Friday, March 23, 2007

Interview with a Praying Pastor

Praying Pastor interviewed Fred Hartley, author of
Prayer on Fire: What Happens When the Holy Spirit Ignited Your Prayers

Prayer on Fire:Fred A. Hartley III

Praying Pastor ~ Fred, gratefully, these past years, more pastors have begun to see the importance of prayer. How did the Lord make this your passion, too?

I have had several breaking points in my life when God upgraded my prayer life. In high school, I participated in a genuine move of the Holy Spirit in my Youth Group where there was legitimate repentance, brokenness and life transformation. In college, I was filled with the Holy Spirit at which time God began to pour His prayer life into my soul. Six months after entering pastoral ministry, I was rushed to the hospital with severe chest pain; I thought I was dying. The doctor diagnosed me with heart fibrillation and heartburn. The heartburn came as a result of onion rings and a coke at midnight. The heart fibrillation however came from what my cardiologist called “battle fatigue”. I was working too hard and praying too little. It was God’s gentle way of redirecting my focus.

Praying Pastor ~ Pastors are recognizing prayer as both a personal need for each believer and a corporate need throughout the congregation - Not unlike an airplane needing two wings to soar to great heights. How do you implement this dual emphasis in your ministry?

This is the way Jesus did it. He told us to go into the closet and close the door behind us in order to nurture a private prayer life. He also told us that the corporate gathering of His people should be known as a “house of prayer for all nations.” Our western world individualism has largely emphasized the private prayer while neglecting the corporate gathering together. God is teaching me to meet Him privately at the beginning of each day for an extended time of worship and prayer. I also prioritize strategic corporate prayer gatherings that are non-negotiables in my weekly schedule. In our church, we have a prayer room where people go privately to meet with God; every Sunday we also have the Garden of Prayer where dozens of people come to the front and kneel before God in corporate prayer. Then every Wednesday, we have The RIVER, our worship-based prayer rally where masses of people gather.

Praying Pastor ~ In Lord, Teach Us to Pray we are told we "will learn mountain-quaking, heaven-moving, hell-binding, life-transforming prayer." Can the average Christian, pastor or church member, really expect to pray like our biblical heroes?

Why not? I don’t believe in a hierarchy of spiritual giants. Do you? I can be just as filled with the Holy Spirit as any one else; this means that I can have the same prayer life as anyone else.

Praying Pastor ~ In Prayer On Fire you say "This book is all about fire." Why the focus on fire?; What is so significant about it? Have we lost our understanding of it? Our experience of it?

Prayer is what we do; fire is what God does. Prayer on fire is what happens when what we do and what God does slam together. This is what separates true Christian prayer from counterfeits and knock-offs. Abraham met God in the fire. Moses met God in the Fire. Elijah met God in the fire. David met God in the fire. Isaiah met God in the fire. The early church met God in the fire. In fact, in the book of Revelation, Jesus is on fire from head to foot. His face is shining like the sun in all its brilliance and his feet are glowing like they’ve been in the furnace. The church itself is referred to as a candlestick, which only has relevance to the extent that it is carrying the flame. Fire in each of these cases represents God’s manifest presence.

Praying Pastor ~ The book's subtitle, "What happens when the Holy Spirit ignites your prayers," is a brief phrase that contains a wealth of insight. Why is this concept so vital to both personal and corporate praying?

Many sincere Christians are convinced that prayer is boring. There is only one reason for this misconception; they haven’t learned the role the Holy Spirit has in genuine prayer. When the apostle Paul told Christians “pray in the Spirit”, Ephesians 6:18, he was not just giving some token religious platitude; he was pointing them to the key to all effective prayer. A Spirit filled person is a prayer filled person. A prayer person is a Spirit filled person. The Holy Spirit is a praying spirit. He is called the Spirit of grace and supplication. Zechariah 12:10 As we are filled with the Holy Spirit, our prayer lives will prosper.

Praying Pastor ~ When we hear teachings or listen to preaching on revival or awakening, the application is almost exclusively toward an individual response. In Prayer On Fire you explain how a congregation can be on fire; a corporate infilling. What is the difference? And, what different kind of leadership and guidance does a corporate infilling require?

Just as the western church has individualized prayer, so also we have individualized the infilling of the Holy Spirit. This is contrary to the Biblical pattern found in Acts 2. On the day of Pentecost, the entire gathering of believers were filled with the Holy Spirit and they were filled with prayer. Lord, do it again in my local church.

Praying Pastor ~ You identify more than 15 "Fire Starters" - How can these be used by a pastor or prayer leader in an ongoing prayer gathering?

For the past twelve months, I have been teaching our congregation the difference between God’s omnipresence (the fact that He is everywhere) and God’s manifest presence (the fact that at certain times, He chooses to reveal Himself in conspicuous ways). The modern church has blurred the distinction and has failed to seek God for His manifest presence. The fact of the matter is God has filled the Bible with promises of His manifest presence. We do not need to pray for God’s omnipresence; He is present whether or not we ask Him to be. We do however need to ask Him for His manifest presence. Every Wednesday night, our local church gathers in The RIVER, our worship-based prayer rally. Each week, we pray for and we receive God’s manifest presence by praying the promises of God. We take individual scriptures that promise God’s manifest presence, and pray them back to God. Try it. You will like it. Remember, God’s manifest presence is what we refer to as fire.

Praying Pastor ~ Fred, please write a prayer we can pray with you, calling on the God who answers by fire...

I’d be glad to. Let me remind us however that this prayer is not a magical formula. God doesn’t give formulas, He gives His presence - - His manifest presence. He wants to show Himself conspicuous to every one of us. May God fill each of our prayers with fire.

“God of fire manifest yourself. You are the Consuming Fire. The Refiner’s Fire. You promised to baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire. We are told not to put out the Spirit’s fire. The God who answers by fire He is God. Show yourself to be God indeed. You promise that when two or three are gathered in your name, there you will manifest yourself. This is not referring to your omnipresence but Your manifest presence. God, come now and manifest yourself in ways that will be sin-crushing, Satan-evicting, life-transforming and Christ-exhaling. Manifest the fire of Your presence so that You will put us in our place, put Satan in his place and put Christ in His place. Give me and my people a growing passion for the glory of Your manifest presence. I ask this in the name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.”

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