Sunday, September 28, 2008

Trained Faith

I just made another entry on our main blog page:
I'll post it here:

Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! – Psalm 141:2

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of waterthat yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
- Psalm 1:1-3

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. - Psalm 145:18

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
- Psalm 143:8

We are a very distracted generation.
Let us be honest about ourselves. We do not seek our Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind. There is nothing in us that desires daily, sweet communion with our great Lover. We would rather be texting, watching TV, hanging with friends, spending time on the internet writing friends or researching, sleeping, eating, and the list can go on. We are very technology-oriented generation and while it is a great blessing, we have greatly misused it for our own self-interests. In fact, we misuse everything for our self-interest and comfort. Time is at the top of that list. Our lives are a vapor and we would rather spend the time so graciously given to us by having temporary fun or being idle. Jesus is not a priority to us. We need to stop pretending like He is.
When was the last time you earnestly cried with the Psalmist, “Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!”? Or, “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”?

He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day. - John Bunyan

In the words of Leslie Ludy, “when prayer is missing from our lives, we spend countless time and energy trying to make our lives work, constantly failing and beating our heads against the wall in frustration. But as it says in Psalm 1, when we meditate upon our Lord day and night, we become like a tree that brings forth much fruit - and everything that we do just works. Our time is multiplied. Our effectiveness is multiplied. Our energy is multiplied. Life becomes fruitful instead of frustrating.
When our spiritual lives are thriving, when praying is the foundation of our existence, every other area of our lives begins to thrive as a result. Not only will we have victory in personal lives, we will be strong in order to pour out on behalf of others…” (Set-Apart Femininity)

When we are not seeking God earnestly, crying out from the depths of our heart, and pouring ourselves before Him, we can only expect to live an empty existence. Yes, when we’ve accepted Christ into our hearts the Holy Spirit has sealed us and we are assured of eternal life in Christ. But are we happy with just that? Is that all? Are we really content with living an empty, constantly-striving but fruitless existence on earth?
No. We are called to live by a much higher standard. It is the standard that Jesus Himself lived by every day of His life here on earth. He was in constant communion with the Father. He was sought after by many people, some wanted to kill him and some desired Him. He was a busy man with an ever-growing ministry. His attention was always seemingly “distracted.” But was it really?

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. – Mark 1:35

And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. – Mark 6:46

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed… – Matt 26:39

Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed… - Matt 26:42

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. – Luke 6:12

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” – Luke 11:1

And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping…- Luke 22:45

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. – Heb 5:7

Jesus built his life in sweet unity with his Father. Not for an instant was he ever away from God. God was in His Son, manifesting Himself to the world and giving us a pure and supreme example to live by! This is wonderful news! And we know that our bodies are a temple of God, a dwelling of the Most High, instruments of His righteousness! We are most certainly not alone. We can live by the standard Jesus himself lived by because the same Spirit dwelling within Him is now imparted unto us. It is what the early church was built on…

“And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” – Acts 14:23

And it is a continual exhortation in the letters….

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” – Romans 12:12

“….pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” – James 5:16

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” – Col 4:2

“…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…” - Eph 6:18

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Phil 4:5 – 7

There is something deep and profound in this type of continually poured-out living. It is a complete denial of ourselves and a yielding to Christ every day of our lives. This is not about when we feel or think we need to do it. Never, ever allow yourself to listen to your flesh when it gives reasons (that seem valid at the time) as to why you should be doing anything or being anywhere else than on your knees and calling upon the Lord. We hear the phrase and are exhorted to be “prayer-warriors,” but rarely do we actually consider it. It’s not a special calling, it’s a life – and once you are in Christ, you are His alone and belong to nothing and no one else. He is your life. Therefore, devote yourself wholly onto Him.
This is where we begin to understand the higher calling of a trained faith.

Trained faith is a triumphant gladness in having nothing but God – no rest, no foothold – nothing but Himself – A triumphant gladness in swinging out into that abyss, rejoicing in a very fresh emergency that is going to prove Him true – The Lord Alone – that is trained faith. – Lilias Trotter.

The Word speaks of this trained faith…
Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. – 1 Tim 4:7 - 10

We are called out of an immature, shallow basic belief in Christ and into a full-fledged leaning, clinging, living, crying, praying, speaking, walking, thinking, and feeling life in our dear Saviour! He calls us to “grow up” into Him. This means of a total abandonment of ourselves in every single area of our life, whether it’s struggles, desires, responsibilities, inward or outward…it belongs to Him because we belong to Him.
This “trained faith” was fully manifested in the life of Lilias Trotter, a women that, unfortunately, not many have heard of. She was an artist (painter) and a missionary to the Muslims of Algeria in the late 1800s. Now, here was a women fully taken up by the wonders of her Lord and she threw herself onto Him in complete devotion. These excerpts from her biography (A Passion for the Impossible by Miriam Huffman Rockness), which I highly recommend, describes her faith that kept her thriving despite severe spiritual and physical oppositions in a foreign world:

It was a trained faith that kept Lilias focused on the task and not the results or the uncertain future. It was trained faith that allowed her liberty of movement even when all the obvious avenues were blocked. And it was trained faith that would enable her to survive the arid stretch ahead.

The walk of faith that she proposed required a fellowship with the Father as current as breathing. This was no vague, mystical “communion” wrought of some secret formula. Quite simply, Lilias put the highest priority on spending time completely alone with God, studying His Word with an open heart and receptive to His voice – an activity requiring utmost commitment from her, given the many demands on her time. Just as she had found, in the early years, a quiet spot in a nearby woods, later she made sure a place of prayer was prepared in a rooftop room, “so beautifully out of the way of all the sounds of the house.” It was called the melja, Arabic for “Refuge,” and no one was to be disturbed there. Even within her summer breaks, rich with family and friends, she actively pursued “two weeks alone with God,” considering them essential to her soul.
“As an eagle…fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings – so the Lord alone did lead him.” Fluttereth over – the early stages of faith are reaching upward, like the eaglets for their food when the motherbird is overheard… it is an older faith that learns to swing out into nothingness and drop down full weight on God – the broken up nest of former “experiences” left behind – nothing between us and the abyss but Himself – a rejoicing in every fresh emergency that is going to prove Him true – the Lord alone – that is trained fath. (9 September 1902).

Prayer had always been an essential spiritual discipline for Lilias. She was convinced the band could not survive the hostile atmosphere, much less succeed in their mission, without the divine guiding and empowering that comes from intimate fellowship with God. Just as she had found this fellowship, during the early years in Algiers in Fortification Woods and, later, in the rooftop room at Rue du Crossiant, now, at Dar Naama, her bedroom became her place of prayer.
Listening humbly to the experience of others and searching the Scripture for further insight into the process of prayer, Lilias continued to explore the mysteries of faith.
The text from one of her favorite hymns, “May the mind of Christ, my Savior, live in me from day to day,” was her heart prayer:
It has come these days with a new light and power, that the first thing we have to see to, as we draw near to God day by day, is that “our fellowship is with the Father & with His Song Jesus Christ.” If we can listen in stillness, till our souls begin to vibrate to the thing He is thinking & feeling about the matter in question, whether it concerns ourselves or others, we can from that moment begin praying downwards from His throne, instead of praying upwards toward Him. (21 March 1926)
Lilias was ever encouraging others to pray.

Here is a sister that we should be greatly encouraged by. If I were to cover the many, many details of her life and ministry it would blow your mind even more. I thank the Lord for sisters like her!
Starting now, let us begin to strive to “live in a manner worthy of our calling” and allow Christ to enable us to live by this high standard. Let us begin our days in prayer. Let us clothe ourselves in His Spirit and walk in it throughout the day. Let us end our days intimately woven in the Word of our Jesus.

Our praying needs to be pressed and pursued with an energy that never tires, a persistency which will not be denied, and a courage that never fails. - E.M. Bounds

Make no mistake; it is a hard and painful life. Our friends and family may not understand and we will be perceived as being too serious about this “Christ-business”. Many may see this life as too extreme. In addition, our flesh will rage at the first recognition of this change of lifestyle. The second we shut our hearts and minds off from distractions and temptations and call to Christ to light up our temple, we are guaranteed that a great battle will begin with us. But the more we deny ourselves and the longer and harder we cling to Christ and His Word, the easier and more beautiful this discipline of a trained faith will become. We are more than conquerers in Christ!!

There is no power like that of prevailing prayer - of Abraham pleading for Sodom, Jacob wrestling in the stillness of the night, Moses standing in the breach, Hannah intoxicated with sorrow, David heartbroken with remorse and grief, Jesus in sweat of blood. Such prayer prevails. It turns ordinary mortals into men of power. It brings power. It brings fire. It brings rain. It brings life. It brings God. - Samuel Chadwick

Best definition of pray I know? Cry. – Charles Spurgeon

Hold fast to the Author and Perfecter of our faith!
In Him we stand!