Prayer: The Antidote for Spiritual Dissonance

“When routine bits hard and ambitions run low . . . love, love will tear us apart - again.”

                                                                                    - Ian Curtis
I truly believe with all my heart that if Christians began to take prayer mire seriously, this nation would be changed.  God is calling you to intensify your prayer life and repair your private altar if it is dry and desolate.  Repent of your busyness and begin to pull away into quietness.  You and I need to spend and “waste” time in God’s presence.  We need to listen more than we talk.  We need to wait for His instructions before acting.  Faith must precede intelligence.  Stillness must be a step ahead of strategy. 

- Jonathan Oloyede

Boiler Rooms are infamous in American history for unscrupulous financial gain, oppressive measures, encouraging unethical practices and all for enabling all manner of corruption in American markets. 

I didn’t realize how this term was utilized in America before I began to incorporate the idea of a prayer boiler room into my ministry language.  I was totally ignorant of what corruption was associated with the secular, greedy, wealth seeking machinery commonly referred to as boiler rooms.  But once I began to reflect I could certainly see how the stench, darkness, heat and sealed images of a steam, seedy and shady boiler room inside the bowels of some ship on the high seas came to be a moniker for unsavory financial practices and for their notorious purveyors.

Yet, I found something amazing about this.  So like myself, I am fascinated and deeply attracted to the subversive nature of Christianity.  I love the scandalous language and kingdom ethics that challenge the institutionalized and tame version of the unapologetic, unpopular and unswerving legacy of salvation entrusted to us in love & grace by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

So, why not claim a title – who like in the case of Matthew, the tax collector – isn’t remembered any longer for the imperial extortion he perpetrated, but for leaving behind all that he knew before to embrace – without any calculations or cost-effective analysis – the carpenter of Galilee. 

My message is about building up your private altars of intercessory prayer and taking uncalculated risks for God in prayer and in your lives.  Anything short of a vibrant, intentional prayer life & of taking uncalculated risks for God is not a genuine expression of the faith one claims to have in God through Christ.  The current expression your life may demonstrate can be cultural or perhaps an expression of national values, politics or racial in origin, but it is not the Christian faith.

As breathing is to life, prayer is to the Christian life.  One cannot live in the condition God wants us to if we do not live in prayer.  Our “natural” state as Christians must be a state of prayer, rather than a state of nature.  We no longer are to function instinctively, but rather in the Spirit.  If we live in the condition of the fallen, while claiming to be part of the body of the Risen, we are living incongruent lives harboring a deep spiritual dissonance. 

As in the case of Leon Festinger’s theory on cognitive dissonance, we must change how we think if it is contradictory with the way we act.  The opposite is also true, we must adjust our behavior if the way we think causes us to feel that there are inconsistencies with the manner in which we see things and consequently, act. 

Leon Festinger
Imagine then if we claim to love Jesus more than family, life and all the others things of this life, but we somehow never get around to praying to God as if He really was our first love.  Sometimes, we don’t get to praying at all. 

In light of spiritual dissonance then, we must seek God’s direction and the Spirit’s intervention so that we may, in fact, begin to reflect the consistency of our faith in thought, word and deed. 

Asa - whose name, interestingly enough, means “physician” or “healer”, began his rule by putting God first.  He used the resources available to him, but only after he had consecrated all things before God and sought God’s direction and favor. 

As his rule began to show signs of strength, power and peace, he began to deposit more trust in himself and in the ways of humanity.  He began to see accords with rulers as the guarantee for a peaceful coexistence rather than to seek the author of liberty’s continued guidance and protection.  At the time of illness, he sought the knowledge and skill of physicians and did not seek God’s direction and ways. 

In so many ways, Asa’s life is an extended meditation on the Church. 

Walter Wink in his compelling and controversial book, Engaging The Powers

“The early Church did not seek to formulate a theory of illness; instead, it healed the sick.  It did not attempt to explain how the demonic could exist in a good world made by a good God; instead, they cast out demons.  They had no hypothesis about how prayer worked.  They simply prayed . . . .  Their attitude was not anti-rational or anti-theological, but merely concrete.  They looked, not for adequate ways to conceptualize the Kingdom, but for ways to actualize it.”

In light of this refreshing way of looking at the Church’s manifold mandate to be the Body of Christ, to go and make disciples – not just believers or converts -  and to actualize the Kingdom – we stop and consider the role of prayer in all this. 

Prayer is the hinge, the paramount ministry for the Church.  Period.  No other ministry will EVER surpass the fundamental and transforming power, purpose and function of prayer.  Why?

Well, I encourage you to read from a classic on prayer written by the great prayer, writer, bishop & servant of Jesus, J.C. Ryle.  From his treatise – A Call To Prayer, p. 27.    

In light of this beautiful expression of our prayers being perfected through the commingling of our Lord’s prayers with ours made possible through the utterances, guidance and provocations of the Holy Spirit – I share this sobering reminder from another titan of Christian Prayer – E.M. Bounds, from his book, Power Through Prayer, p. 127.

Bounds’ idea really hits home and sets the stage for the final act of this message:

He writes at the beginning of the same book:

“The Church is looking for better methods, God is looking for better men (and women).”

The “better” men and women are not going to come as a result of improved leadership training, workshops or experience.  The unquestionable difference will be present in the countenances and lives of those men and women who seek God first and live for God through prayer, fasting and living holy lives. 

Our gathered communities of worship will NEVER become the vibrant and subversive expression of the Kingdom of God unless a commitment to prayer becomes the (not “a”) condition for living.  It’s that radical and it’s that serious. 

Looking for better methods are expressions of Freudian rationalization, the use of faulty logic, to excuse behavior, attitudes and feelings that are simply wrong, indefensible and intrude in the achievement of spiritual harmony and healing – what we would call – Shalom. 

To be intercessors in prayer requires us to be connected with others in such a way that we can empathize, we experience self-awareness and self-control.  The only way we can pray in this state of honesty before God is if we, in fact, seek Him above all people, desires and things.  Anything short of this will cause us to be double-minded and unable to be divested of self-serving intentions and agenda.  Now, you may challenge me by suggesting that this last statement cites the inevitability of the human condition, we should accept it and work our faith in the reality of our “fallen” nature.  But I would suggest that as “recovering sinner” we recognize the need to cease from all behaviors, attitudes & feelings that are serving the darkness rather to help us become the light.  For if we claim to be in the light as He is in the light, but we don not love another and seek to live in Him as He is in us – we lie and we do not practice the truth.

So, the scandal of our faith is this – we die to self and we will live.  We begin to live in prayer and we will live for God.  In living for God, we will be not only recipients of the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit will break into our lives in such a fashion that will desire nothing else but to be in His presence and to have His will be ours. 

IN this transformation, we no longer see unanswered prayer and answered prayer as two distinct categories of prayer, but instead as harmonious counterpoints. 

I believe that we can live as a subversive, loving community of healers.  We can all consecrate our lives before God and seek to actualize the kingdom of God right here, right now.  We can stop calculating the things we do for God based on spreadsheets and accounts and instead, throw caution to the wind and leap across the chasm with full confidence of God’s never-failing arms and hands on the ready to grab us, bring us to Him and be blessed for we trusted in His character and not in the resources and skill of men (and women).  I believe we can be a boiler room, taking uncalculated risks and becoming inebriated with God’s love, power, grace & wisdom.  But this wisdom is not an excuse for inaction or a way of disguising our own anxieties and/or caprices.  It is something that comes when we do all things for him, despite what the neighbor, banker or government leader says or promises.  It’s about turning our lives upside down so we can straight ahead for the very first time.

Always In Christ Jesus,

Pastor Daniel


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