Monday, 31 December 2018

Steering Wheels, Spare Tyres and the Secret Place

I received a lovely email this morning from a dear friend who I only met a few short months ago.  His friendship and fellowship over the last few months have been such an encouragement as I have passed through some of the darkest valleys I have ever journeyed through.  I hope his words are as much an encouragement and challenge to you as they were to me:

As we come to a New Year and reflect on the one that has just passed, I pray we can see The Lord’s goodness and His hand of mercy and compassion.

In 2018 God has shown His kindness to us and His companionship even in the deepest of trials. Not everything has been good, but God has been good in everything. There have been times to celebrate but there have also been very sad moments. Even in the toughest of these storms the Captain of Salvation has steered us through our rough water and for some of us is still steering us through. I would rather hold onto Jesus in the most terrible storm, than find myself lost on quietest of seas without him. What joy is ours to be able to access such love and grace at our time of need. 

Corrie ten Boom asks the question, “Is prayer your steering wheel or is it your spare tyre?”  I am going to have to work on my spare tyre, in more ways than one!!  This year I am setting my course to understand prayer more than in any other year of my life. It has been something I do, but not so fervently and consistently so as to think of myself as a prayer warrior.  I don’t understand it well enough, it so often appears hit or miss. I know the problem isn’t God, it lies in my understanding of God and my unwillingness to press in. 

“Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things, ‘above all that we ask or think’. Each time, before you Intercede, be quiet first, and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, and how He delights to hear the prayers of His redeemed people. Think of your place and privilege in Christ, and expect great things!”
Andrew Murray

Why did Jesus so often in the most critical of times, go to a quiet place and pray? Why did the Healer of the World, the Miracle Maker, find it necessary to pray and gave time to prayer, especially at critical moments? John 5:19 So Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, 'the son can do nothing of his won accord, but only what he sees the Father doing.  For whatever the father does, that the Son does likewise.” 

Imagine such an open door to The Secret Place (Ps 91) to know through prayer what The Father is doing, and what He would have us all to do. Imagine an engine room where such faith could be built that we could believe that we are capable of doing the will of God, through the power and authority that is ours in Christ. 

I think it was Oswald Smith who said, “when we work, we work, when we pray, God works.” Interesting also to see that his disciples didn’t ask him to teach them to do the great miracles, but instead they asked him, “teach us to pray.” They had observed The Master in action as he worked out his ministry here on earth, a ministry founded in prayer.  Acts 2:22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man clearly attested to you by God with powerful deeds, wonders, and miraculous signs that God performed among you through him, just as you yourselves know.” 

These followers of Jesus who walked with him daily watched as he got up in morning early to converse with The Father. Jesus would settle down in the close of the day and pray. It was a lifestyle. Throughout the day he would pray. The miracles were testimonies of who Jesus was. The feeding of the thousands and raising of Lazarus from the dead, before any of these, he publicly prays. Neither one of these acts could be done in the physical realm by physical power. No amount of work could have made the fish and bread to multiply when there was no bakery or water in close proximity. Baking bread takes time and so does fishing. Great preparation would be required for such a banquet. Christ had prepared the table in prayer. No amount of medical science could breathe life back into a body dead after four days, but Jesus had breathed such life, it was his atmosphere through prayer. These acts are not just physical acts they are spiritual, miraculous acts of God. We all want to see the physical manifestation of God’s Supernatural Power, but such things are wrought through prayer. 

God can supply that which we cannot in our own strength produce, but He does it in the incubator of prayer and in the one He trusts to faithfully carry out what He says for us to do, calling out for the impossible knowing that with our God, “all things are possible!!”

My prayer is that this year we all might know Him more intimately, serve Him more fervently and trust Him more faithfully to see His Will flourish in our lives and that we can be the Salt of the earth and the Light of the world.  Samuel Chadwick reminds us that, “The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.”

As we go about doing good, desiring to see God more in our communities. In our fellowships, I pray we do so in the humility of prayer. We need to stop trying to make the Church more acceptable to the unsaved and realize that we are the opposite of what the world offers. We do not offer a shadow, we offer light. And this light hurts the one who sits in darkness when first we look at it, it is counter cultural, but in time we welcome the transformation it gives us, so we never want to sit in darkness again. If we attempt to offer a similar darkness, where is the light? 

I understand people wanting to make it easy with music and lyrics that could just as easily be in the charts. With smoke machines for effect and teachings on positive topics that could just as easily be made for the corporate world. I honestly can see why people would want to do it, to “build the house,” but the reality is that to follow Jesus there is a price, a cost. 

To build anything you need a blueprint and having built it no matter how good it looks to us, if it is not built on The Rock, it is going to sink. True faith costs, in time, energy and commitment. True Faith is built on him, has him running through the core and stands because he the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Our strategy for reaching the lost and the least and the last may change but the core must remain. True faith costs, it cost Jesus everything!!  As Leonard Ravenhill says:

“The true man of God is heartsick, grieved at the worldliness of the Church…grieved at the toleration of sin in the Church, grieved at the prayerlessness in the Church. He is disturbed that the corporate prayer of the Church no longer pulls down the strongholds of the devil.”

May this be our year of asking. May this be our year of knocking on bended knee, to see more and to do more that His Will be done here on earth even as it is in Heaven. 

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