Sunday, January 26, 2014

Prayer and Praying (5)

"Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." (Luke 6:12 NKJV)

Among the acts of Jesus during His earth walk (Matt. 14:23, Matt. 9:35, Acts 10:38) am sure one of the reasons He did some things is to lay a precedence for those who would believe in Him; by His lifestyle He showed us how we are to live the new life. 
"For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:" (I Peter 2:21 NKJV)
1 John 2:6 readily comes to mind:
"Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did." (1 John 2:6 NIV)
One of the most prominent among the acts of Jesus is His regular solitary prayers. Jesus tarried in protracted private prayers. It's erroneous to think that prayer mountains or wilderness prayers is meant for people who have 'stubborn' challenges. Jesus did not have any problem, He came to solve the problem of humanity (Luke 19:10, John 10:10) yet "...He went out to a mountain to pray" (Luke 6:12):  "...He departed to the mountain to pray." (Mark 6:46) 
"So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed." (Luke 5:16 NKJV)
see also Mark 1:35. Don't you think that there must be something indispensable about solitary prayers that made Jesus form an habit out of it.
You sure don't have to go to a mountain before you can tarry in prayers, wherever you choose, you will do well to appreciate that regular prolonged prayers is inevitable for a successful Christian life. From time to time, a believer ought to set aside some hours outside his regular prayer time when he stays alone with God. Five (5) hours is not too short neither will Ten (10) hours and even more be too long. 
Mark this: there is no such thing as praying for long hours without knowing it: prayer cannot be a hubby, it is labor! Consider this:
 "Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God." (Colossians 4:12 NKJV)
While you tarry in prayer - you have the responsibility to keep your mind from wandering, you will get to a point where tiredness and fatigue will set in, hunger could even start raging while you stay alert in order to keep other appetites of the body in subjection. You cannot get by all these without knowing it; you will really need to persevere (Eph. 6:18) if you must continue.
Oh that the prayer closets will be filled again with men of great passion who are desperate for nothing but the manifestation of the glory of God. Such practice as this energizes the heart and makes the heart ready and fit for the master's use. If you must be used by God, you must be ready to give yourself over to prayer.
He who says He abides in Christ must pray like Christ prayed.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Prayer and Praying (4)

"pray without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV)
This is a command not an advice; it is a charge about which the believer does not have a choice. It must be done without negotiation or laxity.
It's good to attend prayer meetings; and private prayer must be constant; yet the believer wouldn't be heeding the command to pray without ceasing if that is all he does. Prayer should not just be restricted to a place or a time, it must be anywhere and anytime.
Having said earlier that prayer is not a weapon of malice, I wish to reiterate that prayer is primarily a devotional exercise in which the heart is brought into deep communication with God. 
Praying without ceasing does not mean praying all through the year 24 hours round the clock without stopping. It means that you must be found praying everytime your mind and hands not fully engaged, viz., you can't be writing exams or be receiving lectures and still be praying with concentration at the same time. The whole idea is to be given over to prayer to the extent that you almost see every other activity as secondary and even as distraction. 
There are some level of spiritual experiences that will continue to elude you until you learn to pray without ceasing; it can't be imparted, it can only be learnt over time, and the learning is by 'practice'. Praying without ceasing must be practiced until it becomes an habit ...this is how to enjoy the Christian life, it enhances sensitivity of heart and makes the heart ready for the Lord's service. 
Constant praying is a necessity, it's so vital that nothing can supply its want. One of  the greatest hindrance to the Lord's work today is the bunch of believers who are found wanting in place of prayers - a prayerless man is an hindrance or the work of God. There are ministers who will be occupied with carnal affairs of this life almost throughout the day and when it  remains a short time to minister, they take a hasty glance through the Bible and say few words in prayer. They thus come to minister and people are not blessed because their hearts are far from God. 
I charge to pray at all times and in all places; pray in the at home, pray at work, pray while in transit, pray while driving, pray in all circumstances; pray, Pray, pray!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Prayer and Praying (3)

"Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. (John 4:21, 23 NKJV)
It's a new dawn! Jesus has shed his blood by which He enacted the new covenant. Under the terms of the New Testament, the effectiveness of prayer is no longer attached to a designated place or location.
The place of prayer mattered under the old covenant:
"Jerusalem is built As a city that is compact together, Where the tribes go up, The tribes of the Lord, To the Testimony of Israel, To give thanks to the name of the Lord." (Psalms 122:3, 4 NKJV)
Those who were far from Jerusalem prayed towards the temple wherever they were:

“When Your people go out to battle against their enemy, wherever You send them, and when they pray to the Lord toward the city which You have chosen and the temple which I have built for Your name, then hear in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause."(I Kings 8:44, 45 NKJV)
And so was the practice of Daniel.
"Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days." (Daniel 6:10 NKJV)
But now, the hour has come when the prayer of the believer is no longer 'location-bound' - God would not answer prayer on the mountain anymore than He would in your room. Prayer in the Church auditorium does not get God's attention anymore than the one offered in the Field.
'Today', the issue of location is relevant when the matters of concentration is considered. You could choose a secluded place to pray in order to avoid distraction, but it does mean that God pays more attention to solitary prayers than the prayers offered in public places. 
Praise God! we can pray anywhere and everywhere and be heard by God because the believer in Christ is in the Spirit. The command to 'pray without ceasing' could only be relevant 'here' under the New Testament because the believer could pray everywhere.
Are you in the car or at salon; on the field or at a social gathering; are u at a recreation center or in the air plane; wherever you are right now, why not open your mouth and relate with God in prayer for He is with u right there and right now.
"The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth." (Psalms 145:18 NKJV)
Praise God!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Prayer and Praying (2)

"As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2 NKJV)
How different would our personal and public prayers be if all our communion with God are punctuated with His voice (response).
Prayer is a communication with God - it's a 'two-way' interaction between God and the praying man. God and the 'praying man' are exchanging vital spiritual information which is beyond the reach of the unbeliever. 
Most times, we get so preoccupied with talking in prayer that we  don't  care to listen to God in prayer. Bible describes 'too much talking' & 'vain repetition' as part of the characteristics of the pagans' prayer.
"And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words." (Matthew 6:7 NKJV)
God speaks to His own, and He is always already and available to speak to His people but  His people are not always expectant or sensitive to His voice. 
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."(John 10:27 NKJV)
We must learn and continue to learn the act of listening to God in prayers, because God does not intend that  prayer would be a 'one-way' exercise. 
‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ (Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV)
God is more willing to speak to you than you are willing to speak to Him. Next time you pray, expect and allow Him speak to you. He want to instruct, correct, encourage, direct and guide you if you would allow Him. 
Prayer need not be a boring spree anymore because The Lord with whom you are communicating in prayer is ever willing to interact with you.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Prayer and Praying (1)

"God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." (I Corinthians 1:9 NKJV)
The first thing about prayer is fellowship - fellowship with God. Prayer is neither a tool nor a weapon of malice, it is a communion between God the father and the redeemed. Salvation is a call to fellowship with God and with His son Jesus.
"that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." (I John 1:3 NKJV)
The believer is in a privileged position of communion/fellowship (Koinonia in the Greek) with God; he being a child of God is in association, communion, & joint participation with God the father. 
Our fellowship with God evinces the fatherhood of God in that he blotted-out our history of unworthiness and by the blood and righteousness of His first begotten son, He brought us into CLOSE communion with Himself.
This is the foundation for prayer - God the father by the blood of Jesus has brought us to Himself in close communion. This is what makes prayer effective and it is what makes faith work. If you don't start from the point of fellowship you won't get any where in prayer. 
So what do we do when we pray? We do not try to create or establish fellowship with God in prayer because Jesus has done that by His blood; rather, we are cultivating the already  established fellowship. Therefore, in prayer, what we do is to communicate, share, and partner with God. 
Prayer is purely fellowship with God. We don't pray to win His acceptance, we pray because He has accepted us in the beloved (Eph. 1:6); we don't pray so that we can enter His presence, we pray because He has brought into His presence by the blood of Jesus (Ephesians 2:13, Hebrews 12:22-24).