Your Best Work is Done On Your Knees
What position do you do your best work? Do you manage by walking around? Do you work best sitting at a computer desk? Do you sit in a car driving to make sales contacts? Do you do your best creative work while jogging along a trail?
A California Miner said: “I do most of my work on my knees.” Jesus did some of his best work on His knees.
On February 26, 1829, a Jewish boy named Leob Strauss was born in a cottage in the Bavarian village of Butterheim. As a young man, Leob changed his name to Levi and wound up in California where he opened a textile company in San Francisco. One day a gold miner walked into Levi’s shop and complained to the young merchant. “Look at these,” pointing to his pants. “I brought them six months ago, and now they’re full of holes!”
When Levi asked why, the miner explained, “We work on our knees most of the time.”
Levi told him that he could make pants out of strong material. He could use canvas that he used to make tents. “If we make your trousers out of canvas, I’m sure they won’t get holes.”
The miner’s trousers were made and the rest is history. Soon miners across the West were wearing Levi Strauss’s jeans.
As Christians we need to have the same problem – pants with worn-out knees, from doing kingdom work on our knees.
We should know that unless God blesses in answer to prayer all our efforts are in vain. But the fact is we spend far too littler time in prayer. There are several barriers to taking time to pray.
I. Barriers to Taking Time to Pray
Following the Passover Meal in the Upper Room Jesus took Peter, James and John with him to the Mt. of Olives to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus walked a short distance from the three disciples and knelt down and prayed. One of the Gospel writers said Jesus fell on his face and prayed.
Jesus prayed in deep agony, “Father if it is possible remove this cup of suffering and judgment from me. Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground (mingled with blood). At last he stood up again and returned to his disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief. ‘Why are you sleeping?” he asked, ‘Could you not watch with me one hour?’ Get up and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you.’” Luke 22:41-46
Jesus would ask each one us: “Will you not take time to pray?”
When God says “no”: Because God says “no” some people stop praying and believing. Ted Turner of Turner Broadcasting has been a critic of Christianity. He said he had a very conservative Christian and Biblical upbringing. He even considered becoming a missionary at one point in his life. The Atlanta Journal Constitution quoted him as saying that he was saved seven or eight times in his life. He became disenchanted with Christianity when despite his prayers that his sister would get well, she died.
Job would answer Ted Turner with his rock bottom commitment to the Lord after he lost his children, cattle, wealth, “Even through I lose everything even my life, I will trust the Lord.”
The writer of the song “The Solid Rock” speaks of unshakable faith.
“When darkness seems to hid His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. His oath, his covenant, his blood support me in the whelming flood. When all a round my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. On Christ the Solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”
Cares of this world: The cares of this world take so much of our energy and attention that we fail to pray. How quickly we forget that this world is not our permanent home, we are just passing through. The way we spend our time you would think we are making this world our permanent home.
A Gallop Poll reported that Americans pray about five minutes a week and the prayers are usually about some crisis in life.
The Bible is very clear we are not to love this world. I John 2:15-17, “Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world. And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever.”
As Christ followers we have eternal life and plan on being with God throughout eternity. It makes sense that we need to spend time now talking with God. We have conversion with God as we pray. When we run to and fro and fret and worry about all the cares of this world we are to exhausted to spend time with Jesus in prayer.
Lust of the flesh: The lust of the flesh happens when a person lives for selfish desires and pleasures with no regard for the dignity or feelings of others. Lust of the flesh happens when a person gives in to instant gratification regardless of the consequences. When a person gives in to the lust of the flesh the guilt becomes a barrier to prayer.
The only winner when a person gives in to loving the world and giving in to the lust of the flesh is the devil. The Apostle Paul declares: “For you, dear friends, have been called to live in freedom - not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feel that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:13,19-21
Satan is delighted when people stay off their knees in prayer. Satan trembles when Christians have conversation with Jesus in prayer. Someone has written:
Satan laughs at our words
Mocks at our toil
But trembles when we pray.
God created you and is interested in guiding and direction you from birth to death. Through prayer you stay in touch with your creator.
One little boy prayed: “Dear Harold in heaven.” His mother asked him, why did you pray, “Dear Harold?” Because in the Lord’s Prayer it says, “Our Father in heaven, Harold be your name.”
What a privilege it is to pray. Our Father in Heaven, our creator, our wonderful awesome God, loves us and wants to hear from us.
Don’t let any barrier keep you from the greatest work you can do, pray.
II. Jesus is Our Mentor in Prayer
At every turn in His life we see Jesus going to God in prayer. Jesus never debated the topic of prayer. He did not say, “If you pray.” He said, “When you pray.” Jesus took it for granted that prayer would be a vital part of our Christian life.
Jesus began his public ministry by speaking in the synagogue at Nazareth then he called Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow Him and become his disciples.
Jesus then traveled to Capernaum where he taught and healed many people. He healed a man in the synagogue in Capernaum who was possessed with an evil spirit. At Peter’s house in Capernaum he healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law of her disease. Many sick people in Capernaum came to Peter’s home and were healed.
Mark 1:35 “The next morning Jesus awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray.” Following his time of prayer he then traveled throughout Galilee and Judea preaching and teaching.
Jesus taught there is great value in praying in secret and praying in small groups. Jesus said, “And now about prayer. When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them… But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets will reward you.” Matthew 6:5-6
In Matthew 18:20, Jesus said, “For where two or three gather together because they are min, I am there among them.” There is something especially helpful when praying with two other people. Our prayer triples have had great participation in the Willow Vale Congregation. Many of the prayer triplets have now met for ten or eleven times. Some of the groups may continue and others may take a break until next fall when we’ll make available new prayer guides for the prayer groups.
From the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane we learn a valuable lesson in prayer. We learn from Jesus why we pray and how to pray.
Jesus as the Son of Man and Son of God experienced emotional pain, mental pain, spiritual pain and physical pain. Jesus was not looking forward to the pain of rejection by his disciples, the Jewish people and the Romans. The suffering on the cross was beyond anything anyone had suffered before and since. Jesus took on himself the sins of humanity. Jesus prayed: “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.”
One word sums up the key to effective prayer: “Surrender.” True prayer takes play when we surrender and yield to the will of God. Jesus prayed: “Not my will, but your will be done.”
The Apostle Paul captures the truth of surrender in Galatians 2:20, “I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Following Jesus demands a daily surrender of our lives to Jesus. It is daily dying to self and living for the honor and glory of God. Luke 9:23, Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me.”
One of my favorite hymns is a hymn of surrender to the Lord: “Have Your own way Lord, have your own way. You are the Potter and I am the Clay. Mold me and make me after your will while I am waiting and yielded still.”
God honors all who daily seek Him in prayer. Daniel was a spiritual leader that had a daily routine of kneeling and praying three times a day in his room giving thanks to God. Even when the jealous administrators and princes had King Darius make a law that made it a crime to pray to any other divine god than King Darius. The penalty would be for that person to be thrown into the den of lions.
When Daniel heard of the law he went to his room as was his custom and knelt in prayer giving thanks to God. When Daniel had to choose between obeying the laws of a Godless nation or obeying the laws of God, he chose to obey God. God spared him for the claws of the lions and he regained his position of leadership and the blessing of the King of Babylon.
King David learned to yield to God’s will. Throughout his lifetime God had given David victory over his enemies. God gave his strength and skill to defeat the giant Goliath. God gave David victory over the Philistines. King David wanted to do something for the Lord. He decided to build God a House – Temple. King David conferred with his pastor/prophet Nathan. After David told Nathan of his plan Nathan said, “Go, do all that is in your heart; for the Lord is with you.” 2 Samuel 7:3 Nathan probably thanked David for answering his prayer for funds to build God’s house.
God has a different plan in mind. God spoke to Nathan and told him to go tell King David that he was not the one to build the temple, but his son will be the one to build God’s “House.”
After King David received the message from Nathan, 2 Samuel 7:18, “Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and prayed…” By this act of sitting before the Lord, David was humbling himself, renouncing his kingly authority, and surrendered to God’s will. By his sitting before the Lord David was no longer full of self, he was full of the Lord.
When we sit before the Lord or kneel before the Lord we are by our act we are saying that we are surrendering and yielding to God’s will.
When you go to God in prayer you go with access to all the promises of God. Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse, a well-known preacher of years ago who lived with his family in France during his student days. On their table set a Promise Box that held approximately 200 promises from the Bible. Each was printed on heavy paper and burled into a small cylinder, and the family would take one out and read it when they needed a special word of comfort.
One day Donald Barnhouse had the opportunity to lead a French girl to faith in Christ. The girl often came to the Barnhouse home, and she saw the family reading verses from their Promise Box. Unable to find a Promise Box she made her own.
During World War Ii, this woman found herself in real distress. No food was available except scraps of potato peelings from a restaurant. Here children were emaciated and their clothing was mere rags. In desperation, she turned to her Promise Box, saying, “Lord, O Lord, I have such great need. Is there a promise here that is really for me? Show me, O Lord, what promise I can have in this time of famine, nakedness, peril, and the sword.
Blinded by her tears, she reached for the box – and knocked it over. The promises showered down around her, on her lap, on the floor; not one was left in the box. Suddenly she realized that it wasn’t just one promise that was available to her, but that all of God’s promises were for her. Joy and strength returned to her life, and she was able to trust God in the hour of her greatest need.
In prayer we have access to all the promises of God. As you kneel in prayer you can claim God’s promises for you and other. Your greatest work is kneeling and praying and surrendering to God’s will and praying for others.
Gypsy Smith was raised in a Gypsy Camp in England and became a great evangelist through he never attended a day of school in his life. He preached in England and America.
He told how his Uncle Rodney came to faith in Christ. Among gypsies, it was not considered proper for children to address their elders unless spoken to, so young Gypsy prayed and waited for the opportunity. One-day the boy’s uncle took note of Gypsy’s worn trousers.
“Laddie,” said Uncle Rodney, ‘How do you account for the fact that the knees of your trousers have worn nearly through, while the rest of the suit is almost like new?”
The boy answered, “I have worn the knees through praying for you, Uncle Rodney.” Then he added with tears, “I want so much to have God make you a Christian!”
Uncle Rodney put his arm around Gypsy in a fatherly embrace, and a few months later, he fell on his knees, confessing Christ as Savior.”
Your best and greatest work is done on your knees. Don’t give Satan victory by allowing the cares of this world, the lust of flesh and pride to keep you from praying.
Follow the model of Jesus and pray in secret and in small groups. In prayer you can surrender to God’s will. Live your life daily yielding and surrendering to walk as Jesus walked and pray: “Not my will but Your will be done.”