In a world of distractions, it’s easy to be pushed in every direction. Each day we are hounded by a thousand attention-stealers clamoring for our affections. All the while, the Holy Ghost waits patiently for us to turn out of the way and harness our time to rest in His presence.
This sounds easy, but our busy lives display the stark and shocking reality that more often than we want to admit, Jesus is bumped down the priority list day after day after day.
Prayer life languishes in the long grass while we tend to our natural fields of endeavor with increased fervor and feverish devotion.
It has always struck me that a man will rise without question to commute to his workplace, welcoming the dawn with bleary eyes but unquestioning obedience to necessity. Come to the call to prayer, however, and those same eyes close to the urgent needs and the crisis we are in, as the world plummets further into darkness while a passive church stands on the sidelines shaking its head.
Don’t mishear. These are not words of condemnation and legalism, they are strong words of calling. A trumpet in the mouth of angels gathering a mighty clan of men who clamor not for the world’s adulations. It is a rallying of risen sons to the battle that is raging for our families. A cry from the heart of the Father to come close so we can then go into the world clothed in power.
Such a conscript and calling requires fierce focus.
Paul the apostle put it like this:
“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:4 KJV)
It is no accident that the language used here is the language of battle.
We are at war, whether you want to acknowledge it or not, and our invisible enemy will never cease his assaults and advance if we do not take up spiritual arms and become offensive in our warfare. Not a wrestling with men, not a religious ‘jihad’, but a war waged on our knees in fervency and deep distress until the clouds part and Heaven comes down.
The familiar words “Thy Kingdom come” are powerful and pertinent, but to commit to the attainment of them until it is so will cost you your life. Our Savior showed the way, and with strong crying and tears obtained the prize.
“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;” (Hebrews 5:7 KJV)
Why would we kid ourselves to think that anemic, weak and costless petitions, offered like a paltry tip to the ‘waiter’ who has provided all that we need can turn the tide? It is a deception to cram prayer into our schedule as if it were a secondary duty. It is THE one duty of men of God, and all else should be crammed around it’s exercise.
Jesus went so far as to say that in order to find the life of God, we have to ‘lose’ our own life in pursuit of it.
My favorite writer on prayer, and a man whose books have been read by millions of seeking saints through the centuries is E M Bounds. In his masterly work, Power Through Prayer, he says in no uncertain terms:
Praying is spiritual work; and human nature does not like taxing, spiritual work. Human nature wants to sail to heaven under a favoring breeze, a full, smooth sea. Prayer is humbling work. It abases intellect and pride, crucifies vainglory, and signs our spiritual bankruptcy, and all these are hard for flesh and blood to bear. It is easier not to pray than to bear them.
The little estimate we put on prayer is evident from the little time we give to it. So we come to one of the crying evils of these times, maybe of all times — little or no praying. Of these two evils, perhaps little praying is worse than no praying. Little praying is a kind of make-believe, a salvo for the conscience, a farce and a delusion.
The little estimate we put on prayer is evident from the little time we give to it… How feeble, vain, and little is such praying compared with the time and energy devoted to praying by holy men in and out of the Bible!
To men who think praying their main business…does God commit the keys of his kingdom, and by them does he work his spiritual wonders in this world.”
Such words are sobering indeed! But this is the kind of fierce focus wartime demands of its hardy males. How many draft-dodgers today are sitting in pews with their ears closed to the hot tears of their Savior as He intercedes for the darkened heart of the populace. Suffering screams from every pore of creation yet we muffle its cries with our excuses and busyness.
But I am a businessman, or a tradesman, you may protest. I too am a businessman. But if my house were ransacked and my children bound, surely my scurry for money would be laid aside as I wrestle my aggressors. Yet the devil is binding our posterity, while we sit by and watch him do it!
Ask the Lord for wisdom and He will give it. If your first commitment is to seek His Kingdom, all else will be added to you besides. He has plans to prosper you and to furnish your future richly and abundantly, on the premise that you “seek Him with ALL your heart”.
How can I continue without laying these promises squarely before our faces:
“But seek ye first (as your #1 priority!) the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew [6:33] KJV)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah [29:11]–13 NIV)
These verses and their promised results do not come cheaply. It will take courage to pull them from the ornate promise box of religious living and breathe manly life into them so they become a living reality. It will mean forsaking much that we call our securities, seeking beyond our seeming capacity, and trusting like never before.
Will it mean leaving work and living by faith? Why not try living by faith while you work? How about believing God for grace to discover new ways to generate wealth that leave you free to seek Him?
He has secret keys hidden for kings. Take off your cap of servitude to the world system and don your crown in bold assurance that God will provide all the necessary direction to lead you into expansive freedom. Never will he see his children begging bread if only they will believe Him. Wisdom is waiting, and new avenues of providence, even within your present workplace, are present. God will lead you, multiply your income, and leave much time for the works of the Kingdom. The desire and devotion you show with the little time you have now will place a faith demand that opens more.
My God! My God! Why have we forsaken thee?
How true these words of Jeremiah, shouting his warning through the ages to our ears today:
“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”(Jeremiah [2:13] KJV)
In our cleverness and commitments, we have left the ancient paths. Our dusty atmospheres so unconductive to the powers of the world to come are testament to our failure in the very arena we are called to rule.
Lift your voice and command the winds to blow across the carcass of the church and raise it again to full stature. Bone to bone, sinew to sinew, a praying army will arise. Generals are in the making, closeted from the world as God clothes them for war.
Darker days are rolling over the horizon, but in the thickness and the sickness of depravity and disease, a glorious light will shine. The people of God’s making will shine ever brighter as the day of Christ’s return approaches. This battalion of love will never bow to the suggestions of the enemy, not flinch when the world seeks to spear their searching words.
Such men are made out-of-sight, ready for revealing when the time is upon us.
Do you hear the call? Have the papers arrived demanding your transport to the front lines in the spirit? We are no longer living in peacetime. Do not be deceived.
“They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah [8:11] NIV)
Don’t put a bandaid on the searing gash of the world around you. A form of godliness devoid of power will never heal the wounds. We NEED God above all else, and our generation is relying on men who will prioritize prayer and make it their chief aim to secure a revival in our day.
What, praying man, will be your response?