By Clifton Jones
The second lesson in the school of prayer is learning the value of time, and more importantly, how to use it. You must set a time to pray. Some may argue that a set time is not essential because one can pray anytime. While technically this may be true, experience has proved beyond question that having no set time equals having no time at all. If you do not set a time, you are guaranteed that much time will pass without any prayer being offered.
Those Who Hold That You Can Pray At Any Time Are Usually The Ones Who Do Not Pray At Anytime.
Acts 3:1 “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.”
In this verse of scripture we see that the apostles had a set time to meet for prayer. May we redeem the time by following their example, which I am sure they learned from following the Lord Jesus.
It is regrettable that we have a set time for just about everything except prayer. We have a time to go to bed, a time to get up, a time to eat, etcetera. When it comes to prayer, however, we let it work its way into our schedules as best it can. In this way, prayer’s best effort will meet with disaster.
We Must Take Time To Pray.
Yes, I said take time. Take it from sleep or rest, from bacon and eggs, from the news reporters and especially from the TV programs. When it comes to prayer we should use the divine “first of all” found in I Timothy 2:l. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.”
Prayer should come before anything else; coffee, tea, pancakes, cereal, work or play. Setting a time to pray assures you that other things won’t rob you of your visit with the Master.
– First of all, I seek Him.
– Second, I meet with Him.
– Third, I inquire of Him.
– Fourth, He assigns my direction for the day.
It is regrettable that Jesus has so many workers who never seek him for their assignment. It is not practical to work for anyone without first finding out what they want done. We must be watchful, because Satan would rather have you do anything but pray. He would rather have you busy working for God than praying to Him.
Today’s ministry is at such fast pace that prayer is often disregarded or just down right neglected. Praying is spiritual work, therefore you can do nothing of real spiritual value without praying. The more time we spend in prayer, the more we can accomplish spiritually.
There was a time we used to sing, “Sweet Hour Of Prayer.” Then we started just “Having a little talk with Jesus.” Now we are standing and having “a word of prayer.” This can no more spiritualize a church than a gallon of gasoline can power you to Japan in a jumbo jet.
It is to our advantage that every service is saturated with prayer. I have begun to seek out at least 21 people to charge the atmosphere with prayer before each service. This is in addition to our daily prayer meetings. I believe the devil laughs at us when we try to do spiritual work in the absence of prayer. Let us not be taken in by the “word of prayer” syndrome that has paralyzed the church for quite some time. Prayer is the main part of any service; it is striking the winning blow, and the other phase of service is gathering up the results. The more time we spend in prayer, the higher the service will reach and the more the anointing will flow.
May we divorce ourselves from having services minus anointing. Mother Prayer is the only one known for birthing anointing. I do not mean something that looks like anointing, I mean real anointing. This is without a doubt, the most often missing, and yet the most important ingredient in the whole service.
Without Real Praying There Can Be No Real Anointing
Might I say due to the lack of genuine anointing, many substitutes have come on the scene trying to take the place of anointing.
Nothing else can destroy the yokes of bondage and set the captives free and undo heavy burdens, but prayer purchased anointing. Notice I said prayer purchased anointing because there is no other way on planet earth that it can be obtained. And there is absolutely nothing that can take its place. No, not talent, human knowledge, man’s wisdom, beautiful robes, highly learned principles, nor promotion to high office. None of the above nor any of their relatives can take the place of prayer purchased anointing.
There isn’t a person who’s been saved any length of time who doesn’t recognize that something is wrong when the anointing is missing. That something is the absence of real prayer; heart moving, tear-stained, altar-wetting, heaven moving, hell shaking, revival birthing, soul-flaming, joy restoring prayer.
Oh, how we need to get to the church to return to its real business; the business of seeking a right way from the Lord.
In by gone years we lamented that they took prayer out of our public schools, yet very few are disturbed over prayer being taken out of our church schedules, and most important, out of our pulpits. I am convinced that a prayerless preacher is the most dangerous creature allowed to go free upon planet earth. He or she is more dangerous than
Aids, cancer or any other disease. These diseases can only destroy the body, while prayerless instruction can lead you to the “lake.”
When We Won’t Take Time To Pray, We Should Refrain From Ministering For The Sake Of Mis-Representing Our Calling.
I can speak as a pastor, evangelist and saint. If you don’t guard against the spirit of apathy, it will rob you of your prayer time and life. If apathy doesn’t succeed, the cares of this life will.
Many Christians set about to do the work of the Lord but do not spend time in His presence. Ministers are so busy telling men about the Lord, they forget to tell the Lord about men. I am convinced the more time we spend telling the Lord about men, the more time we will have to tell men about the Lord, and greater will be the outcome of our witness.
We crowd our schedules with spiritual activities but do so at the expense of our own souls. I must admit that hospital visitation and other ministerial duties seem most important. Ironically, even performing these tasks successfully require prayer. That is why it’s imperative that we set a time to meet with God, less we be robbed of our meeting with Him for our assignment for the day.
Setting a time guarantees you of not letting all the time past without you visiting the throne room where all decisions are made. Setting a time also teaches us disciplining, which seem to be a lost art in America. The more one learns discipline, the more you can accomplish in this life for the life to come.
I suppose that prayer can be and should be called a school, for so many lessons are born out of prayer. Prayer helps to develop discipline and discipline helps you stay with prayer. Discipline helps you arrange your time so that prayer will be the first order of business and the most important of all business.
I know that discipline is not holiness, but the more disciplined you are, the easier you will find it to live holy.
A Man Can Measure His Holiness By His Prayerfulness
It is impossible to be holier than you are prayerful.
Setting a time for prayer means setting a time for your personal check-up. If and when something is wrong in your life, you should want to be the first to know.
Psalms 139:23,24 “Search me, 0 God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be an wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
When we allow God to minister to us privately, we can be spared of public embarrassment. But when we go routinely on without praying, we will meet with often embarrassment. I will not hesitate to say, all failures that are public will receive private attention if we would take time to pray. If we are going to be successful in prayer, we must not allow sin to abide in our hearts. Nothing takes away your desire for praying like sinning. They cannot and will not dwell in the same heart.
Sinning Will Stop You From Praying, And Praying Will Stop You From Sinning.
Sin will take the desire from your heart for meeting with God. This was seen in Adam. When he knew that he had sin, he refused to return to the meeting place. Do you suppose that is why the prayer meeting is the poorest attended meeting at the temple today?
It is common to hear statements like this, “I am not going tonight, they are just having prayer.” Oh how ignorant. It was just prayer that stopped the sun, so that Joshua and the children of Israel could win the battle. It was just prayer that allowed Daniel to get a good night’s sleep in the lion’s den. It was just prayer that open the prison to release Peter. It was just prayer that caused an earthquake to shake open the jail so that Paul and Silas could go free. Need I say more about just prayer? Just prayer opened the eyes of our understanding toward spiritual things. Just prayer drew us from a world of sin. Just prayer has keep sickness and disease from controlling our lives. I think you have the picture. We need not neglect or treat prayer as a light thing.
Allow me to say the busier we are the more prayerful we need to be. I do not blame the pew for the short sightedness in prayer. The pulpit must bare the blame. If the heat fails in our homes, the head of the house will be blamed. If the fire goes out in the church, who will accept the blame? In order for prayer to be caught, it must first be taught. Not just from words, but by demonstrated example. The pastor should lead the way in prayer. If he or she neglect attending prayer at the meeting place you can be sure many others will follow that example.
I think the prayer band concept has detoured us into a wrong direction. That is, we praise and label certain ones as prayer band leaders or prayer warriors to the point of making them proud-full rather than prayerful. Just think for a moment, what is a band for? Is it not to hold things together? Take a watch band for example, it will hold a watch on your arm, but it won’t go around an elephant’s neck. But you can get a band that will. The bigger the object, the bigger the band must be. And since the problems of this world are so huge, we need a very large band to fit the need. Therefore the whole congregation need to be a part of the prayer band. And the pastor should lead the way, not `sister pie crust’. Any congregation where the pastor takes a back seat when it comes to prayer, will have a very small band, if any at all.
Only the Lord himself can deliver us out of the blinding binding condition of being busy but prayerless. Will you pray? Ask Him to return the spirit of prayer to each member of His body, then we will see a spiritual awakening. Nights and days of prayer and fasting will return anointed preaching, teaching and singing to our services.
The things which the church has lost will never be recovered until we launch an all out response to the call for prayer. My brother, my sister, find a time you can consistently keep as your prayer time. And don’t let anybody or anything rob you of that valuable period. This will do more to change your life than all the other schools put together. I am convinced that before the Lord can get a whole congregation back into prayer, individuals must first get the vision.
And as the numbers increase with people devoted to prayer, this world is going to experience a mighty move of the spirit. So my dear reader, make your decree today to enter into full-time prayer ministry. Just a word of caution, don’t make hasty plans, nor extend yourself beyond your faith. Just be faithful, and your appetite will increase for more prayer.
A. PATTERNS FROM THE SCRIPTURE
In school, every subject requires a text book. In the school of prayer, the textbook is the Word of God. The scriptures have much to say about prayer. Judging from what Jesus said, it seems that one hour was a normal prayer period.
Matthew 26:40 “And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
The question Jesus asked his disciples needs to be asked to his disciples, today. The majority of his followers seem to have lost sight of the difference that sweet hour can make in their lives. I challenge any child of God; if you will devote an hour of your time to prayer, you will never be the same.
Life without any of the above would be incomplete life. So then, life without genuine prayer is spiritual incompleteness. Just a few months after Jesus’ ascension, the Bible displays the apostles still carrying out the one hour concept.
Acts 3:1 “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.”
It is good to have a time and place to meet. I know that many of the saints live some distance from the house of God, and may find it somewhat difficult to daily attend prayer there. Nevertheless, that should not prevent you from setting a time and place. Notwithstanding, the house of God should be first choice. When you choose a time and
place, you can train your body to be the servant of your spirit; in other words, we are creatures of habits. Why not train our bodies to practice some good behavior. Just as we have gotten into the habit of not attending faithfully the prayer meeting, we need to form a habit of attending.
Daniel introduces praying three times a day.
Daniel 6:10 “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.”
I believe if you will develop the sweet hour, you will be ready to move on to the three times a day. A note of caution, don’t try to jump from not praying at all to three hours of praying. I call this over shooting your faith. Be realistic; progressively work your way into an increased time of praying. Note Psalms 55:l7, “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” We should view the three times a day praying, as a guarantee to not let the day go by without calling upon the Lord. Today we should be trying to improve upon that pattern, by praying during each hour. Develop a praying spirit so that you will keep communion going on with the
I Thessalonians 5:1 7 “Pray without ceasing.”
This is not an on your knees kind of praying, but an in your spirit type of praying. I believe the blessed reward of every prayer meeting further develops your ability to keep on communicating with the Lord. Prayer is somewhat like muscles, the more they are used, the stronger they get; likewise , he more you exercise in prayer, the stronger your
prayer life becomes.
B. EARLY RISING
My observation has been that meeting God early or late night provides a wonderful freedom in prayer. My explanation for this freedom may not satisfy you, but give it a try before abandoning it.
During the late hours and early mornings, more people are inactive, therefore less demonic activities are in motion. This provides the believer a good opportunity to release holy rays into the atmosphere. I wish more of us would zero in on this prime time to set our defense against the enemy; before the airways are clogged with foul spirits.
“He Who Meets God Early Can Meet Anyone Else Later.”
In both my reading and personal observation, it appears to me that most serious pray-ers were early risers. In the scriptures, when a matter was urgent, they arose to seek God.
* Genesis 28:16-18 “And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it
up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.”
– I Samuel 1:19 “And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her.”
– II Chronicles 29:20 “Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD.”
People don’t usually get up early to pray, sleep is too precious. To train your body to rise early for prayer is truly presenting your body as a living sacrifice.
– Job 1:5 “And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.”
– Psalms 57:8 “Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.
– Psalms 5:3 “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, 0 LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.
– Mark 1:35 “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”
This example alone was enough to light my fire. I confess that you must be serious about prayer and the God who answers prayer to fall out of bed early in the morning when sleep is sweetest. This is the kind of sacrifice that will bring you closer to the Lord. When you put God into what you are doing, through early morning prayer, you will receive a genuine anointing. The fact that you are reading these lines indicates that, in principle, you believe in or are interested in prayer. But do you believe in it strong enough to made a real sacrifice, to lose some sleep and gain some anointing?
Physically your body will rebel against breaking your rest. Your body will tell you its possible to pray anytime. Furthermore, it will say you can really pray if you get your rest. Don’t run the risk. Seek Him early and continue in fellowship with him throughout the day. If you will develop this system, you can say good-by boredom, depression,
loneliness, coldness, dryness, selfishness, worldliness and all other spiritual diseases.
Colossians 4:2 (Living Bible) “Don’t be weary in prayer; keep at it; watch for God’s answer and remember to be thankful when they come.”
I am not just writing words to fill pages, these are truths I strive to live by. As I can recall, it was over twenty-five years ago when I was inspired to organize my first prayer meeting. It was a 5:30 a.m. meeting. This God-given plan saved many believers from spiritual ruin. When I started my pastoral ministry, I backslid from the organized early
morning prayer. I tried somewhat to maintain it for myself. Today I can truly say the Lord has given me a new fervor to stress the early meeting with Him. This is a guaranteed way to get your day started off right. My dear reader doesn’t expect this at first to be easy. If you stick with it faithfully, it will become delightfully easier than you could conceive. This kind of sacrifice will bring you into His likeness much faster, flood you with His anointed presence, cause heaven to come down and glory to flood your soul.
At the time of this writing, it is now 4:15 a.m. and I’ve been awake the past 45 minutes. It is very peaceful, distractions are at a zero level. In 40 minutes I will head to the 5 a.m. organized prayer meeting. My spirit will be already hot. Upon my return, God alone knows what level I will be on then.
I will admit going to bed late and getting up early will break your rest, but you will also break your human spirit and gain God’s holy anointing. Those things your wish to do for the Lord are waiting in the wing, waiting for you to make the necessary sacrifice. If you will discipline your body to rise early and meet with the Lord, you will discover a greater level of spiritual living.
Before I close this chapter, allow me to give a special note to my fellow ministers. May we repent before the throne of God and beg His forgiveness for our absence from prayer, and when we do pray, our carelessness toward prayer, and our coldness in prayer. In spite of our feebleness in prayer, we have not ceased to preach. Without the anointing, much learning has equipped us with much material to preach but no power to convict. I am certain that much of our preaching has very little lasting results. Why? It takes anointing to destroy
the yoke. Someone may ask,
“What is anointing?”
Well, it is somewhat difficult to define. Yet, it is easy to recognize when it is present or absent. When it is present, yokes are destroyed, life is generated, freshness prevails, and all manner of good things happen. Needless to say, when it is not present, it is like an April snow on a fruit crop. It produces more death than life. The absence of anointing produces routine, cut and dry services.
Dear fellow ministers just as we can sense the absence of anointing, so can the members in the pews. They may not say much, but frequent absenteeism should tell you something. I am convinced that when the pew increases its demand for more anointed preaching by crying out to God, we will find ourselves feeling unclothed before our congregations. If we don’t seek to have His mighty anointing operating in our lives, our ministries will kill rather than make alive.
Anointing is not something you learn, yet, through prayer, you can invite it upon your life. I have often said we could afford to be less learned and more anointed. Fellow ministers, in spite of what the crowd may say, we need to fortify our lives with prayer. Or else we will minister to the physical and emotional parts of men without ever invading their spirits. Only anointed preaching can reach and meet the
of the soul.
Please understand I am not saying one cannot preach at all without praying. I am saying that it will lack the soul awakening anointing that reveals the mind and the purpose of God. Just like a carpenter would not think of building without a plumline, level, square and ruler, neither should a preacher think of preaching without prayer. If a prayerless preacher was put on trial, he or she would be found guilty of enthroning themselves and dethroning the Most High. The resulting sentence would be a shipwrecked life and spiritual suicide.
(The above information was published by PRAYER CLINIC II, 1990)
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