What does the Christian, the most ardent Christ-follower, look like if they are completely isolated from other people? The inmate in solitary confinement? The rancher on a 30,000 acre ranch in eastern Montana where there is no church for 100 miles? If you strip away all of the "doing" of God's work, all of the ministry, all of the business, and are left only with the "being" with God; what would your relationship with Him look like?
You know, I learned how to work with my father. He had a tremendous work ethic and he passed it on to me. But my father and I never just spent time just being together. We never went fishing or played catch. We never talked about life, God or important things...we worked! We dug post-holes, built fence, cleared land, took care of animals, etc.
I wonder how much of that I have carried into my relationship with my Heavenly Father?
In my opinion, woven into the answers of each of these questions is prayer-a subject I like to think I have a good, firm grasp on. At least, I used to think I had a firm grasp on.
In prayer, the man of God abides with his Heavenly Father. And it is in abiding that the individual life, whether isolated or not, is able to bear fruit (John 15) that will withstand the testing flames to which each person's work will be subjected one day (1 Cor. 3:13).
In prayer, we exercise the greatest faith and we show the deep trust we have for our Almighty God and the promises He has made to us, His children. In prayer, we surrender all hope of personal or public recognition. There will be no fanfare, no parade, no "atta-boys", no pats on the back, and most often there will be no visible, tangible reward for the investment of time spent in prayer.
In prayer, the power of God is on display for eternal purposes; the heavens are closed up (James 5:17), mountains are moved and all things are possible (Matthew 17:20)! Prayer is the great leveler, the power invoker, and the common thread that binds all believers to the uncommon, miraculous, salvific work that has been given to our Lord Jesus of redeeming every man, woman and child of every tribe, tongue and nation (John 17:1).
Prayer is not merely a task or a goal or a tool to achieve ministerial, material or marital success. Prayer is the life-blood of a long, slow, intimate, deep, dependent, deliberate and abiding walk with our Loving Father and All-Powerful Creator. Ministry "results" produced out of anything other than that kind of relationship are but wood, hay, and stubble. These "results" will one day be reduced to ashes, blown softly about in the courtyards beyond eternity's gates (1 Cor. 3:10-14).
I am afraid that in our churches today, prayer has been devalued, marginalized, and has become a token add-on to our Christian walk. Too often, we enter into the great throne room of grace cavalierly, without regard to the power and prestige of such an honor. It sometimes seems like we are children using a nuclear weapon to mischievously light a cigarette.
To extend that metaphor, every believer kneels within reach of a spiritual, big, red nuclear button! Unfortunately, most Christians think they are stuck in the factory, merely making bullets for another man's gun. The war that we are engaged in is not conventional, nor are our weapons conventional. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us, "for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."
It seems reasonable to me that the war we fight with unconventional weapons is actually a relationship. In our abiding, the war is won! In our abiding there is peace! In our abiding, darkness flees and has no hope; it shrinks back into the rapidly receding shadows cast mercilessly by Jehovah God's Shekinah Glory.
I received this note below from someone I would consider a faithful "prayer warrior" in the U.S. the other day. She said, " But here I am still in this city-waiting to be clothed with power from on high,' waiting to be sent to participate in the spreading of the Gospel to all nations. When you pray for me, pray that that my lamp won't go out, or my eyes grow sleepy; that I will be dressed and ready, waiting with joy, continually praising God until I hear the bridegroom coming for me."
Oh, that she would know she is fully "clothed with power from on high"; that she is participating "in the spreading of the gospel to all nations"! Oh, that our brothers and sisters in Christ would know the power of prayer. Oh, that we would all know it is in the being that eternal fruit springs forth from the surrendered life.
Oh, that the Lord would teach me to enter into that abiding walk with Him. And only in that deep, dependent, intimate, abiding walk would my soul be completely satisfied. Lord teach us to be satisfied in you and only you.
Curtis Brickley and his wife, Stacey, are missionaries to unreached tribes in Southeast Asia with AMG International. He has previously served as a missions pastor and church missions coach.
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