If there is one thing that will strike a combination of fear and guilt into the heart of a “good Christian” it is a Leonard Ravenhill quote.
The guy was on fire for Jesus and wasn’t ashamed to let anyone and everyone know.
One of his most used, especially around the theme of leadership is:
Ministers who do not spend two hours a day in prayer are not worth a dime a dozen – degrees or no degrees.
This used to frighten me.
What?! Two hours in prayer?! Really?!
As a subscriber to the blueprint model of prayer (see previous post) it seemed odd to me that I even needed to. It seemed like it was another ‘hoop’ that you needed to jump through. Another ‘requirement’ that wasn’t really mentioned when you signed up to following Jesus.
But, through grace, Father God has taken me through an amazing journey of opening up the importance of prayer and just why it is needed.
Jesus First Theology
I believe that everything can be solved with Jesus.
I hold to a Jesus first theology.
For me Jesus is the source, the perfecter and the first port of call when looking at any subject in the Bible. Not only does the whole wealth of scripture point to Him but He answers all the questions the scriptures themselves raise.
Jesus’ words and actions are more important than any other in the Bible, this includes Paul.
Now please don’t get me wrong, we need to hold to the whole cannon of scripture and test scripture against scripture but for me Jesus is the place I start and end any study.
So, I have a couple of key questions I like to use when looking at any subject in the Bible.
1) How did Jesus do this?
2) What did Jesus teach on this subject?
We’ll use the second question now as we look at what Jesus’ taught on prayer.
Jesus gives us one of the clearest examples of the how and the substance of prayer in his example from Matthew 6:9-13
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
The first verse that immediately jumps out is, ‘Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’. In this verse Jesus is asking all who will follow Him to ask God to make earth like it is in heaven. To bring the very joy, life and hope of heaven and have it on earth.
The trouble is that if I hold to the blueprint view of God’s goodness and power then He is going to do the best thing already, which is obviously bringing heaven to earth.
But, it would seem that actually this verse presupposes that things on earth are not like those in heaven. It suggests that God’s will is not being done on earth, like it is in heaven. It suggest that things on earth have gone very wrong and are now out of alignment with heaven. So badly in fact that God is raising up a group of people who will now pray until earth realigns itself with heaven.
It suddenly became very clear to me that Jesus is not teaching us to change our thoughts and attitudes to God’s will on earth; rather we are actively encouraged to pray God’s will into being on earth.
This was a mind blowing revelation to me that my prayers counted for something.
I had started to understand that prayer was not just what you did to be a ‘good Christian’, but that my prayers had some weight to them.
But, what sorts of things should I pray for and what about that quote?! Two hours still seemed like a lot of time to be praying even with this new revelation.
I believe that the parable stories of Jesus grant us great insight into how to see heaven and pray it into being while also helping us to uncover whether Leonard Ravenhill was bonkers or he had a point.
This will be our topic next time as we continue to see why I believe prayer and gathering for prayer is so important in the life of any believer.
Until then, I encourage you to pray the Jesus’ prayer in the coming days and ask Jesus for a deeper revelation of the phrases he used.
Be blessed in your adventures,
*thank you to 24/7 and Pete Greig’s Vision for this phrase.