I will be the first one to say that I have pretty much never been consistent in prayer.
I was always one of those people that was aware of its importance...but just didn't have the attention span or the motivation to actually make it happen. Because of the attention span thing, I used to journal my prayers. But when I didn't have motivation to sit down and journal, chances are I didn't pray much.
All that to say - my heart has been crazy changing about prayer recently.
We are doing two different studies on prayer in our youth/college bible studies - one is called Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick, and the other is When God's People Pray by Jim Cymbala. I am also reading the book Radical by David Platt. The study by Jim Cymbala & the book Radical have both been blowing my mind about the way I (and my team) should be doing ministry.
So often I have come from a place of ministry where you get together, plan a bunch of stuff. Strategize how to have the best events, how to get the most kids to show up, how to be relatable, what cool funny things you can do, how to make Jesus attractive in that....and so we sit around plotting. Discussing. Even arguing over what we think is best. We have all these meetings that are steeped in just that. Strategizing. And then we pray at the end of it. We pray for our events to go well. We pray small prayers over logistics of the events, we pray over all our plans. And we add in some prayers for our students.
What I am realizing...is how RIDICULOUS this is.
In Radical, as Platt is talking about the start of the church in the book of Acts, and as he talks about the disciples huddled together in the upper room, he says this:
"So what are they doing? They are not plotting strategies. They are 'joined together constantly in prayer." They are not busy putting their faith in themselves or relying on themselves. They are pleading for the power of God, and they are confident that they are not going to accomplish anything without his provision."
That paragraph hit me hard. Sometimes I think we can get so caught up in the gifts we have been given that we start to rely on ourselves, and we convince ourselves sometimes that it's okay because God has given us these gifts and therefore it is still God's work.
But no. God gave the disciples all kinds of gifts. Yet here they are, "joined together constantly in prayer." And I highly doubt they were praying small prayers. I doubt they were sitting around praying for no technical difficulties, that the worship would sound just right, that God would give them the financial resources to be culturally "cool." No. My guess is they were sitting around crying out in desperation as they realized their limited ability apart from Him. My guess is they were sitting around praying for God's POWER.
I think one of the reasons that I was never consistent in prayer is because sitting around praying little, monotonous prayers was never attractive to me. It almost felt like another chore at the end of another meeting. But I think my heart was on to something. Because when we realize how helpless we are...when we realize how little of power we have in ministry when compared to relying on the power of God...we can't help but be moved to pray. To pray BIG, passionate prayers. To pray for the impossible.
It's a risky thing, praying big prayers on a regular basis. It might open our eyes to some "crazy" vision for our lives, or lead us to take some "crazy" action. It will probably call us to be obedient in ways that we've never been.
But I think the flip side is riskier. Scarier. To never pray big prayers. To miss out on the true, amazing power of the Lord in anything we do in our lives. What is our ministry...what is our journey if it isn't marked by total dependence on Him? What, then, is the point of even knowing him?
I don't want to miss it. I want to be dependent on the Holy Spirit and its power every day of my life. I want to be ready for bold visions and actions and be ready to be obedient in radical ways. I want my ministry to be birthed out of powerful prayers, not out of good planning.
At the end of that chapter in Radical, Platt says,
"It is the way of Christ. Instead of asserting ourselves, we crucify ourselves. Instead of imagining all the things we can accomplish, we ask God to do what only he can accomplish. Yes, we work, we plan, we organize, and we create, but we do it all while we fast, while we pray, and while we constantly confess our need for the provision of God. Instead of dependence on ourselves, we express radical desperation for the power of his Spirit, and we trust that Jesus stands ready to give us everything we ask for so that he might make much of our Father in the world."
I want to do ministry that way. I also want to do life that way. May every day of my life and my ministry be a day that is born of the overflow of passionate prayers for God's power and love. And may I live my life in a way that makes much of my Father in the world.
If this post causes you to do anything, I hope that it causes you to put down your phone or computer...to take even five minutes...and pray to a Holy, powerful God who can do infinitely more than you ever could alone.