I was thrilled this weekend to hear that Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani was released from an Iranian prison after three years of imprisonment. Pastor Nardarkhani had been charged with apostasy and was given a death sentence for being a Christian in Iran and for refusing to recant his faith in Christ. I and thousands of other Christians, worldwide had been praying for his release. Thanks to the International Christian Concern organization, his plight was made known to tens of thousands of believers. Through facebook and Twitter his name was kept in the public eye. The pressure they kept up and their monthly reminders for prayer had many of us interceding on his behalf. I have no doubt whatsoever that God heard our prayers and answered! Not all of our brothers and sisters in Christ will be released from their plights as it’s not always God’s will. Obviously God has a bigger purpose for Pastor Nardarkhani being a free man. I do believe, however, that the fervent prayers of righteous men and women helped to accomplish this!
God calls each of us to intercede on behalf of our brothers and sisters. Our prayers can make all the difference in the world. When I was reading my devotions last night, I was reminded again of the beautiful power in collective prayer. It is found in Acts 12:1-11 NIV 12 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3 When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. 4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”
Wow, what an answer to the cries of the church! Similarly, the odds of Pastor Nardarkhani being released from an Iranian prison were very slim. It was the obedient response of the church to pray unceasingly on his behalf that brought about his release. I am sure Pastor Nardarkhani would agree!
When you have a need go to God in prayer and watch His hand move in amazing ways to bring it to pass. Jesus promised that we would not only do things He did but that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we would do even greater things. John 14:12 NIV 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Through Christ, God has provided this amazing tool that allows us all to boldly come before His throne with our requests. He hears the prayers of His kids. Collective prayer offers a special promise.. Matthew 18:19 NIV 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. What an awesome promise from an awesome God!
Keep prayer as a mainstay in your life. Don’t allow anything to come between you and your intimacy with God. Pray for others. If you want the support of many, ask others to pray for you and or your situation. Too often we don’t see results in our lives because our prayer life is lacking.
Leonard Ravenhill was a true man of God. An Evangelist and author, he spent his life focusing on the importance of prayer and revival. His words still ring true today,“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing, the people who are not praying are straying. We have many organizers but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few slingers;lots of pastors, few wrestlers;many fears, few tears;much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors;many writers but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.”
Prayer: James 5:16