Recently I have been quite concerned about prayer and it's importance. I'm going to share with you a little of the background.
I am participating on a project at our local church where we are working on an initiative we have deemed "Prayer Partnership, Circle of Prayer". The goal of the Partnership is to encourage 100% of the congregation to participate in our missions endeavor. We believe we must support our missionaries first and God will meet all our church's other needs. Prayer is the one thing that EVERYONE can do.
But, I digress.
The initiative we are undertaking means that we're going to be asking the congregation to commit to praying for 1 missionary, each, daily. Example - if we had 300 people in the congregation and 15 supported missionaries that would mean each missionary would be prayed for by 20 different individuals, daily. The circle is then completed when each missionary agrees to pray for our church and the Missions Committee daily.
I should have been quite excited by this initiative, yet, I actually felt uneasy. I think it would be more accurate if I used the word vexed.
It took a few days of searching and asking God to help me understand. [Note: long ago I stopped asking "why" about things and started asking for understanding. I figure God has His reasons and I don't really need to know the why. So now I just ask for understanding.]
Ok, a few days into it, I'm praying and chatting with God and all of a sudden God brings up the verses and an image about Jesus clearing the merchants and money changers out of the Temple. Each gospel has an accounting, Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19 & John 2. Jesus was disturbed, to say the least. God impressed it on me that the "world" had entered the Temple and was using a place made for worship & prayer to transact business! Jesus called the Temple His Father's house. Here are the verses from John 2: 13-16 ESV -
(13) The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. (14) In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. (15) And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. (16) And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade."
A lighted bulb appears above my head! I now knew why I was feeling the way I was. I have been concerned that we on the Missions Committee were not spending enough time praying & fasting as a group, seeking God's will and direction for our committee and the Missions outreach. In fact, it was a minimal amount of time, imho. God had allowed me to see that the Christian Church was being successfully assimulated into the world. [but that's another blog post for the future]
I was feeling like somewhat of a hypocrite. Here, we were going to ask the congregation to pray, in earnest, daily and we on the committee were not earnestly spending real time in prayer & fasting, as a group. Individually maybe, but not as a group. Oh, we would pray, but it was the kind of prayer where we did all the talking and none of the listening. Ever found yourself doing that? Bet you have. Having this realizaton, I asked God what the verses had to do with this? His answer -
"The reason you are bothered is because you know that prayer has not been a priority with you or the committee.You are being convicted by my Spirit." He continued... "omd, the world had entered My Temple, a place of worship and prayer." "They were carrying on worldly business as if they were in the marketplace." "Think about this." "There is now a new covenant as well as a new Temple." "omd, the new Temple is your body... it is each one of my children's bodies." "The Holy Spirit resides in each of you." "You are bothered because you now have realized there is much of the world left in you and it is contending with the purpose of my Temple." "Remember, you are only IN the world, you are no longer OF the world!" "There is no place for the world in you." "Jesus drove the world out of the Temple." "Now, I say to you, ask that the world be driven out of you!"
Gulp!! I had always been told to be careful what you ask for. 0=:o)
Now my prayer is, "Father, drive the world from me and each of your children & the believing church."
With 2011 just 1 day away I challenge each of my brothers and sisters in Christ to make their New Years resolution to be just this. "I resolve to beseech Jesus and ask that the world be driven out of me." Please make this your resolution, too. God is earnestly at work encouraging His children to pray and fast seeking His face and direction.
Happy New Year and I pray that God will prosper each of you & your families spiritually, financially, in good health, content and seeking Him. Let me know if you are willing to take this resolution.
I am a Fellow Christian Sojourner and One More Disciple of the Christ, Jesus