|DEEPER IN PRAYER: THE NEED FOR INTIMACY AND URGENCY
As we move ever nearer to the day when the Desire of Nations, Jesus Christ, makes His appearance on the earth, invading the planet in an unimaginable display of power and splendor to establish His Kingdom on the earth, it is increasingly necessary to grow deeper in our understanding and practice of prayer.
Over the past eight years, I have been traveling all over the earth declaring the message of a beautiful God with a heart that burns with passion for His people—His sons and daughters who are being prepared as the Bride of Christ. As I’ve done so, I’ve observed a reality that interests me but also concerns me. Many followers of Jesus have had their hearts refreshed in wonderful ways as they have heard this message. New understandings of the tenderness of God’s love as our Father have emerged, and many have been refreshed in their perception of Jesus as a passionate Bridegroom. I have heard countless stories of how the hearts of individuals have been strengthened in the love of Jesus, and how they have gained perspective on the journey of life that they have engaged. For all this I am very grateful, and I feel the pleasure of God over these things.
However, even as I rejoice over the reality of deeper experience that has come to many, I have also seen a tendency to stop pursuing deeper levels of intimacy and authority once the felt need of our thirsty and broken condition is addressed. It’s as though the new thing is wonderful, but when the initial sense of desperation is met, there is no real motivation to press beyond that introductory state into something even deeper and more compelling. I’ve mused on this dynamic much, in my own life as well as in the lives of others that I’ve ministered to.
The conclusion I’ve come to is this. We followers of Jesus, living as we do in the 21st Century version of Western civilization, need more than merely the promise of intimacy and joyous experience in prayer. We tend to take a portion of that, add it to our already overflowing menu of stimulating items that comprise our daily lives, and go from day to day basically content with only a little more than we had when we felt so broken and dry. Like the Biblical Esther after her rescue from the refugee camp, we find the Bridal Chamber so much more comfortable and lovely than our former condition, but we really have very little sense of the destiny and calling that rests upon us, that calls us to move further up and further into the purposes of God for our lives.
We need more than the message of intimacy by itself. We need the urgency that comes to us through considering the agenda of Jesus at the end of the age, and the place of authority and partnership He is determined to give to us as His Bride. Here’s the point-blank reality of it. There is a Man in heaven named Jesus who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. He earned it, He is worthy to receive it, and He is determined to take it in hand. Jesus is planning a hostile takeover of the governments of the earth, with a view toward establishing a world-wide Kingdom of righteousness, joy, and peace. It will be a material Kingdom, here on the earth, a kingdom in which Jesus will exercise authority over every dimension of activity, ruling with mercy and grace, but also with a rod of iron.
As the Day of Jesus’ intervention draws nearer, His enemy the devil is stirring up unprecedented streams of resistance—hatred, sensuality, violence, theft, dishonesty—all manner of evil stuff aimed at bringing us into discouragement and compromise at least, and full participation at worst. If we are not aware of this growing pressure, it’s because we are succumbing to the proverbial “frog in the kettle syndrome,” oblivious to the rising heat around us, unaware that if we do not take drastic action we will perish in our complacency.
What kind of drastic action must we take? We must live in wholehearted love and holiness unto the Lord. We must pray for the Kingdom of God to come quickly on the earth, and we must study the events of the end times as they emerge upon us so that we may be a people of understanding, equipped to bring light and solution to those around us. In other words, we must add a sense of urgency to our desire for intimacy with Jesus. God the Father has appointed us for amazing things as this present evil age comes to its end, and we are not prepared to step into the power and authority that Jesus desires us to have.
This urgency is present in my spirit as I write this. I’m captured with desire at the thought of Jesus coming to the earth in person, but I’m also very sober as I reflect on the things that must happen between now and then. In the years that remain before Jesus returns to establish His Kingdom, life on planet Earth is going to be very different from what we’ve become used to. The multiple pressures of conflict and war, of economic instability and the fear of poverty, of rising immorality and wickedness in culture, the increased convulsions in the earth itself as the Day of the Lord approaches—all these pressures are growing. They will not go away. They will not be solved by normal human processes, and it is essential that we gain God’s perspective on these matters.
I urge you, as lovers of Jesus, to let the Holy Spirit shake you awake concerning the times that we are in. Do not be lulled to sleep by the ambitious promises of political candidates, who play upon the longing that we have in our souls for a righteous and capable leader. We must not pin our hopes on anyone less than Jesus, or we will find ourselves deceived by those who come in their own name with power that is not rooted in God. Do not be moved by the self-serving marketing schemes of the consumer culture we live in. Let the Word of God open your eyes to the pressures and the false promises that many will make in this time, and let your gaze be fixed once again upon the Man Jesus Christ, who alone is worthy to take the title deed of the earth in His hand.
I urge you as well to give yourselves to the place of prayer. Encounter Jesus in His beauty and love, and let your heart be settled in peace by His greatness and majesty. But in that place of prayer, give yourselves as well to meditating on and understanding the times of the end in which we live. Begin to read the Book of Revelation with a prayerful attitude, asking the Holy Spirit to teach you as you read. It is a book of triumph, the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, and how He deals with sin and wickedness to establish His Kingdom on the earth. Along with the Song Of Solomon, there is no more relevant book to our lives than the Book of Revelation.
As you read this book, begin to study it as well. I heartily recommend Mike Bickle’s current series of teachings on the Book of Revelation that are being webcast on Saturday nights from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. These sessions are worth their weight in gold, and certainly worth the minimal cost of receiving the webstream on your computer. Read books like When Jesus Returns by David Pawson, and watch or listen to The Omega Course, a series of DVDs and audio cds by Mike Bickle that gives an overview of the end-times scenario. These tools (which can be purchased from the Forerunner Bookstore at www.ihop.org) will equip you to understand what is unfolding in these coming days, and to be ready to stand firm in the peace and power of the Holy Spirit.
It’s time to go deeper in prayer. The days of preparation are upon us, and it is urgent that we respond. May the Holy Spirit lead you into all truth as you consider these things.
Gary Wiens, 8/28/2008