The first Thursday in May has been designated as the National Day of Prayer. While millions are asked to unite in prayer on that one day, Christians are admonished to pray continuously…to pray without ceasing. (1 Thess. 5:17) What exactly does that mean and how do you do it? To me, praying without ceasing is an attitude we adopt as part of our Christian life style.
To pray without ceasing is …
Purposeful. We come to hear from God. Our motivation to pray may vary—upon reading His Word, facing a problem or in anticipation of a particular event. While prayer is initiated by believers, we must also be “eager listeners” as God responds to our petitions and supplications. He desires to act on our behalf. (2 Chron. 16:9)
Relational. We spend time with God. It is here that we begin to understand His nature—His ways and His works. He is Abba Father, so we approach Him as the
loving nurturer and protector of our soul and life. In prayer we can be “totally transparent” showing Him all our faults and flaws. He knows our heart. (Ps. 103:13-14)
Dynamic. We can come to God in the morning, throughout the day, or at the close of the day. Our prayers should never be “repetitive babblings” but genuine expressions of our needs and concerns. We often do not know how to pray about a particular situation or for a person. We can depend on the Holy Spirit to guide our petitions. (Rom.8:26-27)
Inclusive. We are sensitive to the Holy Spirit as He identifies the needs of those around us. Prayer is not just about us. God will send people through divine appointments who need our prayers. We are to pray for those God “puts on our hearts”—our leaders, our nation, even our enemies. We are to pray for all saints. (Eph. 6:18)
As we pray without ceasing, let us take a KISS approach—Keep It Simple Susan. Let us come to Him with a contrite and humble heart, ready to hear and obey. Never stop praying.
After experiencing the presence of the Lord, it is was hard for the two on the road to Emmaus to return to “business as usual.” (Luke 24:13-32) Christ’s words burn in their hearts. They had begun their journey burdened, but ended it with renewed faith–ready to witness for their risen Savior.
In His presence, Peter, James and John experienced the transfiguration of Christ. (Matt. 17:1-13) They were so astonished with what they saw and heard that they desired to build a tabernacle to glorify the Lord. These disciples came desiring to be part of Jesus’ “in crowd” but left instead as witnesses of the Christ. (Acts 1:8)
In His presence, the Samaritan woman found the chance for a new beginning. (John 4) Often ostracized and demeaned by both men and women, this woman was offered refreshment that satisfied the soul’s true thirst—unconditional love and forgiveness. The woman at the well came desiring physical water but found instead a Savior and everlasting life. (John 4:14)
In His presence, Zacchaeus initially came as a seeker. (Luke 19:2) He hoped to merely catch a glimpse of this great prophet. Imagine Zacchaeus’ (and the hypocritical observers’) surprise with Jesus’ invitation to “abide” at his home. Zacchaeus came to observe from a tree but became the object of Jesus’ attention and the “poster child” for true reconciliation. (Luke 19:9)
We often come into God’s presence unknowingly like the woman at the well. Other times, we are like Zacchaeus, very intentional in our desire to see the glory of the Lord. Think about the last time you experienced God’s presence. When you left Him, were you changed for the better or did you go back to “business as usual ?”
Why do you follow Christ? Why did you choose HIM for your savior? That was the issue behind Jesus’ statement to the crowds that pursued Him after His miracle of feeding five thousand adults. Jesus had gained a huge following as a result of His miracles, wonders and signs. (John 6:22) After this miracle, they were relentless in their search for His next stop—the next place that they could receive the benefit of His miracles—bread.
Jesus saw their hearts yet He did not admonish or reject them. He saw their real need as an opportunity to redirect their focus from their bellies to their souls. He offered them the true “bread from heaven”—bread that would not perish but had eternal benefit. He offered Himself, the Bread of Life. (John 6:35) They did not understand because their focus was tethered tightly to the immediate needs of this life. Unfortunately, many walked away still hungry—physically AND spiritually. (John 6:66)
When many of us initially came to Christ, we too, followed for bread. Some of us came for provision—blessings, healing, or miracle. Some came for protection—fire insurance to guard against the “fire and brimstone” threatened by well-meaning pastors and teachers. We lacked information about the “pearl of great price.” In 2011, are you still seeking bread—food, clothing, shelter alone while forgetting His true value? If this is your list, I recommend a change in diet—Jesus Christ. He is life. (1 John 5:11-13) He is joy and peace. (Rom. 15:13) That’s why I follow Him. Why do you?
This morning I had tea with my girlfriend, Kim. She is my prayer intercessor and sister in Christ. As part of our commitment to the Lord, we have agreed to meet the last Friday of every month for spiritual support and accountability. Today as we talked, she mentioned a phrase that God had dropped in my spirit last week as a potential post to share with you.
Kim proclaimed, “We daughters of Christ are in weight training for the Lord. He is building us up to do kingdom building.” This was too much like God to be coincidental. I began to laugh and posed this question to her, “w-e-i-g-h-t or w-a-i-t training?” She responded, “Both!” We both laughed and then began to praise God for His illumination and revelation. This is what He shared with Kim and I.
- God is building our upper body so we will be able to “do His will.” The “head and heart” is where we are conformed to the image of Christ. Philippians 2:5 admonishes us to “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” Christ was loving (when people were unlovable), obedient (when He was tempted to do otherwise) and steadfast (when Satan tried to distracted Him from the cross). He did nothing on His own but only what the Father told Him to do. (John 14:10)
- God is building our lower body so we will be able to “do His work.” It is time for us to move forward with the individual ministries God has placed in our heart to do. Ephesians 2:10 states, “We are His workmanship created unto good works which He has before ordained that we should walk in.” We think ministry work is limited to the pulpit and to the preacher. Wrong! Ministry in Greek means service. (Acts 1:17; Ephesians 4:12) We were not saved to “sit” but to “serve.”
- God is building our “wait” muscles so that we will be able to “trust and believe.” Learning to wait is an area that Kim and I pray for each other (alot). Isaiah 40: 31states: “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.” Our ability to trust is based on our confidence in what or who we believe in. Our belief is influenced by what we know. To build strong wait muscles, we must trust and believe in God–His greatness, His goodness and His fidelity.
Well, there you have it–weight/wait training for Christians. What training has God shared with you that may help Kim and I in our faith walk? What tips do you have to help us run this spiritual race?
John 1:4 states, “In Him was life and His life was the light of men.” Life in Greek is “zoe” and it means “soul and spirit.” The soul is where our spiritual DNA resides. For we were made in the image of God. It provides our unique (and sometimes quirky) personality. It consists of our mind, will, and emotions. It is from our zoe that we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) It is here that we do those “good works” for which God has created us. (Ephesians 2:10)
Light in Greek is “phos” and it means “unquenchable” light. To illustrate the power of phos, we need only look to the heavens. The planets, circle the sun, and it is the sun that provides their light or illumination. They have no “light bearing capacity” of their own. They are dependent on the sun for their light. The sun, however, needs no illumination, for it has a “light bearing capacity” of its own, that is unquenchable and cannot be extinguished.
As I reflect on this extraordinary word from God on life and light, I became humbled at the thought that Jesus, the God Man, came to be both “light and life” for us. Now as partakers of His divine nature, we have His power to also be both “light and life” in a very dark world. As I listen to the news and see the condition of our world, I became convicted and asked myself, where has the “light and life” gone? Where are the saints during this time of great darkness?
My prayer for you today comes from Ephesians 1:17-19:
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation of the knowledge of Him; That the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling and what are the riches of His inheritance in the saints. And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who have believe according the working of His mighty power.
Today make it your purpose to be both zoe and phos in your “universe.” .
A friend recently sent me the YouTube of Marvin Sapp singing a song entitled “Comfort Zone.” Your comfort zone is where your ability or capacity is equal to the circumstance you may be facing. It is a place where we feel secure, safe, and in control. However, when we are asked to do something we feel exceeds our ability, we are said to be “out of our comfort zone.”
While our comfort zone is a place of familiarity, it may also be a place where we lack opportunity to grow. It can become a “gilded cage”, where we never reach the purpose God has ordained for us. Many times God wants to do a “new thing” in our lives. (Isaiah 43:19)
If we are resistant to the change, we miss the blessings He has planned for our lives. The Bible has many examples of men and women who were challenged by God to move out of their comfort zones and into God’s purpose. These included Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Ruth, Esther, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, just to name a few.
Join Marvin and I, as we comes out of our comfort zones. “To go where we’ve never gone, we must do what we’ve not done.”
God is calling me
(to walk into my destiny)
God is challenging me
(to go where I’ve not been)
God is proving me
(and for the rest of my life, I’ll say yes)
Yes yes yes!
“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot in it?”
My view of the adage: “When you come to the end of your rope,
ask yourself how you got there?”
In 2010, I was determined to move our ministry forward in reaching its teaching goals. My perception was that I needed “traction.” Traction would include better planning, more involvement in the community, and better networking with other Christian ministries. I was needing and expecting “breakthrough.”
I decided to seek God’s face (again, I thought) but this time I would show my seriousness by fasting and serious praying. What He revealed to me was that my view from the rope was inaccurate and distorted. What I called “traction” was really the need for “supernatural power” which I didn’t have. (at that time) I was trying to accomplish through my efforts what only God could do—give increase. What was needed instead of “breakthrough” was a restored relationship with the Person Christ gave me to accomplish His ministry—that Person was the Holy Spirit.
What are you in need of? How will you get your breakthrough? Greater effort? Longer hours? Better business contacts? Learn from my view at the end of the rope. Tap into the greatest resource in the universe. Not the “fully actualized” part of your “spiritual” essence but he “supernatural” infilling of the Holy Spirit. He is available to you 7×24, if you are a Christian.
In 2011, I’ve decided to trust in God and be available for the work which the Holy Spirit places in my stewardship. I’ve decided to let go of the rope!
“I make mention of you in my prayers…that you may know…what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according the working of his mighty power.”