"Prayer is our most formidable weapon, the thing which makes all else we do efficient." - E.M. Bounds
I've been reading a booklet titled, Praying Effectively for the Lost
, by Lee E. Thomas. The author packs many foundational biblical truths, plus personal and powerful stories of persevering prayer, into what he's written.
One of the many points he touches upon is the matter of the Church, and the Christians who make up the Church, giving up too easily in prayer. It's as though we are often quick to wave the white flag of surrender when we fail to see immediate results to our prayers when we pray.
Yet, in addition to surrendering too quickly, could we also be waving the wrong white flag in surrender?
Instead of surrendering our ability to pray because our expectations aren't fully met in the moment (or in the way(s) we expect them to be fulfilled), shouldn't we surrender ourselves, and continually do so, to God?
Do We Think We'll Really be Satisfied with Instant Potatoes All of the Time?
Our American culture can get us into trouble when we yield too much to its influence. Our microwaved instant meals save us time, but sacrifice our health and nutrition. We have the ability to "just add water" to powdered potatoes or other dried foods to create a "meal" out of something rather unappealing when we first open the box and look into it. But should we expect to live off of that kind of meal consistently?
There's no comparison when we taste the "instant" meal alongside of a meal of substance. The substantive meal, made with real fruits, grains, vegetables, and meats, will always taste better, be more appealing to the eye, and provide better health in both the short and long terms.
So it is with prayer and God.
Whether God seems to instantly answer the prayer we've asked, or He answers it in what appears to be a delayed or prolonged manner, doesn't change who He is in the slightest degree! It also doesn't change the power or effectiveness God has placed within prayer or within our ability to pray!
A.W. Tozer, poignantly brought this problem into focus:
"What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."
"The words, "Be still, and know that I am God," mean next to nothing to the self-confident, bustling, worshiper in this middle period of the twentieth century (our modern day)." (paraphrase added)
"The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us."
"Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, "What comes into your mind when you think about God?" we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man." - the above quotes gleaned from Tozer's book, The Knowledge of the Holy, preface and pg. 1.
God is not a formula; a boxed "just add water" god (like other gods). He is all-mighty (meaning that all power as we know it- and even beyond what we know, comes from and is within Him). He is perfect (in every way we can imagine, plus immeasurably more)! He is sovereign, meaning that He does as He pleases, whenever He pleases, as it brings Him good pleasure. He is perfectly wise. He sees our current joys, trials, and challenges in light of everything He's done prior, everything He's currently doing, and everything He will do in the future. In His wisdom, He has prepared all that we need for salvation, all we need in our present lives, and all we'll need throughout eternal life. He is Redeemer. Only God sent His perfect Son to be the perfect sacrifice to satisfy the perfect wrath and justice He requires as judgment for man's sin and rebellion. And additional truths of the person and character of God could be written about from now throughout eternity. He's that enormous, mighty, loving, encompassing, and more!
God is so complete and powerful, why shouldn't we continually surrender our lives, thoughts, words, and actions to Him? Why would or should we ever surrender our ability to pray? He's provided the means (prayer) for us to both communicate to Him and hear from Him. Prayer is a two-lane highway of communication!
Why would we ever want to quit?
Surrender to God the matters that bring you joy (giving thanks in and through prayer). Worship Him (praise Him through word and deed as a prayerful act of surrender and worship). Surrender in prayer those things that trouble you (requests and concerns), and more.
Persisting in Prayer for the Lost
Lee E. Thomas (mentioned above) writes, "Through the many vivid word pictures in the Bible concerning the plight of the lost, we can easily see why persistence in prayer becomes a necessary factor. Isaiah 14:17 describes the lost as being prisoners whom Satan refuses to release. Acts 26:18 tells us that they are under the authority or jurisdiction of Satan.
Persistent prayer is necessary because of Satan's reluctance to give the lost person up, not because God is unwilling to save them!!!
One of Satan's favorite tactics is to make the situation look so impossible that we get discouraged and quit praying. The reason he does this is that he has absolutely no defense against prayer. The old saying is true that Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees. All prayer is warfare and, when you pray, Satan is being defeated even though you see no change in the circumstances.
However, if we could see what is happening in the spiritual realm when we pray, we would be greatly encouraged. So, keep on praying for the lost whether you see results or not because your prayers are being answered!!" (emphasis added)
Be encouraged, and continually persist in prayer (in all ways)!
Matters to Continually Take Before God
Here is a short, incomplete, list of matters to continually keep before God in prayer:
* The deepening and growth of your relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
* God filling you with His Holy Spirit.
* Your appetite and ability to read, take to heart, and apply the Word of God.
* The salvation of lost friends, relatives, acquaintances, and beyond (specifically name those you know, then persistently do so until He leads them to faith).
* Revival (when Christians, and the Church, become saturated with God).