This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Yang Zhang (from China. Mr. Zhang has been known as a fiery evangelist from China; Yang requested his real name not be published, so his real name has been withheld), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
When I was studying theology the Rev. Chia was our principal. A very humble man and devoted to prayer. Prayer had become so much a part of his life that you could always call upon him to pray for you in times of need.
I remember a time when I visited him, together with some other students. During our conversations he would, unintentionally, close his eyes and pray for us.
We all felt so humble and small in his presence. This man taught me to pray, not by what he said about prayer, but by the way he prayed.
When he prayed, he was in touch with God. But I also learned that the Rev. Chia was not special. God is special. He has no favorites. All of us are called to pray and be in touch with God. Whenever I think of the Rev. Chia I pray this prayer: 'Lord teach me how to pray.'
'Lord, teach us how to pray.'
A moment of introspection: As intercessors, in our study of the Holy Bible, God speaks to us. He has many truths to reveal, and much divine wisdom to convey through His Holy Scriptures. For this meditation, let us delve beneath the surface of the printed pages of His Word, to find His heart for each of us as we pray and lead others in prayer.
We intercessors know our calling to be a joyous one--for we see God's hand at work in His church today. Through His Word, we are exhorted to not give up on praying--for God has not given up caring for us. We are to incorporate thanksgiving in our prayer times--for answered prayer, for undeserved charities towards our church family around the world. Our heavenly Father is concerned to keep our lines of communication open with him.
We are instructed not to pray, during our prayer meetings, to gain the praise of those around us--but rather to direct our prayers to God and Him alone. God has told me that we are to pray from our heart, for our prayer--like our relationship with God--stems from our heart, our soul. If our heart is unclean, our motives benighted, our souls in turmoil, then our prayer suffers as our hearts do. God desires souls and hearts devoted to Him, not distracted by the cares of the world, nor weighted down by sin--but joyous and persistent, focused and solid in belief. Before our prayer gatherings, a wise intercessor will ask God, as the psalmist did, to "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" (Psalms 139:23-24) The psalmist knew the hindering power of sin, of uncleanness, for he wrote: "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;" (Psalms 66:18)
God is not so concerned with form. Christ himself, when asked by His disciples to "teach us to pray," used an example of a prayer from the depths of His soul, and a petition open to God and His beneficence. Let our prayer flow from our heart to God, "for the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7). Jesus Christ promised us that He would send the Holy Spirit to help us (John 14:16). And if we have no words to convey the welling of intercession within us, even so, we can know that the Holy Spirit pleads for us (Romans 8:26).
How are we to pray? As God leads through His Word. Prepare for our prayer meetings through honesty toward God about any sin in our lives. Pray from our heart, pray persistently, rely on the Holy Spirit to pray when we cannot. Thank God and be joyous. In interceding, we pray with purpose--and that, my friends, is a true gift from God.