I want to begin by saying the title of this blog is taken from a book I read last year by the same title. The book was written by H.B. Charles, Jr., a pastor down in Jacksonville, Florida. Pastor Charles is a gifted man of God who teaches the Bible as one empowered by the Holy Spirit to do so. His book along with some other resources have shaped my approach to prayer. With all of this said, God drew my attention to two verses this morning in reading Acts 1. I will say they are not the two verses that I typically associate with Acts 1. Acts 1:14, 24 say, 14“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” 24“And they prayed and said, ‘You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen.'”
At the time of this text, Jesus has already ascended back into heaven, after spending 40 days teaching about the kingdom of God. He has already given another version of the Great Commission in Acts 1:8, a verse that many are familiar with. After these events, the disciples gather together for what we would call a prayer meeting. Luke records in Acts 1, that there were 120 people gathered in that room. They were together for one purpose, and that was to seek God. In verse 24, we see the role of prayer in selecting leaders in the church. Again, before they made decisions we see the early church praying. I can’t help but wonder if the greatest sin of the church in modern times is prayerlessness. We have created program after program, trusting that it will do what only the power of God can do. Is the church anemic because we spend more time planning our calendar than praying? I wish I could give answers to these questions. Obviously, I have my thoughts on them, but my thoughts don’t amount to anything worth anything. I also wonder, what would our churches be like if we focused on the two-way communication method given to us by God? In case you are wondering what the two-way communication method is, it is prayer and reading the Bible. Praying is us talking to God. The writer of Hebrews says in chapter 4, that we can come boldly before the throne. That is because of Jesus’ death. This is the meaning behind the symbolism of the veil being torn in the Temple when Jesus died on the cross. It meant that the barrier between God and man had been removed. The Bible is literally the Word of God, it is the breath of God according to 2 Timothy 3:16. Therefore, it makes sense for us to take our Bible to our prayer time, and not treat them as separate things. I recently read an article that challenged my way of thinking. Many times, we pray first and then open the Bible searching for an answer. Certainly that is one way we can do it. But if prayer is about us getting on God’s agenda and wanting to do His will, shouldn’t we allow Him to speak first, and then we respond? Therefore, one shift in my prayer time has been that I read the Scripture for the day, and then I pray through it. There is a ministry dedicated to teaching you how to do this, and they can explain it far better than I can. I would encourage you to check them out at www.strategicrenewal.com. Here is a quick summary of learning to pray through the text. Begin by asking yourself, what do I learn about God in this text? Spend time praising Him for what He has revealed about Himself. Then ask, is there a sin that is being pointed out in the text that I am guilty of? Spend time confessing. Next, is praying about needs that are seen in the text. Does someone come to your mind or does something you need God to answer about show up in the text? We are asking, how am I to apply this text? Finally, is there a promise to claim in the text? Ask the Lord to help keep your mind on Him throughout the day, and to be looking for ways to live out what you have read and prayed.
For all that has happened in this COVID-19 season, I think one of the many lessons churches and church leaders have learned is this, our programs and processes can only go so far. As Mike Tyson said one time in an interview about his upcoming opponent and his opponent’s supposed plan to beat Tyson; Tyson said, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” I think it is safe to say, we have gotten punched in the mouth in the last several months. There is nothing wrong with planning. However, our plans are always subject to God’s will, and should only be made after seeking God first. Let me end this post, and this week’s worth of writings with a challenge. How much time do you spend praying each day currently? Be honest, this is just between you and God. Could you starting today, add two minutes to that time? And in that additional two minutes, could you sincerely pray for God to show you His will for you that day? It’s two minutes, the average length of a commercial break. May we all seek Him as desperately as we desire our next breath.
By His grace and for His glory,