I was talking to a friend recently who was questioning the validity of prayer and intercession. He isn’t a new believer, but he does move very slowly in his faith. His question, however, helped me appreciate the journey and value of prayer more than ever. The adversary wants nothing more than to keep us from an intimate walk with Christ and a ministry of prayer for His people. He wants to bind us to this earth, dismiss the importance of prayer in our lives, and keep us captive and enslaved to flesh out the problems of the world with the makings of our own minds and hands.
We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray unceasingly. To the casual reader, that seems daunting or impossible. To the somewhat seasoned Christian, that feels like hard work (and it is). But to the prayer warrior, unceasing prayer is compared to the regular beating of our hearts or the repetitive intake and withdrawal of our very breath. Prayer is always on our minds; it rests constantly on our lips ready for the moment of whisper. In his book, How To Pray, E. Stanley Jones explains that in prayer “you are being fashioned into a person who lives by principles rather than pulse-beats, by decisions rather than by delights. Prayer is always right, with or without an emotional content … for prayer is not only an act; it is an attitude.”
When we resolve to pray unceasingly, we will no doubt have moments of interruption, but that should not thwart the act or keep us from this good work. Jesus’ whole ministry was a constant interruption, but He prayed unceasingly and maintained a continuous dialogue with God. As we intimately align ourselves with God, we open our hearts and souls to His light so that we may shine for others. As that light shines, people are drawn to us; hence, they are drawn to the Father. Prayer is like a flowing current of water interlacing itself through us and God, and then He and His created beings. It has a simultaneous vertical and horizontal effect on the Kingdom, freely giving way for the work of the Holy Spirit. When we see the Holy Spirit at work we realize we are just the vessel being poured out for His work. We relinquish our human desire to control and humble ourselves to His service.
I took my friend to Revelation 8:3-4 which describes the prayers of the saints as like incense to the Lord. How encouraging to know that our prayers are sweet and pleasing to the Lord. He stores them in great golden bowls in heaven and He hears our cries and petitions, our thoughts and desires. The prayers of the saints are valuable to God. And when we sincerely and humbly pray and intercede for others, we are working with an almighty purpose, and an Almighty Purpose is working with us.
Copyright (c) May, 2009 Angela Zimmerman, New Albany, IN
July 27th, 2009 at 12:07 AM
awesome! what a great article on prayer!
I like the line being “a vessel poured out for His work”
also love the fact that prayers are incense to the Lord, a sweet smelling
savor ..He collects our tears & prayers in bottles and in Rev. He pours out those vials as judgments on the earth…POWERFUL!
thanks for sharing
July 27th, 2009 at 12:35 AM
Yes! I once told Mary that her tears are collected in bottles; gave her some assurance of the nearness of God. TY for your such kind remarks. You are a blessing.
July 27th, 2009 at 1:55 AM
Chuck Smith once mentioned we can be in an attitude of prayer all day ….every day…every place we go, as long as we take with us, the realization that God is with us, and he is where we are.
So we can talk to him anywhere, or as I like to tell people, some of the best conversations with Jesus just might be seated in your “rest” room.
I do like specific times and places of prayer, and whether a Mens Prayer Watch all night, or “davening” praying in a synagogue, no matter where or who I was with, even Catholics and Byzantine Monks, I have found each worthy and worthwhile to enjoy.
My two post powerful prayers though Start like this:
and the other favorite
Ok Ok, not everyone can be a Jesus Gypsy, but if there has to be one, it might as well be me.
God bless you Angela and your post.
Michael James Stone
July 27th, 2009 at 12:00 PM
Thanks for your comment, Michael. I’m a great fan of Chuck Smith. It is an attitude of prayer when we train our minds and hearts to sensitively follow the Holy Spirit. Some days are better than others, of course. Many times I fail (more often than not, in fact). But it is in the training of the heart toward Christ where we focus our efforts, not on our failures. Thanks for sharing your journey.
July 27th, 2009 at 3:39 PM
Excellent post Angela! To me, the Apostle Paul’s declaration to “pray without ceasing” is extremely powerful and instills in my heart to create an atmosphere of prayer in which to freely and openly pray to God. I’m amazed by the wonderful truths of Romans 8:26 that we don’t even know what to pray for, yet we have the Holy Spirit who helps us in our weaknesses and makes intercession on our behalf. What beauty there is in prayer!
It is my heart’s desire to become an increasingly more effective prayer warrior and to live James 5:17, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
I’m blessed to have read this; I look forward to reading more!
July 30th, 2009 at 9:05 AM
How encouraging! What a beautiful blog, Mrs. Z!