Have you ever felt desperate for God? Have you ever, out of desperation for God, become incoherent in your speech before Him? Have you ever prostrated yourself before Him in intense desire for His glory? Have you ever stayed before Him for an hour in speechless surrender and abandonment to His majesty?
King David demonstrated this kind of intense longing when he yearned, "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God; when shall I come and appear before Him?" (Psalms 42:1-2)
Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself groaned in the garden of Gethsemane. Luke tells us that He was in agony. His praying was not an easy walk in the park. He was taking head on the principalities, the powers, the rulers of the darkness of this age and the spiritual wickedness in the high places and it was intense. He needed every ounce of divine muscle and it was obvious in the natural. He was praying very fervently, Luke tells us! We do not know the fullest content of His prayer. But we know from Luke that it was intense. It was fervent to the point that His sweat became like drops of blood. Now that is deep.
There are times when I have prostrated before God in intense prayer and when I stood up I realized that my tongue is somewhat bloodied. My lips are dry. My brow is full of dry sweat. My knees are numbed. My bones ache. My head is pounding. But I have also found that this kind of intensity leaves me feeling deeply connected to God and deeply caring about the things that He cares about.
Intense prayer changes you. You may kneel before God with your head and heart full of the list of your cares. But when you rise from your knees you will realize that your head and your heart are full of God's cares. You will find that you care about the lost. You care about the church. You care about the Kingdom of God growing to influence all of your life and the world around you.
As one gifted in pastoral leadership and evangelism, many people tend to think that I must always be thinking about winning people to Christ as my first priority. I must constantly be strategizing how to usher some more into the Kingdom. In fact some have asked me severally how they can grow in their care for the lost and for the Kingdom of God. How they can win more souls to Jesus.
Well, the truth is that my one and only care is God Himself. All I am interested in is knowing Him and pursuing Him. He is my one ambition in life and I will not exchange Him for anything less. There can never be anything more than Himself.
The truth about soul winning is that as you pursue God and grow in intimacy with Him, you get to understand His heart and desire for the salvation of all humankind. The understanding does not alter your priority. But your priority of God broadens your capacity to attract and usher those who are lost to Christ. As you grow in fellowship and communion with Him, you experience a transfiguration of your desires and passions. A transfiguration that may result in your increased capacity to reach out to others.
My good friend Nick Hall (a young evangelist from Fargo, North Dakota) and I love to retreat and pray together. One such time was yesterday morning. You see, last weekend Nick had organized an outreach event at the University of North Dakota, Grand Folks. My wife Suzanne and I travelled to join him at the event. When he proclaimed the gospel, 962 young people out of the 6000 or so who attended the event indicated decisions for Christ. That is a marvelous thing in this age of skepticism and postmodernity. One thing is clear, neither Nick nor I, despite being Seminary trained, have any particularly impressive apologetic skills. But the one thing we know is God Himself. Or as Nick likes to put it, we pray, God moves!
And so yesterday we bowed in utter adoration to Jesus. As we adored Him, our hearts were ignited even more. "Lord, we are desperate for you! We are desperate to behold your glory and to peer into your majesty! We are desperate for your touch. Show us your glory and the majesty of your Name! Show us your face for you are our everything! You are the reason for our being. Glorify your name O thou God of renown!"
What distinguishes the righteous from the rest of the people around us? What distinguishes mere humanly empowered ingenuity from a divinely infused life? It is the Lord's presence with us. Moses captured it well: "Is it not by your going with us, so that we, I and your people may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?" (Exodus 33:16). Herein is the key to a transforming life!
Will you pray right now and throughout this week that God may infuse your heart with a passion for Himself?