Sunday, February 03, 2008

"Don't pray unless . . ."

The Prayer Force

By Rick Ezell

Prayer is the indispensable and vital function of a believer. No aspect of our Christian life is more essential and crucial to our personal growth and health, and the church's growth and health, than spending time with God. We are never taller than when we are on our knees. We are never stronger than when we are confessing our weaknesses. We are never bolder in public than when we are quiet before God in private.

Prayer brings God to us. Prayer reminds us that we need God more than he needs us. The essence of prayer is to join God, not God joining us. We ask what is on God's heart rather than telling God what is on our hearts. Prayer is the lifeline that saves the drowning soul. Prayer is the umbilical cord that provides nourishment to the starving spirit. Prayer is the channel by which God's life-giving presence flows to us.

St. Augustine, the early church father and theologian, described prayer as like a man in a hapless boat who throws a rope at a rock. The rock provides the needed security and stability for the helpless man. When the rock is lassoed, it's not the man pulling the rock to the boat (though it may appear that way); it is the pulling of the boat to the rock. Jesus is the rock, and we throw the rope through prayer.

Prayer changes us. The early disciples were once timid and afraid, hiding and secretive, embarrassed and ashamed. But when they prayed for boldness and power in public ministry, God changed them. He transformed wimps (weak, ineffectual, and insipid persons) into warriors (bold, courageous, and powerful people).

Richard Foster wrote, "To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives. The closer we come to the heartbeat of God the more we see our need and the more we desire to be conformed to Christ."

Don't pray unless you want to change. Don't pray unless you want to be propelled to action. Don't pray unless you want to move on the offensive. Don't pray unless you want to go to war. And, when you go to war you need power.

Prayer unleashes the power of God. Prayer is the most powerful weapon in the believer's arsenal. Is it any wonder that the Evil One seeks valiantly to keep Christ followers from praying? When we don't pray Satan has won the battle. But, when we pray, the power of God is unleashed.

The power is felt on the human front. Sidlow Baxter wrote, "Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers."

Then, the power is felt on the spiritual front. Samuel Chadwick said, "The one concern of the devil is to keep saints from prayer. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray."

Prayer equips us for battle. The battle is for the hearts of men and women. God needs us on the front lines telling others about him. The war is won in the trenches of men and women's will. Prayer equips us for that engagement.

How foolish one would be to go to battle without proper preparation, training, and equipment. How foolish are we to go to spiritual battles without prayer. John Henry Jowett claimed, "It is in the field of prayer that life's critical battles are won or lost." As believers and as a church we will only be triumphant in storming the lines of evil for the souls of men and women when we pray.

Let us pray. The souls of men and women hang in the balance.

Copyright 2005 Rick Ezell / http://www.rickezell.net

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