It may sound strange to many believers to discover that the purpose of prayer is not fulfilled in ministering to the many needs that surround us in this world. No, I believe that the purpose of prayer is found and fulfilled in relationship, where two hearts commune together sharing life in fellowship. This does not mean that we ignore the needs we see about us, or abandon the desires we may have, but it does require of us to guard against them consuming our attention and become the driving force in our prayer lives. We need to ensure that prayer is engaged in the context it was intend to be exercised, that of the relationship.
The best way that I know of doing so is to establish worship as a priority within all of my prayer times. To this end I would as a guide (not legalistic law) give approximately two thirds of my prayer times over to worship. For those who think that this doesn’t leave enough time to be about the nitty gritty of prayer, I would point to the principle found in Mat 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. ‘The best way of ensuring that the world’s needs are met is to establish our hearts in the presence of the Lord Jesus, and from that place and influence of intimacy to then engage in pray. This form of prayer life far out weighs those flowing from good, even heart felt intentions, or understanding as to ‘what a christian should do!’
We also see this principle in the Lords ‘how to pray one on one’ lesson in Lk 11:2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven” In biblical time the name of a person was a window to the charterer of that person. So the first thing that Jesus was teaching was to set your focus and your adoration upon person of God (worship). Even the second step He had them focus on God, inviting His ways in this world. Then and only then did He focus their attention on meeting their needs of the day.
Through Worship we focus our attention upon and press into the presence of Jesus, as we do so, we find that He responds and presses into us fulfilling the principle of James 4:8 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” It is His presence that provides the key to a deeper and more effective prayer walk. Yet sadly it is often this key of His presence that is missing in the prayers lives of His people. We have spent many hours and much energy praying to the Lord which is good, and far better than not praying at all. But in terms used in reference to the tabernacle, this prayer life is one that belongs to the outer court,
Our maturing in prayer is a journey from one level of glorious intimacy to another. This journey begins and sadly ends for many believers at this outer court experience, which is characterised by us praying to Him, and doing so with a sense of distance expressed in such terms as “us being down here on earth and the Lord up there in Heaven”. Feels familiar? It certainly was for me!
The next level of experience in prayer we are invited to enter into is that of the Holy place prayer life, this is characterised by us praying with Him, Here there has been significant shift in location, namely that of having our prayer life established and grounded in His presence. Here in this place as we mature in fellowship with His presence we develop an increased awareness of His moving, gain new motives, love instead of law, we also develop new sets of perspectives by which we begin to see things as He sees them, to reason as He reasons and to speak as He speaks. This is all drawing us away from our good intentions, duty, selfish, soulish and religious backgrounds to being more in alignment with Him. And it is these changes that equip us for promotion into the next level. The Holy of Holies prayer life, which is as best as I can describe as Him praying through us. Where we are so lost in Him and in tune with His ways, all mixture of our will, agendas, prejudices, self, soul and tradition have been put down, that we are enabled to pick up His slightest move, His thoughts and will in any given situation and to give them expression in word and action. This is sadly still rare, but i believe that in the days to come it will become an ever increasing presence and arsenal in the body of Christ Jesus. This journey cannot be achieved outside of an active relationship with the Lords presence, and the influence that His presence has upon us to initiate, support and mature the changes and growth needed to accomplish it.
In His presence we are more fully equipped to pray. The fresh touch of His presence firstly energises the vessel, (us). No longer does our prayer life have to be dry and burdensome, the sweet oils of His presence brings an ease and freshness to our prayer lives, and the joy and strength His presence brings empowers and lifts the burden that so often wears out our enthusiasm. Secondly the Lords presence brings a new shape to the vessel. We begin to look, think and reason more like Him as His presence increasingly influences us, we are thus more In tune with Him and more able to respond to His promptings and leading. Thirdly, the substance of what the vessel gives out is increasingly influenced by the Lords presence, and takes on a new fragrance that of the Lord Himself, so our prayers begin to look, sound and smell more like Him, a fact that does not go unnoticed in Heaven as they receive our prayers.
When we open our prayer life to the influence and pursuit of relationship, we undergo a journey into intimacy that delivers us from having a need driven prayer life to that of having a person expressing prayer life, the Lord Jesus. The Lord bless you as you pursue His presence and that you enjoy the journey ahead of you.