6 Reasons to have a radically obedient prayer life
I am an extrovert and I love being alone with God and spending time with Him in secret prayer. Secret prayer is the furnace of my purity, passion and power for it is in prayer that the fire and boldness of God falls on the altar of my heart. We as believers, value radical obedience when it comes to serving the poor and preaching the Gospel. I wonder if we value radical obedience in secret prayer? A secret prayer life that Jesus Himself modelled and called us to in Matthew 6:5-13.
My journey into prayer was pretty simple actually. I realized that I needed to develop a secret prayer life if I wanted to know God and see His presence and kindness revealed to those around me. With great hunger I began to read books and biographies of past prayer champions (like Rees Howells and Andrew Murray). I found the more I read, the more I needed to know the Word of God and meditate on it (especially the Gospels).
I want to know God and I want to shape History.
Without further delay I have compiled a short list of reasons why I have work to have a radical obedience secret prayer life. A grand adventure waits for you to have one as well.
God rewards secret prayer. “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” ~ Jesus. When you are alone and pray there are two thoughts. One, you are alone and nothing will happen. Two, the Word of God is true and when you pray, GOD is there and WILL reward you. The Kingdom celebrates reward. The reward of God is worth pursuing. I do not want to be one who fails to receive a reward that has been promised to me in prayer.
In secret prayer God ‘fathers’ our hearts. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” ~ Ezekiel 36:26. This verse speaks of the realities of the new covenant based on the death and resurrection of Jesus. This new covenant has given us a brand new heart “and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:18. When we enter a new relationship with God based in Christ we are freed from sin and God gives us a new heart that is prone to righteousness. Sin does not define us, Jesus’ death and life do. In prayer, God loves to reveal who we are in Christ. He ‘fathers us’ by revealing how He sees us and “disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). I have personally been transformed in the way I think about myself by understanding who I have become in Christ. The work of Jesus provides a perfect way for me to have communion with God. I do not relate to God in any other way than the way He related to me, His Son. I recognize that God paid a significant price in order that I may share and fellowship with Him in His holiness. Sharing in His holiness by the way of His discipline is a great joy and privilege. Long story short, when I spend time in prayer with God alone, He prunes and conforms me in the image of His Son. Bill Johnson of Bethel Church said, “I cannot afford to have a thought in my mind that is not in His.”
Secret prayer kindles the affections of my heart & builds an increased capacity to host the Holy Spirit. God intends to answer our prayer in secret. He loves to pour out His Spirit when we ask. Jesus said in Luke 11, “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” In my personal experience I have grown confident in hearing the voice of God in no other place but alone with God in prayer and bible reading. I often read and pray until I grow absolutley sure that I have entered God’s presence and hear His voice. Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:7) so I aquaint myself with the word of God and stories of revival and miracles to grow in faith that I may respond to His voice. Nothing kindles the affections of my heart in passion and obedience like hearing the voice of God speak.
“How much more.” The purpose of prayer is answer. That last sentence was not grammatically incorrect. The entire reason the Word of God instructs us to pray is that God may answer us. He never answers half heartedly. Jesus himself says in Matthew 7, “how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (italics mine). I desire to pray acutely aware that God desires to answer me and share fellowship with me! One of my most prayed prayers is, “Father, let me not waste any of what I have received in Christ and learn to steward it well.” In secret prayer I learn of my heavenly Fathers heart and His desire to answer and interact with my prayers.
“History belongs to the intercessor” ~ Walter Wink. Through this journey I have concluded a very simple truth, those who pray change the world. Why? God entrusts Himself to those who pray. When God entrusts Himself (His Kingdom, nature, presence, power) to an individual they begin to live with a conviction that Heaven on Earth is possible. The early Church, the Moravians, Rees Howells, the Wesley’s, Whitfield, Moody, Finney, the Booth’s model this so well. Their prayers become convinced that God desires and has answered, through Jesus, the wound and fruit of sin (disease, injustice, poverty, war, hopelessness, insecurity, fear and distance from God Himself). Every historic mission and revival has been catalyzed and shaped by prayer for God has given himself to the prayers of His people. I believe the nations (every man, women and child) coming to Christ is the reward of Jesus’s suffering. I desire my life to play a part in bringing Jesus His reward. Simply stated, I want to know God and I want to shape History. I pray understanding that my mission is God’s will being accomplished “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). The single greatest place of historical influence is being alone before God in prayer.
In secret prayer I learn to let the Holy Spirit set the agenda, not the devil or fear.
“I pray from victory, not for it.” Spending time with prayer leaders, I often have come across approaches in prayer that seem to be begging God to act, striving in prayer, tiresome spiritual warfare and fasting to accomplish something. Personally, I fast and believe in spiritual warfare, I do however intend to pray Gods promises and allow no prayer to be formed by worry, fear or unbelief. Prayer and faith begin in rest. Prayer is perfected by resting in the finished victory of Jesus. A prayer formed outside of this often is fuelled by our own efforts and not founded in love and faith. It is faith in what Jesus provided for us by His death and resurrection that positions us to receive an answer, not the aggression of our prayers. I do believe in prayer can be militant (intense and emotional) but must be formed by faith and His promise. Secret prayer time strengthens us in prayer to grow in union with God that we may ‘see’ what is ours in Christ. In secret prayer, the Holy Spirit teaches me to be moved by Him not spiritual warfare, worry, fear and unbelief.