When We Pray

Day 5

My father-in-law recently pointed out to me a passage of Scripture regarding the call to pray that really struck a chord in my heart. Matthew 26: 36-46 recounts the instance when Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples to pray. We find that at a certain point, Jesus instructs the majority of the disciples to stay back while asking Peter, James, and John to come with Him deeper into the garden to pray. Then the Bible says that Jesus “went a little further to pray.”

There is something to be said about the example of Jesus illustrated in those five words: “a little further to pray”. When God desires to take us further in our purpose, He calls us to go further in our prayer life. And in order to go a little further in our purpose, we must purpose to go a little further in our prayers. Sometimes prayer requires an extra effort or a greater intention; sometimes it needs to be elevated in our priorities.

A friend once told me that if you don’t have a time and place to pray, it won’t happen, and I think he was right. Having a set time and place or an appointment on the calendar helps in making our prayer life more consistent. Sometimes when God wants to take us “a little further,” He calls us to change not the length of our prayer time but the consistency of it.

Our prayer life is not the litmus test for our spiritual discipline but rather the indicator of the health of our relationship with God. Relationships are built and sustained by constant communication. Of course, God already knows the details of our lives, but there is an expressed dependence upon God when we invite Him into those details. The man or woman who does not pray is essentially telling God, “I’ve got this,” revealing alarming pride and self-sufficiency.

God desires to take us beyond what we can do in our own strength in order to fulfill His purpose in our lives. But truthfully, we can only journey in our calling insofar as we’ve paved the distance in prayer.

God equips us for our destiny in the moments we share with Him in prayer.

How consistent is your prayer life? Do you have a designated time and place to pray?

When We Pray

Day 4

I read a book several years ago that transformed the way I prayed. It’s called Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, and now I read it every year. In it, Batterson emphasizes the point that in order to see God work in a specific way in our lives, we must pray specifically; conversely, general prayers get general answers.

I know that there have been times that I’ve prayed very generic, vague prayers—prayers like, “Lord, touch my life and lead me in your ways.” Not a bad prayer, right? And that’s a good place to start perhaps, but admittedly it isn’t a very specific prayer. A much more powerful approach to this prayer would be, “Lord, you see what’s happening right now in my life. I am being faced with the difficult decision to relocate due to my job. Align my heart with your will. Examine the motivation of my heart for wanting to follow this opportunity and relocate. Help me see the impact of this move on my life and family five or ten years down the road. Give me clarity about the right decision to make. Your Word instructs me not to lean on my own understanding and to submit all my ways to you. So I submit this opportunity to you. If this is what I should do, make the path plain before me. If it’s not the right direction, close the door before me. I place it in your hands and trust you to be my guide.” That direct prayer will often yield a direct answer from God.

There was a time in my own life when the band I was in really needed a better touring vehicle than the 15-passenger van we’d put 300,000 miles on. I began to pray specifically for a Mercedes Sprinter, built out for touring. I prayed for the finances to purchase it and for the right relationships to make it happen. I reminded God, (as if He forgets), that He called me to spread the Gospel and that I would need his provision to continue. Well, after praying that prayer consistently for several weeks, we found a few different Sprinters we considered purchasing but none of them were exactly what we needed, and we didn’t have the funds for a down payment anyway. Then I recalled a business owner that I had connected with that told me if I ever really needed anything to let him know. I prayed about calling to ask him for advice about how to purchase such an expensive vehicle. After several days of prayer and talking myself into calling him, I finally picked up the phone. I shared our situation and asked him if he had any ideas. His reply to me was, “How much would you need to put down on that?” I ballparked an amount and he replied, “Who do I make the check out to?”

WHAT?! Talk about an answer to prayer. Prayer pointed me to the person who already had a ‘yes’ in his heart for this request. I still thank God for that man and his open-handed generosity on that day. But the story didn’t end there. We were in a church green room that day getting ready to play a show that evening. I couldn’t contain my excitement and had to celebrate this answer to prayer with a lap around the church followed by a brief moment of busting into the Running Man. Don’t judge me. Seeing my excitement, one of the promoters of the event became curious about the commotion I was making and asked about it, so I started unpacking this miracle. Come to find out, he worked for a Mercedes manufacturer and told us that he could get us a Sprinter at COST! I was in the right room, on the right day to meet the right guy that God would use to help us continue to do what we were doing to reach the next generation. A few months later, we were traveling in a custom Sprinter with five bunks, a television, a microwave, air conditioning, the whole shebang! A specific prayer yielded a specific answer.

Let me clarify that Jesus isn’t some “genie in a bottle.” But when we make His kingdom our priority and when our lives revolve around His will, the desires of our heart will align with His and He will make a way for us to live out what He has called us to do.

Could your prayers be more specific today?

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
1 John 5:14 ESV

 

The Ultimate Priority: Worship, Day 3

Revival

Today’s reading is drawn from Ezekiel 44:15 and Revelation 4:11.

Leading people to and through revival calls us to our ultimate priority; to worship God in the innermost sanctuary of His presence (verse 16).

All ministry must become the natural outflow of an intimate relationship with God, who alone can impart life, healing, forgiveness, and cleansing. Simply stated, Ezekiel sees the temple as “inner court” ministry to the Lord (43:5; 44:15–17) and “outer court” ministry to the people (44:19). The priests who neglected the inner court were called an abomination to God (verse 13). In contrast, faithful priests who ministered to the Lord with worship and adoration in the inner court received God’s enablement to minister to the needs of the people in the outer court.

The God-given pattern in this text calls us to: 1) come near, that is, to daily put God at the center of our lives; 2) minister to God, that is, to give Him the glory, honor, and power that are due Him (verse 4:11); and 3) stand before Him, that is, to wait upon God, totally available to Him, acknowledging His lordship over us.

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