CBP: Our readers are very touched by Christian testimony, could you share your testimony with us?
Henry: I came to know the Lord when I was about 9 years of age. One of the greatest things that happened to me early in my Christian walk was this simple encounter with God, where convinced me beyond a question that He was God and I wasn't. And so ever since then, I've never approached God in any other way. I never instruct Him, I never try to counsel Him, I never try to correct Him. He's God and I'm not. So He has perfect knowledge, everything about God is perfect. So whenever I come to God, I come to Him with that boast, and it has been astounding. When I see what I would have planned, compared to what God showed me what He had planned, I hang my head in shame to say why did I even think that my best thinking would come close. And Ephesians 3:20 says, "To him who is able to do exceedingly above and beyond all that we ask or think according to His power that is in us," I take that very seriously. My Christian life has been based on God's activity that He initiates, and go where God shows me He's at work. He's the Master, and the servant doesn't tell the Master what to do. The servant simply obeys the Master. And that's how I've functioned all my life and it's been astounding what God's allowed me to participate in.
Norman: I came to know the Lord younger in life, I guess pre-teens, but it wasn't until after college that I surrendered and let the Lord have complete control of my life. I was on my way to law school, it's what I'd planned on doing after college and was heading that direction when the Lord told me, "This is it. You turn around and follow Me." I stopped what I was doing, enrolled in seminary, not having any idea what the Lord wanted to do with my life, I just opened it up to Him. I've never looked back since that day. I finished my PhD in Archeology and Old Testament, then God had me pastoring, and now I've been working with Dad over the past six years. It's just been opened ended. I just say the God who does exceedingly abundantly more than we could ask has done that for my life. At that point after college when I released my life, it's not mine anymore, no agenda, whatever you want to do with me, He's been very kind to me: gave a beautiful wife, and now three beautiful children, and we're just enjoying leaving it open for God.
CBP: How do you find that Christians are praying?
Henry: Well, basically, I find that Christians have never been taught to pray. And so their praying out of their own heads, not from Scripture, not from being taught, but out of feeling. They might say, "I feel my prayers don't go beyond the ceiling." And I say but don't bring the truth of God's Word down to the level of your feeling. But lift your feeling and experience up to the level of the Word of God. And when I say that, they say, "But nobody's ever taught me."
CBP: What are some examples of how you teach people to pray in Experiencing Prayer With Jesus?
Henry: There's two major Scriptures that we follow throughout the book, and ultimately, we've taken a very close look at them. One is from Hebrews 5:7-9 "In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him." (ESV) That's an incredible definition of the prayer life of Jesus. And each of them is very, very severe. He was heard when He prayed to Him who could deliver Him from death. Was He delivered? No. Was He heard? Yes. And so we deal with that. The other is the Lord's prayer. And when they said, "Lord teach us to pray," He did. And basically He was saying "Here's how I pray."
Norman: I think, too, if you look at His absolute, unwavering dedication and commitment to communicating with the Heavenly Father. The crowds couldn't distract Him from His prayer life; His disciples couldn't distract Him from His prayer life; His weariness from being up all day and ministering, He still got up early the next day and prayed. When everyone was crowding around Him and He needed space, He went up and got alone so He could pray. You see His unwavering dedication that nothing would get in the way of communicating with the Heavenly Father.
CBP: He spent a lot of time in prayer...
Henry: It was 24 hours a day. You see, our difficulty is we keep our prayer life in our devotional time. So we have a little quiet time in the morning, and then we shut down everything and go out into the world. Now wait a minute. Twenty-four hours a day, God lives within you and can talk with you. So, all through Jesus' life, morning, afternoon, evening, all night, He was praying.
CBP: Some people have said to you that Jesus was in full-time ministry. He could take a whole day out. How do you address this in your book?
Henry: I don't know of anybody on the face of this earth that had a schedule busier than our Lord's. With higher demands. If you think about it, even if a little bit of work is serving and sharing, how much that taxes you. Yet Jesus knew that was His life. He knew the very key to His ministry was prayer. So we can say we're busy, but I don't think any of us could put our schedule up against His and use that as an excuse. He came to do the will of the Father, and if He didn't make time, He couldn't have done the will of the Father. The same is true for us. He may have been in ministry, but we're all in ministry whether at home, every one of us is called to that same calling to be ambassadors for Christ, so we need to make that time.
And the great John 17:18 prayer: "As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." Your looking at His life and our lives. And then the Father says, "I'm trying to conform to the image of my Son." I would not even want to think about saying, "He had this kind of a life, so I can't." But God's trying to conform you to the life of his Son, are you telling Him you're not going to let Him? Or that you don't see how He can? You'll miss too much of the life of Jesus if you miss His prayer life.
CBP: So we are to respect the responsibility that is put on us...
Henry: That's what God's doing. We may say, "Well, I'm doing this." But you don't understand, it's God who's living out His life in you. So if you shut the activity of God down to conform you be like his Son, you don't even understand what you're doing or what the loss is.
Norman: Many times we look at our schedule and think of prayer as a chore. You don't ever see that in the Lord's life. Prayer was a joy. Prayer was not a chore; prayer was not an exercise; it was not, "Oh, I have to set aside this time to pray," or "I have to stop what I'm doing." Prayer was exciting, vital, but we can look at as a chore and we've missed it. We don't understand what prayer is if it is a chore.
Henry: And that book, Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, says you practice the presence of God while you're doing dishes. And so, 24 hours a day the Father is with us; 24 hours a day we can talk to Him and He can talk to us. But if we make prayer a religious activity, then we may say that we can't do it. Prayer is a relationship to God, and you can do that 24 hours a day.
CBP: In the book, you talk about discerning His agenda versus others' agenda.
Henry: Well, Jesus was always pressed by others to get on their agenda. The pharasees wanted Him; Peter said, "Lord, I'll not let you go to Jerusalem;" the mother called Him out, and his brothers; society. He was pressed in every direction not to do the Father's will. Even when He was 14, He turned to His parents and said, "Do you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" All the way through His life, with all the pressures, He did not let any of those pressures get in the way of doing the Father's will. You may ask, "How do we do that?" I say, "Why don't you surrender your life to Christ and let Him show you?" He will show you how to do the will of the Father without compromising to the pressures of others, trying to tell you what they think you ought to be doing in your prayer life. I've just not allowed anyone to interfere with that.
CBP: Rather than simply talking to Him, what happens when we listen to God?
Henry: First ask, can we know the answer? What's more important, what God's got to say to us, or what we have to say to Him? And then we realize we have to learn how to listen. If you did all the talking, He has all the knowledge of your present, your future, and everything around you, He'll unfold and bring to your mind Scripture. The Holy Spirit is there to remind us of all the things that Jesus taught. Some people are afraid of that silence. And they don't want to wait long enough for God to talk. We all know it's a bit nervous when it's quiet, but if you'll go through that and just sit, the Heavenly Father sent His Son to die on the cross to save us from our sins, and sent us the Holy Spirit to teach us, and He will speak to us if we wait long enough to listen. He'll bring stuff to our minds and to our hearts, He'll make Scripture jump off the page, He'll bring neighbors up to us, events. But if we Christians could get past the nervousness of sitting still, all the way through He says sit still, listen.
CBP: We're not comfortable with quiet, especially in our prayer life.
Henry: And I think sometimes we think it'll take too much time. But how important is it for us to invest our time? We have to stop talking, regardless. Just try it out, and the Lord bring it all to mind. I think that we've let our culture define prayer. My understanding of prayer is not to get God to do my will. Prayer is for God to change my will to His will. So prayer is adjusting to God, not God adjusting to us. If a person will understand that God has opened up the opportunity to come into His presence, why? So we could tell Him what's on our heart, which is always full of sin? So that He can tell us what's on His heart, and adjust our life to His will. You have to listen when you do that.
CBP: What do you think the results will be for American Christians if they achieve true communion with God?
Henry: The heart of revival is God's people repenting and adjusting their life to God. There's nothing that I know of that could radically transform America more than if God's people learn to pray. We say prayers, but we don't have fellowship with God. If we're not having intimate fellowship with God, we need to repent. Our problem is that we want to rededicate, and I say there is no such thing in the Scriptures. If you're not doing what God's told you to do, the only way to return is to repent: "Forgive me for not being what You told me to." If God's people were to repent in the area of their prayer life, revival would come within a very short time and radically affect the nation.
Prayer was absolutely essential in Jesus' life, and we've got to get back to letting God make us to look more like Jesus in our prayer life. The book is designed to help us know what that is, so we can experience, not just practice, experience prayer with Jesus, not just for Him. Religious activity and relationship are two different things.
Norman: The disciples were religious people, they were people of prayer. They had been raised with prayer, yet look at Jesus' life. They had to have a tender heart toward God in order to drop what they were doing to follow Jesus. Yet even they asked Jesus, "Teach us to pray." Their culture brought them up to pray, but this was something different, it wasn't an activity. It was that relationship, and they saw that in the Son. We have a culture where we pray, we pray over all kinds of things. But we have to look at the life of Jesus to see that it was a relationship not activity.