The secret to enjoying prayer is understanding how to meditate on the Word of God, taught Pastor Kong Hee last weekend.
“One of the key features of Jesus’ life and ministry was his love for prayer,” noted Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church. He was teaching on the prayer life of Jesus at CHC’s weekend online service on Feb 22 and 23.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus was always found praying. Pastor Kong explained that Christians must do the same if they wanted to be more like Him (1 Thess 5:17 and Eph 6:18).
Prayer is how Jesus connects with God. “Prayers calibrate our hearts to the right spiritual temperature,” explained the pastor. “It melts a heart of stone and softens it into a heart of flesh so that we can relate to God with love, affection, and passion.”
Reading Luke 18:7, Pastor Kong said that God expects His children to “cry out day and night to Him” and He has promised to answer their cries. It is the effective, fervent and heartfelt prayer of a righteous man or woman that makes tremendous power available (Jas 5:16).
“There is nothing richer and more life-changing than prayer,” he declared, “because without it, there can be no personal revival. Yet, prayer is also one of the hardest things to do.”
THE SECRET TO ENJOYING PRAYER
Many spiritual giants pray for long hours every day. Pastor Kong gave the example of pioneer of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther and Dr Yonggi Cho, founder of Yoido Full Gospel Church: both of them prayed at least three hours a day. How was it that they enjoyed this habit of praying for a long time?
The disciples had seen the power of Jesus’ prayers and asked Him to teach them how to pray. He gave them the ultimate “masterclass” on prayer, and it is found in the familiar passage of the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:19-13).
“The secret is meditation,” the pastor revealed. “Because the Lord’s Prayer is really a collection of Jesus’ own meditations of the Bible.”
Illustrating his point with a slide, Pastor Kong showed, line by line, where in the Old Testament scriptures Jesus had drawn His prayer from.
Jesus meditated on the Scriptures so much that He would quote them automatically in difficult situations. When Jesus was attacked by Satan in the wilderness, He resisted temptation by praying the Word against Satan. Even when He was on the cross, He was praying through the scriptures He had memorized. When He cried out “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?’” (Matthew 27:46), He was quoting Psalm 22:1.
“Ninety percent of prayer is meditation of Scripture,” Pastor Kong said. “If you don’t understand this, you can never learn how to pray for a long time, or enjoy a fulfilling prayer life.”
What exactly is meditation?
In the Bible, “meditate” means to mutter, which is to recall God’s word, recite it under our breath and pray to God with it again and again. (Ps 1:1-2).
Pastor Kong likens meditation to a cow grazing in the field. Cows have four separate stomachs and the food is passed from one stomach to the next after chewing. Cows regularly regurgitate food from the stomach and continue chewing it all day long. This process allows it to squeeze all the nutrients out of the food. The whole process takes up to three days. Cows are ruminants, animals that engage in this slow process of digestion.
When someone is ruminating on something, it means that he is chewing and regurgitating his thoughts. Instead of food, this person ponders, memorizes, recites and prays the words of Scripture, again and again.
DIGESTING SPIRITUAL FOOD
This is why in Matthew 4:4, Jesus quoted: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Deu 8:3) What bread is to the natural body, God’s word is to a Christian’s inner man. Meditation is the spiritual digestive system, where the scripture is processed.
“When we ‘chew the Word’ through memorizing, thinking and praying through it, we are processing our spiritual food, squeezing the nutrients and blessings, and digesting it,’ described the pastor. “The Word is then absorbed into our system and becomes part of us and we find ourselves living in the Word.”
Many times, a Christian gets excited over a verse or a sermon but stops there. Without taking time to fully “digest” the Word, he finds he doesn’t even remember the sermon or the verse after a few days.
In John 8:37, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees saying that “His Word has no place in you”. Pastor Kong explained that the Word of God must go deep into a believer’s heart.
Returning to Psalms 1:1-3, Pastor Kong taught that a person who meditates on the Word is not affected by bad times—he can still be found growing and prospering. Because through meditation, the Word of God grows roots deep in him, steadying his heart and stabilizing his soul.
If one desires to be more Christ-like, to be able to endure pain emotionally and mentally, one must follow Jesus and anchor his roots deep in the Scriptures just like Jesus did.
WHAT MEDITATION DID FOR PASTOR KONG
Pastor Kong shared his own struggles as a young pastor with low self-esteem and self-doubts. Despite knowing that God wanted to use him to fulfil a big vision for the church, he always felt he was not up to it.
One day, God spoke to him through the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13. Verses 20-21 reads, “The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.”
The seed is the Word of God, and it refers to someone who has received the Word and the vision but has not allowed the Word to be rooted deep into him. Pastor Kong added that the bigger the vision, the more problems one is going to face. That is why the Word of God must grow deep enough to support the life God has in store for him.
He added Christians do not have to meditate on long verses. He gave the example of two verses that He often meditates on: Mark 11:22-23 and Philippians 4:13 and 19.
“The more I meditated on a verse, the deeper its roots went. Until they pierced through the soul and hit the deepest part of me where the Holy Spirit was indwelling,” he described. After two years, God raised his self-esteem.
Meditation also helps the fruit of the Spirit grows in a person’s life and it makes one’s spiritual life fulfilling because it is divine food (Ps 63:5 NIV).
Pastor Kong gave the congregation “homework” to do: they are to meditate on the first half of Psalm 91 (verses 1 to 8). In the face of COVID-19, Psalm 91 is a great chapter about protection and a powerful psalm to commit to memory.
In closing, the pastor reminded the church that Jesus must be the One that Christians meditate on the most. “In your mind, visualize Jesus loving you, dying for you, healing you, transforming you, singing and rejoicing over you,” he encouraged the people.