The Paradigms of Prayer III | Shaped by Prayer
In the course of a journey in building a community of prayer in Singapore for the last 5 years, I've learned to cultivate a few paradigms of prayer that sustains my coming in and going out of the prayer room. Regardless of the number of people in the room or how great I feel as a person, these paradigms keep me there and gave me the motivation for showing up for 4 hours, at least twice a week for the past 5 years.
I believe these paradigms function as an anchor in sustaining a culture of prayer that will have fuel our efforts in missions and gospel advancement
I will be breaking them into 5 different paradigms in 5 different posts. I hope these paradigms can help you, your family and your community to cultivate a consistent and enjoyable prayer life that will impact your heart and the people around you.
PARADIGM III | Shaped By Prayer
When we think about prayer, our expectation often revolve around the tangible and the external impact. Prayer is a powerful weapon that affects our surrounding, circumstances as well as the people around us. There is a reality in the place of prayer that many of us often neglect and overlooked; Our prayer doesn’t change God, but it changes us, and our prayers shape us.
The first few years of my life as a follower of Jesus, I knew nothing about ministry neither do I have any clue what they are. Then my faith towards God was a simple and pure response to who He is and what He has done for me through tangible encounters with His presence and love. Somehow, during that season, David and Moses were often preached and quoted from the pulpit. Whenever there was a call for a response to the Lord, I found myself praying prayers such as, “God, show me Your glory.” or “Make me a man after your heart.”. Looking at what I am doing today in the house of prayer modeling after the tabernacle of David, I am confident and convince that God heard my prayer, and my prayers shape me. In fact, these prayers are biblical prayers, and His Word and His Will formed me.
There is an inner compass within soul where our prayer will point us to The True North that leads us toward His purposes and will in our lives. Not only do our prayers lead us towards His intentions and will, but it also strengthens our inner man to stay on the course of our journey towards our destination as well as to finish the race strong.
The Apostle Paul prayed for the Church in Ephesus that God would strengthen their inner man. Instead of being shaken by his suffering, that they may be rooted and grounded in love for the sake of the generations to come, giving them courage to confident and in the love of Christ as he displayed it
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you **to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. - Ephesians 3:14- 21
Sometimes, the answer and the breakthrough that we are looking for in our circumstances may not necessarily be found in God’s miraculous intervention, but a divine partnership through God’s invitation. To be honest, our human inclination naturally steers towards contending for God’s supernatural intervention because we want an instant result with no cost, whereas divine partnership requires us to go through the process with a price. Most of the time we are changed in the process more than the circumstances and the answer is found in the transformation that God did in us.
The Christians in the 1st Century faced tremendous pressure, resistance, and persecution for their claim in the death and resurrection of Jesus. In the midst of that intense pressure, God empowered the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of His resurrection through signs, wonders, and miracles. (Mark 16:20). The pressure and tension stem from a legislation passed by the Roman Empire and the Religious System; the usage of the name of Jesus. That led to an earth-shaking prayer meeting in Acts 4 when Peter and John were imprisoned for using that name and the Church were afflicted by fear and intimidation.
And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. - Acts 4:29-31
Instead of praying for the persecution to cease because of the preaching of the word, they responded to the Lord by asking Him to grant them boldness to speak the word. In fact, the persecution in Jerusalem did not subside but intensified as you read on a few chapters after Acts 4. James and Stephen got killed for preaching the gospel, yet their courage and boldness gave the church strength to stay true to their witness which is the main assignment of the Church. Persecution was part of the package as Jesus said: “blessed are those who are persecuted for my Namesake…”
Perhaps, God allows us to experience difficult situation and circumstances just so that we can cry out to Him, refine by Him and shaping us into the image of Christ which is the answer to all problem in this broken world. And the truth is, some will embrace Him and some will reject Him, but our posture is to stay true to our witness of Him. You are shaped by your prayers, and in that formation, you become the answer to your prayers.