"And behold I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." Luke 24:49
Principle: Prayer is the mirror God uses to reveal the desperate need of His children to cover their nakedness with the clothing of His power.
The title of the late Ron Dunn's book, "Don't Just Stand There, Pray Something," is a not too subtle shout out to Christ followers to prioritize the call to pray. The four letters P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens) carries a similar message. Both of these emphases point to the potential power available to believers, and the way this power is released to believers through their personal, persistent practice of prayer.
When the Risen Christ commanded the disciples to stay in Jerusalem, and wait for the promise of the Father, He was inviting them to a prayer meeting. His disciples always had a wave of enthusiasm and encouragement when they were in the Presence of Jesus. It was not until they were separated from Him that they would regress in their faith, and reveal their inadequacy for His mission. During The Forty Days of The Risen Christ, Jesus walked, talked, taught and commanded them as He had during the three years of His earthly ministry. In the climate of prayer, they would disover their need for Him, and be prepared to receive The Promise.
Jesus did not intend for prayer to be an exercise of futility or a meaningless devotional activity. He intended for His disciples to discover prayer as the key that would unlock the door to the Spirit-filled life. His disciples had seen Jesus seek after God through His own personal and persistent prayer. They had yet to develop their own spiritual muscles in this area. Jesus had prayed for His disciples while He carried out His earthly ministry. His intercession for them would continue after He ascended into Heaven, and took His seat at the right hand of the Father. Jesus could pray for His disciples, but He could not do all their praying for them. They would need to learn their need for God, and find their need for Him met through the personal practice of prayer.
When Jesus told His disciples that He would leave them, He promised them that He would not leave them without a Comforter. It is the promise of the Comforter that He commanded His disciples to pray for and wait for in the city of Jerusalem.
For ten days after His ascension, 120 of His disciples gathered in an upper room and prayed. The disciples attempted to get their hands around the mission Jesus had given them by filling the position left vacant by the death of Judas. Jesus did not tell them to call a meeting and reorganize themselves to carry out His mission. "He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised." (Acts 1:6)
Jesus considered His followers to be naked without the Promise of the Father clothing them with His mantle. He did not want God's children running around on mission for Him without wearing clothing marked with the family crest. Jesus wanted these early Christ followers to recognize their nakedness and clothe themselves with the Person of the Holy Spirit.
Eventually the disciples came to the conclusion that they were in deep need without the Presence and the Person of the Risen Christ. This was the point at which God delivered His Promise. People who are full of themselves are not prepared to be filled with the Spirit of God.
The coming to the end of oneself is the only way to come to the beginning of God. This the crucible that every Christ follower must experience before they are ready to receive the Spirit filled life God has in store for His children. The first Christ followers had to come to the end of their own self-sufficiency before they would come to know the power of The Promise.
Contemporary Christ followers face the same issue. They must come to the end of themselves before they come to the beginning of God. Too often believers feel compelled to fulfill the mission of Christ without the fullness of Christ. This fullness is provided by the Person of the Holy Spirit. It is through personal, persistent prayer that the Spirit is given full access to every area of the life of the prayer warrior. As long as a child of God is full of themselves, they will not be full of the Holy Spirit. There must be an emptying before there is a filling. The early children of God were commanded by Jesus to set aside time to wait on the Father and to receive The Promise.
The Practice of Prayer: Today ask God to forgive you for the sin of self-sufficiency, and ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit. Don't settle for anything less than God's best for you, His Holy Spirit in control of you. Ask God to let you be part of something only He can get credit for.
Thought for the Day: When you come to the end of your rope, stop making rope.
"The world has yet to see what God can do through one man whose life has been totally given over to Him." D. L. Moody