Heralding the new year, Pastor Bobby Chaw invited the church to practise the discipline of prayer.
Over the weekend of 27 and 28 January 2024, executive pastor Bobby Chaw reminded City Harvest Church of the importance of prayer. “Prayer brings us into continuous communion with God,” he told the church as he opened his sermon.
Jesus lived a life of prayer, as seen in Mark 1:35. Pastor Bobby declared, “If you want to stay in constant communion with the Father, you must practise the discipline of prayer.”
“Everyone who has ever walked closely with God made prayer their top priority in life,” he continued. For instance, in the Old Testament, David set aside his sleep for prayer (Ps 63), while in the New Testament, the apostles distributed important tasks to trusted leaders so that they had time to spend on prayer and ministering to the Lord.
“In your busyness, do not neglect the discipline of prayer,” the pastor urged. “The busier you are, the more you need to set prayer as your priority.”
However, many believers may feel disheartened or frustrated that their spiritual life is hindered by their flesh. To this, Pastor Bobby said: “I’m here to tell you that your body is not your enemy. Yes, it may be compromised by sin, it has weaknesses, but your mind and body can be trained.”
PRAYER IS A DISCIPLINE
Quoting 1 Timothy 4:7, the pastor explained that believers can exercise godliness. “Prayer is a discipline. The more you engage in the practice of prayer, the more you resemble Jesus,” he said. “What you need to do is three words: practise, practise, practise!”
Pastor Bobby went on to share that during the recent Prayer Week in Seoul, Korea, the 400 CHC members woke up early in the morning every day to pray at Yoido Full Gospel Church. While it was initially challenging for the Singaporeans to get into the rhythm of waking up at 4am, praying for two hours at a time had become an easy feat by the end of the week.
After returning to Singapore from Korea, CHC staffer Chua Xiu Wen told Pastor Bobby that her husband Jason, who used to be a night owl, started going to bed earlier so that he could wake up in the morning to pray, worship and study God’s word. Despite the fact he had spent the first week of Januuary in Korea, within 10 days of returning to work, Jason closed enough deals to exceed the month’s sales target.
“When you seek first His kingdom, everything that you need shall be added to you,” Pastor Bobby reminded the church.
PRAYER IS EFFECTIVE
James 5:16 reads, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
Pastor Bobby unpacked the verse: “Prayer not only transforms the one who prays, it produces wonderful results.”
Jesus and His disciples always prayed with full conviction. Jesus did not just treat prayer like a mental exercise, He truly believed that when He prayed, the lame would walk, and the sick would be healed.
In Acts 4, Peter and John were arrested and told not to continue teaching about Jesus. Upon hearing the news, the church prayed together, asking God for boldness, truly believing that their prayers could make a difference.
What makes the most effective prayers? Quoting 1 John 5:14, the pastor said, “The key is knowing His will because if you ask according to His will, He hears us.”
“This is why it is so important to study the Bible,” he continued. “Because God has revealed His desires, His thoughts and His will through His Word. The more you align your prayer with His Word, the more powerful and effective your prayers will become.”
He shared his personal testimony of overcoming his self-doubts after reading the Word. Growing up, Pastor Bobby was never very confident. His self-esteem took a further hit when his family went bankrupt. He would tell himself to accept his lot in life and he had no aspiration to rise above his situation.
Things changed when he became a Christian and started reading the Bible. He understood that God’s will for His life and aligned his thoughts and desires with God’s. Slowly, he became bolder and God did an unexpected miracle—his family’s debts were cancelled. He learned then that prayer is effective.
PRAYER IS CREATIVE
Different people approach prayer differently. “Some people approach prayer with a posture focused on the past and the present. As such, your prayer language involves reporting and describing what already exists,” Pastor Bobby shared.
However, he explained the importance of transiting from the present reality to the future. “While fully acknowledging and understanding the current situation, we boldly ask, we boldly speak about the future that we envision with God because God is with us,” he said.
An example of creative prayer can be seen in Mark 9, where a man brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus to receive healing. “Jesus empathised with the family. However, He did not dwell only on the past or the current situation. Instead, Jesus looked into the future and spoke of a new future for the child,” Pastor Bobby explained.
Jesus went on to cast out the demonic spirit and the child was completely healed. “Because prayer is creative,” the pastor concluded. “You can envision a brand new future with the Lord.”
In John 11, Jesus went to Bethany to visit Lazarus, who was dead. While Jesus mourned with Lazarus’s family in verses 33 and 35, he raised Lazarus from the dead through prayer in verses 40 to 44.
“We are not trying to conjure up something in our imagination, nor are we trying to say that we can manipulate God and tell him what to do,” Pastor Bobby said. “Rather, we are asking God to tell us what to do.”
He continued: “As we read the Scriptures, we discern His character, His will and His desires, and as such, we can anticipate what God will do. And as you pray and wait on the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit can speak to you and give you visions and dreams.”
In 2018, Emma Gee, a CHC member who is on the church staff, visited the doctor after noticing a black spot on her middle finger. It turned out to be viral warts, and she had to visit the clinic every two weeks to burn the wart away. However, the wart would grow back again.
During the Prayer Week in Seoul, Emma started believing for total healing. When praying in tongues, she visualised baby skin growing out from inside her fingers, pushing old, infected skin out of her body. After coming back home, she visited the doctor again, only to be told that the viral wart was gone without a trace. For the first time in five years, she left the clinic without having to do any treatment.
“I’m here to tell you that your story can change tonight in your prayer because prayer is creative,” Pastor Bobby declared. “God answers prayer.”
The pastor then led the congregation in studying Psalm 107. From Verse 4, it is evident that the people did not deny their dry and barren reality. In Verse 6, however, they did not linger on their situation; instead, they prayed to the Lord, who delivered them. This pattern continues in Verses 10, 17 and 23 where the people acknowledged their circumstances and shortcomings, yet in Verses 13, 19 and 28, they cried out to the Lord, and He saved them from their distress.
“Pray boldly, because the Lord is with you,” Pastor Bobby encouraged. “Envision and imagine a new future with the Lord.”
To conclude his sermon, he reminded the congregation to make prayer their top priority. Church members then stood together in prayer and worship, believing, envisioning, and declaring the promises of God over their lives.
THE SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY 2024
Earlier in the service, Pastor Bobby, who is also the principal of CHC’s School of Theology, made a special announcement, encouraging members of the church to enrol into the Bible school. The six-month course will start in April and top professors from Vanguard University will be teaching the course. Among them are Professors Doug Petersen and Byron Klaus.
Ang Wei Yang and Lim Shi Ting are two alumni who shared their SOT experiences. Wei Yang, who is now a Chinese Teacher at a local school shared that he loves the Word of God so much, that he continued his theology studies after graduating from SOT. Recently, he wrote a paper on Prophetic Art for his master’s degree and upon his professor’s recommendation, submitted it for publishing. The paper will be published in February. He shared that he signed up for SOT at the tail-end of his National Service, just before he entered university. That prepared him well before he entered into the working society, as it taught him to stay anchored in God.
Shi Ting, who now works full-time in CHC, shared that in SOT, she learned to pray and to hear from God. She spoke about how spending time in God’s presence stirred up her hunger for God and encouraged the church to experience it themselves in SOT.
Pastor Bobby also announced the final amount collected for the Special Offering conducted in October last year, which exceeded the target by a sizeable margin. The money will go into meeting the needs of the church members and mission works, as well as upgrading the equipment and infrastructure.