Prayer Is the Greater Work

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, October 17, 2012. Today is “National Pasta Day.” I can do that. In fact the Lean Cuisine meal I’m taking to work today has pasta in it. Cool.

On this date in 539 BC (didn’t they use a different calendar then??), Cyrus the Great marched into Babylon and released the Jews from exile, allowing them to return and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
On this date in 1771, the opera Ascanio in Alba premiered in Milan. It was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, at the age of 15.
The London Beer Flood occurred on this date in 1814. Nine people were killed. Really??
On this date in 1931, Al Capone was convicted of income tax evasion.
Albert Einstein fled Nazi Germany and moved to the U.S. on this date in 1933.
On this date in 1956, the first commercial nuclear power station was opened in Cumbria, England.
On this date in 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
On this date in 1989, a 7.1 earthquake occurred in the San Francisco Bay area, killing 63 people, and interrupting the 1989 World Series. They were in the warmup phase for game three, between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants.

Birthdays today include Arthur Miller, 1915, Rita Hayworth, 1918, Tom Poston, 1921, Evel Knievel, 1938, Earl Thomas Conley, 1941, Gary Puckett, 1942, Robert Jordan and Margot Kidder, 1948, Alan Jackson, 1958, Norm MacDonald, 1963, Ziggy Marley, 1968, Eminem, 1972, John Rocker, 1974.
Deaths of note on today’s date include Joey Bishop, 2007, Tennessee Ernie Ford, 1991, Julia Ward Howe, 1910, and Frederic Chopin, 1849.

We had a good Lifehouse meeting last night, during which we watched part of a Francis Chan series on DVD. The segment we watched last night was on fearing God. I really enjoyed it. I had never read or heard Chan until last night, and I was pretty impressed. I also noticed he sounds almost exactly like Owen Wilson. Maybe it’s just me.

Father, I pray that you would reveal yourself to me this morning. Teach me more about fearing you properly.

Today, I’m reading Psalm 119:161-168.

161 Sin and Shin. Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words.
162 I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.
163 I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law.
164 Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.
165 Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
166 I hope for your salvation, O LORD, and I do your commandments.
167 My soul keeps your testimonies; I love them exceedingly.
168 I keep your precepts and testimonies, for all my ways are before you.

In verse 162, the psalmist recognizes that God’s word is like finding great treasure. Perhaps I should follow his lead and praise the Lord “seven times a day.” Those who love God’s word have great peace available to them, and the second half of verse 165 is powerful. “…nothing can make them stumble.” Meditating on and following God’s word provides great strength for his people.

Today’s reading in My Utmost For His Highest is called “Greater Works.” The scripture reference is John 14:12, which says, Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. There have been many opinions offered as to what, exactly, Jesus meant by “greater works.” Here is the opinion of Oswald Chambers. “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.” Looking at the context of Jesus’s statement in verse 12, I pretty much agree with Chambers, here. And it is true that we do tend to think of prayer as preparation for the work. But what prayer really is is the “working of the miracle of Redemption in me…” And then, Chambers says this: “Only a child gets prayer answered; a wise man does not.”

It doesn’t matter where you are. I makes no difference where God has dumped me. My duty is to pray. God engineers the circumstances however he sees fit. I can’t afford to start thinking that “I am no use where I am.” Because I can “certainly be of no use where [I am] not.” We don’t want to pray unless we get thrills. It needs to be exciting. But that is “the intensest form of spiritual selfishness.” God’s directions are for us to pray.

It also doesn’t matter whether I can see results. That is the toughest part for me. I want to give up, because I don’t see anything happening; I don’t see results. “You labour at prayer and results happen all the time from His standpoint. What an astonishment it will be to find, when the veil is lifted, the souls that have been reaped by you, simply because you had been in the habit of taking your orders from Jesus Christ.” That last statement is one of those “goosebump” statements. You see, we have no idea what God is doing on the other side of our prayers! And it is not any concern of mine, what the results are, or what the answers are! My responsibility, nay, my privilege, is to obey Jesus Christ and pray! I thank God that he has counted me worthy of this task!

Father, I praise you, once again, for leading me down this path of prayer. I praise you, like the psalmist, for the treasures that I have found in your word. I pray that, as I continue down this path, I will find more and more treasure. I praise you for the security that is found by meditating on your word. May it be true in my life that, as I love your word, nothing will cause me to stumble. I also pray that you will instill more of this fear in me that was discussed last night. I believe that the “modern church” has lost this sense of fear of you and has tried to whitewash it as “respect” or “awe.” While we most definitely should be respectful and be in awe of you, I do believe that there is a sense of true fear that should be present, as well. Everything that you are is infinitely higher than anything that I am, and I am 100% certain that, should I come face to face with you at this very moment, I would have no choice but to fall on my face in absolute terror. I am certainly not better than Isaiah or the apostle John, who both fell down in your presence, as though dead, in terror of being killed by your very presence. Who am I to think that I would do any differently? I am nothing, Father, and I am actually grateful for that truth. I rejoice in being poor in spirit.

I thank you for the promise of Jesus that we, your children, would do “greater works.” And may you make us faithful to do so. I do believe that at least part of this greater work is prayer. And I agree that prayer is not preparation, but it is the task at hand. Keep me faithful to pray daily. Keep me in an attitude of prayer throughout the day. Not to the neglect of daily duties, such as the work that I owe my employer, but in addition to, even while I am performing those tasks, I can still pray to you. Give me direction in my prayer, especially when someone comes to mind, placed there by your Holy Spirit. Make me faithful to be sensitive to the needs of others, and help me identify with your interests in other people as I pray. I don’t want to just pray for blessings on people. I want to pray your will for them, and I would see everyone for whom I pray drawn into your heart, and saved by your grace.

This prayer will continue on my drive to work. There is much more I need to ponder on this subject.

I pray for this day. I continue to knock on heaven’s door concerning the pain Christi is experiencing. I pray that you would heal her, Father. Take away the thing that is causing the pain in her foot and leg, Lord. I pray for her work day today, that it would be not stressful. Fill her with your Spirit; surround her with your embrace, that any stressful situation might reflect off of her. May you live through her today. I pray for Stephanie today, that you would fill her with your love and mercy and grace. Give her purpose as she lives today. Inspire her to pray and meditate on your words. Give her wisdom. I pray for my work day today, that it might be productive and successful, without issues or stress. Live through me today, Jesus!

Prayer is not preparation for the greater work; prayer IS the greater work!

Grace and peace, friends.