Monday, August 07, 2006

Prayer

Jer.2:13 - For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and have hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
Jn.15:5 - ...for without Me you can do nothing.
I Thess.5:17 - Pray without ceasing

The body of Christ is consumed with humanism, which can be defined as the worship and confidence of man and what he can do. Come on, it isn't even close. To say we've pushed prayer to the back burner would be giving us too much credit. Singing, announcements, mailouts, preaching, eating, politics, sports, trips, blogs, e-mails, instruments, fellowships, counseling, year end giving statements, exercise, diet, nutrition, Bible study, books, giving, building, phone tree, business meetings, new members, concerts, pageants, etc., etc., ..................................prayer.
Let's not try and lie to the Holy Spirit which is dangerous business, we need a revival that breaks up the fallow ground of prayerlessness in our lives individually and corporately (called the "church", now an accepted colloquialism for a building). We can sing, preach, sports, build, and all the other above mentioned things with God's perfunctory blessing on the work of our hands (Cain), but the CENTRAL heart of the body should be prayer. How can we possibly deny with a straight face that we've left it and we now don't practice it because we don't believe it. Now, just to give us a little wiggle room, the decline was in full swing by the time you and I were born again. In 1975 when I came to Christ we would have a nice, little prayer time on Wednesday nights, nothing deep or searching, but at least we had it, but now even that is mostly lost.
Now in Acts 12 there is the story of Herod placing Peter in jail with the intention of killing him. Verse five tells us that as Peter was sleeping in the jail at night, the church was praying for him, continually. If one of our famous preachers were put in jail we would call our congressman, go on Larry King, petition the senator, preach outrage, sign up more republicans for the next election, and, oh yes, pray a little. You think that's a little strong? Right now, RIGHT NOW, there are brothers and sisters and preachers and missionaries in prison, RIGHT NOW - how many prayer meetings through the night are there for them and others, RIGHT NOW? TODAY, there will be some men and women of God who will give their lives for Christ, TODAY. Don't worry, they're not Americans. It would be hard for us to test to see how much power we have with God during times of unceasing prayer because like traces of DNA there's not enough to test. And would it not be severely indicting if some people were practicing contemplative prayer more than we were practicing true prayer. Search our blogs and see how many posts there are about prayer.
We will have to do some deep repenting and seeking personally about prayer because it's obvious the church leaders are at the maximum going teach you "You should pray". The American church (whatever that is?), would rather have 100 tithers and five prayers than the reverse. Without a revival we continue to sink into a debt ridden, cultural, well meaning, and powerless religious/social/moral organization that many times couldn't be picked out of a lineup of neighborhood "good" people, Christian or not. 8 out of 10 young people leave the church after the age of 19 and the amazing thing is there's no CRISIS among believers. When the East Berliners started to leave for West Berlin the Soviets were concerned enough to build a wall. As the steady stream of people come through, get baptized, play a little, and then leave we don't even care enough to build a prayer wall. The divorce rate among evangelicals is close to the same as unbelievers and where are the many weekly church wide prayer meetings begging God to help us, EVERY NIGHT IF NECESSARY? No, we conduct more seminars and more "celebrate recovery" meetings and think that will bring God's power when it is all about man's intellect, creativity, and organization. More 75$/hour counseling that is what we need. Preachers having affairs, teenagers on drugs, pregnancy, divorce, homosexuality, and a gigantic shift in the evangelical world toward a earthly, seeker sensitive mode and the most we can do is correctly rail against it, but where is the Spiritual desperation on our part that God can use to ignite a Spiritual fire that changes all of us!? We wait for Rick Warren's next humanistic move because in large part we've built our own idol that is reactive instead of fasting and praying with a sacrificial determination to "lay hold of Almighty God" and let Him fill us with the power of His Spirit.
Martin luther once said, "I have so much to do tomorrow I must get up early to pray five hours before I go". David Brainard would so feel the spirit of prayer fall on him that he would stop his horse, fall to his knees in the snow, and pray for an hour. George Mueller once gathered all his orphans around the breakfast table and they prayed to God and thanked Him for His provision which at the time was an empty table. At that moment a horse drawn milk wagon broke down in front of the orphanage and the man donated his entire inventory to Mueller rather than see it spoil. Finney had two old prayer warriors rent a cellar outside the town he was going to preach in and they would fast and pray continually for God's Spirit to move.
The Chinese Christian was asked after a visit to the American church what impressed him the most about American Christians. He replied, "How much American Christians are able to accomplish without God". If we are ever going to see a move of God's Spirit that results in widespread repentance and brokenness it must come through prayer. And not just "bless Aunt Suzy" type prayers but deep, elongated seasons of breaking through to the Holy of Holies and seeing God's presence empower us to take His name to His people and watch Him transform His own body, after He's changed us. In Luke 11 Jesus tells the story of a man going to his neighbor's house at midnight and banging on the door to ask the friend to lend him some bread for his visiting friend. That is boldness, that is desperation, that is like Jacob refusing to let go until he gets an answer. And Jesus says that the sleeping man doesn't even get up because it's his friend, no, he gets up because he recognizes that if this man is willing to bother him at midnight he must be desperate! Our Lord then uses that story to exhort us to follow that example. If there is one thing that our churches need it is not more buildings; it's not better music; it's not more staff; it's not better fellowship; etc., etc.. It is a dynamic rebirth of desperate, sacrificial prayer.
"If my people, which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves and PRAY...(II Chron.7:14). That's not speaking to America, no, that's talking to believers. Let's continue to "earnestly contend for the faith" (Jude 3) but God help us to see ourselves in the mirror of God's correction. Truth without power is theology, the study of God. If the unsaved world really knew what we believe, that the Creator of the universe lives in us, they would call us liars. Without a massive revival what is transpiring today both in the evangelical and the unsaved realms will continue their courses mostly unimpeded. You and I have no power in ourselves, let us start to pray like we really believe it can change things/us. Be careful, prayer momentum is difficult and Satan hates it most of all. Look what he's accomplished so far.

May the blood of Jesus Christ be the standard that comes against the forces of evil, in Jesus Name.

Amen.

3 comments:

Vee said...

Last night I prayed... I must admit the prayer was so deep that words failed me. They didn't seem big enough to me, is the only way I can describe it.

Then I came here to read your post, your post on prayer.... how timely.

You are right when you say that we must pray, and that it is the only thing that will bring people to a geniune repentance.

Thankyou for a great post!

Much needed I think.

carla said...

"How much American Christians are able to accomplish without God".

How true.

Thanks R.

Kim T said...

O how I need this call to arms. Kim T