Welcome to today's devotional thoughts on New Year with New Hope! (See our introduction and other devotionals in this series.)
This message will help prepare you for the third focus of our one hour of simultaneous prayer for the world as we enter 2021: "Bringing God's Grace through Love and Prayer"! You will find some starter Scriptures and ideas to use for your preparation and prayer time as we join together with other followers of Jesus from around the world. God bless as you partner with God who loves and longs to redeem our broken world!
Word — Scriptures to get us thinking.
Ask the Holy Spirit to speak truth into your heart as you refresh your heart with these Scriptures:
Jesus Prays for Us
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
"Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them" (Jn 17:20-26 NIV).
Paul's Prayer for the Philippians
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:9-11).
Insight — Stories and observations to open our hearts.
I could tell that my older friend and brother in the Lord was quite angry. I had just come out of a church leadership team meeting to go to the restroom, and he caught me. "I've been waiting for an hour to get in and get approval for some things that are important to our Missions Committee! When are they going to let me in to present it?"
"Brother, there are two problems," I began a bit haltingly because I was thirty years younger than he was and just a young preacher at the time.
I continued, "The first problem is that you need to be on the agenda if it were a normal meeting. Many people come to present urgent matters, and it is not fair to jump ahead of them when you haven't given our leaders any information to study and pray in consideration ahead of your visit." This did not please him much, but it at least made some sense.
As I continued, however, he grew quite agitated: "Second, this is prayer night. Once a month, we take several hours to pray for people, ministries, needs, decisions, opportunities, and our future. The group will not consider any business matters on prayer night."
He furiously stormed away, but not until after he fired this barb in my direction: "I wish all I had to on Wednesday night was to sit around and pray."
Thankfully, over time, he mellowed and even admitted that his anger was why he had refused to serve as an elder. I reminded him that his hero, a man who had been in that room the night he was so frustrated, had once said, "I only get done what I pray for!"
"Yes, I know, he said, and that is one reason I am so ashamed of my little tirade."
Prayer changes us when we pray and invites God to change the lives of those for whom we pray redemptively!
Focus — Main point of our prayer time.
Prayer is a gift. God allows our human spirit to communicate openly with our Abba Father through the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26-27). It is a holy moment. We invite the eternal and divine grace of God to invade our hearts and change our lives and the lives of those we love.
When we intercede for others, we share our love for them in one of its purest forms. This was why the apostle Paul's letters to his churches and young ministers he was mentoring were filled prayers for them bathed in the language of love. These two intercessory prayers for believers in Ephesus and Asia Minor — one long and the other very short — illustrate the love language of Paul's prayers:
For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches, he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love (Ephesians 6:23-24).
These kinds of prayers communicate our love for them and also point them in the direction God wants them to live if we share what we've prayed with them. Now don't misunderstand; prayer shouldn't be used as veiled, passive-aggressive preaching. Instead, prayer invites those for whom we pray to join God in his work of redeeming, empowering, and growing them into mature disciples.
Jesus' prayer shortly before his Passion in John 17 — sometimes called Jesus' High Priestly Prayer — both reveals his heart for his disciples and points them in the direction they must move to be his disciples. Go back and read this full prayer (John 17:1-26). Notice how it is framed in love. As Jesus prays for them, he is also calling his disciples to live in unity as a reflection of his love for his Father and them.
We pray because we love God and want others to be blessed by his grace. We pray to help others live in the grace of God. We pray to call each other outside of our shallow boundaries for our love. We pray to invite each other to love and act more boldly for the sake of the world.
Jesus said the world will know that we are his disciples because of our love for each other (John 13:34-35). He also emphasized that the world would know the Father had sent him as Savior of the world because we are united in our love for each other (John 17:20-26).
We join together and pray for our world because we want to invite God's love to redeem our world and want the world to see our unity so they will be drawn to Jesus. As we do this, we are "Bringing God's Grace through Love and Prayer"!
Pursuit — Putting our prayer focus into practice.
Let's join together in this prayer for the sake of our world:
Loving Father, please hear the cry of your children's hearts as we join our voices to pray:
May you, the God of steadfastness and encouragement, enable us to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with the will and prayer of Christ Jesus our Lord, so that we can be united and with one voice glorify you, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. May you, the God of all hope, fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in you, so that we may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Adapted from Romans 15:5-6, 13.)
Resources — Scriptures that help in our pursuit.
Here are passages related to love and prayer. You can use them to help you in our first prayer focus, "Bringing God's Grace through Love and Prayer":
- John 17:1-26
- Ephesians 3:14-21, 6:23-24
- 1 John 3:16-18
- John 13:34-35
- 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
- 1 Corinthians 9:18-23
- That Jesus be exalted as Savior and Lord
- That God bring our world Healing and Health
- That God's people will unite in Love and Prayer so that the world will know that the Father sent Jesus.
Hozana has joined with the prayer effort for a New Year with New Hope and will have resources to help track and provide our content to other readers.
Sign up and watch our group grow as people world-wide join our prayer efforts. We appreciate all who are willing to pray for the three areas of emphasis for our world in 2021: