Feb1WedFebruary 1, 2017
Over the last thirty-one days, I have taken a concerted effort to intentionally linger before the Lord in prayer during the early morning and also during the day. This time has been much more than just practicing what I preach. These longer moments of prayer have also been a chance to test what I believe to be true – that in prayer, God shifts our priorities, illumines His will, orders our thoughts and expedites His Spirit’s power among His people.
I’ve studied Godly men of influence such as Martin Luther, John Wesley, Charles Surgeon, and Billy Graham. And although they all lived in different cultures and in different times, they all lived with a conviction that prayer is not secondary to ministry. For them, prayer was primary. They also experienced the fruit that comes through developing a faithful prayer life. So I’ve sought out to discover what they’ve discovered.
Yet, let me describe the battle which I face.
As I spend time to praise the Lord, repent of my sin, intercede for loved ones, and ask the Lord to lead me into His mission, I am often tempted to believe that waiting before my God is a waste of time. Once I’m confronted with the demands of the day - various appointments, relationships and tasks - it is easy to believe that fulfilling these demands efficiently are MORE important than growing in relationship with my God and learning to listen for the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
Now don’t misunderstand me. Prayer is not an excuse to be lazy. Fulfilling the demands of the day with excellence and integrity ‘as unto the Lord’ is very important! But those priorities do not outweigh my urgent need to “be still and knowing that He is God” (Psalm 46:10).
When we are pressed by the demands of the day, waiting before the Lord in prayer will always feel secondary. This is exactly what King Saul faced in 1 Samuel 13. The prophet Samuel had instructed Saul to hold back the troops until he arrived to conduct a proper sacrifice to the Lord. Yet the demands of the people, and the anxiety cultivated by the Philistine enemy, pressed against Saul's spirit. Therefore, he made the fatal decision to hurry up and worship so that he could move on to the crucial battle at hand. As a result, Israel lost that battle and Saul was ultimately dethroned as king.
We can never fall prey to the lie that we are too busy to pray or that the demands of the day do not allow for it. Patiently waiting for the Lord is always an urgent matter for which we can never be too busy.
As Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Praying is [actually] a saving of time…If we have no time we must make time, for if God has given us time for secondary duties, He must have given us time for primary ones, and to draw near to Him is a primary duty.”
I continue to invite you, and challenge you, to join me in the adventure of setting aside time to wait upon the Lord. 20 minutes each day for Scripture and prayer. There is important work to be done. Therefore, we must pray.