How anyone can diminish the delights of prayer to a morning drudgery is almost incomprehensible, but I believe I know the reason such a tragedy may occur. It has nothing to do with the devil, or some other external enemy seeking to derail your desire (although there will be many of these too).
The problem is a simple one. Failure to give attention to the practice.
Like a marriage untended, where spouses grow coldly familiar with one another and fail to appreciate the beauty and strength in their partner, so the exotic delights of deepening relationship with God disappear in a slew of religionism.
It takes time and active attention to keep the flames of love burning strong in a marriage, and the flames of devotion in spiritual disciplines are no different.
Neglect is the reason so many starve for a vigorous connection with God.
And that’s where we will begin.
The question of devotion…
I’m going to be speaking over the next few weeks about absolutely my favourite subject of all subjects that I could possibly speak about it, and that’s a subject to prayer. And I want to begin today by talking about what I call or refer to as the endless pleasures of prayer. You know, there’s if there really was such a thing as a Christian hedonist, I’d want to be one of them. You know, this pleasure seeking, thirsty individual who seeks satiation at every opportunity.
Only it’s not sex, drugs and rock and roll that arsehole craves. It’s the pleasures of God’s presence in the Psalms, rightly, say in Psalm 16:11 on the Psalms says, you will show me the path of life in your presence is fullness of joy at your right hand. There are pleasures for evermore. And so like let’s over these coming days, just indulge ourselves in this celebration of prayer and just take a journey together as we explore really what, to be honest, is an endless, endless subject, something that will always unfurl and deliver more and more and more delights for our soul.
You know how anyone can diminish the delights of prayer to some kind of morning drudgery is almost incomprehensible. But quite honestly, I do understand how it can end up that way. And and, you know, although we might want to blame the devil and say that he came to derail our spiritual kind of desire, it really most of the time, although we will face some of that external resistance, it really the devil is not the one that’s usually to blame.
I think the problem for a lot of people who fall into the kind of prayer doldrums is that there is a very simple one. They just simply failed to give attention to the practise of prayer. You know, I found out the hard way that a marriage untended, a marriage taken for granted, a relationship with familiarity as has taken over. You know, where we fail to appreciate the beauty and the strength of our partner just undermines everything, you know, and the the exotic delights of a deepening relationship, you know, just dissipate.
And it’s the same in prayer, Jim, in this deepening relationship that we have been invited into with God can disappear in a slew of religionism in a churchianity, some something other than what we first stepped into when we first were born again, we came screaming and kicking into a living, breathing relationship with Almighty God. And that relationship should mature and should deepen and should become more and more pleasurable as we go forward. You know, and I think that, you know, it takes time and active attention to keep this flame of love burning.
It takes time and attention in a marriage. It takes time and attention in our relationships and our activities to to maintain our enthusiasm. And how much more would it does it take to keep those flames of devotion and the spiritual disciplines that are required to continually deepen our relationship with God? You know, as I say, it’s not only inward resistance that we face in our flesh and just in the demands of life. There’s also outward resistance from the world and from the devil seeking to kind of dampen our enthusiasm in the realm of prayer.
But quite honestly, with the Holy Ghost burning on the insides of our heart, like me and the world and the devil and all his cohorts do not have what it takes to stop us falling to our knees and pressing hard into the presence of God. And that’s where I want to begin this kind of journey over these coming days. The question of devotion, devotion in the dictionary is defined as love, loyalty and enthusiasm for a person or an activity.
And I encourage you to be very enthusiastic about your relationship with God and. Over Lee and overtly enthusiastic about the activity of prayer, you know, as we unpack this word further and just dig into the thesaurus we find like and we can admire the facets and the following characteristics of a devoted life loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity, trueness, staunchness, steadfastness, constancy, commitment, adherence, allegiance, dedication, devoutness, fondness, love, admiration, affection, attentiveness, care, caring, warmness and closeness.
All of these words are facets of this one word devotion. You know, the mark of the early church was their devotion to prayer. Act 2:42 says that it happens to us just a handful of things that they were truly devoted to. And one of those things was prayer. Acts 2:42 says they devoted themselves to prayer. Sadly, you know, this can’t be said of much of the body of Christ today. I think prayer sometimes can become so programatic, you know, that the carries characteristics of burning passion and consuming desire are like glaringly absent in many prayer meetings.
It’s that kind of. Well, I won’t I won’t paint the picture for you, but I’m sure many of you have been in in in many a prayer meeting that was in need of resuscitation. And, you know, it was barely breathing when really this is like that. The prayer is the heartbeat of the body of Christ, you know, and often I think, you know, overt displays of passion or emotion or enthusiasm really do make a lot of people feel uncomfortable.
And I don’t really want to come in and disc the church in inverted commas, you know, because it’s not about the church. And I have no right to point my finger at anyone or anywhere or anything else other than look myself in the mirror. And, you know, it’s not the discomfort of the crowd that’s often the biggest killer of prayer, because prayer is designed primarily for the private for private devotion. You know, we do experience and we do desire and engage in corporate prayer.
And and that is very, very important and very powerful. But undergirding that, the majority of the iceberg is not saying, okay, it’s not what comes across on this stage or in the prayer meeting or in our prayer group or our home group. It’s what happens when no one else is looking, you know, and, you know, it’s we we ourselves can be uncomfortable when when we begin to burst forth with something beyond what would be considered ordinary or normal, you know, and, you know, we really have to learn to let our hearts hang out in an unapologetic desperation to discover more of God.
If we ever want to take hold of something beyond what we’ve already tasted. You know, we’ve sterilised the pursuit of God, you know? And I you know, again, forgive the picture, but I think that the the visceral nature of engaging in this practise of prayer and even in the scriptures were told and these are pictures painted in the scriptures of the foreskin, of the hard being circumcised, you know, to avoid being utterly set apart to this covenant and this this engagement and this relationship, this power.
The powerful practise of prayer is like the circumcision of the heart, the setting, a part of the soul, the and the entire entire being to this amazing opportunity, to this invitation, to this practise. But, you know, I think I think like just the religion, religion and culture of like when when the circumcision was taking place, I think the knife must have slipped and cut off a bit more than the skin because so much so many noble prayer warriors, you know, appear to have been castrated by the discomfort of a politically correct church.
God help us. We can’t afford to allow that kind of lukewarmness to rob the church of its virility, you know, and and a prayer really is a manly or womanly endeavour. It is virile, fertile, fruitful and powerful and strong. It’s not a weak it’s not just a weak asking of a distant God, but it’s a vital face to face engagement with the king. This is something that is grip’s our entire soul, grips us with a passion, grips us with its possibilities, you know, and I don’t want to misconstrue I don’t want you to misconstrue what I’m saying.
You know, some of the pictures here of the endless pleasures and and there’s this passionate engagement and embrace of God through prayer. You know, this isn’t this isn’t a sexual thing. This isn’t a bodily thing. This is an engagement of the soul, you know, and that same reckless driven ness that’s exhibited by the world as they pursue their worldly pleasures, whether it’s whether it’s bodily pleasures, whether it’s power, whether it’s reputation, whatever it may be, they are running headlong and they are running on full steam to try and take a hold of those things.
That is a pale reflection of the spiritual flame that can consume your heart if you begin to pursue higher delights. And there is a delight to be had here. There is endless pleasure to be enjoyed in the presence of God. I want to invite you to explore what the Bible calls the path of life in your presence. The Scriptures say is fullness of joy and at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11. Oh, what a wonderful invitation for us to accept and to pursue.
Well, thanks for listening. Hopefully it’s been an encouragement to you today. If you want to connect any further, you can do so through my website at Davidleemartin.com. Have a great day.