The Ministry: Prayer

“Don’t pray for the ministry.
Prayer is the ministry.”

–Lorne Sanny

I find that the above statement of Lorne’s never ceases to challenge me in the area of prayer. I immediately think of all the times that I simply regard prayer as a part of the ministry rather than the ministry itself. Why is it so difficult to regard prayer as our primary ministry? I can think of two reasons. The first of these is that it is the most important thing we do and therefore will be opposed by the evil one. The second is that our forefathers rebelled in the Garden of Eden and chose independence from God rather than dependence upon Him. Our spiritual journey, then, consists of a reversal from a life of independence to one of total dependence. Nowhere in the spiritual life is this more manifest than in our life of prayer. Our growth in prayer requires a growth in dependence upon Him. More change is needed until we realize that our need is not partial. It is total. It requires an act of total faith on our part.

E.M.Bounds has much to say about prayer as it relates to faith.
1) In the ultimate issue, prayer is simply faith, claiming its natural yet marvelous prerogatives-faith taking possession of its illimitable inheritance.
2) Faith gives birth to prayer, and grows stronger, strikes deeper, rises higher, in the struggles and wrestlings of mighty petitioning. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the assurance and realization of the inheritance of the saints. Faith, too, is humble and persevering. It can wait and pray; it can stay on its knees, or lie in the dust. It is the one great condition of prayer; the lack of it lies at the root of all poor praying, feeble praying, little praying, unanswered praying.
3) Moreover; when faith ceases to pray, it ceases to live.
“When the Son of Man cometh,” our Lord asks, “will He find faith on the earth?” He will do so in the measure in which He finds prayer.

In Exodus chapter 17, we are given a vivid illustration of the fact that prayer is the ministry. Exodus 17:10-13: “So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.”

The prayer to God on the behalf of Moses and the Israelites was not just before or after the battle. Instead, it continued through the battle, controlled the battle and determined its outcome. It was a moment by moment commitment to and dependence upon prayer.

Our battles are not too different from those of the Israelites. Our foes are just as deadly and they seek to harm us and the work that has been given to us by God. It is only as we hold out our hands in prayer to God that victory is assured.

In the ministry of prayer, whose hands are you holding up as they prevail in prayer? And who is holding up your hands? As we co-labor together, let us be sure to co-labor together in prayer.

In Christ, Richard Spann

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