Sunday, February 3, 2013

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 220

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Jehoshaphat continued...

Jehoshaphat knew the power of prayer, and rather than arm his people with swords and spears, he first brought them together to pray. The time would come for standing on a battlefield and facing the enemy, but first they would need a strength no shield or bow could give them…a strength which comes from God through prayer.

If one has never experienced the power of prayer in their life, they might look at the preceding assertion and roll their eyes. Because so few experience the power of prayer nowadays, we’ve come to believe that the notion of there being a true and tangible power associated with the act of prayer is hyperbolic exaggeration, like when we tell someone we just ate the best tasting orange ever. Sure, it might have been a good orange, even a great orange, but can you really say it was the best tasting orange ever?

When a believer speaks of the power of prayer, he means real, literal, undeniable power.

Jehoshaphat understood this. He understood that the power of prayer was a literal thing and not just some pompous way of explaining a benign experience like saying a handful of words while looking up.

It is because the enemy likewise knows the true power prayer holds that he has been attempting to undermine, redefine, and downplay the need for prayer in a believer’s life. As if on cue, new distractions pop up whenever a congregation gets serious about prayer, newfangled teachings and doctrines seem to metastasize whenever the need for prayer is declared from a national platform, because the devil knows he’ll be in real trouble the instant the church realizes the importance of prayer in their lives, and starts to pray as the saints of old used to.

What makes me think Jehoshaphat knew the importance and power of prayer?

I know with certainty that Jehoshaphat knew the power and importance of prayer because he led with prayer before doing anything else. Jehoshaphat didn’t assemble his army, equip them with weapons, then just as they were about to go into battle urged them all to say a quick prayer. Before doing anything else, Jehoshaphat came before the people, gathered together with them and prayed.

Where prayer is on our list of priorities says allot as to whether or not we understand its importance in our lives. If prayer is something we get to when all the other chores, responsibilities and errands are done, our actions betray our ignorance.

If, however, praying is the first thing we do in the morning, and the last thing we do at night, if we prioritize prayer in such a way wherein we will not go a day without it, then our actions testify of the value we place on prayer and our prayer lives.

Fasting, prayer, and worship are weapons. They are what we use to defend against the darkness, and even chase it away. When these three are absent from a congregation, when these three no longer exist among a group of individuals claiming to be a church, then their end and downfall is assured.

Because we like to think we know better than God we’ve attempted to replace fasting, prayer, and true worship with other things which mimic the real, but do not require the same effort or sacrifice.

Rather than declare a fast for the entire congregation – a true biblical fast – we ask for a handful of volunteers who will selflessly give up one meal on a given day and call it a sacrificial fast.

We like cheap expressions of our own self-righteousness, if possible, carried out before the entire household of faith, to unending applause and adulation.

We want to know that everybody knows we’re fasting, or we’ve started to pray, or we’re doing something for the kingdom of God, because just God knowing isn’t enough anymore. We all know God doles out praise in a miserly fashion, and even when in our own estimation we’re being good, He’ll find something to rebuke us of. Might as well lord our spirituality over the rest of the Body – finding ways to insert the fact that we fasted that week in any conversation – at least that way we get a little recognition for our efforts.

When was it we stopped doing things as unto the Lord? When was it we began feeling the need to advertise even the smallest kindness we perform, shouting it from the rooftops as though we had discovered the cure for cancer? When was it that knowing the Lord rewards all who labor for the Kingdom in due season, became insufficient for us?

Prayer is a largely intimate, solitary practice, unless done corporately, and as such many have abandoned prayer altogether. No one can see you in your prayer closet, no one can hear you cry out to God, and if no one can witness your good works and sacrifice, what good is it?

This is the mentality so many have adopted in recent years, because hedonism has taken hold of the household of faith, and rather than our entire existence being about Christ Jesus, what He has done for us, and what He does through us, it has become about us as individuals, and how long we can stay in the spotlight if ever we manage to get there.

As such, ministry becomes about man rather than about God, and everything men do seems to be geared toward elevating themselves.

Jehoshaphat knew that man, any man, even a king is a poor substitute for God and His power, and so rather than giving a rousing speech and stirring his army with empty words, he came before God humbly, meekly, and acknowledged His supremacy, His omnipotence, and His might. Jehoshaphat trusted in the Lord, and he demonstrated this both by the manner in which he prioritized prayer, as well as the words of his prayer. Jehoshaphat knew the power and might of the God he served, and he realized only a fool would attempt to do only what God could. As such Jehoshaphat pleaded with the Lord for victory against his enemies.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

This is why I don't bother with church. It just causes more confusion than it is worth. People are there to show off or steal others' holiness, not to strive for it. I don't understand corporate prayer either. What one person says is not what another feels, yet they all say the same thing in agreement. If you happen to agree, okay, but you are expected to agree with whatever is being said and I think that is witchcraft and mind control.

I don't think God is going to listen to you either if you only say what someone else said. He wants to hear from you personally if he is to help you. You don't speak to another person through someone else's words, so why would you do that to God? It is kind of aloof and rude.