The Cycle of Devotion
George called Psalm 51 "a prayer of perfection" and challenged us to pray it daily on our knees. Along with praying Psalm 51 George taught us how "to set up a ladder every morning into the glory, into an open heaven, into the very presence of God" in a booklet called The Heavenly Ladder. Years later he wrote a morning prayer encapsulating the booklet, that was to be used with the cycle of devotion.
Purpose of the Cycle of Devotion
G. Geftakys's taught that by grasping each "rung" of a heavenly ladder we will pull ourselves right up into God's presence every morning. George seems to distinguish the heavenly ladder from the cycle of devotion. The heavenly ladder is something formed in our lives -- a powerhouse of authority, government, and lordship; the cycle of devotion is what gets that powerhouse formed in us.
Elsewhere he seems to equate the heavenly ladder with the cycle of devotion. But the confusion is probably intentional. The power of the heavenly ladder is in the disciplined doing of the cycle of devotion.
"God wants a heavenly ladder by which He forms authority, government, and lordship in our lives... We need to know how to set up a ladder every morning into the glory, into an open heaven, into the very presence of God. We set this ladder up by the cycle of devotion."
It is important to get into God's presence, because that is where we are "enthroned". That's where we obtain "spiritual authority". This is stated repeatedly throughout the booklet. George attempts to qualify his statement that "we will have power" by saying that we are not seeking power but we desire the manifestation of Christ's power. But is there any real difference to George?
"When we come in such humility, we will have power with God. It is not that we seek power, but we desire the power of Christ to be made manifest."
Notice the word "lordship" is not capitalized. It is not the Lordship of Christ that is desired, but that we have and possess authority and dominion.
"God wants to get a ladder upon which the divine administration and government can ascend and descend. He wants to powerfully enable us so that we can have an effective ministry to men and women."
You can't get much clearer than this. Our lives are to become powerful centers of divine activity. The purpose of the cycle of devotion was to make us powerful.
When George called Psalm 51 "a prayer of perfection" he meant that this Psalm contained the "secret of redemption and perfection". George relished telling us that he had many "secrets" to share with us. If we only knew what we were missing out on we wouldn't let him go. And who doesn't want to learn the secret to success and power? Book titles such as Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret sell well.
But what is so secretive anyway about redemption and perfection? What truth has God withheld from us that we need a "guru" to tell us about it? What are we lacking in our redemption? Christ is already made unto us "righteousness, wisdom, and sanctification".
Apparently, according to George, what God has done in Christ is not enough. Our souls are still in danger of great loss if they are not transformed into a heavenly ladder through the disciplined use of the cycle of devotion.
"Believers who are living careless, complacent, and sinful lives need to be converted...We need to be converted that our souls be not destroyed...He gives us another opportunity, another chance."
If we are careless and complacent like other Christians and fail to daily practice the cycle of devotion, we will not be "converted" into the heavenly ladder and we would in turn lose our souls.
The heavenly ladder is the "secret of redemption and perfection" and its formation by means of the cycle of devotion is the opportunity of a lifetime. Certainly we don't want to lose our souls. The very possibility of losing our souls should spur us to want this great "secret" of the heavenly ladder. Never mind that God has already saved our souls in Christ.
Its Altered Reality
The heavenly ladder (or "matrix") is formed in our lives through inward transformation. Webster's dictionary defines "matrix" to mean "something within which something else originates or develops".
"God wants to constitute a new matrix; He wishes to establish us from within. Prior to our coming to Christ, everything was from without; everything was based upon our desires and lust. But now God wants to get inner reality, inward depth and vitality. God wants to get reality in our lives, for until He does, we walk in an illusion."
"...the way back to Him is the way within. In the deep, inner hidden part of our being God is purging us, so that He can get a vessel for Himself."
The emphasis on going "within" rather than "without" is critical. This is how our thinking becomes transformed. By going "within" our perceptions become altered and we enter into a new consciousness, a new awareness.
"The sign that we have a clean heart is that we have control of our thoughts...If God has our hearts, He has our thoughts. This is a great secret to know in our walk with the Lord."
Since we have control of our thoughts, we can change our view on what is real. Rather than thinking negatively or having pangs of guilt we can think positively and have confidence and boldness.
We can even think that we are manifesting the love of God while we write love poems to our secretaries. By going inward (rather than outward) we gain a new way of looking at all things outward. We are no longer influenced and impacted by the "mundane" and the "carnal". We can now experience "life on a higher plane."
Once the inward "matrix" is formed, then a change takes place in our outward behavior. The most important change, according to George, is that we no longer insist on having "our own way." A "spiritual" man or woman demands nothing. They "let go" of all their personal rights and freedoms.
"God will never use us until we are broken vessels... the most outstanding characteristic accompanying that recovery will be humility, contrition, lowliness, brokenness."
"We need to be a humble people, for there is a great lack of humility today among those that profess His name."
"Humility is coming low into His presence, saying, 'Lord, without You I can do nothing. Lord, I want You to be everything in my life.' If we are willing to be nothing, God will show us all the places where we want to be something."
When we become nothing and are "broken" then we are willing for anything, even the whims and desires of those who are our "guides and examples" (namely George).
The intention of the cycle of devotion was to break us down and "empty" us so that we would be completely dependent on George. Knowing nothing we now have to go to George who alone can tell us what to do, including how to build a "testimony", a "house for God", a "lamp stand of pure gold".
"The consequence of restoration is that God is going to build His city and increase His testimony. We need to see ourselves as God sees us -- as the city of God, a heavenly citizenry, a community of light and life in a community of death and darkness."
On the other hand George wanted us all to be empowered to some degree so that "his ministry" and "his work" would look good. Hence all the bragging about "packed meetings" and "the greatness of the work", and the constant reminder to say "amen" in meetings.
But did any of us really experience this kind of empowerment? Some of us may have thought (in a rare moment) we achieved it, but never to the same degree as George.
All nights of prayer, prayer towers, prayer meetings, and pre-prayer all demonstrated to the visitor and to ourselves that we had and possessed great authority and power with God. George called it "prevailing prayer". In prayer we prevailed over circumstances and events. In prayer we commanded new worlds into existence.
The cycle of devotion is the technique or method needed to set up the heavenly ladder into the presence of God -- to become powerful.
"...those who diligently use this technique will know great increase in their walk with the Lord...In this disciplined exercise of daily coming before the Lord, there is the opportunity for spiritual perfection."
That the cycle of devotion is a technique for becoming powerful becomes clearer when you look at its "rungs" or "steps".
First, we prime the pump by singing praises to God. "We come into His presence by praise. We need to prime the pump so to speak and pour a little water in by singing His praises."
Second, we come low into His presence by getting down on our knees. "We must not lie in bed, or sit in a chair; we must get on our knees." This act of contrition demonstrates our willingness to be nothing.
Third, we name and confess our sins, not primarily to acknowledge our need of Christ to be our Savior, but in order to have power in prayer. "There is only one reason for unanswered prayer: 'If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me' " We demonstrate honesty in the confession of our sins by saying, "I will submit; I will bow this haughty, arrogant spirit that is reluctant to bow the knee before Thee." Never mind that we are sinful through and through and that we "have the desire to do what is good, but cannot carry it out." (Romans 7:19) Just submit that stubborn will anyway.
Fourth, we are "transformed" by surrendering (giving up) who we are and by altering our perception of reality -- exercising "reckoning faith".
"Lord, I yield my spirit unto You...take control of my spirit. I yield my mind unto You. I yield my heart unto You. I yield my will unto You. I yield my members, my faculties unto You -- my senses, my hearing, my touching, my tasting, my smelling, and my seeing. I yield it all unto You, Lord."
"By consistent surrender of our faculties, we will become aware of a profound transformation taking place in our lives.
"...how this is done is seen in Romans 6:11-13 'Likewise reckon....' 'Today, I claim...'"
By "yielding" and "reckoning faith" we enter into a new consciousness, a new awareness, a new reality. This is where the "profound transformation" takes place.
This is very much like the "word of faith" movement -- those folks who "name it and claim it." In place of material blessings George substitutes spiritual blessings and perceptions (a "once for all reality". We set aside our old perceptions and understanding of things and take hold of a new reality.
Fifth, upon entering into a new consciousness and awareness of our exalted place "in the heavenlies" and "far above all", we ask God "to fill us with His joy, His peace, and the power of His Holy Spirit."
Now we have it -- the coveted power.
The remaining rungs of the cycle of devotion are but the exercise of our newly gained enthronement. We can now meditate on the Word of God, petition God to meet our personal needs, prevail in intercessory prayer between God and man, and even hear the very voice of God.
It's interesting that George suggests that intercession can be put off for some time later in the day. Apparently, we don't need to again "set up a ladder into heaven" in order to pray for others. This postponement establishes the real priority and purpose of the cycle of devotion: It is not so much about others but about ourselves. Or maybe it means that we stay "in the heavenlies" all day long.
The last rung of being silent is perhaps the most important, because now we can claim without doubt that "God spoke to me this morning. He gave me a word 'fresh from the kitchen of heaven'." Now we can boast to men and women, "You've never been where I've been,," and "It's better felt than tel't".
As long as we prime the pump with praise, empty ourselves of our own ambitions and desires, will not to sin, and alter our new perception of reality, we now possess what we were longing for -- power with God and man. Sounds great doesn't it?
No, it sounds disgusting. It breeds pride, self-centeredness, elitism, grandiosity, and contempt for those who are not "sitting under such privileged ministry."
No wonder some of us can't pray anymore. And rightly so, if the cycle of devotion is all we know.
Comments from readers....
M. Irons: This concept of Prevailing Prayer is foundational to George's ministry in its claim to release the Spirit and produce power with God. George himself always exemplified this kind of prayer, which is characterized by an exalted fervency and grandiosity.
By teaching it and demonstrating it, George planted the conviction that as we prayed, the result certainly was the anointing of the Spirit in power on his ministry. In pre-prayer we "bathed the meetings in Prevailing Prayer", so that they would not be just ordinary meetings, but events of great spiritual significance.
We, on the other hand, usually did not feel that our prayer had produced power in us. But we always hoped, and even if we personally didn't get exalted into the heavenlies, we sure sounded as if we did, as we faithfully imitated George's style of prayer--intense, grandiose, flowery, verbose.
Is this what the Bible means by prayer? In our daily lives, by the heavenly ladder, are we supposed to get ourselves into the heavenlies, far above all, above our mundane daily existence of our jobs, our bills, our kids--into an altered state of consciousness, a spiritual state?
Jesus made a specific point of teaching his disciples how to pray. His sample prayer does not sound fervent; it is simple. It does not begin, "Oh, our gracious and merciful heavenly Father, how we come to You with our hearts full and overflowing with thanksgiving for Thy wonderful goodness towards us...."
Instead, it begins with a statement of fact--"Our Father, Who is in heaven, Your name is holy." No priming of the pump; instead, a setting of perspective on who God is.
Then there is the yielding, but it is in a different form. Instead of centering on us, how and what we need to yield, it focuses on the Kingdom of God--may it come, may God's will be done. It is an objective submission to the will of God.
Then come the requests, based on our neediness--"Give us the food we need today. Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive others. Lead us not into temptation. Deliver us from evil." And finally, a setting of perspective again --"Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever."
It leaves you flat, it doesn't bring you into an exalted state in the heavenlies. It leaves you anchored firmly here on earth with your need to be fed by God, to be forgiven, to be protected.
After our Assembly training, we struggle to come to terms with this. Everything seems so painfully ordinary. But in the ordinary is where God actually meets us every day. Maybe it is OK to get comfortable with simple prayer, prayer in which we do not climb to Him, but He "stoops to behold the things in heaven and on earth," "He inclines His ear to us and hears our cry."