” the real work of the preacher is to instruct with an end to securing moral action from the hearers. “
The man that will have God’s best becomes at once the object of the personal attention of the Holy Spirit. Such a man will not be required to wait for the rest of the church to come alive. He will not be penalized for the failures of his fellow Christians, nor be asked to forego the blessing till his sleepy brethren catch up.
God deals with the individual heart as exclusively as if only one existed. If this should seem to be an unduly individualistic approach to revival, let it be remembered that religion is personal before it can be social. Every prophet, every reformer, every revivalist had to meet God alone before he could help the multitudes.
The great leaders who went on to turn thousands to Christ had to begin with God and their own soul. The plain Christian of today must experience personal revival before he can hope to bring renewed spiritual life to his church.
Psalm 130:1-8 ESV — A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
A few years ago, I heard the story of one missionary serving with our organization who, in a short time, had planted five churches in a difficult part of Northeast India. Curious of how this young brother did it, I called one of our senior leaders and asked him if he could tell me more about this brother’s ministry. All that I knew was that he was from a tribal background and didn’t have any college education, yet regardless, it seemed that God was with him in a remarkable way.
The first church he planted began with the healing of a Hindu priest who was paralyzed. Then, one after another, four more churches were born. I was more than curious to find out this brother’s secret. Our senior leader said he would check into it and let me know what he found out. When he called to tell me, he said, “There is nothing unusual about him. I found nothing special except for one thing—he gets up very early each morning and spends two or three hours in prayer and then an hour or two reading the Bible. This habit began while he was studying in one of our Bible colleges.”
Let me give another example. One morning I was talking to a senior leader in our work on the mission field. He was traveling throughout North India to meet with many of our leaders and appoint new workers to projects that had recently been started. In our conversation we were discussing who might be able to take a certain new position. I asked him, “What do you think about this particular brother? He seems to be a really godly man. Why don’t we think about putting him in that position?” We talked back and forth about this brother’s abilities, his lack of experience and the seriousness of the challenge in this new area of work. But finally we both agreed to trust him with the particular job. There was something about him that caused us to make that decision: He spends nearly four hours in prayer each day.
Our decision was not based on the fact that he had started a dozen churches or that he was able to oversee a large region of the country quite well. Our decision was based on the fact that God was with him and that he knew how to pray. You see, prayer is God’s method of carrying out His purposes upon this earth. There is a mystery to the truth that God waits to hear and answer the prayers of His people. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 9:37–38? “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (emphasis added). There are many people all throughout Christian history who knew the power of prayer. John Hyde was one of them. In the late 1800s, he left his home in Illinois to serve the Lord as a missionary to the people of India. There he labored, not just physically but, more important, in prayer. He was known to stay up late into the night praying, as well as rising very early each morning, crying out to God, “Give me souls, O God, or I die!” He was so gripped with passion for the lost, and he knew that the strongholds the enemy had upon the people could only be broken through prayer. And so pray he did. In fact, he prayed so much that the position of his heart had shifted in his chest, later causing the complications that led to his death. But because of his prayers, in 1904 the northwestern states of India where he had labored for years experienced one of the greatest revivals the nation has ever known! Just like Praying Hyde, we too can learn to pray and see God accomplish great things through our prayers. But we must learn. You could read every book ever written on prayer, but that won’t make you a person of prayer. We learn to pray by doing it.
In The Last Days Newsletter, Leonard Ravenhill tells about a group of tourists who were visiting a picturesque village. As they walked by an old man sitting beside a fence, one tourist, in a rather patronizing way, turned to the old man and asked, “Were any great men born in this village?” The old man simply turned and replied, “Nope, only babies.” My brothers and sisters, we must grow into the life of prayer. Let us begin today, taking the first steps toward becoming people great in prayer. As we do, we will see incredible things happen in our lifetime. “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results” (James 5:16, NLT).
I know firsthand just how effective the prayers of those who trust the Lord and continue in prayer are. For three and one-half years my mother fasted and prayed for the Lord to call one of her six sons into full-time ministry. One after the other, each of my brothers started their careers, with only me, the youngest and shyest, left as my mother’s last hope. But when I was 16, the Lord answered my mother’s prayers and called me to the ministry. The call on my life is a direct result of her prayers. As John Wesley once said, “God will do nothing but in answer to prayer.”1 I believe John Wesley first learned the importance of prayer and how to pray through the example he saw in his mother, Susanna Wesley. This woman of God and mother of 19 children was known for her devoted prayer life. In the midst of her busy household and numerous duties, she consistently made time to pray by pulling her apron over her head to find solitude with God. It was out of her prayers that two of her sons—John and Charles Wesley—became key leaders in the Church in the 1700s. “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). Let us receive His invitation and begin to walk this road of learning to pray. “
*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Like a doctor with a sick patient whose disease eludes diagnosis, religious leaders have for some years been aware that there is something seriously wrong with evangelicalism and have yet been unable to lay their finger upon the precise trouble. The symptoms they have discovered in abundance, but the cause back of them has been hard to locate. Mostly we have spent our time correcting symptoms, having all the while an uneasy feeling that our remedies did not go deep enough. Knowing that a disease that cannot be identified invariably calls out a flock of untrained experts to analyze and prescribe, we yet risk a pronouncement upon the condition of evangelical Christianity in our day, and we believe we may not be too far from the truth. The trouble seems to be a disorder of the spiritual nerve system which we might, for the lack of a proper term, call dual orientation. Its dominant characteristic appears to be a cross up among the nerve ganglia of the soul resulting in an inability to control the direction of the life. The patient starts one direction and before he knows it he is going another. His inward eyes do not coordinate; each one sees a different object and seeks to lead the steps toward it. The individual is caught in the middle, trying to be true to both foci of the heart, and never knowing which he would rather follow. Evangelicalism (at least in many circles) is suffering from this strange division of life-purpose. Its theology faces toward the East and the sacred Temple of Jehovah. Its active interests face toward the world and the temple of Dagon. Doctrinally it is Christian, but actually it is pagan mentality, pagan scale of values and pagan religious principles.
Prayer: Communing with God in Everything – Collected Insights from A. W. Tozer | https://amzn.to/2tpKeab
*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Tozer Quote | Be Right With God Hardcover Journal
One thing must be kept in mind: We Christians are Christians first and everything else after that. Our first alliegiance is to the kingdom of God. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are grateful for political freedom. We thank God for democracy as a way of life. But we never forget that we are sons of God and citizens of another city whose builder and maker is God. For this reason, we must not identify the gospel with any political system or make Christianity to be synonymous with any form of government, however noble. Christ stands alone, above and outside of every ideology devised by man. He does not join any of our parties or take sides with any of our great men except as they may come over on His side and try to follow Him in righteousness and true holiness. Then He is for them, but only as individuals, never as leaders of some political faction. The true Christian will be loyal to his country and obedient to those in authority, but he will never fall into the error of confusing his own national culture with Christianity. Christianity is bigger than any country, loftier than any civilization, broader than any human ideology.
Attributes of God, Volume 1: A Journey Into the Father’s Heart | https://amzn.to/2RXgSdu
*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
We make a mistake if we do not learn to admire God in all things, great and small; for a new rich mine would be opened in our consciousness if we could learn to recognize God in nature as well as in grace! We do acknowledge that the God of nature is also the God of grace; and it is true that we glorify God’s redeeming grace no less when we glorify His creating and sustaining power. When Christ came to redeem us, He stepped into the framework of an already existent nature. If we will obey and believe, we can go on pushing back the narrow borders of our spiritual world until it takes in the whole creation of God! At one time, the English merchant and renowned poet, William Blake, stood watching the sun come up out of the sea. The bright yellow disk of the sun emerged, gliding the water and painting the sky with a thousand colors. “Ah! I see gold!” the merchant said. Blake answered, “I see the glory of God! And I hear a multitude of the heavenly host crying, ‘The whole earth is full of His glory.'”
Attributes of God, Volume 1: A Journey Into the Father’s Heart | https://amzn.to/2RXgSdu
*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Until recently, we were pretty much in the dark about the human body. But then came the X-ray with its peeping eye…a marvelous instrument which has saved us much human misery. It was able to show us the human heart, but it couldn’t show us the soul or it could show us the throat, but not the voice. The brain, but not the mind. Nevertheless, medical science has done much to help this outward man that perishes. If our eyes are getting dim, we can get glasses. If our kidneys or heart fail, we can have a transplant. But as far as I know, there is one member of the body that has never been transplanted. If we used our arms and legs as much as we use this part, we’d be incredibly stiff and sore. But this member never gets tired, and I’ve never seen one with a splint on it. As you get older you may get dentures – but you will always have the same tongue you were born with! There are artificial joints made these days, but no artificial tongues.
My mother was pretty smart when it came to the tongue. She sprinkled her daily conversation with wise sayings like “”Keep your tongue between your teeth”” and “”Think twice before you speak once.”” The Scottish people have some proverbs, too: “”Keep your tongue a prisoner and your body will go free”” and “”A long tongue shortens friendships.”” My mother would also tell us, “”Remember, one day you’ll answer to God for every word you say.””
The Bible mentions many kinds of tongues:
a flattering tongue (Psalm 5:9)
a proud tongue (Psalm 12:3; 73:9)
a lying tongue (Psalm 109:2; Prov. 6:17)
a deceitful tongue (Psalm 120:2)
a perverted tongue (Prov. 10:31; 17:20)
a soothing tongue (Prov. 15:4)
a healing tongue (Prov. 12:18)
a destructive tongue (Prov. 17:4)
a mischievous and wicked tongue (Psalm 10:7)
a soft tongue (Prov. 25:15)
a backbiting tongue (Prov. 25:23)
James also talks about the tongue. He says it’s a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. He calls the tongue a fire, the very world of iniquity. James says it is untamable, a restless evil full of deadly poison, used both to bless God and to curse men. But James also told us that a man who doesn’t stumble in what he says is a perfect man. (James 3:2-10)
I wonder how startled James would be today to find out how much man has “”conquered.”” We’ve put men into big, fancy tin cans, and shot them off into space. We’ve sent men into submarines without coming up to the surface for months. Man has had the moon under his feet and he’s left his footprints on the ocean floor as well. We’ve also put some fantastic canisters up into the sky, bouncing our voices off these satellites to countries around the world. Look at how we’ve harnessed the wind with giant windmills, and made the rivers and waterfalls drive our turbines. What incredible power man has over his world! And yet, he has still not conquered his own tongue.
A Damaging Sword
In Psalm 64:3 the tongue is called “”a sword.”” This sword has certainly damaged, bruised, wounded, and killed more people than all the swords in all the wars since history began. You’ve seen it many times. That newly married couple – so lovey-dovey for days and days on end. But one day the fellow lost his temper and slashed into the heart and affections of his wife with uncontrollable anger and with words he might regret forever. But it was said. The damage was done. How often we need to remember that old saying: We cannot call back the arrow we’ve shot into the air, the water under the bridge, or the spoken word. One of the earliest poems I ever learned was:
Angry words, O let them never
From the tongue, unbridled slip.
With the soul’s best impulse
Ever check them,
Ere they soil the lips.
Angry words are quickly spoken,
Bitter thoughts are rashly stirred.
Fondest links of life are broken.
By a single angry word.
Is there something that could be numbered greater than the incomprehensible amount of stars in the heavens? What about the sands by the sea, every blade of grass, or we could add all of these things together. There would still be something that would exceed them in number! It’s the things said by this little monster called the tongue. This uncontrollable little red rebel that lives in a red cave guarded by two rows of white soldiers called teeth. Think about how many words are being spoken today just over all the telephones worldwide. And how about all the words slung around the globe by our TVs and radios? The tongue has done more damage than any other instrument in the human body.
We are responsible for the words that we speak. “”And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.”” (Matt. 12:36-37) Our own words snare us. (Prov. 6:2) We are ensnared by vows and promises spoken, but not kept. By reckless criticisms and rash judgments. “”How can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil.”” (Matt. 12:34-35)
The human heart can be a snakepit, a dungeon of devilry, a foxhole of filth, a pit of perversity. Actually, it’s the manufacturing place of all uncleanness and all sin. The showcase of the heart is the tongue. My simple words cannot exaggerate the corruption of the heart. And the filth that comes out of a filthy heart comes through the lips. But when I’ve said all I can about it, the strongest thing is surely said in Proverbs 18:21 – “”Death and life are in the power of the tongue….””
A Rolling Story
A rolling stone gathers no moss, but a rolling story gathers something fresh every time we say it. Every time we repeat it, something is added and something is taken away until it’s nothing like the truth. Some little bit of gossip starts with a whisper, then it swells and becomes a tumult, and somebody’s left heartbroken. Do you wonder that Proverbs 10:19 says, “”When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise””? Or Ecclesiastes 10:14, “”The fool multiplies words…””?
How often we sing (full of self-pity) “”Oh what needless pain we bear….”” Someone should write a verse about what needless pain we cause when we lacerate people, wound them, and bruise them with our tongues. I want to sound a word of caution about the flippancy of our language, and the carelessness and exaggeration in the language used by preachers. What awful things come from their lips these days that cannot be justified by Scripture!
Just this week I spoke with a big, strong professional football player who has now become a full-time evangelist…a very godly man. He broke into tears as he told me about the slander and deceit used against him among Christians. He said through his tears, “”Mr. Ravenhill, I’ve suffered character assassination.”” I said, “”Friend, you’re under a delusion that most Christians are under. There’s nobody that can assassinate your character. Character is what God knows you are. Reputation is what men think you are. They might have lied, wrecked your reputation, and made it almost impossible for you to get into other pulpits, but remember this”” (as you read this, you remember it too): “”The only one who can wreck your character is you. God doesn’t listen to gossip except to judge it. The only one who can lower or higher you in the estimation of God is you by your obedience or by your disobedience.””
Products of the Tongue
Have the Christians of today improved over the Christians in Corinth? They didn’t have a Bible to read but Paul wrote boldly to them, “”For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there may be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances.”” These are all products of the tongue. Hey, friend, before we go any further, make out your checklist. Have you been in unprofitable, ridiculous debates, arguing just to win someone over? So very often we win the debate and lose the friend. Paul said that among these professing Christians there was strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disturbances.
After Jesus Himself, I believe that Paul was the greatest preacher who ever lived. But when writing to the Corinthians, he said, “”And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.”” (I Cor 2:1-3) That doesn’t sound like the Apostle we think of, clothed with all the armor of God, pulling down strongholds and putting the devil to flight.
But then he goes on in verse 4, “”And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom…”” I doubt he was a fascinating preacher, juggling with words that sparkled. His job was to glorify Jesus. If we preach and people remember us, we’ve missed it. He says that his preaching was not with persuasive words of wisdom, “”but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”” He didn’t spend hours like some preachers, selecting the most fascinating and flashy words. Maybe we might say “”fleshy”” words. His concern was to project Jesus Christ only and Him crucified. There was nothing flippant or fleshly about what he said, and certainly nothing foolish.
Paul warns us, “”In reference to your former manner of life, lay aside the old self…be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth…Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”” (Eph. 4:22-31)
Paul also exhorts us, “”There must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting…”” (Eph. 5:4) I’ve heard preachers eating dinner together get into borderline jokes, and then someone pushes it further until it’s totally disgusting. I like humor, but I don’t like stupidity, filthiness, or coarse jesting. Oh how many silly, stupid things are said. Dr. Tozer used to say to me, “”Len, be careful. Remember, never, never, speak lightly of the devil. Don’t tell any jokes about hell.”” The devil is not almighty, but we must not forget that he is mighty. All too often Christians speak too lightly of the kingdom of darkness, as if to treat the whole thing as unimportant. (Jude 9)
Muzzle Your Mouth
David says, “”I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle.”” (Psalm 39:1) We usually think of other parts of our body as being agencies of sin, but not our tongue. David says “”I will guard my mouth.””
Colossians 4:6 says, “”Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt.”” Not pepper! Sometimes anger gets in our speech and spoils everything that we’ve said. Psalm 12:3 says, “”May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that speaks great things.”” These surely are stern warnings to believers.
Psalm 15 asks, “”Lord, who may abide in Thy tent? Who may dwell on Thy holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.”” So there you have it: walking and talking. Walking uprightly, speaking the truth in your heart. And in verse 3, “”He does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend.”” I believe we sabotage a lot of our prayers because we’re doing what James says – one minute we’re blessing God, and then afterwards we’re cursing men. Not blaspheming or using vile language, but criticizing them. One minute our tongues are speaking about holy things, and the next, unholy things. You see, the tongue is an index of the heart. Do you wonder that I shudder when I look at a large congregation singing, “”Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise…””? Goodness me, if they did have 1,000 tongues, there would be 999 times more gossip and criticism and slander than there is now! Earth would be hell and the Church would be as bad. Oh, no! If we can’t control the one we have, how could we manage 999 more? How often do we sing our great Redeemer’s praise? For five minutes in two Sunday morning hymns? And the rest of the week it’s careless and silly talk. Talk of anything but the deep things of God.
Showcase Of The Heart
Our words reflect what’s in our hearts. If a man loves sports, he talks sports. If he loves money, he talks money. If he loves art, he talks art. I marvel at the slackness of speech among Christians and at how often preachers are guilty of gross exaggerations in their reports about their meetings, and at how carelessly they slander others. I was at a ministers’ conference some years ago and we drove back and forth in packed buses all week between the hotel and the conference center. But never once among all those ministers was the conversation about God or holiness or the coming of Jesus. It was sports, or golf handicaps, or how big their Sunday School was. It was just senseless chatter even among preachers. But preachers aren’t the only ones guilty of conversation which is unprofitable and unedifying.
Do you wonder that the psalmist in Psalm 51 cries “”Create in me a clean heart””? We’ve already considered the foulness of the human heart, yet God can take that heart and make it pure and beautiful and eloquent for Himself. There’s nothing that gives us away as much as our speech. Our speech shows where our hearts are.
You can’t cover up your heart. If there’s bitterness in our hearts, it will come out through what we say and how we say it. If there’s hatred, hatred will come. If there’s anger, anger will come. No wonder James says that the tongue can’t be controlled. The heart is engineering all that the tongue is going to say.
The heart is the factory that produces all these vile things, and the tongue is the showcase of the heart. Surely one of the most amazing things about the transforming grace of God is that man loses his filthy language, lying tongue, and unholy anger when he gets saved. There’s little use carrying a big Bible and wearing a lapel pin saying how spiritual we are if we explode at the office, speak unkindly to our children, or if we’re critical and bitter and become known as somebody who carries on.
Stick Out Your Tongue
In the springtime my mother used to say, “”Put out your tongue and let me see what it’s like.”” She’d say, “”Oh, no! You’re not in good condition,”” and then she had some horrible concoction that we had to take. I wonder, if we had to put out our tongues at the end of each day if they would be unclean with gossip, slander, criticism, or bitterness? Or do we have them under control, as Paul says, “”sound in speech which is beyond reproach””? (Titus 2:8) Is our speech always with grace, seasoned with salt?
I helped at a funeral once where there were several teenage children. They sobbed and groaned and carried on as I’d never seen anyone do at a funeral. I said to my senior pastor, “”Oh, how much they loved their mother!”” He said, “”No, they’re just crying in remorse. They were the most disobedient, backbiting, sarcastic children ever. They always abused their mother with their words. They gave her an awful time. They just cut her to pieces with their tongues.”” Many of us suddenly feel this same unbearable guilt when someone dies and we can’t take back the words we’ve spoken or heal the wounds we’ve made.
This is a day when people are screaming about ecology. We want pure rivers and pure air. What about pure hearts? It’s a pity we don’t raise our voice in the Church and call everyone to recite Psalm 51 and cry with David, “”Create in me a clean heart!”” Or, as Wesley put it,
O for a heart to praise my God.
A heart from sin set free.
A heart that always feels the blood,
So freely shed for me.
A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
My Great Redeemer’s throne,
Where only Christ is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone.
If Christ were speaking internally all the time, we wouldn’t come out with the rubbish that we utter so much.
When you get to my age, you look back and it’s an awesome thing. I think about the millions of words I must have said in 60 years of preaching. Speaking at least 120 words a minute, I can speak 1,200 words in ten minutes. In 60 minutes I’ve spoken 7,200 words and I’ve done this twice a day sometimes and done it for years. Then there’s all the words I’ve written.
What a day when all the great orators stand before the Lord. Oh, that we might find men today whose hearts are burning with love and devotion, and because their hearts are burning, their speech will burn – with love, with adoration, and with hatred for sin. My prayer is, “”Lord, teach me to hold my tongue. Teach me to do as the psalmist says, set a watch at the door of my lips that my speech may always be seasoned with grace. My tongue never a sword. My speech always edifying, uplifting, and that which glorifies God.”” Amen.
For further study
Psalm 120:2-3 Proverbs 20:15
II Cor. 12:20
All Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible,(C)1977 The Lockman Foundation.
COPYRIGHT/REPRODUCTION LIMITATIONS: This data file is the sole property of Leonard Ravenhill. It may not be altered or edited in any way. It may be reproduced only in its entirety for circulation as “”freeware,”” without charge. All reproductions of this data file must contain the copyright notice [i.e., “”Copyright (C)1994 by Leonard Ravenhill, Lindale, Texas””]. This data file may not be used without the permission of Leonard Ravenhill for resale or the enhancement of any other product sold. This includes all of its content with the exception of a few brief quotations. Please give the following source credit: Copyright (C)1994 by Leonard Ravenhill, Lindale, Texas – http://www.ravenhill.org/
Prayer is not a new product to be marketed. Today we have prayer towers, prayer cloths, dial-a-prayer, live prayer lines, books, prayer letters, tapes, maps, diaries, prayer clocks, beads, charms and trinkets galore-but less prayer than ever. There are endless seminars, workshops, retreats and courses on prayer. But the question must always be asked, where is the living God in the midst of these products and events? It is not mere instruction and seminars that we need. Instead we need men and women who will get on their knees and pray. Those who will do this, depending totally on the living God, are the ones God will use to shake this generation.
In his book “”Why Revival Tarries””, Leonard Ravenhill cries out for reality in this critical area: “”No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. The pulpit can be a shopwindow to display one’s talents; the prayer closet allows no showing off. “”Poverty-stricken as the Church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of prayer. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payer, few prayers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere. “”We…mistake action for unction, commotion for creation, and rattles for revivals.””
Too often, we equate learning about prayer with the real thing. For others, the promotion of prayer has eliminated prayer itself. What passes for prayer in these cases is more often the mindless activism that mistakes motion for life. Prayer is not a management technique. The Christian calendar is crowded with so-called prayer meetings, twenty-four-hour prayer chains, marches, vigils, nights-of-prayer, half-nights of prayer and a host of other prayer movements covertly designed to promote secondary causes. Some of these are real. Others are merely used as a promotion technique by religious movements, sects and organizations. Real prayer is spiritual warfare. It requires us to wrestle with the world, the flesh and the devil – overcoming in the power of the Holy Spirit rather than in our own flesh and mind.
Therefore, the first requirement in prayer is that we come close to God. The more we sit at His feet and look into His eyes, the more our prayers will reflect His mind. Thus, the more we become like Him, the more reality there will be in our prayer lives. We must start to love the people and things H loves, and hate what He hates. As we go deeper into the heart of Jesus, we will pray according to His will because we will know His will. How can we cross this vital bridge to reality? How can we have a meaningful prayer life?
First, prayer must become priority one. Prayer always comes first in God’s timetable. We must reverse the process of modem thinking in order to discover spiritual reality. In the natural, we begin with our needs and desires the problems to be solved. We then set goals and plan backwards from them. Rather than waiting on God for direction, we rely on ourselves for solutions. We trust our beauty, finances, intellect, strength and talent. Science and technology have taught us to experiment, study and research solutions. Those who have bought into this lie believe if they are given enough time and money, they can solve any problem in their personal lives or in their ministries. Since they really don’t believe they need God, prayer plays no part in most of their planning. When it does, it tends to be at the end rather than the beginning of their efforts! How different this is from the approach of a spiritual man or woman. The godly person first sets goals on his or her knees rather than at the drawing board. The servant whom God chooses to use is the one who has learned that if there appears to be any human explanation for our success, it is probably bogus. This Christian knows that you tend to pray better without computers, degrees, education, money, good looks, management skills or talent. When we are freed from dependence on a human plan, program leader or other resources then we are able to trust God rather than ourselves. Until we learn to lay aside our reliance on every human resource; and learn to make waiting on God the number one priority in life, we are still in the kindergarten of prayer.
Second, we must invest time in prayer. Of course, taken by itself, long hours spent in prayer are not a sign of closeness to God. It is more important that we come into His presence, like childless Hannah did, with desperate abandonment and submission to His will. She was speechless before God, and yet the Lord gave her the miracle of conception in answer to her silent pleadings. However, our time diaries too often betray our callous indifference to God. The simple fact is that no one can get to know God without spending time with Him. If we love the Lord as we say we do, how can we spend so little time in His presence?
We struggle to make quality time for friends and family. Millions of us plan our lives around favorite TV shows, sporting events and vacations. Yet why is it so hard to make an appointment with God, to spend an hour or two each day in prayer? How many of us can say we spend as much time in prayer as we do in eating meals and socializing around food? Our lives are so overbooked with frantic activity that we have scheduled Him right out of our days. Is it any wonder our Christianity is so ineffective, weak and powerless? There is only one way to see a change. We have to make prayer a priority and set aside time for it every day.
An Invitation to Every Believer
Christ is calling every believer to come apart and enjoy spiritual intimacy with Him through various aspects of prayer: adoration, confession, intercession, listening, thanksgiving, petition, praise, singing and waiting on Him. This is not an invitation open only to a few daring saints, but an access into the presence of God offered to all New Testament believers. And it is all of grace through faith. God wants to have this intimacy with us more than we will ever know. We as individuals can make prayer a part of our daily life-style IF WE ARE WILLING TO BREAK FROM OUR CULTURE and live for God.
In early 1976, when the Lord began to break my heart over the lostness of the world, one of the first things we did as a family was to call a few of our friends and start a prayer meeting in our home. That Tuesday night meeting still continues without fail after all these years. We spend the first part of the evening in worship and praise with brief testimonies and thanksgivings. We don’t spend the time chatting but hear reports from different countries of the world, individuals, tribes and unreached people groups. We read prayer letters and requests from all over the United States and Canada, as well as overseas. Frequently we will pause to break into small groups or pairs to pray over each request. In this way, we have seen hundreds and hundreds of specific answers to prayer. If there is not a missions prayer band in your church or neighborhood, why not start one? If one already exists, why not go and add your faith and warmth to that group.
God Delights in the Prayers of His People
Second Chronicles 16:9 reveals the heart of God in this matter: “”For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him…”” He wants to bless us. He’s looking for those with a heart totally after Him.
The world is looking for beautiful, self-confident people to lead and entertain it. But God is looking for humble, Christ-dependent people who will love the world as He does.
For those who are willing to confess their utter dependence on God in prayer, life enters the realm of the supernatural. And this power is available to families, churches and organizations where individuals are willing to start living a prayerful life. Hebrews chapter 11 and countless other passages reveal to us throughout history that there have always been a handful of people who will reach out and touch God in faith through prayer. As we join them on our knees, we will see the power of God operate in our lives as they did. We will receive the vision and guidance we need to move supernaturally with God and accomplish His will.
Today, there are races, nations and peoples still without Christ. There are families breaking up all around us and individuals caught in sin. There are prisoners who need to be freed, hungry who need to be fed and sick who need to be healed. There are churches and neighborhoods and individuals in your own community which need a touch from God. The Lord is looking for individuals who are emptied of self-sufficiency to accept prayerfully the challenge of reaching those lost billions with salvation. through prayer you can intervene in these needy lives and situations bring the power of God into the lives of the lost and lonely. Won’t you, through times of personal and corporate prayer, join in the cosmic struggle to win them to Christ?”
Why Revival Tarries | https://amzn.to/2up4Q2O
*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.