Teachings / Sermons
Reaching the City
Africa has many millions of believers. Possibly the greatest percentage of believers per capita in the world. Africa has believed, but not changed. South Africa is a good example of this. We claim to have a population of whom over 70 percent are Christians but still have laws like "abortion on demand". Also with over 70% of South Africans calling themselves Christian we still have about half of our population living below the poverty line.
The good news of Jesus has reached our hearts but not our cities. Jesus might have captured out hearts, but Satan has our streets.
Some of the answer lies in 2 Chronicles 7:14: "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
Believers - in humility - praying - seeking God - changing their ways - is promised to result in healing of the land.
i) The first issue is seen in the word "believer". Most believers don’t know or believe that our cities are supposed to be different.
ii) If we do hope that things can be different, we do not know how to do anything about it. The answer starts with a heart change from despondency and criticism in ourselves and our leaders to an attitude of humility before God. Only He can change cities.
iii) By praying and seeking His face we learn His heart and mind on issues. We get God’s strategy for winning our city for the Kingdom. We also get His hope and endurance. We pray His prayers for our city.
iv) As we seek His face we will be confronted by our own sin. As we draw nearer to Him we will have to deal with our own sin. Imagine tens, hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands of believers living increasingly Godly lives. Those Godly lives will overflow into blessing the cities in which we live.
PRAYER IS ALWAYS THE FIRST STEP!
"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men--the testimony given in its proper time. I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing." (1 Timothy 2:1-8)
Paul is giving Timothy help as to the direction of the church. It should not surprise us that he starts with prayer. This was his primary reason for writing. The first task of the church is to pray so that:
i) "We may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."
ii) "God ... wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."
Paul uses four terms to describe prayer - "requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving". He does this for emphasis but "there is a certain progression in intensity." (R.H. Mounce 1979:26). The term "intercession" was a semi-technical term for gaining entry to the presence of a king in order to present a petition. Paul reminds us that "thanksgiving" and not grumbling or despondency is the proper attitude of prayer.
Prayer is to be made for everyone. It is the church's task to pray for everyone in the city. Special mention is made of kings and authorities, even though they might be the persecutor of the church. Paul knows that spiritual breakthrough is dependent on physical conditions in the city. If the leaders of a city are favourably disposed towards the Kingdom then the battle in the street will be easier. Peace in the city allows for spiritual growth and prosperity of every kind (e.g. family life).
Paul gives the fundamental gospel that we are praying will take hold of every one. One God, one Gospel, one Mediator who paid the ransom for all.
Paul calls men (the Greek refers to gender) to lead prayer. Perhaps they had given the job to women. They are also to ensure that their actions are pure and they have no divisions between themselves.
We can whine and moan about the state of our cities, take up arms against bad governance, or pray. Imagine every leader and citizen being prayed for by name.
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