How Is Your Prayer Life - When We Pray, God Works.

September 26, 2008

"Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Prayer is not a monologue where one person does all the talking, or a ritual where we must say things in the right order, or a chore to get out of the way like brushing our teeth before going to bed.

Jesus rejects this performance-based understanding of prayer: "Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace"(Matthew 6:6 TM).

For many, prayer has little to do with the realities of life. They think of it like the National Anthem at a game: a nice opening, but nothing to do with what happens on the field afterwards. Other people treat prayer like a rabbit's foot you pull out and rub when things are tough: "A prayer a day keeps the devil away." Paul writes,"Pray without ceasing."That does not sound like something you do once in a while, or a flare you shoot up during a crisis.

Try substituting the word breathe for the word pray: "breathe without ceasing" – does not that sound like a good idea to you? We do not breathe only when we feel like it. Or decide, "I am not into oxygen today," and stop breathing. Or get frustrated and say, "This is not getting me anywhere. I am not going to do it any more." No, we cling to the breath in our bodies like it is life. So, just as breathing is an indispensable part of your natural life, prayer is an indispensable part of spiritual life. Without it you die spiritually. So, how is your prayer life?

When We Pray, God Works!
 
Two things about prayer are truly amazing: (1) God listens when we pray. "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." (See Mark 11:24). You may not have much clout anywhere else, but when you pray God listens. (2) We seldom pray. We have the greatest privilege imaginable - access to the control center of the Universe -- yet we rarely use it. And our lack of prayer surprises God.

Through the prophet Ezekiel He lamented: "I sought for a man among them who would...stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one"(Ezekiel 22:30 NKJV). Upon learning that Sodom and Gomorrah were going to be destroyed, Abraham did not rush to warn the cities. No, he chose to "[remain] standing before the Lord" (Genesis 18:22 NIV). When God said the golden calf warranted a nationwide death penalty for Israel, Moses interceded and saved them. One translation of Exodus 32:11 says, "Moses soothed the face of his God."An obscure priest by the name of Phinehas begged God not to send the plague, and it was checked. (See Psalm 106:30 NIV).

You say "Why place such a premium on prayer?" Simple. Because when we work, we work. But when we pray, God works! Scripture attaches breathtaking power to prayer. "When two of you get together on anything...and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action"(Matthew 18:19 TM). Does any other activity promise such results? Did God call us to preach without ceasing? Or have committee meetings without ceasing? No, but He did call us to "pray without ceasing."   Amen