Before arriving at Alabama, someone asked me this question: “If I could do anything in the world, what would it be?” What a wonderful, thought provoking question. After pausing for a few moments to think, I quickly arrived at this answer: “I would spend my days alone in a closet praying.”
I had no idea that the Lord was listening to my answer that day. Months later when I arrived in Alabama, I walked through my home for the first time. (Yes, I’m crazy enough to move into a home I’ve never set eyes on!) To my astonishment, for the first time ever, I saw that I had a closet all to myself! Wow! I’ve made good use of my little room. It’s precious to me.
In addition to my prayer closet time, I chose to spend last week in intentional prayer. I did this because my pastor asked his flock to set aside a time for prayer and fasting. The purpose was to launch us into 2016 with vision and holiness. We were told during Sunday services that the doors of the chapel would be open the following two weeks from 8 am until 8:30 pm so that anyone who wanted to pray could come to church and do just that.
So, for hours each evening last week, I drove to the chapel with a full heart. Soft worship music played in the room to invite us to quiet our hearts and sit at the Throne of Grace. Daily, I closed my eyes and poured out my heart to Father in Heaven. By the end of the week, my spirit was full but my body was exhausted. True prayer is labor because it unites your heart with the heart of God. When I pray, my spirit travails. Oh that many sons and daughters would come home to Papa’s house because of my prayers!
Unfortunately not many showed up to pray last week. The average number of folks there each evening was only a half dozen or so (and the church has well over 500 members). I found the lack of intercessors to be sad. The church’s lack of hunger for God also made me angry. Yes, it made me angry! We are so needy as a people, but we don’t even know it.
I honestly do not understand why my Christian brothers and sisters care so little about prayer. I have led different prayer movements throughout the last few years, and getting people to pray is the single most difficult thing you can do in ministry. I believe there are several reasons for this.
First, we live in a culture where people want to see immediate results and production. We set about our days doing. My mind spins as I read through the activities in church bulletins. There is so much busyness! I watch God’s people run from one activity to another and get fatigued just observing them. We rush to work, sign our kids up for activities, do domestic tasks, hurry hurry, rush rush, do do do. We feel we are accomplishing more for the kingdom when we serve a meal, teach a message, or participate in any myriad of ministry activities than we accomplish sitting quietly before Abba in prayer. I can promise you, dear ones, that nothing could be further from the truth!
Secondly, I don’t think we even know how to be still anymore. We have a hard time stopping for more than five minutes to have a real conversation with each other. Social media is partly to blame of course. Prayer demands that we still our hearts and minds. I spend as much time listening when I pray as I do speaking. Prayer is communion with God. It’s abiding in His presence. When we take time to pray, we demonstrate to God that He is important to us. We spend time with people that we love, right? Why, oh WHY aren’t we spending more time with Jesus?
The final reason I believe we don’t pray as much as we should is the most grave of all. We fail to realize our desperate need when we are slothful in prayer. Jesus said, “I am the vine. You are the branches. Apart from me you can do nothing.” We can do NOTHING without the Lord. This isn’t saying that we cannot fill our days with activity apart from Jesus. It is saying, however, that time will show that our fleshly works amount to nothing because God is not in them. This fact is sobering. Prayerlessness explains why so many ministers burn out. It’s why we quit running the race of faith. It’s why we live in defeat. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing.
Oh dear ones, the good news is that with Jesus, we can do ALL THINGS. We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. His grace covers us when we fall. Whatever we ask in Jesus’ Name in His will, we will receive. These are amazing promises in Scripture. When we remind God of His promises in prayer, we demonstrate our faith and our need!
I also want to mention one final undeniable fact: whenever Jesus did anything on earth, He prayed first. If God’s own Son needed to pray, why do we think we don’t need to as well?
I have read stories of revival. I love to read these stories because they stir up my faith and help me remember all that God has done throughout our history. And you know what? All of the earth’s major revivals have started with prayer.
If ever there was a mighty man or woman of God to be found on earth, you can bet that their walk with Jesus started and ended in prayer. A few quotes from some of my personal heroes:
“Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. Never do they love one another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other’s hearts in prayer.” ― Charles Finney
“The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings. So is the prayer meeting a grace-ometer, and from it we may judge of the amount of divine working among a people. If God be near a church, it must pray. And if He be not there, one of the first tokens of His absence will be a slothfulness in prayer!”- Chalres Spurgeon
“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” – Martin Luther
“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”-Martin Luther (I love this one!)
“Prayer at its best is the expression of the total life, for all things else being equal, our prayers are only as powerful as our lives. – A.W. Tozer
“He who kneels the most, stands the best.” D.L. Moody
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” – Abraham Lincoln
“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” ― Corrie Ten Boom
Do you see that prayer is where the power to do God’s will is found? It’s where relationship with God is cultivated. Folks, we must pray. Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must pray!!!
- I have been praying for another Great Awakening to rise up and sweep over this country.
- I have been praying that the Lord God would grant us in His great grace national and private repentance.
- I have been praying that Jesus would stir up a supernatural hunger and thirst for Him among His people.
- I have been praying that God would wake up His sleeping Bride in our nation so that when we meet Him face to face, we would not be ashamed, but found spotless and beautiful.
Why do I pray so earnestly? I pray because I love Jesus so desperately. I thirst for Him. Some days my heart feels like it will burst because I love Jesus so much. I also pray because I so want to be beautiful in my Jesus’s eyes. I want to hear Him say, “Well done.” I believe with all my heart that this hoped for pronouncement can only happen if I take the time to pray. ♥
(If you want to pray but don’t know how, simply pray this prayer in faith: “Lord, teach me to pray.” God will answer. He would love to answer that prayer! Also, I would highly recommend that you watch the movie called War Room. It will help you get started.)
“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17