When people find out that I run Burning Hearts House of Prayer, they often say, “Jason, you look so young!” because we don’t normally equate young people and prayer together. We tend to think young people don’t usually like to pray.
To be honest with you, prayer was never something I enjoyed from a young age. But it was due to a season of burnout as a youth pastor that my own prayer journey was kickstarted. This was when the Lord gave me a measure of grace to learn how to enjoy prayer.
When that happened, the Lord led me to a place in Kansas City where the prayer room runs 24/7. For 6 months, I had to be there for 6 hours every day with just my Bible and my notebook. Nothing else. No iPad, no phone, just solely given to God.
And I can tell you from experience that if you have to spend 6 months having to pray for 6 hours a night and you don’t learn to enjoy it, you will be bored to death.
Even though I was a youth pastor, my capacity for God was really small – I could only give God my attention for 15-20 minutes.
I quickly realised this within the first few weeks, that even though I was a youth pastor, my capacity for God was really small. I could only give God my attention for 15-20 minutes before my mind would start drifting or I’d run out of things to pray.
I mean, I did all that I could. I prayed in tongues, I read the Bible – as many chapters as I could – I took out my prayer list and prayed for as many people as I could. I prayed for my father, my mother, my sister, my brother, my girlfriend, my dog … Everything.
And after doing all that I’d look at my watch and it would only have been 30 minutes and I’d have 5 and a half more hours to go! It was really a challenge. But through my time at International House of Prayer Kansas City, I learnt some handles and tools that I hope will help all of you cultivate a life of prayer.
PRAYER IS A GIVEN, NOT A GIFT
I cannot over-emphasise how important a life of prayer is, because that is our life in God. Some people think that prayer is a gift, that there are only a handful of people who are gifted to pray, who will be part of intercessory ministry.
I just want to debunk that to say that prayer is not part of the fivefold ministry: You don’t see the word intercessor in the fivefold.
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ …” (Ephesians 4:11-12)
Not only do you see prayer as one of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8-10), in fact, God calls His house a “house of prayer” (Isaiah 56:7). So if you’re a part of His family, you are actually made to pray. If you’re a Christian, you are called to pray.
In Matthew 6:5-6 it says, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. Then your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
This means it doesn’t matter how you feel – when you choose to make that space to come before God and and make prayers to Him; He is actually there. Whether you feel it or not, He is there, witnessing the very act.
To know that my Father who is in secret sees me praying and hears my prayer gives me great confidence and courage to keep coming to Him.
PRAYER IS MORE THAN WORDS
People ask me, “Jason, how do you have time to pray in secret … Or have time to pray for one hour?” I tell them I don’t really do that, not because I think an environment without distractions is not important, but because when you’re living in Singapore it’s agreeably hard – with little space and time.
Prayer, I believe, transcends time, space and your words. Paul said to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and I used to wonder how we can even do that. Does it mean praying non-stop: “Father, Father, Father, bless me, bless me, bless me”? Or non-stop praying in tongues?
I don’t think that was what Paul was trying to say. Prayer is so much more than the words we say. It is a state of connecting with God in that place of communion.
Which means I can be travelling somewhere in the MRT, and if I were to close my eyes and give my attention and whole awareness to God, I can have conversations within me and have this sense of connection with Him.
I believe that to God, this is prayer, because He does not just read our words – He reads our hearts. He reads our thoughts, He communes with us in every aspect of our being: Our body, our soul, our mind and our spirit.
I will have conversations with God throughout the day, using these pockets of time to meditate on Him or even recite simple verses and truths under my breath. This constant connection with God fills my mind space with Him, His nature and His love.
If you were to do this regularly, you will see yourself expanding in your capacity for God. That’s because you’re not being distracted by what the world throws at you; your mind is being set on things above, you’re constantly engaging and being connected to Him. This is how God can be involved in our daily lives.
You see, it’s more than just a space that we carve out in the room. The secret place is actually right here in your heart. We can be in union with God anywhere, at any time, in our every innermost being.
I just want to encourage you because it requires some spiritual muscle to do this, but as long as you begin to give Him that space, believe that God is there and that He sees and hears everything in secret.
Jason Chua will be speaking at The One Thing Gathering 2018, which will see hundreds of young adults unite with the International Houses of Prayer across the world to behold the majesty and beauty of Jesus.
Happening from July 19-21, 2018, for the first time in Asia, the gathering calls for young people who have purposed in their hearts to live with abandonment and devotion to Jesus, to do His work, be His voice and see His transformation in the nations.
To register your attendance, visit their page.