Friday, June 10, 2005

Breakthrough Prayer

Dear gentle readers,

I have been reading a book by Jim Cymbala, "Breakthrough Prayer." Now, understand that I am becoming more and more a seeker of truth. I am not satisfied with the platitudes of our staid religious leadership. Just as the Pharisees of earlier times were so concerned with the laws they prescribed, so our modern day leadership seems to be. Unfortunately, the Pharisees turned this into a legalistic system of laws and requirements that stifled spiritual growth and understanding. This is what I see happening over and over again. Our religious leaders have lost their focus. They are claiming authority where they have none and turning the personal nature of a relationship with God to a set of rules and regulations!

You ask what this has to do with breakthrough prayer? Just as Cymbala states in his book, I believe that the deliverance movement we see around us has produced a generation of people who lack true compassion and do not have the humility of spirit that would weep over their own weaknesses. This focus on other people and their failings has caused us to not consider our own. We, with malice, point out the log in another's eye without first throwing away the beam in our own. It has caused us to wait for the next prayer line, the next preacher, the next "word"...and not driven us to our knees personally before the Lord.

To immerse ourselves in the spirit of prayer, especially for personal guidance, is a lost art. We run here and there wanting a "word" from someone else, never learning to truly listen to the Holy Spirit and respond to His call. These are Christians who continue to do whatever they think (or more often feel) is best and then ask God to bless the effort. We "claim" authority and "call in" the blessings, without sincerely knowing that which God has ordained! And we take it upon ourselves to put that bondage on others, as well.

There are myriad promises in our Bibles which can only flow into our lives when we appropriate them through deep, personal prayer. Consider Jesus in the garden. He was torn to the soul on the inside and cried out in his pain to his Heavenly Father. It was this personal relationship which gave him the strength to carry out God's plan.

So what is the heart of breakthrough prayer? First, it is intimacy with God that allows us to see His plan for us, every moment of every day. Second, it is the confidence that comes from that relationship which allows us to enter the Presence of the Almighty.

The two go hand in hand. Intimacy brings confidence. Confidence brings intimacy.

Breakthrough comes from confidence in God! Breakthrough is not speaking arrogant authority. The idea that we can command God to do something is just not so. We must know the plan before we can execute the play. Christians today go around "claiming" things that were never promised. We "claim" things that God never ordained to be. In so doing, we ignore the spiritual power available to us in Jesus, and deny the world of great grace.

This is not faith! Faith is knowing God's plan and trusting Him to bring about what He has promised regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. That, my dear readers, is faith! That requires a heart of prayer. That prayer is what brings about breakthrough!

George Mueller says, "Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance. It is laying hold of God's willingness." How true! When we pray, we must do so with the confident assurance that we know and pray God's will. We cannot know and pray God's will without knowing God intimately!

And how do we gain that power in prayer? Through the wisdom, knowledge and insight found in the Bible. Have you ever prayed the words of the Bible back to God? When we don't know what to say, we can certainly turn to our Bibles for help. As we pray the words of our Bibles to God, we are strengthened and encouraged in our spirit. In turn, our spirits become open to the leading of the Holy Spirit so we can know with confidence that which God has planned.

Only the Holy Spirit can help us to pray with sincere, open hearts. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would be our comforter and our teacher. Knowing that, how can we not invite the Holy Spirit to teach us to pray prayers of breakthrough? These are the prayers that will change the course of history and bring about a world of peace for all humankind.

I would encourage you this day to talk to the Holy Spirit and submit to His teaching. Pray prayers that are effective, fervent and full of God's wisdom and will. It is in these prayers that we will find breakthrough to the fullness of the Christian walk.

May God richly bless you as you seek to be an authentic follower of Christ.


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