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The Prayer Circle: Pray from a Cross-Centered Life

Thanks for meeting us at the prayer circle.

We don’t like to talk about dying to self (much less actually die to self), but it’s one thing we have to do in order come before God and make our requests known.

Learn more about this crucial concept as it relates to prayer in this week’s Prayer Circle.

Pray from a Cross-Centered Life

We would all agree that self-centered prayers kill prayer meetings and are a waste of time—whether it be an individual or a group. James makes that very clear and calls it friendship with the world. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” (James 4:3-4a)

Years ago, I read some advice for great leaders which gave instruction to have clearly defined goals. I took the advice and wrote down some specific quantitative goals for the church I was pastoring. I made the numbers rather large for me. I rehearsed these goals with our leaders and reported them to my colleagues. One day I began to ponder on them. I sensed the Holy Spirit giving me pause by impressing upon me the word “Why?” Why do you want these numbers of people or baptisms or students or outreaches? Why? I got the point and reoriented my aim for qualitative goals! While there is nothing wrong with a big crowd, there is something wrong with a big ego, and God was not going to be a friend to such wanting. Purity of heart is not an arrival; it’s a process.

We will learn to pray unselfishly when we put prayer where Jesus was at the cross. Claiming no rights of our own will put us and our praying in a place where God raises the dead to abundant life. When we pray at the cross we participate in the very life of Christ and we are heard.
Notice these Scriptures:

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone: but if it dies, it produces much grain. (John 12:24)

I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)

D.A. Carson says, “The place where God has supremely destroyed all human arrogance and pretension is the cross. Our self-centeredness is deep. It is so brutally idolatrous that it tries to domesticate God himself. We act as if he owes us explanations.”

Dr. F. J. Huegel in Bones of His Bones, says it this way:

“When we come to consider prayer in the light of ‘co-crucifixion,’ as this position may be called, we find that prayer truly comes into its own on this basis. Prayer is nothing if it is not communion, and true communion is only possible when the ‘old life’ which cannot have fellowship with God is terminated.

The reason why many are finding prayer so unsatisfactory and the life of prayer so unattractive is because they have attempted to enter into the celestial realms of prayer in the strength of the ‘old man!’

True prayer can only be offered on the basis of ‘co-crucifixion.’ This is the prime condition. ‘If you abide in Me and I in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.’ We must be ‘in Christ.’ But we cannot be in Christ in the fullest sense unless in the power of the Savior’s death we commit to death the ‘old life.’

It is when we realize our oneness with Christ in death and resurrection that prayer becomes the marvelous force that we find it was in the life of the Savior, the invincible dynamic that it reveals itself to be in the book of Acts, and the ineffable experience of the great saints of the ages. It is then that our spirits as well, liberated by the power of the cross from their fleshly and soulish entanglements, ‘mount up on wings as eagles.’ It is then that the communion with God comes spontaneously and naturally to its fullest expression.

Prayer then becomes a working out of the will of God, and therefore must prevail—be the difficulties what they may, however staggering the problem, however great the need. It is then that the great disparity between what the Master said prayer would accomplish and the miserable caricature that it is in the actual practice of millions, is removed, and prayer blossoms out in all the glory of its true nature!

Seeing prayer in the light of the cross and our participation in the Savior’s death and resurrection, we are not the least surprised over the achievements of some of the great prayer warriors of the church.”

Joe Humrichous

Joe Humrichous is the executive director of Paradigm One and Bible Prayer Fellowship. The message of the sufficiency of Christ for both the pastor and the local church was birthed during a time of brokenness in his early ministry. Now after 50 years in ministry, Joe is passionate to share this reality as it applies to corporate prayer and church leadership. He recently served as a pastor at First Baptist Church in Covington, Indiana. He and his wife Teresa have 5 children and 13 grandchildren.

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