When there is a theme that keeps rising up around you, pay attention, the Lord has something He needs you to notice.
The last few weeks, the Lord has been speaking to me in subtle, yet obvious ways on prayer. It's subtle because His speaking comes in soft waves, a little at a time. Still, I notice them as being obvious and take mental notes about what was revealed. I imagine all of these small waves that catch my attention are gathering towards the shore for something more mighty. Like a tsunami, you can't even see the rise until it reaches the shore.
For months now my heart has been convicted on prayer. On social media I would see comment after comment of people saying "praying" at the prayer request of a friend. I'm guilty of doing the same thing and not always actually praying, but there is more to just saying you will pray, it is praying and more specifically, spending time in the His Presence during prayer.
Who is Praying?
More and more I am convinced that as a whole, as God's people, not only are we not praying as we say we are, but we are not going the extra step and opening our Bibles, we are not seeking His face. This really all started with a conversation with my boys barber, Adam. I love talking with him about Jesus when my boys are in his chair. I'll pay good money for a haircut so my kids will hear this man speak about how much he loves Christ. The conversation we had recently was "how many people actually read their Bibles?" He is a barber to many pastors who pastor large and small churches. He said "I take a poll whenever I get a chance, It's unofficial of course but I ask other pastors what percentage of people from they attending congregation actually go home and open their Bible outside of the church walls?" His answer is always consistently around 10%. Some say 12% or 9% and Adam immediately calls them out on it in good fun and says they made it up. Still, let's go with 10%. If only 10% of church going, regular attending Christians are spending time in God's Word outside of church...that will make up a very, very small percentage of people in the general population who actually study their Bibles, much less spend time seeking the face of God in prayer. I'm not talking about saying those prayers on your drive to work, in the shower, or at your desk. We should be praying then too. I'm talking, prayer closet, seek His face, Bible open, "speak to me Lord", listening for His voice, kind of prayer. Intimate prayer.
Here's an interesting statistic: Even with a broader definition of church attendance, classifying a regular attendee as someone who shows up at least three out of every eight Sundays, only 23–25% of Americans would fit this category.
So, if only 23-25% of Americans go to church regularly, and as Adam has found, the -10% of those who actually read their Bible is pretty accurate, as a nation though it's lower. Depending on frequency, it is between 6-10% We can conclude that for the small percentage of Americans who to to church regular, there are even fewer who read their Bible, and of those how many I wonder pray in a way that seeks the face of God?
Let's break it down.
25% of the population attends church.
2.5% of that same population reads their Bible outside of church.
Out of 100 people 2-3 read their Bible, and we have no idea if any of those 2-3 pray in a way that seeks the face of God.
What is strange is, 55% of Christians say they pray daily. (Hmmm)
Reminds me of all those comment sections, people are quick to say they do.
The Privilege of Prayer
Let me be straight and honest, I do not pray daily like I should. I do not read my Bible daily like I should. This is written from the convictions God placed on my own heart. It is NOT to point fingers or shame. This is my revelation.
In December of 2020, I started working towards more deliberate prayer time. I was introduced to a method of remembering and asking for prayer called a "Prayer Square". It's basically a journal and outline to keep me on track for what it is that I am to be praying for every day and when those things change, my Prayer Square changes. A sweet friend of mine, Jenny, made a workshop video that I've attached below.
This is my daily effort to at least speak to God about what is on my heart. Still, in doing this little thing, He is calling me closer. I believe with everything in me that He is calling His people closer too.
The Privilege of Prayer can cover many aspects. The privilege I want to focus on is the privilege of knowing God in such a way that it is intimate.
A.W. Tozer, in The Pursuit of God, talks about removing the veil. He says concerning the tabernacle "Jehovah was there, a Presence was waiting within the veil." The veil he is describing was what separated the inner court from the outer court in the ancient tabernacle. There was a time in history, before the crucification of Christ, when a returning sinner who wanted to commune with with God had a ritual in order to do so. We were no longer allowed to walk with God like Adam in the garden, simply because of our sin. God can not be in the presence of sin. As the sinner entered the outer court he offered a sacrifice on the alter, washed himself in the laver and then could pass through the veil. Behind the veil there was no natural light from outside, only a golden candlestick which spoke of Jesus, the Light of the World.t.
Yet, there is still another veil that separated the Holy from Holies. It is only passed through by the High Priest and usually only once a year. This was the place where the High Priest would meet with God. I imagine needing this veil to commune with His people broke the heart of God. He knows no sin. Yet, He made us in His imagine and our hearts are restless until we can rest with Him.
When Christ died on the cross. that veil was torn from the top down. It was the only way we would ever be able to once again be in His Presence.
It was the last veil which was rent when our Lord gave up the ghost on Calvary, and the sacred writer explains that this rending of the veil opened the way for every worshiper in the world to come by the new and living way straight into the divine Presence." - A.W. Tozer.
This is what I mean when I mean it is a privilege to pray, to be in His Presence.
Even the Servant Spoke to God
Genesis 24:45 describes the scene of the servant of Abraham going back to Abraham's homeland to seek a wife for Abraham's son Isaac. Before the servant meets the future wife of Isaac, Rebekah, he prayed. He simply asked the Lord to help him... "before I finished praying in my heart..." God was answering His prayer. Rebekah approached him from the well and when he asked for a drink she gave it to him and watered his camels too. Exactly as the servant had asked God to do.
It struck me as I read this, that anyone can petition their requests to God. The servant didn't have to enter the tabernacle to be heard. We can also pray and still not be seeking His face. This servant had not gone into the inner court in the Holy Presence fo God to ask for this request. He was simply sitting by the well waiting. However, if the veil was torn so that we could seek God in His Glory, to be in His Presence during prayer, and we aren't doing just that when we pray, then the sacrifice that Jesus made in the outer court for us, was in vain. He gave us a gift that we are not using.
Have you ever given a precious gift to someone only to find out that they never took it out of the box?
We can go about out day, sit down by the life giving well with nothing to draw its water with, and STILL speak to God, He will still hear our requests. 55% of Christians say they do this daily. Of that 55%, how many are seeking His face, spending time in His presence, sitting at the feet of Jesus. It'd be willing to bet, it's 1 in a million. I think we can go back to our Bible reading statistics and speculate, how few there are. We can pray and never even be inside the temple, never even enter the outer court so to speak. It's the inner court where we are expected to show up. It is the gift of being in the Presence of God that Jesus gave. No longer do we have to have a veil and limits on when and how we approach the mercy seat of God. We can be in His glorious manifestation anytime we choose. Isn't that exciting? I think it's time we start opening and using that gift Christ gave us.
Be In His Presence
The presence of God in our lives is the basis of Christianity. God waiting for us, is at the heart of the Christian message, His desire is that His children become fully aware of His presence. Most of us only know this presence in theory. Still, we are content in our prayer life rather than burning with a fire to experience His presence actually, not just positionally. Meaning, we are near God because we are His children, but to experience Him, we must seek His face.
Recently, I sat with a lady I had just met. Our meeting was deliberate, we were together to talk about how our nonprofits could help each other. At some point, words started coming out of my mouth (than you Holy Spirit) in a way that I think caught her off guard. I was declaring that I believe people do not pray like they say they are. I laid out the case and what God had been laying on my heart. What I didn't know was this lady was a pastors wife or I may not have said much at all. She sat straight up in her seat, and said with conviction in her heart at that moment, "you are right." She explained how she used to keep a prayer journal and it had been years since she had sat and spent time in prayer in they way she needed too. She talked about all the things the things that were stopping her, but she focused on the important things happening in her life that needed her to pray. Mostly, we talked about what we might have missed because we weren't praying and seeking our Lord and Savior.
We need to be praying for our relationship with Christ, we need to be praying for our friends & family, we need to be praying for our communities & nation, and we need to be praying for the Church. Seek His face in prayer today. Get alone with God and tell Him your heart. Make it a daily habit and watch Him do amazing things in your life.