"God's concept of prayer is far more like picking up Ulysses's massive sword and swinging it with all the fire and ferocity of a desperately crazed warrior. God's version of prayer takes territory. It doesn't sit at home and clip spiritual coupons; it heads off into enemy territory to fight. Samson picked up the jawbone of a donkey and single-handedly slew a thousand Philistines, and we are supposed to pick up the jawbone of prayer and wreck untold spiritual havoc upon the enemy camp."
My sister gave me this book for my birthday this year, and I finished reading it two days ago. Eric and Leslie Ludy write about how the Lord showed them what prayer really is: a pasionate communion with God. A passionate communion. Not just passion and emotion, and not just writing up a list of wants and needs to ask God about. They detail prayer that the evangelical world today does not know. It's the kind of prayer that the men and women of past church history demonstrated. The people who spent hours on their knees pleading for the souls of others before the Throne of Grace.
Eric writes with passion, the passion given him by a powerful God through the power of prayer. The kind of prayer that doesn't sit back and nonchalantly watch God "allow" things to happen, but the kind of prayer that fights the battle against the spiritual powers of Satan. I love how this book takes many of the Old Testament characters (like David and Joab) and really details the lives of these men. Eric mentions the 37 men who were considered David's Mighties. The men who never gave in to the enemy, who never yielded ground, who would not turn from their commander, and who dared to do the reckless in God's strength. Only 37 of them in the thousands that numbered David's armies, yet they were some of his closest confidants, and they knew how to fight.
Leslie gives three key ingredients for prayer:
1. Praying God-prayers. Praying how God wants us and commands us to pray. Not just how we think or feel that we should.
2. Praying with complete confidence (aka--faith). Doubt, suspicion, fear, and hesitancy are faith-killers. Remember it takes faith as big (or small ;) as a grain of mustard seed to move mountains--except that this culture doesn't exactly expect prayer to work miracles.
3. Praying until the answer comes. This, too, takes faith. And perseverence and tenacity. It takes spiritual fortitude to keep asking when we don't see anything happening. Just because we don't think we see anything changing, doesn't mean that God isn't working. And sometimes your prayers aren't meant to change your circumstances or change the intesity of the battle. Your prayers might be what is necessary to change you.
Like Jacob wrestled with God...
"Most of us have never even come to Peniel. We do our praying and our Christian thing in our own cunning and strength. But Peniel is the place where spiritual things truly get done. It's the place of wrestling, and that indimidates many of us. It's the place of holding on until the day breaks, until the victory is achieved--and that sounds tiresome. But this is the great secret to answered prayer." (Leslie Ludy)
Prayer also takes self-examination, as Leslie and Eric speak of. They knew they could not honestly face a holy God with known sin in their life, and as the Lord brought sin to their attention, they repented. Keeping a clear conscience between you and God is vital in a Christian's prayer life. As the authors put it, our Lord is a fearless Commander who gives no quarter to sin, and if we're going to be named among the mighty prayer warriors then we must be willing--no, not just willing, but desirious--for God's spiritual purging of our lives.
The Ludy's also write about the power of prayer in our physical lives. It is not uncommon for them to spend hours praying through the night. Sometimes praying instead of sleeping. You would expect this to tired them physically and mentally, but prayer fuels their bodies as well as their minds and they would not give in until they were certain of victory through prayer. The Lord blessed them for their perseverance and gave them strength above and beyond what they thougth they had. They gave no ground to their flesh, and the weapon of prayer yielded a mighty victory.
What does your prayer life look like? Is it a passionate communion with God? A spiritual tenacity that doesn't let go even when weariness sets in? Or is it just a to-do list for God so that maybe He'll supply the things we need and want? Is it a prayer in faith that claims the promises in Scripture? Or is it a half-hearted cry hoping that God will notice us sometime?
All hell is vanquished when the believer bows his knee in importunate supplication. Beloved brethren, let us pray. We cannot all argue, but we can all pray; we cannot all be leaders, but we can all be pleaders; we cannot all be mighty in rhetoric, but we can all be prevalent in prayer. I would sooner see you eloquent with God than with men. Prayer links us with the Eternal, the Omnipotent, the Infinite, and hence it is our chief resort...Be sure that you are with God, and then you may be sure that God is with you.”
Our prayers should be insistent. There comes a time, in spite of our soft, modern ways... when we must wrestle.... The Bible recognizes such a thing as storming heaven.
~Cameron V. Thompson
As long as we have unsolved problems, unfilled desires, and a mustard seed of faith, we have all we need for a vibrant prayer life.
Groanings which cannot be uttered are often prayers that cannot be refused.
**Thanks for the book, Hannah. It's a great one. :D