If God didn’t exist, prayer would be a colossal waste of time, energy, and resources. But since you’re reading this, you probably believe that the universe didn’t just will itself into being, and you acknowledge the value of prayer.
I’ve been in (and led, unfortunately) plenty of church/ministry oriented meetings where we prayed for 30 seconds and brainstormed for 2 hours. They don’t always get a lot done. What would have happened if we prayed for 45 minutes and followed up for 15?
I’m very fortunate to serve in a church that denotes prayer as their main strategy, prays multiple times in every meeting, and seeks God first. It’s even posted on the walls of the office wing: “Prayer is our Primary Strategy: It will not simply be the ‘bookends’ of a long meeting. It will permeate planning and deliberations . . .”
If you are a believer and agree that prayer is of utmost importance, why aren’t you praying? Before we take a smug, self-righteous view of atheists–who usually at least live out what they actually believe– let’s ask if our actions line up with our worldview. If we truly believe in the wisdom and power of prayer, do we really pray? Does our belief translate into actual, serious time communicating with the God of the universe? Does our lifestyle match our beliefs about speaking with our heavenly father? Or do we just acknowledge it as a good idea while we continue to watch Netflix.
There are 558 passages in the Bible (NIV) containing “pray”, “prayer” or “praying”.
These don’t even include the many verses where prayer is implied but not mentioned outright.
Do a search and skim through them sometime. (I use biblegateway.com) It’s an amazing reminder . . .
“Always keep on praying” (Eph 6:18), “when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25), “This, then, is how you should pray: (Matt 6:9 Lord’s Prayer), and hundreds more . . .
In just one of these 500 passages, Ephesians 6:18-20, we have 5 different references to the importance of prayer:
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Eph 6:18-20).
Pray in the Spirit. On all occasions. With all kinds of prayers and requests. Always keep praying. For all God’s people. Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray . . .
We see Daniel’s prayer from the lion’s den, Hezekiah’s prayer for the city, Nehemiah’s prayer before his Jerusalem journey, Jonah’s Big Fish prayer, Jesus’ prayers throughout his life, Paul the apostle’s prayers for the Colossians, Phillipians, Ephesians and just about everybody else . . .
Prayer is everywhere in the Bible. Short prayers, long prayers, silent prayers, corporate prayers, room shaking prayers, faith-filled prayers, faithless prayers (see Acts 12:5 and 15), desperate prayers, joyful prayers, shouted prayers, whispered prayers, sung prayers, sobbed prayers, mountain prayers, valley prayers, prayers of anguish, prayers of pain, prayers for peace, prayers of love . . .
We can scurry around endlessly in a froth of Christian-looking activity that makes us feel better about ourselves and impresses the people around us with our faux spirituality. But if we want to accomplish things that actually matter past the end of our natural lives and into eternity, we need to pray . . .
And that seems unattainable to us at times, because we aren’t Daniel, Hezekiah, Nehemiah, Paul, or even Jonah. We’re just us. We hit the wall 30 seconds into our prayer time and don’t know what else to do or say.
We believe the whole burden of our prayer lives is on us. But it isn’t. And there’s incredible freedom in that. God doesn’t hear us because we’re awesome. He hears us because He’s awesome. He hears us for the same reason he heard all of the Biblical heroes and failures–who were often the same people at different times in their lives– other than Jesus Himself.
I believe all of this, but still fail at living it out. . . . routinely. Maybe you do too. But God is willing and eager to help us, if we ask. . .
What would you like to see God improve about your prayer life?
What is your biggest struggle in your prayer life?
What one thing could you do differently today to help?