Prayer: The Dialogical Act of Intimacy

POHS: Part One

Reading through and studying the activity of the Holy Spirit in the life and ministry of Jesus is shedding a great deal of light on walking in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. A few verses caught my eye just before I went off to bed:

But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. (Luke 5:15-16)

It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12)

Irrespective of the pressing desires and needs of others, the Lord made sure that He spent time alone with God. For Jesus, prayer was not a perfunctory activity on His “to-do? list. Instead, it was an opportunity for Him to commune with the Father. Furthermore, prayer was a channel by which important decisions would be influenced. The scenario in Luke 6:12 takes place right before Jesus calls the twelve disciples. You don’t think that is a mere coincidence, do you?

If the Word of God is meat, then prayer is the great spring that makes everything go down well for the believer. Like a pool of water in the desert, prayer is our opportunity to plunge into the deep, deep wells of God’s presence, to listen to the many waters of His voice, His wisdom.

In prayer, we behold His glory, we listen for His voice with obedient expectancy, and above all, we are with Him. Prayer is the down payment, the quick “sneak preview? of what eternity with Him will be like.

When the Church prays fervently, God is never slack. The greatest revivals the Church has ever experienced were birthed out of fervent prayer. Storms of people were converted and filled with God’s Spirit because God was able to show Himself strong through surrendered vessels.

Of course, for the Church—especially the American church—to be set aflame, we must pray our way through, not talk or think our way through, to God’s presence through sincere prayer and brokenness.

In his book The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer comments:
God wills that we should push on into His Presence and live our whole life there. This is to be known to us in conscious experience. It is more than a doctrine to be held, it is a life to be enjoyed every moment of every day. This Flame of the Presence was the beating heart of the Levitical order. Without it all the appointments of the tabernacle were characters of some unknown language; they had no meaning for Israel or for us. The greatest fact of the tabernacle was that Jehovah was there; a Presence was waiting within the veil. Similarly the Presence of God is the central fact of Christianity. At the heart of the Christian message is God Himself waiting for His redeemed children to push in to conscious awareness of His Presence. That type of Christianity which happens now to be the vogue knows this Presence only in theory. It fails to stress the Christian’s privilege of present realization.

According to its teachings we are in the Presence of God positionally, and nothing is said about the need to experience that Presence actually. The fiery urge that drove men like McCheyne is wholly missing. And the present generation of Christians measures itself by this imperfect rule. Ignoble contentment takes the place of burning zeal. We are satisfied to rest in our JUDICIAL possessions and for the most part we bother ourselves very little about the absence of personal experience.

Behind the veil is God, that God after Whom the world, with strange inconsistency, has felt, ‘if haply they might find Him.’ He has discovered Himself to some extent in nature, but more perfectly in the Incarnation; now He waits to show Himself in ravishing fullness to the humble of soul and the pure in heart.

The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God and the Church is famishing for want of His Presence. The instant cure of most of our religious ills would be to enter the Presence in spiritual experience, to become suddenly aware that we are in God and that God is in us. This would lift us out of our pitiful narrowness and cause our hearts to be enlarged. This would burn away the impurities from our lives as the bugs and fungi were burned away by the fire that dwelt in the bush.[1]

One of the popular Christianese slogans I hear is that we are “waiting on God.? But could it be that God is waiting on His saints to press in through prayer? Could it be that God longs to be intimate with the crown of His creation whom He loved enough to redeem with the blood of His Only Son?

The dialogical act of intimacy requires two parties who are attuned to the other. Think of marriage. I would be mightily ticked off if my husband would only give me a few passing glances and never read any of the love notes I left for him around the house. I would be disgusted if he would tell others how much he loves me yet never spends time with me and never talks or listens to me.

See how annoying that is?

How much more, then, is the Almighty Himself, the Matchless One who longs to give us what we most require: Himself? I am convinced that the more time we spend with God in prayer, the more of His presence we will take to the world as we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As we pray, we will be led by the Spirit just as the early Church was, just as those men and women whose hearts burned for Jesus Christ and the knowledge of Him. And as we are led by the Spirit, we will be able to bring the Gospel in power and authority so that the Holy Spirit can draw them to Christ.

Solo Christo

[1] A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God. Taken from E-Sword Bible Software.


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