"We must obey God rather than men." Acts 5:29
When Peter and the apostles made this statement, they stepped across a line in the sand, and crossed over into the land of absolute freedom. From this moment on, there was no turning back. Regardless of the consequences, they would hear and obey one voice. They had discovered the difference between the intimidation of distractions, and intimacy with The Attraction. We should be so wise.
Fear of man is a huge distraction to the messenger of The Gospel. When fear of God should be the main attraction of a preacher's life, the enemy constantly uses a side show of hand puppets to distract shepherds and saints and take their eyes off of Jesus, "The Author and Finisher" of their faith.
Listening to the wrong counsel, and reading the wrong authors, leaves shepherds full of knowledge, and saints drained of discernment. When the crisis comes, all of the distractions come with it, and drown out The Voice needed the most, the voice of Jesus.
When the legendary Bobby Knight was still coaching The Indiana Hoosiers, I recall watching a very very close game, as it was coming down to the finish. With seconds left on the clock, the crowd was going crazy, and the announcers could barely be heard. The Indiana point guard was walking the ball up the court, passing by the Indiana bench, as his other four team mates were fanning out towards their side of the mid-court line, preparing for the final play.
Coach Knight stood and spoke to his point guard, as he passed by. As he did so, all five heads on the shoulders of the Hoosier players swiveled, in synchronized motion, towards the sound of his voice. For me, this was the most memorable moment of the game. In an arena filled with thousands of distractions, five players kept their ears attentive to the one person who called the shots, Coach Knight. They had practiced, long and hard, and learned, long before the crisis, only one voice could be trusted to get them through it. He spoke. They heard. They followed. They won.
Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (John 10:27) When His shepherds and saints cannot hear His voice, they have allowed other voices to drown out the "still, small voice" of His Spirit. Prayer puts a shepherd or a saint in close proximity to the voice of Jesus. Through prayer, He becomes The Attraction of their lives, and the only voice that matters.
The shepherd must be able to hear the sound of sandaled footsteps walking next to his, and to sense the slightest touch of the hand of The Spirit of Jesus Christ, on his shoulder, directing, protecting, and correcting him every step along the way. This kind of hearing is developed, by spending prolonged periods of time, in the presence of the only voice that matters. This is the primary purpose of prayer, not just learning what to say, but hearing what to obey. Praying and obeying are two sides of the same coin. Spend it freely.
Prolonged periods of prayer provide hearing aids that increase the volume and the quality of the voice of The Spirit of Christ, and seal off the ears of shepherds and saints, from the distracting calls that come from intimidating people and immediate circumstances.
Prayer prepares for the inevitable distractions, by seeking intimacy with The Voice that matters most, before the distractions begin. Prepare to pray and obey. Delaying praying leads to straying and disobeying.
Note to self: Distractions will come, and they will be intimidating. Focus on The Attraction. Pray and obey His voice, the first time you hear it. Don't pretend you didn't.
Prayer develops the sensitivity of shepherds and saints to The Attraction, and lowers the volume of the distractions. Jesus was certain, only one voice matters. Listen to His. If you listen closely, you can hear Him praying for you, by name. He never stops praying for you. Never stop listening to Him. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!
"A man, intimate with God, will not be intimidated by men." Leonard Ravenhill, (English Revivalist of the 20th Century, mentored by Samuel Chadwick, and mentor of Keith Green)