Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Vital Signs of the Saints - Prayer

So this morning I was convicted of a truth that I would like to share with you. I have often quoted Dr. John Alexander, who once said, "Prayer is not only a PART of the work. Prayer IS the work."

As I reflected on that statement this morning I was convicted of the reality that I do not pray near enough. I'm not talking about hoisting up words to the Almighty so that He can rain down melodies from Heaven. I'm talking about the continual openness to the Lord aligning my heart with His vision and mission. Jesus never allowed the business of a day to overshadow the mission and vision that He communicated to His followers. In Luke 4, as Jesus read in the Temple, He said His intentions, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed me 1) To PREACH the GOSPEL to the poor; He sent me 2) To HEAL the brokenhearted, 3) To PREACH DELIVERANCE to the captives, and 4) RECOVER SIGHT to the blind, 5) To FREE those who are bruised, 6) To PROCLAIM the acceptable year of the Lord. This mission is wrapped up in the vision statement of the Lord Jesus Christ: "To give My life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28).

What does that have to do with prayer? You might remember in Matthew 9:35-38 that Jesus was moved with the multitude because were like "sheep with no shepherd." Notice that Jesus did not instruct the disciples to become Rambo Christians who would assassinate the multitude with the Gospel. Rather He said, "Pray..."

The categorical distinctive here is the recognition from the Son of God that ministry is God's job from first to last. Our spreading of the Gospel is contingent on the vibrancy of our relationship with the Lord that begins and ends with aligning our heart with His will through prayer. Jesus prayed. Was that to cover everything on somebody's wish list? NO! It was the supernaturally natural partaking of a relationship with the Father. It was the surrender of His heart that overflowed into the outpouring of God's Spirit, who ultimately then completed the work. Notice the overwhelming love of the Lord, revealed in Isaiah and read by Christ, makes the Almighty somehow completely "other"-focused, while remaining true to Himself as Yahweh, the Self-Existing, All-Powerful, I AM that I AM, I am God All By Myself One and Only. Thus, we see Christ-like humility in the total submission of His will to the Father, and therefore we receive what we ask, when we prayer in that same character of submissive obedience.

Adrian Rogers said it best, "If you have a problem with prayerlessness (that is, you don't pray enough), it is not prayerlessness that is your problem. Pride is your problem." Have we learned to do life without God? Have we learned to write, preach, teach, sing, serve, record albums, train, etc. without the overwhelming presence and essence of Jesus consuming our entire lives?

If you want to know the answer to the questions above examine your life of prayer. Do you find yourself spending unhurried time with the Lord, basking in His presence? I'm not talking about pontificating or levitating in a room somewhere with your legs in the Criss Cross Applesauce or lotus position waiting for God to blow out the windows. Rather, I am talking about the supernaturally natural communion that is VITAL to the Christian's spiritual heartbeat. I'm talking about the openness that see God's agenda in the midst of the phone calls, sticky notes, and daily planner. If not, I can guarantee that you are living by something other than faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary. His death gives us access into God's presence. And there we find rest for our weary souls.