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“Pursuing prayer is prayer on a mission.  It is diligent, fervent, constant, persevering, determined, and convinced.”

~ David Bryant

 

David Bryant

Pursuing prayer is prayer on a mission.  It is diligent, fervent, constant, persevering, determined, and convinced.

~ David Bryant

“Only a God-given reawakening to Christ and the full extent of His supremacy can resuscitate the Church’s hope and passion, and re-engage her effectively in the worldwide advance of His Kingdom.”

~ David Bryant, Website at http://proclaimhope.gospelcom.net/

In a real sense, revival is the only hope for our nation and this whole generation. If it doesn’t come, then most of our other strivings will ultimately be in vain. If the church is enveloped in revival, however, then we will be receiving from the Holy Spirit virtually everything that matters to see Christ sufficiently exalted in our land and among many peoples.

(David Bryant in Revive Magazine, Winter 2012, 8)

Pursuing prayer is prayer on a mission.  It is diligent, fervent, constant, persevering, determined, and convinced.

~ David Bryant

By David Bryant (Life Action)

I attended a high school that is football-crazy. It boasted a stadium seating 20,000 and produced nearly twenty-five state championship teams. The team is called the Massillon Tigers. Our mascot requires a taller student to dress up like a tiger—I mean, wearing a real tiger skin! He inherits a name of affection: Obie the Tiger.

Here’s how a mascot works. At times in the midst of a game, if we’re falling behind, the coach signals time-out. Because the crowd needs to be stirred to cheer more enthusiastically for the team’s victory, the uniformed tiger runs his stripes onto the field. Seeing Obie doubles the crowd’s determination to celebrate the champions we hope to be. After all, we are the Massillon Tigers!

But at each appearance, interestingly, Obie’s performance is very brief. Then he disappears again, sent to the sidelines, put on hold until the next setback. He has served his useful purpose well. Still, in the final analysis, the tiger never really gets involved beyond re-igniting cries of confidence, other than giving us an identity to boast about.

To be sure, Obie stirs up a certain kind of passion. But it’s not really about him. It’s really about the team, and even more about the fans. The team designs the plays, runs the patterns, throws the blocks, reaches the goal, claims the credit. The fans jump with joy, declare their superior identity over the losers, and boast that they are “the Massillon Tigers.” Then we all go home satisfied.

Now, here’s the kicker: What happens the moment our team hits a losing season? What good is the mascot then? The zeal it inspires suddenly feels hollow, even foolish. We are left with little else but embarrassing thoughts of our team’s helplessness and hopelessness. Then, how quickly passion heads south—for Obie, for our team, for our future, for the game itself.

In so many of our churches, I fear, Jesus is regularly deployed as our mascot. On Sunday we “trot Him out” to cheer us up, to give us new vigor and vision, to reassure us that we are “somebodies.” We invite Him to reinforce for us the great things we want to do for God. We look to Him to reinvigorate our celebration of victories we think we’re destined to win. He lifts our spirits. He resuscitates our souls. He rebuilds our confidence. He gives us reasons to cheer.

But then, for the rest of the week, He is pretty much relegated to the sidelines. For all practical purposes, we are the ones who call the shots. We implement the plays, scramble for first downs, and improvise in a pinch. Even if we do it in His name, we do it with little reliance on His person.

There’s scant evidence that we think of ourselves as somehow utterly incapable of doing anything of eternal consequence apart from Jesus. Our promises to Him leave our daily discipleship unfazed. There is little desperation for increased manifestations of His majesty among us.

As contradictory as it may seem, many of us have redefined Jesus into someone we can both admire and ignore at the same time! To make Him a good mascot, we’ve redesigned Him to be reasonably convenient—someone praiseworthy, to be sure, but overall kept in reserve, useful, “on call” as required.

The truth is, Jesus’ claims to the monarchy make Him the opposite of an Obie character. Instead, He encompasses in Himself the coach, quarterback, playbook, team, uniforms, cheerleader, goal post, and final championship—the “whole nine yards” (as we say)—wrapped up in one person alone.

Does this vision of His lordship take on such exalted dimensions in your life? Does it promote an exclusive love for Him—a zeal for His glory evident in your daily routines as much as in your church attendance on Sundays?

I suspect many of us have found far more fascination with the game of Christianity—with how we are playing it and whether we are winning—than we have with the One in whose name and for whose sake the “game” exists at all.

Which may explain the reports: The membership in 80% of U.S. churches is either stagnant or dying. Tens of thousands of congregations are wrestling with a leveling off of financial giving, a growing shortfall of laborers, and an atmosphere of apathy toward evangelism, compassion ministries, and the global mission of Christ’s kingdom that seems endemic.

Without an adequate view of the incomparable majesty of Jesus as King, Christians quickly revert to the role of spiritual “couch potatoes.” We get involved with God’s purposes in Christ at arm’s length, at best. For many of us, “amazing grace” has ceased to be genuinely amazing because our vision of God’s Son is no longer genuinely amazing.

George Barna, respected demographer of American Christianity, concluded extensive research a short time back with this troubling summary: “Overall, Christian ministry is stuck in a deep rut….Too many Christians and churches in America have traded in spiritual passion for empty rituals, clever methods and mindless practices. The challenge to today’s Church is not methodological. It is a challenge to resuscitate the spiritual passion and fervor of the nation’s Christians.”

The time has come to pray for the Holy Spirit to restore to the Church a “Person-driven” walk with the everlasting Son of the Father. The good news is this: If we turn back to exult once again in our Savior as the Monarch He is—if we spread this grander message about God’s Son to God’s people, inviting them to rediscover in His reign all the hope we are meant to have—we can create a life-saving paradigm shift in our lives and inside the Church. We can trigger a reignition of our passion for Him as Lord of all.

David Bryant is founder of PROCLAIM HOPE! (www.ProclaimHope.com) and author of many books, including his latest, Christ Is All!, from which this article was excerpted (see www.ChristIsAllBook.com)

According to David Bryant, spiritual awakening is…

“Spiritual awakening: When the Father wakes us up to see Christ’s fullness in new ways, so that together we trust Him, love Him, and obey Him in new ways, so that we move with Him in new ways for the fulfillment of His global purpose”

June 2017
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