A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL NATIONS (PART 2)

By Chip Brogden



THE WORK OF PRAYER

Before we can really be effectual in prayer there is a lot of preliminary
work IN PRAYER to be done. Eventually one realizes that we literally have to
pray about prayer. We have to fight just to secure a place and a time to be
alone with God. We are not talking about communion and fellowship, for this
can and should be done throughout the day as we attend to our
responsibilities. But there is a specific time and place and appointment we
must have with God that must, by its very nature, cancel out and override
whatever else we may be doing at the moment. If we are not diligent to "pray
about praying" then we will find ourselves going along for several days and
then realizing that we have not really prayed in awhile.

Then we must pray about HOW to pray, and this represents another battle. All
the praying in the world will do no good if we are not praying correctly,
that is, according to the WORD, according to how Jesus TEACHES us to pray
(Luke 11:1-4). If we are not praying according to His WILL, our prayers are
in vain. I recently asked a sister what she wants, and she replied, "I do
not know what I want, because I do not know what God wants." This is very
wise, and God will be sure to reveal His Will to a person with this
perspective.

Thus, prayer is more than making requests to God, it is waiting before God
to discover what requests ought to be made. This is what it means to "watch
and pray." In order to learn HOW to pray, it will take a few good seasons of
learning how to watch, wait, and listen for the prompting of the Holy
Spirit, Who will help us pray according to the Mind of God (Romans 8:27).
Watching and praying go together, and the one who cannot watch cannot pray.

Next, there is the battle to know, discern, perceive, intuit, and fathom
God's Will: His overriding, all-inclusive purpose for all creation; His
desire and goal for the Church; and His individual direction for each one of
us as individual disciples and followers of Jesus. That is quite a range of
things, and we should not expect to understand it all in one day or in one
week. But if we will seek Him and His Will in all things then He will begin
to give us insight into them, because truly He works "all things together
for good according to His Purpose." And what exactly IS His purpose? The
preeminence of Christ. And how does that factor in this matter, and that
matter, this thing, and that thing? THAT is precisely what He wants to show
us as we pray.

Finally, there is the struggle to submit one's self to the revealed Will of
God once we know what it is, and this is by far the most intense part of the
battle. Everything hinges on this. David fasted and prayed for his child,
laying upon the ground for seven days and nights. But once the child died,
the Will of God was no longer a question mark over the matter, it was a
period. How did David respond? Was he disappointed? Angry? Bitter? No - he
was SUBMITTED. As soon as he heard the child was dead, he arose from the
ground, bathed, changed his clothes, went into the house of God to WORSHIP,
returned home and broke the fast by eating a meal (II Samuel 12:20). When
questioned, his response was, in effect, when I did not know God's Will, I
prayed and fasted; but now that I know it, why should I keep pleading with
God to do what is contrary to His Will?

When we reach this stage of prayer it is time for surrender, not striving.
Then it is proper to say, "I will accept whatever happens now." We cannot
say that if we have not yet prayed, but if we HAVE prayed then there is
nothing else TO say. I suggest that the greater part of David's seven day
fast was spent coming to terms with God's Will. Only a man so surrendered
could have remained so serene.


THE CROSS IS CENTRAL TO THE WORK OF PRAYER

Precisely how does a human being, with all their feelings and emotions,
relegate his (or her) natural sense, ignore what his eyes and ears tell him,
and really get into a place in God where he can pray in cooperation with
God's Will? What we have called "taking up the Cross" is now about to hit
home for many of us who have held it as a mere doctrine, but not an
experience. For only someone dead to himself can do it, and this is exactly
what the Cross is meant to accomplish in the life of the Christian. The very
struggle itself is necessary, not too unlike the baby bird which must
struggle with its own shell before it can be free of it. We see this
pointedly illustrated in the Garden of Gethsemane by Christ Himself, when He
prayed:

"Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not My will, but
Your Will be done (Matthew 26:39)."

His sweat mingled with His tears, and He wrestled with Himself three times
before He could settle the issue, but once it was settled, He gave no
resistance, and within a few hours everything was accomplished. Oh! That is
where we are lacking today! How long will we kick and struggle against the
pricks? How long will we argue and complain against God and resist His
dealings with us? If we have to die in order to truly live, let us be about
the business of dying! If we must be crucified in order to have Resurrection
Life, then let us just submit to it and get it over with!

Some very telling features are found in this passage and in the ones related
to it. We see at once that there is a thing called God's Will, and there is
a thing called My Will. If this was true of Jesus, believe me when I say it
is abundantly true of us. Forget about the devil for a moment, this issue of
God's Will versus My Will is one hundred thousand times more intense than
any fight with some devil or demon. God's Will and My Will are not always in
agreement, and that is going to be a problem for God and for me until it is
resolved. How can I represent His Kingdom in the earth and talk about His
preeminence over all creation if He does not have the preeminence in my own
life?

HENCE THE PURPOSE OF PRAYER: to get aligned with the Mind, Will, Heart,
Desire, Purpose, and Aim of God Himself. It is a fight and a struggle just
to get to Gethsemane. It is a battle to get your brethren to stay awake with
you for even one hour; and it is an all-out war to "pray thrice" or ten
times or twenty times or one hundred times, as the case may be, until you
have gotten the victory over yourself, and come away soaked with the blood,
sweat, and tears of that early morning wrestling. But once the outcome is
decided in God's favor, what awesome power and Life one receives, to drink
that Cup that looked so impossible before, and to go forth bearing the Cross
in the strength and power of God Himself, to do whatever He requires!

Admittedly, the kind of prayer we are calling the Church to will require a
great deal of self-denial and work, more work than most of us are accustomed
to, and for that reason the majority of people who read this will give it up
as too laborious. Like the disciples who fell asleep, some simply cannot
stay awake (literally or figuratively) to watch and pray for any length of
time. This is due in part to the "lazy man's" way of praying that we have
been taught and have followed for so long. Now we are not talking about how
many hours per day you should spend in prayer. You can be effectual and
fervent for twenty minutes per day, and you can be totally ineffectual and
half-hearted for several hours straight. Which fulfills God's purpose? We
need to work on the quality of our intercessions first and foremost, and
then we can work on the quantity of them.

Thus, a serious call to prayer and fasting involves something more than an
occasional prayer meeting, an hour-long prayer vigil, or an occasional
skipped meal or two. It is a call, not to the world in general, but to the
Church, for it is the Call of the Cross all over again: to give no place to
the flesh, even in prayer; to subjugate all that pertains to the natural
man; to get aligned with something larger and bigger than myself; to get
one's own house in order; to bring a message of warning AND mercy to the
unsubmitted earth; to prepare the way for the preeminence of Christ, and to
demonstrate that preeminence to the rest of the world. Towards this End, we
pray that the Lord will raise up more of the saints to represent His
interests as the House of Prayer for All Nations.

C 2006 Chip Brogden and TheSchoolOfChrist.Org. Permission is granted for non-commercial (free) distribution provided this notice appears.


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