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.