Sunday, December 11, 2011
A Night of Prayer, Ministry, and Impartation in Gaithersburg
Our hearts are filled with thankfulness this morning as we meditate on the goodness of the Lord!
We came to Gaithersburg with an open-ended sense of expectancy that our Father would do a significant work this weekend. And we have not been disappointed. In fact, even before our time here is over, we are already seeing the fruit in our lives. This morning Debbie and I enjoyed an extended time of prayer together at a depth I can't remember happening for quite some time. We were deeply impacted by last night's message on prayer from our friend Terry Virgo.
A short history here: my recent journey really began with a sermon I heard from Terry in 2004 at a Sovereign Grace Ministries Celebration event at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. The message "Fight the Good Fight of Faith" set my barren soul on fire. And it began a process of activation in the spirit that continues to this day. So when I heard Terry was coming to the states to speak at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, I began praying for the opportunity to visit. Prayer answered.
When this message is posted on CLC's website I will put a link here so you may receive the blessing personally.
For now I will share my notes from what Terry communicated about prayer:
Jesus was given to prayer, continually withdrawing from the endless demands of people to be with his Father. Likewise, we need to find a place, close the door and shut the world out to do the same.
We're praying to our Father. This speaks of an intimacy with Him, a Father who knows our needs. In the new covenant, it is a revolutionary awareness of intimacy.
Terry then went into a history of God's people and prayer beginning with
Genesis 4:26: "people began to call up on the name of the Lord."
Elijah withdrew from everything shaping his life, into a cave. The Lord met him. He prayed based on the promises of God and his prayers lined up with His sovereign purpose.
The Lord told us to "ask and receive that our joy may be full". He also told us we did not choose him, He chose us, so this makes us God appointed askers.
So we withdraw from the crowd, we pray the will of God, and then we pray fervently. Don Carson speaks of "praying ourselves into prayer". Paul wrote about praying with the power the Father put in me. It is in praying that the Lord stirs the necessary sense of urgency to pray.
We also need to pray together, conversationally in a theme until we know that the matter is left with him. Terry reminded us of Jacob wrestling with the angel. Jacob was not going to let go until he received a blessing.
Another insightful thing shared was Moses' relationship with God, the way he essentially argued with the Lord. God told Moses to go down and deal with his people who he led out of Egypt... people who had corrupted themselves. Moses counters by saying, "Lord those are your people". Ultimately the Lord threatens to wipe out the people and start over with Moses. Moses essentially argues with the Lord and appeals to his concern for the Lord's reputation if he gave up on the people. Moses' prayer prevails. The people are spared. Effective prayer is the conflict of will against will.
Terry referenced how often we hear talk of "walking with God and friendly talk with him.". This is also in the same category as minimizing prayer by saying "I pray all the time." While there is some value in this, there is no substitute for times in the prayer closet.
We were also reminded of the fact that Elijah prayed fervently. This is an active exercise of personal relationship. Importunity: we pray and pray and don't give up. Terry talked about how our prayer can be like the naughty boy who rings the doorbell and runs away. In contrast, we pray with the attitude that we won't go away until there's a release. Jesus praises persistence.
We also must avoid diluting our prayers with "if it is your will". We pray with confidence. We are a priestly base for God's heavenly power. All power and authority is in Jesus. So we pray with that in mind. When the apostles were arrested they prayed for more boldness. They refused to stop in the face of persecution. They prayed for more of what got them in trouble! The church prayed and Peter was released from prison.
Prayer is the greatest way the church does its work. It is true muscle power. Terry ended by quoting Don Carson, who says much prayer is not done because we don't plan to pray.
So now, this is what we now purpose in our heart to do: to plan to pray, and to encourage others to do the same.
Here is a link where you can listen to or download Terry's Message "Formidable Power in Prayer".
A Word about Covenant Life
Those who are familiar with Sovereign Grace Ministries know that there is a great deal of upheaval underway involving the leadership of the organization. My "SGM Chronicles" series is addressing the foundational issues that I believe brought the organization to this place. What I have not spoken into before was a work underway in at least SGM church that I would appeal to every believer to encourage and pray into. It really begins with one man, Joshua Harris. While as an outsider, I've observed other "leaders" posturing, defending themselves and the organization, and doubling down on manipulation, deception, and control, Josh is a man who started with repentance. Once the current crisis began this past summer, as SGM leadership started a process of "reconciliation", Josh told the congregation at Covenant Life that it was time to repent and cry out to God. I knew right away there was a different spirit at work in him. That same heart continued in a recent family meeting at CLC as a process of reform was discussed. Now after seeing Josh face to face, I can testify that what I see is a man who is after God's heart. In the short time we visited I can tell you he is humbling himself before God and others in a genuine way. Pray for this man. This is a challenging season for Joshua. But I'm confident the Lord will prevail.