- Chad NapierCrosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 20227 Apr
We have heard the warning of living in the “last days” for as long as we can remember whether we have been within or outside of the church. The “end times” refer to the rapture of the church and the beginning of the seven years of tribulation upon the earth prior to Jesus’ triumphant return. Sermons are preached about it, books have been written about it, and movies have been made about it. Jesus in Matthew 24:6-7 warned, “ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”
We do not have to search far to see the increased tensions between nations and society in general. The recent Russia/Ukraine war and its associated speculation as to Putin’s ultimate desires have only increased “end of times” speculation. Our lawmakers are boldly legislating and legalizing late-term abortions, recognizing same-sex relationships, legalization of illicit drugs, and even the ability to choose our own gender, availing the rights of the chosen gender. These enactments are contrary to the Word of God and are abominations to his eyes and holiness. As a result, we have separation from God.
Peace is scarce when we are detached from the Heavenly Father. Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” No great explanation is needed for this verse as our families and communities have been torn apart by sexual abuse, lack of respect toward our police officers, and rebellion towards teachers and parents causing great discontent and a lack of peace within our society.
Why We Pray for God’s Peace
We have no promise in God’s Word that things upon the Earth will ever become more peaceable or easier for the believer during this current dispensation. In fact, Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:13 that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse.” Paul’s warnings to Timothy serve also as a sign for us during the season in which we live. Our world checks the box for each of the aforementioned precursors. So, what chance of peace do we have these days?
First, the unbeliever or the person who has not accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and lives today unoccupied by the Holy Spirit has absolutely no chance for real peace. His or her reliance upon legislators, presidents, senators, judges, kings, wealth, and/or accumulation will only serve as a means for temporary happiness resulting in heartbreak. The next election, the next pandemic, or the next depression is guaranteed to bring unrest to any worldly happiness. Thankfully the believer’s peace rests in none of these things or people. By placing our faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross, “our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:4).
Our joy, peace, and happiness are no longer dependent upon the desires of that “old man.” Sin and separation from God were the roots of our lack of peace. Sin is the cause of our separation from an all-holy triune God. Sin is the source of our lack of peace and discontent. Our souls have been crucified to this world and our hearts renewed by Christ’s conquering of sin on the cross. This assurance is true peace; yet, our flesh abides in this sinful world and is affected by it. In Romans 5:1-2, we “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Great peace is guaranteed, and ultimate salvation awaits the believer at Jesus’ return, as our flesh will finally be heavenly. We are to pray for a greater realization of this peace and for the Holy Spirit to guide each of us toward peace.
Prayer for the Lost
Our first prayer is for a change in heart for those who are lost and without any hope in the imminent judgment. This change is a new heart promised in Ezekiel 36:26 and a “new spirit” “put within” which “remove[s] the heart of stone from [our] flesh.” The sinner saved from a destiny of hell is granted the peace of salvation. This change in destination will also give peace to the convert’s friends and family. A great portion of our unrest today falls upon knowledge of the judgment and wrath awaiting the unsaved child, parent, coworker, or neighbor. Thus, we should fervently pray for a change of heart in the lives of those around us who we know to be lost and undone. We pray for a desiring heart for the sinner and for God to send a convicting spirit upon them drawing them unto Jesus Christ identifying his or her lost condition. We pray that no comfort will be given to them until they are converted by this convicting spirit.
Prayer for More Guidance
Thankfully we who have placed our trust in Jesus Christ have promised peace and joy knowing that our ultimate redemption is near. In Romans 5:1, we know “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The signs of the times are exciting as we realize our redemption draweth nigh. However, we cannot rest idly on this assurance. We have to be “about the Father’s business” and ministering to perform as mandated by “The Great Commission.” Our prayer for guidance includes a leading and guidance toward the audience and the means of which we should utilize to proclaim the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross.
We pray for the ability to steer others to the cross which includes His finished work of resurrection and ascension to the Heavenly Father. We pray for the boldness because His sacred blood was applied to the Mercy Seat in heaven. The peace of the believer rests in a right relationship with the Almighty God. Additionally, we have “The Comforter.” Jesus promises in John 14:16 that he “will pray for the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.” The disciples were concerned because Jesus was going to leave them in the flesh. The believer is indwelled with the Holy Spirit who serves as “the comforter.”
In Galatians 5:22, Paul wrote, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, [and] faithfulness.” This peace given through the Holy Spirit supersedes our “worldly knowledge” and wisdom. Paul assured us that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” when writing to the church in Philippians 4:7. We must pray for a leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit as to our instructions as to the where and why of our ministry upon this Earth. The same great comfort is given to our Savior as he was “about the Father’s business” is available to us when we are prayerfully engaged in it.
Prayer for More Dedication to the Study of the Word
The Holy Spirit brings both the comfort of Christ but also the recollection of the Word of God. Psalm 1:2 directs us that “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.” We cannot focus our attention on Fox News, CNN news alerts, or the headlines of today’s newspapers. It is detrimental to our peace for us to consume our time reading and perusing supposed religious writings on new age prophecy. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God give us all of the prophecy necessary in order to know what is coming and our instructions for the season in which we live. The Word of God is our sustenance.
In Psalm 63:5-6, David wrote his focus on God and His word was “sweet to him as marrow.” The prophet in Jeremiah 15:16 wrote, “the words were found, and I did eat them, and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart.” A portion of Samson’s riddle written in Judges 14:14 hinted “out of the strong came forth sweetness.” Indeed, peace and sweetness result when we focus on God’s strength and sovereignty. Further, His Word is a saving word. In Psalm 107:20, we are told “He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” This prayer is a petition requesting a renewed desire and excitement for the Word of God. We pray for those within our church who neglect regular reading, study, and meditation on His Word. The believer realizes great peace through a prayerful dedication to the reading, study, and meditation of the Word of God.
Prayer for Less Focus on Me
It is easy for us to get focused on ourselves, our families, our careers, and life in general. As a result, we lose a great portion of our peace. As John the Baptist declared in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” We are able to see Jesus as a comfort when we “decrease ourselves.” In the story of Mary and Martha during their visit by Jesus in Luke 10, we see the importance of keeping our minds on “one thing is necessary.” We are told, “March was cumbered about much serving” while Mary was positioned at Jesus’ feet. Martha came to Jesus and complained, “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to service alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.” Not affected by the “tattle-telling,” Jesus told her she is worried about many things, “but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part.” Praying that God focuses on “that good part” will give us great peace.
Consider the replies by Jesus’ potential disciples in Matthew 8 after he warned them “the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Thus, there was no promise of earthly comforts when signing on to be a disciple of Jesus. One disciple said to Him, “Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.” Note the usage of “me first.” This convicting prayer is a dangerous prayer as it is necessary for “self” to be eliminated from our passion. We pray for a renewed eagerness for “me” to be lessened and “He” to be magnified in our lives. We must pray, “Lord, keep my mind upon that good part.” Our desire is more of He and none of “me.”
Prayer for Realization of Our Sword and Shield
It is productive to look at the hopes and peace of David and Job in a time of supposed “last days.” The expected “ends” for each of them were not immediately in anticipation of the end of civilization, but the termination of their wealth, family, riches, worldly comfort, or position. Job, in his season of temptation, recalled the comfort of not neglecting the Word of God. In Job 6:10, he stated, “then I would still have this consolation – my joy in unrelenting pain – that I had not denied the words of the Holy One.”
David suffered similar earthly hopelessness when he was pursued by his son Absalom. In Psalm 3:3, he wrote “but thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head” in referring to his protection. In verse five, he noted his comfort when he was able to lie down and sleep “for the Lord sustained me.” He had the full realization of the peace and comfort in the deliverance of God by noting he “will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me” because “salvation belongeth unto the Lord.”
We are to have this same trust in our Savior and cast upon him all of our fears, issues, and worries. This prayer is a recollection and testimony of God’s provision and protection with His grace and mercy throughout our lives. By recalling His past provisions and sustenance, we have confidence and boldness that He is both able and willing to give us the armor, shield, and sword.
Prayer for the Strength of the Local Church
We have peace by surrounding ourselves with our brothers and sisters in Christ. When the church is strong, the surrounding communities are strong and thus are able to strengthen one another. Paul prayed for the church at Ephesians 3:14, “for this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
By modeling Paul’s prayer, we should make it our heart’s desire for the unobstructed filling of the Holy Spirit. In turn, this indwelling will naturalize our love for both the church and the lost. This “filling of the fullness of God” gives us full recognition and appreciation for God’s sovereignty, immutability, justness, and holiness. As a consequence, we will have great peace no matter the circumstances of our world. When writing about the “day of the Lord”, Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica to “comfort one another with these words.” “These words” were assurances that Christ will not forget “his people.” Instead of the church focusing negatively and gloom, we should be strengthening each other with the words from scripture. By centering on these truths, we edify Him both in word and the way we live our lives as a testimony to the mortification of the empowerment of sin and the flesh over our souls.