To prepare the congregation for Easter, which happens at the end of March, preacher Bobby Chaw taught on the key to heaven: prayer.
The congregation of City Harvest Church has been learning precious lessons from the Book of Numbers over nearly a year, thanks to its executive pastor Bobby Chaw. So it was surprising to the people when Chaw announced, on the weekend of March 10 and 11, that he would be taking a break from Numbers and teaching instead on one of the foundations of Christian living: prayer.
Matthew 16:18-19 says: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against. It. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Chaw explained, “The church has great power because God has given the church the authority to access heaven! One of the keys to open heaven’s door is prayer.”
He brought up South Korea as an example of this. When the Korean War ended in 1953, the country was in social and economic ruins, the people poor and hungry. Groups of believers came together to pray for their land. Today, three of the largest churches in the world are found in South Korea. The small peninsula managed to prosper in the last 30 years and Koreans are producing cars, cell phone and other electronics for the world, and the “Korean Wave” continues to sweep across the world in music, dramas and movies. The blessing of God came upon the lives of the South Koreans.
PRAYER LEADS TO REVIVAL
Chaw went on to give Biblical examples of when God responded to prayers. In the Old Testament, God told His people, “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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chron 7:14)
In Luke 3:21-22, Jesus was baptized and “while He prayed, the heaven was opened”. Scripture says that the Holy Spirit descended like a dove upon Him.
“From that point onwards, Jesus went around healing the sick and casting out demons. Everywhere He went, there was a great revival,” the preacher continued.
When the 120 disciples gathered to pray in the Upper Room (Acts 1 and 2), they experienced that same thing that happened to Jesus. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting…And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:2 and 4)
A massive revival followed the Day of Pentecost—thousands were added to the Christian faith daily.
“It was the open heaven that brought about the mighty harvest,” Chaw pointed out. “For revival to come, you need the rain of God. For the rain of God to come, you need an open heaven. And the good news is this: we have the power to open the windows of heaven and let the rain come.”
Dr Yonggi Cho, the founder of South Korea’s Yoido Full Gospel Church which has been recognised to be the world’s largest congregation, famously said, “Prayer is the key to revival.”
“When the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few (Matthew 9:37-38), what do you do?” challenged Chaw. “You pray!”
The greatest revival that happened in America started because one man decided to pray, the pastor told the people. In 1857, Jeremy Lanphier started a prayer meeting in New York that grew from six people to 3000 people in four months. Their sole agenda was to pray for salvation. The revival slowly spread across America and pastors were baptizing 20,000 people every week.
“I believe this coming Easter will be the greatest revival we will experience,” said Chaw. “Only if we pray!”
Chaw reminded the congregation that God is sovereign and He does not need anyone to tell Him when to do what. Prayer does not change God’s mind but He chooses to respond to prayers. The pastor gave the example of the Holy Spirit coming to those who ask of Him (Luke 11:3)
PRAYER THAT PREVAILS
Often Christians feel like God is not answering their cries. Chaw reminded the congregation that in such times, they must remember to pray prayers that prevail.
In Matthew 15:22-23, a Canaanite woman sought Jesus for her daughter’s deliverance. The Bible says Jesus “answered her not a word”. The woman worshiped Him, only to get a reply: “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
Despite Jesus’ initial rejection, the woman kept pressing on until she saw her daughter’s healing (Matthew 15: 27-28).
“Faith should not yield or cease urging or pressing on, even when faced with God’s wrath,” Chaw said, drawing from Martin Luther. “This is the power and strength of the Spirit.”
Christians sometimes face a crisis when they experience a contradiction of a direct promise from God, or when things do not go as promised.
“The reason you have a problem is that you believed,” the pastor said. “This is where the Canaanite woman’s prayer comes in. Prayer that prevails is one that trusts and insists on God’s promise.”
Using the story of Moses in Exodus 32:10, Chaw explained how God was so furious with the children of Israel that He told Moses to “leave [Him] alone”.
Moses’ response was clear in Exodus 32:11-13; he held on to God’s promise and reminded Him of what He once said to Abraham, Isaac and Israel. The result of that? “Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.”
Chaw reminded the church to root their prayers in the Word of God, the promises of the Gospel because He who promised is faithful to keep His promise (Hebrews 10:23).
As Easter draws close, Chaw’s desire for the church is to continuously pray for and moving in signs and wonders as promised in Mark 16:17-18. He ended his sermon by declaring 2 Peter 3:9 and Acts 16:31 over the church, believing by faith that there will be radical salvations among the churchgoers’ family and friends on the Easter weekend (March 30-April 1).