“A Stone's Cast Away?”
As we consider the great privilege of prayer, we must acknowledge that every privilege comes with a responsibility. Every person that tells this world he or she is a Born Again believer has the responsibility to be a man or woman of prayer. True prayer is the foundation upon which Christian character is built. It brings us to an understanding of God's word, His wisdom and His will for our lives. I am convinced we can never go beyond our prayer life. A man's prayer life is only as spiritual as his daily walk and a man's daily walk must be a denial of self and picking up his cross.
Over the years, there has been much said and written about prayer. Men like Praying Hyde and E. M. Bounds have written from profound wisdom and experience. These are works that every Christian should read and study, yet I am convinced that no man or book can teach us how to pray. We must learn how to pray as we pray, as we are totally dependent on God and allow the Holy Spirit to assist us in prayer. John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim's Progress said it this way, “Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to His word, for the good of the Church, with submission in faith to the will of God.” This kind of praying is not an option but it is imperative, if we desire to see the Church be the Church on this earth one more time.
As we look at the Church in this generation, we see the true prayer meeting for the most part the exception rather than the rule. Although we know we are living in those “perilous times” Paul speaks about in Timothy, the Pentecostal Church has somehow deceived herself in believing that the further down this road we travel, the less prayer is required, when quite the opposite is true. Prayer like Godly character must be continually developed in each individual Christian and in the Church corporately. This can only be accomplished as we completely yield to the workings of the Holy Ghost. Paul said in Colossians 3:10 “...the new man (created in Christ) is being renewed after the image of Him that created him.” Now, this is the pattern and purpose of the Creator in this new creation. This is the very occupation of the Holy Ghost in the life of the Christian. The Holy Ghost will bring Christ to the very center that He might have preeminence in all things where “Christ is All and in All,” especially in our character and in our prayer lives. I believe this to be true Pentecostal praying where Christ has the preeminence in all things. This can only be true today in the Church as we submit ourselves to the hand of the Creator as He moulds the new creation in the likeness of Christ, and in the same manner in the likeness of Christ as He prayed. But sad to say, we see very little of this Christ like character resulting in very little power in prayer.
But, the mission of the Holy Ghost has not changed. He is looking vessels that are hungry for reality and power in their daily lives. Power that produces the image of Christ and a prayer life where Christ is all and in all. Prayer for power that stirs something deep within us to pursue the Purity and Holiness of God. The same purity and holiness that saturated the atmosphere of the first Church in the Book of Acts. The same Holiness of God that men throughout the Bible have come in contact with. When Isaiah approached the glory and holiness of God, he cried out “woe is me for I am undone.” Job said “mine eyes seeth thee, wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Peter likewise as he saw how holy Christ was cried out, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” John when on the isle of Patmos, when he saw Him whose countenance was as the sun shineth in His strength, when John saw Him in the full blaze of His holiness, he fell at His feet as dead. All these men and many more were smitten in the face of His holiness, yet they were compelled by this same Holiness to draw closer to God. This drawing closer would come through pouring out their souls in prayer in total submission to God. It was in these times of prayer that they offered themselves to be purged and cleansed and consecrated to His service.
We must return to this cry of the heart that the Church once more will be those “vessels meet for the Master’s use.” Vessels seasoned in prayer that is saturated with the same atmosphere as Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane. Prayer that is seeking only the will of God and the glory of God.
I believe there is a great truth in the Garden of Gethsemane as it relates to us in prayer. Now, we know Christ prayed here just before His trial and crucifixion. This is praying that would lead Him to Calvary. As we find this story in Luke, we see Christ and His disciples in the Garden. Luke 22:40-42, “And when He was at the place, He said unto them, pray that ye enter not into temptation. And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast and kneeled down and prayed, saying, Father if thou be willing, remove this cup from me, nevertheless not my will but thine be done.” Note that He was only a stone's cast away from His disciples as He poured out His soul in agony, “With His sweat as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” I want you to keep those words, “a stone’s cast away” in your mind for a few minutes as we take a journey down this path of prayer.
I believe that we are living in the last of the last days. A time when the Word tells us, “if those days weren't shortened the very elect would be deceived.” A time when there is a great falling away, but at the same time, “a gathering to the person of Jesus Christ.” Paul tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:1, “Now we beseech you brethren by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and by our gathering together unto Him.” Paul here connects this gathering to the person of Christ with the last days. And again in Hebrews 10:25, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Now as we see this gathering, in both these scriptures, it is obviously speaking about the last days. So we see an exhortation to gather together in relation to the end times. Now, we know He is not talking about geographically, that would be impossible for the true Church, but what is the nature of this gathering? This gathering is to the person of Jesus Christ, a gathering to the Lord in oneness and fellowship. This is a gathering to a living relationship to a person, that we may know Him in communion and intimacy. This end-time gathering will be the people of God once more coming together in prayer with a cry to walk in the will of God and to glorify Jesus Christ. This end-time gathering of a praying people will allow the creator to mould this creation into the true representation of the vessels that will usher in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. This great gathering in the end-time will be the true Church coming together with the Lord in prayer with and for all the saints. The Holy Ghost gathering the true Saints together that we may be strengthened to pray for the lost and this final harvest just before the coming of Jesus Christ. Prayer will be the uniting factor as a remnant gathers around the person of Jesus.
Now, here in Luke, we read where Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane went a little further than His disciples, “a stone's cast away.” This is a great principle that the Pentecostal Church was founded on. Jesus went a little further and “prayed through.” Jesus prayed through to the will of God. Jesus knew He must know the will of God. What Jesus did here would determine the destiny of humanity. If Christ does not touch the realm of the spirit where a man can know that he knows, you and I would not be saved today. There was nothing more important on the face of the earth than for Christ to pray through and be led by God to Calvary to shed His blood. That is the reason for such great pressure as He prayed. Every testimony down through the ages, every captive held in bondage, every mother's child depended upon Christ going a little further until He had prayed through and touched God and had a fresh revelation of God's will.
I am convinced this final end-time gathering to the person of Christ will again usher in such praying. I also am convinced that it will be the prelude to the final out-pouring of Pentecostal power. When Jesus prayed here, it would bring Him to the cross of Calvary, and the cross always precedes Pentecost. There has never been a Pentecostal outpouring apart from a people that first embraced the cross. The cross always makes a way for Pentecostal power. Jesus had to first die on the cross before Pentecost came. That is what the Holy Ghost is doing right now as He gathers a people together.
I have witnessed this first hand in just the last few months in Germany, Belgium, and the Ukraine. A people shutting themselves in with God for 5 days to fast and pray until they touched God. In the Ukraine over 150 people gathered for 12 hours a day for 5 days and poured out their hearts. I heard groanings and a cry that touched the heart of God. A people desperate to see the will of God revealed in this final generation. It was the closest thing to Pentecost I have ever experienced. I believe these to be some of the initial “gatherings” that will usher in a move of God and the coming of Christ. This type of praying is not an option, it is absolutely imperative. We must come back to the old paths of Pentecostal praying.
These disciples here in the Garden with Jesus were a “stone cast away.” They represented a multitude in the Pentecostal Church today that are so close, yet so far from the reality of the will of God. Multitudes sitting in Church, week after week, refusing to press into God with fervency of prayer. They have become enamored with churchism and the games people play, in this Laodicean Age where man is the center of attention and Christ is outside knocking on the door. A Pentecostal Church filled with tares that must be entertained and spoon fed the Gospel least they be offended. Soft “preachers” preaching to soft “Christians” producing a generation of effeminate weaklings. We are spiritually seeing the feminization of a people that call themselves Pentecostal. Paul called it “form without power and ever learning without ever coming to the true knowledge of Christ.”
But, in the midst of this great deception, there will be a remnant that will refuse to be “a stone's cast away.” There will be a people in this generation that will rise to the challenge and pray through to the revealed will of God. This kind of praying can be found at every crisis and every spiritual transition in the Bible. We read about Jacob, Samuel and Isaiah, men that prayed through until they themselves were changed, nations were changed and the testimony of the Lord restored. Anna and Simeon knew the Christ child when He entered the temple, the only two that recognized Him to be different than any other child. Why? They gave themselves to fasting and prayer and Christ was revealed to them by the Spirit. And there was David, the little shepherd boy; when he went to the camp of the Israelites, and heard Goliath, what did he do? He found those stones in the valley. Listen, Saul's army had been there for sometime just a “stone’s cast away” from those same stones, but refused to press in and rise to the challenge. David went a little further and the enemy saw the hand of God as one man picked up his stones.
I know those disciples did not press in with Jesus in the Garden, but they did not make that mistake at Jerusalem. There was 120 that refused to be a stone's cast away this time, and they shook the world. These men fasted and prayed and God touched their generation. God help us today in this Pentecostal Church of this generation to find our upper room and refuse to be a stone's cast away. The stones are still there, and our Goliaths can still be conquered.