We continue to consider the significance of being ready for the coming of the Lord. Readiness is associated with watching and praying. Watching is the faculty of the mind of the spirit. Our spirit man is always in a state of watchfulness – attentive and perceptive to every moving and utterance of the Spirit of Christ, for it abides in unbroken communion and oneness with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17). We saw that those who watch have the following virtues: they are spiritually conscious or awake, they are clothed having put on the Lord Jesus Christ, they have their waist girded with the truth and their lamps burning. These are the watchmen of the hour who look for and announce the coming Christ.
Before we move on to the subject of prayer, there is another aspect of being watchful we should briefly consider. The scripture relate being watchful with being sober. “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thes. 5:6). Being sober signifies soundness of mind. To be sober is to be clear-headed, temperate, alert and perceptive. In this regard Peter writes: “the end of all things is at hand: be therefore sober minded, and watch unto prayer” (1 Pet. 4:7).
The Lord is now preparing a sober-minded people who are not intoxicated with drink (the impulses and understandings of the flesh). As I look back on the years I spent in Christendom, I can frankly say that those were not sober years. Drunkenness is found among a people who are bound to the order of religious or worldly Babylon. Everyone who lives in the realm of partial illumination or darkness is, in some degree or another, in a drunken state.
Drinking often takes place in the night. “For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night” (1 Thes. 5:7). The night is a dimension of life where the light of Christ’s life is diminished or altogether absent, for “if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him” (Joh. 11:10). In this state, our spiritual capacity to be vigilant and perceptive to the ever increasing coming of the Lord and to partake in the impartation of His life in our day-to-day diminishes. Without a sober-mind, one cannot behold Christ or grasp the truth He imparts. For this reason, Paul encourages us: “let us who are of the day be sober” (1 Thes. 5:8).
Praise God, with the Day has come our sobriety of mind – our spiritual awakening. This is why those who watch are called sons of light and sons of the Day and they are neither of the night nor in a state of spiritual intoxication or confusion. In them there shall be no night nor stumbling. Sons of the Day are now experiencing within their inner being the dawning of the Day of the Lord and the Sun of Righteousness rising in their hearts with healing in its rays. Dear saint, let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober – “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13).
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Col. 4:2).
Praying is a fundamental principle in our relationship with the Lord. Prayer is one of the first things we were taught when we began our walk with the Lord. And although we might have been taught about prayer or how to pray, few have imparted to us the essence of prayer. That’s why prayer has not only been mimicked or imitated but also misused and abused, often employed as a means to one’s end. But the supplication of the flesh is not prayer. Today, many have mastered the outward forms and procedures of prayer, be it in a service where prayer is used to hype the congregation or to show off one’s spirituality, oratory skills or scriptural knowledge. But our Lord has warned us of not praying to be seen by men or praying long prayer for a pretense.
Interestingly, in all the accounts of prayer in the days of His flesh, there is no record of Jesus asking for prayer or praying corporately with the disciples. In the hour of His deepest distress, would it not have been sensible to ask the disciples to pray for Him or for Him to band together with them in corporate prayer? On the contrary, He went up to the mountain to pray by Himself as it was customary for Him to do. To Peter, James, and John who went up with Him, He said: “Sit here while I go and pray over there… He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed” (Mat. 26:36,39). The Lord sought out those places of seclusion in His praying.
Herein is a lesson about prayer the Lord imparts to us – prayer is fundamentally an individual experience. Privately and alone, prayer is where we enter into contemplation of God and share in His visions, in fresh revelations of who He is, partake in fuller impartations of His wisdom, power and grace as we participate in the thoughts and purposes of heavenly things. And just as the coming of Christ in a believer’s life is a personal experience, so is prayer.
I am in no way contending against the value of corporate prayer. We witness corporate prayer among the disciples on various occasions. But every son of God must know God for himself/herself. What we learn from the pattern Son is that prayer is first and foremost an intimate and private experience. Thus, Jesus taught saying: “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” (Mat. 6:6).
There is a literal application to the instruction: “go into your room”. It can mean finding a private place to pray. As mentioned, Jesus Himself went away to those places of solitude to avoid the noise and distraction of the crowds. Prayer varies in scope and quality. As we will see, there is a physical positioning or posturing that may accompany our praying, just as we read that Jesus fell on His face to pray. But the essence of prayer goes much deeper than this.
Praying moves through all three realms of man’s existence, namely: the body, soul and spirit. Praying in the body is often associated with the utterance of words and ritualistic procedures including: closing the eyes, bowing one’s head, kneeling, clutching and raising hands, going to a private place, and so on. These are the forms and expressions of prayer that we are all too familiar with. The religious minded often associate the intensity and zeal of one’s prayer with the body realm, be it the multitude of words or external movements that accompany one’s praying. Thus, the person who is often kneeling, perhaps laid out on the ground covered in tears beseeching the Lord is considered a “prayer warrior”. And though these can be expressions of an inward supplication, intercession or communion, they are simply outward expression and not the heart and essence of prayer. There is yet a deeper and more intense reaching out to God that transcends this form of praying.
There is a new dimension to our praying that the Lord draws us into once we move past the body to put our soul in our praying. Here is where the desire, will, and emotions of our quickened soul is involved in our praying. When our soul is caught up into union with our spirit man, the mind of our spirit becomes the understanding of our soul. It is then that we enter into this quality of prayer. David wrote: “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray” (Isa. 55:17). The Hebrew word used here for prayer is “siyach”. It means to mediate, to muse, and ponder. The Psalmist writes: “I will meditate on Your precepts” (Psa. 119:78). This refers to a time alone with one’s own thoughts to ponder over the things of God. Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening (Gen. 24:63). This was a time alone, where Isaac did not voice words, kneel, or sing hymns. Rather, he remained in quiet reflection, immersed in deep contemplation, engaged with his thoughts, weighing one against another.
However, there is yet a dimension to our praying that moves even deeper. Paul writes: “I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also” (1 Cor. 14:15). It was regarding this dimension of prayer that Jesus spoke when He said: “when you pray, go into your room”. Here, there is an underlying message that goes beyond physical isolation. Some versions translate the word “room” as a “closet” or “secret chamber” or “inner room”. You see, it is in our inner room, in the innermost chamber of His temple (Most Holy) that we commune with the Father.
This secret place is the inner realm of our spirit. It is the spiritual realm of our Father’s dominion. This is not a place of oratory or showmanship or endless requests. It a place of stillness in His presence. It is in this praying that deep calls unto deep and our spirit joins in inner union with the Spirit of God. It is there that our Father hears us and answers us. This is the realm of His abode which the Lord calls a house of prayer. And so it is that those who enter into this level and quality of prayer dwell in the secret place of the Most High and abide under the shadow of the Almighty (Psa. 91:1).
Dear saint, the Lord desires to elevate us to this excellence of communion and intimacy with the Father. For this reason, He counsels each of us to go into our room and to shut the door. To “shut the door” is to close off the disruption of the natural mind. This door is the door of the fleshy consciousness of our carnal-minded man with its natural thoughts, imaginations, desires, ambitions, perceptions, and attitudes which interrupt our communion with the Father. When we pray with our door opened, our praying gets hijacked by the thoughts and imaginations of the mind of the flesh. I’m sure we can all attest to this persistent dilemma.
A paradigm shiftis now taking place in our prayer life. All the former practices and rituals we once knew and walked under are being let go. To those who have heard the call of sonship in this hour, one of the first things the Lord did in our prayer life was shut the door of the natural mind. It was then that we began to experience the quietness of the secret place. The practice and rituals of prayer we once knew are no more. The Lord has chosen to clean the slate by drawing us into a fresh intimacy and fellowship in the inner room. We are re-learning how to pray in this third realm in God. In this higher realm, there is a renewed commitment, a renewed consecration, a renewed faith, a renewed understanding, a renewed ministry and yes, a renewed prayer life, which are all by the mind of the spirit.
Praise be to His name!
Lord, teach me to have a renewed prayer life.
Amen! A prayer for us all.