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Boot Camp 2 – The power of Prayerif-my-people

Read Nehemiah 1:1-6

Just in my lifetime alone there has been two times when God has moved mightily on the Australian people. In 1959 the Billy Graham Crusades in Sydney Brisbane and Melbourne reaped a harvest of lost souls that is still impacting the nation. Many people were born again and many of them continued in faith, filling so many different churches with new members. People saved during that time are now finishing heir race and passing on.

In the 1970’s  the Charismatic renewal took place in which hundreds of thousands of people were filled with the Holy Spirit and came out of dead denominational churches into new church movements like the ACC/AOG, COC, CCC, Christian Revival Crusade and the Apostolic Church. With them came a wave of new salvations and miracles and healings. Many churches and denominations accepted the baptism of the Holy Spirit and experienced renewal. The church went on TV.

Of the people who were saved in the time Chris and I were in 1977, a large percentage went on and a whole lot went into ministry. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s there was strong church growth and church planting.

Right now the church needs a time of awakening.

Large sections of the church in Australia see little or no salvations or even care that no one is saved and discipled for Christ. Large sections of the church are embracing secularisation of the society and agreeing with the godless rhetoric that evolution is true, abortion is a woman’s right, homosexuality is a valid choice, and the church’s main role is providing welfare. The church has, in Australia, not just become irrelevant but is perceived to be part of the problem in the eyes of secular media and society. So many Christians don’t see the need to go to church regularly, be baptised in water or be filled with the Holy Spirit.

The church has become what the bible calls a gazing stock.

2Ch 7:14  if my people who are called by my name 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 heal their land.

It’s our turn now. Our nation is in great need of God’s power and mercy.

When I was saved in 1977, I soon got hold of a massive vision called Australia for Christ. We prayed – at early morning prayer meetings from 5am. We went onto the streets witnessing every Friday night for years, we preached in the open air. I went and preached in the university open areas and later after Chris and I had kids and were raising a young family we transferred to Melbourne to help build our church movement in Victoria and Tasmania.

Something was birthed inside of me – Australia for Christ. It hasn’t changed. When I was a new convert I went to the early morning prayer meeting held at church on Friday mornings at 5am. I was so regular that they made me the leader of it after only a few months. A few years later when a guest speaker challenged us to seek God for His call and His mercy, I spent about 2 years rising at 4.30am every day to seek God and cry out for His work in the church and over Australia. Later as I sought to keep my life more sustainable I have come to the place where I rise at 5am every day of my life to spend time with God in prayer and His word.

A Christian who doesn’t pray is spiritually asleep. Our prayer life is an expression of relationship. What if I never talked to Chris. What if I lived in the same house and I never said a word to her. What would the relationship be like? Our prayer life is regulated by love, by relationship. Our prayer life is based in worship, love and communication, but it’s not just for me that I pray. I am not just praying for God to bless me and help me, but I am living in a city that is far from God and I cannot help but be moved to intercession for the lost all around me.

Like Isaiah I cry: Isa 6:5  Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone and ruined, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!

 

Are we moved by the ungodliness of our own Australian society all around us? Or like the frog in boiling water are we gradually changing to be like our surroundings. I remember when the Die Hard movie first came out I went and saw it and came home and repented before God because of the gratuitous violence of the movie and the way we have used it as entertainment. Now even worse scenes of graphic violence leave me unaffected. My values have been shifted from where they once were.

Have we become, as church members, casual in our attitudes about sexual immorality, smoking, drinking, not to mention the inner vices of malice, envy, jealousy, bitterness and more? How different are we from the world?

In Australia we have a census every five years. In that census the percentage of Australians calling themselves Christian has steadily dropped every year till now it is 62%. But of these barely 10% attend church regularly. How many of those are actually born again? We live in a secular and Godless society and the church, which is the answer, is asleep. It’s time to wake up!

That is why the leaders of our church movement Christian Outreach Centre a have called for a fast and a time of seeking God through this January from 7-27. It is our time to fast and pray and call on God’s mercy for our church and for Australia. It is not only for this month, but as a lifestyle. Praying like this for three weeks is not the answer, it’s a kick start.

When Nehemiah found himself in this same place, this is how he prayed:

Neh 1:3  And they said to me, The remnant there in the province who escaped exile are in great trouble and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its [fortified] gates are destroyed by fire.

Neh 1:4  When I heard this, I sat down and wept and mourned for days and fasted and prayed [constantly] before the God of heaven,

Neh 1:5  And I said, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, Who keeps covenant, loving-kindness, and mercy for those who love Him and keep His commandments,

Neh 1:6  Let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to listen to the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You day and night for the Israelites, Your servants, confessing the sins of the Israelites which we have sinned against You. Yes, I and my father’s house have sinned.

How deep is our repentance?

I heard this story recently of a couple in a church who had separated. She was unfaithful and he hung on in the church for a while. Later her new relationship failed and instead of trying reconciliation the husband started seeing someone else. The result was a broken marriage, financial ruin and the children badly affected. All through this time their pastor was working with them urging them to return to God seek His forgiveness and work at reconciliation. This couple chose not to go that way and as a result experienced more pain and ruin. At this point they are lost, perhaps that may also be the case for their kids.

I thought about how they could find answers if they would repent deeply of their sin and really press into God. He can restore and heal when we humble ourselves. I thought about how deception clouds our judgment and stops us seeing the truth clearly. I though about how we make decisions we think are the best ones for the time but we have failed to see truth.  As I began to think about them God spoke to my heart and asked me, “How deep does your repentance go?” It’s foolish to think, “I haven’t sinned in the same manner as these two people so I’m OK.”  How far short of God’s best outcome for me am I living? How have I let deception cloud my judgements? Have I let unbelief rob me of receiving and achieving God’s whole potential for my life?

Deep repentance is realising we are all in desperate need of God’s grace and His mercy. It is bringing our whole life before God and asking forgiveness for our known and unknown sins. It’s humbling our hearts and seeking Him for His forgiveness, grace and mercy. The scriptures teach that Judgement must begin at the house of the Lord. (Ezek 9:6) Nehemiah took responsibility for the errors of his people, he said, “I and my fathers have sinned.”

The greatest enemy of God’s moving is the attitude – I’m OK, it’s everyone else that needs to change.” This is how the Pharisees lived; it’s called self righteousness.

This month we are focussing on getting fit spiritually. We are proclaiming a fast from January 7-27. It’s time to devote our lives to prayer.  It’s time to give ourselves to the word of God. It’s time to make our giving speak louder than our comforts.

I’m calling you today to enter into prayer; in your own life, your own time. If you want to learn how to pray, we have times of prayer here at the church and the ministry team are leading and training people on how to seek God and find His grace presence and power. Here are the prayer times for this month:

Monday, Wednesday & Friday 6pm-7pm and Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday from 7-8pm for the next 21 days. Plus weekday mornings 6-7am.

A message from the National Chairman of COC in Australia Pastor Ross Abraham says: “I ask each and every one of you – more, I challenge you – to get out of the rut and the dreary ho-hum of the everyday, and choose to step up to a new level that will set the tone for 2013 and the exciting years of success and fulfilment ahead.”

I pray that The vision Australia for Christ will burn in your hearts, that we wont be satisfied with playing church and being influenced by the world system around us but we will seek God and find His power and grace to influence our families friends and community for Christ.

 

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