The Prayer Principle of Separation

"He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and began to pray." Luke 22:41

The Principle of Separation

Principle: Periodic separation from good relationships carves out time that can be invested in God's best, intimacy with Him.

Jesus found it necessary to step away from those closest to Him. He hungered for a period of time in His life that was, unapologetically, spent alone with God. He did so not as an expression of callousness towards His followers, but as a display of tenderness towards His Father.

Jesus challenged His disciples to follow His example. Repeatedly, they had seen Him go to the mountain or some secret place to pray. Jesus did not tell them to do something that He no longer put into practice. In this passage, the disciples were told to pray that they would not enter into temptation, and then Jesus withdrew to do the very same thing that He told them to do. This kind of integrity, and authenticity marked the prayer life of Jesus. He never outgrew His need for intimacy with God, especially when facing a crisis.

The most dangerous thing a person can do is to enter into temptation in a prayer less condition. Jesus led His disciples to pray, and taught them how to pray, but He did not make them pray. It was a personal hunger that they would have to experience in order to find satisfaction for themselves at the point of their need.

The disciples found their strength in being in the Presence of Jesus. Jesus found His power in the Presence of God. The disciples drained Him, and the Presence of God sustained Him. There were times that He sensed His need for the relationship of Father and Son to be strengthened. He turned to prayer as the means to receive God's direction, and to mold His will to that of His Father's.

Separation from those who need us the most is a price that must be paid in order to experience the Presence of the One who loves us the most. The people who need us the most will not receive what they need from us, if we allow time with them to squeeze out time with God. Jesus was able to give His disciples what they needed as long as He stayed in touch with God. Christ followers must learn this lesson if they hope to avoid burnout or compassion fatigue.

Separation is not so much a matter of getting away from those who drain, but running into the Presence of the One who sustains. Vacations, recreation, hobbies, entertainment, retreats, and even sabbaticals are poor substitutes for His Presence. They serve a worthy purpose, but have limited power to refresh and renew the vision and ministry of a Christ follower. Getting away from people is the beginning, but not the end of the process in this principle.

Getting with God, and accepting His will is the ultimate purpose of prayer. Jesus conformed His will to the Father's will by getting away from His disciples and getting into the Presence of His Father. Getting into God's Presence will exact a price that is paid in time alone with Him. There are some things that God means to say to His children in private, before they can speak for Him in public.

It is possible for loved ones to be a great distraction from meaningful time in prayer. Periodic separation for seasons of prayer exchanges what is good for what is best. Satan is not the enemy of the good. He is the enemy of the best. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. He lives to separate people from God's best for their lives.

Jesus chose to separate Himself from others in order to spend time with God. He was not running away from responsibility, but reaching out to God to provide Him the courage and the strength to give His followers what they needed most, a Savior.

The Practice of Prayer: Carve out time for solitary prayer with God. Withdraw from the ones you love in order to make time to be available to God. Choose the time of day that is best for you. He is ready when you are.

Thought for the Day: It is never too late or too early to choose God's best for your life. Separating yourself from people of good intentions, to spend time with the One who loves you most, will lead to God's best for your life.

"Satan laughs softly at the Church today and says under his breath: "You can have your Sunday Schools...your institutional churches, and your men's clubs and your grand choirs, and your fine organs and your brilliant preachers, and your revival efforts, as long as you do not bring them into the power of the Almighty God, sought and obtained by earnest, persistent, believing, mighty prayer." R. A. Torrey

The Prayer Principle of Glorification

"And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried into Heaven." Luke 24:50

Principle: Prayer is the greatest preparation for heaven and the greatest reflection of the Glory of God.

The physical Presence of Jesus had to be removed from the presence of the disciples, before they could be blessed with the Person of the Holy Spirit. Jesus guided them to the understanding that prayer was going to be the language of Heaven, and would be the means by which God would respond to their need for help. When Jesus went away, He would intercede for His followers and ask the Father to send them a Helper who would be with them forever.

"If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Helper that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you may know Him because He abides with you and will be in you." John 14:14-17

Prior to His death, Jesus told His disciples that it was to their advantage that He go away. Jesus knew His disciples must come to the end of themselves before they would come to the beginning of God. They need to have sense of their own weakness before God would trust the power of His Spirit to do a great work in and through them.

"But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you, but if I go, I will send Him to you." John 16:7

The blessing of Jesus upon the disciples ushered in a whole new dimension in the relationship between Master and disciple. The disciples would sense a great loss when Jesus ascended into Heaven. He would not leave them without a Helper. The Holy Spirit would would always give glory to Jesus. The greatest glory of Jesus would be the changed lives of the people who would be a part of His church.

"He shall glorify Me, for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you." John 16:14

Following His resurrection, Jesus spent forty days on earth teaching His disciples about the Kingdom of Heaven, and their mission on earth. His Ascension to Heaven was a culmination of this important work. It was preceded by a blessing of His disciples. His prayer was a prelude to the fulfillment of the Promise they were to receive at Pentecost.

The blessing of the disciples led them to ask for a blessing themselves. Jesus could pray for them, but Jesus would not do all their praying for them. They must go to God in prayer and ask in the name of Jesus for the Promise to be delivered to them.

Prior to Pentecost, the disciples gathered in an Upper Room and prayed for ten days. In answer to their prayers and in accordance with God's will the Holy Spirit was given to them. The Holy Spirit was not "created" at Pentecost, but His work would be expanded. No longer would His Presence be limited to a specific person, for a specific task, for a specific period of time. He would take up permanent and personal residence in the lives of Christ followers.

Without glorification of the Risen Christ there would be no gift of the Spirit provided at Pentecost. The purpose of the Holy Spirit was to glorify Jesus on earth. This glorification is a reflection of the Presence of God. Jesus ascended into the Presence of His Father, and reflected the light of His face onto the lives of His followers. This blessing from Jesus reflected His special relationship with His Father. The disciples needed this same kind of intimacy to reflect the face of a loving Father into the lives of people in need of His love.

The Presence of the Holy Spirit does His greatest work in the life of the Christ follower by encouraging the practice of prayer. The character of Christ is unleashed in the life of the believer through the power of prayer. When the disciples came to a sense of their own weakness, they came into the Presence of God through prayer. They would take the blessing of Jesus, and turn it into a prayer meeting calling out for the Promise of God. The Holy Spirit changed their lives forever. What may have begun as prayers for a change of their circumstances transformed them. These changed people changed the world by reflecting the love of God and the character of Christ in a hostile world. The Holy Spirit still does the same work through the power of prayer.

The Practice of Prayer: Set aside a time each day to make yourself available to God in prayer. Ask Him to take control of your life through the Person of the Holy Spirit.

Thought for the Day: You have the same person of the Holy Spirit and all of His power available to you that was given to the first century Christians. You do not need more of Him. He needs more of you.

"God's people have always in their worst condition found out the best of their God. He is good at all times; but He seemeth to be at His best when they are at their worst. They who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls." Charles Haddon Spurgeon

The Prayer Principle of Desperation

"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

The Prayer Principle of Illumination

"He took the bread and blessed it...their eyes were opened." Luke 24:29

Principle: Prayer illuminates the darkest hour with the Presence of Jesus.

Two disciples had been walking and talking with one another about the death and burial of Jesus, when He approached them and began walking with them. For seven miles on the Road to Emmaus they had His Presence, but they did not recognize Him. The Bible says, "their eyes were being prevented from recognizing Him." (Luke 24:16). This may have been the result of the darkness of despair that surrounded them. It could have been the fog that comes from the intimidation of immediate circumstances. It may have been God's timing was not right for them. Whatever the reason may have been, they did not recognize Jesus until He prayed with them.

As the disciples reached the village of Emmaus, Jesus acted as if He would go farther down the road. The disciples urged Jesus to join them for the evening meal (Luke 24:29) This may be one of the most profound pictures of the character and conduct of the Risen Christ. Jesus

responded to their request to stay with them. The disciples sought more intimate fellowship with Jesus, and His insight into the Word of God. Jesus did not force His way into their lives. He would have been willing to move on if these two people had been disinterested, but He stayed. He always does when He asked to come in and spend time with anyone who cannot get enough of Him.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in and sup with him and he with Me." Revelation 3:20

The Bible does not record the prayer Jesus said as a blessing over the food He passed to the disciples. It does say that after Jesus prayed, He began breaking the bread, providing it to them, "And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him." (Luke 24:31) There may have been something unique about the way He prayed. Somehow they were touched by what He said. After Jesus prayed they had fresh insight and complete awareness about who He really was.

The two disciples couldn't wait to get back on the road, and walk seven miles, uphill, to find their friends who were in need of the light. Before the Presence of Jesus was illuminated, they did not have enough light for themselves. After Jesus vanished from their sight, He left enough light for them to pass on to others. When they found the disciples hiding in the dark, they let their light shine. "And they began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread." (Luke 24:35)

Jesus is the Light of the World. Prayer remains the window that lets the light of Jesus shine on and shine through His disciples. The previous darkness was illuminated by the Presence of Jesus. After Jesus prayed they could see Him in the midst of their circumstances. They admitted to one another what they had both felt when Jesus was sharing the Word of God with them. They were brought closer to God, and to one another through the power of prayer.

The smallest light can illuminate and penetrate the greatest darkness. The disciples had just finished a seven mile journey hearing Jesus teach the word of God. They had heard the truth taught by Jesus, and a fire had been set in their heart. However, it took a simple prayer of blessing to illuminate their lives with the Presence of Jesus. When they saw Jesus as the Risen Christ, they were filled with the power of the resurrection. They returned to a city that had been a source of intimidation, and sought out people in need of illumination. They told them about the Risen Christ, and how they recognized Him when He prayed.

The Practice of Prayer: Pray before you take a bite of food. This may seem like a small thing, but this simple practice will let the light of Jesus shine out of you. Take the time to say grace over the food you eat at home, church, or in a public restaurant. You will become an instrument of light in a dark world. You never know who may need a light.

Thought for the Day: Saying a blessing before you eat a bite of food will insure that you never have another prayerless day.

"The first purpose of prayer is not to give a life of ease, but to glorify God." Donald Demaray

The Prayer Principle of Culmination

"Father, into your hands I commit My spirit." Luke 22:46

Principle: Prayer does not prepare a person for a greater work. Prayer is the greatest work.

When Jesus died on the cross, He was in conversation with His Father. His final life breath was a prayer that ushered Him out of this life and into another. The culmination of His life work was His death on the cross. The prayer of His life was to do the Father's will. When He finished His work on the cross, He had been obedient to God's will. His life was a culmination of a consistent conversation and constant communication in order to maintain this amazing cooperative companionship with God.

The resurrection was yet to come. The forty days of ministry that He would carry out on earth to His disciples as the Risen Christ was still out ahead. His ascension was not yet accomplished. Pentecost had not yet provided the Promise of His Spirit. His intercession for His followers at the right hand of the Father was not yet initiated. However, what the world knew of Jesus in the flesh culminated at the cross. At the cross, Jesus sustained His desire to obey His Father's will by maintaining intimate communication with His Father.

His death on the cross was not enough. His blood on the cross was not sufficient. Before the breaking of His body Jesus had to have a yielding of His will. Before the death of Jesus, there had been many brave men who had been crucified by the Romans. Redemption was not purchased soley by the taking of His life. It was a matter of the yielding of His will to take on the sins of people who did not deserve to be forgiven. There was more at stake than what Jesus wanted. God's Son had to be willing to be separated from His Father.

Jesus had been falsely accused, savagely scourged, illegally convicted, summarily condemned, publicly humiliated, and callously crucified. All of these steps had been taken by thousands of other rebels and criminals throughout the Roman empire. The physical extremes of the process was not what Jesus prayed to have removed from Him. He had never been separated from His Father. Jesus did not dread the face of the enemy, but the back of His Father. When God turned his face away from His Son because of the sin of the world, this is the price Jesus paid for redemption. Even at that very moment, He was crying out to God to restore what was broken between them.

Without His death, His birth would have had no meaning or significance. Without His obedience to God's will, there would have been no sacrifice for sin. Sinful man would never have been able to bring an offering worthy enough to purchase his own redemption.

The preparation for the ordeal of the cross was a life of prayer. Prayer kept Jesus yielded to the will of the Father, even though it meant false accusations from man, and complete separation from God. The sinless One began and finished the work of redemption in the climate of prayer.

Christ followers often get weary in well-doing. There may be times when the staunchest prayer warrior is either tired of it, or tired in it. Yet prayer remains the culmination of God's greatest work in the life of His children. Prayer is not a means to an end. Spending time with God in prayer is an end in itself. It is in His Presence that His children become yielded to the Father's will.

The Practice of Prayer: Check your pulse. If you are alive, God isn't finished with you yet. Pray for the strength and stamina to intercede until someone you know has the burden of sin removed from their back, and the freedom from the debt of sin blotted from their account.

Thought for the Day: Jesus gave all He had on the cross for unforgiven people to receive all God had for them. Remember, your redemption was not purchased in a stable, but on a cross. Satan wants you to stop at the sweet smell of hay, and reminisce about the birth of a child. God invites you to look at the cross and breath in the strong smell of blood and remember the cost of your sin. Choose wisely.

"Delays are not denials and it pays to wait on God's time." Samuel Chadwick

The Prayer Principle of Intercession

"Father forgive them..." Luke 23:34

Principle: Discernment into the failure and foibles of others is a call from God to intercede for them, not an invitation to criticize them.

Oswald Chamber's died in 1917 serving as a chaplain to the British Expeditionary Force in Egypt. After his death, his wife took her short hand notes of his messages, and published a devotional book, "My Utmost for His Highest." During his short life, Chambers allowed God to do a great work in his heart. His words remain to this day some of the most treasured insights into the mind and heart of God. He felt strongly about the power of intercession, and the impact it could have on the improvement of relationships. He taught, "Discernment is given for intercession, never for faultfinding."

Praying for hurting people is a fine way to begin to develop a personal ministry of intercession. It has the power to restore right relationships between God and His people. It also has power repair relationships that have broken down between people. The prayer warrior has every confidence that prayer for another person is heard by God. The finest expression of intercession is reached when the prayer warrior begins to pray for people who have hurt them or have failed them in some way.

When Jesus was on the cross, He spoke three words that transformed prayer from a daily devotional exercise into a power play for redemption. People often do their worst to a child of God. Jesus knew about this personally. As The Child of God, Jesus had suffered immeasurable physical abuse prior to His crucifixion. He endured extreme, extended, public humiliation while he hung on the cross.

However, brave men had preceded Him to this arena of abuse. This was not the first time that men had been executed in this manner. Jewish history was full of martyrs who faced the cross as a result of their rebellion against Rome's iron grip of oppression. They had died on the cross, but they had not died to themselves. They certainly had not died for their enemies.

Jesus interceded for the people who hurt Him the most. He did not waste His breath outlining and orating over offenses. He went to His Father with a request for the people who had hurt Him, and pleaded with His Father not to hold their offense against them. Unforgiven people had done their worst to Him, and Jesus was doing His best for them. This is intercession.

Jesus went to the Father in prayer, and asked Him to remove their sin like a scribe would blot out a record of a debt from a line item account that was in need of collection. He was not appealing to God for those who had extended favor to Him, and were in need of God's blessing to understand what was happening around them. He did not pray for the strength to endure what was being done to Him. He seized the moment of the infliction of the worst kind of pain to invest in the best kind of ministry. He interceded for those had done their worst to Him.

Jesus set the standard for intercession. He stood between man at their worst and God at His best and offered to bring them together. He lived to do this on earth, and continued it with His dying breath. He lives to do it today while seated the right hand of the Father in Heaven.

Christ followers still face a constant choice between criticizing people for what they have done to them, or interceding for the very people who are the source of irritation. Jesus provided the example, but He promised His Presence would empower His people to follow His example.

The Spirit of God dwells within the heart of His children, and cries out on their behalf when they are wronged. God is aware of what is happening to His family. Intercession by the His Spirit and His Son on behalf of His Church supplies Him with constant and clear communication of the chaos and confusion that the enemy unleashes on His children. He is near to those who draw near to Him in prayer. He inclines His ear to hear the slightest cry of the weakest child.

Intercession brings a new purpose to the offended and a new possibility for the offender. There may be times when the pain is so fresh and the person so intimidating that the prayer warrior does not have the words to say on behalf of the one who needs to be forgiven. The language of the Spirit is the language of prayer. He takes to the Father even the intent of the heart when the words fail to rise up out of the voice.

"The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." Romans 8:26

Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, and when a request for forgiveness comes before the throne of God it catches His attention because it touches His heart.

"Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us." Romans 8:34

There is no hope for Christ followers to pray for those who are their enemies without Jesus interceding for them to have God's grace under fire. He provides a powerful picture of His personal interest, when His followers take a stand for Him. The Book of Acts describes people around Stephen who were doing their worst to him. Stephen was somehow able to sense the Presence of Jesus in the middle of his pain. He said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." (Acts 7:56) Jesus did not remain seated, but He stood in honor of a man who took the worst life had to bring, and he brought it to God.

Intercession is the form of prayer that yields all personal rights. It enables an offended Christ follower to avoid bitterness in their own life and to achieve the greater good in the life of another. It is the stand of Jesus that empowered the early Christ followers to express this highest level of intercession. Choking in his own blood from a vicious stoning received after telling people how to be saved, Stephen said, " 'Lord do not hold this sin against them.' And having said this, he fell asleep." (Acts 7:60) Jesus still takes a stand for those who choose to intercede for people He died to save, and who still do their worst to His followers.

The Practice of Prayer: What keeps you awake at night? Is it a memory of a past hurt, or the fresh wound from a hurtful person? Start praying for God to relieve you of the responsibility to get even, and ask Him to bring about His best in their life. You may be surprised how fast you fall asleep.

Thought for the Day: Talk less about people and pray more for people.

"All of God's answering our prayers is on the basis of God's dealing with us as forgiven sinners, and God cannot deal with us as forgiving sinners while we are not forgiving those who have wronged us." R. A. Torrey

The Prayer Principle of Circumspection

"...pray that you may not enter into temptation." Luke 22:46

Principle: Prayer provides the "night vision" that believers need to see God's light in spite of the dark circumstances around them.

Prayer is the intimate communication between the Heavenly Father and His child. Temptation is the enemy's use of darkness and shadow. Satan's scheme is to obscure the consequences of choices made without the benefit of light. God's plan is for His children to pray in order for Him shed His light on the work of the enemy, and to show them around the traps set out to hurt them.

Prayer enabled Jesus to see what God was doing in the dark, when others were blinded by the night. The death of Jesus was going to look like total defeat to those who loved Him. It would look like total victory for the enemy. In fact it was an absolute victory over the enemy.

The death of Jesus appeared, at first glance, to be a great triumph for Satan. In reality it spelled utter defeat for him. He called on His disciples to pray so they would not be intimidated by immediate circumstances, and be tempted to doubt God was at work in their lives.

Prayer provides insight from God in the middle of the darkest circumstances. Night vision goggles give members of elite military forces the capacity to see all around them what the enemy cannot see in front of them. Prayer enables the believer to see the trap, ambush, pit, or lure set by the enemy for what it really is, and for what it has the capacity to do to them.

Disappointed plans and delayed answers may cause doubt and fear to rise up in the heart of the most courageous prayer warrior. God's detour or His delay does not mean God's denial of a request from His children, or His desertion from the battle that surrounds them.

Prayerless people are in the dark on what is really happening to them or going on around them. Rather than getting with God in prayer, they continue walking and talking as if there are no consequences to stumbling into what the enemy has set out to trip them up. After bumping into something scary or intimidating, they often repeat the phrase, "I never saw it coming!"

It does not take a great deal of wisdom to see a path around an obstacle in the light of day. The danger comes when the darkness of the soul overshadows a believer's faith in the guiding light of God's goodness.

The word circumspection comes from two Latin words, circum and spectus. The first is easily recognized by its kinship to the English word circle. A circle surrounds something or someone with a never ending ring or a continuous, cyclical delineation. Spectus is similar to the English word spectacle, and means "to look." Combine the two words, and the resulting picture describes the capacity of a person to look all around something. Circumspection refers to the capacity of a person to be watchful. A person who is heedful of what is going on around them knows how to avoid embarrassment or distress. They circle (circum) around something with their feet when they see (spection) potential danger with their eyes.

Prayer warriors are not surprised by the dark. They know it has a way of coming around on a regular basis. When they find themselves in need of insight, foresight, and hindsight in the middle of the night, they pray. They ask God to give them the capacity to look around and see what He is doing, and avoid the temptation that surrounds them.

Prayer enables God's children to walk around the things that cause them to stumble. In their relationship with God, the way they come on is the way they go on. They entered into the family of God through the door of prayer, and they walk in His Kingdom with the light of prayer.

Unless people turn to God in prayer, they may miss what He is doing around them, but more importantly, the will miss God. God may be doing His greatest work in them, when it looks like the worst is happening around them. When Jesus called His disciples to prayer, He was heading towards the cross. Jesus went to God in prayer to get Him through the night, and prepare Himself for the day that was ahead of Him. The disciples went to sleep, and when the circumstances of the crucifixion came crashing in on them, they fell into the trap of temptation that had been set up by the enemy. It looked to them like all hell was breaking loose, but God was up to something wonderful.

Walking around in the dark, and falling into temptation is a dangerous choice. The disciples were urged by Jesus to wake up and pray. When people pray, they receive they receive the capacity to see in the dark. The night vision goggles of prayer reveal what God is really doing around them.

God desires for His children to have intimate communication with Him. More than He desires their service for Him, He longs to have conversation with them. Prayer enables the child of God to give themselves to Him, and receive guidance from Him around the dangerous temptations the enemy has set out to hurt them.

Through prayer, God guides His children around their circumstances rather than change the circumstances around them. Crying children often call out to their Father to urge Him to change the things that caused them to come to Him in the first place. God takes what scares His children the most, and through prayer He prepares them to face their fear with a sense of His Presence.

The Practice of Prayer: What keeps you awake at night, or strikes fear in you in the light of day? Put on your night vision goggles and pray for God to give you a sense of His Presence. He is able to guide you around the enemies temptation to believe God does not care for you, and He is not there for you.

Thought for the Day: Don't doubt in the dark what you know to be true in the light.

"One way we can tell the difference between the voice of God and a counterfeit is the sense of peace. The voice, which speaks peace, is of God; the voice that speaks urgency is either of Satan or comes from your own human nature. God leads, Satan pushes." Robert Mumford

The Prayer Principle of Intensification

"And being in agony He was praying very fervently;" Luke 22:44

Principle: Intense opposition from the enemy requires the Christ follower to respond with intense preparation for war by taking part in fervent prayer.

General Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, once received a telegram from one of his young officers in the field. He was complaining of the lack of response he found from people in need of conversion. Booth responded with a two word answer, "Try tears!"

The word fervent, describes a person who is overcome with emotion, or is showing great zeal. It can mean fiery, or extremely hot blooded expressions of concern. It is rooted in the Latin word, fervere, to boil or to froth.

Jesus was in the habit of praying. He was familiar with extended periods of prayer, and fasting. However, when He faced his greatest challenge, He brought His greatest weapon to the battle against evil. His fervent prayer intensely focused His mind, will, and emotions on the will of God for Himself and others. Every fiber of His physical and spiritual energy was engaged in intimate and intense communication with the Father, before He engaged the enemy.

Jesus prepared Himself for successful warfare against the enemy through this kind of passionate communication with His heavenly Father. Fervent prayer was a powerful weapon in His spiritual arsenal. It enabled Jesus to stand against the attack of the enemy, until God accomplished His will through Christ's death upon the cross. His obedience to the will of the Father was the key to victory at Calvary.

Fervent describes more than a mere head knowledge about prayer. It is a word picture for a fire in the heart for an answer to prayer. This kind of prayer prepares a Christ follower to stand in the face of intimidating circumstances, and invading forces of evil.

God was at work in the life of Jesus. He intended to use His Son's death as the key to the salvation of those around Him, and generations of people yet to be born. The courage of Jesus to stand firm in the face of the enemy was born out of His humility to kneel before God and to ask for His help to carry out His Father's will.

Effective spiritual warfare does not call for a secret weapon. It only requires the use of the weapon a Christ follower already possesses, but seldom uses. In spiritual warfare, when believers try to defeat the enemy with logic, reason, hard work, insight, tradition, and any other form of man-made instruments of war, it is like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

The Practice of Prayer: What are you praying for that cannot be done without God's divine intervention? Who are you praying for that needs to be rescued from the hands of the enemy? Place before God, you own list of intimidating circumstances that need to change, and irritating people who need to be converted.

The Thought for the Day: Intense spiritual warfare calls for a response of fervent prayer. Your prayer life should make it hard for people to go to hell in your city.

"Prayer is an essential link in the chain of causes that lead to a revival, as much so as truth is. Some have zealously used truth to convert men with great zeal, and then wondered that they had so little success. And the reason was they forgot to use the other branch and the means, effectual prayer. They overlooked the fact that truth by itself will never produce the effect, with the Spirit of God." Charles Finney

The Prayer Principle of Motivation

"Why are you sleeping? Rise up and pray that you may not enter into temptation." Luke 22:46

Principle: Effective prayer begins with an act of obedience to the command of Jesus.

Jesus expects His disciples to pray. He expects them to overcome fatigue and expend whatever energy is necessary to resist temptation successfully. He motivates His followers to prepare to face temptation by waking up, and getting into the Presence of God. Sleep rejuvenates the body after a person has been drained physically. Prayer protects the heart, before a person is attacked spiritually.

The words of Jesus are not a pathetic plea for moral support. They are an authoritative command for His church to take the field and engage the enemy in the battle. They illustrate the priority and the context of prayer. Temptation is coming. Get up and get ready to defeat it.

The business of God is the business of prayer.Many motivational experts would agree that 90% of success in the business world is based on just showing up for work. In God's world, 100% of success is based on showing up for work.

Prayerless people are not tireless people. However, they become loveless people. Jesus commended His church in Ephesus for all their hard work, but He warned them to remember their first love, and do the things that they did at first. Somehow in doing a great work for God, they had stopped spending time with Jesus. They had become guilty of spending more time, doing the work of the Lord, than spending time with the Lord of the work. He told them to, "Remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first, or else I am coming to you , and will remove your lamp stand out of its place -- unless you repent." (Rev. 2:4-5)

When the disciples of Jesus slept through the prayer meeting in the Garden of Gethsemane, He woke them up. This wake up call is a prototype of the contemporary church. Dr. Nelson Bell, father-in-law of Billy Graham, and father of his wife Ruth had been a medical missionary to China. In 1966 he published a book entitled, "While Men Slept." He said, "Protestant Christendom has been asleep and during our sleep the enemy of souls, under the guise of scholarship and advanced knowledge, has sown the seeds of doubt and unbelief."

Four decades later, the need to wake up and pray for something only God can do is still the crying need of the church. The problem is not with God's ability to answer prayer. The inadequacy is with His children. If they do not ask for His help to overcome the temptations that they face, they will fail. To fail to pray is to plan to fail.

Jesus did not need His disciples to pray for Him. They needed to pray for themselves. Jesus could pray for His disciples, but He could not do their praying for them. When Jesus enrolled them in His School of Prayer, they slept right through the lesson He was trying to teach them.

When Jesus woke them up. He motivated them to pray. Jesus still motivates His followers to pray. At some point in time, the true Christ follower will discover the need to spend time in prayer with God. Temptation is not sin, but it leads to sin. Sin separates a person from God because it moves them away from a close walk with Jesus, "The way, the truth and the life." (John 14:6)

James, the first pastor of the church at Jerusalem, and the brother of Jesus said,

  • "You have not because you ask not." (James 4:3)
  • "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." (James 5:16)

The priorities of God have not changed with the changing of centuries and the crossing of cultures. Effective prayer is still the prayer that is prayed. It is not effective until the prayer is prayed.

The Practice of Prayer: Wake up. This is the start of your effective prayer life. Show up. Start praying. Lift up. This means burdens must be dropped, and you come with empty hands to God. Take up. Don't walk away from prayer with the same burden that brought you to prayer. Stand up. If you have trouble falling asleep when you pray, stand while you pray. The fall will cure you of falling asleep on the job. Prayer prepares you to face the temptations of the day. Keep up. Follow Jesus where ever He leads you today.

Thought for the Day: Jesus motivates His followers to pray, because He knows it is a disaster for them to face temptation in a prayerless condition.

"The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution in history to world evangelization." Andrew Murray

The Prayer Principle of Identification

"Not my will but Thy will..." Luke 22:42

Principle: Prayer is the means by which personal rights are released into the hands of God, in order to identify with the will of God.

Jesus remains the best model for people looking for a prototype of prayer. He set the standard for effective prayer, because He was honest to God. He did not hesitate to bring His requests before the throne of His Father, but by the time He finished praying, Jesus had yielded His rights into the hands of His Father.

Jesus prayed and shared with His Father the desires of His heart. The longer He prayed, the more His Father's will became the desire of His heart. The transforming of the will begins by the exchanging of the heart. The heart of God is transplanted in the children of God, through the process of prayer.

David was described as a man after God's own heart. This referred to His sense of direction, not his hold on perfection. When David wandered from the path that God had for Him, he found his way back to God in prayer. When David enquired of the Lord, his life stayed on course. When he allowed temptation to sway him away from the right path, he used prayer to bring about a course correction.

Jesus was sinless, and was not in need of correction. He still faced the temptation to make His own way, rather than yield to the direction God had for His life. In the matter of the cross, He prayed that God would let this cup pass from Him. It was not the pain of passion that he dreaded. Many men had been crucified before Jesus went to Calvary. Thousands had suffered the pain and endured the cross as a consequence of their rebellion to Rome. For Jesus, it was the separation from His Father that He dreaded.

Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, for some way the will of God could be honored without having to experience the consequences of sin. The Scripture records that this time of prayer was a struggle that lasted throughout the night. By the end of His prayer, Jesus had identified with God's will for His life.

God provides prayers as His chosen tool to conform the will of man to His will. Perfunctory prayer provides God with a list of provisions God needs to supply. Honest prayer warrior should admit to God what they want, but be willing to receive from God what they need. Effective prayer brings about the yielding of personal rights, until there is an absolute identification with the will of God.

At first glance, prayer often appears as an opportunity for the prayer warrior to help God identify the things He needs to do for them. Jesus felt the freedom to bring to God in prayer what He wanted His Father to do for Him. When Jesus finished praying, He always ended in agreement with what God had in mind for Him. His supplication led to identification.

Prayer warriors may not agree with what God when they begin to pray. They need to stay in His Presence long enough to bring their will into line with the will of God by the time they end their prayer. They should have no fear in being honest to God. They will never shock God by admitting, what they want God to do for them. He already knows.

The twin sisters of answered prayer are the honesty to request what is wanted and the humility to receive what is needed. Prayer warriors never forget, "Father knows best."

The Practice of Prayer: Write two columns on the same piece of paper. The column on the left should be entitled: "What I Want from God" and the column on the right, "What I Need from God." Take time to give thought and prayer to each list. Be honest to God. You may be surprised at which list becomes more important to you, the longer you put it in the hands of God.

Thought for the Day: Identification with the will of God is a sign of a maturity in the child of God.