God has given His children some amazing gifts because of His grace. Salvation, friendship, and prayer are three things that come quickly to my mind. Allow me to take a few minutes to focus on His incredible gift of prayer.
I am overwhelmed with the idea that my Creator wants us to communicate with Him regularly. In order for me to be most “in tune” with God concerning prayer, I must make sure that what I believe about prayer is consistent with God’s belief’s about prayer. Here are some areas that require careful consideration.
1) Prayer involves both speaking and listening.
Jesus did say:
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7
and He also said:
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.” John 16:13
We have been graciously given the right to ask, but we have also been given the responsibility to listen. So often God is moving in ways and directions that are unknown to us. He firmly expects us to follow His lead wherever that takes us, because He is God and we are not. A non-listening heart drifts from intimacy with Jesus. Where is the Spirit leading you in your life? You and I will not determine the answer to that question by speaking only. We need to stop and listen.
2) Prayer is ministry, and it is hard work.
Once I had a Christian leader tell me that it is okay to pray, but eventually you need to do something. I maintain that prayer is doing something. I definitely believe that I accomplish more for the kingdom when praying than I do when I am not praying. Prayer typically leads me to follow Jesus somewhere in obedience that I had not considered or planned.
Consider the prayer life of Jesus:
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 6:18
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35
Apparently Jesus considered prayer to be both necessary and critical.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2
Typically, we are not encouraged in Scripture to devote ourselves to anything that is easy or unnecessary. Paul’s impact on his world and on the generations to follow is undeniable. I believe that Paul understand the significance of prayer.
3) Prayer builds my dependency upon God.
In Scripture, Jesus often used the phrase, “Follow me.” He said it often to His disciples. When humanism and Christianity merge in a Christian’s heart, it generally leads one to say to Jesus, “Lord, I’ve got this, follow me by blessing what I do.” Jesus did call us to be leaders, but not once did He ever insinuate that He wants us to lead Him. We are desperately dependent upon God to accomplish anything worthwhile or eternal. Without Him, we live in wild independence that attempts to glorify ourselves.
Personally, I need to repent when I do all the talking and none of the listening in communicating with God. I need to repent when I forego prayer in order to do something. I need to repent when my actions “shout out” my independence of God. Overall, I need to respect this precious gift of prayer with the same respect God gives it.