Prayer is the Key to God's Door
The key to a successful ministry and church is prayer. There is no way around it. John tells us,
"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." (John 14:12-14)
The Key to a healthy Church is prayer. We may not walk on water, but Jesus' declaration that we will do greater is a call to the number and territory that we will cover in His name. Jesus may not give me that Viper sports car I want, but will empower me to do His will, which is greater than anything I could ever ask. God gives us an incredible promise, that whatever we ask… To ask God is His will, and the main reason for our existence, to be in relation to the God of the universe. This is His primary call for us and when we refuse or make light of it, we cut our self off from the power and God's desire for us. You see God knows us and our need better than we can ever know, and then still asks us to be in Him, as John 15 states. To be conformed to His likeness as in Romans 8, is for us to grow. We need to be in tune to Him. For us to serve we need to be in Him and to be in Him is to be in Prayer. So for us to receive His blessings, to be fully used by Him, and to receive His full load, we need to be in prayer as individuals and collectively as a body of believers.
The key is our realization of who Christ is and the power He gives us at our disposal for His purpose. Just as the Disciples were told firsthand by our Lord that they would be able to ask anything in His name, then they lived it and experienced it. They did not realize they could do the things they saw their master do, yet they did. Do we realize what we can do and do we attempt it? Or do we shriek at the chance? And His choice is to use and work through us. And then what is our choice? The ministry that our Lord had started on this earth continues through us, and through prayer we receive His direction and power to accomplish it.
To make a simple slogan, "we are to perceive before we receive," that is we are to engage in prayer before we can accomplish the task. And when we are in prayer, we come into a metamorphosis transforming us from the very nature of who we are. Because the first thing that changes for the person praying, is the person praying. And when we are changed that means our evil self-desire nature turns around to be a heart after others other than ourselves. So we gain the perspective of our Lord and the heart for His people, then the passion to do His will. Then we will receive less opposition from our enemy, the prince of darkness, because He that is in us is greater than he in the world. Prayer then is also our shield to protect and defend us from attack and curses. No amount of study and work we can ever do will match the work of our Lord that will flow through us in prayer!
"Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." (Romans 8:5)
Satan will laugh at our efforts and strength, but will tremble at our prayers because we can accomplish more when we pray then anything we can ever do on our own! All of us Christians in the world today, yesterday and tomorrow will be under satanic attack. Scripture calls to us to, "Carry each other's burdens" (Galatians 6:2), and we do that in person and in prayer. This is the shield that protects us from the attack of our enemy and the onslaught of problems we face in our fallen world. So when we lack the necessary prayer life, we open ourselves up to the travesties of life without the comfort of the one who protects!
"Every work of God can be traced to some kneeling form. Tarry at a promise, and God will meet you there." (D.L. Moody)
The critical aspect of prayer is what it does to the person who prays, it changes them! It hones in our relationship to God, to ourselves, and to each other as a body of believers. Every member in the Body of Christ has direct communication to the Lord and Creator of the Universe. Every member of the body of Christ has the opportunity and obligation to communicate to our Lord. Every member of the body of Christ should count it as a passionate privilege to do so and not a dreaded time consuming chore. God through His grace provided this opportunity and privilege for us. Just picture the opportunity that everyone in your church is praying individually and collectively together. Each person through their relationship with Christ is growing, discipleing and being discipled, all coming together synergistically, what power there would be!
Just think back what a privilege it was of having a phone a hundred years ago. Very few people had a phone. In fact, sometimes there was only one phone for a whole town even up until the 1920s. Just think about the mass communication at our disposal today from cell phones and pagers to e-mail and videoconference calling. Just think about all the people they could talk to and the ability to get things done sooner and more efficiently if the people a hundred years ago had such communication at their disposal. Just think today of having your phone privileges taken away, how would you get things done and communicate to others? It would be very difficult and time consuming indeed! The world may come to a crashing halt. God's Word encourages us to bring our needs to Him, to be in relation to Him and to each other all through the marvelous avenues of prayer.
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:7-12)
God is basically telling us to keep asking, to keep seeking, and to keep knocking at His door! This passage dovetails and expands the passage a few verses back, "But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." It is our Lord's call and desire for us to be in a right relationship with Him. Our highest priority in life is our relationship to God, not our careers, our cars, our houses, our business, our abilities, our money or anything else gets in the way period. There is nothing more important out there in the big universe, than our relationship to the One who created it!
Our relationship in Christ is built upon how we view our Lord's sovereignty. We are to be fully aware and active in our thinking and actions that we are before a holy God who is righteous and pure. And what He did to pay for our sins that we received as a gift. And our realization of who God is verses who we are, this should give us a zest and passion to pursue His righteousness and be filled with His Spirit. So the result is we are to seek Christ and what is done through us is because of Him, and not us. We can never see our service as to be a testimony to our abilities and honor, God just will not bless it! We will receive no reward from our boasting and pride.
Prayer removes pride and removes our self-desires from clogging the pipeline of communication with Christ. The more we pray, the more times the 'pig' goes through to clean us out of sin and pride. (A pig is what plumbers call a devise that cleans pipes as used in the oil industry, because it squeals like a pig when in use, and we as humans spend a lot of time squealing!)
Prayer brings us before His holiness. Our Lord is not deaf or forgetful but loving and guiding. Prayer brings our mind into His and shapes and makes us the person we can be for His purpose, our best interests, and care. God must be in the highest thoughts of our mind and highest place in our life. The measure of who we are as God's children is the direct amount of time we are before Him!
The close of this passage is how we relate our prayer to others, how it changes us so we can bring changes to others. The "Golden Rule" as clearly laid out is our response from our prayer life. God is willing to give greatly, are we?
Hebrews tells us to come boldly before Him, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)
Never forget the awesome privilege we have to go before our Lord in our sinful depravity. We are totally undeserving of His listening year, yet we have it anyway! We must realize our need and then see the need in others. When we are flying in an airliner the flight attendant will tell us to first place the emergency O² mask on ourselves, then we can help others around us. If not, we will be too weak from O² starvation to help others, just as it is in spirituality. We cannot serve God unless we are growing in God! When we struggle, we go before His presence. When we hurt, we can go to Him. When we are tempted, we…well do you get it? And if you do, you are light years before the average mundane Christian who simply warms the pew, but not the heart of our Lord. When we realize His full love and forgiveness offered to us, we are released from our burdens and can be thankful for who we are in our Lord. This will release us to be the people who we ought to be.
© 1998, 2001, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org