Prayer is a glimpse into the soul

*image from Faithgateway

Of all the things Jesus’ disciples could have asked of Him, it was prayer that they wanted to know how to do the most. And there was no greater teacher. Jesus’ life was a display of what it meant to be in tuned with God. It was intentional. It was humble. Jesus often sought solitude in order to be alone with God. He used prayer to regain strength and resolve. If prayer was so essential in the life of the Messiah, so to it must be in His followers. If we are to walk as He walked, it all starts with prayer.

Have you ever stopped to study the prayer that are in the Bible? There are so many great examples from the patriarchs, the prophets, king David, Jesus, and His disciples. I truly believe that they are in the Bible for us to learn from. They show us a heart devoted to a calling. They show us people in love with God. They show us desperate need for the One who saves. They are anything but a rudimentary activity worked in as part of the Christian’s day.

When we pray, our soul connects with our Maker. When we pray, spiritual forces are put into motion that we struggle to comprehend. When we pray the depth of who we are and what we stand for is laid bare before God. When we pray our love for others is proved genuine or superficial. Take a look at this prayer from a Christian woman who was confined to a labor camp in Siberia:

O God, accept all my sufferings, my tiredness, my humiliations, my tears, my nostalgia, my being hungry, my suffering of cold, all the bitterness accumulated in my soul. Dear Lord, have pity also on those who persecute and torture us day and night. Grant them, too, the divine grace of knowing the sweetness and happiness of your love.

Let’s pray with more passion and power brothers and sisters!

Nothing Trivial

As a parent, there is absolutely nothing I wouldn’t want my children to feel like they could come to me about. I’m not just thinking about all of the big things they will face in life. I also want them to be comfortable sharing the little things. There is nothing trivial about a parent-child relationship. The same can be said about our relationship with God.

The moment we start making things off limits to bring before the LORD, our closeness with Him begins to shrink. Why is it that kids don’t come to their parents about certain things? They either don’t trust them with the information, don’t think that their parents will care, or they want to hide it. The same is true to how we relate to Yahweh.

If there is something that we aren’t bringing to God, I would like to suggest it’s perhaps it’s born out of some sort of mistrust, deception, or apathy. Maybe God could care less about whatever it is. Maybe I’m not proud of something therefore I’ll just avoid the whole prayer thing. Maybe the love of God really isn’t so big to forgive me of what I’ve just done. Maybe I can just handle this on my own. I’ll get God involved as a last measure if I can’t iron it out. Maybe God really won’t help me out here. Those are all lies that, no doubt, everyone reading this post has told themselves at one time or another. I’ve told myself every single one of them.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Psalms‬ ‭8:3-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God is infinite, and that can scare us. After all, how do you approach someone who is absolutely perfect in every way? Why would the creator of existence itself care one bit about my issues? Love, that’s how. A love far greater than any human is capable of demonstrating. It’s a perfect love, therefore it’s unfamiliar to us. We read about it. We were shown it through the life of Jesus. And yet, we doubt it. Even the most ardent believer battles with it at times. We have never been shown perfect love by another person, nor have we ever given perfect love ourselves. Therefore we translate our failures and the failures of others into our views of God. We retreat from Him time and time again because thats how we’ve related to those in our lives. We keep bits of ourselves back. We disclose what we want and work through everything else.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians‬ ‭4:4-6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What will it take for you, for me, to become an open book before the LORD? Do yourself a favor first off and admit that you’re not. Every one of us are holding back somehow, in some way. He’s not too busy for us. He’s not above our needs and worries. His love is not limited. We can trust Him, far more than any of us do.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Prayer Warriors

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“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Matthew 26:36-41 (ESV)

When my wife and I started dating we used to stay up all hours of the night watching movies or just talking. There were several occasions I can recall driving her home and knowing that I only had a few hours before I had to be ready to head to work that morning. But it was worth it. The sleep was not that important compared to spending the time with her. From the day we had started talking to one another, we never wanted to spend much time apart. From that point on, we’ve been pretty much inseparable. When I have had to be gone we would text all day long and talk for well over an hour when possible. Even after all these years and multiple children, the bond is every bit as strong.  I’m not telling you my sappy love story to try to impress or brag but because this is what love can look like. That’s what our love for Jesus is supposed to look like.

For our seven-plus years of being together, my wife and I have been the best of friends. Our relationship with Jesus is really meant to be the same way. I mean, think about it. In the Bible, Jesus is referred to as both our friend and as being married to His church. Followers of Christ have several names: child of God, co-heir, saint, disciple, and much more. This chapter is more about the labels of friend and bride (which I know may sound weird to some guys, but it’s actually awesome). As a bride and friend, the followers of Jesus should want, perhaps more than anything, to be connected to Him. That’s what prayer life is all about.  It’s not morning or evening prayers, it’s daylong prayer. It’s not simply seeking God for help in times of trouble, it’s speaking with Him in the good and hard times. It’s not putting Him on the shelf until you need Him, it’s wanting to be in His presence constantly. That’s what the story of the Bible has been about since the very beginning. God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden in Genesis, He tabernacled with the Nation of Israel, He embodied humanity in Jesus, and one day the new heaven and new earth will exist in the glory of His eternal presence.

The question of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane can be a striking conviction for most people. But it doesn’t have to be. I’m not talking about setting aside prayer time, I’m talking about living a prayer life. Remember, Jesus didn’t need His disciple in the garden, He invited them because He wanted to be with them. It’s no different for you and me. We’re invited into prayer, with the God of all creation, because He wants to be with us. He wants us to enjoy His presence because we need it to make it through life. We all suffer loss and difficulty that wages war on our hearts. So do those we love. A praying life is the only way to effectively wage war on the things that seek our downfall.

Prayer is the greatest weapon we have to fight for our families, friends, and even strangers. Prayer is so powerful that it can help set people free from addictions, oppression, depression, pride, and in some cases, disease and death. Prayer redirects lives. Chapter nine explores more of the spiritual realities around us and why it’s so important to live a life Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…”

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV)

Prayer Warriors

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“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

                                                                        Matthew 26:36-41 (ESV)

When my wife and I started dating we used to stay up all hours of the night watching movies or just talking. There were several occasions I can recall driving her home and knowing that I only had a few hours before I had to be ready to head to work that morning. But it was worth it. The sleep was not that important compared to spending the time with her. From the day we had started talking to one another, we never wanted to spend much time apart. The first time we hung out, a lunch date turned into nine hours of talking, reading silly books at a local bookstore, running to the pet store, and going to see what turned out to be a pretty lame movie. I’m not telling you my sappy love story to try to impress or brag but because this is what love can look like. I’m not for a moment pretending that we have it all figured out. We have our ‘stuff’. But what we do have, and really always have had, is connectivity.

I don’t know about you, but much of my life in pursuit of Christ has been a long shot from a good friendship and marriage. I have been a lousy friend to Him. In fact, if I were to treat my wife or any of my friends the way I have shown friendship to Jesus, they all would have dropped me long ago. Praise God that His friendship and devotion more than makes up for my failures. But that doesn’t allow me any excuse to not do my part. The connection I have with my wife should mirror the one that I have with Jesus. The connectivity and intimacy that I’m talking about can only be established through prayer.

The life of Jesus shows us what it’s like to want to be with God, even in seclusion. Never once does it say that Jesus prayed when He had a chance or when something came up. It doesn’t say that He set aside 10-15 minutes of morning and evenings to say His prayers. It doesn’t talk about having a little bit of quiet time with the Lord. Jesus’ life was a life of connectivity and intimacy. Jesus had a life of prayer, and He wants the same for us.

“And he (Jesus) came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?”

Matthew 26:40 (ESV) [my emphasis]

My flesh says, “Give them a break Jesus.” They didn’t know what was about to happen plus they’ve been up all night already. But that’s just it. Our life in prayer, and in the Spirit, isn’t about our convenience, doing it when we feel like it, or knowing what lies ahead. If anything, prayer is not convenient, but just like spending time with my wife, I do it because I want to regardless of convenience. It was never convenient to stay up till 3 am and then go to work at 6:30 am. But I did it because I wanted to be with her. The same is true with prayer. We do it as often as we can no matter the time of day or what is going on because we want to be with God. More than that, we know we need to be with God.

What does it look like to live a life of prayer? We are at war for our entire life, but what does that exactly mean? What is at stake in this war? Can we really be so connected to Jesus? These questions and more are discussed in chapter nine of my book Questioned by Christ. You can check it out on Amazon or Barnes and Nobles.

God bless brothers and sisters!