“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” -Psalm 34.8
What we need is a desire to know the whole will of God, with a fixed resolution to do it (John Wesley). Covenant prayer is about having a God-intoxicated life. Our time and our lives are dedicated to God. A covenant is an agreement between two people or two groups that involves promises on the part of each to the other. Covenant requires commitment. If we are to have a God-intoxicated life, we must have our hearts steadfast in Christ. “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music” (Psalm 57.7).
God fulfilled his covenant to his people by sending Jesus Christ as the sacrificial Lamb. He always held His side of covenant. You and I are a part of the covenant because of Jesus. His death and resurrection have enabled us to become heirs of the kingdom of God. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs— heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8.17). It should be our heart’s desire to obey God as His children. This is the first part of covenant prayer.
God desires us to make a covenant of obedience. Obedience to God comes out of a desire to follow Him. We are able to do what he calls us to do through the power of the Holy Spirit residing in us. Jesus promised us that he was going to give us the Holy Spirit as a Comforter and Friend.
Obedience to God is simply falling head over heels in love with him. God gave his all for us, the least we can do is offer ourselves to him. If we are truly in love with God, we will desire to be open to him and the leading of his Spirit. God desires us to be obedient to his Word and to his still small voice that speaks to our hearts. God desires our hearts and minds to be solely focused on him. The essence of our relationship with God is love. God told this to the Israelites in Deuteronomy and Jesus taught us in the Gospels that we are to “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6.5). Love is key to obedience. We will fall at times, and that’s okay. It’s like learning how to ride a bicycle, we may fall off the bike several times before we get the hang of riding it properly. The same is true in our relationship with God, mistakes will happen, but we must get ourselves back up, shake the dust off and keep pursuing Christ. He will indeed bless us in return. A.W. Tozer says “We pursue God because, and only because, He has put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit.” The more we obey Him the more we will want to.
Consistency is another part of covenant prayer, this is a covenant of time. When is our special time to pray? For David it was in the morning “In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5.3). For some, it may be in the evening time. Others, it may be in the afternoons. Jews prayed at least 3 times a day. They prayed morning, noon and night. Our times with God should be sacred. For some people having a set time each day is not easy. Start off by praying on a specific day and time. Make sure that you keep this time set aside just for God. Have your cup of tea or coffee in hand and any other items with you and pray. The phone may ring, the doorbell may buzz, the internet may be calling, but do not answer. Those things can wait. Your time with God is most precious, do not let anything steal that time away from you.
Have a place of prayer. A place of prayer brings stability. Have a place that you specifically meet with God, not just Sundays. Meet with other people to pray together. This is community. Community brings nurture and accountability. The church needs to have a prayer group. This group is the church within the Church. Prayer is the backbone of the church. The place of prayer needs to be with a group of people who are dedicated to praying and interceding. It is said you can tell how popular the minister is by those who attend Sunday services, and you can tell how popular Jesus is by those who attend the prayer meetings. Sadly, in most churches, the prayer meeting is the least attended meeting.
Covenant prayer is about heart preparation. When is the last time we came before the Lord with “Holy expectancy”? When is the last time we entered into the “holy of holies?” God desires us to listen for the Kol Yahweh, the voice of the Lord. In order to truly enter into the “Holy of holies,” we need to learn to discipline our tongues and come in silence. “But the LORD is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him” (Habbakuk 2.20). When we come before the Lord with Holy expectancy, we seek him and know that we will receive from him. There is an awe about this intimacy with God. “There is none on earth that live such a life of joy and blessedness as those that are acquainted with this heavenly conversation” (Richard Baxter).
Some of us may feel like we are at the bottom looking up wondering how we can get to the top. Some may be on the long climb up, some may be already at the top enjoying every moment of the holy of holies. Wherever we are, may we desire to take time to pray, whatever it takes. May we desire to pursue God out of obedience. May we prepare our hearts and enter the holy of holies. This is covenant prayer. Are we willing to make our time of prayer a commitment between us and God to share in an intimate relationship?
I guarantee you, the more you get to know God intimately, you will be changed for the better.