A Praying People1
Along with evangelism prayer can often seem like the most excruciating discipline of a Christian's life. But perhaps unlike evangelism it is not so much a result of forgetful negligence, but rather our seemingly half-hearted, faith-deficient offerings before God that lead us to feel God's proverbial pebble in our shoe. I mean, how many of us really feel like we experience the active relationship with God we truly desire on a day to day, moment by moment basis? How many of us live in consistently joyful communion with our Lord?
I think we can agree that we need to be encouraged over and over again to press into the Lord through prayer. We need to be constantly reminded afresh of the glorious invitation we have been given to come before the throne of our God. And this is exactly what I experienced in Frank Ecelbarger's prayer class, "A Praying People." Over the last four weeks I was freshly encouraged and stirred to zealously pursue my heavenly Father with faith, expectation, and joy.
Now as Frank said in week one, this was not a class for those who want to learn how to pray with better technique or precision, seeking to somehow influence our sovereign God to make decisions in our favor based on our performance or seeming sincerity. No, this class was intended to exhort us to cultivate a deeper intimacy with God. At its heart this class was about growing in our relationship with our loving, all-powerful Father.
So as we met together week by week, considering God's attributes, and how they are intended to influence our prayer life. As we interacted about our internal struggles with the tension between God's sovereignty and human responsibility to pray, and how that affects our prayer lives. And as we heard over and over again gospel-saturated Spurgeon quotes that challenged our faithlessness and complacency in this area, at the end I found myself further considering two profound truths that have fanned into flame a greater passion for my pursuit of God.
First, that God is powerfully active among us. More than this, that He is powerfully active for the good of His people, for the good of me. God desires and pursues our good. He desires and pursues my good...amazing! In rehashing the truths that surround both His sovereignty and His goodness I have been freshly reminded that our God is truly worthy of all praise. And our rightful response to His active presence in our lives must include both adoration and thankfulness as expressed in prayer. In seeing God for who He is I cannot help but offer up awe-filled prayer to Him, responding to His work in my life. And I am grateful that the Lord chose to use this class to extract this response from me.
And secondly, I have also been poignantly reminded of my great need for God. As we finished our last discussion this past Sunday night, I was keenly aware of my dependence on Him for life, breath, and everything else. God is actively present in our lives, and nothing can stop Him from accomplishing His very good purposes for us, and we need Him desperately every step of the way. Our very existence depends on His sustaining breath! How overwhelming. How sobering. How awesome! Over the last month we have been graciously reminded by the Holy Spirit that we can do nothing without being tethered to our Lord. He is the vine, and we are the branches. And this truth hit us anew last Sunday night. We knew that we needed God for anything and everything. And so what did we do? We prayed. What else could we do? What else can we ever do?