Ok Project veterans and prospective Project participants—it’s a new year, a new start, a new opportunity to pursue intimacy with Jesus! So, wake up those prayer bones, make a fresh commitment to the guidelines we have learned together, and let’s pursue the fragrance of intimacy with Jesus together!
Want something to spark your prayer time today? Do these three things:
Ponder the reckless love of God
Worshipfully watch the two videos included in the post linked above
I have been struggling lately in prayer and not able to pinpoint the problem.
There’s not always a problem just because you don’t feel a certain way in prayer. The lack of emotion in your prayer time is not always a reliable indicator of how your prayer time is going. Think about it: My connection to those closest to me does not disappear just because I have a day where I don’t feel emotionally close to them or am distracted by the details of life. Genuine love and intimacy persist through such temporary things. But after a while, if things don’t get back to normal, it is wise to prayerfully examine your own heart and thinking.
In my case, I️ have been suspecting that the problem was distraction. Not phones ringing, or interruptions, but, in this case, a competing distraction.
This particular distraction is noble, useful, and, in my case, done for upright reasons. Yet, because it is something I️ also happen to enjoy immensely, it can be a distraction.
I️ have been praying for a few weeks now, asking the Lord to show me what He would have me do about this noble distraction. I feel that He gave me Philippians 3:7-8 (which you can see in context in the attached graphic).
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.As a result, I am examining the distraction in light of what really matters. Will He teach me to pursue this noble activity in a different way or give it up altogether? If He has me to give it up, what will have me do instead? Perhaps it is the doing that is the problem! We will see. For now, I am still wrestling but I understand the struggle now and will continue to pray about it until He wins!
The following are two journal entries from Amber Floridia. Amber participated in The Daily Prayer Project online and has stayed with it ever since! She posts every week about her prayer times and I asked her to share something I could post. Be blessed by this glimpse into the spiritual pursuit of this precious young lady.
As soon as I opened my eyes this morning I heard what sounded like a choir of women singing, “Obedience to the Lord brings forth many blessings.” Hallelujah! As I was worshiping Him this morning I was singing “Not in a hurry” by Will Reagan. As I was singing to Jesus I saw a sick man and I felt Him remind me of Matthew 25:40&45. I felt Him say don’t be in a hurry to spend time with the sick, the hurting, the dying, the lost etc. Thank you Jesus for Your words! Please help me to not be in a hurry when the opportunity comes up to help those like in Mathew 25:35-36. In Jesus’ name amen!
Later on today as I was getting ready to leave I was walking around my house I was praying for my Grandpa and his aid. I was rushing on my way out to get a pedicure. But my grandpa’s nurse’s car was blocking me in the driveway. So I kindly went to her to ask her to move it for me and when she came back we got to talking about her situation. She was telling me how badly she needed prayer and that she was tired of people saying they would pray for her and then not do it. I told her how the Lord already led me to pray for her from my house that morning and I got to pray for her right then and there and she was so grateful. Then we started talking about how awesome Jesus is and how when she gets to heaven and sees Jesus face to face she’s going to dance and dance. I told her I’m going to just sob and sob at His feet and then dance around. Thank you Jesus for already giving me and opportunity to love on people who are hurting and feel lonely! Wow!
At the Table tonight we were singing “Good Good Father” a song I’ve probably heard/sung a thousand times. Tonight though was different. We got up to the verse “love so undeniable I, I can hardly speak. Peace so unexplainable I, I can hardly think.” And I couldn’t even finish singing the verse because I felt His love fall on me in such a strong way I just started laughing out of joy. Then the laughter turned into sobs of Joy and I fell onto my knees and just sobbed and laughed out of joy and His overwhelming love. It was so amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever felt His love that strongly before and I’ll never forget it! Then Olga challenged us to not hold back in our worship to Him because He deserves it! And I thought to myself YEAH HE DOES! So I danced around the room and didn’t hold back or care about anyone else in the room but Jesus.
After writing all of these things in my journal I realized that the conversation I had with my grandpa’s aid about meeting Jesus face to face in Heaven came full circle at the Table. Me falling at His feet sobbing and then dancing around. That actually happened! Right here on earth! As I realize this I feel Him telling me that there’s no better time to worship Him and love Him with all our hearts than right here and now. Spirit to spirit. He lives in us so why should we wait to worship Him face to face? (Romans 8:11, Galatians 2:20) Why wait until we get to Heaven? (1 Peter 2:9)
Sometimes in the Project someone will describe the difficulties they had in praying the week before every day/set time/set place, and I remind them “that’s why I named the book ‘Contending for the Habit of Daily Prayer.” It is a daily battle.
When you have had to struggle for prayer or you feel you have been attacked by the enemy because of prayer, don’t be surprised! That’s contending!
Somewhere along the way congregations began worshiping through applause. I don’t mean clapping of hands in the Spirit as a personal expression of praise, victory, etc. I mean, as an audience, expressing appreciation (presumably to God and not the singer, etc.) through corporate applause.
According to Eusebius in his Church History, various pastors wrote an epistle reprimanding the activities and behaviour of Paul of Samosota saying that “he rubukes and insults those who do not applaud, and shake their handkerchiefs as in the theaters.”(Book VII, Chapter XXX, par. 9)
My own sense of the modern origin of this is that it began to arise in the average local Pentecostal church in imitation of what its congregants were seeing on the television when they would watch Jim Bakker and PTL, or Jimmy Swaggart in his big preaching campaigns. I assume that the applause in those settings was a natural byproduct of what a large audience does when it collectively experiences something that it likes, enjoys, or approves of. (For a lengthy treatment of the history of applause go here) All I know is that when I was a child it was not common for congregations to applaud in a way that it is today.
Here’s why I am bringing this up in the first place. I am in no way saying congregations shouldn’t applaud great points in sermons, etc. But my concern is that applause is a praise and worship shortcut. It relieves me of the need to say anything specific or intentional about the awesomeness of God. This applies to those in The Daily Prayer Project in that one of the comments I am beginning to hear a lot is “What do I say while I am pursuing intimacy with God?”
We have for too long assumed that God only wants us so that He can put us to work. In response to that erroneous idea, we have only pursued intimacy to the level of trying to cultivate obedience. But intimacy with God is not, in its deepest places, about doing something for God but is rather about being with God in the deepest places of our soul.
Let me end this beginning discussion of intimacy by asserting this: There is praise where we say great things about and to God. There is worship where we move beyond praise to surrender. Then there is the pursuit of intimacy. Think on all of this for awhile.
Ok, this is the accountability page. It’s going to help you to continue developing the habit of daily prayer. Here’s how it will work—
Every Monday morning, come to this post and in the comments section simply answer the four questions:
Did you pray every day last week? (if you DID NOT are you able to identify the things that hindered you?)
When you did pray, was it at a set time?
Was it in a set place?
Was your first priority intimacy with Jesus?
Once you have posted your answers, tell us how your prayer week went.
THEN join with me in reading the posts and offering insights and encouragement!
Brace yourself! Rae is transparent and straight forward, but if you can handle that, she is also sincere. I liked this post when I saw it. So, Daily Prayer Project students check it out.
I’m not saying it replaces what we have been talking about. But, as a way of pursuing intimacy with Jesus, this can fit into your time in the Secret Place.
It may be that you are really making an effort to cultivate “your secret life in God” as Bob Sorge puts it in his book The Secrets of the Secret Place, but maybe not everybody else in your home is ready for it yet. That is not uncommon. Click here for an excerpt from Contending for the Habit of Daily Prayer, Revised and Expanded concerning spiritual legitimacy. That may or may not be going so well. However, there is no need to argue or to defend yourself. As you pursue intimacy with Jesus and as you cultivate the Secret Place, your life will begin to take on the fragrance of having been with Jesus. Look for that fragrance to attract your family and friends, especially those who observe you actually making time for the pursuit of Jesus in the Secret Place. Yes, in some cases, that fragrance may repulse others who encounter it. But, in most cases, others are going to want what you have! Just keep pursuing intimacy with Jesus and let God work on your friends and family
Matthew 6:6 says,
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
“Go into your room”
The word for room is ta-meh-ee-on (ταμεῖόν), “room, store room, barn, etc.,” suggesting that it refers simply to a common room. And yet, when we make it a place for prayer, it becomes a common room made uncommon by the fact that the Father is there! He sees what goes on there in secret and rewards us.
“Sometimes we talk about waiting on the Lord. How long has He been waiting for you in the Secret Place?”
There is precedent in Scripture for this concept of God meeting in secret with His children.
In both Psalm 25:14 and Amos 3:7 we get insight into God’s desire to confide in those with whom He has a covenant. Have you ever considered that Almighty God might want to confide in you?
Psalm 25:14 says,
The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.
In the Hebrew, the word here for “confide” is Strong’s (5475) “sode” which means, “a session, i.e. company of persons (in close deliberation); by implication intimacy, consultation, a secret:—assembly, counsel, inward, secret (counsel).”
So, we could rephrase this verse to say, “The Lord is intimate with those who fear him” or “The Lord consults with or shares secrets with those who fear him”
Amos 3:7 says, Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets. In this verse, “sode” is translated “secret counsel.”
The Secret Place
The Secret Place, far from being simply a place where we share our laundry list of needs with God, is a place of intimacy and secret counsel with God! Sometimes we talk about waiting on God but how long has He been waiting for you in the Secret Place?
 Strong, J. (2009). A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Vol. 2, p. 82). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.