Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Weapon & A Tryst

I’ve been reading a book on Spiritual Warfare called Born for Battle by R. Arthur Matthews.  Matthews was a MK (missionary kid) in China, and returned as an adult, surviving four years under house arrest (along with his wife and baby) when the Communists took over.  He died in 1978 at age 66.

Born to Battle is published by OMF International, (formerly China Inland Mission).  Both his parents and Matthews worked for this organization.  My dear friend, Megan, is going on staff with them, so when I saw the publisher, I knew I had to give it a try!  I’m so glad I did!!
Today I read the chapter entitled, “The Cutting Edge” which was all about the importance of prayer.  When I read a book, I underline sentences, circle words, put stars and exclamation points as well as words like Ouch and Amen in the margins. 
This chapter was powerful, and I got to the point where I quit underlining individual lines and started bracketing entire paragraphs.  I thought I’d share some of it with you, here because it’s just too good not to share!
Matthews begins the chapter with this quote from P.T. Forsyth:
“Prayer is a weapon, a mighty weapon in a terrible conflict.  Our prayers are to be a continual, conscious, earnest effort of battle, the battle against whatever is not God’s will.” 
How often do I think of prayer in this way?  I’m afraid, not too often.  I say the words, Your will be done, but do I understand that there is an enemy who seeks to see God’s will un-done?  When I pray, am I engaging in battle, or reciting platitudes and weak sentiments?
“Without prayer and waiting on God for Him to reveal His will, our well-meant attempts may look impressive, but they have no power to move towards God’s goals.  
This one got an “Ouch!” in the margin!  I’ve got big plans and ideas for what I want to see God do in El Callejon… But, am I taking the time to wait and hear what His will is, what His goals are?
“'So many of us pray because we are driven by need rather than kindled by grace.  Our prayer is a cry rather than a hymn.  It is a quest rather than a tryst.  It trembles more than it triumphs.  It asks for strength rather than exerts it.’”
Forsyth again.  I thought this was so beautiful – and so convicting!  When I pray, how often am I driven by need instead of kindled by grace?  I know at times it is appropriate for our prayers to be cries, but in light of all His blessings, shouldn't they be hymns?  A tryst sounds a bit risqué, but if God is truly the ‘lover of our souls’, shouldn’t our time with Him be full of love and intimacy? 
“The central significance of prayer is not the things that happen as results.  Its significance is in the deepening intimacy and unhurried communion with God at His central throne of control.” 
More “Ouches” for this one!  Is my motivation to pray because I want and need God to do things, or to have that deep, unhurried time with Him?
“It is only from that place of closest intimacy that we may learn what the will is that we are to pray will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 
It almost seems to be a contradiction to say that prayer is both a powerful weapon and an invitation for a tryst.  To me, though, that is how God works time and again. 
The more time I spend with God, in prayer and in His Word, the more I learn about His heart for the world, the more I see His holiness and glory.  As I do so, I find the more deeply I desire that His will is done.  This strengthens my resolve to be a part of His Kingdom breaking into all places on earth.
Oh, Father, thank you for the gift – and the weapon! – of prayer.  Forgive me for blunting its edges through hurrying, through only using it as a way to get my plans done. 
Increase in me a desire for intimacy with You.  Please help me to seek to know You more and more so that I can join in the terrible conflict against all that is not Your will.  Forgive me for being more concerned with comfort than with engaging the enemy. 
Father, may Your will be done, and may I be a part of seeing Your Kingdom come!

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