1 Timothy 2:1-8 “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.”
The Year of Jubilee is about freedom: freedom from the past; freedom for both land and people to be restored. When you think about it, things were always leased or borrowed, not bought and sold. When you understand the truth of that, you come to realize the truth that you and I are stewards. The stuff we have is not really ours. Anything we have when we are born is a heritage, and anything we gain in life is a blessing; both gifts from God our Creator. As stewards we look after the things we have on behalf of God. The question is how we can better utilize our gifts and strengths, our possessions and time for the Kingdom of God. We start by having the best foundation possible.
We were at Pike Lake yesterday. They have cabins for rent on the south side of the park and I got talking to the Charlotte, the lady who manages them with her husband. They are little 2 room cabins made of finished logs – really quite charming. Late in the season last year they had an arson pour gas inside a cabin and light it on fire. The cabin was a total write off, but when I went to look at the site I could see the concrete foundations were in good shape and the camp manager was ready to rebuild. When you have a good foundation it makes all the difference in the world. The CN Tower, located in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is a communications and observation tower standing 553.3 metres (1,815 ft) tall. Construction on the CN Tower began on February 6, 1973 with massive excavations at the tower base for the foundation. By the time the foundation was complete 56,000 t of dirt and shale were removed to a depth of 15 metres in the centre, and a base incorporating 7,000 cubic metres of concrete with 450 tonnes of rebar and 36 tonnes of steel cable had been built to a thickness of 6.7 metres (22.0 ft). This portion of the construction was fairly rapid, with only four months needed between the start and the foundation being ready for construction on top. To build the main support pillar, a hydraulically-raised slip form was built at the base. This was a fairly impressive engineering feat on its own, consisting of a large metal platform that raised itself on jacks at about 6 metres per day as the concrete below set. Concrete was poured continuously by a team of 1,532 people until February 22, 1974, during which it had already become the tallest structure in Canada, surpassing the recently built Inco Superstack. In total, the tower contains 40,500 cubic metres of concrete, all of which was mixed on-site in order to ensure batch consistency. Through the pour, the vertical accuracy of the tower was maintained by comparing the slip form’s location to massive plumb-bobs hanging from it, observed by small telescopes from the ground. Over the height of the tower, it varies from true vertical accuracy by only 29 millimetres. You can look around Saskatoon today and see several sites where they are pounding long piles into the ground that will provide a solid foundation for the building. Most of us have heard about the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I think you can guess why it is leaning. They have tried several things to help straighten the tower and fix the problem of a poor foundation. Unfortunately it is a very hard thing to do. The most time on any project needs to be the foundation, because if you have not got that right, it doesn’t matter how good or expensive or elaborate a building you put on top – it will always be in rough shape and dangerous because of the bad foundation.
So here we are celebrating the Year of Jubilee that God has announced for us. It is a year of transition, a year of change. We need a foundation, and as children of God there is always only one foundation: Prayer. Prayer for the follower of Jesus is like water to a fish. It is the environment we live in if we want the abundant life Jesus talked about. Prayer is what connects us to the spiritual world around us. Prayer is what frees up the Spirit to work in and through our life.
And so we lay our foundation. When you put in a foundation you do some very specific things in a certain order for it all to work. You dig the hole, you put in the forms and rebar, you pour the concrete, and then backfill when all is set and dried. As the body of Christ we are going to be very specific about our foundation. The house we are building is a spiritual house. People are going to be introduced to Jesus. People are going to be challenged with the Word, to grow in their faith. It is time to start, so let’s roll up our sleeves and put the shovel in the ground.
Monday – The first thing we are going to do is to dedicate our homes as lighthouses of prayer. Lighthouses have a bright light, a beacon for those out on the water in the darkness. The lighthouse brings both joy as sailors know the harbour is near, and relief as they warn of shallow waters. So we, in our lives, dedicate our homes as beacons of hope. We do this by very specifically committing our house or apartment and our life to the Lord. We commit to praying regularly for our neighbours. Those prayers are focussed on their needs, which could be physical, social or mental, and spiritual. Try keeping a prayer journal where you have 4 columns: Name, Need, Date started praying, Date answered. One group did this for a semester at university, and they saw 25 people make a decision to follow Jesus that year. They started to refer to their journal as the Book of Life. So we pray for people that they would find safety in the Harbour of Heaven, as it were. The second thing we consistently pray for are opportunities to share our faith. Some people say that the biggest part of prayer is that it changes the one praying. Yes, and no. It does change us, but it also changes the spiritual climate of a place. 2 Corinthians 4 says that the god of this world has blinded the eyes of the unbelievers. One of the reasons your neighbour isn’t a Christian is because Satan is blinding him. He can’t see the truth. Now is the time for you to step in on his behalf and ask God to open his eyes that he may see. Not only do we pray for that healing of spiritual sight, but we pray that we may be used to be a guide to that person. And you know what? If you just ask and speak in sincerity of heart, you can’t mess it up. God draws people to Himself, but He so much wants to use us in that process. Meditate on Ephesians 6:10-20. We are involved in changing the spiritual climate of this city. We are involved and on the front lines of spiritual warfare. So sharpen your sword of the Spirit and repair the shield of faith, for we have a job to do. So on Monday, dedicate your house as a lighthouse of prayer in this city. As you do that, include our church. Commit our church in your prayers as a lighthouse to the community around us and a spiritual lighthouse to this city.
Tuesday – On Tuesday we will spiritually cleanse our homes. We started this process on the Monday by dedicating them as places of prayer. In a sense Monday is the decision, the choice. What follows the choice or intention is the tossing out of the garbage. Simply spend time asking God to reveal any unclean thing that is hanging around. Meditate on Psalm 139 and Psalm 51.It could be something physical that we have been hanging onto when we should have given it to God earlier and given it away. It could be something in us, like a bad attitude, a judging heart, bitterness, or a little closet of selfishness we have been trying to keep hidden from Jesus. It could also be a sense of oppression from Satan as he tries to lean on us and squeeze the joy and the life from us spiritually. Claim the promise that greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. As you spend some time in prayer in renewal of your spiritual walk, pray also for our church. Pray that our past would no longer weigh on us today, for we are in the Year of Jubilee. Pray that Satan would have no more influence or oppression over this church, its ministries, or its members. We are an oppression free zone – OFZ if you will. Take the spiritual duster to your house and life, and your community here.
Wednesday – On Wednesday we will prayer walk our neighbourhoods. EM Bounds, a Methodist Pastor in the late 1800’s, stated that “talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still.” Ed Silvoso describes prayer evangelism in his book by the same title as “simply talking to God about our neighbours before we talk to our neighbours about God.” The third stage of this foundation we are building is to go out into your neighbourhood for some fitness. Stretch not just your leg muscles and get some cardio, but stretch your spiritual muscles and get some spiritual cardio. As you walk, simply bless each house you pass. Pray for the people connected to the house that God would bless them spiritually and draw them closer to Himself. For many people it will mean salvation. For some it will be to go deeper with their personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Thursday – As a body we will have a day of prayer for our community, our church. Sign up for a half hour time slot. We can have more than one person praying at the same time, but find a slot in your day where you can talk to God. It may be two 15 minute times if your day is full. You may want to fast at lunch and include that discipline as part of your prayers for the church. If you cannot pray between those hours, sign up for one of them and then pray in the evening – God is outside of time and He can backtrack your prayers to earlier in the day. He’s God – He can do that! We are simply going to pray that God would visit us in a special way over the next year. Pray for some or all of the following: The Board and Church leadership for wisdom and direction, Pastor Steve (Bonnie, Ben and Heather) for health and wisdom, Bonnie for her Writing ministry, Pastor Debbie (Don and Dori) in her ministry with Chaplains, Church Programs: Upward VBS August 9-13, Men’s Bible Study, Women’s Ministry, Sunday School, Seniors’ Ministry, Your Best You ministry and Divorce Care this fall, Pray through the church phone book for each family, pray for the prayer items in the bulletin including the missionaries, pray for our church’s finances this year – that we would not have a deficit, pray for a release from all the things that hold us as a congregation back whether they be physical (ie, location), social (lost friends and splits), mental (ie, focusing on tradition over ministry), or spiritual (ie, Satan oppressing us from stuff in our past), for more help in leading our ministries (Jesus said to pray for workers), for evangelism and people meeting Jesus through our church , for the spiritual integrity of our people and our church, for Jesus’ 2nd Coming, and take time to listen to see if God has a message for you and our church.
And you know what? Feel free to make this a weekly habit for the summer! Prayer is our foundation. Prayer connects us to the Holy One. Always take the time to pray – everyone can pray.