"And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness." Acts 4:31....."If prayer isn't vital for your church, than your church isn't vital....If you can accomplish your church's mission without daily, passionate prayer, then your mission is insufficient and your church is irrelevant." Francis Chan...."Everything is going to be shaken in earth and in heaven, with a view of finding out just how much of Christ there is in it." T. Austin-Sparks

I think many would read the above Scripture and quote from Chan and say they are seeking to live out Acts 4:31, and that Chan's words couldn't apply to them, but is that really so? I've always seen myself as a person of prayer, and I've taken part in countless kinds of prayer groups and movements. Two things have always stood out; I never beheld the places where we gathered to be shaken, and second, beneath the prayer was nearly always a flesh centered motive. And I didn't stand apart from any of it. There was more than a little of my own flesh and agenda.

Back in the late 90's I became involved with a lot of fellow pastors and leaders in coming together in unified prayer. Much of the intent of that was good, but mixed in with most of us was a fleshly desire as well. Rather than unified prayer being the means of bringing us together before Him in worship, awe, adoration, and surrender, too many, myself included, saw it as a tool to get Him to grant us what we most wanted. Usually that meant increasing the size of our fellowships. Yes, we desired to see people saved, the Kingdom advancing, and God being lifted up, but mixed in with that was a yearning to see our kingdom advanced and our name being lifted up. Prayer became just another item in trying to make something happen, instead of just being a heart desire to know and experience Him. The unspoken in it all was "We've tried everything else, let's try prayer." Small wonder that the buildings we were in didn't shake, and we were fooling ourselves if we really felt such prayer was seen as vital and passionate for Him in the eyes of the One we prayed to.

Much of what is being taught about prayer these days seems to involve getting a group of people to pray for the work and mission of the church. This is good and right on the surface, but my experience is that most often the prayer comes after the establishing of the agenda to be prayed for. In other words, goals are laid out, and then people are gathered together to pray for the reaching of those goals. And too often, those goals come from our heart, not His. We're trying to move the hand of God without ever taking hold of His heart. In His mercy, He may answer in part, but we never experience the fullness of what He wants to bring to our lives and fellowships. That is far and away what He most wants us to realize in prayer. When was the last time we did, either corporately or alone?

True and overcoming prayer comes first to Him and His cross. It's there that the self life, with all of it's agenda must die. It's there that we discover the heart desires of the King for His people and Kingdom. It's there that He is lifted up and there that He draws people to Himself. We die, He lives, and the Kingdom flourishes. God and His will are on display and we're hidden. If we, the church, can ever reach such a place in Him, not only will our buildings shake, so will the earth around us. Are you hungering for such a shaking? Even when what is most shaken is you?

Blessings,
Pastor O

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