Love is the Foundation of Effective Prayer
If God is made out of love, and the Bible tells us He is love, and if He is the one who gives us new birth, and He does, then we are no longer this flesh and blood vehicle in which we navigate on this earth in the physical realm. We now have a new body as well as a new spirit. Our new birth happens by God inserting us into a body, as opposed to us coming out of a body in our natural birth. The new body, in which we now live and move and have our being, is called the Body of Christ. Just as we take care of our natural body: we wash it, we feed it, we lay it down to sleep, so we must take care of our new body, the Body of Christ.
How do we do that? It seems so vague and nebulous; an ill-defined existence to say the least. Our jumping off place must be: LOVE. Each of us is a love child, born of a love Father, made of the same stuff our Father is made of, and that’s love. So the way to operate in this new body is to let love have its way. We feed our natural body because it cries out for food. The Body of Christ also cries out for its food, which, of course, is love.
Love is an action verb: I love, he loves, you love, she loves, we love, they love. That verb has to have an object attached to it in order to become action. I love Julien, I love Alessandra, I love Valentin. Still, that’s not enough. Love demands to know how, where and when. I love Julien by encouraging him in his footsteps following God. I stop by the store and give him an encouraging word. I love Alessandra by admiring her thirst for God. I pass books to her that will help satisfy that thirst. I love Valentin by letting him know he is totally accepted at all times, in all places. Whenever I can, I give him a pat on the back and a smile.
Love starts with baby steps such as these. And then love grows. The demands are louder and more painful, requiring more action on our part. And we love until we become the very image of Jesus, and we lay down our lives for our friends—the ones we love. The more we love, the more effective our prayers will be.
Let me give an example of biblical “church” life.
18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:18–21).
10 . . . put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,
11 . . . but Christ is all and in all.
12 . . . put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;
13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:10–16).
Now, for a church to truly operate like this, the members better be “prayed-up” before they get to the meeting! How can they have a word from the Lord for someone if they haven’t loved that person in prayer first and then in action? If they’re standing back in judgment or pride, do they really think the Holy Spirit will give them a spiritual song for someone? Oh, that judgment and pride would be tossed out of the church, the Body of Christ, and the empty place those two rogues leave would be filled with love and kindness!
So where do we start? We start by asking the Lord, who is whole-heartedly in love with every person He ever created, who do we target to love for Him? How can we pray for that person? What action can we take that will let that person know we love them? What action can we take that will let that person know that Jesus loves them so much He died for them? Every meeting our new body has, the Body of Christ, should be a love feast!
John G. Lake was a minister in South Africa. Friends urged him to visit a certain woman who had terminal cancer. He gave her Scriptures about divine healing, and she decided to trust God and stop all medication. Therefore, she was in incredible pain except when Dr. Lake and another minister would pray by her bedside.
One morning, having prayed all night to keep the pain down, Dr. Lake went home just to shower and shave and then came back. Let me quote him: “When I came within two blocks of the house, I heard the woman screaming in pain. At the sound of those screams I seemed to enter into a divine compassion. I found myself running those last two blocks. . . . Without thinking, I rushed into the room, sat down on the edge of the bed, picked up that emaciated body in my arms like a baby, and began to weep. While I was weeping, she was perfectly healed.”
What brought the healing? Love.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4:7, 8).
Where does love start? In our prayer life.