Monday, March 5, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 5

Introduction continued...

Isaiah 56:6-7, “Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants – everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant – even them I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

Of all the things God could have said His house would be called, He said His house would be called a house of prayer for all nations. He could have said His house would be called a house of opulence, a house of excess, a house of prosperity, a house of self-esteem, a house of finery, even a house of praise and worship, but He chose to call His house, a house of prayer.

Between five and seven hundred years later, depending on which biblical scholar one ascribes to, Jesus stands in the temple, and laments that fact that although it was written that God’s house would be called a house of prayer, they had made it into a den of robbers.

Many temples today which had been designated as being houses of prayer are anything but. In the end even the most magnificent of church buildings, even the most grandiose of edifices, are nothing more than brick, and mortar, cement and paint. Just because a building is designated toward a certain use, it does not automatically make it so, and just because many buildings are designated as being churches, it does not make them houses of prayer.

One of the most beautiful aspects of prayer is the intimacy of it. One need not be dependent on another to pray, as they might be if they desired to hear a sermon or a teaching. No matter where we are, we can still have communion with God, just Him, and I, and nobody else. If teachers bear some responsibility for the teachings we hear, if preachers bear some responsibility for the sermons we receive, when it comes to our prayer lives, and the health thereof, we bear all the responsibility as individuals.

No matter how much my spouse prays, it will do nothing to increase my own prayer life. No matter how much my pastor prays, it will not increase my own personal time with God. It is incumbent upon us as individuals to pray, to seek the face of God, to humbly come before Him, and fellowship with Him. Prayer is something no man can do on your behalf.

There are countless things that we outsource throughout our lives, some going as far as outsourcing their spiritual succor, but prayer is the one thing we cannot outsource.

You must pray, I must pray, and as individuals we grow in prayer.

When we pray, we acknowledge our dependence on God, as well as our need for Him in our lives. Rarely a day goes by when we don’t realize certain things are beyond our understanding or our ability to control. An honest man acknowledges his impotence, his frailty, and as such learns to lean on God, and go to Him in prayer.

Another way of seeing prayer is as our declaration of dependence upon God. We are not partially dependent upon Him, but wholly dependent, for apart from Him we can do nothing.

John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Yes, I realize the words of Jesus fly in the face of modern day tomes of doctrinal ignorance such as ‘the power of you, if you can dream it you can be it, your inner champion, and self-empowerment, the secret to a victorious life’, but I choose to believe Him rather than the empty suits who insist that I have it within me to do anything I desire, as long as I apply myself. Without Him, we can do nothing. Not some things, not most things, but nothing.

A branch that is removed from the vine, inevitably withers and dies. A branch has no life in and of itself, nor can it survive independent of the vine from which it grows. As long as the branch remains connected to the vine, it bears fruit, it lives and blooms and flourishes, but the instant it is cut off, it begins the inevitable process of decomposition.

Jesus is the vine, He is the source of our spiritual life, and we are dependent upon Him for everything. In Him we live, in Him we breathe, and in Him we have our being.

Through prayer, we are made one with Christ, we have fellowship with God, we are rooted in the vine, rooted in life, and as a result have life ourselves.

Too often we live with the expectation of an answer, without first having made our petition known to God. We expect God to move on our behalf when we haven’t cried out to Him. We expect God to intervene, when time and again we’ve declared our independence from Him, thinking ourselves wise and strong and able in and of ourselves.

We have not, because we ask not! We receive not, because we prayed not!

It is not only in times of trial and adversity that we must be dependent on God, it is not only during those seasons when we can’t see ourselves out of a situation that we run to Him, we must be dependent upon Him in perpetuity, throughout our lives, whether in good times and in bad.

We cannot treat God with indifference when times are good, then expect a prompt answer from Him when we cry out in a panic over a certain issue in our lives. That is not fellowship, that is not relationship; it is an attempt to abuse the love and grace of God.

Many a soul grows bitter toward God because ‘they had a problem, and they prayed and nothing happened.’ But when was the last time you prayed, before you had that problem you prayed about? When was the last time you spent time with God, not because you wanted something from Him, but just because you needed to be in His presence, and worship Him, and praise Him, and adore Him?

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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