In preparation for our October series of meetings with Joe Humrichous, I am posting articles from his ministry blog, http://www.paradigm1.org The article below presents prayer as a sitting down to a meal together. We spend a lot of time together at the table so this concept should resonate with us all.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
In his classic book on prayer, O. Hallesbe suggests that the greatest verse on prayer in the Bible is Revelation 3:20. I love this offer from Jesus to dine with us for several reasons. I love the setting—a dinner table. As I reflect on my life, I can safely say that most of my favorite memories took place at some kind of table setting. Secondly, it seems that Jesus wants to come into our situation. How much more enjoyable when we know that someone wants to be with us. I note also that it’s open-ended. In other words, He will stay as long as we want. Set in the Eastern culture, this is truly a hospitable gesture on Jesus’ part.
Can we think about prayer this way? Can we create a culture of prayer that resembles a dinner meeting with Jesus? Did He not open the door for us to open the door for Him? Can we not gather around a table spread with the Bread of His Word? Can we not ask questions of Him and wait for an answer? Can we bless Him with thanks in each other’s presence? Are we allowed to stir up thoughts and sharpen one another as we interact in conversational prayer? Absolutely!
This is actually the biblical way for our churches to develop an intimacy with their Lead Pastor as a group. This is praying at its best! This approach is much more enjoyable and effective than the average prayer meeting which shatters hope with long speaking followed by long uncertain times of silence or worrying out loud over mostly outer man needs and constant repetition. We can do better than this. We can pray together and nurture this relationship with Jesus.
We who lead God’s flock must give thought as to how we can nurture them in this setting. As parents, my wife and I worked hard at making our mealtimes meaningful for the children. We can do the same for our local church.
Down through the years, we have had many very resourceful servants of God at our dinner table. They helped us raise our children. Hearing the life stories of these faithful servants helped anchor our souls in the Kingdom. One time I arranged a lunch with one of my mentors. For four hours, we talked. I loved it. We had evangelists, revivalists, veteran missionaries, and Bible teachers fellowship with us and then graciously pray over us. Just for them to grace us with their presence has made such a difference. How much more, if the guest was Jesus? I love to say that life’s ultimate privilege is Jesus at my table. Guess what? He wants to be there.
So, through Jesus we can have out our meetings:
God’s holy character—where revival begins
God’s omnisciently accurate evaluation of our family or church condition
God’s all wise solutions
God’s promised blessing and reward
I might add—all free just for opening the door.
Let’s make a final observation from this letter to the Laodicean church (Rev. 3:14-21). As I studied this letter in the context of the actual landscape of today’s church, I can identify four distinct groups which represent four attitudes of prayer.
Group #1—These are “rich, increased with goods and have need of nothing” (17a). They think they have no need, so they pray without heart. They are self-centered and self-sufficient.
Group #2—This group embraces their identity from Jesus as “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (v. 17b), and they get stuck there, seemingly unable to move on. They are overwhelmed with need, so they pray without hope. They are problem-centered. The pride of self-pity is seldom recognized. Its chains are strong and deceitful.
Group #3—These zealots get their fire from Jesus’ words in verse 19. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent.” So, they launch, with all good intention, to take back the kingdom of their own hearts by force. They pray without rest because they are works-centered. All of these so far I call subtle substitutes for Jesus.
Group #4—The fourth group hears the knock, opens the door, and feast on Jesus’ presence. They are true worshipers. They pray with heart, and hope, and rest because they are Christ-centered. This is the place where individuals, families, and churches thrive with love, joy, peace and lasting fruit.
We need to make sure our praying takes us all the way to Jesus.