by Anna Vale
‘God has established prayer as the means by which we receive his supernatural help. And without supernatural help, we cannot live a life worthy of the gospel. Everything that distinguishes Christians from the world in a Christ-exalting way is a work of God’s supernatural grace. And God has ordained that this grace flows to us through prayer. That’s why prayer must be central, not peripheral, in our lives and families and ministries’. – John Piper
A couple of months ago I was in a meeting and I saw a vision (a moving picture) about prayer, which had four distinct parts to it.
The first was of someone rubbing away the earth from something concealed below it. They were fascinated by this hidden object and as they removed the soil, they saw more and more of this solid rock buried just beneath the surface. Under the soil were letters which spelt out PRAYER. It was huge but one dimensional.
Suddenly the earth shook and the solid object rose out of the ground until it was towering above the landscape. This even more massive rock like structure was now the three-dimensional word -PRAYER. It was colossal in fact and was mighty with real weight and presence. I was struck that Prayer is momentous, significant and important. It is powerful and established because of who God is and the relationship that He longs to develop and maintain with us for eternity. Prayer can also easily be buried under the business of our lives, by distractions both valid and unnecessary. We worry and struggle and then return to God as we rediscover communicating with Him is the most amazing privilege.
This picture of prayer was powerful but I also began to notice that it was stark, dry and dusty. I don’t know about you but I have tried praying and it’s been like that and I have experienced my mind wandering off in every direction. My heart longs for something more, something wonderful and life giving. Perhaps this is sometimes why we give up on prayer and let it get buried. Perhaps we face too many disappointments, feel let down when things don’t work out in the way we hoped, or when people we love face real difficulties and challenges, when those close to us don’t get healed and we feel like God doesn’t care. We might not admit it to anyone but our prayer life shrinks and becomes more of a duty or a vague hope than full of vibrant faith. Corporate prayer can become like that too when we bring our own disappointments and lack of faith with us or we don’t turn up at all. Then prayer begins to shrink back in to the earth, becoming one dimensional again.
We are encouraged in Philippians 4:6 to ‘not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present our requests to God.’
I believe that we all need to take courage and return to God and keep coming back to Him, laying all our joys and victories but also all our disappointments and heart aches at his feet. I believe it is important to make opportunities to be totally honest with the Lord and remind ourselves of the truth of who He is and who we are in Him.
In John 15: 7 we’re told;
‘If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.’
Therefore surely we must know the words of our saviour and let them dwell in us as we abide in our relationship with our Lord, then we can ask whatever we wish (which will be in line with God’s will) and it will be granted.
The second part of the picture God gave me was this massive, mighty word ‘PRAYER’ beginning to change. I saw pools of water starting to form in the tops of the letters P, R and A. Then waterfalls began to flow. After this I watched amazed as grass began to grow, then small plants and shrubs and finally trees sprang up all over the place. All over the word PRAYER, life was happening and soon it was looking very different. Prayer was vibrant and colourful, it was full of the Holy Spirit and was always changing and growing. Next I could see insects starting to crawl and fly around, then birds and animals living in this incredible landscape. This was now a special place, an oasis, a place of life.
This is what I long my prayer life to be like, for it to resemble a rainforest rather than a desert. I long for The Holy Spirit to direct my prayers and to keep the agenda. I want to meet with God and for Him to speak to me and change me from the inside out. This is prayer that is fruitful and full up. This is prayer that changes everything.
I am convinced that this is what God wants more than we do, He always has and he has been waiting for us to rediscover prayer and then to cultivate it, to see it burst in to life and grow.
Not a quick fix
Ephesians 6:18 says ‘And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests’.
This takes time, energy and perseverance which aren’t particularly evident in our culture today, but if we will press in to Jesus and commune with Him, the difference over time will be amazing.
Romans 12:12 says ‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.’
Perhaps you know someone who has been a Christian for a long time or in fact perhaps for a relatively short time but you look up to them because of their faith, their godliness or how full of the Holy Spirit they are.
I would imagine that each of those people have something fundamental in common, that they have been faithful in prayer, that they have been cultivating their relationship with Jesus over time, in the secret place and it is growing! The wonderful promise from Jesus is that we are all chosen people if we are in Him, it is no longer a few who can know Him so intimately but everyone who is known by Him and called a child of God. How incredible is that?
The final part of the picture I saw was when the life in PRAYER began to move in to the surrounding areas, in every direction the rivers flowed and as they did plants began to grow along the banks. Prayer was changing the environment in every direction and nothing could prevent it.
Isaiah 41:18 says;
‘I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
and the parched ground into springs.’
We can take the next steps in our prayer lives and start to see God move. For some it might be discovering prayer for the first time, or rediscovering it because it has become totally buried. For others, it might be recognising that prayer is three-dimensional, mighty and full of power and weight. For others still it might be starting to see the Holy Spirit flow in their prayer lives and to watch as it grows and develops in to something vibrant and full of life.
For the final group of people I believe that God is challenging them to be in greater step with the Holy Spirit and to be obedient to the call they are given, to go wherever God shows them and to take the Holy Spirit in to those places. Enjoy this constant two way conversation between Jesus and you, one which transforms every place where your feet will tread, like in Acts 1:14;
‘They all joined together constantly in prayer…’
And if you’ve ever read Acts then I‘m sure you’re very aware of the amazing events that happened in direct response to the early Christian’s devotion to prayer. They prayed and God moved. More importantly Jesus prayed constantly and He accomplished the will of the Father. He paid the ultimate price so that our relationship with Our Heavenly Father could be restored. How much more should we pray, knowing that Jesus purchased this amazing gift for us?