Everyone wants a promise to be fulfilled quickly, especially if it’s from God and we know it will be very good.
When we are tempted to become impatient with the Lord, when God seems like he’s moving slowly, we must understand that he often cannot fulfill the promise he has given us until his character and nature are more fully formed in us. There can be great danger when any measure of truth and revelation about God that we have been given is not yet fully formed in us.
For example, Moses asked to know God, and he was given an incredible revelation. “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” (Exodus 34:6-7, ESV).
It was not long afterward, however, that Moses struck a rock out of frustration and called the people he was leading a bunch of rebels. He misrepresented God, and because of it, he was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. God knows that there is a deep work he must do in us in order that we might truly represent him, so he allows us to experience the fires of trial and the heat of suffering.
In such times of intense testing, the prayers we find ourselves making are often not the sort we’d like to share with other believers later. Could it be because we still have our own vision of how the kingdom of God should operate and so little awareness of God’s procedure for leading the man or woman he is going to use?
Unfortunately, many people who rise to prominence in Christian circles have never been through God’s training and testing. They stand before others, even with good intentions, but they misrepresent God because the human spirit is still very much in control in their lives. In reality, they are still angry, fault-finding, intolerant and full of other things that originate from the human heart and have nothing at all to do with God. They are not complete in their understanding of Christ because they constantly did everything in their power to circumvent God’s dealings with them, and if we are not careful, we will do the same.
The pain of waiting on the Lord is vital to our spiritual health. Let’s not allow fear to cause us to miss a revelation about our Savior and Father!
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001. In May of 2020 he transitioned into a continuing role as General Overseer of Times Square Church, Inc.
“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:6, NKJV).
In the past I’ve taught that because of the demands of making a living, we may have a “secret closet of prayer” anywhere. It could be in the car, on the bus, during a break at work. This is true in measure, but there is more to it. The Greek word for “closet” in this verse means “a private room, a secret place.” This was clear to Jesus’ listeners because the homes in their culture had an inner room that served as a sort of storage closet. Jesus’ command was to go into that secret closet and shut the door behind you. There you will enter into the kind of prayer that cannot happen in church or with a prayer partner.
Jesus set the example for this as he went to private places to pray. No one had a busier life; he was constantly pressed by the needs of those around him with so little time to himself, but we are told, “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (Mark 1:35). “And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there” (Matthew 14:23).
We all have excuses for why we don’t pray alone. We say we have no private place or no time to do it. Thomas Manton, a godly Puritan writer, wrote, “We say we have no time to pray secretly. We yet have time for all else: time to eat, to drink, for children, yet not time for what sustains all else. We say we have no private place, but Jesus found a mountain, Peter a rooftop, the prophets a wilderness. If you love someone, you will find a place to be alone.”
Do you see the importance of setting your heart to pray in a secret place? It is not about legalism or bondage but about love. It is about God’s goodness toward us. He sees what’s ahead and knows we need tremendous resources and daily replenishing. All of that is found in the secret place with him.
According to Paul, we who believe in Jesus have been raised up from spiritual death and are seated with him in a heavenly realm. “Even when we were dead in trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6, NKJV).
Where is this heavenly place where we’re seated with Jesus? It is none other than God’s own throne room, the throne of grace, the dwelling place of the Almighty. Two verses later we read how we were brought to this wonderful place: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (2:8).
This throne room is the seat of all power and dominion. It’s the place where God rules over all principalities and powers and where he reigns over the affairs of men. Here in the throne room, he monitors every move of Satan and examines every thought of man.
Christ is seated at the Father’s right hand. Scripture tells us, “All things were made through Him” (John 1:3) and “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). In Jesus resides all wisdom and peace, all power and strength, everything needed to live a victorious, fruitful life; and we’re given access to all those riches that are in Christ.
Paul is telling us, “As surely as Christ was raised from the dead, we’ve been raised up with him by the Father. As surely as Jesus was taken to the throne of glory, we’ve been taken with him to the same glorious place. Because we are in him, we are also where he is. That’s the privilege of all believers. It means we are seated with him in the same heavenly place where he dwells.”
Paul says that all spiritual blessings are bestowed in the throne room. All the riches of Christ are available to us: steadfastness, strength, rest, ever-increasing peace. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
When I talk about a great awakening, I mean what Paul describes as a revelation and enlightenment: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (Ephesians 1:17-19, NKJV).
Paul was telling the Ephesians, “I pray that God will give you a fresh revelation, that he’ll open your eyes to the calling he’s given you. I’m asking him to give you new understanding about your inheritance, the riches in Christ that belong to you.”
According to Paul, “[God’s mighty power] which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,” is the same “exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe” (1:20, 19). For this reason, Paul exhorts, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
How are we to examine ourselves? We do it by measuring ourselves against the awesome promises of God. We’re to ask ourselves: “Do I access Christ’s power to overcome sin? Do I live continually in the joy, peace and rest Jesus has promised to every believer without exception?”
Your personal “great awakening” comes the day you look at your life and cry out, “There has to be more to life in Christ than this. All my plans have unraveled, all my dreams have been shattered. I’m living as a slave to my fears and fleshly lusts. But I know the Lord has called me to more than this defeated life. Oh, God, is there actually a place where you’ll supply me with strength to live victoriously?
“Is it really possible for me to have continual intimacy with you? Is it true I don’t have to slide into apathy anymore or struggle to please you? Help me find the place of rest in you where I’ll never again need revival because my faith remains steadfast!”
“As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3, NKJV).
For years, I’ve claimed to be filled with the Spirit. I have testified that I’ve been baptized in the Spirit. I’ve preached that the Holy Spirit empowers me to witness and that he sanctifies me. I’ve prayed in the Spirit, talked to the Spirit, walked in the Spirit and heard his voice. I truly believe the Holy Spirit is the power of God.
I can take you to the place where I was filled with the Spirit at eight years of age. I’ve read everything that scripture says about the Holy Spirit. Yet lately, I’ve found myself praying, “Do I really know this incredible power that lives in me? Or is the Spirit just a doctrine to me? Am I somehow ignoring him? Am I not asking him to do for me what he came to do?”
The fact is you can have something very valuable and not know it. You can’t enjoy what it is you have because you don’t understand how valuable it is.
There’s a story about a farmer who worked his small farm his whole life. For decades he tilled the rocky soil, living poor and finally dying in discontent. At his death, the farm was passed down to his son. One day, while plowing, the son found a gold-streaked nugget. He had it appraised and was told it was pure gold. The young man soon discovered that the farm was full of gold. Instantly, he became a wealthy man. That wealth was lost on his father, even though it was on the land his whole life.
So it is with the Holy Spirit. Many of us live in ignorance of what we have, of the power that resides in us. Some Christians live their entire lives thinking they have all the Holy Spirit brings, yet they truly haven’t received him in fullness and power. He isn’t accomplishing in them the eternal work he was sent to do.
Dear believer, don’t let this be you! Plead with God to make you aware of the full measure of his Spirit.