40 DAYS OF PRAYER AND FASTING: DAY 1 – INTRODUCTION – PART 1
“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 will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
In 1 Kings 18 we find the story of God needing and using a person to accomplish His will through prayer. It is the account of Elijah praying for rain after three years of drought. James 5:17, 18 also mentioned this occasion, and we know from his account that Elijah’s prayers did not only bring rain, but they also stopped the rain three years earlier.
The Bible tells us that after three years of judgment, God spoke to Elijah and said, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the face of the earth.” Then after several other events have occurred, Elijah prayed seven times and finally the rain came.
According to the statement in 1 Kings 18:1, it was God’s will, idea and timing to send the rain, yet it took a Elijah’s prayers to “birth” the rain.
Why did Elijah have to ask seven times? Seven is the biblical number of completion, and I’m sure God was teaching us that we must pray until the task is accomplished. But why would this or any other prayer endeavor require perseverance, when it was God’s will, idea and timing?
And finally, did Elijah’s prayers really produce the rain or was it simply coincidental that he happened to be praying when God sent it? James clarifies the answer to this last question. Yes, “the effectual fervent prayer” of this man stopped and brought the rain:Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit (James 5:17, 18).
The only logical answer to the question of why Elijah needed to pray is simply that God has chosen to work through people. Even when it is the Lord Himself initiating something, earnestly desiring to do it, He still needs us to ask. Andrew Murray said: “God’s giving is inseparably connected with our asking….Only by intercession can that power be brought down from heaven which will enable the Church to conquer the world.”
As to Elijah’s need for perseverance, I believe our prayers do more than just petition the Father. I am convinced that in some situations they actually release cumulative amounts of God’s power until enough has been released to accomplish His will. John Wesley was correct when he said: “God does nothing on the earth save in answer to believing prayer.”
During the next 40 days, we will share with you six principles of intercessory prayer. These principles are based on the book, “Intercessory Prayer” by Dutch Sheets. We encourage you to get a copy and read along with us during the next 40 days.
The six principles of intercessory prayer are:
1. The necessity of prayer
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:26-28
2. Intercessory prayer
“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”1 Timothy 2:5-6
3. Enforcing the victory
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-19
Rev. Obadiah Swen
APPLICATION AND PRAYER FOR TODAY
1. Pray for Pastor Obadiah and Elizabeth Swen that the Lord will fill them with increased anointing, wisdom, understanding, and strength as they continue to lead his great people by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom which is able to change and influence the destiny of nations.
2. Pray for God’s grace to be released in the life of each person involved in the 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting, sending a wave of spiritual growth through our communities – including our churches, schools, and businesses.
“We know dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people. For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you.—1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 (NLT)