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Saturday
Aug132016

Your Prayer Relationship: Jesus as Confidante

(This is the first segment of the chapter on Your Prayer Relationship: Jesus as Confidante in the book Hand in Hand: Deepening Your Relationship with Jesus Christ)

The vast subject of prayer has been on our radar from the beginning as we explore deepening our relationship with Jesus Christ.  Like a watery mist, it permeates the whole of this relationship theme and seeps into every crevice and wrinkle of our spiritual journey.  The paradox of prayer, however, is that it is both the transportation and the destination; both the vehicle and the roadway; both the strategy and the goal.  To learn to pray both builds and becomes the prized relationship with God that all of us seek.  

The point that must be established here is this:  Your motivation to pray may indeed be the exercise of prayer itself.  Some runners run for the joy of running.  They love the excitement, the fluidity of movement, and the satisfaction of motion alone.  Others, however, need something more.  They run with purpose.  They want to reach a destination, whether it is a spot on the map or attaining a fit and healthy body.  Likewise, you will be abundantly blessed simply to immerse yourself in the practice of prayer.  But for some, just to pray is not enough motivation.  It must be more than a habit, an activity, a spiritual exercise or a Christian duty.  It must be a means to a deeper relationship.  If this describes your motivation, then prayer must take you somewhere special.  It must transport you ever closer to an inspired state of mind and heart; it must be a pathway to apprehend an intimacy with God that fulfills the longing of your soul; it must be a long moment of cherished seclusion with the One with whom you can be totally transparent.    

For the uninitiated or the outsider, prayer only means to ask for something.  For the spiritually minded, prayer expands into a spiritual experience.  To the Spirit-filled person, prayer transforms into a state of mind and heart, a rich relationship with God, and an adventure.  Prayer is a closet a room, a battleground, an arena, a vocation, a secret, an experience, a therapy session, a communion, a haven, and much more. Most importantly, prayer identifies Jesus as the Friend of Friends, the Sharer of our dreams, the Confidante who knows our heart’s hidden secrets.  The possibilities of relationship prayer overflow as we explore the scriptures.    

Prayer is A Place 

“Home is what you make it.”  The old saying rightly describes the place of prayer.  It’s not a geographical point; it is a concept, a zone in which the soul revels in familiarity.  A blogger writes, “You can spend your whole life at a place without making it your home, or you can spend a week in a town you may never want to leave. You can feel more at home in an old, slightly broken-down apartment than you ever will in the mansion of your dreams.”  (www.theodysseyonline.com). Too many believers spend uneasy and awkward time in prayer without ever feeling at home.  Make prayer a home for your weary soul, a refuge for your battered spirit, a magnet that draws you into its welcoming arms.  Here are places that prayer can be: 

A house, a dwelling place.  Let prayer become your first resort when trouble strikes or when loneliness overwhelms you.  Whenever people fall ill, the universal expression is “Take me home!” When we’re tired, confused, frustrated or hurt, we head for the familiar confines of home.  For the soul, prayer is that home.  Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Isaiah 56:7.     

A place of separation.  Uninterrupted prayer requires solitude, but not just from people.  You need separation from your daily routines, from your pressing obligations, and from distracting influences.  Relationship prayer doesn’t work in a crowd or in a turmoil.  Quality time together with Jesus is a you and Him only thing. And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. Luke 6:12 

A place to seek God.  Looking for a lost item makes you run around frantically to different settings and scenarios; looking for a lost thought, a spark of inspiration, or a word from God takes settling in to one place and focusing.  It takes concentration.  In these days of ADHD, people scour complicated sources of eastern religions, philosophical concepts, political activism, and even pop culture song lyrics, TV programs and movies for novel ideas as though God no longer knows how to respond to simple prayer.  But, prayer transforms the tiny closet of prayer in a vast arena in which God puts His glory on display.  Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. Daniel 9:3  

Prayer is A Practice 

A secret practice.  Secret prayers resemble beams hidden in the roof.  Covered up by decking and shingles on the outside, and drywall or ceiling tiles on the inside, they do their work quietly, with no fanfare.  When you pray in secret, you exude strength that cannot be seen, or even understood by others.    But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Matthew 6:6. Ostentatious praying has no such effect nor does it carry the promise of open reward.   

An ordered spiritual exercise.  In crisis moments, we might pray in a kneejerk fashion, but most of the time, our prayers need to be organized and deliberate.  Jesus said, “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10.  Following His guidelines, our prayers need to show reverence, humility and submission.  A haughty, self-centered prayer may as well be air escaping from a balloon.  

An exercise in spiritual power.  The very act of prayer is an admission of belief in the supernatural.  Those who deny the possibility of miracles in the present day have no reason to pray other than as pure ritualism.  But, according to the Scriptures, prayer is an encounter with spiritual forces.  However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. Matthew 17:21. Jesus gave credence to spiritual warfare by encouraging us to pray against demonic powers.  Paul admonishes us to do the same. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12. Jude adds: But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.  Jude 1:20.

A bonding with the purposes of God.  In relationship praying, no greater goal exists than to harmonize with the deep longings of the other party.  Jesus reveals His heart’s desire in Luke 10:2:  Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” When you pray in accord with Jesus, you can pray with boldness and confidence.  Practice praying the will of God.  In so doing, you attract His favor and the relationship grows closer.  

An investment into a vocation.  For prayer to be a practice, it must be a repeated activity—consistent, faithful, and focused.  This kind of praying meets the definition of vocation, or calling.  The apostles felt so strongly about this that they appointed deacons to manage the business of the church, enabling them to fulfill their calling.  But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. Acts 6:4. 

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