This morning we are going to look at ways of, and reasons for, praying for your community. Colwyn Bay will be used mainly as an example, as some of those present may not be from the town, I would ask those who are not to join with us in what I hope will be as much a practical session as theory.
I am glad to see a desire to pray for your community by your presence here.
It is not an easy thing to do, it can seem laborious and appear unrewarding, I pray that today God will fire our passion and align our heart with His.
We are actually here to fulfil what God created us for. Even before sin came into the world, God created us look after our gardens:-
- to walk and talk with Him in the garden.
- to till the soil.
- (and then when sin came) – to keep / protect / watchover / intercede (shamar) in the garden (Father is the ultimate watchman)
It is interesting to note that the phraseology we use for revival – rain – did not come on the earth until there was human life to “till” the ground. There were no plants or herbs until man was created to fulfil the purpose for which he was created – to till the ground.
Genesis 2v3-5 “This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and heavens, before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground “
2v15 “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend (cultivate) and keep (protect) it.”
Verse 8-25 go on to describe life in the garden, God’s walk with Adam the borders of the garden, the creation of animals and woman, the dominion and authority of Adam to name animals that God bought to him.
Man was created to walk in, cultivate and protect the garden before sin entered. The protection came from walking with God and in accordance with Gods instruction.
Where is the garden that God has placed you in, to walk with Him, cultivate/till, and keep watch over/protect?
For most of us when we do not like a gardening we look for low cost easy maintenance options – we either slab it over, cover it up, or move to one that somebody else has cultivated for us. We even hand over the cultivation? Do we do this spiritually?
Our gardens include our:-
- hearts / lives
- homes and family
- neighboroughood / community
- work place
These are the boundaries of intercession (Hebrew - paga), which God has placed us in to work in, just as the boundaries of Eden are outlined in Genesis. It is item number four on the list we want to look at this morning.
How do we fulfil our purpose in tilling the soil?
We have had teaching, and can read much on the role of us all to keep / protect our gardens. The Hebrew word used for this type of intercession paga and is used to mean protect and watch over our patch. This is covered well by Dutch Sheets in “Watchman Prayer” and many other writers as well as on our Thursday evening’s School of Prayer.
What about the first two steps - walking with God, and tilling the soil – are these part of our acts of prayer within the area God has positioned us with authority to name the beasts of the field and the birds of the air? I believe they are. I also believe that our acts / walk within the area we are positioned affects the authority we hold.
Our cultivation of the ground will determine whether God sends rain.
Without pushing our imagination too far. What would happen if rain fell on a garden full of weed seeds, which was hard baked and unbroken?
So how is prayer associated with our role in the garden as we walk, and till. Let us look at whether we should pray for our community from the scriptures.
Should we pray for our community?
Matthew 6 v 10
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”
Implies we have a responsibility to pray for our community/area, because we must see Gods will accomplished where WE ARE.
1 Timothy 2
1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.
Behave Like a Christian
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
We are called to be devoted, and to be watchful in prayer. Praying constantly/without ceasing. Devotion requires commitment, hard work, and no slabbing over/easy maintenance option.
If we neglect our community in our prayers we deny our created purpose to tend the garden within which we live. Prayer is the spade that will: -
till the soil, (prepare the way of the Lord)
unearth the weeds, (identify and rake out)
allow the gospel to grow (provide the Word in season and knowledge where to plant it)
Prayer does not stand on it’s own. We are often the answer to prayer, and this is particularly true in the garden of our community. If we do not behave like a Christian then the garden will not respond to the love of Christ.
Why do you pray for your community?
We must recognise that our community is in need, and governed by powers and principalities. We see the effects of increased spiritual darkness. We wonder where will the deterioration end, and know that Christ is the only hope. God has given territorial authority to us, and to principalities (a subject in its own right), but we have a job to do in tending, working, wrestling in our garden.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia.
to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,
However, these powers and principalities do not separate us from the love of God, although they do separate our neighbours. Our job is to make known (to prepare, to till the soil, to plant the seed) the manifold wisdom of God to the principalities and powers in heavenly places.
We need to be accurate in targeting our prayers. This comes largely from following the leading of the Holy Spirit. The common terminology used for the establishment of God’s plan in our lives is battle orientated – this is valid – as it helps us appreciate some basic approaches, e.g.
Would you expect to be sent to war without a battle plan, and some intelligence on the enemy?
Do you go to war with the enemy, without understanding his plans and knowing where he is, and how he got there?
We often lack an understanding of what the enemy is up to in our community, and what strongholds he has gained.
We often see the outcomes of his strongholds:- divorce, abortion, substance abuse, paedophilia, pornography etc.
When did the enemy gain a foothold, which became a stronghold?
Who allowed the enemy to establish his territory in your neighbourhood?
To cover this topic would require someone more versed in the realms of “spiritual mapping”. A title given to the research techniques employed by leading intercessors to discover the answers to the above questions. Defined by Peter Wagner as “An attempt to see the world around us as it really is, not as it appears to be.” The principle of knowing your enemy and gathering intelligence is valid to the point that it does not detract from the end game of ensuring that all glory goes to the Creator.
Spiritual Mapping (the research element) is not for everyone, but the results of such research can be of great assistance in directing our prayers. In one book it has been likened to using smart bombs, as opposed to firing Scud missiles and then turning on CNN to see what you have hit. A good analogy which I will refer too in a different guise later.
There are some good materials around on the topic and I would recommend “Possessing the gates of the enemy” Cindy Jacobs, and “Breaking Strongholds In Your City” Peter Wagner. Much of what I say today has come from researching as a result of reading these books and Dutch Sheets books on intercession.
However, I felt prompted to take a look at the steps before entering the depths of spiritual warfare and mapping. We need to get there, we need to understand where we are going – but we cannot neglect the first two basics of being created to walk and till the garden. So what part does prayer have in these action’s.
(Promise 3 & 4)
Walking in the Garden (Community)
Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing. John 5 v18-20
So as He walked this earth, amongst a whole host of communities, how did He pray and respond to the needs? How did He demonstrate and teach that we should respond?
Whilst preparing for this workshop I was reading Matthews gospel, and the theme of coming in the opposite spirit to the world kept impacting me.
It started primarily in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5
1 Now when he saw the crowds (community), he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,
2 and he began to teach them saying:
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Italics my insertion.
Are we poor in spirit, mourning, hungering after righteousness, showing mercy, making peace?
Such attitudes, are very contrary, to the current community (world) way of thinking. We live in a society that every individual believes they have a right to wealth, and to do what they like without a concern for everyone else.
If we walk/work out these teachings we will fulfil the Lord’s prayer, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done”, in our lives in the community. Thus blessing the community by associating it with Christ-likeness.
Matthew 5 goes on to say
11Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Living out our lives as a prayer will result in insults and accusations, because we no longer conform to the enemies established standards in our society. Ploughs tilling soil – meet resistance, we should not expect anything else. How do we respond in prayer.
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men……….
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."
21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This passage expands on Jesus’s own teaching in Matt 5 v42-43 (read)
So by responding in a manner foreign to today’s thinking we become sons of the Father.Hallelujah.
Praying for those who persecute, and loving our enemies. This love involves seeking God’s blessings and purposes for those around us, no matter what state they are in, or what hold the enemy has over them.
Psalm 35 11-15 shows us that David lived out this attitude. Fasting and praying for those who bore false witness against him, doing evil to him. When they were sick he put on sackcloth.
The way we walk, and where we walk gives us the authority of Christ in our community.
Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you."
Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the LORD.
And Moses swore on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God.
32 So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. 33 Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.
6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
2 Chron 27v 6 – “Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord”
So when we walk around the streets of our community we need to do so steadfastly, under His guidance, impressing the commands of the Lord. There are many scriptures relating to the authority acquired by walking/treading the ground. We should also be watchful to see what is going on, for it is then we will begin to see weeds, which need out attention. As we walk let us first break up the soil by being Christ like, sharp edged plough, pulling out weeds, ready to plant seeds by proclamation. Paul was observant when walking about and was ready to plant new seeds.
For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
What is your perception of the garden in which God has placed you?
Even without spiritual mapping there is much you and I can do in the realms of prayer for our communities, by gathering some basic information, and observing our surroundings.
Resources that are available to assist us in our prayers. (Examples available)
Prayer Focus (example prayer pointers from February) P1
Local Newspapers (example) P2
Local church parish magazines.
County Council Strategic Plans – Web Pages (example) App
School curriculum and web information .(example) P3
Police crime statistics and current focus (example) P4
Census data (example) App
Business development proposals
Council Regeneration Plans
Library (example) App
Local History Society and publications P5
Employment Office data etc.
Can I hear many of you thinking already is all this really necessary?
Well do you get out a weeding trowel unless you know there are weeds in your garden? Then, do you expect to see the weeds removed or reduced?
If you do not know that over 50% of Colwyn Bay population is not employed, do you pray about it?
If you do pray about employment:-
What weeds have been removed?
Is there a lack of prompt dealing with business planning applications in the borough which is dissuading entrepreneurs? Is there corruption?
What new plants have been established?
Has there been a change in company prospects leading to more opportunities?
Have the schools gained new teaching staff more able to empower leavers to work locally?
Seeing the answers to your prayers by knowing such things as the above, increases your faith and enables you to pray even more intelligently over a sustained period for further improvements (smart bombs). Not seeing answers, likewise should increase your persistence, but often we do not know whether we have broken the ground because we do not re-walk our garden and check for signs.
I wonder whether people would have continued to pray for the apostle Paul, who regularly requested prayers to be able to preach the gospel, if they did not know that the Word was resulting in a harvest of souls?
Suggestion - Look for targets where you will notice results when they occur.
Not to say you should not pray against a reduction, of say for example, “prostitution” in the community, but:-
- How are you going to know whether your prayers have reaped results?
- Whether you have prayed in accordance with Gods plans?
- Whether there was a problem in the first place?
- Or whether the problem has just moved to a neighbouring community?
On the other hand if you see signs of dereliction and decay in buildings and business. When you believe God would see your community be prosperous and that people would find hope, then if you pray:-
- And see no change, but know God has stirred you, you continue to pray.
- Or if you see evidence of the removal of decay and renovation on this occasion you can be encouraged to pray next time God opens your eyes to a similar situation.
Colwyn Bay’s (including Rhos on Sea, Old Colwyn and Mochdre) prosperity and development from a village of 29 inhabitants in the 1830’s to one of just over 8,000 in 1905 and 20,000 in 2002 resulted from the arrival of the train, and an upsurge in Victorian holiday making in the late 1800’s. Over 20 churches were established in the area between 1890 and 1910, so where are the sign’s of, a God fearing, prosperous community today?
The A55 has cut the town in two and people speed through on the train or by road, bringing little trade to a town of people lacking hope. The church is doing little better in terms of bringing hope.
How should we pray for Colwyn Bay, a restoration of tourism, improvements in road and rail, growth in the church? I do not know where YOU should concentrate your prayers, certainly pray for blessing on all the churches, that God would stir up a hunger, in our town, for a knowledge of God and that the church could respond.
As Jesus walks with you through your community today: -
- What does He say?
- What does He see?
- What does He hear?
- and what will He do through you?
If we look at the Beautitudes we can see some of the possible ways we should pray.
We can mourn and fast for restoration.
Nehemiah is a great example of a man of God who took seriously the plight of his people.
3 They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire."
4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said:
"O Lord , God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands,
We can pray that God would spare a community from judgement, and be an example of our merciful Father.
In Exodus Moses prayed for the Egyptian community for relief from the plagues whenever they yielded to Gods will for His people to be released.
In Numbers 11v1-3 Moses prayed for the people (a community) to be spared from Gods judgement of fire because they had moaned, and the fire died down.
In 2 Samuel 24 v 24-25 David prayed that the plague on Israel would be abated and “the Lord heard the prayer on behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.”
Today we must ask ourselves whether we believe our communities are living under judgement. It is politically incorrect to even call sin for what it is, and to say that sin has natural consequences. Even within the church to say that events are the consequence of mans evil heart and God’s judgement is to not intervene before we turn to Him, is treading dangerous ground.
We can cry for mercy.
Praying in the midst of the community has impacts (walking).
Two examples in Acts 16 show us that on our way to prayer in the community, God can start to work
verses 11-15 by the riverside where the town customarily prayed Paul led the woman who sold purple cloth to the Lord and her whole house was baptised.
verses 16-24 as Paul went to prayer the demon possessed girl was released, but Paul was beaten and imprisoned, where the jailer was saved with his household.
Question -Are you led to share the gospel or proclaim release to the captives on the way to prayer? It occurred in the New Testament frequently, because they went to walk and talk with the Father in the community.
Praying for healing – be asked, and touch
How do you pray for healing, in the opposite spirit to the world?
Jesus’ examples of what was foreign to the thinking of the then community beliefs and systems was to
- Touch a leper (Matt 8v1-4), a woman with fever (Matt 8v14-15)
- Giving to those not of our own understanding – the centurion’s servant (Matt 8v5-13)
- Forgive the sins of the paralytic (Matt 9v1-8)
- Placing hands on the dead (Matt 9v18ff)
How many sick people do we see when we walk in authority through our community? Do we know that there were 4,504 people in 1991 in Colwyn Bay area with limiting long term disabilities? (Appendice)
Our Lord has compassion on those who are sick, we are His agents and that is why today we will pray for healing of the sick at the end of the workshop. For those brave enough to ask, and for those who are unable to get here.
Prayer for healing – in the streets
In all these examples people from the community recognised Jesus and asked for healing. Likewise in Acts 3 the lame man was healed as the disciples went to prayer.
As Peter came into the community to fellowship with the saints of Lydda he found Aeneas who was paralysed and healed him. Acts 9v32-34.
Likewise in Acts 14 at Lystra the lame leaped and walked.
Today we seem to prefer healings to take place in hospital, or in the comfort of a church meeting. Are we conforming to a spirit of the age where public demonstrations of power are unacceptable?
The consequences of the evil one in our community, is often poverty, degeneration, and death. This is contrary to Gods plan of giving people a future and a hope.
When we walk through Colwyn Bay, talking with our Creator, what does He prompt us to do when we see decay. I believe it is time to seek a future and a hope for our town. I pray that hope will be found in Christ, but also that the community we live in will be blessed by our presence, association and commitment to it.
God has asked me personally to commit to living in the midst of the enemies spoils. As I prayer walk around the town and see decay, I pray for Gods regeneration, I support the local business’s, and associate with the needs. This has only begun recently but I praise God He has started to move. I am crazy for God – I take photos of decay and then renewal. Here are three examples of God turning things around – a car, a derelict shop, a group of derelict shops.
Also since moving opposite Safeway’s and praying for improved retail facilities in the town we have heard of the planned development of the Safeway’s site. In a years time we will see new stores, 200 more jobs, and increased prosperity. These are not just my prayers, and God started on these plans long before I moved into the area. There is a challenge to being part of the garden - I will need to live with the field being ploughed and messy, literally, as building work progresses opposite.
Proclaim the Goodness of the Lord
Bill Fries has taught on prayers and proclamations. We touched on the subject when we had a joint School of Prayer evening with Antioch, Rhos and Bethel. Here are some of the scriptures we proclaimed over our community.
When you walk the garden ask the Lord what you should call into being, name the fruit. Ask Him what word will rake out those weeds.
Speak blessing and sow seeds ready for when the rain comes.
It is now time to till the ground. Proclaim the Word of the Lord and bless the land. Some will prayer walk, others will pray with the sick, others will look at the materials here and ask the Father what shall I call forth over my community.
February Prayer Focus – Topic Ideas
- A family who announce the death of a loved one in the local newspaper. That they may find comfort through a member of the body of Christ.
- Someone you know who is in need. That their needs would be met, including through the local body of Christ.
- Your next door neighbour that they will be blessed by living next to Christ’s representative in the street.
- Your local newsagent, shopkeeper, garage or nearest business outlet, that they would be prosperous and bring prosperity to your neighbourhood.
- Your postman, that they will have the pleasure of bringing good news to homes in your neighbourhood.
- Your GP, that they are given wisdom in diagnosis and treatment of your neighbours, so that your neighbourhood’s health improves.
- A family who announces a birth in your local newspaper, that they may experience joy and be led to a church to give thanks.
- The minister of the nearest church to your house, for power to preach the Word of God next Sunday
- Your refuse collection operatives (bin men), that they may be blessed because they serve your community.
- Your local MP, that they may be led by the Spirit in their voting in the House of Commons
- A local news item that shows the need for Christ's love to be made manifest
- Your local newspaper editor, that they will be guided in the wording of the news, and to what articles are relevant
- The head of the nearest school to your house, that they would be strengthened in maintaining discipline within their school.
- Any police officer you see today, or know of. That they will be protected from harm and directed in their vigilance.
- Your nearest hospital and all its staff, that stress will be reduced for them as they serve.
- Those in the neighbourhood in need of financial advice and guidance
His dominion is over North Wales forever
Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
For wisdom and might are His.
And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding.
He reveals deep and secret things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And light dwells with Him….
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom is from generation to generation.
All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;
He does according to His will in the army of heaven
And among the inhabitants of the earth.
No one can restrain His hand
Or say to Him “What have You done?”
Daniel 2v20-22, 4v34-35
The exchange made at the cross for Colwyn Bay
Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven
Jesus was wounded that we might be healed
Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness that we might be made righteous with His righteousness
Jesus died our death that we might receive His life.
Jesus was made a curse that we might enter into the blessing.
Jesus endured our poverty that we might share His abundance.
Jesus bore our shame that we might share His glory.
Jesus endured our rejection that we might have His acceptance with the Father.
Jesus was cut off by death that we might be joined to God eternally.
Our old man was put to death in Him that the new man might come to life in us.
Isaiah 53v4-5, Is 53v10 2 Cor 5v21 Heb 2v9 Gal 3v13-14
2 Cor 8v9, 9v8 Matt 27v35-36 Heb 12v2, 2v9
Matt 27v46-51 Eph 1v5-6 Isaiah 53v8 1 Cor 6v17 Rom 6v6 Col 3v9-10
PROMISES OF GOD
I will give you this land …..
Gen 38 v 13
I will make them lie down in safety …..
I will strengthen you …..
Isaiah 41 v 10
I will help you …….
I will never drive you away …..
I will give you rest …..
I will be with you …..
I will give you to eat of the tree of life …..
I will deliver you in times of trouble …..
I will keep the feet of the saints ….
1 Samuel 2v9
I am with you and will keep you ….
I will not leave you comfortless ……
When I see the blood I will pass over ……
I will pour out my Spirit …..
I will honour those who honour me …..
1 Samuel 2v3
I will forgive their sin and remember it no more …
I will add to your days ….
2 Kings 20v6
I will answer when you call …..