“Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work. We think of prayer as a common-sense exercise of our higher powers in order to prepare us for God’s work. In the teaching of Jesus Christ, prayer is the working of the miracle of redemption in me which produces the miracle of redemption in others by the power of God.”– Oswald Chambers
What is my work in the life of prayer? Even the things that I must do in prayer require the grace of God, so with God’s grace, there are 3 requirements of me to live a life of prevailing prayer. Here’s my alliteration: To pursue passionate prevailing prayer I must practice and pursue patience, purpose and power.
Here’s what I want to remember in growing in patience, I am a waiter, not just waiting. I am God’s servant, towel over my arm, eyes on Him, ready to respond to what my Lord requires. I want to quickly and easily do what I’m called to do. Patience in prayer is taking the role of waiting on the Lord – learning the rhythm of His grace.
In our human desire to instant answers, its frustrating that God doesn’t’ reply instantly. “Did you hear me?!” Patience in prayer requires time to know the mind of God. Cry out and then take the time to listen.
“It does not matter how imperfect or immature a disciple may be, if he will hang in, that prayer will be answered.”“Some prayers are so big, and God has such a surprising answer for us, that He keeps us waiting for the manifestation.”But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,I wait for God my Savior;my God will hear me.
This is where I spin my wheels so much in prayer – that I don’t know why I’m praying. If I’m praying to get something from God, I’m treating him like a vending machine. If I’m praying for the experience of peace that I get from praying, I’m just treating prayer like a relaxation massage. My problem is that my purpose in prayer is my purpose, but God has a high purpose for me in prayer and I must know it.
“O Lord deliver me from this lust of always vindicating myself.” St. AugustineJohn 17.21 – “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
This year, 2013, saw many people strive and struggle for power – politicians want political power, entertainers want influence and adulation, preachers want fame and retweets. But while Vladimir Putin was recognized as the world’s most powerful man on the planet, 2 others captured the world’s attention by turning their backs on the trappings of power and living as servants. Pope Francis lives like he preaches – a poor pope for a poor church for the poor of the world. Nelson Mandela was celebrated for his humility and selfless leadership of a nation. Both of these men could have grasped for power, but did not. In their lives we see the reflection of Christ’s call to Kingdom power. (See the National Post’s editorial from Dec 23, 2013)
If I want to grow in strength to pray, I need to learn Jesus’ ways to power in prayer. Here are five:
- Unity with the saints – pray together with the church! Gather to pray with 2 or 3 or a hundred, but pray together. Agree in prayer.
- Relationship with Jesus. He’s a real man and he really wants to know you and to be known by you. Read his book, ask him questions, take crazy risks with him.
- Having the ongoing presence of Jesus and listen to the Holy Spirit. Many of the saints before us developed practices to quiet the noise of the world and follow Jesus solely. Rather than reacting to situations in our own strength and wisdom, learning to ask first, “What are you thinking and feeling about this person/situation?”
- Experiencing the peace of God is a sure sign that God’s power is at work. Kingdom strength is finding the peace of God in the middle of a storm.
- Knowing the character of God transforms the power of our prayers – we learn to pray his purposes. Start each prayer with a hymn, song or Bible verse that declares who God is – then in confidence ask him for what He wants.
“We can choke God’s power with a yawn, we can hinder the time that should be spent with God by remembering we have other things to do.“
It seems that if I want to have power in prayer, that I must be powerless to complete my tasks and use all my strength to put away distractions. Prayer will be powerless when it is a tool I wield to get what I want. Prayer becomes the most powerful force when I remember that it is the only work Jesus has called me to.
I love this hymn of the ancient church that captures how Jesus saw his purpose, exercised patience and demonstrated the strengths of kingdom living and I think it’s a good way to close.
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.