Everything By Prayer
Prayer Is Work
Prayer is the highest and holiest work, and yet it is the most neglected ministry on earth. For want of intercession, we are low on the mighty works of God.
Our generation has yet to see prayer as a ministry, and to take God at His Word on this subject. Our idea is, "Let us pray, and then get on with the work." But prayer is our real work. We so often think of prayer as a prefix or a suffix to an otherwise busy round. But Godís works are wrought as we pray, and while we pray. It brings a revolution to any minister or Christian, once he believes Godís Word on this point.
Like Christ, and with Him, it is in prayer that we must put in the real man-hours of labor. Christ labored in prayer to the point of sweat, tears, and agony. Prayer is our main ministry in the ministry, even as it was His. Yes, it is right now His one supreme ministry, for He "ever liveth to make intercession" for us (Heb. 7:25).
Godís works are done through prayer, for He always works out from His throne by intercession. It is not only His intercession, but ours, too: for, by His Spirit, He not only prays for us, but in us. He gives us of His own great praying Ė and that is the truest praying.
We are not just to imitate His praying, but to enter into it, receive it, and have it enter into us. That is how we enter into His works, become "labourers together with God," and learn to cease from our own works. We learn in this way to work with Him, instead of for Him. Sons, and no longer slaves.
Then, after we have prayed, we walk with the Lord Jesus into the works He has wrought in answer to prayer. Prayer is our real work. In His kingdom, it is those to whom He ministers who minister. The conquered conquer, and the followers of Christ lead others.
When we work with God Ė as we do in prayer Ė we shall see the works of God. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (Jas. 5:16). With God, prayer is not everything, but everything is by prayer.
Prayer Fulfills the Will of God
"Does prayer change the will of God?" asks a Christian. It seems a knotty question. No. Actually, it is only by prayer, and in answer to prayer, that Godís will is done on earth as it is in heaven. This is another way of saying that so often Ė because we do not pray Ė the will of man, or of the flesh, or of Satan, is being done. That is just the trouble, and the crux of the matter.
This is just where the Bible comes in. A chaplain was kneeling in prayer with a group, as one by one they prayed, "Lord, if it be Thy will...." He suggested that they all rise from their knees, take their Bibles, and find out what Godís will was in the matter; and then go to prayer, praying that His will, revealed in His Word, be done.
This is the point where we must watch closely. The point of reason is that prayer changes Godís will; the point of Scripture is that prayer realizes Godís will as revealed in Godís Word.
Reason can also argue very subtly in the opposite direction: "God is sovereign. He is God, you know, and He will do this thing whether we pray about it or not." Nothing is closer to reason, at times, than this; yet, nothing is further from Scripture. For God will not do apart from prayer what He has promised to do in answer to prayer, and it is my Christian responsibility to search the Scriptures and find out just what that is.
It has well been said, "When God is about to do a work, He always starts by getting His people to pray." It is only as we pray that we get what God can do. Nothing lies outside the circle of prayer except what lies outside the orbit of Godís will.
"Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth" (Luke 11:2).
"If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7).
"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13).
In the Bible God reveals His will; in prayer He fulfills it.
"Lord, Teach Us to Pray"
How far along are we with Christ? How large is our development? Our growth? Our stature? Our Christian maturity? This is shown by our prayer life. For our real discipleship is in the school of prayer. Likewise, most all of our dealings and disciplines of the Lord are registered there. We are not further along with Christ than we are in our praying. Prayer, for the Christian, is a life. We should speak of the prayer life. That is the exact measure of our spiritual growth. It is the exact level of our power. Satan need not attack our power; only our praying.
As they went on, the disciples began to learn that the Lord Jesusí great secret was in prayer. They also discovered that He was in dead earnest about the fact that His big prayer secret must become theirs; and that Ė by His promises, His precepts, His parables, and, above all, His own tremendous practice Ė He was passing it on to them.
By the time our Lord was ready to depart for heaven, whatever His disciples had not learned as yet, they really did know how to pray. The secret had become theirs. Now He could depart, for He had gotten them so well schooled in prayer and faith that they would fully trust His Word, and He could therefore trust them. They graduated. It was their "commencement." From then on they advanced, chapter by chapter through the Acts, on their knees.
Everything was by prayer. The main reason for this is that their entire life and ours is to be on a constant miracle basis. It is His one way of getting right into everything, and doing it, by having us proceed "in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving." Then He is All in all, and gets all the glory.
"Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1).
Excerpted from The Seven Wonders Of Prayer by Armin Gesswein. Used by permission.