The City No Longer Forsaken

"They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted." ~Isaiah 62:12

Friday, October 24, 2008

On being a Pray-er

Something that tends to stick out to other people about me is that I seem to like to pray a lot. To be honest, this mystified me for awhile. Completely, totally mystified me. Prayer itself never felt like it was my focus...I prayed because I wanted to see God. My whole life I had never really thought prayer worked. I mean...I liked talking to God. But it wasn't until just before I came to Japan and the crash course in prayer that ensued the next six months that I really knew God answered prayer. And to me this is two plus two...that if God answers prayer, then we must pray.

It was jarring and shocking for awhile to learn that my two plus two didn't look like simple addition to other people. In my mind when I told them about prayer, I was saying, "2+2=4", but what they heard seemed to involve a combination of differential equations, ancient Greek, and neurobiology.

A few months ago God kind of pushed me on this issue. And I accepted that, no matter what I WANTED to be true, God calls some people to a kind of praying that is different. It is costly. It will take time. Steal opportunities. Limit relationships. Be a wasted life from the viewpoint of the world. It is the one place in ministry where really NO credit can be given to the person involved, because when prayer is answered, you praise God, not the pray-er. And besides, ANYONE can pray.

Of course, the reward is out of this world. There is nothing sweeter than watching something happen and sharing that secret smile with the creator of the all...knowing that we discussed it happening a couple months ago, and now He has really brought it about.

This has been a long introduction, but the point is that this whole prayer calling thing has come up once again. Last night this was a smaller part of a much larger conversation:

A: Have you heard of the Anna anointing?
Me: Well...I know who Anna is an I know what an anointing is...but no, not really.
A: Well, that is you, my dear. And I would love to tell you about it before I go home for Christmas.

I have to admit, I was a little concerned. Anna is the woman who greeted the baby Jesus who had been praying and fasting in the temple for upwards of sixty years. The idea of being "cloistered" frightens me a lot. I want to pour out my heart in prayer...I want to do it over and over and over again...but I do not want to be stuck in a room. I want to be on the streets. I want to meet people who don't know who Jesus is and share about him. I want to meet people living in cardboard boxes and people losing heart in their battles with cancer and people who have given up hope...I want to take the fire that has been given to me and pass it out to them until they feel joy bubbling up in them. I want to stand holding a bright light that shows them the way to the source of life. I want to watch when God touches them and their whole lives get flipped upside down by Him.

Anyway, A. passed me Mike Bickel's teaching on the Anna anointing, and I got to listen to it this evening. IHOP (not pancakes...the International House of Prayer) talks about "Annas" as people having "the grace to spend long hours in prayer with fasting and to sustain it for many years. "Annas" are men or women, old and young, whose primary ministry is fasting and prayer aimed at changing the spiritual atmosphere of a city or nation. This is not their only ministry, as Anna did the work of an evangelist and was a prophetess; she is recorded as the first evangelist in the New Testament as well."

Mike Bickel talks about himself as having this anointing, and when he describes his work, he says he is in the prayer room about 40 hours a week, and does teaching, pastoring, etc. type ministry stuff for about 20 hours a week outside of that. I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful I would find that kind of schedule. It always amazes me when I have vacations in Japan that I finally feel like I am able to do what I am called to do. When I am at the student center 40 some hours a week it always seems impossible. In the past, I've only really felt free when my workload was 20 hours a week or less. And I don't mean free to run around doing whatever...I mean free to exist in general. Anything more than 20 hours and I can't keep up with myself.

But one thing really, really struck me from the CD, and it wasn't about who I am, but about the way that the church needs to respond to pray-ers. He praised the Catholic church as having made a home for Annas and Marys (Anna is focused on intercession and Mary is focused on worship) throughout the centuries. But this "home" has been mostly missing from Protestant churches. He told us that we could not do it from an isolated place...which is my tendency a lot these days, I have to say. Sometimes the battle to not be isolated feels not even remotely worth it. And he talked about the need for leaders who would not only be excited about the pray-ers, but push them to go all the way.

I was challenged by that...there are needs that I have as a person called to intercession first, other ministry second, that I rarely communicate. Or if I try to communicate them, it turns into one of those "2+2=4" is now super complicated math situations. But I have real needs...a need for a corporate worship place where it is safe to pray however the Lord calls me to, whether intercessing, worshiping, or waiting on Him silently...people who are willing to drop everything and pray with me if needed...occasionally, I actually need to be let off the hook of other obligations so that I can pray (I still always feel guilty about this one)...and I have a real need for people to encourage me and remind me that I can go further than I have gone so far.

Anyway, I don't know if there's a real point to this entry...just rambling, I guess. And processing.

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