Saturday, June 2, 2012

How’s your prayer life?

Below is another post that appeared in our facebook group the other day. I couldn't resist using this to update our blog. It is an article entitled "In Order To Pray Without Ceasing, You Must Quit Praying", always the sort of title that gets my attention!! It was written by a guy called Jamal Jivanjee, and you can see the fully article by clicking on this link
These are the highlights for me...
"How’s your prayer life?  Few other questions cause more guilt among evangelical Christians.  As an institutional Pastor, I used to routinely ask that question in an attempt to ‘convict’ and motivate others to pray more.  Part of this ‘conviction’ and ‘motivation’ involved laying the responsibility of the salvation of individuals, churches, and countries on the backs of Christians.  If we prayed more, good things would happen.  If good things weren’t happening, we simply weren’t praying enough.  
Interestingly, no one ever felt that their prayer life was adequate.  After all, we could always pray more.  For me personally, simple tasks became harder and harder to accomplish because I needed to ‘pray’ about everything.  Although I wasn’t sure about what was an adequate amount of prayer, if I didn’t pray about a specific situation or decision in an ‘adequate’ manner, I became paralyzed with fear and indecision.  After all, I didn’t want to make a mistake.  I was well on my way to becoming an evangelical monk.  The more that I went down this road, the less I was able to simply ‘be’ in Christ and rest in Him in normal day to day life.  It was bondage indeed.
Unfortunately, many evangelicals are in bondage to this false view of prayer 
Stop Praying In The Flesh!
The opposite of praying in the Spirit is praying in the flesh.  I have good news for you today.  You can stop praying in the flesh.  For most of my life in the evangelical system, I prayed in the flesh. Praying in the flesh isn’t unique to the evangelical system, however.  Many world religions are built around prayer that is rooted in mankind’s religious flesh.  As one who is from an Islamic background, I grew up watching my dad’s life revolve around prayer.  To a Muslim, praying five times each day is an extraordinary feat that requires much discipline and devotion.  The thought of praying ‘without ceasing’ is simply unthinkable and unrealistic.  Unfortunately, many evangelicals are taught to see prayer in the same regard.  This is a tragedy indeed.
Often, fleshly prayer comes from the drive to ‘do’ or to accomplish some needed task.  Fleshly prayer is often our attempt to ‘fix’ something.  Fleshly prayer can also be rooted in the need to ‘be with’ God.  Prayer in the Spirit, however, is rooted in rest.  Prayer in the Spirit flows out of our location ‘in Christ’.  In Christ, we are continually with Him by default.  In Christ, we already stand approved.  
As we cease from our religious labors and rest in Christ who is our sabbath (Heb. 4:10), we will begin to become aware of the communion (prayer) that is already occurring with Christ in our spirit (inner-man).  As we become aware of this communion, we will begin to hear what the Spirit is saying to our spirit.  It is from this location that prayer in the spirit occurs. 
Like breathing, this kind of prayer is second nature and is not an exercise of will power, piety, or discipline.  Like breathing, this kind of prayer flows from life and is continual in nature.  The only action that is required on our part is to stop and rest in the reality of Jesus Christ.  Like a large antenna on a radio, the more we rest in Christ, the louder this continual conversation between our spirit and His Spirit will become.  It truly is good news to know that we already have great prayer lives because the one who IS prayer already has us and is IN us! "