When I read the email that the elders wanted to spend each Sunday this summer to seek the presence of God in community prayer I found myself giggling like a child. I was so proud and blessed that we have leaders that are purposing to create intentional space to pray. My personal experience with prayer has been a progression and a journey. I’ve definitely had my fair share of prayer times where I am either bored, distracted, performing by trying to sound more spiritual and “in-tune” than I really was. At times I felt frustrated not knowing what else to do to make it more engaging.
About 5 years ago, I listened to a man share about prayer from our missions agency and he talked about reversing the prayer cycle. He shared how most Christians pray as if they have an idea, then they communicate it to God. God takes that idea and then acts upon it…maybe…and the person watches and waits for it to come to pass. That prayer cycle resonated with me. This approach had been much of my experience in prayer and as a result my prayer life was like drinking a cup of lukewarm water on a hot summer day. His exhortation was to reverse this cycle. As we come to God in prayer what we are after is waiting and worshiping before our King giving glory and honor and praise to Him. In the midst of waiting and worshipping in His presence we gain His heart and He communicates what He wants us to pray for and we agree. In the mystery of prayer, He hears our prayers and supplications that are really what are on His heart and He acts in His timing and sovereignty. Do you catch the difference?
Man, if I could jump through these pages and scream from the mountain tops how much this has transformed my prayer life! Prayer has become engaging and I’m learning how to really let Him lead me and not just have it be lips service. Jesus said, “When you pray….”. The early church “devoted themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word”. You have to have both. Prayer by itself can get weird and people’s theology can go awry. Simply ministering the word of God will make us really smart Christians. But praying the word of God and going before His throne of grace, agreeing with Him and His word in prayer pleases the heart of God and nurtures intimacy with Him. Prayer has become my most profound experience of actualizing Christ coming in the flesh and dying on the cross….to bring restored relationship between the Creator and His creation!!!
I have had such intimate times of prayer with the Lord where I am experiencing His heart for the world that I am moved beyond tears or comprehensible words. Romans 8:26-27, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Seems pretty clear to me that the Spirit knows what he is doing and what he wants to do. What a relief that it’s not up to us to think of what God should do in this or that situation! He knows and He will lead us into His knowing as we cry out to Him.
My appeal to you, brothers and sisters, at Greater Portland Bible Church is to come soak in the Lord’s presence during these prayer times this summer. Let's see what God is up to in our church, our community, our city and our world. God really loves to come and speak to His children. The joy of being with other brothers and sisters while humbly seeking our King is a treasure of it’s own. The ultimate treasure is the glory of God among all who have yet to experience His great love. Hope to see you there!