Editor’s note: Over the past years, China Partnership has dedicated itself to intentional prayer for the church in China. As CP increasingly emphasizes prayer as part of our calling, we have worked with John Smed of Prayer Current to hone our prayer muscles. He shared this urgent call to prayer with Chinese leaders and pastors at a recent gathering. The following has been edited from transcriptions of the original talk.
Ascension is the key to power and prayer. You ascend to be with Jesus when you pray. You also share Jesus’ power and authority when you pray. It gets better. It’s hard to believe. I could stop here, and you would say, “I’ve had enough for a lifetime.” Here is something so precious: as you pray, Jesus is praying with you and in you.
The only prayer acceptable to God is when Jesus is praying with us and in us. Heb. 7:25 says, “He always lives to make intercession for [us].” But then in Romans 8, we read that we have been given the Spirit and the Holy Spirit groans in us. The Spirit of Christ prays with us and in us according to the will of God. There is only one way to pray, and that’s to pray in and with Jesus. Jesus purifies our prayer and presents it to God.
Let me give you an illustration. It’s your father’s birthday, and a little child, three-years-old, goes out to get flowers for the father. He picks flowers, and he picks weeds; he picks good things, and he picks bad things. It’s a mess. He comes into the house and gives the flowers to his mother. The mother takes the flowers and pulls out the weeds and the dead things. All that is left is sweet-smelling flowers. The mother brings the child, with the flowers, to the father. Isn’t that a beautiful picture of prayer with Jesus? All our unworthiness, all the weeds of our ambition, all the death of our unbelief and fear: Jesus purifies our prayer and presents it so it is acceptable to God.
Would You Pray With Us Today?
Jesus not only prepares our prayers and presents them to God, but he is with us as we pray, to sympathize with us. Heb. 4:15-16 says, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses…Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace.” Every Christian experiences suffering; every Christian experiences persecution in some way; every person wrestles with their own unworthiness. But Jesus says in Philippians 4: rejoice always! Present your prayers and supplications to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ.
One person was being persecuted and was thrown into prison. He was in the cellar of affliction. He said, “I realized that the Lord keeps his choicest of wines and the best of food in the cellar. I learned to feast in affliction.” Mature Christians do not run away from suffering. The whole world may be unappetizing. We may be hungry. But by prayer, we are present with Christ and feast on his fellowship. People used to spin wool on wheels. God takes the dark wool of our sufferings and our difficulties and weaves them into gold in our character and life.
Let us present our sufferings to God. Ask him to forgive you if you have been fearful and complaining. Ask him for his ascension presence, perseverance and peace. Pray for others to enjoy the peace of God through trial and persecution.
What does it look like to feast on the fellowship of Christ in the midst of suffering? Have you ever had this experience?