David’s words from the 20th Psalm speak just as forcefully today as they did all those long centuries ago: “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses.” The ancient empires often measured their greatness and power in horses and chariots. Horses and chariots equated to strength in battle, mobility, and superiority of resource and wealth. Thus, it is no wonder that the Psalmist points out that some place their confidence in their horsepower; we haven’t come very far have we?
We are still obsessed with horsepower (i.e. speed, strength, power, influence, wealth). Three hundred horses now reside underneath the hood of the modern chariot, and still it is insufficient. I saw one study that declared that in 2007 YouTube consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet did in 2000; and still we need faster internet speeds. Devices are created to be more efficient, provide more comfort, and enable greater productivity; and still we want the most recent model. The last 150 years have witnessed mankind go from horse-drawn carriage, to speed of sound jets; and still the pace must quicken. We’ve all seen the advertisements for “lightning fast” download/upload speeds, and it would seem if they get any quicker they will be downloading our desired content for us before we even ask them. We are a power hungry lot. Indeed, the horse-leach’s two daughters are never appeased (Pro. 30:15).
However, for all our advances, all our thrill-rides, all the power that we can unleash on our smartphone, spiritually, we are experiencing one of the greatest power outages of history. It is a dark age of sorts; with a lot of screens that add little light. Men of God throughout the ages, and the Church of God has ever been, mighty in word and in deed. The Modern Church, sadly, seems marked by petty divisions, preoccupation with the goods of this world, and little power.
Men like John Knox, whose prayers thwarted Scotland’s Monarchs, or Rees Howells, whose band of intercessors opposed Hitler’s every move in WWII, are rare finds. M’Cheynes, Brainerds, and Martyns are needed once more; men who spill out their lives in the prayer-closet and Gospel work and die before they are thirty. We need young men like the five who gathered under a haystack at Williams College in 1806 (during a thunderstorm no less) to pray for the advance of the Gospel into Asia; their prayers inspired the first generation of American Missionaries (men like Adoniram Judson) to sail off to spill THEIR lives for Jesus. We need men like Edward Payson, who, when he died, had callouses on his knees from long hours in travailing prayer. We need men who will lay awake at night, like Ravenhill, pleading for the lost and dying, and for the blessing of God’s holiness and truth to descend, as a dove, upon the Church.
We are proud indeed if we think our ministry efforts and labors alone can accomplish anything worthwhile for the Kingdom of God; we must pray. Prayer is the crowning article of the Armor of God. Prayer is the weapon of our warfare which is mighty to the pulling down of strongholds. Prayer wipes the smirk off of Goliath’s face. Prayer casts down Satan’s dark Kingdom and, by faith, brings down the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ; in all its truth, holiness, and righteousness.
A prayerless man, is a powerless man.
The Church is in need of power, but it isn’t found under the hood of a car, on a website, or in a rockin’ church service. This power is found when men humble themselves to petition heaven’s throne for the sending forth of the blessing of God’s presence; and God’s presence, mind you, is a consuming fire that melts away all pride and self-sufficiency, all sin and worldliness, all preoccupation with pleasing man. Yet, what a precious promise we find in Psalm 16, when we are told that in His presence alone is the fullness of joy.
Yes, we need horsepower. We need the anointing of God’s power and presence upon our homes and churches. Reader, do you desire the strength to live a life pleasing to the King? Do you long for the Gospel to sweep through the nations and save dying souls? Do you desire to see an end to the atrocity of the abortion industry? Do you yearn for moral reform in our culture? Pray.
Oil in Scripture is a symbol of anointing. Kings were anointed to set them apart as the Sovereign power of the land. Oil perfumed a bridegroom to mark that he is the hero of the home. Unction, which is the pouring out of anointing oil, sanctified a priest for the purpose of standing before God on behalf of the people. Oil was used as the fuel source to light the candles of the Temple.
Now consider, oil is only obtained through crushing the olive. Unction is only obtained through crushing the life. Powerful anointing upon the believer’s life, family and ministry is only obtained through the relinquishment of our earthly will and our acceptance of the Heavenly one.
Jesus prayed. His prayers, for God’s redemptive will to be done, were answered; for the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Do you know where He prayed the night before He died? Gethsemane. Do you know what Gethsemane was? It was a garden filled with olive trees, and olive presses. It is no insignificant matter, that when Jesus is sweating great drops of blood–His life literally being squeezed out of Him and relinquished unto the Father’s will–He is doing so in a place where unction is made. Jesus was crushed, and oil came out. Jesus died to purchase for us the unction of His indwelling life: the Holy Spirit. William Law said, “The purchase of the cross wasn’t merely forgiveness but Pentecost.”
The Spirit of God has been poured out upon the Church, to enable us to live holy lives, and to bless our preaching and ministry with the power of His convicting presence. Do you long for the unction of God’s Spirit upon your life and ministry? Well, then, you and I too must be crushed; our earthly will relinquished and our entire life given over unto the same prayer that Jesus prayed: “Thy will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven.” I will warn you, it will cost your life. But what is our life? It is feeble, frail and powerless. Thus, some may trust in the horsepower of human accomplishment, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. He is our power and strength. May we follow our Savior’s example, and go to Gethsemane’s garden, there to be crushed, that the unction of Christ’s Spirit of life might be poured out, with power from on high, upon this generation with all the horsepower of heavenly olive oil.