My formula for a full-time worker of the gospel is:
- Eight hours with God
- Eight hours for God and
- Eight hours for yourself
A full-time minister of the gospel should spend eight hours with God alone every day. I expect this time to be put in praying, reading the Bible, wrestling with God and labouring to be filled with the fullness of God. The problem is that there are people who are full-time lazy men. I say this with a lot of pain.
We have missionaries in fifty-one countries, and these are accountable to us. Some of them pray only an hour a day. They are dangerous men. One hour of prayer alone only keeps one alive. If the person is married, he had better pray one hour and half for both of them to remain alive. If there are children, the need for prayer rises up to two hours a day in order to keep all alive. If the person has a ministry, he should pray three hours or more. If this is not done, the person will be very poor in his God-content. It is in prayer that a man lays hold on God and brings Him down for his own transformation. in prayer, a man lays hold on God to fill him, so that he may flow to others. If there is no deep, rich and continuous prayer life, the man is a crook. He can only deceive the people.
If a minister of the gospel does not plug in to God so that God flows into him, then he cannot flow to others. The minister of God must be a man or woman of prayer. If not, he has no mandate to preach. No one has the right to stand before men until he has stood before God. Out of extensive standing before God, a man brings abundance to people.
If your ministry does not flow from deep and heavy praying, it is a shallow ministry. You may entertain people, but their lives will not be transformed. The transforming power does not reside in us. It is the power of God, flowing through a man first at the place of prayer, that effects transformations in the lives of the hearers.
The Lord Jesus at Prayer—1
The Bible says,
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you” (Mark 1:35-37).
It was very early in the morning, not just early in the morning. in my own under- standing, morning should be six a.m., early in the morning should be five a.m., very early in the morning should be about four a.m. Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed. Now, what are you doing at four a.m. every day? Sleeping? The One, who was the Son of God, woke up, withdrew to a lonely place, and there, He prayed. He could have said, “I am the Son of God. I am full of the Holy Spirit. I do not need to pray this much”. No, He did not think along such lines. He knew that heaven only works in response to the earth. God has decided that He will be governed by the earth. The one who prays determines the is- sues. He did not pray where He could disturb anyone. He withdrew to a lonely place. He fled from people, from the company of men, in order to give Himself to His Father. He fled from gazing at men so that He might gaze at His Father. He cultivated di- vine companionship. Can we afford to do less?
The Lord Jesus at Prayer—2
The Bible says,
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard be- cause of his reverent submission (Hebrews 5:7).
The Son of God prayed with loud cries and tears. Was He joking? Was He trying to impress man? No! He meant business! He did not take His Father for granted. He did not say, “God is my Father. He will answer me.” He knew that He should either pray or perish. So He prayed with loud cries and tears, and was heard. That is how Jesus prayed and then went with the Father into the day.
The Lord Jesus at Prayer—3
Jesus Christ decided that He would see the face of God in prayer before He would see the face of man. He was in love with His Father. He yearned for His Father. Very early in the morning, He would contemplate the face of His Father. He would know fusion with His Father before going out to meet man.
People who do not know God either do not pray or pray too little. To such, God is a stranger. Before they have been before Him, they are done with Him. Who wants to stay long with a stranger? Oh, but when you meet your friend separation becomes a painful thing. Andrew Murray had a conference for spiritual leaders in Africa. Few of them said they prayed two hours a day. The last group prayed seven minutes a day and two of them afterwards confessed they were not sure about the seven minutes. They were exercising catastrophic leadership. They had decided to do God’s work in the energy of the flesh. Oh, but Jesus Christ knew that without His Father’s intervention, His ministry was finished. His ministry depended entirely on His Father’s intervention. He clung to Him every day. He decided that He would talk to God about man before He would talk to man about God. No wonder, He was successful. That is why it took time and He took the time.
The Lord Jesus at Prayer—4
In His prayer life, Jesus first took time to listen to His Father and to hear Him. He would wait for the Father to first talk to Him. He would then raise back the issues in prayer as He had received them from the Father.
Prayer: The Discharge of Divine Burdens
Prayer was created to meet the needs of God. It was only secondarily created to meet the needs of man. So, the one who prays goes to the place of prayer and says, “God, put your burden upon my heart, so that I may discharge it in prayer.” He will ask, “God, what do You want? What is Your need?” When God speaks, the person will then ask for a corresponding burden, and then in prayer, pray that God would do what He wants to do. in answer to prayer, God then does His will.
When the Lord taught on prayer, the first things were: …
Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9–10).
The very first three things to be asked in prayer are divine needs. Look at them again:
- Hallowed be thy name
- Thy kingdom come
- Thy will be done