Praying in the End Times
Any mention of the end times arouses curiosity among those familiar with biblical prophecy. It seems our thoughts run quickly to the end of the world and the speculation that surrounds it.
We imagine that any praying going on during such final tumultuous times would be cries for help, or pleadings for mercy. It might be helpful to define the end times as the Scripture does and see how prayer relates.
Old Testament Pictures of the Christian Journey
The apostle Paul describes the journey of Israel from Egyptian slavery to the occupation of the land of promise as a pattern for the Christian journey.
“These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come.” — 1 Corinthians 10:11 (NRSV)
Since the coming of Jesus to the earth in his incarnation, the last stage of history has begun. God spoke in many ways prior to this event, but Jesus completed the story and fulfilled the promise. We are now “restored partners.” Just like Adam and Eve partnered with God to manage the earth, and Israel was God’s chosen nation to carry out his plan to bless the world, we have been chosen to represent him on earth.
The natural phenomena contained shadows of ultimate reality pointing toward a substance that is made real after the resurrection. The rock from which life-saving water flowed was Jesus. The bread that nourished starving people was Jesus. The cloud spoke of the presence of God among his people — fulfilled in Jesus.
The people of God now consist of those who are “in Christ.” We are his “end times” partners, privileged to co-labor with him in magnifying his name in all the earth.
Access to The Father
Jesus made it clear that something was different after his coming to earth. It was on the very night that he was betrayed and tried, that he told his disciples that he was going to the Father to make a place for them to have the same access to him as he, the Son, has. He told them that after his ascension, the Holy Spirit would come and make their new status real.
“On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.” — John 16:23-24 (NRSV)
It was clear that Jesus expected them to go straight to the Father, using his name, to receive what they needed to magnify his name in every circumstance. They had been captured by his love and freed by his death and resurrection. They had one primary purpose for living. They lived to make his name great on the earth. Only this would make their own joy complete.
They had been created and redeemed to glorify God. Their living, thus their praying, related to this purpose. The disciples had been confident that the Father would hear and grant the request that Jesus made. But he was telling them that on this day, they would get the same results. It was mind-boggling.
We still live in that day. We are God’s partners on earth making requests from a willing Father that will be answered by heavenly power invading earthly circumstances. We are not being forced to pray as an obligation. We are privileged to pray, knowing that our Father is eager to hear and respond.
As end times people, we run to the prayer meeting. We need no shame-based motivation. It is our opportunity to participate in the kingdom of God coming to earth. We ask. He answers. His name is magnified. We worship.