Pray First, Pray Most
by Max Lucado
One of our Brazilian church leaders taught me something about earnest prayer. He met Christ during a yearlong stay in a drug-rehab center. His therapy included three one-hour sessions of prayer a day. Patients weren’t required to pray, but they were required to attend the prayer meeting. Dozens of recovering drug addicts spent sixty uninterrupted minutes on their knees.
I expressed amazement and confessed that my prayers were short and formal. He invited (dared?) me to meet him for prayer. I did the next day. We knelt on the concrete floor of our small church auditorium and began to talk to God. Change that. I talked; he cried, wailed, begged, cajoled, and pleaded. He pounded his fists on the floor, shook a fist toward heaven, confessed, and reconfessed every sin. He recited every promise in the Bible as if God needed a reminder. He prayed like Moses.
When God determined to destroy the Israelites for their golden calf stunt, “Moses begged the Lord his God and said, ‘Lord, don’t let your anger destroy your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with your great power and strength. Don’t let the people of Egypt say, “The Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt for an evil purpose.” . . . Remember the men who served you—Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. You promised with an oath to them’” (Ex. 32:11–13 NCV).
Moses on Mount Sinai is not calm and quiet, with folded hands and a serene expression. He’s on his face one minute, in God’s the next. He’s on his knees, pointing his finger, lifting his hands. Shedding tears. Shredding his cloak. Wrestling like Jacob at Jabbok for the lives of his people. And God heard him! “So the Lord changed his mind and did not destroy the people as he had said he might” (v.14 NCV).
Our passionate prayers move the heart of God. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). Prayer does not change God’s nature; who he is will never be altered. Prayer does, however, impact the flow of history. God has wired his world for power, but he calls on us to flip the switch.
Most of us struggle with prayer. We forget to pray, and when we remember, we hurry through prayers with hollow words. Our minds drift; our thoughts scatter like a covey of quail. Why is this? Prayer requires minimal effort. No location is prescribed. No particular clothing is required. No title or office is stipulated. Yet you’d think we were wrestling a greased pig.
Speaking of pigs, Satan seeks to interrupt our prayers. Our battle with prayer is not entirely our fault. The devil knows the stories; he witnessed the angel in Peter’s cell and the revival in Jerusalem. He knows what happens when we pray. “Our weapons have power from God that can destroy the enemy’s strong places” (2 Cor. 10:4 NCV).
Satan is not troubled when Max writes books or prepares sermons, but his knobby knees tremble when Max prays. Satan does not stutter or stumble when you walk through church doors or attend committee meetings. Demons aren’t flustered when you read this book. But the walls of hell shake when one person with an honest heart and faithful confession says, “Oh, God, how great thou art.”
Satan keeps you and me from prayer. He tries to position himself between us and God. But he scampers like a spooked dog when we move forward. So let’s do.
Let’s pray, first. Traveling to help the hungry? Be sure to bathe your mission in prayer. Working to disentangle the knots of injustice? Pray. Weary with a world of racism and division? So is God. And he would love to talk to you about it.
Let’s pray, most. Did God call us to preach without ceasing? Or teach without ceasing? Or have committee meetings without ceasing? Or sing without ceasing? No, but he did call us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).
Did Jesus declare: My house shall be called a house of study? Fellowship? Music? A house of exposition? A house of activities? No, but he did say, “My house will be called a house of prayer” (Mark 11:17 NIV).
No other spiritual activity is guaranteed such results. “When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action” (Matt. 18:19 MSG). He is moved by the humble, prayerful heart.
Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ.
(Colossians 4:2–3 NLT)
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, you created all that exists, and you keep it running through your infinite wisdom and boundless power. Yet you invite me to come to you in prayer, boldly and with the expectation that you will hear me and answer me. Teach me, Lord, to take full advantage of this amazing privilege, especially in regard to reaching others with your love. Give me a heart for those who have yet to experience the fullness of your grace, and prompt me to pray for them and for their welfare, both in this world and in eternity. Lord, bring me to the front lines of this battle. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
From Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2010) Max Lucado
What Is the Spirit-Filled Life?
by Dr. Charles Stanley
Although God wants every believer to be filled with the Spirit, many Christians are not sure what this means or what it looks like. To help us understand that whatever fills us controls us, Paul cites drunkenness as a negative example of "filling" and tells us to avoid it. Every believer is indwelt by God's Spirit, but the extent of His rule is determined by the Christian's freedom to comply.
Think of this as a voluntary choice to surrender your life to the Holy Spirit's control—in other words, to be sensitive to His leadership and guidance, obedient to His promptings, and dependent upon His strength. The evidence of the Spirit's control is revealed in a person's character. Those who have yielded their lives to Christ's leadership are continually being transformed into His likeness. The degree of surrender determines the level of
Even though good works and faithful service are a result of being filled with the Spirit, they are not necessarily signs of it. Remember, we are talking about character, not what we do. It's easier to serve the Lord in some manner than to love the unlovable or be patient with difficult people. But when the Spirit is in charge of our lives, He does through us what we cannot do for ourselves.
Each believer decides who rules his life, by either actively surrendering to Christ or deliberately going his own way. Even those who try to avoid the issue by making no choice at all unknowingly opt for self-rule. The fullness of the Spirit and godly character await those who choose God over self.
For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.
by David Weiss
Yechezk’el 44: 1-4
“1 Then he brought me back by way of the outer gate of the sanctuary, the one facing east; and it was shut. 2 ADONAI said to me, "This gate will remain shut; it will not be opened, and no one will go through it; because ADONAI, the G-d of Isra'el, has gone through it. Therefore, it is to be kept shut. 3 Only the prince, since he is a prince, is to sit there to eat his meal before ADONAI; he is to enter through the vestibule of the gate and leave the same way." 4 Then he brought me through the north gate to the front of the house. I looked, saw ADONAI's glory filling the house of ADONAI, and fell on my face.”
I do not know what this passage is all about. I just know I am supposed to write about it. Right now as I sit in my family getting ready to go to bed, there is weight here as I read this passage. It is another of the passages the L-rd led me through the other day – the ones that were either 444 or 222. Even saying there is weight on this passage may strike some of you as strange. But that is how it feels. It is like the Ruach HaKodesh is saying, “listen to what I have to say here, it is important.” Not those words, just a weight that sinks into your bone marrow and will not let go.
Yesterday at work I was sitting at my computer doing some work and a similar feeling struck me. I immediately thought of a song we sing at synagogue – “Spirit of the Sovereign L-rd, come and make your presence known, reveal the Glory of the Living G-d. Spirit of the Sovereign L-rd, come and make your presence known, reveal the Glory of the Living G-d. Let the weight of Your glory cover us, Let the life of Your river flow, Let the truth of Your kingdom reign in us, Let the weight of Your glory, Let the weight of Your glory fall.” It is by Paul Wilbur.
Holiness. It is what this is all about. We say ADONAI’s glory – and what that is referring to is his holiness. The TaNaKh tells us that we cannot handle being in his presence. In the New Yerushalayim we read about from Revelation, we see that there is not even going to be light or a sun there. The Glory of Him who sits on the throne and the Lamb will provide all the light heaven ever needs.
Miqdash is the Hebrew word used here for sanctuary. It refers to a holy place. It comes from a root word that means sanctified, set apart, consecrated and more. Here, as Yechezk’el sees the Glory of ADONAI filling the temple, it says that he fell on his face. Was it the weight of G-d’s glory, or did he do it out of reverence? It may have been a little of both. When we think of this idea of G-d’s glory being so weighty in the house - the temple – think about what he tells us in the New Covenant. He says that his Ruach – his Spirit – will be united with us. (Yochanan 14:17) Some versions say he will be “in” us. The idea is that we will know and be known by G-d intimately. So if the same power and glory that made Yechezk;el fall on his face is united with us as New Covenant believers, what would that feel like?
In verse 3 it says that only the prince has the privilege of sitting there in the presence of G-d and eating his meal. Yet as a New Covenant believer we have the privilege of uniting with G-d’s Ruach. And instead of a building being G-d’s sanctuary – his set apart and holy place – we can be. Sometimes we think we have to be perfect in order for Dad to love us. And then we have to be really, really perfect in order for him to want to be with us. But that is not what he wants. He loves us the way we are. Yes, he desires for us to live holy lives so that we can share in his joy. Yes, he desires for us to think like him so we can be his representatives to the world around us. But, he loves us right where we are.
So instead of trying to think we can hide our sins from him and put on a happy face and try to make others think we are spiritual, we could just accept his invitation to live in his presence and allow his holiness to transform our lives. As we do that, he draws us into his glory and we are able to be united with his Ruach to accomplish more than we can possibly imagine, to his glory.
--Copyright Info--*Scripture quotations are taken from the Complete Jewish Bible, copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. Publ. by Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc. www.messianicjewish.net/jntp. Distr. by Messianic Jewish Resources. www.messianicjewish.net. All rights reserved. Used by permission.