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The Prayer Circle – Who Is the Focus of Our Prayer?

Thanks for meeting us at the prayer circle.

Last week we talked about ownership; this week we’re talking about relationship. Jesus is the Owner of the church, and He’s also our dearest Friend. Keeping Jesus the focus of our private and public prayer can keep us from rote, exhausted prayers. Our prayer life will flourish if we will remember that our prayers keep us connected to Him, not the other way around. We come to meet Him where He’s already been waiting.

Who is the focus of our prayer?

When I started 30 years ago studying and teaching on prayer, I made a list of things I didn’t like about many of the prayer meetings I attended:

1. Too much talking and repetition—a bit like public speaking with long recitations

2. Too much focus on outer man needs — like worrying out loud

3. Too much informing God about the circumstances and telling Him what He needs to do and so on

We miss Jesus in it all. We miss the relationship aspect of praying. In his classic book on prayer, O. Hallesbe suggests that the greatest verse on prayer in the Bible is Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” So why don’t we think about prayer like a conversation with Jesus over dinner? It seems to me that it would invoke a warm and natural dialogue that could draw many into the circle.

Guess Who’s Coming to Supper

In all of the letters Jesus sent to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3, He includes four main points of emphasis:

1. “Let me introduce myself—here’s who I am.”
2. “Let me tell you what I know.”
3. “Let me correct and instruct you; please listen carefully.”
4. “Let me comfort and encourage you with hope.”

In Jesus’ final letter written to the church of the Laodiceans, He includes all four elements of the first six letters plus one more that especially gives us hope and a way forward. To this very rich and proud church who had grown nauseatingly lukewarm to Jesus, He made the amazing almost “too good to be true” offer of Revelation 3:20. The “Head” of the church, the “Life” of the church, the “Purchaser” of the church, the “Builder” of the church is offering Himself to be at our table as we attempt to be the church. After rebuking them in love (v. 19), He gives a hearty “Behold” to let them know His eagerness for them to grasp this offer. He’s excited about the possibilities. So He takes His position at the door of this church and politely knocks, wondering if there is a remnant who even has the spiritual ability to hear. In short, Jesus, the ultimate church consultant, is initiating a one-on-one, unhurried, fellowship supper with you, your family, and your church! Think of the potential of these welcomed encounters.

Down through the years, we have had many very resourceful servants of God at our dinner table. Hearing the life stories of these faithful servants helped anchor our souls in the Kingdom. One time I arranged an afternoon with Dr. Warren Wiersbe. For four hours, we talked. I loved it. We have had evangelists, revivalists, veteran missionaries, and Bible teachers fellowship with us and then graciously pray over us.

Just for them to grace us with their presence has made such a difference. How much more if the guest is Jesus! I love to say that life’s ultimate privilege is Jesus at my table. Guess what? He wants to be there. So through Jesus we can have at our meetings:

1. God’s Holy character—where revival begins
2. God’s omnisciently accurate evaluation of our family or church condition
3. God’s all-wise solutions
4. God’s promised blessing and reward

I might add—all free just for opening the door.
At this point, we have moved from Jesus Christ obviously present and actively in charge to praying with Jesus Christ obviously present and actively in charge. This is to be “command central” for our homes and churches. Make sure you go all the way to Jesus. (No subtle substitutes.)

Let’s make a final observation from this letter to the Laodicea church, Revelation 3:14-21. As I studied this letter in the context of the actual landscape of today’s church, I can identify four distinct groups which represent four attitudes of prayer.

Group #1—These are “rich, increased with goods and have need of nothing” (v. 17a). They think they have no need, so they pray without heart. They are self-centered and self-sufficient.

Group #2—This group embraces their identity from Jesus as “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (v. 17b) and they get stuck there, seemingly unable to move on. They are overwhelmed with need, so they pray without hope. They are problem-centered. The pride of self-pity is seldom recognized. Its chains are strong and deceitful.

Group #3—These zealots get their fire from Jesus’s words in verse 19. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent.” So they launch with all good intention to take back the kingdom of their own hearts by force. They pray without rest because they are works centered. All of these so far, I call “subtle substitutes” for Jesus.

Group #4—The fourth group hears the knock, opens the door, and feasts on Jesus’ presence. They are true worshipers. They pray with heart, and hope, and rest because they are Christ-centered. This is the place where individuals, families, and churches thrive with love, joy, peace, and lasting fruit.

We need to make sure our praying takes us all the way to Jesus.

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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