Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 96

Fervent Prayer continued...

Psalm 143:6-7, “I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah Answer me speedily, O Lord; My spirit fails! Do not hide Your face from me, lest I be like those who go down into the pit.”

Even in his writing David was an honest man. Taking into account that he was king of Israel, that he was a warrior, and a man of fierce reputation, it is interesting to note how David humbles himself, and pours out his heart before God, even in the writing of this psalm. David did not care who would read it, or what their opinion would be when they discovered that the king’s soul longed for God like a thirsty land, nor did he care who saw him as he spread out his hands to God.

Is your reputation worth more than truly experiencing God in your time of prayer? Is what you think men perceive you as worth more than knowing you have prayed fervently, openly, passionately and without reservation?

‘What will people think if I spread out my hands to God? What will people say if I cry out to God as though my soul longed for Him like a thirsty land?’

Pardon my intentional lack of tact, but who cares? Who cares what people think? Who cares how people judge you? Who cares that they do not understand you were just in the presence of God, and felt His comforting hand upon you?

We are often so superficial, that we prize the opinions of our fellow man above what God might think or say in regards to a certain thing.

‘Well, nobody else is raising their hands, or crying, or speaking in a loud voice during prayer…guess I shouldn’t either.’

Yes, the word of God speaks of order during public prayer, but that has more to do with speaking in tongues in an orderly fashion, than crying out to Him. You cannot pray a fervent prayer, and do so reservedly…it just can’t happen. It would be like trying to accelerate while stepping on the break.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to reanimate your prayer life, and take it to the level of fervency, is to stop wondering, or being concerned with what others are thinking about the way you pray, while you pray.

It just so happens, that certain churches I am asked to speak in have a prayer time before service actually starts. It also happens that there are certain times wherein I feel the need to just be in the presence of God, pour my heart out to Him, and pray fervently. Although I am to be the guest speaker, although I am – by general convention and the unwritten rule of ministerial conduct – supposed to be the most sober faced individual in the crowd, giving off an air of hyper spirituality and superior enlightenment, I end up making a fool of myself, crying and lifting my hands, and carrying on.

You have my permission to be a fool for Christ!

Just being free in the presence of God, and unconcerned with how others perceive you is the most liberating feeling you will ever know during public worship. No, I am neither instructing you nor encouraging you to stand and start banging a tambourine while the pastor is attempting to give his Sunday sermon, but be free within the guidelines of Church order.

Do some people take it too far? I believe they do, and you can sense when it shifts from being in the presence of God, and fervently seeking His face, to ‘hey everybody, look at me’ syndrome.

Be wise, do a bit of self-diagnosis, and ascertain whether it is the Spirit or the flesh that is moving.

I was in a service once, where a certain sister was suffering from the aforementioned ‘look at me’ syndrome, and after giving a ten minute prophecy, she started quoting scriptures that weren’t really scriptures.

‘As the Lord says in Psalm 162, an apple a day keeps away colon cancer.’

The pastor being one who understood the true meaning of shepherd of the flock, stood, cleared his throat and said with authority, ‘sister Bernice, you may sit down.’

At the end of the service, as people were shaking hands, and walking out, none other than sister Bernice walks up to me and with a conspiratorial whisper says, ‘see what I have to put up with, that man stifles my Spirit every time the Lord moves.’

‘If it was truly the Lord sister Bernice, He would have known there is no Psalm 162, and so would the devil for that matter,’ I answered and walked away, leaving a stunned sister Bernice to ponder the ramifications of my answer.

Don’t confuse the Spirit for the flesh, because the flesh will make a fool of you more often than not. It’s not even something as nefarious as the enemy, it’s just the dumb old flesh trying to insert itself, puff itself up, and in its foolish pride makes some truly laughable mistakes.

Try as the flesh might, it can’t pull off feigning spirituality in perpetuity. Eventually it slips up, the mask drops, and whoever happens to be glancing at the individual at that particular moment, will see the flesh in all its glory rather than the spiritual juggernaut being projected.

If we pay close attention, we will see this with televangelists, preachers, teachers, and yes, even the self-anointed and self-appointed Apostles and Prophets who make sure everyone they ever run into, no matter the context or situation, knows that they are indeed an Apostle or Prophet.

Authentic faith, authentic Christianity is never forced. It is not something we have to think about being; it is something we are once we have been renewed of mind and heart.

When it’s the flesh attempting to be spiritual, there’s always a false note to the whole thing, sort of like a clanging cymbal, or a noisy gong. Sure they make some noise, but noise is all they really make.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

1 comment:

A Sister in Washington said...

You have my permission to be a fool for Christ!
Thank you. :) I still turn into Jello Woman and tremble like a fool during certain times of fervent prayer and during some sermons. After over 6 months of this, multiple prayers asking God to take it way if it isn't of Him, and a serious talk with my senior pastor to see if he has any concerns about my behavior or character (he didn't) I've stopped worrying about it. Still no desire to bark like a dog, I'm happy to report. ;)