Beloved, I am sharing my personal prayer journal here with the hope that a few who are burned out with a superficial Christianity that does not work just might be encouraged by my stumbling journey.
For too long have I followed the illuminating candle of our precious Holy Spirit into the depths of my soul with no other traveling companions than my wife and saints long since dead. I have kept to myself when I should have been more generous in sharing the richness of the vein of ore he has been pleased to guide me into.
Making public my personal prayer journal is a risk I’m willing to take, in the hope that a few who are burned out with superficial Christianity that does not work just might be encouraged by my stumbling journey. So, I gladly make myself vulnerable and transparent. I claim nothing whatsoever for myself — for dead men can claim nothing. My only passion in life is to see others fall desperately in love with Jesus so that no portion of our life is left untouched.
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Prayer Journal, Part 1
You, my Lord, continue to allow me to have a softened heart — a longing heart. Perhaps four times in Leo Tolstoy’s book “Resurrection,” the main character Prince Nek wondered if it was he or the whole world that was blind. I feel the same way. I cannot rest content while your church is lukewarm. The only times we get hot are when we are at war with one another. I’m sure there are at least 7,000 people who have not gone cold as you said to Elijah — I am not complaining — I merely long that your fire would spread. That you would lift the fog of the world so that people would see the truth. We are roaches that hide from the light, instead of moths that are drawn to it. If it is indeed the god of this world that blinds eyes, he has done and continues to do a magnificent job.
Father, “Greater are you within me than he who is in the world.” In your name Jesus — for your glory — in keeping with your call upon me as shepherd, I beg you to unleash your spirit. Captivate the hearts of people. Humble our souls. Fill us with your love. Unite your body. I offer to you my heart, mind and hands, poor as they are. I do not care whose hands you use. I do not need my name, my face on your outpouring. Take my health, my body if that will bring you glory. Only allow me to continue to participate with my soul in prayer. I have never experienced a fire like the one you have placed within me. It consumes everything within me. Being set ablaze by you, sharing in your fire, is richness beyond what I ever thought possible. You are bringing me to complete recollection.
Jesus, you are the great lover. You pursue all people. Hound of heaven, you are relentless; you do not need to track us for you are by each man’s side yet we know it not. We seek life elsewhere. We are deaf to your voice but this you know. Still you invite us to seek first your kingdom. We blow off your invitation. Instead, we seek after that which gives us passing satisfaction here on earth. “Carving out cisterns — broken cisterns that hold no water,” so has it always been.
Father, I understand and stand with the flock. We are creatures of dust. It is what we know. You offer us spirit but all we understand is dust. You invite us to walk by faith but we trust only our own eyes and choose to walk by sight. You tell us the path to fullness is to deny ourselves but all we know is self-indulgence. We do not know that our ways do not work, but to choose you means letting go of what we know. While what we know does not work, we live in the hope that if we get a little more it will work. If only we could have twice as much of what does not work … we are fools but we can’t help it and you know it.
Your understanding and compassion and pity are without limits, as is your power. Yet you choose to let us flounder on our own. Faith is a gift, repentance is a gift, love, a gift, humility, a gift. What do we have that has not been given to us by you? You created us and not we ourselves. We did not choose to have our nature bent. The sin we commit we can do no other. We cannot choose for righteousness on our own, we cannot choose for you.
Lord, we are stuck like my truck in the snow. Shovel, salt, sand, boards — we cannot get unstuck on our own. It is not within us to free ourselves. You must intervene. I know you did on the cross, but that does us no good — as long as we remain stuck where we are we cannot turn to you on our own.
I speak presumptuously Lord, forgive me. I know that you, the creator of the earth, shall always do what is right. Yet it is you that has placed this undying longing in my soul, to connect people with you.
We want the same thing. You have put this passion within me. It cannot be that I want more of it than you. It cannot be that you are unable for you are all-powerful. Does the key lie with creatures of dust like me? We are to partner with you. Is it that you are waiting for me to ask and to keep on asking? Is this my role in the partnership? Is it our prayerlessness that causes the withholding of your Spirit?
Must it be that we people must get to the end of ourselves first to become desperate, overwhelmed with our impotence before we turn to you in earnest, lest we boast — oh, how prone we are to boast. Jesus, could it be (and I could make a strong case for this from your word) that you, Holy Spirit, flow only in response to the weak, desperate cries of your children? So that when you move boasting is nowhere to be found, not even a whiff of it.
I can make no other sense of it, my Jesus, my love. Everything about me is flawed — my heart, my reasoning, my life, my motives — the best I can do is fall down before you gladly professing to you my unworthiness and my foolishness. But also professing my love for your people. My own efforts for decades have fallen short. I cannot on my own move hearts to you, but I know you. You take no pleasure in the death of the wicked. You do not rejoice in the tepid state of your bride. With fear and trembling, risking, presumption and foolishness I stand in the gap before you and your people (madness, forgive me). Father, irresistibly draw people to you, strike fire on the hearts of men.
I am Jacob, flawed and broken, yet I will not let go until you answer my request.