Wrestling with Prayer

What does it mean to pray?  What does it mean to pray in faith?  To walk in faith?  To pray constantly?

These past couple of weeks I’ve been sick and unable to do any serious work.  I was left to think about things.  During this time, I starting re-reading an old book I got a few years back written by a prayer warrior who understood the purpose and power of prayer.  The book is called “Purpose in Prayer” by E. M. Bounds.  It’s a great read, with hard-hitting truth, and though provoking insights.  Needless to say, it gave me something to think about and mull over as I laid on the couch or sat at my desk trying to work.

If I’m honest about myself in regards to prayer, two things are certain: I love praying for people, but I stink at praying consistently.  As with most people, I struggle with making time for it, and dealing with “unanswered prayers.”  At times I feel I have to go into “intercession mode” when I pray, or that I have to say the right words in order for the person or situation to be impacted.  Sometimes, prayer is all about me and what I can and cannot do for God.  But as God has been teaching me lately about this spiritual discipline, prayer is more about spending time in God’s presence then it is about me talking HIs ear off.  It’s about praying in faith and not so much with certainty.  Prayer is about wanting to see God glorified, despite the outcome, and to see myself humbled before His throne willing to do whatever is asked of me.

Faithful Living

God doesn’t ask us to solve the world’s problems, He simply asks us to be faithful with what we have been given.  We have been given a means to talk directly to Him, through prayer, and when we aren’t able to find the words, His Spirit that lives within us is able to communicate for us.  Prayer is a vital piece to the intimate relationship God calls us into.  It’s not rocket science, and it’s not meant to trip us up in legalistic binds; instead, prayer is God-focused, God-inspired, God-driven, and God-led.

Sometimes our prayers are answered, and sometimes they’re not.  Sometimes they’re late, and sometimes they’re right on time.  It’s not up to us to figure out the mystery of why this happens, and we’re not suppose to break the code to bending God’s arm.  What is up to us, though, is to pray daily in faith for God to move in our lives and the lives of those we lift up to Him.  How He chooses to move is up to Him, not us.

Our relationship with God isn’t built on what He does for us.  God isn’t a genie under our command.  Instead, our relationship is built on who He is.  It’s built around the time we spend with Him, the time we interact with Him.  The more time we give, the more intimate our connection becomes, and the stronger our communication line grows.  It all begins with taking that step of faith towards His presence; trusting that with each step you take, He takes one in your direction.

In Hebrews 11 we find the faith chapter of the Bible.  It’s a list of those who abandoned everything for the sake of God’s glory and calling.  I wonder, sometimes, would my name be found here if God wrote this chapter today?  Am I a faithful servant, who has abandoned everything for the sake of Him?  Am I living faithfully, trusting Him no matter what, and do I allow His presence to change my circumstances instead of my issue changing my outlook of God?

Abraham didn’t even know God, but trusted Him enough to move everything he had to a far off place.  Abraham was willing to forsake everything, and did many times, in order to carry out God’s calling.  Joshua took charge of a nation and led them to victory against enemy after enemy.  He had no clue where he was going or what he would face, all he knew was that God was in his corner.  The disciples followed Jesus, who taught things that went contrary to what they had been taught their whole lives.  After He left them in Jerusalem, the disciples took the mission of Jesus and turned this world upside down without anything but the Spirit’s power and the Father’s presence guiding and empowering them.

Faithful living.  It can still happen today with us, with you, with me.  It all starts with prayer, which starts with an intimate connection to the Father.

Bounds on Prayer

I want to share a few quotes from the book that I found challenging:

Are we praying as Christ did?  Do we abide in Him?  Are our pleas and spirit the overflow of His spirit and pleas?  Does love rule the spirit – perfect love? … Many persons believe in the efficacy of prayer, but not many pray. … Few Christians have anything but a vague idea of the power of prayer; fewer still have any experience of that power. (pgs 47-48)

Intimacy requires development … “The goal of prayer is the ear of God” a goal that can only be reached by a patient and continued and continuous waiting upon Him, pouring out our heart to Him and permitting Him to speak to us. (pgs 65-66)

God’s house is the house of prayer; God’s work is the work of prayer.  It is the zeal for God’s house and the zeal for God’s work that makes God’s house glorious and His work abide. (pgs 102-103)

Prayer can do anything that God can do.  The pity is that we do not believe this as we ought, and we do not put it to the test. … If we are abiding in Christ – and if we abide in Him we are living in obedience to His holy will – and approach God in His name, then there lie open before us the infinite resources of the Divine treasure-house. (pgs 120-123)

God answers prayer.  The true Christian does not pray to stir himself up, but his prayer is the stirring up of himself to take hold of God. … Prayer is mighty in its operations, and God never disappoints those who put their trust and confidence in Him.  They may have to wait long for the answer, and they may not live to see it, but the prayer of faith never misses its object. (pgs 124-126)

If we do our part, God will do His.  Around us is a world lost in sin, above us is a God willing and able to save; it is ours to build the bridge that links heaven and earth, and prayer is the mighty instrument that does the work. (pg 155)

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