Thursday, July 26, 2007

Praying Through

Years ago, when I was a home missions pastor trying to reestablish a dying church in the shadows of shuttered steel mills along the Mon in the Pittsburgh area, I met a young youth pastor serving at my presbyter's church in Allison Park. He came from great ministry stock, and was a tremendously nice guy. When the the senior pastor left for California (the state, not the town in Pennsylvania), that church, which was large even at that time, elected that twenty-something young man as its pastor. He's been there ever since doing a stellar job of leading a congregation fully engaged in impacting the environs of Pittsburgh with the gospel. The following post from his site was fantastic and I thought it would be tremendously helpful to my readers. You can get to his site through the link in the title of this post. Enjoy and be blessed!

Praying Through

Sometimes we can mistake the 'burden of the Lord' with stress or discouragement. What is the 'burden of the Lord'? It is a Holy Spirit inspired heaviness that weighs on your spirit which God uses as a prompting to pray. Yesterday, I spent an hour in the 24/7 prayer room--PRAYING THROUGH this heaviness. The 'praying through' process involves more than just words, it is a groaning or crying out to God. Often as I pray through, I pray in the Spirit. I know that the process is complete when I have reached the destination of PEACE.

As I groan out to God for a season, I sense the heavy burden lifting and a release of God's peace. God prompts this kind of prayer because He is looking for me to agree with Him on some issue where breakthrough is needed. I sense my prayers are involved in pushing the barriers to God's provision out of the way. It is a real spiritual workout session.

Mature believers learn to recognize the burden of the Lord as a prompting to pray. If we don't recognize this burden, we often live under its weight--and we can end up working against the Lord's plan if we are not careful. How? By worrying instead of praying. By criticizing others instead of interceding for them. Often God births burdens on people in the church to pray because He is getting reading to do something amazing.

Instead of prayer, sometimes church-people will blame the leadership for the heaviness that they feel. 'The pastor/leader must be hindering God...don't you feel this heaviness?' By sinking into a depression. Many times we see issues on the news, or hear a doctor's diagnosis, or see a self-destructive pattern in a family member--and we are tempted to react to the burden we feel by sinking into despair.

God gives the burden to pray specifically because there is hope and He has a plan. PRAYING THROUGH is one of those old fashioned disciplines that we need to learn again. My sense is that we often live with far less from God that what is possible. So if you feel a heaviness on your spirit today, don't worry, criticize or get depressed. Take your burden to God and cry out to Him until you feel the release of His peace.


One Sided said...

Years ago my pastor in New England saw in us a lack of know how when it came to praying. So for a period of time Morning message was Prayer, Evening Message was teaching how to Pray, which was followed by practice. I thought the first time I was called to pray for an hour for our church, that the hour would never end. But some where along the way, I recall when someone had to come in and tell me my hour had passed and I felt as if I had just started.
THen a few years ago I broke through another barrier and was show the joy of spending time in prayer with my wife. Through some 30 years of marriage we had prayed in the same house but never together. I am still learning, it just does not seem to be taught very much.

SLW said...

One sided;
That sounds like a great way to develop a praying church! It also sounds like the lessons were not lost on you (that is every preacher's dream). If the thought ever crosses your mind while you're praying with your wife, remember me and my wife. Those in the "ministry" can never have too many folk praying for them. God bless.

Anonymous said...

Praying through...I first heard this phrase in charismatic/AG circles. Then when my wife and I crossed over to Word of Faith cirlces, it became "prayers of confession and possession" and praying the Word by literally taking scripture for our specific need, request or whatever and using that in our praying. The latter helped us "stand on the Word" more to claim our answer. And I believe there is merit in that. But sometimes, it required more intense praying like travail or intercession and as some would call it "praying through."

Through our 33 years of marriage, all of these "techniques" have helped us in our private praying, as well as when we pray together. There is no quick prayer, well, unless your car is about to crash into a tree. But overall, it takes time, effort and determination. The results, though, are shall we say, "out of this world!"


SLW said...

Welcome to the Sound. Prayer is always of benefit, regardless of the particular kind, because it is impossible for it to fail to reach God, if one has faith.

Anonymous said...

I like your qualifier, "if one has faith." That seems to be the key. We must have faith in our praying, as well as in the Word. Smith Wigglesworth would run everyone out of the room, if he sensed they had no faith in their praying. Father Nash, Charles Finney's sidekick, would start out with sometimes hundreds praying with him for a meeting and after several days of praying, had only a few diehards left who really "believed" in the power of prayer.

Praying in the spirit, tongues, I cannot expressive enough the importance of. My wife and I employ that most powerful type of prayer every time we pray. Travail has overtaken me when that was all I could do was pray in tongues, with "groanings and travail."

Much has transpired over the last 30 to 40 years in this nation and around the world but I believe much more could have happened had the church been a praying church. The church of America does not know what truely, "effectual, fervent prayer" is.

SLW said...

For as difficult as it often seems for we who are the church, to pursue prayer as if we believed it actually worked, I am so grateful that Christ is at the right hand interceding for us. Where would we be without his thoughtful, faithful prayers?