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Topic: Download/Upload (11/17/11)
TITLE: The Prayer Exchange
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Some time ago I attended a wonderful prayer meeting; at least the people who were there seemed to think it was wonderful. They downloaded a lot of thoughts and requests, and they were very sincere. All of the attendees participated and they prayed for specific things and specific people. The room was filled with energy and emotion, and when they came to a conclusion, everyone was happy and in an amen mood. The only problem was that the success of the prayer meeting was evaluated by the nature of the meeting itself and not by results achieved. Of course, getting a group of believers together for a season of prayer and praise is in itself an achievement, but one would think that such an intense prayer meeting should accomplish something other than just fellowship.
These good people prayed as though God was off in a distance and hard to reach. Prayer of this kind is reminiscent of the religion of the Hebrews, a religion by the way that Jesus rejected and rose above. The Hebrews put God into a box, which was beyond the reach of individual Jews. But when Jesus came on the scene, he came as an approachable human being capable of feelings, emotions and personal relationships. Jesus’ disciples knew him as a friend, and when one talks to a friend, he/she expects the friend to respond. If there is no response the relationship is threatened, and just as conversation with a friend is two way, effective prayer is also two way, which is difficult—very difficult—because God doesn’t speak English or any other language. God is a Spirit (John 4:24) and Spirits have no vocal cords or arms or legs or any other body parts.
The three year walk of Jesus with his disciples demonstrated the friend to friend prayer exchange that gets results. Remember the great storm that arose at sea when Jesus was asleep. The disciples woke up him up and Jesus immediately responded. That was a very effective prayer, and it happened time and again during Jesus’ sojourn on this planet: Peter’s mother in law (Mark 1:30-31), Lazarus (John 11:43-44), Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52), and on numerous other occasions as well. Jesus was always available to his disciples and others he met along the way just as he or his replacement, the Holy Spirit (John 16:7), is available to us today. Even though the Holy Spirit can’t chit-chat with us as our next door neighbor might, he can do hundreds of other things, and he wants to and he will if we but give him the opportunity, because his role is to be a comfort and a help to believers (John 14:16).
If you had a friend with whom you wanted to communicate, how would you do it? Let’s assume that you had unlimited power as does the Holy Spirit, but as a spirit you couldn’t talk or write or use your face or hands. You would certainly have a problem—but the answer obvious—you would do for your friend good things relevant to your friend’s goals, desires, good health and security. These wonderful things that you would do for your friend may be in direct answer to a prayer type request or they may just be good things which you know your friend would like (Matthew 6:8) such as a safe and uneventful ride home from the office or a good night’s sleep. You might also put thoughts in your friend’s mind from time to time although your friend may have difficulty separating the thoughts you send from the thoughts that come in from other sources. The point is you would use all means at your disposal to communicate with your friend. You may be unsuccessful, but you would make an attempt. And we can all be sure that the Holy Spirit attempts to make a prayer exchange with believers every day.
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