Prayer Thought: More Strength than Samson and Lou Ferrigno Combined
I was 13 years old, in 8th grade, and shorter than I am even now if you can believe it. The year was 1993 and Christian shirts and sweatshirts with quips such as, “I asked God, ‘How much do You love me? Then He stretched out His arms and died’” were very popular. My favorite sweatshirt I owned at the time was pretty controversial but probably not for the reason you might be thinking. You see, it was a white sweatshirt that looked like it had a huge bodybuilder on the front, holding a massive pillar with each hand. The bodybuilder was, you guessed it, Samson the prophet. Below all of this graphic was Zechariah 4:6, “Not by power, nor by might; but by My Spirit says the Lord Almighty!” And at the very top in big, bold letters it said GOD’S GYM.
What’s so controversial about that you say? It was basically a very closely resembled graphic to GOLD’S GYM’S entire logo for their franchise. But I wore it anyway, before they had to change it to LORD’S GYM. In fact, I wore it for another 2-3 years and had it on one day in health class as a freshman in high school. My health teacher, Mr. Coleman, was awesome! He saw me walk in the door wearing this sweatshirt and said, “That’s a pretty bold statement you’re making about God and your faith.” Then he gave me a fist pound as I went down the aisle to sit in my seat.
The actual message of the sweatshirt honestly didn’t really hit me that hard until Mr. Coleman brought it to my attention. I liked it because I thought it looked cool and it did, in fact, have something to do with the faith I already had in Jesus Christ. So, I started asking myself what Zechariah 4:6 really meant. Which meant that I would have to do some research, digging, and asking of others smarter than me what the true meaning of the verse was.
I think I’ve shared any number of times how I have finally realized that I can’t do EVERYTHING I want to do in my own strength. The strength, the power, the might, has to completely come from the Lord or I get lost, bewildered, angry, and even sorrowful for not accomplishing things I’ve set my mind on. Nothing we do has any REAL significance outside of the power of Christ (Jn. 15:5). In the same way, this passage in Zechariah 4 brings God’s comfort and encouragement to the forefront, not man’s. Verse 6 indicates that we (also those in Zechariah), as despondent, fragile, and deficient people are powerless to “render His church triumphant over all opposition (Blayney Commentary).” Instead, it is the power and might of the Holy Spirit that will rescue God’s people from calamity. And even Samson had to learn this the hard way in some respects.
So, now I have a really important question for us to consider: Where does strength to pray come from? I’m not talking about the number of times you end up praying throughout a day. I’m not talking about the calculated minutes in prayer you’re able to accomplish today either. What I’m really asking is: Where, specifically does our ability to pray boldly come from? The pat, Bible answer is of course, Jesus! But I believe it’s much deeper than that.
The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is the One that truly gives us the strength, fortitude, perseverance, power, and might for bold and effective praying. Why is this so important? Because after Jesus was resurrected and ascended to take His rightful place with the Father, He gave those who believe, the Holy Spirit to LIVE, TAKE UP RESIDENCE, INSIDE us! Don’t you think that’s amazing? The whole reason we have any ability to obey God’s commands, including communing with Him through prayer is due to the Holy Spirit’s fire that burns inside our very soul. In fact, I would go so far as to say Jeremiah had this kind of experience when he exclaimed, “But if I say, ‘I will not mention His word or speak anymore in His name, His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot (Jer. 20:9).’” Jeremiah couldn’t be stifled or contained as he spoke the message of the Lord to people who desperately needed to hear it. In the same way, we must be people who cannot be shut down, cannot be pushed out, cannot be silenced, cannot be relegated to ineffectiveness or obscurity, cannot slip quietly into our comfortable little worlds! Nor do I think we are. The Holy Spirit prays for us and with us even when we haven’t the words to pray. He intercedes on our behalf with groanings that are too great for us to comprehend and that are ALWAYS in accordance with the Father’s will (Rom. 8:26-27).
The Spirit gives us comfort when we pray, He gives us the people we need to intercede for each day, He gives us the opportunity to give thanks for the many blessings we have been given…as well as the hardships and trials. He is the One who grows our boldness in asking for greater and greater things to be done for the Kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the One who convicts us of sin and reminds us of the faithful love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness of a Holy God toward us. In the same way we are then able to forgive much when it comes to others because much has been forgiven. Praying is fully Spirit-lead and more potent than we could ever imagine, which is why we believe in the power of pray at KM.
The main reason we have a prayer ministry for KM is NOT because I’m any good at it! The reason we have a prayer ministry is because missions succeeds when God’s people pray. Evangelism is accomplished, applied, and moves forward when God’s people pray. The Gospel that changes the hardest hearts in the whole world goes forth when we pray. We up the value of prayer because Holy Spirit fire blazes in the people we send, in the churches that are planted and multiplied, in the every day activities that honor a Good God when others get to see Him working. Oh, how incredible it would be if I was able to take even a 4th of what I just wrote here and put it in to practice daily!
This week let’s answer a couple questions: How often in my every day life do I think about, meditate on, ruminate in the presence of the Holy Spirit? How often do I rely on the Holy Spirit when I spend time in prayer? After answering these 2 questions each day, pray for a missionary/ missionary couple that the Lord brings to your heart and mind. Pray that the power, might, and strength of the Holy Spirit would give you AND them the boldness to pray in fresh and new ways that you’ve never experienced before.
Clayton J. Elliott, Kontaktmission USA
Director of Pastoral Ministries and Prayer