Wednesday, January 17, 2007
"Our Great Lack" by Dr Ern Baxter.
The whole matter of prayer and revival are unquestionably linked. I have been listening to a seminar by John Hosier from Stoneleigh 2001 on "God's Passion for Revival" and have been so challenged by the concept of "giving God no rest". What do we know of true intercession, of fasting 40 days and 40 nights, of weeping like Praying Hyde before God until the ground before us is soaked? I found the following article in the Ern Baxter Archive - it is taken from "Tabernacle Tidings" - the magazine that Ern's church (the Evangelistic Tabernacle) produced in Vancouver, Canada. He wrote it on November 25th 1956. It may even be offensive to some but I pray that we will open our hearts to be challenged by it. The Church is nothing if we are not a praying church and we need more than anything else to pray.
I particularly like the slogan of Ern's church; "Where the Word of God is Not Bound!".
Before I post the transcript, be sure to visit "The Spirit of God!" blog - I have just typed up Greg Haslam's awesome prophecy that he brought to the Brighton Leadership Conference 2003. It is another prophecy that truly is coming to pass in these exciting days!
Corner Tenth Avenue and Quebec Street
Dr W J Ern Baxter, Pastor.
“Where the Word of God is Not Bound”.
November 25th - 1956
“Our Great Lack”.
Last Tuesday evening in the prayer meeting, Bro. Len Hearn read a prayer letter from Dr Gurney, Director of the Red Sea Mission Team. It was a splendid article and we had hoped to put it in the bulletin but Bro. Hearn took it with him on his trip. We feel constrained however, to speak of prayer, as this article only confirmed what many of us are feeling and what all of us should subscribe to.
Let us start by saying that many of us are almost altogether prayerless. Apart from saying grace at our meals, we spend very little time, if any, before God in private prayer. Many of us, furthermore, not only neglect private prayer but do not take our place in any of the church meetings called for prayer. Prayer is an indication of Christian genuineness or a “token of election” as the old divines would refer to it. To be prayerless is to raise serious doubts as to genuine Christian conversion. Actually a prayerless Christian is a spiritual freak.
In reading the Scriptures, it is evident from beginning to end that prayer is the medium of contact and fellowship with God. It arises out of man’s awareness of God’s existence and God’s availability. Not to pray is, in substance, either to indulge a practical atheism or what is maybe worse, to ignore the Presence of God in His own universe.
Our Lord made it clear in His own words to the disciples in the Upper Room that prayer was to be, along with faith and love and the Holy Spirit one of the great characteristics of the new age. By it, the will of God was to be accomplished. Men would ask the Father for things in the Name of Jesus and the things for which they would ask would be “according to His will” and so God’s will would be done – through prayer!
Coming into the new day, we find a people in the attitude of prayer and praise being the first recipients of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14). Of the first body of spirit-filled believers it is said that “they continued …steadfastly … in prayers” (Acts 2:42). The first persecution of the Christians precipitated a great Church-wide prayer meeting where the company of believers “lifted up their voice to God with one accord” (Acts 4:24). Prayer was partially responsible for the formation of the first deacon’s board, as the apostles, finding that they could not take care of all the church work, urged the choosing of seven men to take care of the business, that they might “give themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word” (Acts 6:4). Nor were these first deacons committed to their job in any secular spirit but were considered as part of a spiritual economy, for they were “set before the apostles and when they had prayer, they laid their hands on them” (Acts 6:6). All through the Acts of the Apostles, which is the only authentic history of the early Church which we have, we can trace the preminent place and the great importance of prayer.
Coming into the Epistles, which were letters from the apostles to churches composed of born-again and established believers, we find the same emphasis on prayer. Prayer is not the practice of spiritual immaturity but it is the very life attitude of a committed believer. A Christian, according to Paul, is “praying always with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18).
In light of this very sketchy and incomplete picture of the importance of prayer as seen in the New Testament, I think it must be admitted that we can quickly identify the “Great Lack” in our individual lives and in our corporate church life. If prayer is important as even these few Scriptures indicate, and I am doing so little of it, then it is not necessary to look further for the cause of spiritual powerlessness, law standards of Christian life and the many other evident deficiencies of our present-day Christian community.
What shall we do about this matter? The answer is simple. Let us set aside regular times for prayer. Then let us form the habit about praying for everything. We will not be able to affect prayer posture at all times, but the posture is not always important. Let us become interested in the need of prayer in the church. Let us find time for the prayer meeting. Let us be prepared to “labour fervently in prayer”. To stay away from the prayer meeting because of its demands on the flesh is an indication that we have not seen prayer as a work to be done. By this, we do not mean that prayer is not a joy. It is. But there are times when it is labour. If we are only going to interest ourselves in these aspects of the Christian life which are easy on the flesh, and bring a certain amount of sense-joy, it will soon disintegrate into a chronic carnality.
Let us pray more – privately, with our families, in fellowship groups and church prayer meetings realising that prayer is a vital force ordained by God to be the medium for the accomplishment of His will on earth. God forbid that we should hinder the doing of the will of God because of our personal prayerlessness.
W J E B.