The Zone

“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

When athletes play at the peak of their proficiency, or a speaker communicates with unusual power and clarity, they are often said to be in “The Zone.” Prayer warriors have a zone too. They must not visit it, but choose to live in it 24/7.

Prayer warriors live in “The War Zone” not “ The Comfort Zone.” Scripture challenges them to “Pray without ceasing.” This refers to an alert status that is never lulled into lowering their guard.

The relentless schemes of their ancient enemy and the tireless efforts of their fellow-soldiers call prayer warriors to ceaseless intercession. Prayer warriors can never allow themselves to be lulled into believing that prayer is over when the prayer meeting ends. Spiritual warfare is a running battle with a mobile enemy, and it requires a prayer warrior to move quickly to the voice of The Commander.

Ceaseless prayer is fed by a personal “Quiet Time,” or by entering a hidden prayer closet. It is sustained by gathering with prayer warriors at church prayer meetings, and great rallies. Still, ceaseless prayer is the breath of life of the prayer warrior. It keeps them alive to breathe new life into those who are gasping for air.

Recently I was being driven across the campus of LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It was Finals Week. As I looked at the students heading to class, I saw serious faces filled with a mixture of determination and intimidation. They were heading towards a confrontation between what they knew, and what would be on the test. Sometimes the two do not merge together. They turn out to be a train wreck. Can I get a witness?

My young Moroccan driver, Tayaa, dropped me off at the Pete Maravich Center, a 13,000-seat basketball arena. In one month, thousands of people will gather with Governor Jindal to pray for a nation in crisis. I had arrived with dear friends to Prayer Walk the arena, and to intercede for a prayer meeting that may have huge implications for the future of our nation.

As I stepped from the van, I crossed paths with an African American student. His head was down, and his pace was quick. He had a chiseled, focused expression on his face, but I could also see a heart filled with the intimidation of his impending encounter. I asked, “Heading to a final?” He said, “I have five this week.” I responded, “Can I pray for you?” His face softened, and he said, “Please.” I put my arm around his shoulder, and outside the arena, in the presence of “Mike The Tiger” I prayed for him.

My prayer was a brief word of intercession for him to have total recall of all he had studied and God’s grace to remember some of the things he had not had time to go over. It took all of one minute. He thanked me. We shook hands, and we went our separate ways. My friend said, “You were in The Zone.” I had to admit, I had never done anything quite like that with a total stranger, but it seemed as simple and as seamless as taking a breath. Maybe I was in The Zone. If so, I want to live there.

I do not claim to fully grasp the meaning of this simple Scripture. I am only beginning to see the magnitude of it. Whenever I am full of myself, from breathing the ether of my own self-importance, I miss its meaning nine ways from Dallas. In Texas Speak, that is a long way. But I digress.
Being full of myself is a dangerous place to be, and it leads me to either end of a very wide pendulum swing. God sometimes allows me to play a part in some grand design, and when He invites me to the party, I become a man on a mission, rather than a man of submission.

At other times, I become consumed with the lint in my own navel. I pine over my “Whine List” with such intensity that the needs of others no longer hit my radar screen. It is not that I ignore them. To ignore them is to at least admit they exist. The greater sin is that I don’t even think of them at all.

“Pray without ceasing” is The Zone found between the mood swings of being obsessed with God’s grand design, and being depressed over my own “Whine List.” In the middle of these two points are many “Divine Appointments” that become lost opportunities.

God places people in my path every day in need of hope, and a word of encouragement. Passing them by, on a mission for God does not add to my importance.  Whining my way through life will never improve my significance.

 Praying without ceasing improves the vision, and heightens all the senses of a focused prayer warrior, intent on living in The Zone. Prayer provides night vision goggles. Prayer warriors use them to see in the dark, and to guide others to the light of Jesus. Don’t leave your vision or your goggles in the prayer room. Take them with you into battle.  Don’t run over a wounded soldier to prove your valor to God. Take them to Jesus. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!