Praying in Anonymity

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 25, 2016 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next post is here.]

One of the things God has been teaching me in this whole study on prayer is that every man and woman who is going to be used of God needs to go through a period of anonymity: a time away from the spotlight, away from attention, or even away from listening to other people. There are numerous sermons I have been listening to that have stood out in the last few months that deal with this issue. Allow me to share a sampling.

Five Smooth Stones by Eric Ludy looks at the development and growth of leadership, using David’s example in his preparation for his battle with Goliath. Even David, after being anointed by Samuel as king of Israel, had to go back to the sheep.

Pray and Be Alone with God by Paul Washer addresses the need of solitary prayer time. Is our very sustenance on the Word of God, or is it on everything else of the flesh?

The Man Under the Stage also by Eric Ludy is about the men who gave the power behind the preaching of William Booth and Charles Finney, men who prayed behind the scenes.

I have known since my childhood that God has had some kind of big plan for my life, that God would use me to bring about significant things for his Kingdom’s purposes. Exactly what that is, I do not yet know. God has not told me the details yet. When I started this series in July, I thought God was just working on me regarding my prayer life. It is has been a very long process and in a way I feel like I have fallen back even further than when I started. It is not a finished process.

One thing God could be doing with me here is taking me through a season of anonymity in preparation before I go somewhere much bigger. Let us look at some major Bible leaders who God took out of the spotlight for a season. Moses was taken to the backside of the desert for 40 years. Joseph was held in slavery and then in prison for 13 years. Jacob had to hide from Esau for at least 14 years. David had to return to the sheep after his anointing before facing Goliath, and then had to hide in caves from Saul for about 13 years (ish). Jesus remained hidden for 30 years, and John the Baptist was hidden for 30 years. Paul, after his conversion, went to Arabia for 3 years and only spent 15 days talking with Peter before going on his first mission trip. A key thing to note is that they did not consult flesh and blood, man’s wisdom, during this time, but rather sought the Lord. These people were isolated, hidden away, and kept away from the spotlight.

It is not easy for me to be away from other people because of my job and prior ministry commitments, but I know what David felt like when asked to return to the sheep. Last year when I taught physics, I thought my promotion to be a full-time teacher was coming. But God told me, “I need you to stay as a substitute.” As I have written in this series, this word from God made the difference, but it was not easy waiting to hear it. God needed me kept aside.

Very few of us like the stage of anonymity. It is often dark and dirty. It is not popular. You do not get the praises of men. You do not receive attention. No one recognizes you. You are often alone and any attention you get is usually negative, sometimes even from fellow Christians who are jealous of you moving forward in your faith and they are not.

The Kingdom perks to anonymity, however, are invaluable. During the season of training, while you will not be known to men, you are also not known to Satan. If God pulls you out of the picture for a season, Satan will not think about you too often. Refer back to my post about praying in a fog. If you learn how to live without the spotlight, you can live without the spotlight affecting you. But there is more. The person who prays in anonymity is usually the source of power behind the person on the stage. Charles Spurgeon is quoted by E.M Bounds as saying:
"A certain preacher whose sermons converted many souls received a revelation from God that it was not his sermons or works by all means but the prayers of an illiterate lay brother who sat on the pulpit steps pleading for the success of the sermon. It may be in the all-revealing day so with us. We may believe after laboring long and wearily that all honor belongs to another builder whose prayers were gold, silver, and precious stones, while our sermonizings being apart from prayer are but hay and stubble." ~Rev. C.H. Spurgeon, quoted in The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds pg 92

In The Man Under the Stage, Eric Ludy describes Brother Nash, the man who would come to a town two to three weeks in advance of a Charles Finney meeting to pray it through. During the meetings, Nash would pray and pray and pray. Ludy sought for the identity of the man under the stage for William Booth and could not find him. These men were the ones that ushered in God’s power to the sermons. They also became the targets of the enemy, which is why anonymity plays such an important role.

I have had a sampling of this notion. Right after I heard Ludy’s “The Man Under the Stage” the first time three years ago, my church was preparing to do a summer-long Wednesday evening service series. I brought this sermon up and suggested we all pray this series in, and we did. I gave the concluding message that summer about the Israelite War Cry and used the sport of fencing to illustrate tactics about spiritual warfare. I felt the anointing going into that message, and everyone else knew that God’s hand was upon me that night. Not every message I have given since has had the Holy Spirit’s power like that, and that is a pity. I had it because we prayed behind the scenes to make that summer series work.

God is preparing me for a ministry above the stage. I do not know what that is supposed to look like in its full form. I believe I am being pointed towards speaking and writing, but God needs to direct my steps. But before I reach there, I may need to go under the stage to train and prepare if I am not already there. Because once the spotlight is on me, so is a target. I need God’s construction and his training in this time now so when I get onto the stage, I can perform without faltering and not finding my sustenance in the attention. And I need men and women under the stage praying for me when that happens.

Any preacher, any speaker who stands for the Truth, needs men and women under the stage to pray for them. I need to be praying for my pastor and those who speak the truth myself. One thing to note about Brother Nash was that he always had a prayer partner when he prayed for Finney’s revival meetings. Not only did he have a quiet time, he had a prayer partner. I have three more posts to go in this prayer series. The next two will deal with the need for a prayer partner and a need for a quiet time. Then my final post on this series will deal with how we conclude our prayers: ”In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

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