Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Is Fervent Prayer Necessary?

The other day a young person asked me something to the effect of, “Is it really necessary to pray really hard like holiness people do?” This is not the first time a young person has asked me that. I'm glad that they asked me.

My answer in essence follows and applies to not just prayer, but to all aspects of spiritual sacrifice. 

The the greater the sacrifice or the more that is given up as an offering to God and others, the greater yield that God will cause its seed to eventually bring forth. Although others may look at such as foolish or as a waste.

Jesus for our full salvation laid aside His glory, left His rightful place to humble himself and take upon himself a body like ours, and then he offered up prayers and supplications to God in the garden with “strong crying and tears.” And He later gave up his life for us, for those who didn't even want Him.

God says, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Should we pray like this only when we feel the urge. No, we take ourselves by the nape of the neck and willfully do that which we know we ought to do. If we wait til we “feel so moved” our ease-loving, sluggish human nature may never do what's best.

Souls are even now dropping into hell. There is spiritual warfare to wage. Christ came to set the captive free, and I in prayer and in life must fight to release souls from destruction. So should I spend my days in wonderful “quiet times” of staring out the window at the peaceful scenery over a steaming mug of coffee telling God how wonderful He is? I'm not saying that this isn't good, but is this the best that God wants from us? What soul saving, sin killing, fire baptizing revival has ever broken out with this kind of prayer?

The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force. If a building is ablaze and people around me are sleeping, this calls for more than cool contemplations. God uses us to set up His kingdom, and His hard soldiers give all their strength to serving Him and others. And when they reach the end of their strength, He pours out His grace and His strength is made perfect in their weakness. 

Again, the greater the sacrifice offered up in the will of God for Him and for others in His name, the greater yield its seed will eventually bring forth, even though it seems to others a waste of effort.

Abraham left his father's house and country. He wandered aimlessly as a foreigner in obedience to God. Though he and Sarah were old, he expected a son for years because God had promised him such. He later offered that son back to God in the deepest act of worship when it made no sense at all.

Robert Murray McCheyne, I understand, excelled in sports and academics and loved studying Biblical languages and theology. But even as a young man he left sports and laid aside the other intellectual and spiritual pursuits to pray for revival and weep for souls. Like his Saviour, he poured out his life as a sacrifice for others. He died at the young age of 29 during an epidemic, but God sent revival to his church in answer to his prayers and today many years later, and his life still continues bearing ever more fruit, much more fruit than if he would have lived is life pursuing his own good interests. (A note of interest, I've found out that a good number in Chinese churches and other churches across the world follow the Bible study schedule which he laid out.)

David Brainerd gave his short life to much and fervent prayer while serving some wicked Indians. He carried such a burden it carried him to pray much in spite of those bitter cold colonial New Jersey winters. He was known to have prayed so much and so fervently that the snow around him melted. Often deprived of needful food he had little to eat due to lack of missionary support. Yet he carried on pouring out his life in offering to God and others. Near the end of his life God mightily answered his prayers and changed the drunken, God despising Indians to the point that they feared God, left sin, began worshiping God, and weeping at even the mention of God. I've heard others criticize Brainerd burning out his life for God at only 29 years of age, but many of the greatest of modern missionaries took with them a Bible and Brainerd's journal to inspire them while counting all things but loss to gain Christ. I believe that millions of souls will have found Christ in part due to Brainerd. Like his Saviour, he also ministered in a small location. Like his Saviour, he offered up prayer to God with strong crying and tears. Like his Saviour, he poured out his life in death. What an offering to God, an offering which others may say was a waste! What a harvest God will bring forth!

“Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone...” Jesus is that first seed. And we also may be crucified with Christ? Have we offered up ourselves once and for all a holy, living sacrifice through faith? And now do we like Paul offer up ourselves and die daily?   “... and if that seed die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”

Our heritage of great prayer, fervency, revival, and sacrifice is much more than that of the holiness movement. It is born of the heart throb of passion and hunger and more so from Christ himself. And such has been shared throughout the history of Christ's church by those who have shared the same fervent burden of prayer which was also in Christ Jesus.

If you lay aside something of value to spend that time with God in costly, fervent prayer. You will reap much more than you can yet know. If you lay aside popularity or favor to obey God or to lift up Christ to others, you will reap from that seed planted. Some may not understand your heart cry born of a fervent hunger for God. But God understands. For He created that burning in your heart for His glory. He fuels it. And He intends to answer such prayer. Give much; you will reap many fold.



Bryon and Michele Fling said...

Really appreciated this! God Bless!

The Dickinsons said...

Thank you so much, Flings!
We appreciate you all much!

Jen Ann said...

WOW! My heart is moved more now! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, for this moving, convicting, hungering article! I have been learning about being a doer of God's Word and the part where you said to grab yourself by the nape of the neck, CHOOSE to DO it no matter how I feel! Feelings, feelings, learning to ignore them too and do, do, do! I loved this so much and once again THANK YOU and GOD BLESS YOU!

The Dickinsons said...

Jen Ann: thank you for your kind words. I'm grateful that God used this to challenge you in prayer. Keep looking to Jesus in all things and in prayer! I pray that God continues to bless you, Phillip

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