A friend came over to my house last night to pray with me and we ended up in the most exciting and intense time of prayer in my life. I can honestly say that I never understood how shallow my prayers were until that time of prayer.
Most of my prayers are petitions and there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking God’s direction and aid on behalf of others and ourselves. After all, reading through the Psalms opens up a world of prayer and petition that transformed David’s thinking about God and his relationship to Him.
But last evening we praised God and worshipped Him through prayer. I don’t know how long we were praying but it seemed like only minutes. Our watches, however, said that an hour and a half had passed since we first began to talk and pray. I have never experienced time move so quickly in prayer and the kicker for me was that I didn’t want the prayers to stop.
Usually, I kneel down and my knees hurt, my ear itches, my mind wanders, my hands become fidgety but not last evening. Instead I found my heart being poured out to God in contrition and repentance. It was as if the Holy Spirit needed to wipe my slate clean of self and reach into the dark places of my heart to sweep away the junk, sin, and garbage that lurked there.
It was only then that I felt an overwhelming desire to worship God and my mind became clear and I started pouring out my love and adoration for God. This is something I do not usually do in prayer because I am too busy making prayer about my needs and me. It was if I couldn’t stop the pouring out of my deepest hungering for God. The more I prayed the more my heart was lifted and filled with peace.
Now, what amazed me the most was that the more I praised God the more I desired to pray for friends and neighbors. There was a confidence in my prayer that I usually don’t have. I could see in my mind God touching and restoring people who are broken down under the power of discouragement and disappointment.
Over and over throughout the prayer I could only cry out Abba Father, praise you Father. Let me tell you, that is something I never do but as the praise of God tumbled out of us we were humbled and elated at the same time.
I am writing this blog post at three thirty in the morning but I still can’t escape the joy of praying earlier in the evening. So, what happened to me? I am not quite sure but I do know that the Holy Spirit was motivating and directing our prayers because we were crying out to God in our weakness and longing to put all our trust in Him.
Earlier tonight I found myself reading James 5 and as I did the words seemed to take on a greater significance for me. James writes,
15 “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.
18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” James 5:13-18
Seven times in these seven verses God tells us to pray. If we are in trouble we are to pray, if we are sick we are to pray and be anointed, we are to pray in faith, we are to confess our sins to each other and pray for each other. James then illustrates the power of God in the life of Elijah who was a man of prayer. He prayed, “earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.” Then God directed him to pray and “the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”
Elijah didn’t make this happen, He simply prayed according to the will of the Father. His prayers were in harmony with God’s will. It was God who withheld the rains and caused the rains to fall. God heals, God forgives our sins, and deals with our troubles.
What have I learned from my experience in prayer last evening? I learned that when the Holy Spirit begins to work upon the heart we should let go of our formulas for prayer and allow Him to teach and direct. I realized that praising God for His wonders and goodness is soul refreshing and missing in my prayer life. I believe I experienced the power of the Holy Spirit touching my heart with much needed truths about my own sinfulness and the need to allow Jesus to cleanse my heart of pride, conceit, arrogance, and self-centeredness.
Here is the powerful aspect of the prayer. I was not consciously aware that so much of my life was about me until the Holy Spirit began to convict me of these weaknesses as I praised and worshipped God. It is so true what we say over and over in this blog, God is God and we are not Him. This became more than a slogan or a concept, last evening it became a reality.
So, am I any more worthy of God this morning because of my experience in prayer? No. In fact it is just the opposite. I sense that I am a long way away from the person God would have me be, but He loves me all the same. His love for me, a sinner, who stumbles around messing up my life and ignoring His love couldn’t be greater and last evening in prayer with my friend, I had a glimpse into that love. That was the power of that time of worship.
When we finished praying I felt spent and my heart was racing and all I wanted to do was pray again and tell Him how much I love Him and thank Him for His love. Some of you are probably wondering what and the world I’m talking about, but others of you are nodding your heads and saying, “yes I’ve been there, I know that sweet hour of prayer.”
* The persecution of Christians has not stopped. If anything it’s increased. The main stream media doesn’t talk about it much anymore but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Pray and stay informed and inform others. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…