Monday, June 17, 2024
Monday, June 17, 2024
HomeAll The NewsHEALTHY CHURCH: Prayer Loosens Your Grip

HEALTHY CHURCH: Prayer Loosens Your Grip

      The primary purpose of prayer is intimacy with your Heavenly Father and to set God in His rightful place in your life. Prayer is not designed to change God; it is designed to change you. Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane is the perfect example of praying that the Father would allow Him to escape dying for our sins if there was any other way possible. Then he prayed, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Prayer loosened His grip on His destiny and once again placed it where it belonged, in His Father’s hands. Prayer is not calling on God to bless us in our activities, plans and agenda but to discover His and join Him there.

      If you desire to loosen your grip on your life, family and ministry, you must cultivate an intimacy with the Lord that requires building your relationship with Him. This takes time to develop and necessitates hard work, dedication, commitment and discipline to sustain. It will not come naturally, automatically, quickly or easily. It has been said, “Prayer is not preparation for the work; it is the work.” We have a definitive responsibility to cultivate a closeness with God. James 4:8 (HCSB) states clearly, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” Prayer takes us into God’s presence and shows us His will. Prayer prepares you to obey Him.

      In Intimacy with the Almighty, Charles Swindoll gives us four spiritual disciplines for cultivating intimacy with Christ:

      • Simplicity: which requires reordering our lives.

      • Silence: which asks us to be still. Remember that one Hebrew word used for still means to loosen your grip.

      • Solitude: which involves cultivating serenity.

      • Surrender: which beckons us to let go. There it is again, loosen your grip on your plans, your dreams, your desires and your goals.

      Swindoll states, “For God will not always speed up to catch up with us. He expects us to slow our pace to walk with Him.”

      Prayer is not for God to adjust and adapt to what you want and desire, but for us to adjust and adapt to His style and expectations. Swindoll continues, “God will not be squeezed into the framework of our complicated schedules.” In Matt. 6:6, before Jesus tells us what to pray, He first focuses on how to pray: “But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret…” You must loosen your grip on your busyness for this to happen as it should. Before Jesus ever asked the 12 disciples to do anything in active ministry for Him, He first asked them to be with Him.

      Doing ministry for Jesus must flow out of your being with Jesus. Turn loose of your grip on your busy activity schedule and ensure that your life is anchored in prayer. Your being with the Father is sufficient to sustain ministry for Him. Quick-fix formulas create a shallow, superficial faith that will quickly fizzle out. Richard Foster stated, “Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent or gifted people but for deep people.” Do not become so preoccupied with serving Jesus that you miss being with Jesus.

      Prayer will change you and make you more like Christ. The most significant moments in a Christian’s life come through prayer. In Luke 3:21, as Jesus prayed, the Scriptures tell us that Heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended. When the disciples were praying in Acts 1, the Holy Spirit came upon them. In Acts 4, the disciples prayed, the place was shaken and they received boldness to share the gospel. God does things in and through our lives by prayer that He will do no other way. Why? Because as we pray, we loosen our grip on our lives, our attention is turned toward our heavenly Father and we become more receptive to His guidance.

      What do you need to loosen your grip on in seeking the Father’s guidance and direction? What do you need to be “still” about right now? Think of what that looks like in how you raise children. You must turn loose of your grip on them more and more as they grow older and mature — from their first steps, the first day of school, to the first time they take the car out on their own. The temptation is to tighten your grip and hold on to your control over them. One of Satan’s major strategies, through all the challenges you face, is to keep you busy and distracted to the point of prayerlessness.

      Philippians 1:27 has spoken to me in this season of ministry greatly — “…Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel.” This verse speaks to whether you are transitioning out of a ministry, considering retirement or mobilizing your church to focus more on connecting those in your church (believers) with those outside your church (unbelievers). Paul could not go to them, but He did promise to pray for them to remain faithful to their calling.

      There is so much more out of your control than you realize, and loosening your grip means you will be still and trust God for the things you wish you could change but cannot. God’s glory is greater than your circumstances, problems, insecurities and the challenges of serving Him. He is patiently waiting for you to pick up the receiver on His prayer line. God reaches down to touch your life when you reach up to get in touch with Him. A vibrant prayer life loosens your grip in your present season of life, whether transitioning in ministry, busyness in ministry or retiring from full-time ministry.