A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening

Cultivating Desperation: The Key to Deeper Prayer

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I remember a Ugandan pastor who came to the U.S. years ago who said that his message to America was “Desperation or Devastation.”

That was a riveting thought. And of course, coming from Uganda, they had lived that in their country.

It reminded me that desperation is always a big part of the DNA of a praying life, and of a praying church. It occurred to me also that desperation can either come through crisis or cultivation.

God allows crises, in history and in our lives and families, to drive us to our knees. Sometimes we create our own crisis, which is not always too smart, but God uses that as well.

But I also believe that desperation can be cultivated. We’re not left just to a crisis, but God wants us to take responsibility in this. One of the big questions is, “How do I cultivate desperation?”

I’ve learned over the years that the key to desperation is a relentless rhythm of worship-based pursuit of God, through worship-based prayer.

I think of the prophet Isaiah, who said, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” He was desperate. But what brought him to that desperation was not looking in the mirror and thinking of what a loser he was. It wasn’t looking around at society and reading the news reports and getting depressed. It was seeing himself in light of God.

So, as I coach pastors, I tell them the way to cultivate an ongoing sense of desperation is to engage yourself and your church in relentless rhythms of worship-based prayer. Because when we see God, we see ourselves for who we really are.

The way I like to capture it is simply this: He is worthy, and we are needy. And the more worthy God is in our life, our daily understanding, our spiritual pursuit, the more needy we recognize we are.

Indeed, let’s avoid devastation. Let’s go after desperation. And let’s ask God for the grace to cultivate that in our lives as we seek His face.

Daniel Henderson is the president of Strategic Renewal and the national director of a pastors’ network called The 6:4 Fellowship.


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