I have always been fascinated by prayer. The whole idea that the Creator of the Universe would invite me to come into His presence is mind-boggling. The fact that He wants to have a conversation with me is overwhelming. The knowledge that He has things He wants to tell me is more than I can comprehend.
And yet, even with this grand invitation, I confess that too often I have neglected the opportunity so that I might attend to “more pressing and urgent matters.” As a Pastor, these pressing and urgent matters are most often always religious in nature—church work that needs to be done. Isn’t it odd that we find it easy to replace actual attention to the Lord with attention to religiosity?
The fact of the matter is that the most pressing and urgent activity for any of us is to spend time “resting in the shadow of the almighty” (Psalm 91:1).
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.Psalm 27:4, NIV
What if making the Lord the singular focus of our lives and the life of our congregations is the “secret” to extraordinary things happening? (I place the word secret in quotes because it isn’t a secret at all. The scriptures are obvious concerning our utter dedication to the Lord, leading to the fulfillment of God’s promises for our lives).
Jim Cymbala writes in his book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire:
From this day on, the prayer meeting will be the barometer of our church. What happens on Tuesday night will be the gauge by which we will judge success or failure because that will be the measure by which God blesses us.
I believe Jim Cymbala is correct not only for his church but for every church. We can busy ourselves with religious work all day long and look successful to others in our pews and the surrounding world. But in actuality, religious work alone is a hollow shell. The heart of the matter is always Jesus. Therefore, we can’t be about His work if we haven’t spent time soaking in His presence, seeking His direction, wisdom, and power. He must be our only focus. Everything else will naturally flow from our continual encounter with him.