Re:New Prayer Guide

Week 3: Renewal in the prophets

God not only led renewal through the kings, he also had a cadre of men and women called prophets through whom he sent messages. Often ignored, these prophets usually had hard messages of impending doom.

 

Monday, November 7: Elijah’s power encounter 

Pray that your spirit may be so attuned to God’s Spirit that you will quickly respond to nudges from him, not requiring the proof of fire from the sky.

 

I Kings 18:39 “And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The LORD-he is God! Yes, the LORD is God!”

 

Recalling the Story:

Elijah wanted to destroy false worship and restore the whole nation of Israel to the worship of Yahweh. Under King Ahab and Jezebel, the northern kingdom had largely abandoned God for the worship of Baal. The showdown on Mt. Carmel came after three years of drought that Elijah had predicted. Fire shot down from the sky and later that same day rain ended the drought. Yet still, the king, queen and the people chose to align themselves with the gods of the nations that surrounded them. It was too easy to be like everyone else and too hard for them to be different.

 

Reflecting on the Story:

  1. Like the Israelites, what forces do we let into our lives that pull us away from God-worship toward being just like our surrounding cultures?

  2. Can you list significant ways that you’re not like either of the two typical American political camps (neither politically liberal nor politically conservative, but a unique thing called “Jesus follower”)?

 

Pray that we will want to be more like God than we want to be like the people around us. Pray that we will also learn to live with the tension of being unlike those around us even when we feel surrounded and overwhelmed.

 

Tuesday, November 8: Jonah’s theology is all wet

Pray for the ability to see the beauty of the character of God in this story of Jonah, rather than the fish and the vine.

 

Jonah 4:11 “But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

 

Recalling the Story: 

Jonah was sent as a missionary to bring renewal to Nineveh, even though he didn’t believe they were “God’s kind of people.” His preaching campaign brought remarkable repentance, yet he responded by pouting that God was being too merciful to these foreigners. Patient with both Nineveh and Jonah, God pointed out that Jonah would do well to care more about people and animals than his own comfort that he had found in the shade of the plant. We are left not knowing if Jonah had a renewed spirit or not. We’re left with God’s question to him, quoted above.

 

Reflecting on the Story:

  1. Have you ever hoped God would just fry the bad guys? Embarrassingly, probably true of most of us. Does your answer change, remembering that you were once a bad guy?

  2. How do you answer God’s question of 4:11?

 

Pray for a dose of God’s patience as he delays punishment and justice. Ask Him that you might share his “father’s heart” for his lost and suffering children regardless of anything that might make them distasteful to us.

 

Wednesday, November 9: Haggai asks, “Who’s on first?”

Pray to prioritize well. Pray to be able to honestly appraise if we have cared for ourselves in first place but God’s house in second (or third?) place.

 

Haggai 1:9 “And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses.”

 

Recalling the Story: 

In 520 BC the prophet Haggai confronted those who had returned to Jerusalem from exile because they’d been busy building their own houses while God’s temple lay in ruins. Uncharacteristically the people responded well to Haggai’s words and switched their attention to rebuilding the temple. God responded by affirming, “I am with you.” This is one of the rare cases where the people heeded a prophet’s call to renewal.

 

Reflecting on the Story:

  1. Which is nicer, your house or your church? (questions like these are why prophets aren’t that popular!)

  2. Haggai draws a connection between their lack of harvests and their lack of attention to God’s temple. But have you ever observed the opposite: that some who prioritize giving to God don’t prosper in the here and now? Might that be why Haggai ends the book talking about a future day of reward?

 

Pray for divine guidance as you seriously consider how your spending patterns indicate who, or what, is first in your life. As you respond with serious intent, listen to God as he affirms, “I am with you.”

 

Thursday, November 10: Hosea marries a ...uh...you know...

Pray to have your eyes opened to any places where your affection for God has grown cold. Pray to not grow so accustomed to the goodness of God that you stray from that goodness into the  persistent pain of life away from Him.

 

Hosea 6:3 “Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

 

Recalling the Story:

In one of the most dramatic enactments required of a prophet, God told Hosea to marry a prostitute named Gomer. Hosea represented God’s faithfulness and Gomer represented Israel’s infidelity. In the several phases of the story she bore him children, then strayed to other men, then he redeemed her (with coins, barley, and wine) and took her back...all illustrating that although God’s people (and we?) have not been faithful to Him, he continues to offer his redeeming love, although not without limits.

 

Reflecting on the Story:

  1. Can you think of 2-3 ways God’s people today have not been faithful to Him? That’s pretty easy. Now, how about 2-3 ways you have not been faithful to Him?

  2. How should God feel about you? Are you the faithful partner or the type who’s always flirting with other affections and loyalties?

 

Pray to have “eyes only for God.” May we so enjoy His character, His fairness, His patience, His forgiveness and redemption that we never wander from His loving embrace.

 

Friday, November 11: Daniel speaks truth to power

Pray to have clear words of advice for those who are around you so their lives may be made new.

 

Daniel 4:27 “King Nebuchadnezzar, please accept my advice. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor. Perhaps then you will continue to prosper.”

 

Recalling the Story:

Daniel was one of the select Hebrew youth deported to Babylon when Jerusalem was first overtaken in 605 B.C. He became a wise counselor and interpreter of dreams to the Babylonian kings. This dream in chapter four foretold that Nebuchadnezzar would live outdoors like an animal until he learned to respect the Most High God. Then Daniel added some practical advice: stop sinning, do what is right and care for poor people. Nebuchadnezzar ignored the advice and the dream came true.

 

Reflecting on the Story:

  1. Are there any points where this advice to break from the past and care for the poor intersects with your life? If we’re not actively caring for the poor, might that be a good place to start?

  2. How do you ensure that any advice you give is aligned with God’s advice and not just your own thoughts?

 

Pray that like Daniel, who lived in a pagan culture unsympathetic to the Most High God, you might be so wise and filled with understanding that you may speak truth into the culture that surrounds you.