The Gift of Prayer

 

Prayer is one of God’s most gracious gifts. In prayer our weary souls are transported from darkened valleys onto the plains of our heavenly home. It allows unworthy sinners to come before the ruler of the universe and call him, “Father.” In His presence we can bring our smallest need or our deepest fear, and He listens while all of the resources of heaven are ready to burst into action at His word. Thank God for the privilege of prayer!

Yet, many believers find prayer to be more of problem than a pleasure because they misunderstand its purpose. Prayer is not about padding our pleasures and erasing our pains. Prayer is wanting to see God’s will done in our world. Jesus aimed His prayer with these words, “Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

Many of our frustrations with prayer are the result of using it for the wrong purpose. A fork is a wonderful tool for eating food, but it is a disappointing method for drinking water. In the same way, we are often discouraged with prayer because we are trying to use it to accomplish the wrong objective. Powerful prayer radiates from a heart that desires God’s glory more than its comfort, and God’s will more than its wants (see Luke 1:38; Matt. 26:42). When our desires are aligned with heaven’s goals prayer becomes a powerful tool.

Prayer and Worship

Prayer lifts our minds out of the mundane and often muddy lives we live to see the eternal God sitting upon His throne, and from there life takes on a different hue. We see His power and our trembling knees steady. We see His grace and our sinful hearts rejoice. We see his holiness and we yearn to be better. Every new portrait of God’s character and work causes our mouths to gape open with praise.

Can you imagine not talking to God? Think of young Declan Bugal. He will never get to talk to his mother. She died giving birth to him. During a troublesome labor it became clear she would die so her child could have a chance to live. As a result, Declan will grow up without being able to tell his mother, “Thank you,” and “I love you.” That will no doubt leave a hole.

Yet, through prayer we can talk to our Father and say, “Thank you,” and “We love you,” for giving us life and every good thing we ever experienced.  How grateful we are for prayer! “I love You, O Lord, my strength.” (Psalm 18:1). “Your steadfast love is better than life, so my lips will praise you” (Psalm 63:3). Prayer is an intensely personal and powerful way to give God the adoration He deserves, even when our lives get messy (Acts 16:25).

Prayer and Care

Prayer is also a powerful way to care for others. After all, we are a part of the same family. That is why we pray, “Our Father” (Matt. 6:9). We share common needs. That is why we pray about “our bread” and “our temptations” (Matt. 6:11-13).

Jesus often showed affection for His disciples through prayer. He knew Peter’s faith would be threatened by the fearful events of Calvary so Jesus told Peter, “I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail” (Luke 22:32). Just hours before His death Jesus prayed for His apostles and us (John 17:9,20). Jesus used prayer to show compassionate care!

The flight of the early church caught wind on the wings of prayer. They “all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” (Acts 1:14). There are at least fourteen occasions in the book of Acts when the believers prayed for each other and their world. As a result, the message of the gospel echoed out, challenges were overcome, and believers were emboldened.

Prayer is an antidote for selfishness. It breaks us out of our small cocoons to see the needs of those around us. In prayer we pull close those who are far away, and we touch those we are otherwise helpless to change (i.e. Rom. 10:1; 2 Cor. 1:11; Col. 1:3-11; James 5:16).

Prayer and Faithfulness

God’s gift of prayer also provides fuel for faithful living. You can see this in the life of Jesus. Through prayer Jesus was strengthened to serve, endure the cross, and forgive those who abused Him (Matt. 14:23; John 12:27; Luke 23:34). He lived close to the Father because He was in constant communication with Him.

Oh how daily we need the privilege of prayer! It soothes our anxieties (Phil. 4:6-7). It helps us escape temptation (Matt. 6:13) and secures forgiveness when we fail (1 John 1:9). It strengthens our legs to live for the Lord and loosens our tongue to speak of Him (Col. 4:2-4). Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath—we cannot live without it.

God didn’t have to provide a way for us to speak to Him. It is truly a gift of grace, and the best way to say, “Thank You” is to use it.

Tim Jennings
timj.theway@hotmail.com

“Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14)