God is calling us to a vibrant prayer life…one that stirs His soul as well as ours. Over the past couple of weeks I have been greatly convicted about my prayer life, or lack thereof. I recently read Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. I can honestly tell you that it has changed my life. It has made me wake up to the reality that we don’t need more sermons. We need more prayer.
We don’t need more programs. We need more prayer.
We can be changed more in 10 minutes of earnest prayer than we can in listening to 10 hours of sermons.
Jesus didn’t call his church to be a “house of preaching” or “a house of programs.” He called his church to be “a house of prayer.”
As I began to let these truths sink into my heart, I began to feel incredibly convicted at the lack of priority that I have placed on prayer. Yes, Frances and I would pray before every meal and before we went to bed. But God is calling us for greater things. He is calling us to make prayer the center of everything that we do…make it who we are.
One of the greatest things that I received from this book was how it made note of the fact that all the way back in Genesis 4:27 people instinctively began to “call upon the name of the Lord.” This was the first recorded mention of men and women, boys and girls crying out to God for help, protection and guidance.
Ironically, God’s people were not first called “Jews” or “the children of Israel” or even “Hebrews.” In the very beginning their name was “those who call upon the name of the Lord.”
I love what Jim Cymbala says about this. “On some unmarked day…at some unnoted hour…a God-placed instinct in human hearts came alive. People sensed that if you are in trouble and you call out to God, he will answer you! He will intervene in your situation.”
Some other passages reflect this idea of calling out to God in a passionate way:
Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Matthew 7:7-11 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 9"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
However, this is the time when Satan will come in with his temptations saying things like, “You are too busy to pray. You don’t need to pray. You can get along just fine apart from wasting your time with prayer. Use your creativity and your ingenuity to do God’s work. You don’t need to depend on God.”
How many times have you actually believed these lies? I know I have several times!
But the fact is that we are too busy NOT to pray!
Whenever you feel like you are too busy to pray, think of the lumberjack story. This picture might help.
Remember to Sharpen your Ax!
Two lumberjacks were having a competition who could cut down the most amount to trees before their shift was over. They both started early in the morning at 7:00 in the morning. The first lumberjack ran out to the first few trees and immediately began to pull ahead in the race. The other lumberjack simply sat down on a tree stump and sharpened his ax for the first whole hour of competition. The other lumberjack was making fun of his “time wasting” buddy because he had not cut down any trees yet.
A striking fact emerged. Once the lumberjack who had spent the first hour sharpening his ax started to actually cut, he noticed that he was flying through the trees, cutting them down at rapid speed. So ironically, at noontime, the two were tied. Well, as the first lumberjack began to slow down quickly, the second was just picking up the pace!
At the end of their friendly competition, the one who stopped early to sharpen his ax, in the long run, was able to cut down more trees. Why? Because he took the time to prepare.
In the Christian life, we can get more done in 8 hours of work and one hour of prayer than if we spent 10 hours of straight work. I don’t know how it works, but it does. I guess God removes the distractions when we first dedicate our day to Him and clears the path so we can get more done for Him.
I challenge you, wherever you are in your spiritual journey, to begin a lifestyle of passionate prayer. Start today. Start now. The first prayer is the most difficult…yet it’s the most rewarding!