Recently I was involved in a prayer time. Nothing newsworthy there. I’m a Christian and Christians should be involved in prayer and especially when two or three are gathered because Jesus told us that was a powerful number because He would also show up for that prayer time personally. And, if we could agree together in prayer (and, of course, pray agreeing with what His Word states) that He would grant the request. It seems fairly straightforward to me. There were at least 8 or 10 of us there that morning and we were all Christians and well versed in the scriptures.
It had begun as a fellowship time over a cup of hot coffee. It had gone from there to someone sharing or expressing a deep seated pain about a family member who was struggling with some fairly serious issues. Someone asked if we could pray – something Christians are likely to do – and so the coffee fellowship was on its way to being a powerful opportunity for Jesus to become involved in someone’s life in a special way.
That’s where the good news ended. The prayer time was a serious disaster. People prayed out of sympathy and not out of godly compassion; from the soul and not from the spirit. They gave advice instead of praying – advice to the person and, get this, advice to God as if He was clueless as to what needed to be done and how to do it. Several entered into a time of open counselling expressing similar situations that they had faced in their past and the pain they had gone through and how bad it had been and how desperate it was during those times (not in the least bit edifying or encouraging – and certainly not “prayer” by the wildest stretch of anyone’s imagination). Oh, it sounded like prayer as they rehersed their past disaster and feelings to God in front of everyone in the group. One even – again in a way that sounded like prayer – pointed out that he was there to help and that he knew he could be of great help to the man we were praying for because… well, let’s not go there. Suffice it to say he succeeded in taking the focus off of God and putting it on himself – the spotlight swung around and we found out how great and wonderful this man really was. Wow! A surprise power-packed gift to the world and we didn’t even recognize it. Whatever happened to the concept of dying to self when one becomes a born again believer?
Maybe I am just a simpleton. But, here is how I believe prayer should work. Here is what I call “Bible prayer”. You sit by yourself or with others and after “being still” on the inside and the outside (be still and know that I am God) you listen for the voice of God. I found out early in my walk with Jesus that He is God and I am not. I used to work in a firm of chartered accountants where there were junior and senior partners who ran the local office. God is my senior partner. When I entered the senior partner’s office I only spoke after being spoken to. I sat if he invited me to do so. It is the same with God the Father. He is God and my Senior Partner – my owner as I did not come under new management when I was born again but I came under new ownership – and I wait for Him to speak and then I respond to whatever He says. This is praying according to His will (1 John 5) and not according to my feelings, needs, thoughts, wants, agenda…
So, I sit still in His presence (I am with you always) and I listen for His voice (My sheep hear My voice) and I respond to Him as is only polite in any conversation and then I go out and do what He has spoken to me about (You are ambassadors of Christ Jesus). Seems fairly simple to me. Some call this “listening prayer”. I simply call it biblical prayer, prophetic prayer… listening to Him and then praying (speaking to Him) about what is on His mind and heart. Then, at the end, I simply remind Him of the things on my “shopping list”. I don’t list all my needs and concerns as “the Father knows what you have need of before you ask”. I simply thank Him for supernaturally meeting my needs – not my wants – and tell Him I am looking forward to seeing how He is going to do it.
When He says I can go – remember, he is my Senior Partner – I thank Him for spending time with me and expressing His heart to my heart and then I go to my office and start work for the day…
Maybe this is too simple an approach but it works. And, to this day, 7 weeks after that so-called prayer time with other believers, I still don’t think we prayed. A wonderful Christian leader once said: “If there is no moving of the Holy Spirit, there has been no prayer…just the speaking of many words”. That day there were many words and little prayer.
Thank you Lord for Your patience with Your kids. I greatly appreciate it. Increase in me Your gift (fruit) called patience.