For the last three weeks, I have written about prayer and its role in your purpose. I have watched over the years as many people have given themselves to prayer, yet have no answers to prayer. Their only answer to this dilemma is that the people of God are not praying enough. It is almost like God has to be asked a certain number of times before He will even consider doing something. We have prayer walks, vigils, retreats and sacrifices, yet we have no answers.
I realize that often we cannot see our answers, that at times our prayers prevented something from happening because we interceded. When that occurs, we often don't know that it occurs. Yet does that mean we should or can never see our answers? I think not. Many have turned to an intercessory life and then feel they are free from prayer accountability: "I prayed but God didn't do anything. Oh well, I did my part. I will just pray more." While they don't call it that, it becomes a form of a prayer retreat.
The early church was a place where prayer was offered and answered, tangibly and visibly. I have often said the book we know as the Acts of the Apostles could also be called the Acts of Purpose, for when the Spirit came, He empowered people to fulfill their purpose. The apostles, Barnabas, Dorcas, Timothy, Lydia, Paul, Peter and others became people of purpose as Luke reported in Acts, and they became not only people of purpose, but people of answered prayer.
One of my favorite prayer verses is found in Acts 4:41: "After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly." Their prayer was so powerful and closely related to their purpose that the Lord resonated with their prayer and shook the building. Then they went out and saw their prayers answered as they boldly proclaimed God's word. You and I have two choices with how to interpret and apply that verse. We can dismiss it as an anomaly of the early church or see it as the norm for purpose-driven people. If we dismiss it, then prayer is just something we shoot into the air, never really certain that it has reached its target, never sure if it was supposed to hit its target. We don't have to see answers, we just have to pray.
I want to pray purposeful prayers that are answered. I want to see God move as you do, but I fear lest our prayer movements be forms of monastic retreat that keep us safe from harm - and accountability. A prayer retreat should be a place where we go to shake our buildings and institutions of the world. Too many have retreated to prayer to avoid the messiness of purposeful work. I urge you this week to examine your approach to prayer and your answers to prayer. If either are deficient, then I encourage you to change your perspective and see prayer not as a retreat but as an advance that is meant to shake things up, in your life and the lives of those around you. Thanks, and have a blessed week where you see your prayers not just prayed but answered.
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NEED YOUR HELP: Now that I am home, I need your help to continue my work now more than ever. Please give toward my purpose work, either through PayPal on my website or by sending a tax-deductible gift to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you for your generous support. I am working to set up a library in Guyana as well as get the next shipment ready for Africa, where we have commit to establish two new libraries as well as continue to support the ones we have. I cannot do this alone and I cannot do it without my own needs being met.