Monday, February 26, 2018
Jude 1:20-21 "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life."
As a child, our family had a water-well located on our property. Most of the time, the pump that brought-up the water from the well and into our house worked quite well. However, there were those occasions where my father would need to go out to the well-pump and pour a gallon of water down the shaft where the pump was located. Why? To "prime the pump". When the hot summer days would come, very little water was feeding into the well. These episodes of "priming the pump" kept the water-supply flowing into our family's home.
When the Christian experiences "dryness" in their prayer-life
Anyone who has been a Christian for a while experiences those seasons where the well of prayer seems to grow dry. Whenever things get dry - panic sets into the heart. Oftentimes, Christians will try various sorts of activities to "prime the pump". It was the devotional author Oswald Chambers that once remarked that spiritual activity is the number-one competitor of spiritual vitality. I have too often made the mistake of "getting busier" rather than stopping long enough to get alone with God in prayer.
The method for priming the prayer-well of the Christian-life is found in Jude 1:20-21. In the opening verses above, we find a three-corded strand that is not so easily broken. If the reader may note, I have underlined three commands that Jude issues in getting our prayer life back on track.
Priming the pump of the Christian's prayer-life
First, he commands us to "build ourselves up in the most-holy faith". This first command has to do with doctrine. Doctrine is the pearl necklace of the Christian life. Pearls of truth, stranded together, make for a well-adorned mind and heart. Today, many Christians believe they can get along fine without doctrine. Unfortunately, experience divorced from doctrine leads to fanaticism. Doctrine cleanses the mind. Doctrine gives meat to the bones of the Christian faith.
So focusing upon sound doctrine - particularly the doctrine of God - is needed to prime the pump of the prayer-life. Why else did the Lord Jesus begin His famous prayer with "Our Father, Who Art In Heaven"? He taught His disciples the need to focus on God.
I have found that when I begin my prayer-time, it is helpful to focus upon God's attributes, names or actions. Equipping oneself with such doctrinal truth requires exercising oneself in scripture. We only get out of our prayer-life what we put into our time in the scripture.
Jude then issues forth a second command in Jude 1:20, namely - "praying in the Spirit". This second command occupies the main point of today's post. We want to know how to prime the pump of the prayer-life. There is a big difference between "praying" and "praying in the Spirit". Once I heard Charles Stanley preaching on the subject of "how to hear God". Praying in the Spirit involves making God's leading, will and voice priority. Thus, as Dr. Stanley preached on how to hear God, he noted four requirements which he laid out in short order: prioritize, pursue, persist and pray. Once I have adorned my mind with the doctrine of God, I am positioned to pray in the Spirit. Will I prioritize God? Will I pursue Him? Will I persist and stay in the saddle? Only when these steps are carried out is one then ready to pray and hear God.
We then see Jude deliver a third command in Jude 1:21, namely "keep yourselves in the love of God". I recall when I fell in love with the woman that would become my wife. Life transformed. I could not get her off my mind. Her qualities, her voice and her words stirred my heart to want to know her more. I knew that she was the one with which I wanted to spend the rest of my life. For almost 25 years we have been married. To this day I can say that I love my wife more than I did in those early days. You see, I have kept myself "in the love of my wife".
Now when it comes to God, we realize that He is the Maximally Great Being. Jude emphasizes this final command. As a matter of fact, the first two commands are impossible without this last one. Keeping oneself in the love of God requires His indwelling Spirit in the Christian and a mind devoted to thinking about Him. Meditating upon God's qualities, His words and being insures that God does not quickly become an abstract idea.
God saves the Christian to have an experiential relationship with Him, grounded in truth and empowered by the Spirit. The Christian is urged to die daily by taking up the cross (see Luke 9:23-24). There must needs be a cross to issue forth the spiritual life.
A simple exercise that can take what we learn from Jude and "prime the pump" of the prayer-life
I have found it helpful over the years to refocus my attention upon the A,B,C's of God. Beginning with God will ensure I end with God in prayer. Psalm 121:1-2 reminds us:
"I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth."
So, whenever my prayer-life runs dry, I first consider God's Attributes (such as omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, mercy, love, justice, holiness, etc). I may take a sheet of paper and write "Attributes" at the top left and then begin to list underneath that heading as many attributes as I possibly can. Next, I think of God's "Blessed Names". One may write this heading at the top center of the sheet of paper, and then begin to list as many names of God as one can think. Names of God such as Jesus, Lord, King, Jehovah-Jireh (God my provider). One writer has estimated there to be over 1,000 names of God found in the Bible. Thirdly, I then write on the same sheet of paper to the upper-most right this phrase: "Consistent acts". This final designation deals with what God has done, is doing or will do. God is my Creator, Savior, Lover of my soul, Protector, Friend, Deliverer, Soon coming king, etc.
By the time one goes though the above little exercise, the tone is set for prayer. If one's prayer-life is extremely dry or non-existent, having the Book of Psalms open before you, or Isaiah 6 or Revelation 4-5 is a must. Such chapters in the Bible are exclusively God- centered. Psalms such as Psalm 2; 90; 102; 110 and 150 are God-centered Psalms. The Book of Psalms was designed and inspired as the hymnbook of Israel. Whenever one alloys a Psalm to their sagging prayer-life, the beams of prayer are strengthened. Reading a Psalm like Psalm 73 reminds the reader of how certain saints got "out-of-the-rut".
May this post and these suggestions serve you and me today. God is calling every believer to prayer. Might we take the instructions we learnt from God's Word and "prime the pump" to activate once more His ever-fresh supply to our faith in God.