[Exclusive] Building a House of Prayer, Status-Affirming Prayer

Building a House of Prayer

Eighteen Prayer Models for Approaching God’s Throne

Author | Dr. Joshua Young-Gi Hong

<Status-Affirming Prayer>

“A prayer is our key to our life all day, in the morning and evening. A prayer is the key to open the morning and lock the night.”—Billy Graham

An Identity-Affirming Prayer is a prayer of affirming your relationship with God. This prayer sheds light on who God is and who you are to Him. This prayer is a very effective prayer to make you distinguished in the eyes of God. An important purpose of prayer is not simply to get what you want but realizing who you are in the eyes of God.

The Holy Place of Prayer

In order to offer an Identity-Affirming Prayer, we have to know biblically who God is through mutual relationship. Calvin said in his book Christianity Synopsis, “We have to know God and who we are in the eyes of God in order to have a correct understanding about ourselves.”

The Bible basically describes that God is our Creator and we are His creation. Also, many relationships in the world portray our relationship with God. For example, a shepherd and his sheep, a grapevine and its branches, a potter and clay, a bridegroom and his bride all suggest our relationship with God. Now, we have to kneel before God humbly and set the order of our prayer for each relationship. As we more and more realize our identity before God, we will humbly confess God’s sovereignty and love.

The Holy Place of Prayer 1

A Prayer of St. Francis

We cannot be sure if St. Francis gave an Identity-Affirming Prayer personally. However, we are sure that he certainly knew the significance of this prayer. When he started his prayer, no one knew when it would end. One day, when he was concentrating on his prayer at a monastery, a guest came to visit him. He waited for St. Francis to finish his prayer, but St. Francis continued to pray well into the night. A worker at the monastery became curious of what St. Francis was praying, so he listened and heard St. Francis’ repeated prayer: “Oh, my Lord God! Who are you, and who am I? Oh, my Lord God! Who are you, and who am I?” He used to pray with this prayer all night. Whenever he prayed, he used to confess, “God, you are my everything!”

That’s right! God is our everything! We cannot exist apart from God. The purpose of this Identity-Affirming Prayer is to realize that we cannot continue our life once we leave God. It is very beneficial to understand our identity. Then, how can we offer the Identity-Affirming Prayer in practice? Here, let us meditate on our relationship with God with several examples.

The Holy Place of Prayer 2

Am I God’s Masterpiece?

First of all, God is Creator, and we are His creation. It’s written in the Bible, “Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3). Identity-Affirming Prayer emphasizes this kind of relationship with God. God is truly almighty as the one who created all the universe and the creatures on it. We can meditate on His mightiness first of all. If our God was not mighty, He could not have created this vast universe with such refinement and accuracy.

How vast is our universe? A star that can be seen by the best telescope developed by human hands is about twenty billion light years away. This is a distance that will take light, which can travel at the speed of 186,000 miles a second, twenty billion years to reach us from that star. However, this is only by inference, for no one can measure the width and distance of the universe. Here we can offer a deeply touched prayer while meditating on God’s vastness, almightiness, and greatness: “Lord, you are truly great. There is no one like you in this whole universe.”

Next, we can pray while meditating on God, who created us personally. It is written in the Bible: “Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16). And, Psalm 139:14 says: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” I am a unique masterpiece that God has created. We have to be deeply grateful for this fact and pray like this: “Lord, I am your great masterpiece. Thank you for creating me. Everything that is mine was created by you, my God. My past, present, and future all belong to you.”

We must understand that the fact that we are born of our nationality, born of our parents, born at this age, and that everything including our appearance, character, and talents as well as our environment are all part of God’s creation plan. We have to offer a prayer of thanksgiving and not complain about things given us. “Lord, you created me. I deeply appreciate everything that I have and enjoy.”

We have to offer a prayer to check on our obedience to God as His creature. The origin of mankind’s depravity was the arrogance of Adam and Eve. They did not want to acknowledge their Creator. Because of their arrogance, they disobeyed God’s commandment, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17).

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil has two implications. The first is to distinguish God the Creator from His creation, mankind. Although God gave humans the authority to rule over all creatures, Adam and Eve had to remember they were under God’s sovereignty. The second is that it was a sign and symbol of sharing personal fellowship of love with God. God did not create humans to be puppets that had to obey God automatically. God left this tree of knowledge of good and evil to endow mankind with a free will to follow His will or to follow their own will to go against the will of God. Because God loved mankind, He offered the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

The fact that we are God’s creation makes us remember that our life belongs to God. Additionally, it gives us a sense of responsibility to know the value of obedience and love for God in our own free will. How many times do we forget that we are God’s creation and live doing our own things? How often do we try to be the masters of our lives? Thus, we have to offer the following prayer from the bottom of our heart: “God our Father, you are my Creator and I belong to you. I am completely yours. Let me live a life of obedience to you.”

The Holy Place of Prayer 3

Receiving the Lord’s Spiritual Sap and Water

We can also pray while meditating on Jesus as the grapevine and us as the branches (Psalm 80:8-13; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 15:1-8; John 15:1, 5). Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Why do you think our relationship with Jesus was compared to a grapevine and its branches? That is to show that Christians become one in Jesus and are totally dependent on Jesus. A branch must remain in the vine to receive sap and water to sustain its life. The branch that does not remain in the vine is thrown into the fire. We have to confess that Jesus is the grapevine and we are His branches. In order to remain in the grapevine, we must remain in the Lord. We must pray like this: “Lord, you are my grapevine. Let me remain in you and you in me.”

When Hudson Taylor was spreading the gospel in China during the late nineteenth century, many people asked for his assistance. There were so many sick people to provide with medicine and so many people that needed home visits that finances for his ministry almost hit the bottom. Missionary Taylor was exhausted and almost on the verge of losing all hope when a letter arrived from his sister. The following was written in the letter:

“Brother, a few days ago, I meditated on the verse that the Lord is the grapevine and I am His branch. As a branch cannot live by itself, I realized that I cannot live without Him. I learned all my spiritual nutrition and strength can be attained only when I remain in the Lord. As long as I remain attached to the Lord, it seems that I do not have anything to worry about.”

Hudson Taylor, when read this letter, felt something that struck his heart. “Ah, that’s right. I have tried to do the ministry of God on my own up to now. The Lord is the grapevine, and I am His branch. So, all I have to do is to remain attached to the grapevine. The Lord will take care for me and use me to bear the fruit.” From that moment on, Taylor gained the strength to continue his ministry while asking God’s help. Soon after, many saints of the churches in the United States heard of Taylor’s ministry and needs. They kept supporting the ministry by sending numerous relief supplies and mission funds. Hudson Taylor solved many problems by the power of prayer only to experience the wonderful world of prayer. It was the result of realizing a very simple and yet profound spiritual truth—“the Lord is the grapevine, and I am His branch.”

That’s right. Let us pray for the Lord to provide us the living water of the Lord while meditating on the association between the grapevine and its branch.

The important purpose of a branch is to bear fruit. It is not a healthy branch if it does not bear fruit and will not remain a part of the grapevine. Here we can pray while thinking about many kinds of fruits of faith. Do I indeed have the fruit of love? Do I have the fruit of joy? Do I have the fruit of peace? I can offer a prayer to check if my Christian life is bearing a healthy fruit: “Lord, please help me as a branch of yours to bear fruit that you will enjoy. I cannot bear any fruit apart from you.”

The Holy Place of Prayer 4

A clean pot that the Lord uses

In the Identity-Affirming Prayer, we can pray while meditating on the fact that God is our potter, and we are His clay (Romans 9:21). Isaiah 64:8 says, “Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” The clay is shaped in any way that the potter wants.

Our potter, God, takes a lump of clay to shape it as He desires. He makes beautiful pots and ugly pots, large pots and small pots. Likewise, we are the pot made from the clay by our potter, God.

This analogy reveals God’s absolute sovereignty over us. God has the absolute sovereignty, and we have to follow and obey Him. If we let our lives be handled by our potter, God, He will surely make us into a precious and important pot. The pot’s shape is not as important as its cleanness, for God will use a clean pot as His vessel. The Bible speaks of this in the following: “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work” (2 Timothy 2:20-21).

We have to pray like the following: “God, there is nothing that I can do by myself. Only the Lord, the potter, can shape and make me into something useful. Everything that I have was given by you and belongs to you. Please cleanse me so that I can become a clean pot, and let this pot be filled with the Holy Spirit.” We can pray to be molded into a clean pot in a shape of honesty, love, and humility.

The Holy Place of Prayer 5

The Bride Like a Pure Gem

The Bible also says that the Lord is our bridegroom and we are His bride. It’s written in 2 Corinthians 11:2: “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.” What does this analogy of the Lord being our husband and we being His bride signify? The relationship between these two is of great intimacy out of love. As Christ is the head of the church, a bridegroom is the head of the bride. Thus, the bride must obey her bridegroom and respect him. On the same token, the bridegroom must protect and take care of the bride. We must think of the love of our husband, the Lord, and offer a prayer of thanks (Ephesians 5:25).

We must offer a prayer of examination on ourselves to see if we have committed spiritual adultery by infidelity to the Lord. If there is anything that we love more than the Lord, we must repent completely. No matter how beautiful and a great cook a wife is, she will not be forgiven if she is having extra-marital affairs. Likewise, if a husband is having an affair with another woman, this cannot be forgiven no matter how healthy and how much money he brings home. Likewise, if we have been possessed by anything other than our husband, the Lord, this is also idolatry and spiritual adultery.

There are many references in the Old Testament, including the Book of Hosea, that attest to Israel’s departure from God and spiritual adultery in the form of idol worship. How would our Lord, who loves us more than His life, feel if we loved something else more than Him? We have to return to the Lord and confess our love of the Lord: “Lord, you are my true husband. I want to confess my love for you. I have been possessed by something wicked. Please accept my repentance. From now on, I will live with you, the Lord, as my husband for ever.”

The Bible testifies that our husband, the Lord, will be coming back to stay with us forever. Thus, we have to make ourselves pure and prepare the oil of the Holy Spirit to greet our husband, the Lord. “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:3). We have to prepare ourselves for the day when our husband, the Lord, is coming back by sanctification. We have to give our best effort to offer a gem of purity as our gift.

Besides what has been described, there are many analogies in the Bible that describe our relationship with God such as the father and son (Philemon 1:3; Psalm 89:26), the mistress and her maid (Psalm 123:2), and the commanding officer and his soldier (2 Timothy 2:4). As we offer the Identity-Affirming Prayer more, we can have a greater understanding of who we are and who God is. When we affirm our identity in the Lord, we will no longer be shaken by temptations from the world. We will gain the strength to withstand and defeat Satan’s temptations. We can live the life of obedience to follow God’s will.

Checkpoint of Prayer

One thing to be aware of when giving this Identity-Affirming Prayer is that we have to offer a worship service of thanks and praise before delving into prayer. Because the power of Identity-Affirming Prayer depends on the ability to meditate on our relationship with God in a very intimate way, we have to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Also, we can pray while meditating on a couple of God-man relational metaphors in this book. For example, we can pray while thinking of the relationship between a bridegroom and a bride. It is also a good practice to choose which relationship we would like to meditate on before beginning our prayer.

Sweet Rain of Grace

The Identity-Affirming Prayer helps us learn how to humble ourselves in sincerity before God. This prayer can be a devotional prayer to offer ourselves entirely to God. People pursue such worldly values as knowledge, wealth, and fame to quench their thirst. However, they will soon face the reality of constant inner conflict. Jeremiah pointed out this fact clearly: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13). This is a very realistic analogy between our thirsty spirit and thwarted hope. We can learn that our thirsty spirits regenerate and that God is our only hope through an Identity-Affirming Prayer. This prayer helps us clearly realize what are the purposes and meaning of our life.

Praying Time

The duration of this Identity-Affirming Prayer can depend on how we meditate on our relationship with God. Nevertheless, if we spend six minutes for each relationship of the Creator and His creation (a shepherd and his sheep, a grapevine and its branch, a potter and his clay, a bridegroom and his bride), it will easily take a half hour.

Although we can pray and meditate on one relationship such as a grapevine and its branch for twenty to thirty minutes, we also need time to give thanks and praise before and after the Identity-Affirming Prayer. If we allocate five minutes before and after the Identity-Affirming Prayer for thanksgiving and praise, the time to give an Identity-Affirming Prayer may grow to forty minutes. If you pray as much as suggested, you will gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of your existence.

Closed Prayer Room

  • Identity-Affirming Prayer is a prayer of meditating on your relationship with God.
  • Examples of Identity-Affirming Prayer: “Lord, you are the grapevine, and I am your branch. I cannot do anything apart from you.” Or, “Lord, you are the potter, and I am your clay. Please shape me as you will.”
  • My Identity-Affirming Prayer:
  • The Order of an Identity-Affirming Prayer
    >> Praise (Hymn or Chorus).
    >> Confession of thanks
    >> Reading of my Identity-affirming Prayer
    >> Carrying out an Identity-affirming Prayer
  • Self-illumination
    >> Did I offer the prayer of thanksgiving and praise to God before starting the Identity-affirming Prayer?
    >> Did I ask for the leadership of the Holy Spirit before starting the Identity-affirming Prayer?
    >> Did I choose which relationship to meditate on beforehand?
    >> Am I trying and beginning to know who God is and who I am to Him?

One Last Word on Identity-Affirming Prayer

As we realize more fully our identity in relation to God, we will confess God’s sovereignty and love more humbly.

2 Comments

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