I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer. (Ezra 8:2-23)
Ezra records a time of corporate prayer surrounding a three-day fast. The priest Ezra was taking a group of Jews back to repopulate Israel. They were going to cross dangerous terrain and needed protection. The interesting thing here, however, is that Ezra had a solution—the king would have likely given them soldiers to go along—but he refused to take it. He refused to do the obvious thing in favor of relying on God.
We need to learn from that. The more desperate we are about something, the more vibrant our prayers. When going to prayer corporately, look for ways to impress a sense of desperation upon the group. Remember what happened in churches following 9/11? Prayer meetings were full for several weeks. Why? Desperation. As you pick the focus about which to pray, figure out a way to build in desperation. We can’t solve this, God. We need You.
Holy God, how casually I often enter into Your Divine Presence! I have not marveled at Your wonders or extolled Your greatness. I have simply said the same tired words I always say. Sometimes prayer is so routine that I have lost the freshness of a new experience with You as I come before Your throne. Make me desperate to know Your heart, Lord, and to seek You in Your holiness as I recognize my complete unworthiness and inability to “fix” situations on my own. Help me to see my hopeless, deplorable condition apart from Your grace-filled power!
–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 48, Prayer in the Corporate Worship Service by Jonathan Graf). This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise Jesus for being “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Thank him for always being with you regardless of your circumstances. Confess your weakness and inability to escape certain temptations. Commit your way to the Lord’s total control. Ask for his help today to overcome sin in your life.
Pray that believers will be strengthened to recognize God’s voice and reject the enemy’s lies and tricks “in order that Satan may not outwit us” (2 Cor. 2:11).
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