you the story behind the series title “You Have to Fight.” Most of you remember our dear Alice Wack we graduated to heaven a few months ago at the age of 87. Alice and her husband Dick have been members of Life Church since its beginning some 23 years ago. Alice was a joyful, Spirit-filled woman of God who loved everyone she met. She was a prayer warrior and functioned in spiritual gifts in our services. She regularly gave messages in tongues and interpreted them for us. Those messages were always encouraging and blessed us each time.
Back in October of last year, Alice began to not be doing well. On October 12, Carol and I were called in to see her as it was thought the end was near. Although Alice had not been communicating, when we arrived, she began to talk and smile, lthough it was difficult to understand her. We prayed and read Scriptures to her. After we’d been there quite some time, Alice turned toward me and gazed intently at me. The she spoke very clearly and loudly directly to me and said, “you have to fight.” She paused for a minute and then repeated the same words “you have to fight.”
I immediately knew that this was a prophetic word. God was speaking through Alice to me as pastor and to our church. We have to fight. A few days later Alice went to her heavenly reward. What does this word mean? The Bible teaches that as believers we are at war with Satan and his hosts.
Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
We are not fighting directly with people but with invisible evil spirit beings. What happens when you’re in a battle, but don’t fight? You’re going to be defeated. You have to fight.
Judges 21:25 (ESV) In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
This is a description that applies to our city and our country at this time. Right and wrong are not determined by God’s Word but by personal opinions. That mindset comes from Satan and ends with destruction. The verse that we just read was the last verse in the book of Judges. After the short book of Ruth, we find the book of 1 Samuel. In the first chapter we read of Hanah interceding for a son to give to the Lord. From her intercession, God gave her Samuel as a son, who helped turn back the nation to the Lord. That story gives us guidance of how to fight when right and wrong have no meaning for many. First and foremost, we as believers fight through prayer.
Ephesians 6:17-18a (ESV) and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
This is how we begin to fight, using the sword of the Spirit and praying at all times in the Spirit. This week, the first week of the New Year is the yearly Assemblies of God week of prayer. I’ve entitled this message “Prayer Awakening.” Along with millions of others, we are praying for a great awakening of people to God. People in our city of St Louis, in America and around the world. Awakenings in history, always come as a result of prayer.
Acts 4:31 (ESV) And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
That is how awakenings begin. Prayer brings Spirit filling and boldness to be Jesus’ witnesses. This week, each day will have a prayer topic that we’re going to talk about his morning. There is a link in your bulletin to AG website that has a video about the daily topic. I encourage you to watch there as well this week. In your bulletin is a handout of the daily prayer topics, so let’s begin.
Asking God to help us to be faithful and steadfast in prayer.
Luke 18:1 (ESV) And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
This verse tells us why Jesus told the parable of the persistent widow. First of all, we need to always pray. What does that mean? It means that we ought to always be praying. Scripture elsewhere instructs us to pray continually. What keeps us from praying always? It’s when we lose heart, which means we give up. We lose the faith that our prayer is making any difference, that are prayer will be answered. In the parable following this verse, the widow persisted in petitioning the judge over and over until she received her answer.
I believe the first step in consistency in prayer is to establish a daily time to seek God in reading His Word and prayer. I would encourage you to start with 15 minutes/day and grow up to one hour/day. It is evident from the Lord’s prayer that we are to pray daily, give us this day our daily bread. Once you establish this Scriptural habit, it becomes easier to learn how to pray throughout the day. Praying even when you’re at work, at play or interacting with others. You don’t have to speak aloud in order to pray, you can pray in your heart as well. Pray for yourself, your family and our church to grow in prayer consistency.
Pray for a heart of understanding that reaches out to those in need.
Matthew 9:36 (ESV) When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Jesus was moved by compassion to help those who were in need. Jesus is our example in every aspect of life. As Jesus had compassion for others, we need to grow in our compassion for others. Compassion is not just sympathy. Compassion is both an emotion and the subsequent action to mee the need.
The opposite of compassion is to be judgmental. A judgmental person sees someone in need and judges their need as being their own fault. And so, sees no obligation to help meet the need. We must see those in need as people harassed and helpless under the devil’s attack. Sometimes a person’s need is a result of giving in to temptation. Yet, regardless of how the need came about, we must ask God for His compassion. Pray for yourself, your family an dour church to grow in compassion.
Pray for miracles and healings that demonstrate God’s power to our unbelieving world.
Matthew 9:35 (ESV) And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.
This immediately precedes the verse we just read on Jesus’ compassion. His compassion was put into action through teaching the gospel and healing the sick. On other occasions, Jesus’ compassion was put into action through miraculously feeding the hungry. Other times, Jesus’ compassion was seen in delivering people from Satan’s demons. As we read the New Testament, we see that miracles and healings were common place even after Jesus ascended. Signs and wonders are supposed to follow every believer, showing God’s power.
I’ve heard some people say, well if God wants me to have those special gifts, He’ll just give it, nothing I can do about it. However, that’s not how God works. That’s not how we’re supposed to live. God’s Word teaches that we are to earnestly desire and pray for His power in and through our lives. Scripture also says that we lack many things because we do not ask for them in faith. Pray for yourself, your family and our church that we be granted the power to bring healing of all kinds to those who are suffering.
Along with a consistent prayer life, pray that believers would be unified in love as we seek God together.
Matthew 18:19-20 (ESV) Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Each of us should be spending time with God in His Word and prayer daily on a personal live. But that is not all that God commands us regarding prayer. There are prayers that God will not answer when you are the only one praying them. These instructions by Jesus tell us that Jesus is there in a special way when believers gather together for prayer. Notice that its not just being in the same place. To be gathered together is agreeing together with other believers in your prayers. The prayer of agreement prayed in faith will be answered by God.
How can you pray prayers of agreement with others? You can and should pray with the members of your family, both spouses and children. You can pray with others in one of our small groups or our Wednesday night of healing prayer. Finally, we have opportunity for you to pray with others after every Sunday service. God would like to see the front of the church filled with every person present every Sunday. Praying either with a leader or with one another. Let’s pray that we would grow in realizing the power of united prayer.
Pray for fellow Christians and missionaries around the world to stand firm even as they face persecution for their faith.
Matthew 5:10-11 (ESV) “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
In this prayer topic, we move from our own city or country to the missionaries and believers around the world. In many countries, there is persecution of believers and danger for missionaries. We ought to remember in prayer those who are sharing the Gospel, some at the risk of imprisonment or their own lives. Along with supporting missionaries with our giving, we can also support them with our prayers. The names of the missionaries that we as church support are listed in your bulletin. You can find more information about many of them on the ag.org website. Those who are serving in sensitive and dangerous countries will not be listed. This year 2023, we are planning to have more missionaries speaking to us.
Pray for the Holy Spirit’s strength to persist in prayer and for boldness to share the gospel with those who need Christ.
Matthew 9:37-38 (ESV) Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Intercession is praying for people other than yourself. In this Scripture, Jesus speaks of unbelievers as a harvest ready to be reaped. The problem is that there are not enough workers to share the Gospel. The solution is to pray to the Lord to send our more workers into the harvest. These workers are not just full-time pastors or missionaries. Each one of us is to be a worker in the harvest field in which God has planted us. We pray for ourselves, our families, relatives, church family and city.
Oftentimes we are tempted to believe that no one is ready to be saved. According to Jesus, the problem is not the hardness of people’s hearts. The problem is that too many believers do not see being a witness as important. This year 2023, our goal is to double in size as a church to 100 in attendance. That is only going to happen as each of us intercedes and boldly shares the Gospel. What we are praying for is revival, when people are saved, baptized and added to the church.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to capture the hearts of our children and teens so that they will passionately pursue Jesus.
Matthew 19:13-15 (ESV) Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.
In a culture where children were often not valued, Jesus took the time to lay his hands on them and pray for them. Most people today become believers as children or teens. It is vitally important that we as a church continue to reach out to children and youth. They are the future of the church
We must pray for our children and grandchildren, whether they are at home or in their own homes. Pray that God would captivate their hearts to follow Jesus all their days. Pray for our children’s and youth ministries here at church. Volunteer to help out in teaching in the children’s ministry. As we teach and train the children, we are passing revival to the next generation.
This week, the first week in January, I encourage you to make this a week of prayer along with millions of other AG believers praying the same things. Each day, take some time to watch the corresponding video at the website listed in your bulletin: weekofprayer.ag.org/videos. After the week is over, this would be a great list to add each topic to each day of the week for the year of 2023. Every revival in history has been the result of a prayer awakening among God’s people. The prayer meeting in Acts 1 for ten days resulted in the day of Pentecost with thousands saved.
I believe that the salvation of every person is a direct result of someone praying for that person. Let’s grow in prayer in 2023 to see revival come to our own lives, church and city. Remember, nothing will happen if we wait for somebody else to do something. Remember, God’s word to our church is You Have to Fight. May each of us commit to fighting the battle and winning the victory through prayer.