We recently had a very powerful week in the prayer room. We saw real breakthrough as people gathered and worshiped throughout the week. Lives were touched and changed. People were activated in prayer and worship. New volunteers signed up. The presence of God was tangible all week long!
Obviously this was very exciting for me as the coordinator of the prayer room. All week I found it easy to wake up and feel the joy of the Lord, to seek Him in my quiet time, and even to share my faith with total strangers. However, something strange happened to me that Saturday. I woke up and prayed just like everyday before. I read my Bible. I was faithful in my personal devotion to Jesus, yet I didn’t feel amazing like I had all week. I felt foggy and weighed down. I found myself questioning what was wrong with the way I was praying…
After a little thought, I suddenly realized that I had unwittingly diminished prayer into a formula. I’d allowed my prayer life to be motivated by positive feelings. This led me to ask myself an important question: why do I pray at all? This question led to an even bigger one: why do we need a house of prayer? Surely it had to be more than just good feelings!
Themes of prayer run throughout the entire Bible, but there are times where prayer absolutely stands out. From walking with Adam in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8) to speaking to Moses through a burning bush (Exod. 3), to using the night sky to show Abraham his vast lineage (Gen. 26:4), the Bible reveals a God who interacts with His people. Indeed, it would appear He delights in doing so! Regarding man’s motive to pray, however, no one stands out more than King David.
David is described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). In the life of David we see God elevate a humble young shepherd boy to the status of a great warrior and eventually to Israel’s king. We also see great inner conflict and emotional turmoil intermingled with enormous failures. What set him apart from others was undoubtedly his passion for God and his unwavering prayer life. In the Psalms there is no human emotion missing: anger, fear, doubt, joy, hope, sadness, disillusionment, disappointment, and everything in between. All of these emotions are directed God-ward through songs of praise. It seems David knew that God truly had the power to deliver him from the greatest enemies and redeem him from the greatest failures. But was this his core motivation in prayer? Was it solely based on what God could do for him?
I believe 2 Samuel 7 answers this question beautifully. David is in a moment of reprieve, resting in his house, at peace with all of his enemies. He should be feeling great! Yet, he finds himself with an unexpected burden on his heart, which he shares with the prophet Nathan, saying, “Look, I’m living in a house made of cedar, while the ark of God remains in the tent” (2 Sam. 7:3). In other words, David reasoned within himself that it wasn’t right for God to not have a resting place if he himself had one. This seemingly small thought is the beginning of David’s biggest dream: to build a house for God in which He would be ministered to 24/7! It amazes me that no one before David had thought of this, not even Moses!
God is so moved by this idea that His response to David is to build David’s house and make it immovable forever. This, to me, reveals the purest motive of prayer. The same thing that motivated David to build a resting place for God is the same thing that motivated him to write the Psalms. It is simply this: God is worthy.
When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, He instructed them to ask heaven to come into the earth (Matt. 6:9-13). Well, what is heaven like? According to scriptures, we know that right now, at this very moment, there are masses of saints and angels around the throne declaring the worth of Jesus. In heaven there is constant worship surrounding Jesus at all times reflecting His great holiness. This is not just a theory; the Bible describes these scenes in real-time detail. Why would they do this in heaven? Are they doing this to get something from God? Are they doing it to feel good? Surely not!
They have every single thing they need: experiencing perfect bliss in paradise. They are, quite simply, compelled by the sheer worth of Christ as they see Him in all His beauty. This visual breathes a whole new depth to the Lord’s prayer. When our motives are right and we pray in response to the worth of God… when we pray like heaven prays… an automatic consequence occurs. Heaven is released into the earth. People are passionate about Jesus and the Gospel is preached to more people. Souls are saved. Destinies are fulfilled. Marriages are restored. Addictions are broken. The list goes on and on!
I began to see the shift in focus as I followed the scriptural thread through the Old and New Testament. When we simply pray because Jesus is worthy, then we have it right. When we pray to get something out of it for ourselves, we miss the point completely. This brought me back to our Harvest House of Prayer at Take the City… Why does Harvest House of Prayer (HHOP) exist?
I can almost hear David screaming from heaven’s balcony… “Because He is worthy!” When we begin to base everything we do around the worth of Jesus, and not ourselves, then it is only a natural result that we feel good in prayer and worship. We are bound to have less depression, less anxiety, and more joy and love. However, we must keep the main thing, the main thing. Then we will be able to sustain a prayer movement like the one we’re seeing at Harvest House of Prayer. It is when the going gets tough and we do not feel like praying that it counts the most. This is true because Jesus truly is worthy.
Pray with me-
Lord, we have created a resting place for you, here at Harvest House of Prayer, a house for you to dwell in. We have set this place apart for you and only you. You alone are worthy. Captivate us with your beauty that we may never falter in bringing you the adoration you deserve. In Jesus’ name, amen.
-Brandon McKenzie, Coordinator of Harvest House of Prayer (HHOP)
If you would like to get involved, email email@example.com
My first encounter with Take the City was going to Wilson Apartments in Columbus GA. We were met by a man from that neighborhood who prayed with us before we began the outreach. We set up an area for the kids to play and others went door to door witnessing and praying for people. It truly was a humbling experience. Another time I got to pray at an abortion clinic which was another humbling experience. The worship services the night before are always dynamic and spirit led. However I will conclude with the best part for me was being an eight week participant of Take the City boot camp. All of the leaders were simply AWESOME and I learned so much during those eight weeks. I thank God for all these wonderful opportunities!