Sunday, December 11, 2011

Burning the Night Away: Part 1

This fall has proven to be a crazy busy one. It is always hard to explain that to others (at least I think so). How do you tell someone who works full time that things are busy when you do not have a job nor are in school? Sounds hypocritical to me. Yet this fall has been busy (and restful, too. That cannot be denied).

When people ask me what I have been doing, the first two months I replied, "I have been meeting with guys on campus doing discipleship and trying to make it around to visit people." Yet this was always an incomplete answer. There was always a third vision and goal I was pressing in for: fostering a vision for a prayer movement on campus. The Lord gave me a vision for prayer here in Starkville and at MSU before I left to return home, and upon returning, He started providing for it!

One crazy story:
the Tuesday after I returned, I met with a friend I felt like the Lord guided me to in pursuing this vision. That evening while driving home, I was incredibly excited about what the Lord had already done in the past two days, having had several conversations with male friends which proved to me that the Spirit was already at work here. So while I was driving, I said, "God, this prayer thing cannot be just guys! We need some girls, too, if we are going to do this! So send us some girls!" That was pretty much the simple prayer I prayed. The following morning, my friend Zach calls. He asks, "What's going on?"
I reply, "I feel like the Lord is calling me to start a prayer thing here."
"If you are going to do that, I have three names for you."
"Wait. Are any of these names girls?"
"Actually, all three of them are."
I was absolutely blown away by the Lord provision in that moment, answering such a simple prayer from the night before. Less than a day later!

However, it was always daunting sharing this vision with others. What if it did not work or not happen? It was such a big idea! My desire was not to start something new but to establish something with the people here. Connect all the groups already meeting, the churches already praying, joining together for continuous prayer. Yet everyone knows that the more people involved, the more difficult it is.

Yet this is not what I desire but what God desires! If we look back at the early Church days found in Acts 2, they were a people who "devoted themselves to the apostles' teachings and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Before the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples, it says they "all joined together constantly in prayer". When facing hardship and persecution, they "raised their voices together in prayer to God."

This thought entered my head last night: why is it so easy to find people for a Bible study yet so difficult to find people for a prayer meeting? One friend replied to this question with: "'It's awkward to pray out loud' is the number one thing I've heard. It's saddening."

Imagine yourself in Acts 4. The disciples just received the Holy Spirit, and they are carrying out amazing ministry to the people, seeing people healed and preaching the Gospel to all. They are brought before the priests and teachers, and they threaten them to stop. They had just spent the night in jail. So when they are released and return to meet with the believers, what do you think is going through their mind. Personally, I cannot imagine the disciples worrying about the awkwardness of praying out loud. I think they had no choice but to turn to God in prayer and cry out to Him. What else could you do in this situation? "God! We are doing what you called us to do, yet they are trying to stop us! Help us! Give us strength! We cannot do it without you!"

I think one big reason I used to not pray is fear that God would not answer. "What if I pray this and He does not answer?" So I "protected" myself from God not coming through. I lacked the very faith that God is looking for on the Earth. He is drawn to this kind of faith! What did God do in Acts 4? He shook the meeting place, and "they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly."

Church, may we all begin to pursue the Lord in prayer, both individually (we see Jesus leaving the people to seek the Father on His own) and corporately (as seen in Acts). These things are incredibly important in seeing the Bride being prepared for the return of Christ. The next time someone says, pray for (fill in the blank), stop right then and pray for it. I call it a lifestyle of immediate prayer. I always find that I will forget to pray later, but if I pray then, I know God hears, and He will be faithful to respond. Instead of spending all your time watching TV with friends, stop for a minute to pray for one another. I assure you it will be more edifying than the next episode of whatever show you are watching.

In Luke 18:7-8, Jesus says: "And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" May we not be found without faith when He returns! Come, let us pray!

Continue on to Part 2!

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