The physicality of prayer

There are different physical expressions in prayer. For example people can scream when they are praying, lifting up their voice in a loud cry.
Hezekiah decided he was going to face the wall, Elijah bent over like someone in deep pain, Hannah was moving like someone drunk as she expressed her desire to God.

Paul mentioned the fact that he bent his knees in devotion to God. He also referred to the lifting up of the hands. Another physical expression in prayer is tears.

One thing that is common in prayer is that things are said, but the physical expression of the prayer is varied. Any attempt to give a regulation to the physical expression of prayer is humanistic rubbish, it is to excoriate the emotion out of the devotion of prayer. The emotion is part of who you are, and if anything less than who you are is expressed in prayer then the prayer is less than it can be. Prayer should be done with the whole of the heart. Loving God should be expressed in prayer and we were told to love the lord our God with all our might, mind, heart. Prayer should not be half hearted, we should not allow self consciousness to make prayer less than it should be.

How about learning from Jesus about physicality in prayer? While before the grave of Lazarus, he wept, and lifted up his voice in prayer. When the disciples came back from a time of ministry, the bible says that he rejoiced in the spirit, and thanked God for revealing things to babes and not to the high people in the society. They won’t know he rejoiced if he did n express that joy. That means you can laugh as you pray.

While he was in the garden of Gethsemane, he was in serious distress, and that was manifested physically in sweat like blood drops. When you see him in that position, you would not see Jesus with a calm demeanor, as what was going on inwardly became manifested physically.

Daniel decided that he was going to face Jerusalem in us regular prayer I a foreign land, showing his heart. The physicality of your prayer shows your heart.

While the physicality of prayer does not guarantee that prayer will be answered, its value is in how it reflects what is going on in the heart. There are people that are too cool to express anything in prayer, or are intimidated by those who are expressive in prayer and so push for a ban on such expression, constituting themselves to mockers.

God looks at the heart. Fine. But the heart is expressed in the act. God declared a damning judgement on Ahab but how he started wearing sack cloth after that touched the heart of God and he modified the punishment.

When you command or dictate for others certain physical posture in worship or prayer (prayer is also worship) the whole purpose is defeated. God wants your expression of devotion to be voluntary, just as he loves a cheerful giver, giving not by compulsion but willingly.

I should be free to sit down if I want to sit down, there should not be a contraint against physical expression in prayer and there should not be a commandment for it.

In Christ we have the freedom to express and the freedom not to express anything, the one who expresses should not think those who are less expressive are less, and the less expressive should not think that the expressive are playing to the gallery.

We have a bunch of humanists rubbish coming into the church, where everything is reduced to the confines of logic. There is nothing logical about raising your voice in prayer since God is not deaf, there is nothing logical about weeping in prayer because God is spirit. Embracing such line of reasoning is humanistic rubbish. There is nothing wrong with physical expression, God made us emotional beings for a reason, and emotions get expressed. Period. If you feel deeply enough about it, you will express it.

There is nothing wrong with emotions. God is emotional, but there is the humanistic rubbish in which the places in the bible where God expressed emotions are regarded as merely symbolic.

Everybody has emotions, and there is no better place to express emotions than pray. Prayer is serious business. It should involve everything: spirit, soul and body. Peter said that we should be serious minded about prayer. When praying, we should not bother about what others can say.

Concerning Elijah, James wrote that he prayed earnestly. There was a certain intensity in his prayer. We learnt that he prayed fervently. “Fervently” is an emotive word. James added that the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous avails much.

The “effectual” aspect is about praying the will of God, (soul) the “righteous” aspect is about right standing with God in your personal life (spirit). But the “fervently” is about physical expression. Anything and anyone therefore that reduces from the importance of the physicality of prayer, attacks the core of prayer.

In the Old Testament, we saw that Elijah went up the mount and bent down like a woman in labour, asking his servants to, at intervals, check the cloud. It was James who told us that what Elijah was doing was pray that it might rain on the earth.

He was in a groaning posture even though he had the word of God that he was going to send rain on the earth. So the physicality of prayer is not about getting God to do what he does not want to do, just the expression of the pressure we are sensing in our spirit, it is sharing the burden of Jesus concerning the matter.

Jesus complained that the disciples did not share his burden of prayer while he was near carrying the cross. They choose to yield to sleep, while he agonized in prayer.

If you see the way the writer of the book of Hebrews described the prayer life of Jesus, you will understand more about the physicality of prayer and he is the one we are supposed to follow.

“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. – Hebrews 5:7” Esv

There is nothing “cool” about loud cries and tears. He offered intense prayer so that he can be saved from death? That was not the impression you get when just reading through the gospels.
But wasn’t it prophesied that Jesus was going to rise up, why then did he have to pray hard for it? The answer is that he was not supposed to rise up without his own active involvement and what is where the tears come in. Who says the physicality of prayer is not important, if Jesus did it, it is more than important, it is necessary.

What about the Holy Spirit? We were told that he intercedes for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. Groaning is not gentlemanly. It is an expression of an intense feeling. Holy Spirit has feelings, that is why we are told not to grieve the Holy Spirit.
So if the Holy Spirit is groaning and you are in tune with him at a particular moment, won’t you also groan? Groaning is intense desire for something (goes with a spiritual birthing process following the natural one). Please let’s stop this humanistic rubbish that reduces the importance of the physicality of prayer.

Rightly so we are taught the importance of the word of God in prayer, but if we are emotional beings, we should be free to express our emotions anyhow we want. To deprive me of my physicality in prayer is to deny God of his enjoyment of me in my prayer, enjoyment of my lack of shame in connecting with him in prayer.

What if my physicality offends others, should I then cage myself? Maybe you can, but don’t let anyone rubbish you, judge you with their humanistic, pseudo faith concepts.

Casting the net

John 21:6: He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. (ESV)

There is nothing passive about casting the net. You do not cast the net staying in your house watching the TV. You have to be down in the water, where the fishes are. There is a deliberateness about it.

Jesus said he will make Peter a fisher of men (effective in the salvation of souls to God’s kingdom) (Mark 1:17), to draw a parallel with what he did for a living.

To be a fisherman at that time was energy and time consuming. It requires skill, dedication, love and certain level of agility.

In the passage from which we derive the focus verse (John 21:1-14), we see a contrast in the results of following Christ‘s instruction and following our own initiative.

When Peter and Co did their thing, convinced that they know what to do, they caught nothing, but when they walked based on an instruction, they caught many fishes.

Therefore in the business of saving of souls, there is a delicate balance of initiative and divine instruction, which we must be aware of.

As a fisher of men, there are the divine tools given by God, means of getting into the water, knowledge and experience, there is the lake in which we are to fish, there are people we are to fish with, and there is the divine instruction for great effectiveness, and there is what to do with the fishes after they are caught.

Obedience

ornament-708799_640John 8:55: But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. (ESV)

Obedience is sometimes easier said than done. You can preach obedience, but when the rubber bites the road we know what is really in your heart. When Abraham chose to follow through with the command of God to sacrifice his son, God declared concerning him that now he knows that he truly feared him (Genesis 22).

Jesus, in the focus verse, was bold to say that he keeps the word of God. But even for him, the great test came when he was about to lay down his life. He struggled at that point, his sweat falling like blood as his whole person shook with the intensity of the moment (Luke 22:37-45).

Whoever says that the will of God will always be easy is self-deceived. But we are to rest on the promise that God is at work in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). The bible says that Jesus offered himself to God through the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 9:14).

So we should expect to receive help with regards to recognising, connecting with and doing the will of God in everything.

Complete obedience

Deuteronomy 12:32: “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. (ESV)

God is a God of order, a God of details. If we will wait on him he will give us the details of his plan. We should not run on part information, which could be dangerous.

Moses spent forty days on Mount Sinai to receive the word of God for the children of Israel at the birth of the nation (Exodus 24:8). When Jesus’ mission was being prophesied about, the bible says that he has come to fulfil what was written about him in the book (Hebrews 10:5-7). There were details for him to carry out.

His life followed the prophesied outline.  He followed the word of God to the full, so much so that he said that he has not come to abolish the law, but to fulfil them (Matthew 5:17). That goes beyond doing right and avoiding wrong, though they are part of it, but to be the embodiment of what the Old Testament shadowed.

In the Old Testament the shedding of the blood of animals was central to whatever was done, and Jesus, who choose to become the Lamb of God, fulfilled that (John 1:29).

He shed his blood to bring man to God. The bible says that we were strangers to the commonwealth of Israel but have now been brought near through the blood of Jesus (Ephesians 2:11-13). The writer of the book of Hebrews says that we can now draw near to God with our conscience purged by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 9:14).

There was another thing of the Old Testament that Jesus fully fulfilled. When he was asked to show them the signs that he was someone special, he said that the people should destroy the temple, and he will raise it up after three days (John 2:18-22).

They were angry at his word, because they thought he meant they should actually destroy the physical temple which held so much religious meaning to them, being the symbol of their identity and which had been in construction for decades.

It was not just a religious symbol but also their validation as a people who has their historical and future political and spiritual capital in Jerusalem.

But in the commentary of John on the words of Jesus, he said that he was referring to the temple which is his body, and the demolition of the temple and it being raised after three days was an allusion to his future death and resurrection at that time.

As the temple, Jesus carried the presence of God. Nicodemus came to him and said that he was sure that God was with him (John 3:1-3). He did not actually know that he was talking to God, the one who is the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

Jesus is the fullness of God in the flesh. His conception was an act of miracle. He was packed with power and wisdom. When he healed the eyes of a man who was born blind, the man testified that since the world began, no one was heard of anyone who opened the eyes of one born blind (John 9). When Jesus spoke the bible says that the people were amazed by the wisdom of his words, that was what he embodied with (Matthew 13:54). Jesus carried out the word of God and we should too.

We should focus on the commandment of God and not our opinion. Look where the opinion that Eve expressed that the bad fruit was good for her landed humanity (Genesis 3)!

To subtract or add to the word of God is to think we are wiser than God, it is pride, something that the devil exhibited, and which King Saul exhibited (1Samuel 15).

We see some of the children of Israel worship the image of a snake for years (2Kings 18:1-4). God told Moses to make it while they were in the wilderness and by looking at it when snakes bit them, they were relieved. But instead of a focus on the word of God, as they were told not to be image worshippers in any way, some people thought within themselves that surely the snake has some power to help them for always (Numbers 21:1-9). It took a king Hezekiah to destroy it, who exhibited an uncommon zeal for carrying out the word of God in the details of it.

John the apostle wrote that we should beware of idols (1John 5:21), while Paul equated covetousness, putting our trust in money with idolatry (Colossians 3:5).

What we put our trust in becomes a god that draws away our allegiance from God. Jesus said that we cannot worship God and Mammon (Matthew 6:24). We cannot have two masters, either we hate one and love the other.

And what God wants is total commitment, he wants the fire of his devotion burning in us that is why he has shed his love in us by the Holy Spirit which he has given to us (Romans 5:5). And we are enjoined to walk in the spirit as we live in the spirit so that we will not fulfil the lust of the flesh, which wars against the spirit (Galatians 5:16-25).

The flesh is programmed to pull away from the demands of the spirit, to be interested only in itself and not think of God. Paul declared that some people are concerned about themselves and not the things that are of Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 2:4). These people will not respond when he calls, or will only do what is convenient for them to do.

Jesus said: if you love me you will obey my commandments, therefore love is more of commitment than feeling, it is beyond thought, it is action (John 14:15).

Jesus gave different commands to his disciples before he ascended to heaven. He said: go into the world and preach the gospel to all creatures (Mark 16:15). He said we shall be witnesses to him after the Holy Spirit has come upon us and will be speak for him in Judea, Samaria and the uttermost part of the world (Acts 1:8).

We have the commandment to reach out, to connect with the people across the world. And there is no generation where it is possible for every believer to carry out such great commission on a personal, direct and individual level as the internet affords.

We are not supposed to be ignorant of the new tool of the internet, which allows a single individual, without leaving his house to actually fulfil the great commission as you deliver the counsel of God to people across the globe. With the internet, the barrier of the borders of nations is broken.

That is the Opportunity that Jehiel Institute provides (dailymedit.com/category/jehiel), to have a mass of people using the internet to propagate the gospel. The bible says: the lord gave the word, great is the company of them who proclaim it. Come and be equipped to be among them, join the people of internet Impact, attend Jehiel Institute. Direct your questions to jehielinstitute@gmail.com

Giving

butterfly-176156_640Leviticus 5:11: “But if he cannot afford two turtledoves or two pigeons, then he shall bring as his offering for the sin that he has committed a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering. He shall put no oil on it and shall put no frankincense on it, for it is a sin offering. (ESV)

God is a giver. When he made man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, he invested his Spirit into man, as the bearer of his image on the earth (Genesis 1:26-18, 2:7). And after sin came in and the Adam and Eve discovered that they are naked, God provided a better covering in the form of the skin of a lamb (Genesis 3).

As a giver, Abraham was outstanding. He gave his son when God asked for it (Genesis 22). God had given him precious promises and had told him: walk before me and be perfect. He was called to a life of obedience which later involved taking the steps to sacrifice his son even though he did not practically execute it as he was given another instruction to give something else: a ram caught in the tickets.

Abraham was tested in his much he values the presence of God, and he passed.

Relationship is about giving. If there is no giving there is no relationship and the relationship between us and God is not different.

The bible says that for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son and whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). So by giving his son, he gave us eternal life (1John 5:11).

But there is nothing we need to give in return to benefit from that gift- it is our faith. We are to put our faith in Jesus, rely on him, make the sure to leave everything and follow Jesus.

David said he will not give God what does not cost him anything (2Samauel 24:24). He fully grasps the idea that giving is paramount in any relationship. He had enough reverence for God and love for him to want to give to him.

When it comes to the building of the temple, though eventually he did not do it, the bible says that he generously provide for the temple that his son would build and his generosity provoked many leaders to give with the same spirit of generosity.

His valuation of the importance of the house of God, of building a house for God, helped to shape other people’s values.

The religion in the Old Testament was about giving, sacrifice were made daily, monthly, yearly, everyone was to bring of the produce of the ground, fruit of the animals. They were told that it is God who gives them the power to get wealth.

And in the New Testament, Paul said that we should offer our bodies as living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). This is our sensible response to the sacrifice Jesus made for us by dying for our sins and the benefits that have accrued to us through them.

What you give determines what you receive, and that is what Jesus said. He said: give and it will be given to you, good measure pressed down shaken together shall men pour into your bosom (Luke 6:38).

Even Jesus did not try to receive without first giving. He did not receive many sons into glory without first giving himself (Hebrews 2:10). He said: except a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it abides along but when it dies it brings forth many seeds, the seed sown gets multiplied (John 12:23-25). That is the nature of seed. The seed may look insignificant but it has the capacity to be multiplied.

Jesus gave himself and he also wants us to give ourselves. Paul said that we should be living sacrifices i.e. sacrifice with no end point. That it is living means that we should constantly need and opportunity to make the sacrifice. It is an ongoing sacrifices, where we separate ourselves to the glory of God.

As living sacrifices with living devotion to God, and dedication to him, our lives becomes seeds like Jesus’ was.

Be becomes seeds for spiritual impact in other peoples’ lives. Paul talked about his own sacrifice saying that he makes up what is lacking in the sacrifice of Jesus (Colossians 1:24). Not that the sacrifice of Jesus is not enough, but someone has to pay the sacrifice to bring the message, and that involves giving ourselves in self-sacrifice.

David said that he will not give God what does not cost him anything. He paid for the place where an altar was built even though it was offered to him free.

Our giving creates a channel between heaven and earth. It creates a landing pad for the things God is releasing, or wants to release. Our giving is a statement of desire for more.

The widow of Zeraphath gave, part of what she thought was not enough to feed herself and her son, to the prophet for the release of the multiplied blessings of God (1Kings 17).

That is the reason it is more blessed to given that to receive, according to the words of Jesus quoted by Paul (Acts 20:35). When we give we create the possibility for receiving in multiple folds. And Jesus said we should be faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon (money), so that we may have true riches.

When you give you show a heart of obedience, that you care, you show your divinity. God is generous and it is that trait that we exhibit as givers.

Giving also expresses lack of fear of lack. Fear causes people to withhold more than is necessary (2Timothy 1:6-7). They hoard money and are not generous. You cannot be a lover of God and not want to give, as your love for God is reflected in your love for others. When you trust God to provide for your needs you will give.

How not to wear yourself out as a leader

farm-554545_1280Exodus 18:18: You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. (ESV)

Moses was wearing himself out attending to the untold thousands of the children of Israel who came to him to judge between one and another. It was a one-man show, it was a solo performance, and his father-in-law came to his rescue, coming with suggestions on how things can be done differently to enhance efficiency (Exodus 18). The main part of that idea is delegation. We know that Moses was the one to whom God appeared to but there are others who can be instructed in the ways of God to stand as supporting judges, and only the most serious issues should be brought to Moses.

The following are the saline truths for all leaders to imbibe so that they do not wear out.

  1. Teach the people

The number one thing that Jethro mentioned was the need to instruct the people in the ways of God. Teaching was number one role of a Leader. That affords the opportunity to cast vision in order to guide the people. With that, Moses will stop being a crisis manager, running from pillar to post. Teaching pre-empts the problems that may arise and how the people can live to ensure that many problematic issues do not arise.

Be a leader who anticipates problems before they emerge and does something about them. Let not counselling be the primary thing you do, let it be teaching, which should be on a continuous basis. We see Paul saying that he was repeating what the people had said already because it is good for them (Philippians 3:1). He wrote: rejoice in the lord always and again I say rejoice. He repeats his words for emphasis (Philippians 4:4).

In teaching the people they get to know what is expected from them, they are trained in the right way. If people do not know the direction we are going, it will be crisis after crisis. Without law there cannot be sin; without vision there is no restraint, without restraint it is error without limit.

Paul wrote about punishing every disobedience when our obedience is complete (2Corinthians 10:6). There can be no obedience if there is nothing to obey.

The first things we need to obey is the gospel, to become believers in Jesus (2Thessalonians 1:8). Your church should be populated by those with genuine salvation responding to the teaching that they should be born again.

The task Jesus gave the apostles while he was exiting the stage was to preach the gospel, not to counsel people in good behaviours, but to preach the gospel and that the believers should he taught all Jesus has taught them and that is no joke (Matthew 28:18-20).

In the book of Acts, they put that to work and the apostles went from house to house. The bible says that the people continued in the apostles’ teaching, prayer, etc. (Acts 2:42). They were constantly being trained in the way of God and prepared to face any challenges.

  1. Prayer must be priority, no fire brigade approach

Just as spiritual instruction is a priority, prayer should also be. While teaching takes care of the issues of the heart (issues within us), prayer takes care of the issues of the spirit (issues outside us).

Jesus, quoting the Old Testament said: my father’s house shall be called the house of prayer for all nations (Matthew 21:13). The church is meant to impact all nations, and the way he wants to do things is to ensure that everyone prays. He said we should pray so that we will not fall into temptation.

Prayer is spiritual preparation, it is to gain the vision of heaven to lead the people in the race on the earth. With prayer, we get resources from heaven.

Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus that the eyes of their understanding be enlightened (Ephesians 1:15-21). Paul might preach until he is blue in the face but without the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God activated in the place of prayer, it will all be in futility.

He mentioned prayer right at the first chapter of that book. It holds priority and he mentioned it also in the last chapter. The first chapter prayer is about them, the last chapter about the devil.

And there is one in chapter three about having the love of God entrench in us. When that happens, we will cease having personality clashes; because then the people will love each other with all genuineness.

The point we are discussing here corresponds to the advice of Jethro that Moses take the matters of the people before God, the first one (teaching) is about bringing God’s matter to the people.

  1. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

To delegate means to assign people to tasks. Moses was managing millions with their different needs, their individual uniqueness, and if he tried to go it alone he was going to wear himself out fast.

There was no questioning Moses’ passion for God, and for the people to get things right, but he needed help for the work.

There was a time that God took from the spirit on Moses and had scores of leaders in the camp. What Jethro was recommending was something systematic, for Moses to appoint different levels of leadership handling different spheres/levels of people-groups and hierarchy of leadership who have been trained for the task and then deployed.

Jethro was personally concerned that Moses was overburdening himself. Everyone else was viewing Moses as some superman, a special breed but Jethro, who was his father-in-law, saw him differently. He knew him for forty years and had a perspective on Moses that was different.

We need people with a full view of our humanity to hold us accountable to the need for balance in our daily regime. The children of Israel might not have talked until Moses crashed physically. But Jethro spoke from the angle of love and understanding.

Attending to everybody only swells the ego, and at the end of the day, the people and Moses will l be dissatisfied and frustrated.

Actually, 24hours in a day is not enough to truly deal with all the cases of the children of Israel. That is why there was the need for Moses to dedicate his time to building others. Paul told Timothy that rather than trying to do it alone, he would teach faithful men who will be able to teach others the things he learnt from Paul (2Timothy 2:2).

Video: God with man

Solomon asked a question in the Old Testament that was answered in the New? He asked: will God dwell with man?

2Chronicles 6:14-18

2Ch 6:14 and said, “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart,
2Ch 6:15 who have kept with your servant David my father what you declared to him. You spoke with your mouth, and with your hand have fulfilled it this day.
2Ch 6:16 Now therefore, O LORD, God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father what you have promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk in my law as you have walked before me.’
2Ch 6:17 Now therefore, O LORD, God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you have spoken to your servant David.
2Ch 6:18 “But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built! (ESV)