17 May 2014
It seems the Lord would have us examine a short verse in 1 Thessalonians.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (AMP)
17 Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]
But before we dive into the shallow end, perhaps we should consider the following verse …..
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (AMP)
18 Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].
It seems as if the second verse opens considerably the opportunity to practice the first verse. We often limit ourselves when we think of prayer as to only asking for things. But when we consider the option to thank God for whatever circumstances that may occur, then we certainly can pray without ceasing. [ Thanking Him in all things may represent one of the best indications of our affirmation of the sovereignty of God?]
However giving thanks in all things does not precisely address the idea of praying perseveringly. Persevering prayer we are told is fueled by passion. Often we find preserving prayer flowing out of a desperate heart. It is quite natural to come to a verse such as this one and attempt to discern how we might obey the command contained therein.
But rather than looking at these verses as commands to obey, what if we were to see them as resources to be appropriated? To help us move toward this perspective, perhaps we should ask ourselves a few questions? For example: Who has the very best plans for our lives? Or Who knows beforehand everything that will ever happen? Or what is the promise to those who pray in accordance with the will of God?
1 John 5:14-15 (AMP)
14 And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us.
15 And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him.
So if God knows what is best and His will is for our best, then why should we ever desire anything other than the exact will of God? And if we desire the will of God could we not pray with confidence and assurance that He will provide for His own will as He has promised in His word?
Could it be that we spend entirely too much time planning and trying to make our will come to pass? [And praying that God will bless and bring about our plans?] Could it be that if we were to spend more time listening and praying for God to reveal His direction and praying that we would be empowered to precisely follow it, could we then pray and expect Him to answer affirmatively all the time?
James clearly spells out two problems in prayer. The first problem he identifies is that we do not ask. God seems to have this unwritten rule; we must ask for Him to answer. [The very idea of an answer is inextricably tied to the act of asking. ] While He knows what we need He seems to desire that we first ask before He answers. The second issue James outlines is our tendency to ask in selfish ways. This problem is often associated with our tendency to hold tightly to our own desires and plans as if they are the only workable plans in the universe. Our estimation of our plans is invariably overrated.
James 4:2b-3 (AMP)
You do not have, because you do not ask.
3 [Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.
This brings us to the idea of praying for revival. Perhaps we should ask in deference to James, is God not sending revival in our time because we are not asking, or because we ask amiss?
John 16:24 (AMP)
24 Up to this time you have not asked a [single] thing in My Name [as presenting all that I AM]; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy (gladness, delight) may be full and complete.
So our encouragement is first that we ask and keep on asking that our God would again send revival. That He would send the powerful kind of revival that can only be explained as a miraculous work of God’s Spirit in our midst. Would you be willing to passionately pray for revival every day until God decides to send it?
Additionally it is clear that we must not pray for revival in order to make things better for us, not to improve things at our church or make our community a better place to live. While these are good things they usually come forth from motives that are more about us than God’s glory. We must pray for revival in order that God can be powerfully glorified and His kingdom built up. Of course when God sends revival it will impact our communities and our schools, our movies and marriages, and so forth, but these are not the reasons we pray, they are simply results of an onslaught of righteousness rained down by God’s Spirit.
Based upon the manner that God has worked in the past , there is no question He desires to bring revival again soon. The question is will we ask, and will we ask with right motives? Therefore one final question. Will you: Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly] – 1 Thess. 5:17 for revival?