Most believers have found it easier to study the Bible, meditate, worship, tithe, and exercise all the other disciplines of the Christian life; but struggle to maintain a consistent, disciplined prayer life.
Is the issue a lack of discipline? That\’s only part of it. Certainly a consistent prayer life takes discipline; however, the lack of discipline is rooted in a lack of vision. True vision is what motivates us to be disciplined. Proverbs 29:18 say, “Where there is no vision the people perish”. And, unfortunately, for many of us our vision of prayer has not been adequate to produce discipline.
As believers we have a responsibility to increase our vision as to what prayer should be. We must realize that prayer is not a game or a religious exercise; but a means by which God has chosen to engage us in the manifestation of His kingdom in the earth.
One aspect of prayer that is continually overlooked is its prophetic character. We generally think of a prophet as one who speaks to people on behalf of God. This is true of the prophetic role, but it is incomplete. The biblical concept of the prophet is much greater. Scripture shows us that the prophet can speak to man because he has first listened, and spoken to God.
The first time we see the word “prophet” in the Bible is in Genesis 20:7, where Abraham, the prophet, was interceding for someone suffering under the judgment of God. Again in Genesis 18:16-33, we see Abraham interceding for Sodom. In fact he is arguing with God, attempting to get God to change His mind. We see here that he is on such close terms with God that he can argue his case before Him. These passages clearly show that the characteristic activity of a prophet is prayer.
No one could appoint himself as a prophet; one had to be chosen by God, spoken to by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit. This did not happen to everyone. Moses recognized this, and longed to see the day when this blessing of intimate fellowship would be available to all of God’s people; “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them” (Num. 11:29).
This was fulfilled, when Jesus taught His disciples about the Holy Spirit and prayer (John 14-16). He then revealed the intimacy of relationship, like that of the prophets, they were being brought into. He says to them: “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).
While all intercessors do not stand in the office of the prophet (Eph. 4:11), just as the prophets we have been given the privilege of intercession and are called to speak God’s Word to our culture. This is a huge responsibility, for we are more than a messenger. We are those who stand in the presence of God (Jeremiah 15:19); who stand in the council of the Lord (Jeremiah 23:18); and who is a participant in the council of God. In other words, we are counselors as well as messengers.
Just as the prophets of the Old Testament, we should be on such close terms with God that we can speak frank and openly with one another. In the Old Testament, we find the prophets engaging God in debate, interceding, and mediating for others. As intercessors, through the Spirit, we are taken into God’s confidence. God’s basic plans regarding the world and His means of accomplishing those plans are disclosed in Christ through the Spirit.
The prophets in Ezekiel were considered foolish because they were not praying prophets, had no dialogue with Heaven; they contrived how to please people, not how to do them good; they stood not against sin. They flattered people into vain hopes. They caused men to think themselves deserving of eternal life, when the wrath of God was upon them. Ezekiel 13:5 expresses three reasons why God pronounced judgment on them; (1) Ye have not gone up into the gaps; (2) You have not provided a hedge or covering; and (3) You have not prepared the people for battle.
It is when we don\’t align ourselves with God\’s ways and purposes that we run the risk of being judged like these prophets. We must not be foolish in our doings that we prevent the sinner\’s repentance with our flattering promises and false predictions. But by prayers, examples, and advice, contribute toward their salvation. We must hold true to the principles of truth, justice and purity for they are our protection from destruction. We must be a wall of defense for the people.
Let us not be labeled and judged as were the false prophets. Let us become more disciplined in our prayer life so that what we deliver is what we have seen or heard through the Holy Spirit and not out of our own heart so that we do not bring a reproach upon God\’s people or ourselves.