Category: Prayer

Why do we pray?

Psalm 102 begins, “Hear my prayer, Lord …” (v.1) How often have we uttered a cry for help to the Lord, perhaps in our times of trials, temptations or trouble? The spiritual discipline of prayer is sometimes an illusive concept – yes, generally, we are discipled and taught that prayer is essentially talking to God, but more often or not, prayer can seem like a one-sided monologue, or a crisis hotline, maybe even a habitual wishlist or to-do list of wants and complaints.

Preparing for a new sermon series on the book of James, I am reminded of a passage at the end which talks about the prayer of faith. It talks of elders praying for the sick, confessing our sins to one another, and the prayer of the righteous man, with the example of Elijah (Jam. 5:13-18). Jesus Himself taught us the Lord’s prayer, which we sing-pray at every Sunday service, yet for many, this often is the one thing that we most often struggle with, both individually and corporately as a church. Why is this so?

Firstly, prayer is a dialogue. It was never meant to be a one-way lifeline to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Rom. 8 tells us that “the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (v. 27) and even “Christ Jesus who died … is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (v. 34). Have you ever thought about it that way? Sometimes when we hear of a friend or loved one in need, we send them a message to say we are praying for them. How about the baffling notion that God Himself is praying, interceding for us? Are we often too quick to speak, rather than quick to listen to what God might be speaking to us through prayer?

Secondly, prayer is a dependence on God. Martin Luther put it this way,

I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.

He would wake early each day to commit his day and plans to the Lord. Contrast our frantic scrambling to get up, get ready and leave for school or work in the morning, with an occasional chance of squeezing in a rushed 10-15 minutes of quiet time. Do we believe and more importantly, live our lives with the conviction that we need and depend on God to work, to bless, to enable all that we are and do with our lives, families, work and ministry? Sometimes it feels like prayer is a paradox. It is one of those both-and concepts in the Bible, to which Augustine wrote,

Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.

Perhaps this is the challenge we have, we feel that we need to work, as though everything depends on us, and not on God. Like salvation, we both need to depend on God for His grace and mercy, and yet “work out” our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12-13).

Lastly, prayer is a discipline. It is a commitment to the Lord, a spiritual discipline we have to spend our time and lives nurturing and cultivating. It is also a commitment to one another in the body of Christ. There is a special and valuable place for corporate prayer. The early church in Acts was birthed through prayer, as were several movements and revivals of God in church history. It has to start with ourselves, not the worshipper on your left or right. As we commit ourselves to prayer, I believe that we will hear God speak to us, see God work in and through us, and experience God moving and transforming our church community towards His good purposes and direction.

Will you pray?

1st prayer meeting

So I offered to help with worship for our church’s 1st prayer meeting of the year. Here are the songs I led. Ultimately, it’s not about whether we played or led well, but about pointing others to God, and offering up to Him our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving.

How great is our God/How great Thou art

Amazing grace (My chains are gone)

Be exalted, O God

A fellow blogger wrote about a recent revival prayer meeting at ACS that commemorated what is known as the Clock Tower Revival of 1972, and also on the 80th anniversary of the exact date John Sung arrived in Singapore in 1935, triggering a massive revival among the overseas Chinese. The ACS Clock Tower at Barker Road has been an iconic symbol since the secondary school moved to Barker Road from 1950-1992, after which the campus was vacated briefly when the school went independent and moved to Dover Road in 1992. In 1994, ACS Barker Road was established as a full school, along with ACS Primary which used to be at Coleman Street. In 1999, the original clock tower was rebuilt when the school underwent a major rebuilding and “a replica now stands 20 metres from the old clock tower, with the original clock mechanism installed in the new tower”.1

Related articles:
1Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) | Wikipedia
ACS Clock Tower revival | ACS(I) Revivals
The clock tower story – the beginnings of charismatic renewals in Singapore | TTC-CSCA occasional series
Clock Tower Revival
Singapore Clock Tower story
Controversy behind the Singapore Clock Tower revival
ACS Clock Tower revival of 1972

Pentecost Sunday

As I was reflecting on commemorating Pentecost Sunday today, God reminded me of the biblical account in Acts 2, when on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended and filled the believers of the early church for the first time, as prophesied and promised by Jesus (Acts 1:8). Next to the death and resurrection of Jesus Himself, this would likely be the second most significant event in the history of Christianity.

The day of Pentecost in the Old Testament was traditionally an annual feast that followed the Feast of Firstfruits by a week of weeks (seven weeks, or 49 days), and therefore also was called the Feast of Weeks (Lev 23:15-22). The name “Pentecost,” from the Greek word pentekostes, means “fiftieth day,” because it was the 50th day after the Firstfruits feast (Lev 23:16). By the time of Christ in the New Testament, it had become a tradition for Jews from every nation to gather in Jerusalem during Pentecost for the feast.

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples at Pentecost signified the beginning of the early church, as well as the first illustration of the Lord’s intentions to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth, as those present heard the mighty deeds of God in their own language (Acts 2:9-11), and after Peter preached the gospel message, 3,000 repented and were baptized (Acts 2:41).

Today, Christians all over the world continue to commemorate Pentecost Sunday, now calculated as 7 weeks after Easter. In the last decade, another phenomenon has been linked to this day. It began in 2001, when 45,000 Christians united for a Day of Repentance and Prayer in Cape Town, South Africa. This prayer movement initially started by praying for Africa, but grew to a global level when in Nov 2004, at a meeting of the International Prayer Council in Malaysia, it was decided that all nations would join in a five year Global Day of Prayer (GDOP) up to 2010.

In 2005, more than 200 million Christians from 156 nations of the world united across denominational and cultural borders for the first GDOP. In the months following, Christians were overwhelmed by the testimonies of God’s powerful work in answer to these prayers. An estimated 500 million Christians participated in GDOP 2008, and as of last year, all 220 countries of the world were participating in this global prayer movement.

This year marks the 5th year that Singapore has participated in GDOP. The theme, as set by the organisers EFOS, is “One Desire,” to honour and glorify God by (1) loving our God, (2) serving our neighbours, and (3) reaching the nations. This is so much in line with our church vision, “a God-loving community touching and transforming lives for Christ in Woodlands and the World.”

Where will you be today at 3pm and 7.14pm? I strongly encourage you to make time and join us in interceding for Singapore and the nations today, and be ready to trust and see God’s hand at work in your life and those around you as we join in unison to pray!

… and 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, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chr 7:14)

Attended my 2nd Pastors’ Prayer Summit (PPS) from 18-21 Jan 2010. Last year, we went up in 1 car with my senior and 2 other pastors. This year, my senior plus 6 other pastors from our church attended, some went by car, others by coach. The format and structure of this year’s PPS was similar to previous years, with added focus on personal reflection and solitude. There was no one central theme, though several of the messages were in line with the themes of returning to our first love, spiritual disciplines, and our identity in Christ.

One of my pastor friends jokingly commented that this PPS was more like a Malacca Food Festival, as we had many opportunities during mealtimes to venture out onto Malaccan streets to savour the local delights and culinary treats. On the first day, we stopped at Hotel Equatorial for an authentic Peranakan lunch @ Seri Nyonya, including Kerabu Kacang Bendi, Ayam Pongteh, Ikan Gerang Assam, Udang Lemak Nenas, and Sop Hee Peow. On our last night, we managed to find the Teochew sidestreet restaurant open (was closed the previous 2 nights), only to enjoy a simple, homecooked, traditional Teochew-style dinner, including oyster noodles, steamed pomfret, braised duck, stir-fry mixed vegetables with Taiwan sausage, ngoh hiang, sea cucumber with mixed meat sauce, yam paste with pumpkin and gingko, and fresh mango for dessert.

On to spiritual food! There were morning LifeShaper sessions and night Word in Season messages given by senior pastors Lawrence Khong, Lawrence Chua, Derek Hong, and Benny Ho. God spoke to me most through a message by Lawrence Khong on Josh 1:1-9, about divine appointments, inward authenticity and corporate alignment. Will update the sermon summary notes here soon.

  • Ps 45 – Lawrence Khong
  • Mk 6:30-46 – Solitude by Lawrence Chua
  • Josh 1:1-9 – Lawrence Khong
  • Mic 2:12, 13 – Benny Ho
  • Isa 50:6,7; 52:13-15 – Lawrence Khong

The major take-home for me, besides spending focused time seeking God about ministry focus this year, was the challenge of unity within the corporate body of Christ in Singapore, and a common vision of impacting the 7 gates of cultural influence.

  • Arts
  • Business
  • Communication
  • Disadvantaged
  • Education
  • Family
  • Government

One thing I felt was lacking or different from the previous year was times of corporate prayer, sadly, I only remember 1-2 times when we actually split into small groups to pray with and for one another. This year’s PPS felt more of a vision-casting cum spiritual-retreat summit, rather than a prayer summit.

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