"It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God." Luke 6:12
Principle: Concentrated prayer focuses on God to meet pressing needs, by providing the prayer warrior with the wisdom and the courage to make crucial decisions. It involves concentrating prayer on the will of God, the mind of Christ and the fullness of the Spirit.
As long as there is math, there will always be prayer in schools. Needing to know the right answers to all of life's challenging equations has a way of increasing one's dependency on prayer.
There are times when a personal quiet time, or a consistent prayer life needs to be supplemented by extended and concentrated times of prayer. The prayer life of Jesus reveals that He sensed a need to do this on occasion. Regardless of how intimate His conversation and companionship had been with God, Jesus chose to spend concentrated times in prayer.
The selection of the men who would be called to be His closest disciples was one of those moments of concentrated prayer. Jesus sensed a need to spend all night in prayer before His final decisions were made, concerning The Twelve. This should give prayer warriors a glimpse into His purpose for prayer. He was fully God, and fully man. He desired to honor His Father in all the decisions that He made, but He recognized that there were times when there was more at stake. Selecting the disciples was one of those times.
A former pastor-mentor once said to me, "Every wrong decisions I have ever made about personnel could always be seen clearly in my rear view mirror. When I would ask God how did I make such a poor choice, He would remind me of those soft touches He had made on my shoulder, that I brushed off. If I had been more in tune with God, and less intent on making a decision, I might have felt his gentle guidance."
That personal testimony and the principle of concentration should give any genuine prayer warrior pause, before they rush in where angels fear to tread. Concentrated prayer brings the will of the seeker in sync with the will of The Source. It is not fool proof. Praying all night over a key decision does not guarantee that every choice that is made will result in a pleasant result. Jesus chose Judas Iscariot. That decision was part of God's plan, but it brought great pain into the life of Jesus, and the men and women who followed Him.
Concentration is not an exercise of mind over matter, or a mind control over others willing them to do something they don't intend to do. The concentration of the prayer warrior is not on the decision, but on the Decider. Oswald Chambers put it this way, "Prayer is not simply getting things from God. That is the most initial form of prayer. Prayer is getting into a perfect communion with God."
Jesus spent all night in prayer with God, in order to become saturated with His Presence and sensitive to His touch. When the opportunity to make His decision came, Jesus was able to hear God's voice, feel His touch, and see His hand prints all over the person He was to choose. When it appeared His choice of Judas was not advantageous, He continued to pray. His prayer life would give Him the confidence that what God led Him to, God would lead Him through.
Jesus did not substitute concentrated prayer to the exclusion of consistent prayer. He simply added it to His personal arsenal of spiritual firepower. His concentration on prayer was not a crisis of faith. He had confidence in God's awareness and desire to meet His needs. His prayer was not an attempt to twist God's arm to do His bidding. It was an intense focus on God's will, until He was completely abandoned to it. It was an admission of His total dependency on God for the most important decisions in His life.
People who spend concentrated time in prayer, before they make a decision are less likely to question the validity of the decision, after it has been made. When Judas did His worst, God was up to His best. When others panicked at what Judas did to Jesus, He stayed the course. Concentrated prayer prepared Him to make a choice and leave the consequences in the hands of God. The perspective of Jesus, not the panic of Peter, calms the heart of a prayer warrior. When unexpected consequences are the result of a right choice, they hold no terror for Christ followers familiar with the prayer principle of concentration.
The Practice of Prayer: Make a list of the most important decisions in life you will ever make. A mate, a college, a job, a home, should all be some of life's issues that make it on this list. Place this list in the fly leaf of your Bible. Determine today that you will never make these decisions without spending concentrated time alone with God in prayer.
Thought for the Day: Never allow the fog of pressing needs to cloud your focus on the priority and the clarity of concentrated prayer.
"Knowing God's will in specifics comes out of a consistent companionship with God." Lloyd John Ogilvie