Facedown, Filled With Hope: What Desperate Prayer Creates
In the middle of the night, I walked across the street to the church sanctuary. It was cold and dark— a fitting context for the battle within my soul. I made my way down the center aisle with empty pews and silence. I stood in front of the empty pulpit.
I dropped to my knees. And then lay on the ground—my face pressing hard into the sanctuary carpet. Prostrate before the Lord, I poured out my heart. My desperation and tears drew me into one of the most memorable prayer times of my life.
In the previous weeks, anxiety, fear, frustration, uncertainty, doubt invaded my life. I was twenty-five, the father of recently-born twins, and the church in which I served was considering me for the position of senior pastor. My candidacy was not smooth or an easy process. My inexperience, the church’s fundamentalist background, and host of other issues created a swirling convergence of questions, controversy, and uncertainty. Every day was hard.
Pouring out my heart while my wife and kids were sound asleep in the parsonage next door created a precious internal sanctuary—a place where Jesus met me. And helped me. My desperation drew me into an unwelcomed but sweet season of prayer.
Facedown, my heart filled with hope.
That was not the only time I made a late-night trek to an empty church. It became a habit. I found myself drawn to the sacred silence of the sanctuary for my face-in-the-floor prayers.
My circumstances didn’t change quickly. But this time of intentionally seeking the Lord shaped me. I’ve never forgotten the value of being face down before the Lord.
30 Days of Prayer
Over the years, other circumstances have called me to an intentional season of seeking the Lord. Sometimes it’s a time for personal renewal. At other times, it’s a church-wide invitation to prayer.
The latter is what I am calling College Park Church to during this season of hardship. Beginning August 23, I’m hoping the people of College Park will experience the refreshment of being face down and filled with hope. With so many challenges in our culture, our lives, and our church, I’m hopeful that the Lord will use thirty days of prayer and fasting to create a new spiritual vibrancy and depth in us.
Over the next month, we are publishing a weekly Prayer Guide and prayer-focused articles here on CPC Resources and hosting a variety of prayer gatherings that you can find out more about at yourchurch.com/30daysofprayer.
Our staff and elders will have special times of prayer, and we hope you’ll find creative ways to join us in prayer from wherever you are. Whether you are a member or attender of College Park or not, we’d love for you to join us in this season.
As you seek God in prayer, consider how you might seek him through fasting as well. Think of something you could give up in order to facilitate a greater focus on communing with God. By giving up a meal, favorite food, TV show, social media, or news channel, we can retune our hearts toward what’s really important and satisfying.
Regardless of what you choose—when you pray and what you give up—I hope the next month will create a new spiritual vitality in you as we seek the Lord together.
Three Effects of Desperate Prayer
The moments when I find myself facedown before the Lord are powerful. Desperation drives me to pursue the Lord in ways that comfort, ease, and simplicity will never create. And as I think back on those seasons, I’ve observed three grace-filled effects.
I pray that you discover them as well:
1. Intensity Creates Clarity
When the Apostle Paul sought the Lord three times for the removal of his thorn, the divine response was “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Surely Paul knew this was true. It wasn’t a new thought. But the intensity of the trial – whatever it was—created a greater clarity.
Without the thorn and without the request, we may never have this powerful verse.
Seasons of pain or difficulty strip us of self-assurance. Realizing our desperate need for God’s help creates clarity of confidence in God’s power not our own. Coming face-to-face with our limitations creates clarity of trust as we look to God to provide for us.
Prayer vocalizes the intensity and clarifies where true hope lies.
2. Promise Creates Opportunity
The Bible is full of promises. Every book in the Bible is designed to show us something about God’s character that is worthy of our trust. Verse after verse lays before us promises from God’s heart to ours upon which we base our hope.
However, those promises mean more when hardship is a part of our life. We need them differently when we’re seeking God desperately. We “know” that God gives grace to the humble (1 Pet. 5:5) and that he’s ready to give more grace (James 4:5). But desperate and intentional prayer creates the opportunity to lay hold of those promises. Promises matter more when you are face down.
Prayer provides an opportunity to live on the promises we said that we believed.
3. Steadfastness Creates Maturity
In my younger days, I couldn’t wait for hardship to end. Part of my prayer focus was asking the Lord to make it stop. While I still pray that at one level, I’ve also seen the spiritual connection between steadfastness and spiritual maturity. Hardship puts me in a position where I learn endurance, faithfulness, and “bearing up under trials.”
The first chapter of James links this steadfastness to both spiritual growth and joy.
Over the years, I’ve seen the value of intensifying my efforts in prayer when life is hard. An unwelcomed hardship often becomes an incredible season of spiritual growth.
Prayer provides the context for steadfastness to create spiritual maturity.
I recently drove past my old church and the parsonage across the street. Much has changed in over a decade. Some things look the same. Regardless of the similarities or differences, I always think about the late-night walks from my house to the empty sanctuary.
It was a hard time. It was a good time. It was a painful season. It was a merciful season. It was a day of desperation. And it was a day of growth.
Finding myself face down before the Lord filled me with hope because desperate prayer created something glorious in me.
And I hope that God does it again—in me and you over the next thirty days.