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Give, Pray, Fast

Jun 30, 2010 at 19:54
Category: Intercession

 

Dear Friends, The most important words in your Bible are the ones Jesus spoke.  Yet it is interesting how His words are routinely disregarded by many who profess to be His followers!  The words of the Master in Matthew 6 on giving, prayer and fasting are very simple and understandable- "WHEN" (not IF!) you give, pray and fast, do so in secret and "the Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly."

Giving in secret?  We have whole ministry machines based in public giving with ascending levels of access to ministry leaders relative to how much an individual gives.  We have public meetings where those who give the most receive special prayer from the ministry leader.  Jesus assures us "they have their reward".

Prayer in secret?  We have whole ministries based in how much people pray.  Some cannot minister unless their prayer accomplishments are recited before they speak- how many hours per day over how many years.  Then we have the prayer ministries seeking to register people and counting their hours of praying to reach a million hours.  And then what?

Fasting in secret?  We have whole ministries based upon publicity surrounding their fasts.  Do we not read our New Testaments?

When the secret is secret, the public is simple.  The prayer of Jesus before the tomb of Lazarus was very simple.  "Lazarus come forth!"  The rule of thumb seems to be that the less reality in secret, the more words, volume and posturing in public.  

Is there a "tipping point" in prayer?  Do we need to have so many people praying for so many hours before God will answer?  Is prayer like the lottery?  The more people (tickets) in the play the more likely to get an answer?  Are the kingdoms pretty evenly matched so that we need to overwhelm the enemy with numbers?  No!  A thousand times no!  Comparing the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God is like comparing a candle to the sun.  There is no balance to be tipped.  

The whole teaching of Jesus about prayer is that it is relationship.  His communication to the Father before commanding Lazarus to come forth was, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me, but because of the people standing by I said this, that they may believe that you sent me."  (John 11:41- 42).  

When you have a relationship with someone you do not shout, recite or whisper the same things at them over and over again. Such behavior is normally a sign of mental illness.   We are not heard by our repetition or volume.  Jesus tells us that is the practice of those who do not know the Father.  There is no tipping point.  There is no lottery.  There is no power struggle.  There is only relationship with the Father through Jesus and the Father who sees and hears in secret will reward you openly.  Prayer is not the time I spend with God to get things done.  Prayer is time I spend with God to know Him.  I do not present Him with a shopping list.  I give  Him my heart in worship and wonder.  He does not need to change.  I do.  Prayer changes people and obedient people change things.

The point of New Testament prayer is not how many people you can get to pray.  How many is enough?  Prayer is not a power contest.   The point is not how many hours you can pray.  How many is enough?  There is no quota to be filled.  The point is not who prays.  Prayer is not a matter for professionals who have mastered techniques or who have special knowledge and experiences. There is no New Testament gift or ministry of intercession.  There is no technique to prayer except humility.  The point of New Testament prayer is the relational secret place anyone can have with God where the  "effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much".  This is not in the context of mass rallies or logged hours and the confession of the sins of the nation but in the context of a small group and confession to one another  (James 5:16- 18).  

The simple teaching and example of Jesus is that prayer is your heart relationship with God.  The outworking of that secret is your loving service to the least around you.  True prayer is followed by sacrificial service.  

Thank you to those of you who have prayed, fasted and given for our friends in Kyrgyzstan.  Sunday's referendum on a new constitution went well and there is now relative calm.  However, there is a massive humanitarian need with close to 500,000 internally displaced persons.  Many of their homes and businesses have been looted and burned.  Rebuilding will take years but ministering forgiveness and restoring relationships will take the miracle of the cross of Christ.  

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