Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Prayer: The Believer's Ministry


I met with my mentor last year to discuss a grievous spiritual matter. Sitting on the couch where she has often gently counseled me, I shared with her a struggle I was having to break free of paralyzing doubts to enjoy prayer (not just petitions but really enjoying the Lord) as I once did.

It was all so random. Doubt just sashayed into my soul, took the podium front and center, and began to conduct an elaborate sabotage of my prayer life. From there, I continued to describe how I was suddenly restless to know the "context" through which I would serve God. For everyone around me seemed to be in their position and focused. They seemed clear on their calling in life. But me, I've felt and looked so random, unstable, unfocused, and nomad-like. I feel I’m a jack of all trades but a master of none. My interests are so vast and I believe I can learn anything if I have an encouraging and patient teacher.



Well, in her calm and consoling way, my mentor looked at me and said something profound and epiphany-like, "prayer is your ministry." In other words, prayer is a ministry task always available. It is my first ministry unto God. Aha! Then I thought of Anna, the widow, from the book of Luke. I thought how it is recorded that she ministered day and night, with delight and contentment, in the Temple to the Lord through prayers, fasting, and praise. The thought warmed and endeared me.

So, why give all that personal detail? Well, I hope to stir us up to pray. For I am convinced that prayer is every believer's ministry. Any believer experiencing God, (i.e. seeing and feeling Scripture become palatable, or God's movements in circumstances, or experiencing unusual blessings to the soul or the physical) is NOT experiencing something esoteric and unavailable to any other believer.

Prayer is a gate open to all believers willing to enter it, stay the course to triumph over its challenges, and mine the depths of its treasures. The believer is as Esther and Christ is our King--the golden scepter is forever extended toward us in favor. Why wouldn't we take FULL advantage of this benefit in our inheritance package? Do we understand what it is to have the favor of the King?



There is a saying, if you want to hide something valuable from a person (especially in the 21 century)--put it in a book. For, we seldom take time to read. I think this idea is transferable to some of us in the Christian community. If you want to hide something valuable from believers tell them to persevere in prayer to gain it.

....We are so afraid of the false that we quench what is true. We are people of extremes... There are some that are so orthodox but are absolutely dead, because they are so afraid of false excitement and the excesses of certain spiritual movements that they quench and hinder the Spirit and deny the truth...." --Martin Lloyd Jones



If some of us were brutally honest and courageous enough to reveal our thought-life, prayer is really quite ridiculous to us. We've seen it (we think) make a fool of too many people--believing something abstract and unlikely, by faith, that God "supposedly" spoke or lead, not to mention the damage the charismatic movement has done. There are all kinds of self-serving scams and personal deceptions going on in Christendom as it relates to prayer. So we play it safe. We clutch our prized reputations and vow to never be so risky or look so stupid or God forbid emotionally out of control. And consequently, our prayers remain powerless, perfunctory, and stoic—but, of course, doctrinally correct.

But prayer is indeed so much more than unverifiable abstractions and asking for earthly things we desire and need.

Rewarding prayer is when one comes to mount themselves upon an Altar (Romans 12:1-2) to be broken so as to bond with Christ. That is connect in such a way that we find ourselves praying in concert with the intercessions He is making at the right hand of the Father. That is connect in such a way that we pray in concert with the groaning(s) of the Spirit. That is allowing the Spirit to transfer His affections for the subject of our prayers to us--to the point He weeps or wages war through us. In this connection, we begin to pray His will into the earth for ourselves, the saints, even the world. Absolutely, exhilarating—intoxicating.

Prayer is also an occasion for uninhibited self-examination that produces a fresh brokenness over sin which leads to a spirit of thankfulness, surrender, forgiveness, and renewed joy and peace. It provides a fresh purity of heart and motive that was not present before you prayed. You know, it doesn’t always take some catastrophic event to humble or break us. No one has to know. The scripture says God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud. There is a reason God tells us to humble ourselves as we don’t want Him to do it for us. Prayer alone can humble us.

This is the best part of our salvation!

I encourage us to consider that prayer is a believer's first ministry. It is the launch pad to all other ministry in which we would engage. And one should be terrified to embark upon any place of official ministry in a Church without prayer being a pillar of their lives. If one struggles in prayer, praying with others is a great way to jump start affections that lead to prayer. Let us not quench His Spirit with our fear, pride, and unbelief. Let us go take advantage of this means of Grace. So what are your thoughts on prayer? What are your current obstacles? What step will you take today to triumph over the obstacle(s)?

Copyright © 2010

3 comments:

Tom Gabbard said...

Latisha,

What a great reminder of the precious privelege of prayer!
How amazing it is that because of Calvary, we have boldness to enter into the Holiest of all by the blood of Jesus Christ! But, conversely, how sad and tragic it is that we so rarely avail ourselves of the grace of entering in before the Lord of Glory. He bids us come and to call upon Him as Abba Father and yet we often exchange this unspeakable privelege for the corruptible things and doings of this world!
I for one have much room for improvement in this precious, costly gift of prayer!

Geraldine said...

Tom,

Amen! You took the words right out of my mouth!
I have also been thinking much about intercession for our nations and for the body. We complain so much when really if we were BEING what we are called to be maybe things would be different. Does our prayer life reflect this?

Deborah Estelle said...

Woman... Thank you for this. This AM, as I was making a renewed dedication to prayer and fasting, I thought of you and decided I would call you tonight.

I thought you may be at work so didn't want to ring your phone at 8am this morning! LOL!

As I began the day (seeking to learn more about my internal struggles and what has been keeping me FROM prayer) I started researching a couple of subjects that led me to several subjects in particular.

Pride, Fatih, Submission, Sacrafice, Envy, Jealousy, Discipline and Self Worth/Identity/Self Esteem.

The irony is one of the Scriptures I was led to was the widow in Luke and issues of pride and unbelief as opposed to faith and submission. Hmmm!

God gave me some ideas and gentle nudging further into the issues and something prompted me to see what you all were talking about here!

GO FIGURE!!! I am like "okay Lord" so I heard you! I further read what you posted James 4 and am having an AHA! moment of my own.

YOU SAID : Prayer is occasion for a kind of uncensored self-examination that produces a fresh brokenness over sin which leads to a spirit of thankfulness, surrender, forgiveness, and renewed joy and peace. It provides a fresh purity of heart and motive that was not present before you prayed! May we stop missing out on the best part of our salvation!

* Couldn't have said this better myself... I haven't been able to sleep well for the LAST THREE MONTHS because of some "church mess", issues of favoritism in the music ministry and feeling like I was being put down, shunned or left out. SMH!

I was afraid to pray about it because I felt God would tell me or show me to suffer some more or not to care at all and view it differently. My thoughts were "but it's not fair... so this will continue to go on and nothing will be done? But if You tell me to just take it/deal with it, will I continue to be wronged? Looked over?"

Girl... Too much to type! LOL!

I am glad to say that the view is fresh today... Ahhhh! The battle is internal (regardless of WHAT is going on externally)... And it brings emphesis to a prayerless life that that mess was able to affect me THIS deeply to begin with...

Where is my humility? Faith and TRUST in Him and Him alone?

Thank you for writing as He leads!

Call me! I love you Missy!