So at last, after several days and a lost post-in-progress (sigh)… we come to the point I had in mind from the first post. How did taking three years of Bible school help equip me for a lifestyle of fasting and prayer? Or from another angle, if I went to a preaching program, what am I doing sticking around on the Night Watch?
To begin with, I love what Stuart said to a small group of us once: “Not all Anna’s are messengers, but all messengers are Anna’s.” In other words, some people may be called to a lifestyle of fasting and prayer without also being mandated to teach or preach. However, someone who wants to be a messenger — and I’m talking “stand in the counsel of the Lord” kind of messenger — must give themselves to a life of fasting, prayer, and devotion. It helped me a lot to realize that my “Anna-ness” was not at odds with my “messenger-ness.” In fact, Anna was among the very first people to preach about Jesus (Luke 2:38). My message and mandate are cultivated and sustained in the place of prayer.
I also appreciate what Allen Hood has said, that it’s a “step down” for him to preach. According to him, his most effective and impactful ministry happens when he’s at his post (in the ever-famous IHOP “blue chairs”) interceding. This really resounds with me. No ministry I could ever undertake will accomplish more before the throne of God than bringing my petitions before Him in prayer.
Three years in Bible school has seriously equipped me in Scripture. I certainly don’t know everything. In fact, the more I learn, the more I realize I have only just begun to scratch the surface of the enormous, rich Word of God, and that I have about half an idea about a few tiny facets. But it has taught me to love reading and studying the Bible like never before, and has set me on a course to continue to search out Jesus in the scriptures.
This obviously fuels my teaching, preaching, and writing. It almost goes without saying. However, this has massively contributed to my prayer life as well. The more I study different biblical books and concepts, the more I am confronted with the majestic reality of who God is. When we study the doctrine of salvation, we run head-on into the God who is both merciful and just. When we read the book of Daniel, we meet the God who is absolutely sovereign, powerful, and wise. When we read the Minor Prophets, we discover God’s heart of burning, jealous love. And it changes how we talk to Him.
We can come confidently before God, knowing He is full of mercy. We can tremble in His presence knowing He is holy. We can cry out to Him to make wrong things right, knowing that He is a God of justice.
So what does the future look like for me? It’s hard to say in detail right now. I do want to teach and write and preach, but am not yet certain how that will actually play out. I do know, however, that my heart is yearning to take my stand in intercession in a focused way. I feel like I’ve been being stretched for three years — stretched like a slingshot — and ready to launch back into the place of prayer. Three years of Bible school has helped focus me, giving me vision and direction, and I’m eagerly looking forward to taking my place as an “Anna” in the house of the Lord with a fire and energy that I would not have had without the glorious, painful, stretching, edifying journey of training I’ve been on for the past three years.