As I thought about this post my mind went back to all the stuff God did in Louisville (at the Empower America Conference) over the past week. Trying to extract one thing from all the events that took place is difficult. Yet the more I thought about it the more my mind came back to one thing…prayer.
I guess you could say that this writing started at our church’s Surge Conference. Let’s flash back to that for a moment. On Monday night Pastor Daniel Bracken reminded us of the importance, well really the necessity, of prayer. If that wasn’t enough of a reminder about how important prayer is we listened to Dr. Morocco as he spent time on the same subject just two weeks later. To top all of this off Dr. Cho mentioned that while it’s not easy to pray like we need to – and should be – it’s necessary.
As I began to piece together what God was trying to tell me I was reminded of a verse that we frequently quote. It’s found in James 5:16. The last half of this verse reads like this, “…The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” When I looked up the word used for effective it gave interesting results. It actually is the entire phrase ‘effective, fervent’ that’s translated together. It comes from the Greek word ‘energeō’. It’s where we get our English word energy. Hmmm…effective, fervent prayers…in that context it’s an interesting statement.
I am convinced now, more than ever, that the way in which we experience the presence of God is directly proportionate to our prayers. Let me say that again. I am convinced now, more than ever, that the way in which we experience the presence of God is directly proportionate to our prayers. How can that be? We don’t see that played out in the Bible…do we? Let’s take a look and see.
Elijah walked into the throne room of Ahab and declared that there would be no rain until he said so and it happened. Roughly three years later he declares that there will be rain after defeating the false prophets on the mountain. But…the call for rain was different. Let’s look…
“And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. (1 Kings 18:41-42 NIV)”
Wait…he prayed again? Wasn’t the first prayer enough? I don’t believe so. The prayers for the first word didn’t apply to calling down rain. Let’s look further:
““Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked. “There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.” The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’ (1 Kings 18:43-44 NIV)”
What we see in this passage is an example of the effective, fervent prayer that James is talking about. Remember the word it’s translated from? Energy. Elijah didn’t pray a ‘bedtime’ prayer and leave. He stayed until the work was done. Then it was just a matter of seeing it happen.Too much of today’s church is filled with short, fast food prayers. We pray for 10 minutes and wonder why the miracles don’t happen. It’s because we haven’t done the work.
My grandfather has been a minister for over 50 years. He now lives in West Virginia. I called my mom the other day to check something that was on my mind. I asked her how much time Papa (as we affectionately call him) spent in prayer every day. “He didn’t have a set time that he prayed during the day,” she said. “But almost every day he would be up at 2:00 or 2:30 in the morning to pray and study. There were a lot of nights, when your dad was working graveyard at 7-11, that he would come over and say hello just before going over to the office to pray and study. Then he would just finish out his day after he was through.” She went on to say that most days his office hours were from around 7:00 am to 3:00 pm. These were the hours he was in the office AFTER praying and studying through the night. I saw my grandpa do phenomenal things for God. Miracles were performed in his life personally and I believe it’s because he did the work.
Pastor Bracken said it. Dr. Morocco said it. Dr. Cho said it. And so have many other mighty men of God throughout time. Most importantly…God said it. So if He did…maybe we should listen. It’s time we rolled up our sleeves and got to work praying.