Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Radical Desperation for His Presence

Paul gives us two conditions for intercession in the church: holy hands, and no anger or dissension (1 Tim 2:8). Getting right before God, and then getting right with each other. God wants all kinds of prayers, requests, intercession, and thanksgiving (1 Tim 2:1). He enjoys common, simple prayers. The Lord enjoys radical, passionate prayers. We pray best when we admit our weakness and ask the Holy Spirit to take control of our prayer (Rom 8:26-27).

Have you ever been at a place where you were so weak that you had no other option than the Lord? If you haven’t been there, your time is coming. That’s not to scare you, but to warn you that if you want to walk with the Lord, you need to know that He will train you to trust Him. He will lead you into the valley of the shadow of death so that you can learn to know that He is always with you, so that His rod and His staff may comfort you (Psalm 23:4).

When you get to the place where you realize that God is your only hope, your commitment to prayer will grow. Then you will find that there has been a table prepared before you, a feast of bounty, in the very presence of your enemies. You will be anointed and set apart for the next assignment He has for you, and your cup will overflow (Psalm 23:5). To get there, the Lord calls us to a more radical desperation for Him than we have ever had.

He will call you first to a radical purity. The Lord has a zero tolerance for impurity in His vessels, those who carry His treasure in jars of clay (2 Cor 4:7). He will teach you the difference between the holy and the common and be able to judge between the clean and the unclean (Ezek 44:23). He calls us to walk in purity so that we can be vessels used for noble purposes (2 Tim 2:20-21).

Next, He will call you to a radical passion. He will call you to love Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength (Deut 6:5; Matt 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). He will teach you the difference between praying for an answer and seeking His glory (Exod. 33:18; Deut. 5:24; John 15:8). He will fire your heart with passion for His Glory, the ultimate purpose of prayer (1 Chron 16:10; Psalm 105:3).

Then, He will call you to radical submission. Submission to Jesus Christ as Lord is the key to prevailing in prayer (James 4:7, 10; Luke 22:42). Until you accept the absolute futility of your flesh and self and submit radically to the will of the Lord, we will not prevail. Submission leads to doors of opportunity to shine His light and make His Name known.

Fourth, He will call you to a radical unity. You will learn the value of submission to one another in Christ Jesus (Eph 4:1-6; 5:21).  Submission to one another brings about the power of agreement in prayer (Matt. 18:19-20). Being gathered together does not simply showing up to a meeting. We must learn that we are not gathered together for ourselves’ sake. We are gathered together for the Lord’s sake, for His Name, for His purposes, for His Kingdom, for His Glory. When the Lord is the focus of the gathering, there is a unity of agenda – His agenda. There is a unity of leadership – His leadership. There is a unity of intercession – His Will being prayed according to His Word. O how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity. For there the Lord bestows His blessing (Psalm 133:1, 3b).

Next, He calls us to a radical agenda. Our preconceived notions and worldly priorities must be turned out for the agenda of His Kingdom to be written on our hearts. This is done through prayer. The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth, but we must listen (Psalm 25:5; 43:3; John 16:13). “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done” is not a quaint phrase (Matt 6:10). It is a powerful intercessory request to make His priorities our agenda. The Body of Christ desperately needs to reassess our stereotypes, our expectations, and our roles. We must move from an agenda to keep the machine going for our own benefit to expanding the Kingdom for His Glory.

Finally, He will call you to a radical consecration. Over and over the Lord called His people to consecrate themselves, to set themselves apart for His work in His way. He called them before the Exodus from Egypt (Exod 12:15; Luke 12:1; 1 Cor 5:6-8), before God met Moses on the mountain (Exod 19:10), before crossing the Jordan (Josh 3:5), before God revealed sin in the camp (Josh 7:13), before David was anointed King (1 Sam 16:5), before bringing the Ark of the Covenant to the place the Lord had assigned (1 Chron 15:12), before the revival under Hezekiah (2 Chron 29:5), before God pours out His Spirit (Joel 1:14; 2:15), before the ministry of Jesus began (Matt 3:2), and before Jesus went to the cross (John 17:19). Intercession is not something you do. It is something God does through you.
The times in which we live are radically serious, and they call for radically intense prayer. We need radically committed people to pray radically important prayers, desperate prayers, passionate prayers, deep and fiery prayer. Lukewarm prayer, compromised prayers won’t do. It is time we became desperate for God in these desperate times. It is time we reject our previous reliance on the flesh and grow in our hunger and thirst for God (Psalm 42:1-2).

PRAYER: Lord, we need You to set our focus on You. “We have trivialized the grandeur of meeting You, as if approaching You was a matter of routine spiritual hygiene. To our shame, we’ve become proud of how well we have mastered the rituals. We’ve made worship predictable and safe. So we’ve come to You  heartless and high minded, as bored as we are proud. Break through our pride. Gather us our wayward hearts and ravish us with wonder. Astonish us greatly in Your presence. Surprise us with Your supremacy. Stun us with how dangerous You are. Bear down upon us so brilliantly that the cloud of our clever religious pride will evaporate in the radiance of Your Glory.”[1] Jesus, work in me your redemption from all iniquity, wickedness, and lawlessness. Purity me, sanctify me, cleanse me for Yourself and Your Glory. Make me zealous for doing what is right (Titus 2:14). Work a radical work of desperate love for You in me. Make me eager to do Your will.

Adapted from: Sylvia Gunter, Prayer Essentials for Living in His Presence (Birmingham, AL: Father’s Business, 2000), vol. 2.

[1] Steve Hawthorne, Seek God for the City