“The point is not–‘will you believe?’ but ‘will I, who know Jesus Christ, believe on your behalf?'” Oswald Chambers
As I think about prayer, faith and work are 2 seemingly opposite but very complimentary values needed in having a life of prayer. (Now, many of us simply pray in life – maybe at meals, perhaps at bedtimes, in crisis we cry out and at holidays we give thanks – but it doesn’t take much faith or much work to pray this way.) If we’re trying to live a life of following Jesus, it seems to me that we should be praying in the ways that Jesus demonstrated – both in faith and with diligent hard work.
This reminds me of the story of Jesus healing a man (who had been paralyzed for 38 years) – very exciting but he did it on a Sabbath. Bad Jesus, don’t you know that Jewish people don’t do any work on the Sabbath? Now the teachers and lawyers started to come after him – this was their chance to challenge his authority. It strikes me today that Jesus distanced himself from having healed this man, he claimed that it was his Father who was doing the healing. About God he said: “My Father is always at his work to this very day.” About his part in the healing: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing.” Jesus only worked in prayer. (John 5)
Jesus, in constant communication with his Father, was working together with his Father to renew and restore and to make things right. If talking to God is called prayer, the follower of Jesus should (in following Jesus ways) be occupied by the thoughts of God in every moment. Otherwise, can I be called a follower of Jesus?
The value of Faith in Prayer:
- Faith asks this question: Who is God? What is his character?
- Based then on the person of Jesus and the character of God (same thing), we can look past any mountain of trouble and know that God can move it. By faith, we no longer see the mountain, we see Jesus on the mountain. We don’t have to move the mountain, we just know that it must move. Faith in prayer requires time to see things from God’s perspective.
- “The church prayed, and God did the impossible thing, and Peter was delivered. We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” Oswald Chambers
The value of Work in Prayer
- I know it’s not our favourite way to see God, but imagine that he’s our boss (which, he is – we willingly signed on to his work crew). As the boss, he’s the mastermind, the CEO and the main risk-taker. We’re the workers and we do the work that he’s assigned to us. The work assigned to each worker is prayer; this work is prayer and gets done by prayer. My career path: prayer. My professional training: prayer.
- If the main work was preaching, we’d be confronting and instructing, but since the work is prayer, we are comforting and listening.
- Working in prayer has a great effect on missions in that prayer works powerfully and aggressively against the powers of darkness. Regularly throw your shoulder into the work of prayer for missionaries!
- The work of prayer activates the one true worker: God. If I’m making things happen, it’s not God.
- “You labour at prayer and results happen all the time from His standpoint.” Oswald Chambers
I’m inspired and excited that the Lord has invited me to His work in His way. He really wants me to know Him better so as I pray, He’s going to show me new things in His character. The passions of His heart will be revealed. The time I spend in prayer will be the most effective and fruitful time I spend today. Things will be done – His way. Lives will be changed – in His power. The work will go forward – by His labour.