The greatest adventure you and I can embark on is prayer. Prayer has the ability to take the deepest thoughts and feelings of you and me before the Creator. At the same time prayer brings the nature, character, and purposes of God into the heart of man. Prayer can chart and change the course of human history. It can calm the heart in the midst of a raging storm and refresh the weary saint in the battles of life.
Prayer opens the possibilities of all that heaven has to offer humankind. Yet, this adventure into the life of prayer cannot be taken lightly. When we enter the life of prayer we walk on holy ground. We come into the presence of a living God. Many have never entered into the life of prayer because they lack understanding of prayer’s true nature. Perhaps this is why the disciples slept when Jesus prayed. And perhaps this is why the church sleeps in this generation while the world slides further and further into immorality and rebellion against God.
THE NATURE OF PRAYER
Prayer is the heart of man in communion with the heart of the Father. It is the heart of the Father bestowing grace and mercy upon the heart of man/woman. And it is the whole heart of a person seeking to know the whole heart of God. Prayer is essentially the communion of two hearts.
C. H. Spurgeon said, “True prayer is not a mere mental exercise, nor a vocal performance, but it is deeper far than that—it is spiritual communion with the Creator of heaven and earth. God is a Spirit unseen of mortal eye and only to be perceived by the inner man; our spirit within us, begotten by the Holy Spirit at our regeneration. Prayer is a spiritual business from beginning to end, and its aim and object end not with man, but reach to God Himself.”
This view is quite different from the modern practice of prayer. We live in an “instant” generation. We live in a technological society that can fulfill our desires immediately. We have everything from instant potatoes to instant reports on the stock market. However, there is no instant fellowship with God. We cannot rush in and out of God’s presence. Prayer takes time. We must learn, as Psalm 46:10 says, "To be still and know that He is God."
There are two important aspects to communion with God. First, we must understand that we only have access to communion with the Father through Jesus. Second, we must learn to wait upon the Lord and meditate on His Word.
JESUS, THE WAY INTO COMMUNION
Jesus is our mediator because of His uniqueness. In His earthly life, He was the God-man. He was the total expression of the character and heart of God in human flesh. And yet He felt the hurts, sorrows, and temptations of humanity. No one but Jesus has ever been or will ever be qualified to act as a mediator between God and man. Jesus is the way into communion with the Father (John 16:24). Prayer becomes an adventure because we are escorted into the presence of the Father by the Son. There is complete joy to be found in the presence of God.
Jesus is the exact representation of the nature of God. If we are ever to know the heart of the father intimately, we must learn to look to Jesus. The purity, compassion, and wisdom of the Father are clearly understood through the Son.
WAITING ON GOD
If we are to come into the presence of God, we must learn the art of waiting upon God. There is no hustle and bustle in the presence of God. David is known in Scripture as a man after God’s own heart. He continually speaks in the Psalms of waiting upon the Lord. If we are to be God’s men and women, we must also learn to wait upon the Lord.
Waiting upon God recognizes two important truths from Scripture: the helplessness of humanity and the sufficiency of Christ. As we wait upon God, we understand Jesus’ words, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Andrew Murray wrote, “The deep need for this waiting upon God lies equally in the nature of man and the nature of God. God, as Creator, formed man, to be a vessel in which He could show forth His power and goodness. Man was not to have in himself a fountain of life, or strength, or happiness . . . . Man was to have the joy of receiving every moment out of the fullness of God. This was his [man} blessedness as an unfallen creature.”
God created us to know and love Him. Without daily communion with Him, it is impossible to serve Him effectively. Many Christians believe that they can work for God without being with God. To live without waiting on the Lord is to embrace humanism and wrap it in Christian trappings. The philosophy of humanism begins with man, continues with man, and concludes with man. However, Christianity begins with God. God reaches down to man, and man finds his only hope in Him (God). Man does not find purpose, power, and direction for his life in himself; he finds everything that he needs in God through Jesus Christ. Man must learn to live in absolute dependence upon God.
We live in a technological generation. We want quick results. As a result, many in the church have turned to the marketing industry to promote God’s kingdom. The kingdom of God, however, cannot be built on slick publicity. Neither can it be built on any other form of human ingenuity. The kingdom of God will only be built by those who have the mark of the King upon their lives—the mark from having been in His presence.
Many consider waiting time-consuming and nonproductive. The man who waits upon God is not a mystic who hides from the hurts of humanity. In fact, he is quite the opposite. Those believers that have learned the art of waiting upon God have affected Christian history the most. The Apostles waited on the promise of the Father, and as a result, they were able to turn the Roman Empire upside down for the glory of God. Paul and others waited upon God in Acts 13, and as a result, the gospel was brought to the European continent. The accounts of men and women who waited on God and broke the spell of the ages are countless, D. L. Moody, John Knox, George Whitefield, John Wesley, Charles G. Finney, etc.
Waiting upon God breathes fire into the souls of men. It moves men/women into the battle for the souls of humankind, but the man/woman of prayer does not burn out. The Christian that has learned the art of waiting will never be destroyed in the battle (Isaiah 40:31). Waiting upon God opens a new dimension to Christian living. It opens all of heaven to the believer. The Christian begins to live and walk by the Holy Spirit rather than by his/her strength and power. Therefore, it is important to understand the meaning of waiting upon God.
First, one must understand what waiting does not mean. Waiting upon God is not seeking after an experience. Too many Christians have made the mistake of attempting to emulate the experiences of other Christians. We read of the experiences of great men and women of God in the past years and we attempt to duplicate their experiences. After hearing of a Christian friend that had an extraordinary experience with God, we may begin to seek that experience rather than God. A man who wanted to have the same experiences as Moody and Finney.
What Then Is Waiting upon God?
There are three primary types of waiting upon God in Scripture. First, we wait on Jesus’ Second Coming (1 Thess. 1:10). Second, we wait on God to accomplish His will, which includes waiting for instruction (Psalm 25:4-5), for answers to prayer (Luke 18:1-8), and for courage (Psalm 27:14). Many blessings and answers to prayer come after waiting upon God over an extended period of days, months, or even years. Third, we wait on God when we wait quietly before Him in prayer (Psalm 37:7). This type of waiting is not a time for speaking to God. It is a time for listening and thinking—a time for the inner man to be quieted before God. It is a time to reflect upon the goodness and greatness of God, of meditating on the character and the works of God.
Perhaps one of the great needs of this generation is for thinking men and women. The advent of the computer has brought artificial intelligence to the world. Many Christians have ceased to be thinkers in the age of computers and televisions. More time is spent in many Christian homes in reading the newspapers than in reading the Word of God. We watch murders and adultery on TV, yet we have little time to think and meditate on the splendor and glory of God. No wonders adultery and divorce are rampant within the church. The church has become powerless to reach and transform such a needy generation. We become what we think. And creative Christian thinking is a result of meditating on the biblical revelation of the Creator of the universe.