I confess, I'm a bit hard headed. So, often, in my prayers, I feel the need to remind God of this (as if He doesn't already know). It usually goes something like this:
Lord, I am easily distracted, foolish, ignorant, and stubborn. I need your guidance, and I need you to really hammer it home so I can't miss it. I'm afraid that I might miss your direction if it is not clearly spelled out for me.
So, its no wonder that my gracious God tends to do just that.
I've really thrown myself into studying prayer because, um, I'm not that good at it. I'm worse than a child really, rushing before my God with a slur of request and then skipping back out the door before I've received an answer. Then I began to see how important prayer is, and my heart began to long after it.
Over and over again, God has brought me back to the situation in Isaiah 64:7, "There is none that calleth upon Thy Name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of Thee."
What a sad situation for Almighty God to look upon His people and see no one interceding on their behalf, no one crying out to Him, no one calling upon His Name.
William Culbertson (1905-1971), in his sermon titled The Weapons of Our Warfare, makes many points I would like to share here:
He makes the observation that "what is behind lawlessness and moral breakdown in the world today is satanic in origin. Robert T. Kethcham states,"Satan is managing the affairs of this world [....and..] this whole world system in which we are living is under the control and domination of Satan.1"
Culbertson goes to quote Dr. Reuben A. Torrey:
"I believe that the devil stands and looks at the Church today and laughs in his sleeve, as he sees how its members depend upon their own scheming and powers or organization and skillfully devised machinery. 'Ha, ha,' he laughs, 'you may have... your costly church edifices and your fifty-thousand dollar church organs, and your brilliant university-bred preachers, and your high-priced choirs, and your gifted sopranos, and altos, and tenors, and basses, and your wonderful quartets, your immense men's Bible classes, yes, and your Bible conferences, and your Bible institutes, and your special evangelistic services, all you please of them, it does not in the least trouble me, if you will only leave out of them the power of the Lord God Almighty sought and obtained by the earnest, persistent believing prayer that will not take 'no' for an answer.'"
Torrey continues, "Prayer has so much power today, when men and women are themselves on praying ground and meeting the conditions of prevailing prayer, as it ever has had."
So Culbertson questions, "Has God spoken to you recently about this matter of praying with [fervent] prayer? Or have you been so occupied with things temporal, so seeking after outward demonstration of success, that the place of prayer is cold and empty? Oh, how God has excoriated this cold heart of mine about my prayerlessness with that text (Isaiah 64:7). For, you see, prayer doesn't come easily and naturally, and it isn't something we like to do in our fleshly natures. We have to stir up ourselves. And we have to mean business to lay hold. [..] We give ourselves (Acts 6:4). It takes a bit of doing. It isn't something that comes automatically. We'll give ourselves with purpose of heart, with determination."
I have been trying to explain this to a friend of mine who seems to believe that the Christian walk comes so easily to me. Yet it is not me who walks well, it is Christ in me. And, whenever Christ is not in me, I am floundering like a fish out of water flapping helplessly on the sand. And, it should be Christ in us that stirs us up to prayer. Yet we become quite good at ignoring that still small voice, don't we? We're pretty good at ignoring those gentle prods and pokes from the Holy Spirit urging us to pray.
Or at least, I am.
I need to be reminded to pray, and pray often. To pray without ceasing. To give myself in prayer. To make supplication and intercede for others. To shake all hell (literally) with the prayers of "the righteous" (which, I can only call myself such through the blood and name of Jesus Christ). This is the point I feel God remind me of often. Pray, my daughter. PRAY!
And why? Because the one who kneels down before God can stand against the devil.
1. Ketcham states, "It seems on the surface, to deny the sovereignty of God, so opposition immediately arises before the opponent has really thought his way through. Think with me now, and I am sure you will see that my statement is not a wild, fanatical one. It is based upon Scripture itself, and evidenced by observation of history as it unfolds. [...] Satan appeared to [Jesus], and at one point in the series of testings said he would give Him all the kingdoms of the world if He would worship him. [...] At no point in the rebuttal of Jesus that day did He deny that Satan had a right to offer the kingdoms to Him. Or perhaps putting it in better form, at no point did He enter a protest to Satan's claim of ownership. [Satan] has control over them. They are his system. They are his kingdom." John 12:31, Christ states, "Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out." The apostle Paul calls him "the prince of the power of the air" and "the god of this world". As Ketcham points out, "God set Lucifer, the son of the morning, to rule [the earth]. He was to rule it for God and for His glory, but pride came into his heart, and he said, '....I will ascent into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: [...] I will be like the most High.".