“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
Years ago as I was traveling in a communist country in Eastern Europe, I met an elderly man who had spent several years in prison for his faith. After being released from prison, his life was continually in danger because of his ministry. Although he constantly faced the threat of death, his life remained pure and loyal to Jesus. He was a man who understood the nature of prayer. During the time he spent in prison, he knew that although his sons were top students in their schools, they would not be allowed to study in universities.
Upon graduation from high school, his oldest son went to work in a factory. His father prayed from his prison cell. One day the head of the communist party in the factory said to his son, “You have potential. You would be of more benefit to our nation if you studied in the university. I am going to recommend that you be allowed to study there.”
The son not only studied in a university, but he studied in one of the outstanding universities in the world. He became one of the leading scholars in that nation and a committed Christian. Through the years that father prayed every one of his sons into the university.
I wondered how this man’s prayers could change the decisions of government leaders. He said with tears running down his face, “Many people come to my country and want to make a big fire for God. I do not want to make a big fire for God. I want to be consumed by God’s fire until I am ashes. When I am ashes, then I will see the glory of God.”
He said to me, “When I am consumed totally by God’s fire, then I will see His glory. Do you understand?”
I wanted to say that I understood. But I knew that the man understood the holiness of God in a way that I did not. He experienced a depth in his prayer life that I desired. My encounter with this godly man opened my eyes to a tremendous truth about prayer:
Holiness of heart and power in prayer are inseparable. A life that prays is a life that is wholly yielded to the will of God. It is a life that recognizes the majesty of God and has submitted to His kingship. It is a life that has power and authority in prayer.
Consuming Fire, help me to understand Your holiness as this man did! Teach me to yield myself to Your will and recognize Your majesty so that my prayer life will have this kind of power and authority! I will need help to give up my comfortable, satisfied lifestyle to be willing to go wherever You lead me and to endure whatever suffering may be necessary to learn the way of holiness and submission! I always want to light fires for You. Instead, give me the courage to be willing to be consumed until I am ashes!
Praise the wonderful God who causes mountains and hills to burst into song and all the trees of the fields to clap their hands (Isa. 55:12). Give thanks that the Lord “comforts his people and [has] compassion on his afflicted ones” (Isa. 49:13). Confess any lack of joy which you may have and admit to God your failures to receive his joy. Commit yourself to considering all of life as pure joy, whatever the circumstance, since Jesus Christ is alive and victorious over all. Ask the Lord to restore to you the joy of his salvation (Ps. 51:12), so that you may be a prime exhibit of Christ’s life-changing power.
When your church gathers to worship, ask that members will have a taste of the joyful assembly that is heaven.
“Christ actually means prayer to be the great power by which his church should do its work.” —Anonymous
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