Prayer, at its best, is not a duty but a joyous experience with Jesus. When we have this transforming relationship with Jesus day by day, it cannot help but spill over into the lives of those around us.
So I look at the clock and it is almost 9:00 PM! I had been there nearly two hours and we had been praying for nearly one and a half hours. I signal that it is time to wrap up but they want to continue to pray. I was not able to leave until 9:30 PM.
Friday, September 26 I led a prayer service for the Lawrance Seventh-day Adventist Church. This followed a prayer seminar I led the weekend before, September 19 & 20. The Lawrence church is composed of mostly young college-aged students with a mix of older members. Last night we had about twelve college students and six older church members. I began with about 30 minutes of teaching on prayer. Then we began to pray.
The Sprit moved powerfully when we began to meditate on scripture. At one point I asked the group to meditate silently on Jeremiah 31:3
The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
I invited them to think deeply about the text, and to ask Jesus how He had drawn them with loving kindness over the course of their lives. After several minutes of silent meditation, I opened a time of sharing.
One man said, “I just sensed Jesus saying, “I love you,” His voice choked just a bit as he went on, “That has been hard for me to believe,” and he shared some personal reasons why this has been the case for him.
A young man then spoke up. “As I thought about the text, it occurred to me that whether or not I choose to be in heaven Jesus will still love me for eternity. He will miss me forever if I am not there. It made me want to love and serve Him more.”
As another student meditated on the text she was reminded of the time her best friend was killed and how God had sent a person to her in her deepest crisis. Jesus was rewriting the history of her crisis to include His loving presence in the throws of her loss and suffering.
Another woman told the simple story of taking time with Jesus each day since the prayer conference the weekend before, and how she was lead to write a letter to an estranged loved one whom she had not communicated with for over 20 years. “I had felt God working on my heart for some time to write the letter but I did not have the power to do it until this past week, as I took time for significant prayer as you taught us.”
Others shared even more personally the workings of Jesus on their hearts – things that should not be recorded here.
Then we had a time of special prayer for a few of those present, and that is when I looked at the clock. It was nearly 9:00 PM! I asked them if they had been bored and was greeted with a unanimous shaking of heads. My cup was full, but it was about to brim over.
As I closed with prayer and was about to leave, one young man who had not been to the prayer conference the previous weekend and had just three weeks before recommitted his life to Jesus, stood up and said, “we need to pray for pastor Williams!” “You mean me?” I said for he was looking right at me and my name is Virgil Covel. “Yes!” he said infatically. I did not correct him. The group gathered around me and he led in praying for Pastor Williams, asking God to strengthen and protect me and thanking God that I had taught them how to pray. At this a gentle chorus of youthful “amens” arose around me.
Like most of us, our young people do not always know what they are looking for and it can be difficult to even get them to such a meeting as we had last night, but what they crave is a real, living encounter with Jesus. He convicts, and forgives, and encourages, and calms the youthful rampaging of the soul. Our young people don’t need new techniques or new programs or new music or old music or old programs so much as they need a living encounter with Jesus.
We can only lead them there if we are living in the Glory of Jesus day by day seeking and enjoying HIs presence in our daily prayer lives. Prayer, at its best, is not a duty but a joyous experience with Jesus. When we have this transforming relationship with Jesus day by day, it cannot help but spill over into the lives of those around us.
My heart was rejoicing on my thirty minute drive home. I listened to two songs during my drive, 10,000 Reasons and Endless Hallelujah by Redman. One phrase ignited my heart, “When I stand before Your throne dressed in glory not my own . . .” As I thought of the vespers I just left, I was filled with joy that Jesus had seen fit to work in my presence. As I thought of my many failures and shortcomings, I realized with deep, humble joy that He did not work through me, and he did not use me. He simply let me see Him work in the lives of others and I was able to stand in His glory and watch. Pastor “Williams” was blessed!