One of the things the LORD is impressing on me for 2017 is to increase my time of prayer. Prayer should be a natural function of our everyday life and at the very heart of our relationship with our LORD. The heart of our prayers should always be the expression of our love for the LORD, and of our desire to personally know Him. The LORD said in Proverbs, “I love them that love Me, and those that seek Me early shall find Me.” (Proverbs 8:17) I can think of nothing more important in our walk with the LORD for 2017 than to spend more time in prayer. Our need is not to be better informed about the methods and principles of prayer, but rather to be stirred to spend quality time in prayer. Our prayers should always include the expression of our total dependence upon the LORD. We were created to live in a dependent relationship to Jesus – to look to Him in an attitude of worship and prayer for all things. “I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Prayer is the means whereby this dependent relationship finds its outworking and completion. It is through this union with Jesus in prayer that the LORD meets our needs. Thus prayer is at the very heart of our Christian experience and growth. If we are searching for some new revelation, personality, or fad to follow we will find it and then be easily led into some form of deception. The foundation of our spiritual life must be established on an active, personal prayer relationship with Jesus as being the LORD of our lives and all that pertains to us. Our calling is to work WITH the LORD rather than for the LORD. Therefore, there must be a time of preparation before we can be effective in serving the LORD. Doing the things (ministry, etc.) God needs for us to do will follow as the normal outworking of a life of prayer and communion with Him. If this were practiced as the LORD taught most of the problems that we have in our Christian experience would vanish. At this critical hour in which we live the LORD is calling His people apart, to serious times of prayer. Throughout the Body of Christ the glitter and charisma of personalities and special ministries must fade away. At the same time the door into the prayer closet is opening wider for those who desire something more from the Lord and are willing to enter and pray. It is here that the battle must be won. We begin by acknowledging our relationship to our Heavenly Father and worshipping Him. Only then can we pray for His will to be done and share our needs. Prayer is more than telling the LORD what we think He should do, and all the wonderful things that would happen if only He would do as we ask. Real prayer begins when

we enter into such communion with Jesus that the Holy Spirit can pray the will of the Father through us. There are three different and distinct patterns or forms of our prayer life. The first is duty prayer where we pray over our food, prayer before we close our eyes at night, opening and/or closing a church service, meeting all of the traditions and responsibilities that man defines we must do in prayer and yes these are fine, but the LORD is looking for more. The next is a prayer life where we stop our living to pray. Where we “get alone” with the LORD, where we go into our prayer closet and spend time with Him. Fanny Crosby wrote a song, “Sweet Hour of Prayer” today it would be titled “Sweet Five Minutes of Prayer.” Most Christians spend on average (from resent surveys) less than 10 minutes a week in prayer. Jesus received direction and power from the Father when He prayed. Time and time again Jesus would separate Himself from the disciples and His living to receive from the Father. So I ask are the servants greater than the Master? As important as having a prayer life is the LORD is still looking for something more in our lives and that is a life of prayer where we do not stop our living, but 24 hours a day prayer comes out of our lives. This is how we can “pray without ceasing” as Paul instructed the Christians at the Church in at Thessalonica, “Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing.18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) If we can get to this place in God He then will be able to bring us into righteous living one of His grand goals in our lives. Ah righteous living where we just live righteous like breathing. No one has to think about breathing we just breathe it is automatic, well in righteous living we do not think about doing right or not sinning we just live and our living is righteous. Our living (words, and deeds) automatically become righteous and there is no condemnation in our lives, but if we get off track then the precious Holy Spirit will help (sometimes this can be very painful) get us back on track. This was the attraction (and not the miracles) of Jesus that drew the people to Him as He walked this earth. Righteous living will lead us to a greater love for God (always the beginning of all things in God) and a greater understanding of who we are and how we fit into the LORD’s big picture for our lives. We need not wonder about the LORD’s big picture for the world until we can learn of what God has for us. We then can learn about ALL God has for us and in ALL matters taking hold of the willingness of the LORD not overcoming His reluctance. An area many Christians have trouble with. Be careful our wants (even in God) will get us in trouble sometimes faster than sin. He may reluctantly give us something that we continually press Him for to our own hurt. Note the children of Israel who pressed Him for meat, rather than being satisfied with the Manna that He

had provided. The Palmist said, “They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: 14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. 15 And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” (Palms 106:15) God gave them quail, but they needed something for the soul. Their trade was something physical (meat) instead of something spiritual. And why? They “soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel.” In other words no time spent inquiring of God. The result then was they “lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert.” So God answered their request for the physical (the meat), but “sent leanness into their soul” to give them a hunger that the quail would not satisfy. God has His ways of getting our attention and usually He will use physical means to touch our spiritual lack. What a cry we hear in the church for physical healing and financial blessings when in reality the problem is the lack of spiritual understanding and discipline. There are no shortcuts or push-button methods of entering into His presence. Prayer means spending quality time with the LORD. When the LORD’s people come to an understanding of the value of having a set apart place of prayer for communion with Him and often enter into this place they will be on their way to a life of fruitfulness in His purpose. That way is the same way Jesus walked a life of prayer and relationship with His Father.