Wednesday, February 29, 2012

PRAYER
...the most treasured and least attended to privilege as Christians

This is an encore presentation

There is an remarkable process, called plastination, which is a technique used in anatomy to conserve bodies or body parts. The water and fat are replaced by certain plastics, yielding specimens that can be touched, do not smell or decay, and even retain most microscopic properties of the original sample. The deceased body can then be viewed and studied in amazing detail, color, and wonder.

The process of plastination proceeds as follows: the sample is soaked in a solvent such as acetone and the sample's water (under freezing conditions) and fat are slowly replaced by the solvent. Then the sample is placed in a bath of liquid plastics, such as silicone rubber, polyester or epoxy resins. When a vacuum is generated, the acetone starts to boil, and the liquid plastic takes its place. It is then cured, either with gas, light or heat.

We have also seen in our day a plastination of the church. A series of techniques developed to “embalm” the church with artificial preservatives; rendering it only a colorful, lifeless cadaver—a church that had a name to be alive, but is now dead.

How do we guard against spiritual plastination? We must first begin by being a people of prayer. It is the most difficult and isolated of all spiritual disciplines; for we must go into the closet, shut the door, be alone with God, and on our knees in humility, be servants prostrate before the Lord. It is no small thing that the duty and calling of any pastor is “prayer and to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4). It is a work of grace; it is heaven’s charge; it is the complete dependency upon God for all things. James was called after his death, “the camel-kneed” because of the thick calluses that covered his knees due to the long hours he spent in prayer before the Lord Jesus. It is no coincidence that he penned these most familiar words, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

It’s been said that,

“before our salvation, we were Christless, stateless, covenantless, hopeless, and godless. Our minds were given to futility; our understanding was darkened. We were cut off from the life of God, ignorant, hardhearted, callous, immoral, impure, and greedy. The only thing we were qualified to receive from God was His wrath. And that is what we would have received, if not for God's mercy toward us.”
But now, because of our great salvation prayer is the driving privilege and the very life-breath of the believer. The church marches on her knees!

How are to pray? We are to pray "without ceasing." I don't know about you, but prayer is one of the hardest things for me to do and too easily forsaken in my life.

But we should never give up on praying; not even though Satan should tempt us that it is in vain for us to cry out to God for all of our needs no matter how small or great. Pray in his teeth - pray fervently!
  • -Pray on, though devils attack you;
  • -pray on, though trials overwhelm you and flood your soul;
  • -pray on, when the heavens seem as brass to you;
  • -pray on, when you think your prayers go unanswered and have been miscarried; continue on to draw near to God;
  • -pray on, though others you love may wound you, hurt you, gossip about you, and abandon you;
  • -pray on, though your heart be cold against spiritual things; pray until the Spirit of God warms it again;
  • -pray on when the philosopher tells you all in life is a matter of chance and natural law; do not be discouraged, for God has given you a wonderful opportunity to show grace to that one through prayer;
  • -pray on, when you are on the mountain top of blessing, the valley of suffering, or in the ease of worldly graces;
  • -pray on, when all is taken from you and you are stripped of this earth's possessions and comforts;
  • -pray on, though you only see a cloud in the shape of a tiny hand in the distance, pray until the clouds are full, black and pregnant; ready to burst their showers upon you;
  • -pray on when you think you are too busy to pray--for this too is a great mistake for prayer is a saving of time. Remember the words of Luther when he said, "I have so much to do today, that I shall never get through it with less than three hours of prayer;"
  • -and lastly, pray on, for no other reason than it brings glory and honor to God for us to be dependant upon Him and bow the knee in worship to Him in all things.
Pray with contrition- brokenness before the Lord never is unfruitful;

Pray with confession- for if we cherish iniquity in our hearts, the Lord will not even hear our prayer;

Pray with commendation- for the Lord is worthy to be praised;

Pray by commandment- for when we pray with an open Bible we are delighting in the things that the Lord has sovereignly designed for us;

And pray with communion- for He is our God, our Lord, our Savior who is not ashamed to call us His brethren
The beloved fourth century early church father, John Chrysostom of Antioch, wrote near the end of his life after being exiled by the Empress Eudoxia for confronting her extreme materialistic and opulent lifestyle these words of prayer and adoration,
"A monarch vested in gorgeous habiliments is far less illustrious than a knelling supplicant enabled and adorned by communion with his God. Consider how august a privilege it is when angels are present and archangels' throng around. Where Cherubim and Seraphim encircle with their blaze the throne of God that a mortal may approach with unrestrained confidence and converse with Heaven's dread Sovereign. Oh, what honor was ever conferred like that? How inestimable is the privilege of entering into the throne room of God surrounded by the hosts of His heavenly angels to commune in simplicity and with rapt attention with the One who is devoted to us. If prayer were nothing more than that, it would be the highest honor to pray without ceasing!"
In Colossians 1:9-14 through the superintending work of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul has given us the most comprehensive guide to prayer found anywhere in his epistles. May it be a faithful reminder of how we are to pray for God’s people and becoming people of prayer.


How To Pray for Others

1. Fervent in Prayer
”For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you” (v.9a)

2. Filled with His Word
“and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,” (v. 9b)

3. Faithful to Walk Worthy
“so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects,” (v. 10a)
a. fruit bearing
“bearing fruit in every good work” (v.10a)

b. fully increasing
“and increasing in the knowledge of God;” (v.10b)

c. fortified for longsuffering
“strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience;” (v.11a)

d. forever thankful to God
“joyously giving thanks to the Father,” (v.11b-12a)
4. Fit for the Inheritance
“who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” (v.12b)

5. Free from the Penalty of Sin
“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,” (v. 13)

6. Forgiven of Sin
“in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (v.14)

24 comments:

Timotheos said...

Prayer - the Christian's most valuable use of their time.

Thanks for this excellent post, Steve.

Marcia said...

Yes, thank you for posting this. I have printed it out as a guide.

Brian Ring said...

Thanks! I need to read that.

SJ Camp said...

After reading timotheos comment here I have changed the title from "demanding duty" to "treasured privilege." I like the idea of his word "valuable" - that really says it better.

Prayer should be a sign of our love, devotion and dependence in the Lord--not simply a chore.

I appreciate you all,
Steve
2 Cor. 3:5

4given said...

One of my favorite posts of yours!!!! EXCELLENT and to God be ALL the glory.

Truly, what a privilege it is to pray... but then we fail too often to realize that.

Des said...

Steve, it was eleven years ago today that I was radically saved by God's sovereign grace. I was introduced to your passionate music (Fire & Ice) by the man who God used to led me to the Lord Jesus Christ. I am contiunually thankful for how God continues to use your music and writings such as this blessed article on prayer for His glory and my sanctification.

Steve, may God continue to richly bless you and your family.

In Christ,

Des

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Romans 5:1, ESV

ann_in_grace said...

I printed it out and am putting it into my Bible.
Thank You.

scottidog said...

Thank you, Brother. For the reminder.

Bhedr said...

Thanks for this post brother. Steve I remember that post where you made that statement from your father, "Jesus will never be all that you need until he is all you have."

I have long meditated on that statement. Let me tell you brother your song "he is all you need" has been a source of tremendous comfort to meditate on as well as encourage in times of hard pressure. I must confess that I have been facing intense heat right now and so prayer is the only source of sanity in this insane world but I am sure perhaps others are facing greater trials so I pray I don't sound sanctimonious in any way.

Anyway I meditate much on that statement now as well as that song. Today was hard and I found myself in my van weeping and calling out to God and then I looked at the squirrels feeding and the birds feeding and I was listening to some of Scott Wesley Browns old stuff...well you know that song..."He will Carry you" and it rang with the same truth.

You know I looked inside the CD cover and do you know what he said inside? "Jesus isn't all you need, until He's all you really have. Ive see that come true so much in the lives of Eastern European and Third World Christians, because everything has been stripped away from them. Thats when your relationship with the Lord is really a deep relationship, because it has to be."

Now I don't know where he stands in this ecumenical world...but I know that had to be the Holy Spirit comforting with your words and his words.

May God give us all a deep prayer life in these final days. Oh that he would come soon.

Katoikei's Jukebox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Socorro said...

I sure needed this this morning. I too will print and use as a guide an encourage others to read this. Excellent post

Katoikei's Jukebox said...

Yes, I like it too. Thanks Steve.
esp. 'for we must go into the closet, shut the door, be alone with God'

Peace,
K.J.

~Mark said...

A refreshing post indeed. We are having a conference focused on prayer in May. Here is a link to further information. Thank you for bringing up this vital topic!

Darrin said...

Brother, this is a very important and convicting exhortation, as the others have said.

In the past I've noted some great Puritan quotes about prayer (often from puritansermons.com), which you may have also used before. I list only two below. I hope these do not cause anyone fear of their inadequacy for this great task and privilege, but that they would rather encourage us to the utmost seriousness, diligence, and even excitement about this monumental means of worship and grace.

"Heart-work is hard work indeed. To shuffle over religious duties with a loose and careless spirit, will cost no great difficulties; but to set yourself before the Lord, and to tie up your loose and vain thoughts to a constant and serious attendance upon him: this will cost you something. To attain ease and dexterity of language in prayer and to be able to put your meaning into appropriate and fitting expressions is easy; but to get your heart broken for sin while you are actually confessing it, [to become] melted with free grace even while you are blessing God for it, to be really ashamed and humbled through the awareness of God's infinite holiness, and to keep your heart in this state, not only in, but after these duties, will surely cost you some groans and travailing pain of soul."
- John Flavel

"Believer, closet prayer will be found to be but a lifeless, comfortless thing, if you do not enjoy communion with God in it. That should be the very soul of all your closet duties; therefore press after it, as for life. When you go into your closet, banish every thing that can hinder your enjoyment of Christ."
- Thomas Brooks

Rick Frueh said...

A great post.

The home churches in China have been consumed with prayer for many decades. They have seen an amazing track record of conversions, some estimates place them at 100 million from 8 million in 1946.

All this without Christian TV, radio, bookstores, little literature, few Bibles, and most meeting in secret. Their services are centered on prayer in which they intercede for sinners and thank God for the persecution of their government.

In the early 1980s a Chinese pastor (unofficial) visited the United States and a score of evangelical churches. He attended many services and gave greetings from the Chinese brethren.

Upon returning from the US, the other pastors asked what impressed him most about the American believers. His reply was,

"I was impressed with how much American believers can accomplish without God's help".

His view revealed his astonishment at how little the church in America prays.

Mandy said...

Thanks so much for this excellent and timely article of correction and encouragement. I too have struggled with the discipline of prayer and have been making inroads into the daily discipline and feel such an infant! However the encouragement of this post is just brilliant and I appreciate it greatly and like others have indicated, will print it out and keep it in my Bible as a reminder and help. I also intend to forward this on to all my friends as I know this will also really encourage and reignite them in their prayer life as well.
Shalom Shalom

SJ Camp said...

Rick
"I was impressed with how much American believers can accomplish without God's help".

That is one of the most stinging rebukes on American Christianity I have ever heard. It is also personally convicting.

Thank you brother for these words...

Steve

SJ Camp said...

Darrin
Great quotes Darrin! Excellent and powerful truths.

Thanks you,
Steve

SJ Camp said...

Mandy
I appreciate so much your gracious words of encouragement. Am also honored that you would pass on this article to others. I pray that the Lord will use it in spite of myself.

Steve

SJ Camp said...

Mark
Thanks for the link. I pray the conference is a great blessing to others brother.

SJ Camp said...

Des
Great word of praise to the Lord for your salvation in Him. Thank you for sharing it with us here.

SJ Camp said...

Katoikei's Jukebox, Socorro, Ann, Terry, scottidog, Michele
Great words of truth and encouragement. I appreciate them greatly.

SparkyBo said...

Steve, thanks for your encouragement. I found your post on www.christianear.com

I have heard the acronym PUSH for
Pray
Until
Something
Happens.

We all need to recognize the power of prayer. Rest assured that many Chrisitians throughout the world are praying for revival, reform, and restoration in and out of God's Church.

I moved to South Florida in 1984, worked in Miami, was in a church, and facing life's trials, thinking where are the evidences of God. I discovered that a group of men and women professionals had been and were praying for, not only Miami, but also the nation & world!

Let's agree to PUSH Prayer!

God Bless you,

Larry "Sparky" Bobo
1 Peter 5:7
+++

Elizabeth Davis said...

Thanks for the encouraging post! Made me think of the connection between Colossians 1:6 speaking of "the word of truth, the gospel" has gone into the world (and those at Colossae) "constantly bearing fruit and increasing" and Colossians 1:10 speaking of Paul's prayer for those at Colossae to bear "fruit in every good work" and increase "in the knowledge of God." Prayer and the Word...what amazing hope we have in Christ when we pray in the Word!
Elizabeth