[Exclusive] Building a House of Prayer, Introduction, Series #2

 

Building a House of Prayer

Eighteen Prayer Models for Approaching God’s Throne

Author | Dr. Joshua Young-Gi Hong

<Introduction> Series #2

 

 

Restoring Our Relationship with the Lord

  The simplest definition of prayer is a personal meeting with God. It is a fellowship of love with the Lord. A prayer means enjoying time with the Lord.

  If your loved one comes to you asking for money, you will gladly loan him or her the money and make the person happy. If the same person, however, repeatedly comes to you with unending demands, you will feel as though he or she merely takes advantage of you to satisfy personal greed. Our fellowship with God is the same. We are used to petitionary prayers in asking God to satisfy our needs or even our greed. Of course, He gladly wants to provide us with what we need out of His infinite love; but the more important thing is our personal encounter with God. He should not be a source of our material, social, or political gain but should be the object of our gratitude, praise, and love. Lack of conversation with God is the cause of spiritual lukewarmness and laxity. The Christian life without fellowship with God is like a marriage without conversation. If there is no conversation, how could a personal relationship develop?

  An earnest prayer will develop an intimacy with God. Nowadays, modern society has greater interest in spirituality. However, having such widespread interest does not mean people become more spiritual or have a deeper fellowship with God. If we simply define Christian spirituality, it would be “intimacy with God.” When we say a person has a strong spirituality, we mean that the person has an intimate relationship with God.

  Our forefathers—Abraham, Samuel, Moses, and countless other people of faith—faced and knew God. They heard God’s words and had a deep fellowship with Him. In this world, people who have connections with powerful figures are influential. Likewise, a person who is close to the King of kings has much spiritual power.

  A prayer is the root of a tree that bears spiritual fruit. We should be a tree with a deep root. We may appear to have good faith and live successfully. However, if we do not place our priority in having intimacy with God, then our root of life will be shaken.

  English missionary Leslie Strokes once told this story regarding the importance of spiritual roots: “A long time ago, there was a tree that looked beautiful, lovely, powerful, and gracious. However, we should not trust the outside appearance. In reality, the tree was losing its strength. If the wind blew too hard, the tree was shaken with fear. There was a sound of the bark being torn away. The tree tried to shoot out a new branch to cover up its weakness. Then, it looked a little stronger and safer.

  “A storm came upon the tree. The tree was almost uprooted. And if it were not for the tree beside it, it would have displayed a miserable scene of it being turned upside down. The tree now had to lean a little bit to the side, but it sprang a new root with time. Then, it had a curiosity toward the tree besides it. The tree next to it withstood the storm without any damage. ‘How could you be rooted firmly on the ground and even help me out?’ The neighboring tree replied, ‘It’s easy. While you were shooting out a new branch, I was springing out a deeper root.’”

That’s it! A prayer makes our spiritual life stronger and firmer.

  Prayer helps us to support others and bear many fruits. Thus, the Bible commands us to pray continuously. In Luke 18:1, Jesus told His disciples “a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” The Apostle Paul told the Romans, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12). He told the Colossians, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2). Again, he told the Ephesians, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18).

  If we are not alert and faithful, we cannot learn how to pray. We cannot develop our intimacy with God. We have to give our heart and time to learn how to pray. If we know the benefit and blessing of prayer, we will devote ourselves even more on learning how to pray. The Bible promises us that God will come near us when we go near to God—“Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8). Getting closer to God requires training.

 

A Great Prayer Is the Reward for Our Sweat and Tears

  When we look carefully at the Olympic medalists, we see two distinct characteristics. One is that they have a dream to win the gold medal, and the other is their dedication throughout many training sessions. In the last Asian Games, South Korea won a gold medal in a non-popular sport, Sepaktakraw. To be honest, I had not known of that sport prior to the South Korean victory. South Korea defeated Thailand, the country of its origin, through strict training. Journalists described this unusual event as “a glory that was won with a scar” (Chosun Daily News, October 2, 2002).

  Because Sepaktakraw was totally an unfamiliar sport, the players were determined to win the gold medal. Then, they devoted themselves to training. During the training, the players literally threw themselves in the air to create scenes that looked almost like a Chinese martial art. Of course, they had to endure many wounds and calluses.

  The players were constantly hit on the same spot with the Sepaktakraw. Their skin was torn and cut, creating lacerations. This is regarded as a customary practice for a Sepaktakraw player. Because these players endured so much pain during training, they beat Thailand and won the glory of a gold medal.

  The most glorious thing for a Christian is to know the King of kings and Lord of lords. If getting intimate with God is the goal of our life, we should try to be near Him at any cost. We have to learn and try many methods to come forward to God. The Apostle Paul said the following in regard to the importance of self-training, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).

  The Apostle Paul is stressing the dream for the glorious crown and the importance of self-training. An effective prayer needs self-control and training. This also requires an effective method. Learning must be accompanied by manuals and proper methodology. When you buy a computer and install a word processor program, there is a manual to guide you. When you follow the instructions in the manual, you will be able to use the program easily. Prayer is the same. Many forerunners of faith learned effective prayer methods through struggle and taught them to others. Ironically, many churches today do not offer prayer training program.

  Up until now, I have visited many churches in South Korea and abroad to examine them and learn from them. What I found was that they stress the importance of praying without instructing their members how to pray. While the faithful realize the need to pray, they often come to a dead-end when trying to pray. They just do not know how to pray. Churches should teach their members how to pray through a prayer training school. The faithful should be taught so that they can pray by themselves. Not only should they come to the prayer meetings of the church, but they should also know how to pray in private. We have to teach them so that they can open their spiritual eyes to look at God and to cleanse their soul and spirit for sanctification.

  The more we learn how to pray the more we will experience the joy of discovering the world of prayer. Only when we pray according to the trained methods will we have a true desire to pray more. As we learn and apply proper techniques of prayer in personal life, we will experience the benefit and blessing of prayer. The more we pray, the healthier our spirit will be. We will enjoy being together with God.

 

To be Continued…

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