Behind Closed Doors: Opening the Secrets of Persistent Prayer - Part 1

Once upon a time, prayer was difficult for me. Every time I tried to pray, an inner voice would say, “You don’t really mean that, Bob. You didn’t say it the right way. God is not listening.”

I know now that these thoughts were the enemy’s arrows. Satan wanted me to back off of prayer. But for many years, even as I taught about the importance of prayer to my congregation, my life was not full of prayer.

Then something happened. My wife and I were starting a new church in Johnson City, Tennessee. Because the church wasn’t large enough to support a pastor’s salary at first, my wife agreed to take a job. “Bob, why don’t you spend the time in prayer while I’m working, “she suggested.

I took her suggestion. I prayed eight hours a day for weeks. What happened to me during that period was absolutely revolutionary. I began to see things I had never seen before – revelations of God and the presence and sweetness of the Lord. God became so real to me—like one who is an intimate companion.

But here’s what happened, I began to feel guilty seeing my wife go off to work every day. Within two months, I was feeling horrible about myself. I even forgot about the benefits coming to me from prayer.

In just a month or two, the church would be large enough to handle my salary, but at the time I didn’t know that. So I took things into my own hands and created a small business servicing fire extinguishers.

One day I was at a gas station servicing fire extinguishers when one of them blew up in my face, covering me with dry chemical.  Some began to get into my eyes, but I couldn’t wipe my face because the chemical was all over my clothes and hands.

Then I remembered the restroom across the lot and on the other side of the gas station. So I started walking in that direction. People began honking at me, yelling, “Watch out!” They didn’t know I couldn’t see. Finally somebody came up and took me by the arm and led me to the men’s restroom.

And while I was washing my face, God spoke to me. “I want to be like the man who led you across the parking lot,” He said. “I want to lead you where you can’t see and that’s what prayer will do for you if you’ll continue to seek My face.”

Without prayer, you and I are like blind men in a busy parking lot. We must make prayer the number one priority in our lives and disregard the taunting voice of the enemy.

…let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad. Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face continually. (1 Chronicles 16:10-11)

 Originally published in “Come Up Higher” newsletter volume 3,  #6 June 1997

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