As you know, I am an advocate of intimacy, and the first to champion fervency. I am also very aware, however, that zeal alone does not guarantee a rich and lasting prayer life. In fact, if heat and steam are what you seek the many days of simmering and seeking that will will be required of you may well lead to despondency. Over the years, I have discovered that a life of prayer is one that ebbs and flows. Each season will bring it’s own blessings and challenges and we must never limit the Lord as to how He wants to work.
Remaining consistent through the unremarkable seasons seems to be the price a praying man or woman pays for those ordained times of encounter that come from the sovereign hand of the Father. One without the other is rare. Yes, we can storm-chase the anointing running from meeting to meeting, but that is not the way to put down roots. Roots are grown in the dark unseen places of private prayer and devotion far more than they are in public forums. Those seemingly lonely hours spent alone reaching for Heaven’s touch are never wasted.
It can be likened to building a house. Passion for the project plays it’s part, but is the laying of one brick upon another that leads to the establishment of a dwelling. So it is in the spirit. Every moment, minute, hour and day we give over to obedient seeking lays one more brick. What seems so laborious and unremarkable at the outset, gradually begins to take form. Instead of just trying to pray, you will feel yourself step-by-step entering into a life of prayer. You are building a dwelling place for God to inhabit in your life. The trying hours of spiritual sweat that lay the foundations and put down each individual brick becomes a place of abiding. In the same way that you step across the threshhold of your natural house and immediately feel at ‘home’, so it will be in the spirit. The place of prayer will become your place of abiding.
And the best thing about this? Well, to be honest there are many benefits, but here’s just a few…
Prayer becomes your place of escape from the fury of life and the problems you face. Instead of hiding in other sometimes negative behaviors, you now have somewhere to run that offer’s solutions. Scripture tells us that God’s name is like a strong tower into which we can run and find safe haven (Proverbs 18:10).
Prayer becomes that place you can be yourself more than any other. Just as your natural home is where the mask is peeled away, so the house of prayer becomes one into which you confidently step without any pressure to perform.
Prayer is your place of refreshment. It is the one place you run to for affirmation from the only One who really matters, rather than earnestly seeking it in places that leave you empty.
You and Papa are partners in the building of this glorious dwelling, and as you work together over the days, weeks, years and decades, the abode of prayerfulness that you have entered into will expand beyond your wildest expectations. You will discover incredible treasures hidden in it’s many rooms. Sometimes Papa will usher you into entire wings of the building that you never knew existed.
I hope this picture of building a dwelling place for God’s presence is making sense. I personally feel such excitement and anticipation as I write about it. The very idea of your wide eyed delight as Papa opens the doors to you makes me want to jump up and shout with joy!
And the pathway is not complicated. It is not reserved for some navy seal of spirituality. The very fact that it is apparently unimpressive and incredibly ordinary is all the more glorious. Like the wardrobe that led to Narnia in C.S. Lewis’ classic children’s story, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, one would never have known from the outside that something so everyday could be the doorway to entire realms yet unexplored.
It is so simple, and can be summed up in one boring word.
Daily coming into God’s presence. Understanding that swinging the axe one more time is what will bring the tree to the ground. Laying just one more brick to develop the dwelling. Taken in isolation, twenty minutes here or ten minutes there appears so insignificant. But a prayer life is not built in an instant. It is not an event. It is a lifestyle of sensitive obedience to the promptings of the Spirit lived out in the everyday challenges that leads a man or woman to the place where they can truly say that they know God.
Never underestimate the power of your choice to pray today. However uninspired or disappointing it may sometimes feel, it is one more step toward your next life-changing encounter with the Godhead.
Way too many people give up because they have been falsely taught that prayer should be one big heavenly party. Instead it more like a marriage. Many honest ordinary days make up the rich layered nature of intimate relationship, and years of walking side by side fuse two hearts into one. Yes, of course there are intense times of intimacy. Absolutely there are explosive engagements that forge the relationship in unusual ways unique to the partners, but such encounters are not the flavor of every day. Finding and deeply appreciating the value of your love in the seemingly mundane disciplines of daily routine is mighty powerful. So it is in our daily walk with God.
Fervency is a deep river. On the surface there may be the froth and billowing of feeling, and this is sometimes what people refer to as fervency; the overt emotion present in passionate prayer. But feeling is not the driving force, just the outward show of something deeper. My daughter is an elite gymnast, competing for her country in Rhythmic Gymnastics. It is not feeling that keeps her in the gym for several hours every day, it is fervency. She does not always ‘feel’ like training, but her desire to reach her goals drives her there every day. Her fervency is not proven by overwhelming feeling, it is proven by faithfulness.
If your prayer life is determined by the fickle waves of feeling it will be inconsistent and real progress will elude you. Believe me, if I prayed only when I ‘feel’ like it, my times of prayer would be the pepper of life rather than the meat on the plate. A day here, a day there. A house is not built with hit-or-miss bricks placed wherever they happen to land. It is built course-upon-course, row-upon-row. Build your prayer life in the same way and soon you have a place of abiding that makes prayer a wholly different experience.
Build a dwelling place for God’s presence. Lean into prayer with the same intent you lean into other things you want to learn and develop in your life. No other skill or practice is more important or satisfying. Overcome the resistance of your flesh inwardly, and the pressure of the devil outwardly. That means praying when you do not feel like praying. Priotitize prayer. Instead of fitting prayer around the responsibilities and demands of everyday life, fit your everyday responsibilities and demands around your determination to pray each day. I promise that you will not be disappointed!