Monday, March 8, 2010

An Excellent Article on Prayer by Bob Yarbrough


Dear “Awakening Child” of God,

Luke records the “awakening” of the daughter of Jairus. After telling him “she is not dead, but asleep” Jesus speaks life to her, saying “My child, get up!” (Mark preserves his literal Aramaic words, “Talitha koum!,” for the tenderness of expression [Mk. 5:41]). The result? “Her spirit returned,” writes Luke, “and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat” [Lk 9:52-55]. Since all the actions of Jesus are “signs,” recorded to teach us spiritual truth by the Holy Spirit, what is the lesson for our hearts in this miracle? We may see this event as a teaching metaphor to help us live in the Spirit and develop a greater consciousness of God’s kingdom. Before Christ touched us we were “dead in …transgressions and sins,” though we were physically alive in the grave of this world, held captive by the ruler of a kingdom of illusions [The meaning of Eph. 2:1, 2]. Christ’s voice spoke Spirit life in us and we were born into the kingdom of God. It was morning in our hearts as the Light of Christ dawned in us!

But our old captor, Satan, the great deceiver, still seeks to lull us to sleep, to relax back into the darkness that shrouds the world about us. Enticed by the subtle drugs of carnal pleasures, many drift away from their new creation consciousness and their spiritual awareness fades.
But Christ is faithful! He knows that we are no longer “dead” but sees that we are “sleeping.” Lovingly, he speaks to our slumbering spirits, saying: “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. You do not belong to the night or to the darkness [1 Thess. 5:5],” and again, “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, my morning Light is shining on you!” [Eph. 5:14].

Jesus taught that the key to staying awake was to live by prayer: “…men ought always to pray and not to faint…” [Lk. 18:1 KJV]. True prayer is living in conscious spiritual awareness. Otherwise we “faint” or lapse into spiritual unconsciousness. To those who followed him into the garden to pray, Jesus said “are you asleep? ... Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The Spirit is willing, but the body is weak” [Mk. 14:37]. Jesus wasn’t asking them to act as “look-outs” to save him from what the Father had ordained. Rather he was calling them to be alert as was He to spiritual reality. It means to open the eyes of the heart and look beyond appearances to see heaven hovering and ready to break through.

Jesus taught us how to respond in times when darkness closes in and we feel threatened in the natural: “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” [Lk. 21:28]. Instead of studying “times and seasons” with our carnal intellect, we are called to watch for the appearing of our Lord who already sits enthroned in the kingdom of our Father. Our basic concern is not to “fix” this broken world, but to allow the kingdom of the New Creation to come in us, who are the first fruits of it [James 1:18]. Under His authority, whatever we put our hands to do will prosper as we listen and obey from our hearts for the eyes of the Lord. [Ps. 1:3; 122:6; Is. 55:11; Col. 3:23].

By shaking our culture, God is giving “wake up calls” to the children of the day. Some hear His voice but harden their hearts and choose the comfort of “cultural beds.” But those who have their spiritual lamps ready are going out to meet the Bridegroom. They are even now on their journey to the Father’s house where their Beloved and the great Wedding awaits.

It is time to grow up into Christ and leave behind our childhood prayer: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” Now, as awakened ones, let us confess, “I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep!”

Be blessed to know that “He who watches over you will not slumber, indeed he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” [Ps. 121:3,4]. Let us watch with our faithful Lord in this hour!

“He lifted me out of the…pit… and gave me a firm place to stand.” Ps. 40:1, 2

We continue our witness concerning the contrast between the natural [pagan] prayer consciousness and that of those ‘who have been raised with Christ and seated in Him at the right hand of God” [Col 3:1]. We have said that the prayer of the carnal mind based in ego motivations is well described by the metaphor of being in “…the slimy... pit of mud and mire” [Ps. 40:2]. We stated that the first step out of that pit is to stop digging, to confess our need to “repent” - that is, to have a new mind about prayer. We know about God with the carnal mind but we can only personally know Him through spiritual union with the mind that was in Christ Jesus. Jesus declared “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” [Matt. 4:17]. He meant that we are to turn in our minds from the natural view of reality in preparation for receiving the heavenly perspective. For God to raise our consciousness to the kingdom level, there must first be a choice to go beyond the natural mind. To use Paul’s metaphor based on Christ’s work for us on the cross, I must be “crucified with Christ” to the “old” consciousness so that “the new [consciousness] comes” as “Christ lives in me.” I am “raised to walk in newness of life,” as part of the New Creation Body of Christ. Richard Rohr writes:

“…Jesus primary metaphor for this new consciousness was ‘the kingdom of God.’ He is not talking about a place, or an afterlife, but a way of seeing and thinking now.” [The Naked Now, pp. 100,101]

When we are willing to cease our praying from the perspective of the carnal mind, what do we do? Again, Psalm 40 instructs us. The “pit” we are in is the result of our “fall” into the carnal mind created by believing the lie of Satan that we should be our own “god.” Now we repent of this mindset and believe that by the death and resurrection of Christ for us we are now one with Him in God! In that faith, “I wait patiently for the Lord…He lifts me out of the slimy pit…’ He sets my feet on a rock and gives me a firm place to stand.”

Perhaps the greatest barrier to coming to that place is our inability to “be still” and “to wait patiently on the Lord.” We are so use to our anxious thoughts and fears that we keep on rehearsing them in the religious terms taught to us as ”prayer.” I want you to hear and believe the truth I have learned through long and bitter experience: True prayer in the Spirit begins only when my false prayers in the flesh cease! In Paul’s teaching, “do not be anxious about anything” precedes prayer that brings the “peace of God that transcends all understanding.” [Phil 4:6,7]. Jesus’ word, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” precedes “trust in God; trust also in me.” [Jn. 14:1] The angelic “Do not be afraid!” precedes the “good news of great joy.” [Lk. 2:10] In each instance, something must end before something else can come. This is “repentance.”

This repentance requires persistent discipline to “ demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and … take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” [2 Cor. 10:5]. Unlessl we tune out of the static of what once, in our carnal minds, we assumed was prayer, we will not be able to find the clear channel that carries His voice. For a time we may continue to “fret” in our old pre-prayer routines. But as we grow in grace we will learn to “Be still and know God as Christ in me, the hope of glory” In this “waiting upon the Lord,” we will rise up on eagle’s wings.

Finding our Sabbath-rest in Him, we will begin to see with the eyes of our heart “…a door standing open in heaven” [Rev. 4:1]. In our renewed consciousness, “Christ in us” lifts us and we find “our feet standing in the gates of Jerusalem.” [Ps. 122:2]. Now, in His Name, “We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his body,” and in union with our “great priest over the house of God we draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” [Heb.10:19-22]. And in the Spirit we “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need” [Heb. 4:16]. In His authority we then turn to do His will on earth as He works in us to will and do His good pleasure!

The true prayer of which I speak is not offered from Rome, or Mecca or Old Jerusalem. It is only made in that true “Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God [where we] come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven….to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant…”[Heb. 12:22-24].
Do you know that place? Would you offer true prayer there? “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you” {Matt. 7:7,8]. I exhort you, “Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession…”[1 Tim. 6:12]. And rest in this blessed assurance: “He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son” [Rev. 21:7].


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